Monday, 7 February 2011

An Introduction to Rugby

Sports seldom come high on the agenda when planning a weekend, particularly when it involves activities other than tennis or football. However, the rugby Six Nations began this weekend just past and it was on Friday that I enjoyed my first-ever televised rugby game. That is not to say I have never darted through a room or stumbled about a bar that might have been screening a game in the past, but I have never made a conscious effort to sit down and watch it. It seems, from my experience this weekend, that I may very well have been missing out on something special.

As violent as it was delightful, the opening game between Wales and England was a tremendously entertaining battle that saw two devastatingly talented teams ruck it out over the course of eighty minutes. My sisters, who are both avid Rugby Union fans, leant a hand in providing an outline of the rules as the players darted back and forth across the field in a brutal ballet that was quite possibly one of the most exhilarating sporting events I have ever seen.

It will not be as easy to catch the rest of the games in Poland unless I manage to find a sports bar over the course of the next couple of weeks, but the chance of them screening rugby over football in Wroclaw is pretty slim. Regardless, I shall be on the prowl in an attempt to pursue my new favourite sport and encourage others to do likewise.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Headphones

The journey back to Wroclaw from London today was astonishingly peaceful. This is entirely due the carelessness of the the stewards, who were unable to notice that I did not take my headphones out from the moment I boarded the plane. On the outbound flight to Stansted I was driven quite insane by the continuous stream of adverts that bombard every passenger from the overhead speakers - I have never seen anybody buy scratch cards or smoke free cigarettes on board but the stewards still insists on pushing them. I can therefore understand their looks of discontent as they plod back and forth up the isles, peddling absolute rubbish.

My return trip therefore provided me with ample opportunity to indulge in James Blake (whose debut album is supposed to come out this month) and 'oOoOO'. Though I am still unsure how I should go about pronouncing the name of the later act, their first E.P. was released last year and is well worth the £5 it cost to get hold of it on iTunes... music vouchers were very much the theme of my birthday gifts this year, allowing me to spend far too much time musing over new melodies.



Sunday, 16 May 2010

High Contrast

I received word this morning that a limited edition, hand-bound version of High Contrast Review's first publication will be available in six weeks or so. It will feature a short story I wrote for HCR earlier this year.

The latest film for TLEVP - shot in Sao Paulo - is undergoing it's 7th edit and should be released soon.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Cambridge 2010

I am currently in England where I am working on the final TLEVP film in Cambridge. As you may have seen in my 'News' section, the theme of the film is Homestay.

It has been an interesting project to work on for several reasons, the first of which being that I the majority of interviews I am conducting are shot in the houses of the interviewees. This makes sense when taking into account the subject of the film, but it is certainly not the easiest thing to do; particularly when the interviewees have an appointment at the local hospital in order to see their newborn grandchild for the first time. However, I have met some real characters so far and I am confident that the film will be a success. The other intriguing factor with this particular film is that I am familiar with my surroundings. I can not compare the Cambridge experience to Shanghai, New York, Casablanca, Sao Paulo etc. as I am capturing footage of an environment without the tourist goggles. I know what needs to be filmed, but at the same time I am trying to imagine what the audience may wish to see and how they wish to see it in a completely different way. I am enjoying myself.

I shall return to Poland later on next week and continue editing both China and Brazil. China is literally on the cusp of release and I am ever so excited about it!


Friday, 22 January 2010

Chinese Internet Rant and Index Explanation


Ever since returning to Poland at the beginning of the month, my days have been occupied with learning and short journeys on the tram, while my nights are spent cutting, splicing and tinkering with the remaining films for The Learning English Video Project. I am most excited about the way they are turning out; particularly 'Insights from China', which still has no official release date. This particular film is like no other from the series and, although I should be disinclined to choose a particular favorite, 'Insights..' has something very special about it. Due to the current commentaries on China's Internet situation (nobody in mainland China will be able to read this blog for instance) I am curious to see what the reaction will be concerning the film... This very issue in itself troubles me somewhat. Of course the Internet is censored, as different countries permit different things to be made available. No other country has grabbed national headlines as much as China has with regard to Internet strictness and that may be the source of my frustration. The Chinese government claimed that the Americans were imposing 'information imperialism', while Americans condemned the Chinese decision to censor Google searches on subjects such as Tiananmen Square and Tibet... It is well known that there is information (digital or otherwise) that is not made available to the American, British etc. public and so it is seemingly impossible that the aforementioned Western governments should criticise the Chinese in the fashion in which they have chosen. I am not shocked by this criticism, just disappointed... 

