Past, Present and Future …

 

Exposition Universelle – Paris 1900

What started off as an innocent question on why we are shooting plastic has turned into a deep dive of old dinosaur emotions and recognition of our roots and influences. Most probably we will also be taking a little detour back to the future before we are done.

The Eiffel Tower for sure laid the foundations for the “Mechanics Made Easy” play sets found in 1901 and must have played an inspirational role in why some of our LEGO bricks contain holes in the middle.

Nobel prize winner Sir Harry Kroto actually goes as far as blaming the UK railway failures on the younger generation growing up with plastic (read LEGO) instead of perforated metal (read Mecanno).

We don’t want to turn this into an epic discussion of which toy is best (remember those epic Nikon vs Canon discussions) but stay on the why we are shooting plastic.

Do we look for capturing that perfect simple plastic smile?
Do we want to create epic movie scenes in our own cellar ?
Do we …

We will continue to search for the why, in our past, our present and our future …

Shooting plastic, one brick at a time …

Me2

Avanaut

“The First Attempt” by Avanaut

Why do I take photographs of Lego? That is a question that took me by surprise a couple of weeks ago. I realized I had never asked myself that question before. Finding the answer was not easy, and it took a brief conversation with my wife for me to see it.

I am photographing Lego because I am a never-was movie director making a living outside the movie industry. That’s what my wife said, and it pretty much sums it up. See, I always loved movies. Star Wars, obviously, was huge, but many others as well, classics and contemporary. As a kid I made some movies myself with my dad’s Super-8 film camera, but film was expensive and my dad did not allow me to hack the camera’s filmport to produce a widescreen format picture. My movies were not very good; a widescreen wouldn’t have improved them, but still. I would build miniature sets and models to shoot, but the miserable camera could not focus on anything, since it had no macro. I grew up watching great movies and reading all about them. As a teenager I subscribed to Starlog, Cinemagic, and Cinefantastique. Cinefex, Premiere and Empire came along a little later. I’m soaked with that stuff; it’s in my DNA. I sometimes dream in 2.39:1.

That was a long time ago.

When I stumbled into photographing Lego Star Wars in 2009, I quickly connected to those times when I dreamed of making movies. I soon incorporated into the photos many of the cinematic ideas I had toyed with in my youth: widescreen, smoke, aerial particles, snow, blizzards, tight closeups and stories — the short stories that I like to write to go with the photos. I think this through via cinema; even my “Leftovers & Alternatives” album in Flickr is allegoric to a DVD “deleted scenes” extra. Lego is a perfect medium for all this. It’s playful, and there’s so much to choose from. You can have a minifigure on a piece of a coloured paper and still make a strong photo with that; yet there’s everything from a coffee cup to the Death Star to add, if you like.

This soon became a sort of creativity outlet, a free turf to express ideas I could not use in my day job as an illustrator. I see my photographs as single-frame plays I can write, produce, direct and shoot, but with characters and concepts I grew up with. In a way, I’m exploring an unfulfilled career path, but with Lego and present day tools, like the DSLR camera. It’s old but it’s new. It’s perfect!

~ Vesa Lehtimäki

“Breaking in the Tauntaun (Revised & Rejected) by Avanaut
“Last Ship to Rendezvous Point” by Avanaut

 

The Best Laid Plans…

Today did not go according to plan.

I was supposed to work; it’s Monday and normally I am chained to my desk. I had a great blog post I wanted to write about Big Inc plus my to-do list is a mile long. But I didn’t do any of that.

I played hooky.

Or to be exact, I grabbed my mini figures, camera and headed into the mountains for a lovely hike with a friend. The day was beautiful, the photo gods were smiling on me and I even got back in time to pick up my son from school. It was a glorious day.

I guess this is why I don’t work for Big Inc.

~ xxsjc

Stay tuned, tomorrow we will post another amazing guest blog on the universal question of  “Why?

LEGO Inc.

As most of you know Me2 and Crew won the fantastic The LEGO Movie Scandinavian Master Builder Challenge organized by the great folks over at Warner Bros and LEGO and as part of winning this epic challenge, Me2 and Crew got invited to visit some awesomeness in LEGO land.

Signing in to visit the top secret production plant where LEGO is born.

And awesomeness it was.

