A few last squibs from my photographic mission to ‘blow things up’ in response to the firework theme of The Kick-About No.40, only the only ‘blowing up’ taking place in the production of these images was me blowing down a short length of hosepipe into some very soapy water. All the breaking apart and bokeh derives from focusing through the resulting bubbles, producing these immersive, layered constellations.
Another set of soap bubble-derived scintillas produced in a Kick-About-inspired quest to simulate the pyrotechnics of a firework display in the environs of my house.
A third collection of images produced for The Kick-About No.40, with some of these not giving out an explosive vibe at all, but something much more autumnal and becalmed; leaves on the surface of a pond, or somehow the aftermath of some starry party, a black studio floor littered with the metallic confetti of a Eurovision finale…
A second assortment of ‘bubble-originated’ photographs forming part of my attempts to emulate scintillas of firework-inspired sparks for the purposes of exploring The Kick-About No.40. It does look as if I’ve been photographing handfuls of sequins or similar, or puffing smoke and glitter into the air. More prosaically, I was sitting beside a big bowl of soap suds with a length of hosepipe in my mouth, blowing mounds of bubbles into existence, before capturing all the points of lights, froth and facets in the view finder. Another run-of-the-mill day at Red’s Kingdom!
The Kick-About No.40 inevitably got me thinking about ways I might make fireworks my photographic subject without burning down the house in the process! I settled upon an equivalent phenomena that shared both the ‘rainbows’ and ephemerality of fireworks, filling a large white bowl with water and lots of washing-up liquid, and setting about blowing large heaps of bubbles. I was able to focus on, and through, all the multiple planes of the bubbles, which I soon learned produced these nicely ‘explosive’ qualities. I was reminded of the moments just after a rocket explodes, so not the big sky-born chrysanthemums, but the petering out of the last few sparks against the smudges of smoke. I took a whole bunch of photographs, always trying to find the next most expressive composition, and all the time racing against the inevitable popping of my soapy installation. There’s a few more to see over the coming days.
After the gothic shadows of our last Kick-About together, how about a bit of flash, dazzle and colour? Inspired by the delightful illustrations from various collections of Japanese firework catalogues, the Kick-Abouters are lighting things up with a vibrant display of new works made in a short time. Whizz bang ooh ahh indeed!
“My first idea for this wonderful topic was to do some machine stitching on paper, as I thought I could get some exciting and interesting firework patterns with this. However, my sewing machine had other ideas and although I have used this method before, my needles kept breaking and I had to opt for plan B – hand stitching. First I used acrylic inks as background and then added various threads, sequins and oddments from my stash. As I sat sewing it came to me that life is like a firework! It starts off at great speed, happy, colourful and joyous, then there’s a bit of brilliance and sparkle and it finally shoots off into the heavens with a giant BOOM!!“
Graeme: I do have this massive piece of glass that was taken off a neighbour’s shower… it stands perfectly by itself, so I’m going to haul it into my room and give it a whirl for more experiments.
Phil: Don’t die.
Graeme: I’ll try! I see why you love this practice so much. It’s so much fucking fun! I got lost in it.
“For some reason when I initially read the prompt list a lot of flowers types were in it (in my old persons head!) – so I worked with building photos and added flowers and water pics (from the archives) and Japanese type in a square format, but I had killed off any vitality. I ditched the type and changed the format to 1:3, and eventually lost the building layer. Also accidentally rotated the pic to portrait. I think it improved the piece.”
“This prompt got me thinking about ways I might make fireworks my photographic subject without burning down the house in the process! I settled upon an equivalent phenomena that shared both the ‘rainbows’ and ephemerality of fireworks, filling a large white bowl with water and lots of washing-up liquid, and setting about blowing large heaps of bubbles. I was able to focus on, and through, all the multiple planes of the bubbles, which I soon learned produced these nicely ‘explosive’ qualities. I was reminded of the moments just after a rocket explodes, so not the big sky-born chrysanthemums, but the petering out of the last few sparks against the smudges of smoke. I took a whole bunch of photographs, always trying to find the next most expressive composition, and all the time racing against the inevitable popping of my soapy installation. Even as I was happy with the resulting images, I felt pulled towards getting into the explosiveness a little more, evoking the sights and sounds of a firework display, and so putting some of these images to work. The short film ‘Whizz Bang Ooh Aah’ was the result of trying to do just that.”
“When I looked through the fireworks catalogues at all the different images, it made me think that the artists were trying to project their dreams into the sky. Visions of wishes and magical things. As usual, the collage turned out very differently than I imagined it, but I think it captures the spirit of what I intended to do.“
you dreamed without beginning–
breath, stars, flowers
you were happy to hold
hands with what was
you closed your eyes and sang
from the inside, way down,
listening to your heart beating,
rearranging the pattern
you released what you had not
seen—you gave it away
you dreamed with your arms open
and became entirely unafraid–
“I really loved the Japanese firework illustrations for this prompt, they’re so controlled and carefully arranged; the opposite to what I think of as a firework going off, but they work beautifully. I’ve played with some photos I took a few weeks ago at the Britzer Garten in Berlin, where there was a fabulous display of Dahlias glowing in the autumn sunshine. The flowers were so firework-like, the colours so bright and hot, I really fell for them. We don’t have bonfire night here in Germany, so the Dahlias will have to do for me this year!“
“I was immediately struck by the simplicity of the illustrations, and how a few simply arranged shapes and colours could represent the forms of fireworks so well. I wanted to create something complex from something very simple and immediate, so I whipped up some very basic animation loops and then duplicated and rotated until some suitably cool looking abstract effects were generated. From a vertical orientation they remind me of fireworks shooting up into the sky and scattering in the atmosphere.”
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to contribute to this Kick-About because of time constraints, but I found I kept remembering the firework nights of my childhood (which, as you may already know, was a very long time ago!). In the end, the only way to get these memories out of my head was to put them down in words. Hopefully, it may trigger a memory for those of you old enough to remember, and for all the others, think of it as an example of the 1950’s English family at play. Weird or what!?”
You’ll find a PDF version here.
The last time painter, Fernand Léger, featured as a prompt for the Kick-About, we were treated to a mouth-watering display of food, fruit, and flowers. For our next creative departure, our destination is Leger’s 1919 painting, La Ville. Enjoy your city-break!