Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A Fine Day To Exit

Temporary Peace by GothicNarcissusDeep inside the silence, staring out upon the sea.
The waves are washing over half forgotten memory.
Deep within the moment, laughter floats upon the breeze,
Rising and falling, dying down within me.

And I swear I never knew, I never knew how it could be.
And all this time, all I had inside was what I couldn’t see.
I swear I never knew, I never knew how it couldn’t be.
All the waves are washing over all that hurts inside of me.

Beyond this beautiful horizon lies a dream for you and I.
This tranquil scene is still unbroken by the rumours in the sky.
There’s a storm closing in, voices crying on the wind.
The serenade is growing colder, breaks my soul that tries to sing.
There’s so many, many thoughts when I try to go to sleep,
But with you I start to feel a sort of temporary peace.
There’s a drift in and out, drift in and out,
Drift in and out, drift in and out,
Drift in and out, drift in and out,
Drift in and out, drift in and out,
Drift in and out, drift in and out,
Drift…

[ Temporary Peace – Anathema ]

A Fine Day To Exit by GothicNarcissus
This is how I spent my Valentine’s Day: out at the beach taking photos with my mom.
I needed some time before I got back at editing these pictures because it was a strangely emotional day. We went there to pay a visit to the tomb of our cat Murka and then went for a walk looking for some photographic ideas (and dropping both our lens caps in the sand, yay). I don’t really know how these two photos came out, but in some ways they were very cathartic. I was already in a gloomy Anathema mood after shooting The Lost Child and the sound of the waves, the wind and the murky sky amplified it. Plus, visiting my cat’s tomb felt a bit strange: it was the first time I got the feeling there was actually someone buried there, that if I dug I could still find her body there. I understood what they mean when they say tombs are made for the living, to give them a faint connection to the dead and make them feel closer.
I’m still missing Murka badly and I was that afternoon, too, but there was some sort of cold comfort in thinking we have a special place to remember her by. And after all, I was still there with my mom doing one of the things we love the most – photography – and we have countless memories of Murka to share and warm our heart with. It felt refreshing after a whole week of apathy: I’m not very good at connecting with my feelings and photography is one of the few things that helps me do so, especially when people I love are involved. Perhaps that’s the reason why it felt so liberating to hand my camera to my mom and have her picture my feelings while I was humming the song. That moment didn’t felt lonely or painful because we put our feelings into the photos and let go a bit of the hurt.
This is why, after editing the photos, I decided to wait a couple more days and publish them today, which is my mom’s birthday: it’s beautiful to have someone always to count on, to know we can always comfort each other not only with words, but just by sharing these moments.
I love you, mom.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Internal Landscapes

Internal Landscapes by GothicNarcissus‘And I felt myself going. I was in a great deal of pain. It was a very frightening experience, but I began to slip, to just sort of feel myself going. And I remember trying to hold on, I’ll be ok, I’ll be ok, and it got to the point where I just couldn’t, and everything began to just become very quiet. And I can remember with every ounce of strength I had I wanted to say goodbye to my wife. It was important to me. And I did, I remember just turning my head, looking at her and saying, ‘I’m gonna die. Goodbye Joan.’ And I did.
It was then that I experienced what we call a near-death experience. For me there was nothing near about it. It was there. It was a total immersion in light, brightness, warmth, peace, security. I did not have an out-of-body experience, I did not see my body or anyone about me, I just immediately went into this beautiful bright light. It’s difficult to describe. Matter of fact, it’s impossible to describe. Verbally, it cannot be expressed. It’s something which becomes you and you become it. I could say that I was peace, I was love, I was the brightness. It was part of me.’

Goodbye, my friend.
Love will never end.
And I feel like you
And I breathe all truth.

Love is the lifebreath inside of me.
Love is the true light inside of me.
And I know you somehow,
As I hold you in my heart,
(Senses following me)
In my heart.
(Senses following me)

There’s a fire in the sky
And I know it’s you.
(Senses following me,
Senses following me.)
There’s a light that’s so bright
And I know it’s you,
(Senses following me)
I know it’s you.
(Senses following me)

And I dream like you
(Senses following me,
Senses following me.)
And I believe in truth.
(Senses following me,
Senses following me.)
For I was always there
And I will always be there.

‘And it’s just so beautiful. It was eternity. It’s like I was always there, and I will always be there… that my existence on earth was just a very brief instant. I could say that I was peace, I was love, I was the brightness. It was part of me.’

