Category Archives: |The Way Things Look|

[Film] Editing: The Fragmentation of Time.

the luxury of documentary shooting: early morning en route to "keenjhar lake."

“It’s in Edit.”

A term that’s been thrown around so much around anyone who’s worked in media, film, tv etc.

But there’s a certain meat-packing assembly line mentality to the way this phrase does the rounds in an environment like TV.

In Pakistan, where TV channels have been bubbling towards climax like a pot of unwatched soup, sitting on an edit to finish a project has become this unlikely media community’s annoying daily chore.



I say unlikely because it’s precisely that.

set-up for a long-night of real-time capturing.


It’s been an arena where the most unlikely mix of people have come together around the common process of think-shoot-edit-deliver. Motorcycling lads from middle-class families trek from far away not only to make an earnest living, but sometimes also to be part of less regimented working mindset. 20-30 somethings from rich families come via chauffer or in any case a decent car. Mod-squad foreign return hipsters, sometimes even with foreign film degrees will work closely with a 48 year-old journalist who’s been working in Urdu print for the last 25 years. A local art-school graduate in her mid-20’s, engaged to be married soon, perhaps, will revise the edits of the night-time editor who attends classes for a BSc during the day, saving up for his sister’s wedding.


I know I’m pulling big fat cliche’s out of the air, but this is a good sampling of how it’s felt. Perhaps this is also because I’ve largely worked in environments that cater t0 a more youthful and/or westernized audience. In any case, amidst this constantly shifting melting pot of varying attitudes, backgrounds and perceptions about this field of work, editing, the kind of step-child of filmmaking, has become the most neglected process. For the glamour-seeking lot, glorifying themselves as “power-producers,” perpetually emanating an uber-busy, stressed out vibe, it’s much easier to tout a camera, be present on a shoot, and take ownership of that process. Editing, however, requires the complete opposite mindset: calm, durability, a long-attention span, a shit loads of patience. Things that will only come to you when there’s truly a vision present.

Although I’ve been stuck like glue to this process of creation, creativity, concept and execution, I sometimes think I’m in the wrong environment.

images from my college thesis of a moment in the subway, a plane window, a train... further fragmented as the backdrop for on-campus post-cards.



Editing is really like playing with time.

An infinite array of moods, rhythms, stories and messages lie in the juxtaposition of even two shots. It’s equally necessary, though, as I’ve learned (painfully slowly) to look at the bigger picture, and the relationship between bigger chunks of time.

But this fascination for breaking up time to such a degree, conveying experience in one never-ending montage of starts and stops…. this has eaten me (and my personal time) alive over the last few years. I seem to harbor a need to explore every possible variation of the way one picture can replace another in the viewer’s stream of consciousness. Maybe that’s why I’ve favoured styles such as split screen: when I can’t fit in all the variations that I like, I have two images running simultaneously. (I recognize, of course, that this is the poorest reason possible to use split-screen).

I’m re-examining my approach to editing not only because laying down the big picture is simply more practical in terms of work deadlines, but also because I finally recovered a digital version of my first finished piece. A thesis work, 20 minutes long, called Settled in Transit. The whole thing has a voiceover that’s repetitively looped, like a deliberate echo. I never articulated exactly why I felt that this persistently disjointed delivery would enhance the piece. But in hindsight it seems that an ever-changing stream of experience, a never-ending chain of flickering images, settled, as it were, in its very transience… has been an obsession for me.

a wider vista on painstaking detail.

2/25th's of a second. who am i kidding.


I’m beginning to think that perhaps this ADD approach to visuals relates to other aspects of my life? It’s funny that only now, at a stage where I’m re-examining my life, long-term goals, etc., do I understand the reassuring, binding balm of a larger story thread.

Coming back to the issue at hand though, I suddenly feel completely rattled. I’m fearful of, though simultaneously exhilarated by the notion that I, in fact, perhaps know nothing about story-telling. Narrative is the hardest thing to construct, and I believe that tenet. I feel like it’s the easiest and the toughest, because it flows from the true nature of our own experience of time. So in a way, we are trying to imitate nature. Perhaps what I have been trying to do is play with the laws of nature [i.e. time & the human mind’s need to perceive time as a story], before actually understanding and establishing a firm grasp of those laws themselves.

