Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Dominik Śmiałowski

I am impressed with Dominik Śmiałowski's portraits which have subtle hints of narrative that spill through into his more conceptual works. His body of work is prolific and this is difficult when I'm trying to put forward a representative sample of an artist's work. His site is full of diverse works divergent from the sample you see here and I highly recommended browsing through his site.

Dominik also was kind enough to hurdle language barriers and time to answer a few questions for me below.

Describe your equipment and your favourite camera/lens combination?
Equipment is the least important thing. For each project I choose a camera which suits the project.

What is your typical workflow and which part of the process do you find most difficult and which do you find most enjoyable? 
I like to press shutter button. I hate working in Photoshop, it's boring.
But I love the moment when the project begins to form a whole idea from its birth in my mind.

What non-photographic arts inspire you? And which photographer in the last 10 years inspired you?
Maybe it's weird but literature is for me the most inspiring thing. My books are all highlighted. I point out sentences that give me ideas.

Photographer whom I value most is Mariusz Hermanowicz. Three words about his photos: power of simplicity.

Which photograph or series of photos are you most proud? And which photograph would you mark out as a turning point in your development?
Difficult choice:) I like single photos, below 3 of which I am not ashamed.


The photography by which I knew that I was gonna be a photographer, my first conscious photos are HERE.

What catches your eye, makes you press the shutter button, sparks your imagination when you're wandering with your camera?
Deviations from the norm.

Dominik Śmiałowski
Dominik Śmiałowski (Behance)

All images used with the kind consent of Dominik Śmiałowski - All images © Dominik Śmiałowski 2013

Monday, 29 April 2013


The poetry of Leigh Martin's knitted sculptural works is in the organic quality of knitting itself. I was overjoyed when she granted permission to feature her on SiouxWIRE. See her Etsy shop for prints of her work.

In her own words:
"The [Decomposition] series is a study on the intricate textures of fungi and how they blend in to their natural environment. At a glance and from a distance, these knitted replicas meld in as a part of the magnificent cycle that transforms living plants to detritus and further into minerals that nourish other living plants as they draw these minerals up from the soil. For instance, when viewing the installation at the distance of the bottom photo the pieces appear natural and as though they are meant to exist there. However, on a closer encounter one sees that these are not fruiting bodies at all. The delicate knit stitch stands out and draws you in for closer inspection, much like the intricacies in the texture of fungi draw me in. These elements spur on a stream of questions that carry me meditatively in to a place of introspection. While this is a personal project, I hope that it excites the same way of thinking amongst its viewers, elevating to a greater level of awareness of one's surroundings."

"My purpose and founding ideas for this series revolve around the deficit in our society of interaction and awareness of the details in our natural environment. I am of the belief that connecting to nature in this way is a crucial element to living a fulfilling and present life. Natural intricacies, such as the detailed textures of fungi, consistently draw me in. These elements spur on a stream of questions that carry me meditatively in to a place of introspection. My hope is that this series excites the same way of thinking amongst its viewers, elevating them to a greater awareness of their surroundings."
 "When viewed from afar, the knitted pieces appear natural and as though they belong in the installation’s setting. However, on a closer encounter one finds that the pieces are not real fruiting bodies at all. The delicate knit stitch stands out and draws the viewer in for closer inspection."
"My name is Leigh Martin, and I am a fiber artist and nature enthusiast residing in Central Oklahoma. My career in urban forestry involves connecting people to the trees in their communities. While trees are my greatest love, knitting is one of my greatest passions, retreats, releases and creative impulses."

"I learned to knit at a young age, though it never caught on as a consistent hobby until my college years. Always making gifts for friends or to raise money for various causes, it's only been in the past few years that I've begun knitting for myself. Projects have included knitwear, but more importantly I have devoted time and energy to developing sculptural concepts, designing my own patterns, and experimenting with free form fiber art as a form of expression. I've discovered an exceptionally fulfilling outlet and I am grateful to be sharing my work with you here."