[ Internal Landscapes – Anathema ]

I have a weird relationship with Internal Landscapes. I know it’s an important song for both Danny and Vincent Cavanagh, the latter spoke very fondly of it during the interview I gave him in 2012 and said they considered it to be the title track of the album, they’re enthusiastic about the near-death experience monologue, but I never got fully into it. I mean, yes, it’s a nice song and everything, but up until some time ago, I couldn’t relate to it at all. It just left me cold. Then, one evening, it happened: I was listening to it and suddenly realised just how deeply emotional it is, I got shivers all over and knew exactly what to do with it. (Interesting, it was the 50th time I was listening to the whole album – which means it was also the 50th time I listened to this song, as it is the least played on Weather Systems).
I once mentioned each of my project has an odd one out among the bunch – in this case, The Storm Before The Calm, which was split into two works. Well, here we get two odd ones out, as I decided to take a different approach while making Internal Landscapes: a diptych with a portrait and a landscape like the other works, but mingled. So I did a portrait with a faint overimpressed landscape, and a landscape with a faint portrait in it. I thought this was the best way to represente the oneness of all, the spiritual connection between the individuals and the whole world around them. (No wonder it took me a while to figure out such a concept, given it is as far away as it could be from my beliefs – or lack thereof).
I don’t exactly know why I chose Uriele to model for this photo: while I was having that fateful 50th listen and the song “spoke to me”, it pointed him itself. Like, I saw him in my head and knew he had to be, end of the story. And yeah, he did a great modelling job and showed the exact feeling I needed with very little direction (it felt kinda stupid to say aloud, “You must be reaching for the very spirit of the world around and the love that pervades everything”, so I keep it vague).

And here we go. After this photo, although there are only two left, the Weather Systems project is going to take an indefinite hiatus, the reasons of which I will explain in an upcoming post about how my long-term projects are doing. Meanwhile  may not be the love, or the brightness, but I hope I could convey those feelings through my work.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Lost Child

The Lost Child Song by GothicNarcissusAdrift on a silent sea.
The cold night surrounds me.
Black ice forms beneath
The waves of a childhood dream.
A far light hypnotised,
A voice calls from paradise, paradise
To here.

My light is fading now,
My heart is breaking now.
My light is fading now,
My heart is breaking now.

A child sings to me.
The mists rise blinding me.
I can’t find a way out of here
And the sound of angel dreams.
The stars fall into the sea.
The ice breaks, I’m pulled beneath,
Pulled beneath the waves.

My light is fading now,
My heart is breaking now.
My life is failing now,
My mind is drowning now.

But your hand reaches down
To reach down and pull me out and
Save me, save me, save me, save me,
Save me, save me, save me, save me,
Save me, save me, save me, save me.

[ The Lost Child – Anathema ]

I’m getting the distinct impression that the Weather Systems project is like “everything or nothing at all”: first one year of silence, and then two works in two days. Consider I’ve got 75% of Internal Landscapes done and am just waiting for weather to be cooperative to complete it and you get what I mean. 
So, here is The Lost Child. Truth be told, it has proved to be quite a challenge for me. It was the first song which gave me a mental image for a photo, like the very first time I heard it: I thought of a monochromatic  half-naked me hidden in the woods (something similar to Shaman, but darker). This happened before I read the lyrics, which unfortunately did not mach my idea at all: as much as I liked it, among the icy sea, mist air and starry night, there was no place for woods.
Eventually, as I grew fonder and fonder of the album and the idea of a series of colour diptych stuck, I had to rule my original concep for this work even further out, but I couldn’t quite get it out of my head completely: this resulted in me shelving the song for time being and waiting to be near the completion of the project to face it again. Which is, like, now.
Then, the day after yesterday my mother and I went to the pinewood where we buried our cat Murka to pay her a visit, then wandered a bit around in search of some photographic ideas in the inspiring gloomy weather. The pinewood is right by the beach and as soon as I saw a view of the stormy sea through the trees, I got inspired and decided to revamp my original idea for The Lost Child with a bit of variation to fit the marine theme. After all, nighttime portraiture in a non-urban, non-arc-lit environment is currently far beyond my reach, fat chance I ever get a misty night in either of the two notoriously windy cities by the sea I live in, let alone ice sheets. I had muky weather, I had a distant light(house), I had the eerie-looking grove I wanted, so there we are.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Lightning Song

Lightning Song by GothicNarcissusLightning splits the sky,
Shining blinding white,
And here I lie, almost asleep,
Reckoning in a place of peace.

