Newsletter

Newsletter - August 2017

 
 

Hello!

A common question I get asked is "What kind of photographs do you take?" It's a simple question, the answer though is far from that. It would be easy enough to answer if I followed more traditional styles of photography (landscapes, portraits, nature, etc) — these people can understand. I start to run into problems (keeping an audience interested) when I use words like street photography, abstraction, conceptual ...

That question above has had me thinking about my own work for sometime, how do I define the images I make and myself as a photographer? There are pages and pages in my journal devoted to exploring this answer, with a fair swathe scribbled out. Rather than trying to pigeonhole myself into a traditional style I opted to look at my various projects and ask "What are they exploring?" This was (somewhat) easier to answer.

I was able to fit my work into three themes which I explore, whether this is an answer that will suffice, interest, or better create an image in someone's mind of the images I make I am unsure. At the least I hope it will allow for people to ask more questions (always ask questions, even when you find out the answer, keep digging). I even went as far as redesigning and reorganizing my website to reflect this new answer (you've probably noticed this already!).

"I explore themes around Surfaces, Spaces & Time."

Take a look at the revamped site and let me know what you think, or feel free to ask me anything related to it, I'm happy to answer!

Interesting things

  • I've chatted with a few people who talk about a "restlessness", a deep feeling that they should always be working on or doing something. Many of these people say they never feel relaxed and have guilt about being lazy.
     
  • Social media and digital platforms have connected photographers globally, it may have also killed the ability to tell a story beyond a single image
     
  • Campari has a unique taste, one I have described as "old dust on a window" - however, having tried a Negroni recently at a bar in Golden Gai in Shinjuku, I'm coming around to this unusual flavour (it helps that this drink has gin in it).
     
  • An interesting take on an architectural photography project - urban design failures.
     
  • Curious to learn more about my photography? Vincent included my photography in a video series he created about Painterly PhotographyWatch the entire series, it's really well done — you can watch the episode featuring my work below.
Kristopher Matheson is a Canadian photographer who lives and works in Tokyo, Japan. His work has a meditative and contemplative feel to it, as he often explores certain themes again and again, searching for new inspirations and directions. He has an amazing sense of balance in his compositions and choices of color and tonality that gives his work a painterly sensibility.

If you enjoyed this month's Newsletter the best way to support it is to pass it along to someone else who might like it, buy a print, or share it with everyone on your social media! Thanks for taking the time to read.

Kristopher

Newsletter - July 2017

 
 

Hello!

I enjoy reading (probably more so than I enjoy photography) and have a tendency to underline quotes that match who I am and how I think or feel. Since I have the habit of going back to re-read books I come across these underlined passages from time to time. Last month I decided to start writing down the quotes on 5x3 recipe cards; what I will do with these I don't really know yet. I figured here was a good place to share a little insight into what & how I think, and also give you something to consider.

Interesting things

  • I'm running out of bookshelf space, and thinking one day of having to move my books half way across to the globe back to Canada gives me pause in buying something new. This small periodical makes me second guess my book ban.
     
  • Any other science fiction or fantasy book nerds reading this? Here's an older reading list that I've had bookmarked for a while. Since summer is coming and I tend to do more reading this time of year let me know if there are any I should buy.
     
  • Shinjuku station, the busiest station in the world. A labyrinth of exits, entrances, train lines, shops and ... sight of 1969 counter culture movement in Japan. Wait what? Hard to believe it was the stage of anti-war concerts, demonstrations, rallies and hunger strikes.
     
  • An art campaign created to show the environmental benefits of walking.
     
  • How to make a woodblock print: "To make a print one needs paper, colour and blocks." A bit simplistic since you need to carve an image into a block of wood which requires special tools, long periods of time, and well SKILL. However it's a decent simplified introduction to the process.
     
  • "A few hours a week, Carole does my laundry and counts my pills and picks up after me. I look forward to her presence and feel relief when she leaves. Now and then, especially at night, solitude loses its soft power and loneliness takes over. I am grateful when solitude returns."
     