"I hope that viewers take away from my work a greater awareness of their natural surroundings, a sense of how complex every ecosystem is and greater vision for noticing and enjoying these details in their daily life."
"I am pursuing the "52 Forms of Fungi" project in the year 2013 as a challenge for myself in developing new fiber art concepts, construction patterns, and skill related to the technique of my artistic medium. The project directly supports my ongoing fiber art series, "Decomposition" and also serves as a meditative practice inciting creativity and new awareness of natural processes as I learn more about these organisms that thrive amongst us and surrounding our communities."

BromeLeighad (homepage)
BromeLeighad Fiber Arts (Etsy)

All images used with the kind consent of Leigh Martin - All images © Leigh Martin 2013

Sunday, 28 April 2013


Prior to the hiatus of SiouxWIRE back in 2010, I had a list of artists whose work lingered in my list of subjects to feature. One in particular, Guy Batey, inspired me greatly with his "portraits of the objects" in his series The Melancholy of Objects which highlights his ability to evoke so much character from objects (and places) to the point that I feel like laughing out loud. To me, many of his images have a narrative quality pregnant with metaphor yet subtle enough to linger in the sublime. He very graciously spared me some time to answer a few questions.

Describe your equipment and your favourite camera/lens combination and explain why you choose to use this setup.

My colour work with The Melancholy of Objects and A Fragile Hold was all taken with a Rolleiflex T with Fuji Pro400H film.

The black and white 35mm of the on-going Memento series is taken mostly with a Olympus OM-1, usually with a 28mm lens and Kodak Tri-X.

I always thought I could never see photographically in B&W, even though I've always admired other people’s B&W work enormously. But I began to realise a couple of years ago I didn't always want or need the descriptive resolution of medium format, and I wanted to force myself to see differently. So the B&W 35mm is a way of reducing this extraneous information, and concentrating on the mood and atmosphere of what I'm seeing – not the details.

I also wanted to concentrate far more on the quality of light itself as an active part of the photo – and B&W film is astonishing for the way it can cope with both extreme density and contrast and also delicacy of light. Colour for me was neutral and descriptive; informative, not expressive. I always preferred to work in quite low flat light, without direct sunshine or harsh shadows, whereas with B&W I can now use much higher levels of light and contrast.

The Rolleiflex had a still static quality; while the OM with a wide angle is much more dynamic. The wide angle lens is a way of connecting things – this thing with that thing, or this thing and that place. It can link things literally and metaphorically; whereas the Rolleiflex tended to isolate and fix.

What is your typical workflow and which part of the process do you find most difficult and which do you find most enjoyable? 

I've been working in Berlin for a couple of years now, and it’s an amazing place for the sheer density of memory and history – perfect for me. I do less aimless wandering than I did in London, and more planned trips these days, as I found I was just getting much better material from an organised focused trip.

At the moment, I'm looking for marks and tracks, memories and elegies, traces of human intervention and presence. I've always tried to depict human life by its absence, by the marks of its absence, and then trying to make this absence solid.

When I was a painter, I felt sometimes I was making the same painting over and over again – and I have the same continued obsession in photography with these linked oppositions and connections of absence and presence.

I don’t take a lot of shots – even with 35mm I’ll spend a lot of time working with the subject and trying to get it right – I don’t like endless editing and choosing between multiple shots. One of the many reasons I like film is that you can’t instantly see what you've done – you have to imagine it, so you can’t switch between taking and editing. You have to stay in the picture-taking mode, and only put on your editing head once you've developed the negatives.

I'm a pretty slow photographer too, and I've realised I just don’t work well with fast moving or time-based situations – I prefer to look carefully after the action or event.

Which photographer in the last 10 years inspired you? 

Anders Petersen I love, though I could never work as up-close with others as he does – maybe that’s why I like what he does so much. So many others – Vanessa Winship, Jason Eskenazi, Joakim Eskildsen, Michael Ackerman – I seem to like photographers who focus on people, even though they almost never appear in my own work.