The crew signed in to visit the top secret production plant and got a guided tour (#nopictures) into the nirvana of LEGO, Prod. KOM One, the Billund Production Plant.

A most amazing tour that just gave a fantastic insight in the clutch power and drive for quality which truly represents the company motto det bedste er ikke for god, or the best is just not good enough. A motto introduced by the founding father Ole Kirk Christansen a good 80 years ago and it still hold strong today.

The exclusive LEGO Ideas House …

Our guided VIP tour continued to the LEGO Idea House, giving us an exclusive insight in the history of the Company.
From the wooden ducklings and fire trucks over the plastic cars to the brick.
The brick which is the cornerstone of the LEGO world.
A brick which did not change fundamentals since its patent on January 28, 1958.

… giving fantastic insights in a long and rich history …

While our time was limited in the LEGO Idea House and we most probably could have spent a few more hours discussing the rich past of this fantastic company (yes, we are biased) I do feel confident we are contributing with our photography (or should I say legography) to the next chapter of the rich history of the LEGO Company, one picture at a time …

A history of being Stuck in Plastic …

Me2

Teddy

Teddy
On our way up to the board room of the haunted house in the lands of L. we bumped into Teddy
Teddy, childhood memories and cobwebs alike I could not resist in taking a picture before we continue the discussion on big Inc. and our relentless search for the why we shoot plastic …
M.

The Tea Party

Our Friends are having an awesome Tea Party

Most interesting discussions are happening here on Stuck In Plastic.

While exploring the most innocent question of Why we are shooting Plastic, I mentioned that for me (read me as in me, myself and I) the touch with the working class reality aka big Inc. is a key driver and influence.

I mentioned that escaping from the Big Inc. Madness (be it cubicle, production line or board room) into shooting Plastic was one of my drivers, yet I could not see me abandon this and retire on an undisclosed empty island with only sun, sea and hopefully some fresh water to pursue my love of photography.

I mentioned I needed both in my life balance.

Nothing special, and artists have gone before us who find their roots directly in the working class blue jeans culture or office cubicles from big Inc. corporations.  From Bruce to Dilbert, from U2 to song of innocence on the latest Apple keynote (ForceTouch anyone ?).

Yet, Shelly reads it completely different (or not) and posted her view here and turning it in a discussion of Independent Art vs Big Inc.

A most interesting road I for sure want to explore in more depth.

What is most satisfying ?

Releasing a new song to millions of users on iTunes through big Inc. Apple or going Indie ?

Most probably an unfair question, but what if we start to explore an art exhibition in the board room of Shell ?

Would you refuse or take the window of opportunity ?

Food for thought I will be thinking about more the coming days, but first we have a top secret visit to the HQ of another Big Inc. ahead of us …

Another Point of View

Psst… want to know a secret?

+Me2 and I have been working together for nine months and have only talked once on the phone. All communications have been through Kik, this blog and an occasional e-mail. If you know anything about communication then you know this is a very limited palette.

Sometimes I think that +Me2  and I see eye to eye and then he posts a piece like yesterday and I know we don’t. Don’t get me wrong, we have much in common, more than we can both properly express. But we arrive at our mutual love of legography from such different roads it is almost laughable.

I have never worked for Big Inc. the closest I have gotten to a real job was a four year stint in an arts non-profit. I have been out of the corporate work force for so long that when +Me2 starts expressing business concepts I feel that he is speaking another language.

I am really trying not to take offense at this choice bit:

I feel a drive to take pictures and work my “art” but I need the touch with reality and big Inc. to feel that same reality and feel the power balance and not just live in my ivory tower seeking for inner beauty just within myself.

Seriously is this how he views artists? I am sure you can find this stereo type practicing their art somewhere, but I am pretty sure I can lift the lid off any corporate hive and find similarly delusional individuals. They are not limited to the arts world.

Any artist who can count themselves as successful (by which I mean they can pay their bills) has been playing the business game just like any Big Inc. The scope might be smaller, but the spreadsheets, meetings, budgets, advertising campaigns, search for marketshare is no different. We just get the work done without the buzzwords.

Maybe +Me2 and I need to pick up the phone more because something seems to have been lost in translation.

~ xxsjc

After this post I wonder if +Me2 and I will make it another 9 months?
An interesting article on Art graduates and income from the WSJ. 