  • Kathleen Donohoe examines the landscape of memory, the style of the prints is what originally caught my eye, this also reminds me of my own (neglected) series involving memory.

Visual Review June 2017

Call this a monthly photo-journal, a selection of images that I took during June. Most of these images I took while walking around on my breaks from teaching, but a few of these images are for projects that are currently "In Progress".

Enjoy the photos, and I'd appreciate if you could take a moment to let me know what you think (good or bad). Thanks!

If you enjoyed this month's Newsletter the best way to support it is to pass it along to someone else who might like it. Thanks for taking the time to read.

If you'd like to have this Newsletter delivered to your inbox you can subscribe here.

Kristopher


Newsletter - June 2017

 
Self Portrait (Spring 2017)

Keep it simple (stupid)

Self Portrait (Spring 2017)

 

Hello!

I hope I am not alone with this problem. I have a backlog of tasks I want to accomplish, problem is when I sit down to do the work I get bogged down in details and distractions, and end up making my process too complicated. I've given the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) advice to many people, however I tend to forget it when it comes to my own work, so this past week I've been trying to follow it. The Newsletter is the first project that I plan on keeping simple going forward.

Here is a short list of things I found interesting that I wanted to share with you.

  • Anything worth doing or wishing for will require struggle, hardship and pain - and just like negative outcomes - will help determine the quality of your life. Mark Manson turns the question “What do you want out of life?” on its head.
     
each medium or technique offers an appeal of its own.... One jumps in and, if lucky, finds ways to proceed.
— Jasper Johns
  • There's an allure to creating monotypes - destruction in creation. I've been attempting to create monotypes, the process distills down to this: you destroy what you created to create something new. The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article on Jasper Johns process of creating his monotypes.
     
  • Jon Wilkening got me to sit down with him for his podcast The Creative Bar - we discuss coffee, Scotch, photography, projects and process - give a listen and let us know what you think. 
     
  • In art you know what you like when you see it, just as you know when you detest something. Don't stop there,  now ask yourself "why?", you won't arrive at an answer with ease. Paul Klee suggested to analyze the most elementary components—line, form, and colour—to determine what makes an image successful or problematic.
     
  • When I visited my family in April, I made this bread with one change to the recipe: I used yeast that needed to be activated. The added time I had to wait for the yeast worked in my favour - rather than throwing everything into a bowl and making it quickly, this added step of waiting for the yeast to do its thing slowed me down and made me pay attention; something we all forget to do in our fast paced lives. And yes, it turned out perfectly
     
  • 10,000 hours of practice may make perfect, but it isn’t equal when it comes to creativity, which must be original, meaningful, and surprising. Fair warning: it’s a long read.
     
  • W. Eugene Smith made a lasting impact on photojournalism with his photo essays, here’s a look at Country Doctor, which helped to highlight the shortage of country doctors.
     
  • Rob Hudson is not your typical landscape photographer, he uses words and creates fiction in his photography series. This was one of the first of his series, Toward the Sun, that I came across.
     
  • A very short documentary about Ed Ruscha (roo-SHAY) who has had a very long career, “I hope people are inspired by Ed's very earnest approach to art-making and the reminder that ideas evolve and the best we can do is to follow our instincts and move with them.” — Felipe Lima (director)

That's it for this month, thanks for taking the time to read! If you enjoyed this Newsletter pass it along to someone else who might like it, or tell me what you thought.

If you'd like to have this Newsletter delivered to your inbox you can subscribe here.

Kristopher

Newsletter - May 2017

HELLO!

It's May, can you believe it? Hope everyone has been having a productive year so far — some of you probably made resolutions for the year, are you still on top of those? One of mine, the Postcard project, is still on going and I still have some great postcards left to share with you.

INTERESTING THINGS

The main reason people give up on their ideas is they underestimate the effort gap: the time it will take to go from idea to fruition
— Scott Berkun
  • Inspiration, ideas or creativity, which is most important? Hint: the answer is none of the above. Berkun has a short series of tweets which might interest some of you to read. For those who want the answer, keep reading I'll address it at the end of this newsletter.
     