I have also been very influenced by the work of many of the East German photographers working in the ‘70s and ‘80s – Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Harald Hauswald, and Manfred Paul.

Which photograph or series of photos are you most proud? And which photograph would you mark out as a turning point in your development?

I think Piano was significant, because it was at that point I got the feeling something was trying to tell me to change. It was like – you can have this one, but no more. It took a couple of years before I found a new way of working, but I realised I just couldn't rely on serendipity for ever.

I think Chairs was significant, because it was my first B&W 35mm shot I liked, and even though it seemed at the time to be the same sort of object-based imagery as the Melancholy of Objects series, I thought there was something new going on.

What catches your eye, makes you press the shutter button, sparks your imagination when you're wandering with your camera?

It’s a feeling of recognition – something just jumps out at me, and demands to be taken. It’s a combination of a particular thing in a specific place in a certain light – all these things have to work together in one moment.

Guy Batey
Guy Batey (Flickr)

All images used with the kind consent of Guy Batey - All images © Guy Batey 2013

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Movies in Color

There's something marvellous about the poetry in these images that fuse artistry with the technical and analytical. See more at moviesincolor.com.

Movies in Color

Friday, 26 April 2013

Bong Joon-Ho's SNOWPIERCER Character Posters

The first images from Boon Joon-Ho's adaptation of Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette's graphic novel Le Transperceneige have surfaced and are extremely emotive, particularly Tilda Swinton (above). From the devastating results of an experiment to stop global warming, the last of humanity reside on the Snow Piercer, a train that travels around the world propelled by a perpetual motion engine. Like George Orwell's Animal Farm, the last of humanity though equal in salvation soon develop a class system that threatens their existence.

The film is due for release this Summer (2013). Filming wrapped at Barrandov Studios, Prague in July last year. See the full resolution images HERE.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Michel Gondry's MOOD INDIGO (English Trailer)

The English subtitled version of Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo trailer has been released and this marks the first post after the update of SiouxWIRE. Is it an improvement? Is it not enough? Feedback is welcome.

Mood Indigo (Wiki)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Siouxfire Tumblr

Hello. Just a little reminder that while waiting for new posts, you can always visit my Tumblr which is chock full interesting stuff. Updates 6 times per day.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Michel Gondry, Léos Carax, & Bong Joon-ho's TOKYO!

This anthology of films about Tokyo from three foreign directors is probably the most enjoyable anthology I've seen in a long time but do not expect this trio of films to be linked in any meaningful way beyond the city in which they're set and broader human themes of isolation and love. The threads from each part do not tie in a neat bow at the end but that really doesn't matter. You get three odd but beautiful little gems from three talented directors who represent themselves well.

Despite having little to do with one and other, they still have a similar tempo so the transitions are not jarring. In fact, each part brings up a title and mini credits which gives an impression of a new film beginning and clearly divides each part.

The first part from Michel Gondry and tells the story of a couple who have just moved to Tokyo and are looking to settle. Their relationship is something of a metaphor for their relationship with the city itself with buildings cast as individual people. It's very comfortable viewing that ticks along nicely and plays out something like a short story from Haruki Murakami with a touch of Kafka. I enjoyed it very much.

So as the second part began from Léos Carax who impressed me so much this week with Holy Motors, I was a little concerned it might not stand up to Gondry's effort but it does and is very different. Featuring Merde (a character who appears in Holy Motors), I had some idea what to expect and in many ways, I was glad to have seen Holy Motors before this as it augmented his impact in that film which was a parade of surprises so the chain was unbroken. So you might think the surprise was spoiled for this film and maybe it was but in many ways, I think it might have made it less jarring that it might have been and allowed Carax's contribution fit in the film better.

Denis Lavant who reprised his role in Holy Motors is equally mesmerising in this film as a Godzilla-like threat to Tokyo. As with the first part, alienation is touched upon but overall, his story plays out like an urban myth brought to life with dark humour and an almost antagonistic attitude toward Tokyo.