I have been collecting grades for the first semester of my MA this week. The Polish system is an interesting one; an 'Index' (a pocket sized green book with personal information, a passport photo and space for grades) is supplied, wherein one writes one's subject information. The teachers for each subject then fill in the Index and hand it back to you complete with their signature. So far my marks are showing the results of a fruitful semester that I have thoroughly enjoyed, although I may have been a little naive in thinking it possible to study during the day and edit at night with their being possible side affects...  I may now consider myself a polyphasic sleeper - something new for 2010.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

2010

Wroclaw, Poland.

I spent my Christmas and New Years Eve in Shanghai. I have several projects in China at the moment and I needed to return to Asia for the third time in 2009, primarily to develop research in a paper I am writing on the subject of Confucius. As well as working on The Learning English Video Project and planning a future film to be shot in Cambridge, I have been living a double-life as a student by day; attending lectures and seminars on all things embracing Political Science. My M.A. is in International Relations, a subject I find both fascinating and inspiring. Since October last year, I have been taking classes in Economics, Human Rights Protection, International Relations Theories, Environmental Protection as well as region specific modules and additional courses in Polish and Mandarin Chinese. The first semester is coming to a close and so my time is occupied with exam preparation and essay writing. Even though this utterly rules out the option of a bustling social life, I simply can not put enough emphasis on the joys and benefits education can bring. I am starting 2010 as I wish to end it; in the grips of an exasperating educational exchange. 

The Learning English Video Project is far from complete. The EnglishClub team have been adding resources to the films that are already available to watch and I am working hard on edits for the next two releases. 'Insights from China' should be online in the coming weeks but there is still no word on an official release date.

I am not one for new years resolutions as such, but I do feel as though I did not read enough in 2009. I am going to make full use of my library card in 2010 and make sure that I leave some time aside for reading things outside of the 'scientific literature' bracket. 

With that said and done however, I need to get through a few more chapters of perhaps one of the most peculiar books I have ever encountered; the first volume of a series on ancient Chinese philosophy. The book was written in English by a pair of Chinese scholars and the style of writing baffles me...

Happy New Year!

Daniel.


Saturday, 27 June 2009

Lamenting the death of Michael Jackson


Somerset, England.


The people who saw Michael Jackson live and joined in the chorus were themselves performing in the act; they were engaged in that collaboration of the audience with the artist which is a necessity, but not always an aspect of, all art.(1) After witnessing the countless collections of video clips and digital collage, revisiting the highs and lows of Michael's career, it is by no means a feat of astonishing bravery to conclude that the King of Pop possessed genial qualities. Michael's perplexing ability to draw the crowd into manic frenzy and tremendous applause, was, and will forever be, an attribute mastered by performers miniscule number. This is the ultimate reason why celebrities, politicians, critics, journalists and members of the general public will continue to occupy media attention with emphatic quotations of sorrow and lament for years to come. 


I believe that the retelling of Michael Jackson's story is a positive thing, even if it is only possible to retell after his passing. The inevitable negativity that musicians endure from the media ultimately distract the audience from what the performer sets out to achieve and this is often menacing. The extraordinary dedication, skill and prowess that were undertaken to achieve the height of fame conquered by Michael are unimaginable, but the courage and values that were mirrored in his artistic qualities only just fall short of impossible. No performer should attempt to bite off red-hot iron unless he has a good set of teeth(2) however, and Michael's august nature had been rotting under the heavy mass of media pressure for over a decade. 


The negative publicity was indeed a poisonous web spun by the powers that be and I often found myself being tangled up in it. But then there always was a nostalgic resonance whenever I heard the sound of his name that threw me back to the first time I heard 'Speed Demon', 'Another Part of Me' and 'The Way You Make Me Feel'. 'Bad' was one of the first records I ever owned and it was certainly one of the most frequently played. I was 7 when I got the album on cassette and I remember being fascinated by the fact that Michael used to black. As a 7 year old, I was (perhaps somewhat understandably) unable to comprehend how and, more importantly, why a black man would change his skin colour. There is only one way left to escape the alienation of present day society: to retreat ahead of it(3), but what I was unable to fathom at the time was the beautiful eccentricity, individuality and valor that Michael harboured. That he released such penetrating music was the icing on the cake for me, but this was something I did not take the time to reflect upon until his death. 


If anything positive can be drawn from what has happened over the last few days, it will be a newfound respect for Michael and his work. The musical legacy he left behind is set in stone to act as an inspiration for generations to come but also as a bleak reminder of what happens to the heroes we torture in the press.



1 - Shamelessly adapted from T.S Eliot's 'Marie Lloyd' (1922)

2 - Harry Houdini

3 - Roland Barthes