  • "Walking is an act of faith. Walking is, after all, interrupted falling. We see, we listen, we speak, and we trust that each step we take won’t be our last, but will lead us into a richer understanding of the self and the world.” A very interesting essay by Garnette Cadogan on the realities of being black in America.
     
  • "Walking is a luxury in the West. Very few people, particularly in cities, are obliged to do much of it at all. Cars, bicycles, buses, trams, and trains all beckon."
     
  • I was told to check out this Commute Project 2016, I really like the concept of taking the same photo day after day after day, which got me thinking. I've been commuting and walking the same streets, near where I work, for 10 years — you'd think it would get boring after a few months or after a year or two. Yet the streets still surprise me with new visuals, change and growth. Seeing the same area day in and day out is a large influence on my photography and creativity and actively looking at what is currently around you; far too many people don't do this enough, instead they are always thinking the great scenes to be photographed are on holiday destinations. If you can't take good photographs where you live, you won't have much luck while on vacation.
     
  • I'm always curious what other photographers look at for inspiration. Do they look at famous photos? Local Artists? Their own cities? Living in Japan I look at a number of photographs taken by Japanese (also Japanese), foreigners residing here and tourists, I find this blend helps me see things that I might miss or not recognize.
     

Artist Journal

 

"The artist of the future will merely point his finger and say it's art — and it will be art."

Marcel Duchamp

 

Inspiration, ideas or creativity, which is most important? 
Commitment is the answer. It's what everyone struggles with, it's what drags most people down, it's what kills all potential good ideas. Everyone is creative, everyone problem solves in their daily life (yes, that is creativity), and inspiration can come from virtually anything. I use an Idea Journal to track my ideas, most of them are not good, most of them are terrible, however some will get developed further than the initial scribbles, and very few will become projects. There are also one or two ideas that I know would be extremely hard to make to fruition (logistics, costs, support, etc). The ideas I develop into projects are important to me, like all things important they take time and effort. I struggle with how I spend my time, and have yet to learn or read or discover any "lifehack" that makes it easier — besides doing what needs to be done every day. Does it get easier to stay committed? Yes, but it's just as easy to backslide and lose all progress, so pick yourself up and start doing it all again every day.


That's it for this month, I am keeping this one a bit shorter — so thanks for taking the time to read. If you enjoyed this month's Newsletter the best way to support it is to pass it along to someone else who might like it. If you'd like to have this Newsletter delivered to your inbox you can sign up for that here.

Newsletter - April 2017

Hello!

The past couple of weeks have been eventful, I took my second trip to Taiwan, and shortly after that I flew to Canada for a visit with family. So, for the next couple of Mondays I'll be sending out the next postcards on Instagram from Canada. 

INTERESTING THINGS

In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.
— Rollo May

I've been told by various people that the process of making art is personal and each individual must discover their own process, so it came as a surprise to read about Paul Klee, who often provided his students students with a step-by-step approach to artistic expression.

There are a lot of movie remakes in recent years, one that I am looking forward to it IT — it remains to be seen if Bill Skarsgard (at an imposing 1.91m tall) can fill the shoes of Pennywise left behind by Tim Curry.

I enjoy seeing a beautiful sunset, and can be impressed by mountains (for the record Mt Fuji is more impressive from a couple of hundred kilometers away rather than close up), in general though landscape photography bores me — there are exceptions and this series by Valda Bailey is one.

READING LIST

I picked this book up while in Taipei, and had intended to bring it with me to Canada for something to look at on the plane ride from Tokyo — however I forgot to pack it. 


That's it for this month, I am keeping this one a bit shorter — so thanks for taking the time to read. If you enjoyed this month's Newsletter the best way to support it is to pass it along to someone else who might like it. If you'd like to have this Newsletter delivered to your inbox you can sign up for that here.

Newsletter - March 2017

Hello!

February's postcards travelled around the world — hopefully arriving where they should and in a timely manner. Not to scare anyone but essentially 17% of the year has gone by already ... I'll be sending out Week 10/52 next Monday on Instagram!