Finally, after having enjoyed the first two instalments, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho had a lot of pressure not to drop the baton and he succeeded. Even more like a Haruki Murakami story than Gondry's effort, it tells the tale of a hikikomori (think agoraphobic) who has lived in his house for several years not even making eye contact with people who deliver the necessities to his front door. Out of all the stories, this feels the most Japanese perhaps due to my own connotations with Murakami or perhaps it's down to Joon-ho but it is a gentler tale, more like a haiku of sorts.

At various points during Tokyo! I was reminded of the Twilight Zone but when a twist appears it is done with a kind of tenderness; slow, deliberate, and graceful. The twist never changes the tempo which is constant through the entire film. Going in, I was pessimistic about how the film would hang together and I think you could watch each part of this film individually without any detriment to the story but as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tokyo! is a gentle, diverse trio of quirky tales that raise questions about human relationships both between each other and the city in which they live.

Tokyo! (Wiki)
Tokyo (IMDB)
Holy Motors (SiouxWIRE)

Friday, 5 April 2013

Paddy Considine's TYRANNOSAUR

The impressive debut film from Paddy Considine is a potent character study dissecting the virulent effects of violence. It gets under the skin and pulls the audience into the hole that these people find themselves in with such vigour that it's a devastating experience to watch. Living near to where this is set doesn't help but forget the accents and specific location because this is a very human film that cuts to the bone with depressing effectiveness. And no, this probably isn't the film to watch to unwind or for a first date.

Peter Mullan is astounding as Joseph, a widower who has an addiction to violence for which he pays dearly. The film opens with an event that forces Joe to start confronting his fury and through a series of events he meets Olivia Colman who also carries the legacy of violence. Colman with whom I'm more familiar with in comedies and a brief cameo in Doctor Who is a revelation in Tyrannosaurus standing shoulder to shoulder with both Mullan and Eddie Marsan who plays her husband. These performances mesmerise and power the film.

But despite being bleak, visceral and painfully honest, the film does have its share of hope but it doesn't come cheap and uncertainty lingers even through the brightest times. I mentioned in another review this week for Compliance how it was unlikely that I would ever watch it again and how difficult it was to watch. Well, this film isn't quite as tense (at least not in the same way) but it is hard going. With Compliance I was incredulous and frustrated at what was happening but with Tyrannosaurus, it's all too common what these people are going through and that made it even more challenging.

I look forward to seeing what Paddy Considine does next. He's demonstrated strong writing and directorial skills with Tyrannosaurus like a seasoned veteran. Likewise, I hope Olivia Colman gets more dramatic roles after her stellar work here.

So to sum things up, it is a well crafted, potent tour-de-force that is exhausting but relevant with strong performances and a script that is a meticulous, unflinching study of violence.

Tyrannosaurus (Wiki)
Tyrannosaurus (IMDB)

Thursday, 4 April 2013


After watching Holy Motors, I decided to watch the movies referenced in the film starting with George Franju's Eyes Without a Face. I had seen this film more than two decades ago so I went into it braced for time to have done its worst but surprisingly, I think I enjoyed it more than I did before. It's a real treat when a film doesn't diminish but grows with time and this is the case with Eyes Without a Face.

As the movie begins, the tone of the film is set by Maurice Jarre's playful but haunting music paired with night scenes that made me recall Anton Karas' music in The Third Man. On the surface, it doesn't seem to fit but over the course of the film you realise that this is a dark, modern fairytale and Jarre's music is perfect.

The basic premise is that a prominent and well respected doctor is obsessed with trying to restore his daughter's face which was irreparably damaged in a car accident. Less mad scientist but more Captain Ahab, Doctor Génessier played brilliantly by Pierre Brasseur is both menacing and sympathetic. Clues are scattered throughout the film to hint at why he is so single minded in his determination. There's also some questions in regard to how complicit Christiane Génessier(Edith Scob) is in her father's plan. It's also worth noting how evocative Edith Scob's performance is despite the fact that she's wearing a mask for much of the film.