I was surprised to run into this little Chima bird when I went hiking this weekend. A welcome sight after a tough hike

Brick Inc.

Herr K. from Hamburg being featured by Brick Inc.

Today @brickcentral featured me on IG with this great post on IG:

“It’s hard to work for Darth Inc and pursue your love of legography, but Me2 seems to find a good balance. When he’s not performing some corporate daring do…he’s creating some of the best Lego photos around. … Now if we can only get Me2 to work less and post more” … 
And indeed there is a lot of truth in this post when it comes to striking a balance between corporate live and just shooting being Stuck in Plastic.
Would I want to work less and post more ?
For sure there are days when Darth is going crazy on the flavor of  the latest marsh-mellows on the Death Star I would like to join Dilbert and take a corporate break, but in general it is the shopfloor reality of corporate Inc. that keeps me going.
It is not a work life balance, but a balance of life.

I would not be me without the corporate Inc. and me in my relationship with Darth and corporate Inc. would not be the same if I hadn’t my legography to escape the corporate madness for a while and sharpen the saw (ouch, is it still political correct to mention the seven habits now that Dr. Stephen R. Covey is no longer setting the scene ?).

So it is a synergy that feeds upon each other and strengthen and influences each other time and time again.

I feel a drive to take pictures and work my “art” but I need the touch with reality and big Inc. to feel that same reality and feel the power balance and not just live in my ivory tower seeking for inner beauty just within myself.

Brick Inc. 
Big Inc.
Inc.

Star Wars, LEGO, Disney, … a series of Big Inc. that influences our creativity and artistic self.

  

What is in a Name?

Sometimes an unusual social media handle means nothing, sometimes it means everything.

Take xxsjc for example. It’s a mouthful, it does not roll off the tongue easily and it makes no sense, but it has been my handle since the early days of Twitter. You know, back when people actually talked to each other, before Twitter became a fire hose of self promotion. It is an amalgamation of a person who introduced me to Twitter and my own initials. It is also a nod to the scantily clad women that I used to photograph. But over the years it has taken on a larger and deeper meaning for me.

You see I am not a nice person. I know I look like one and I act like one…most of the time. But deep-down, and in my not so distant past, you will find many examples of the mean s.o.b. that I really am.  My kids like to call those times when I really get pissed off as “when the masks slip”. My daughters current boyfriend is scared to death of me and honestly most of my current friends had to take a real leap of faith to embark on the road to friendship with me.

xxsjc is a play on the more common “xo” used in conjunction with a signature when conversing with a good friend or a loved one. For me using the xx before my name is a reminder to play nice with others, to spread good will and to leave this community a better place than how I found it. Playing with toys has been very good for me and helps me to be the person I want to be. I know I will have achieved my goal when the person behind the mask and the mask become one.

~ xxsjc

Does your Instagram / social media name have any special meaning?

Image by @BigToyPoo

Sun, Sea and Dinosaurs …

A selfie in the streets of Granada

Only last week we openly asked ourselves why and triggered a great response across our social platforms of choice, from instagram to G+ and FB alike with lots of likes, shares, great comments and food for thought …

From saving the world to just having fun …
From exploring our roots to paving new roads …

Talking about roots,  I really enjoyed the guest post of Mike aka Balakov this week here on StuckInPlastic (if you did not read it yet, go ahead and do read it now).

Mike is one of my personal dinosaurs (or should I say heroes) and I really like his work. He is most probably one of my key influences and single handed responsible for outing myself as a LEGO photographer.

While my rebellious plastic jacket once in a while wants to storm the barricades of injustices and protest for freedom of speech or take a friendly stab at big Inc., I am far from the political passion and journalistic photography style you will find in the works of pulup or lynn to just name two.

A smile, a recognition, a warm feeling of childhood memories … are for me key emotions I try to explore in a lot of my photographs as well.

When walking through the cobbled streets of Granada this week, aimlessly drifting through history and exploring the beautiful colours, light and tapas when taking a break from corporate air-conditioned meeting rooms, it was great to see how history determines our future and there is this ethernal search to beauty all around us.

From simple cobbled stones to gargoyles alike.

We for sure have not answered the question of Why with a conclusive answer but key ingredients of the quest are for sure beauty, fun and emotion …

Let’s see what next week adds to our quest …