Interesting Things

Anxiety is the essential condition of intellectual and artistic creation
— Charles Frankel
It’s not about waiting for hours for this moment where inspiration strikes. It’s just about showing up and getting started and then something amazing happens or it doesn’t happen. All that matters is you enable the chance for something to happen
— Christoph Niemann

A not so subtle hint to anyone who has an idea, or is currently slow-working on a project, to kick yourself into action and give that idea life ... or possibly death. Death of an idea is not the end of the world, perhaps after working on something for a while you decide it's not right, so it's ok to let an idea and project die; I recommend keeping a journal where your ideas can always live, even if it's a bad idea write it down so you have the memory of it, you never know when a bad idea might become a good one. Creating and sharing helps to build confidence and community, this applies not only to art, photography, but also to sharing cake and a meal that you made with someone, or doing crafts with your kids, or building a sandcastle on the beach with friends and watching the tide destroy it.

If you have any interesting projects that you are working on or that you know of, please let me know, I'd be happy to share with others and I might just find an idea to help me out as well.

Reading List

Back in my university days I took linguistic courses, thinking it would be like this book, researching and writing about arcane languages and symbology — wow was I so very wrong. So where do all those symbols on your keyboard come from? Each one has a checkered past, a history wrapped in scandal and tale. The Greeks lacked punctuation, the Romans had various ill-conceived plans, there wasn't much need for punctuation until the printing press came along. As boring as this all sounds, it is a rather interesting read, even if you aren't a grammar or writing nerd.

 
New Japan architecture―recent works by the world
By ギータ・K.メッタ, ディアナ・マクドナルド
 

Contrary to popular beliefs, Tokyo does not look like Blade Runner, nor is it a mecca for skyscrapers — earthquakes and strange laws relating to space keep buildings from achieving great heights. All too often blocky rectangles are all I see, that isn't to say that Tokyo and the rest of Japan are devoid of interesting architecture, there are many wonderful smaller buildings like museums, galleries, houses and government buildings that are wonderful to look at, and which I haven't begun to photograph yet.


That's it for this month, thanks for taking the time to read. If you enjoyed this month's Newsletter the best way to support it is to pass it along to someone else who might like it. If you'd like to have this Newsletter delivered to your inbox you can sign up for that here.

Newsletter - February 2017

Hello!

It's been 5 weeks since the New Year started, and my Postcard project for 2017 has been off to a good start! Make sure you follow me on Instagram for a chance to get one of the postcards I am giving away there every Monday; remember Tokyo is GMT+9.

These are the first 5 postcards that I mailed out in January, they went to California, Wisconsin, Virginia and Michigan, and one to Portugal! I hope that they have arrived or will arrive at their destinations shortly. Over the holidays I added a couple more postcards to the small collection I have that I will be giving away, one from the Fuji-five Lakes area, and one from an exhibition by Yohji Yamamoto & Yuuka Asakura.

A SHORT LIST OF INTERESTING THINGS

  • Dennis Hopper; He had several artistic pursuits beyond film and TV. He was a painter, sculptor and a prolific photographer. You've probably seen his photos, he documented and participated in Martin Luther King Jrs 1963 March on Washington and 1965 civil-rights march in Selma, Alabama. His photographs have directly inspired my own work; see "A short reading list below".
     
  • Monotypes & Monoprints, I've become interested in this style of printing after discovering the work of Mlui on Ello, who was kind enough to answer some basic questions I had and which lead me to doing a bunch of reading on the process. 
     
  • Jon Wilkening 365 Project;  doing a year long photo project is daunting in itself, Jon takes it to a whole new level using a pinhole camera with film AND publishing a zine every 50 days to compliment his year long adventure in film, publishing and pushing himself.
     
  • Is it Whiskey, or is it Whisky? Doesn't matter I typically only drink Scotch! There's a great website called Distiller (not only whiskey, but also tequila & mezcal, rum, brandy, gin), it's a great tool to discover new flavours and bottles and a fount of information if you want to learn more about various spirits.