I mentioned The Third Man earlier and Eugen Schüfftan's cinematography is also very noir with most scenes occuring at night, in darkened rooms or in fog. It's a beautiful film to look at and though it is more than 50 years old, the effects are still quite convincing and difficult to watch. On its initial release, it confounded critics but has since gained a considerable reputation and has influenced a number of film makers.

It's an odd, ambiguous film but certainly worth your 90 minutes for its lyrical tempo, compelling story and unique atmosphere.

Eyes Without a Face (Wiki)
Eyes Without a Face (IMDB)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


I grew up with science fiction at the cinema from Stars Wars as a child to the more mature Alien, Bladerunner, and Heavy Metal but despite this, I never found a writer that could speak with a voice that I could understand on an emotional level. It wasn't until 1991 when I read Iain M. Banks' Consider Phlebas that my pessimism surrounding the genre evaporated. Here was a writer who not only created a future that was gritty, convincing, and unique but also emotionally charged and compelling.

Now some may wonder but I'll clarify, Ian M. Banks is how Ian Banks writes his name while doing science fiction. It's a shame that this kind of distinction is made but such is the rationale of those who hand out literary merits. He is most well known outside science fiction for The Wasp Factory but for me, it is in his science fiction that he excels, relaxes, experiments and creates the most extraordinary stories told with vivid language and epic themes that are modern and relevant.

And so it is with much sadness that it was announced today that he has inoperable cancer and that he is unlikely to live longer than a year. I had been formulating a post for him for some time and it's a shame it has taken this kind of news to make it happen but I urge anyone who loves literature to go beyond his fiction books and try his science fiction works. They are a revelation and deserve the attention of a wider audience.

Iain M Banks (Official Site)
Iain Banks (Wiki)
Iain Banks (British Council)

Good Things

Good things are afoot. I am waiting replies for a number of requests for interviews and permissions for posting images. In the meantime, posts will be somewhat film heavy but you can get your fix of other works via my Tumblr or join the SiouxWIRE Facebook group to keep up-to-date with the latest happenings. In addition to these things, the site is also undergoing an overhaul as sadly many of our associated are longer around and some of the plugins have frustratingly stopped functioning.

Thank you all for your messages of support and for bearing with this fickle parade.

SiouxWIRE Film Reviews

As you may have noticed, I've crossed the line into reviews with my recent posts and I thought I'd take the time to explain the reasoning behind it. First, my aim is to write reviews that are "spoiler free". I go into movies with as little knowledge as possible and I've found it strengthens the experience. When I enjoy a film, I would love for everyone to at least have the same chance of experiencing what I have and that requires that you too go into the film knowing as little as possible about the narrative. Beyond the basic premise and carefully chosen imagery, I'll only go into how I felt the film worked in broad terms and specifically in regard to performances, cinematography, scripting, and other aspects of the film that can be reviewed without spoiling the voyage of actually seeing the film.

The next point you may ask is how my opinion might matter more than anyone else. Well, it doesn't really. That said, I have seen an inordinate number of films. My estimate is just passing over 10,000 to date which is just under 2 years of my life based on films averaging out to be about 100 minutes. Now, this gives me a lot of reference with which to approach reviewing a film but it also means that my perspective is probably not in synch with many. Factor in the taste element of my reviews (or any review) and really, you should only take it as a guide. The bottom line is that these reviews are for me more than anyone else. I enjoy writing them and if anyone finds them helpful or interesting, that's a nice bonus.

My film viewing began in the 1970s as a child with an older sister who was very liberal about allowing me to rent and attend films well beyond my age. I saw The Shining at 10 years old in a cinema complete with David Lynchian red curtains and balcony. The smell of popcorn, the flickering light and sound of the projector, the art-deco cinemas and drive-ins... the movie theatre was my escape, a telescope that let me see beyond the horizon. That obsession with celluloid never ceased and the hunger never diminished.