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Ode to Packaging.

riotous repetition @ harvey nicks.

The acerbic contrast of pungent, bold colour and minimalist shape, form, cut or line. I love aesthetics in Europe (as compared to the US). The food halls of M&S, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges are a perfectly legitimate kind of art space from my perspective.

recycled chic & an installation of sachets.

edible simplicity a la grade school text.


The first time I saw ( or rather smelt ) the Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road in 2007, my intoxicated olfactories were only further rewarded by the delectable sight of chocolate brown and pink decor. Somehow, knowing that gooey, chunky, circular sponges of richness lined the counter in similar repetitive patterns of pretty pastel and deepest chocolate, the whole experience seemed more edible.

The same way a the smell and sight of a box of crayons makes you want to eat them.


Sans-serif and rounded rectangles punctuate the vastness of dark stretches of wall at the Tate Modern. The industrial, warehouse feel of this remarkable space tempers the sheer richness of and alacrity of colour.

i love the electrified isolation emanating from this neon-styrofoam phenomenon.

also offered in shocking pink and deep purple.

Finally in SOHO, this simple slab of blue set inside a regular building facade called out to me. (This is of course besides the urge I felt to go inside offer my soul in exchange for work).

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On the Chopping Board: a Random Study.

It’s nice to see vegetables, as opposed to miles of digital footage, on my chopping board.

That too complete with foreboding, suggestive shapes, glossy red balls, and a whole load of innuendo.




the end.

the high-key tomato story.

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Art near the Kitchen Sink.

or so i think it is.

When I was on holiday this time in July, my Nikon D40x never left the suitcase. Except when I went to Bath for a night and even then it’s battery turned out have one photo worth of charge. I let it go, that pressure of capturing something, feeling like a maniacally clicking factory of beauty, therefore capturing the mediocre. It’s a struggle I’ve started to experience in the kitchen of all places.

I’m sure the visuals are an important part for many people who like to produce food. I also like the flat, even lighting I get on our kitchen counters from the  flood of fluorescent lights under the cabinets. It enhances the details in the surface and produces these mild, looming hovers of shadow.

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Post-holiday Holistic

i’ve totally forgotten how to write in html.

that’s how long it’s been since i last blogged.

millennium musing.

It seemed a shame not to capture one month of soul-searching, eating, drinking, looking at bright colours, and walking, walking, walking… on london’s bridges, through alleys, round quaint corners.


but tied down by laptop i wasn’t going to be.

along with my usual pillage of art-officiale

[tickets,

maps,

brochures….

more tickets]


…a fistful,

(ok, more like an overnighter-full)

of H&M shopping…


…one of the more easily relatable forms of baggage i brought back with me was a sampling of some alternative food.

one was just cold-pressed sunflower oil; (while i’ve read up on a bit on the advantages of cold-pressed vs. regular, it’s not something that’s going to make as big a difference in my head as….)

quinoa.

also got organic butter beans and multi-grain flaxseed, spelt, [thingamajig] crackers.




back to quinoa.

quinoa fluffs and expands effusively when done, becoming a warm, fuzzy vat of healthy carb.

the thing that makes a big difference in my diet picture, and makes me so happy every time i cook with it, i want to don a fifties-style kitchen glamour suit complete with sky-blue apron and matching patent later heels and kick one up behind me in delight.

i’d heard of bulgar wheat, but that was my only (imaginary) foray into serious alternatives to the all-encompassing problem of wheat. brown rice is fine, but it still felt like i was just compartmentalizing my eating life between portions of desi-home-made-dish no.1/2/3/4 + roti/brown rice.

So what makes quinoa so special? It was more just the way i rethought my relationship with food, got inspired to make it my own, while i was away in london. i once again saw the simplicity of grilling assorted vegetables, baking fish within ten minutes, and perhaps most importantly, got an inner whiff of the simple herb, spice and vinegar combinations that sort of liberate your palette.

i got a whiff, and i’ve been intoxicated every since, to buy, plan, re-use ingredients: to make the most of the the eatables i love.