A SHORT READING LIST

Here is what I have been reading recently

 
Wishful Drinking
By Carrie Fisher
 

This is where I've been drawing inspiration

A SHORT PREVIEW OF RECENT WORK

I'm in the early stages of creating a new series, inspiration for this came from a series of images called Seascapes by Hiroshi Sugimoto. I think this is going to take some time to get right, unlike most of my other architectural photos these will be in colour, and I want to get the colour just right; which means I need to learn a few things about tone curves and colour channels for editing.


Thanks for taking the time to read. If you enjoyed this month's Newsletter the best way to support it is to pass it along to someone else who might like it. If you'd like to have this Newsletter delivered to your inbox you can sign up for that here.

Newsletter - January 2017

Hello!

It's been quite a while since I've written one of these, so let's get down to business! On January 2nd I launched my first project of the year, where I post and give away a postcard on Instagram that I purchased from an artist or exhibit here in Japan.

Some of the postcards I'll be giving away through Instagram on Mondays

Basically every Monday in 2017 I will post a new postcard on Instagram and the first person to comment on that post will receive it! Some writing, some sharing, and hopefully introducing everyone to an interesting piece of art, and you might end up with a postcard in your mailbox. So follow me on Instagram and watch for these: hint, I'll be posting randomly on Mondays and Tokyo is GMT+9. You can read a bit more about the project and see what postcards I have given away in this gallery, I'll update it weekly. You can also read a little about in my journal as well.

A short list of interesting things

  • Aaron Siskind; I have benefited from examining his symbolic and abstract photos based on discarded and found objects. Trying to incorporate line, shape and picture plane into my own work, as well as framing subjects and foreground.
For the first time in my life, subject matter, as such, had ceased to be primary importance. Instead, I found myself involved in the relationships of these objects.
— Aaron Siskind
  • When I vacationed in Rome last June I went to an exhibit at the Palazzo delle Esponsizioni on Gianni Berengo Gardin — "Italy's greatest photographer", who has published over 250 books. I was quite impressed with his guiding photographic principle (in his own words): "When I photograph a town, I always try to start from the outside: by showing where it is, what it's like, by entering the streets, then the shops and homes and photographing objects. That's the guiding principle, a normal, logical approach, fit to discover a village but also a city or a nation. And by doing so to get to know the man."
     
  • I recently came across a photo series called "Chalkboard" by Randy West — this has inspired me to revisit some of the locations around Tokyo where I took photographs of graffiti for my "Recontextualized" series. Tentatively I am entitling this new series of images "Whitewashed".
     
  • Finally January 20th is coming up and I will be spending the day taking photos at a location somewhere in or near Tokyo. This will be the 3rd year that I have done this, the first year's images (photos taken in 2015) can be found here: "One day, one year later", and the second year's images (taken in 2016) will be posted shortly after the 20th. I wait a full year before I look at the images, coincidently this date occurs on my birthday.

A short reading list

Here is what I have been reading recently, found this to be a rather entertaining trilogy — I couldn't put it down.

 
 

This is where I've been drawing inspiration from the past couple of months.

A short preview of recent work

Over the course of the summer I went back to the camera I was using before I bought my dSLR; creatively and mentally I needed a change, and after some encouragement from friends I decided to try something completely different. I set the old Ricoh CX3 to shoot only high contrast black and white, and spent two months shooting only that style. I have already been releasing the initial images that came from this time, entitled "Tangled" (remember to look up when you are outside, there are some wonderful things that can be seen). Here is a preview of the next batch of images, which I have been calling "Zebra Art" (remember to look down when you are outside as well) in my journal — I do need to come up with a new title and I am open to suggestions, let me know if you have any appropriate titles!

A small preview of some of the images; not all of these images will be released on my site, I have another print project in mind ... more details later.


Thanks for taking the time to read. If you enjoyed this month's Newsletter the best way to support it is to pass it along to someone else who might like it. If you'd like to have this Newsletter delivered to your inbox you can sign up for that here.