Again, these reviews are written for me but I do hope that they serve to guide, inform, and entertain along the way but don't take them too seriously. And as always, feedback is always welcome.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Craig Zobel's COMPLIANCE

Holy Motors is a difficult act to follow and again, I knew very little about Compliance before watching it. If you get frustrated with films where you feel people are making terrible decisions, this is really going to test you beyond the limits. I could hardly sit through this. There's nothing graphic as such but the psychological tension is at times unbearable.

Did I like it? Yes, very much so and I look forward to seeing more from Craig Zobel but I doubt if I will ever feel the need to watch it again. That said, I am glad it exists and think it is required viewing. The performances are very good, naturalistic, convincing and the script handles the subject matter very well. It is taught and economic. It should be noted that the story is "inspired by true events" and this adds a lot of weight to the proceedings.

Were it not so, the film would still stand as a thesis on obedience, coercion and blind trust in established institutions. Fascinating, tense, and necessary.

Compliance (Official Site)
Compliance (Wiki)

Monday, 1 April 2013

Leos Carax's HOLY MOTORS

Holy Motors is by far the best movie that I've seen from 2012. It is a poetic tour-de-force, a tsunami of experiences, a maze of contemplation and a visual feast. Looking at other reviews for the film, I can see it nearly universally loved though unlike other reviews, I'm going to keep as much of the film veiled behind curtains as possible. I watched the film having only seen a couple of stills, the poster above and a brief synopsis. At first, I was so lost I wished I had known more but as the film progressed I was increasingly grateful for my ignorance. I was surprised continually through this film. I can't even recall when a film managed to do that in the last 20 years.

First, the cinematography in the film is breathtaking from beginning to end with such a variety of locations, colours, and light... it is stunning. The flow of the imagery is consistent and graceful attaining that otherworldly quality that I can't recall since Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire and the two films are similar in many ways. Both deal with a central character who works for a mysterious agency and both have a surreal, fairy-tale quality about them though by no means does this make Holy Motors anything but original.

Another recent film that bears some cursory similarities to this is David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis. Both are journeys taken in a stretch limousine across a city and both deal with similar themes of identity, but these are so trivial amid the audacity of Holy Motors. It changes gears so often and criss crosses between genres at a mind boggling pace which you might assume would make for a fractured film but it holds together extremely well. Why? The aforementioned cinematographer helps. Also the framework built around each part is strong as our protagonist Mr. Oscar(Denis Levant) moves about the city with his chauffeur Céline(Édith Scob) who also works for the Agency.

It is worth noting here that Édith Scob played Christiane Génessier in Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face(1959). Though not absolutely necessary, I think watching that film before Holy Motors will augment your experience though it isn't absolutely necessary.

Denis Levant gives a strong central performance as the mysterious Mr. Oscar, the man of a thousand faces. At times he is funny, engaging, frightening, and disgusting; sometimes all at once. Leos Carax has said he had Levant in mind for the part prior to production and wouldn't have made the film without him and after seeing this film, you'll understand why. Levant has a huge task on his hands and unlike other protagonists, his character changes frequently in the film though Oscar deftly manages to remain coherent. On top of this, the audience slowly gets acquainted with the rules of the Holy Motors world, some of which are mind bending but it doesn't matter because Oscar and Céline are there with us. Also, through all the jolts in the film, I never felt alienated from them; the driver never scared me off the bus or out of the limousine as it were.

Overall, I think if you enjoy the content here on SiouxWIRE then this film will work for you on some level and is what I consider an instant classic. It is simply beautiful, confounding, challenging and boldly cinematic. In time, I will write up in more detail my thoughts regarding the film. Many reviewers seem to think it's fun nonsense, but I disagree. There is a wealth of ideas in this film and it is anything but nonsense. The film has solid concepts that once noted seem practically blatant. Anyhow, I don't wish to divulge too much. Go and see this film, feast your eyes and enjoy the ride.

Holy Motors (Wiki)
Holy Motors (IMDB)
Holy Motors (Facebook)
Holy Motors (Official Site - USA)
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