And I feel I found my place
In time and space,
In hope and faith
And love I give.
My mind is clear,
I have no fear,
I shed no tears
For you, my dear.

This world is wonderful, so beautiful,
If only you could open up your mind and see.
Your world is everything you ever dreamed of,
If only you could open up your mind and see.

This world is wonderful, so beautiful,
If only you could open up your mind and see.
Your world is everything you ever dreamed of,
If only you could open up your mind and see
The beauty that is here,
The beauty that is here.

[ Lightning Song – Anathema ]

This photo has been a pain to take. Seriously, this is the reason why I’ve been silent on the Weather Systems project for about a whole year.
Guess what, it’s the lightning’s fault. We don’t get many thunderstorms in Italy, and even when we do, we get more diffuse lightnings than actual thunderbolts. Besides, shooting lightnings is very difficult, so even when I finally got the thunderstorm, it took me nearly an hour to shoot a decent thunderbolt.
Once I had the weather half of the photo, I built the portrait in order to match it: the lightning was rather diagonal, so I flipped it horizontally (‘cause nothing’s perfect) and then built an opposite diagonal line with the lights and shadows in the portrait. It is an all in all simple image, but I hope it is powerful too. Just like the song, which sounds quite happy and sparkly but has a huge emotional depth. That’s why I have half a smile and am holding a cup of tea while contemplating the lightning: I wanted it to look as everyday as possible, enjoying some little pleasures (the cup of tea) while enjoying hte sight of the storm rassuringly sheltered (the window). I really do love both the song and the photos, I hope you do as well.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Artpop

Artpop by GothicNarcissusCome to me
In all your glamour and cruelty.
Just do that thing that you do
And I’ll undress you.
Keep it tight.
Sometimes the simplest move is right.
The melody that you choose
Can rescue you.

A hybrid can withstand these things.
My heart can beat with bricks and strings.
My Artpop could mean anything.

We could, we could belong together, Artpop.
We could, we could belong together, Artpop.
We could, we could belong together, Artpop, Artpop, Artpop.

Come to me
With all your subtext and fantasy.
Just do that thing that you do
In a perverse hue.
Lovers’ kites
Are flown on beaches for public sight.
The colour palette you choose
Can profit you.

A hybrid can withstand these things.
My heart can beat with bricks and strings.
My Artpop could mean anything.
Could try to sell you out or I
Could show you all the reasons why
My Artpop could mean anything.

We could, we could belong together, Artpop.
We could, we could belong together, Artpop.
We could, we could belong together, Artpop, Artpop, Artpop.

Brushes with darkness won’t help you create
Your destiny of self, but Artpop could mean anything, anything.
I try to sell myself but I am really laughing
Because I just love the music not the bling, music not the bling.

Free my mind, Artpop:
You make my heart stop.

[ Artpop – Lady Gaga ]

Okay, I know Artpop should be written all capital and stuff, but I don’t really care, I like correct capitalisation in my titles.
With this said, the title track of Gaga’s new album is currently my favourite song from the new era. It is the manifesto of Gaga’s eclectic attitude to try and unify art and pop culture, which many people consider incompatible (whether she’s really doing it or not, and if it should involve Terry Richadson is beside the point now), and is fittingly the namesake of my project, as I try to draw together my many, often clashing influence.
That’s why I came up with a visual rendition so soon – I actually did immediately, but didn’t get to shoot it until now for external causes. I wanted this photo to represent the symbiosis between the forms of art I find most inspiring and close to myself. So I put there music (the headphones) because it’s the form of art I’m most in love with and find most inspirational, photography (my old Canon EOS 1000D, beside the photographic work itself) because it’s my favourite form of self-expression, but I also put a bit of painting by quoting one of my favourite pictures ever: Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog. In many ways, that’s one of the single works of art that changed my artistic perspective the most, introducing me to European Romanticism, through which I started appreciating Gothic art, when I was a narrow-minded, (neo)classical-only oriented kid.
This “modern interpretation” of paintings won’t be the only one I’m doing for the Artpop part of the project, as some songs lend themselves quite well to such a work. Some are much more complicated, though, and will require a bit more time. In general, this is a project which has slowed down considerably lately, so I can’t promise I’ll be very active on it comapred to the other long-term series. But well, let’s see how things will turn out in the next few months.