Today was the third time i used quinoa.

A simple online concoction using zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes & red onion as a grilled warm salad along with chopped-basil-infused quinoa.

Before the two are united in a hearty, healthy union, the cooked quinoa is doused with the a dressing of all-essential balsamic vinegar, whisked with olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper. The same dressing marinates the chopped prepped vegetables before they’re grilled.

Veggies glistening in their pre-marriage bath


One of the things that appealed to me about this recipe is it celebrates the way balsamic vinegar can make the simplest ingredients robust and full of tangy, zesty lightness. As the author said, “repeat after me: balsamic makes everything better.” The famous balsamic vinegar / honey reduce will always make a lot of salads taste divine. If it’s an emergency and I just want some taste in a psuedo-gourmet snack, i’ve even whisked balsamic vinegar with maple syrup and its served me just fine.



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Some potassium with your muffin, dear?

Some say it’s a key source of potassium, a good carb before a workout; according to my grandfather, a sheer necessity of life, the proverbial apple to keep the doctor away. From an entirely too well-stocked pile of stomach-upset-experiences, I know its apt to make hell freeze over, under that stubborn stomach hide.

In my kitchen, the banana  has become a bankable prelude to muffins.

Overdue comfort, a whiff of flour, a peek at those cuddly, fisher-price-esque plastic measuring spoons, and a few overripe banana’s on the dining table.

Surefire signs that a batch of banana chocolate walnut muffins are in the offing.

Because it’d never be just banana muffins.

Not to take back my testament to their gooey wonderfulness. But it serves as such a perfect encasement for the comfort-oozing amalgam of melted, pliable chocolate and walnut. Not to mention, it’s simply incomparable in its function as an enhancer of batter.

Talk about the consistency of heaven. Instead of milk, or excessive oil, or any of those other liquid elements that moisten dry ingredients, the mush of mashed bananas simply makes everything stick with a stodginess that would leave even the most nervous, scatter-brained baker feeling completely secure.

Thus, in a day dedicated to the fluff-realm of lets-pretend-we’re-hip-amateur-cooks-who-know-something-about-food, S and I embarked on the non-stop banana-chocolate-walnut procedure.


It started with S getting frisky with bananas, nuts, and his knife.
Innuendo was inescapable.



2

1

Chocolate chopped. eggs. mixed with oil.

poured into pristine white.

glisteningly separate.



4

3


This (Fig. 4) is another one of those sights that reminds me of childhood. The sound of the plastic spatula scraping against the bowl, and the simplicity with which the yolk and oil mixture remains distinct from the flour. I almost hate forcing them to mix, and tend to just circle around the side of bowl so that the liquid merges slowly.

With the florid, reassuring elasticity of banana mush, everything turns warmer. The expectant piles of deep chocolate shards and smokey walnut browns are set off against the summery mixture.




So there you have it. The warmest, tenderest, cuddliest, most reassuring muffins to experience.




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Mushroom Ivory, Part 2

I know I’ve written before about my OCD mushroom ritual, but I think I got a little closer to capturing their compelling alabaster veneer with the camera this time. Thus it had to be shared. There’s something about their squishy, rubbery softness when you slice into their sublime purity. So disarmingly whole, when they gaze (un-quartered), face upwards, like a one-dimensional collage of organic circles.

Until they’re cut.



Then, deep, velvety eggplant tinged cores bristling with fibry detail, softly blemish the inner edges of these unabashedly pristine fans of creaminess.


Whether it’s mushrooms and tomatoes sandwiched between mustard-slapped bread, or mushrooms lightly sauteed and salted along with spinach, their robust smokiness is always enhanced by a burnished garlic clove that’s literally melted into them in the pan.

Break a clove upon the edge of your knife, slide it onto the fat in the pan, and watch its flavour permeate.

Sacrifice the virginal mushrooms to this smoldering altar, till they are sullied by heat and poignancy into a completely different form.



smoky hues of brown and violet fuse together as they sizzle in a lemon zing.




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