Tête à Tête with Chris Gorell Barnes
With a Spring-Summer Collection for 2014 borne of a maelstrom of oceanic inspirations, we have made it our joint mission to assist in the fight against marine pollution, overfishing and destruction of marine life, through partnering with one of the strongest teams of conservationists today: BLUE. BLUE’s mission statement is the active and effective protection of 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020, delivered through a network of marine reserves and private sector led solutions in the sea. We aked co-founder of Blue - Chris Gorell Barnes - to talk about the foundation, the dangers of overfishing and the future.
KENZINE: Could you explain to us what The Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) is and who is behind it?
Chris Gorell Barnes: Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) is a UK registered charity set up in 2010 by some of the team behind the award winning documentary film 'The End of the Line'. The team being Charles Clover, BLUE’s Chairman who wrote the book and both George Duffield and myself, Chris Gorell Barnes, BLUE’s Co-founders and Trustees. BLUE aims to significantly help fix the largest solvable problem on our planet - the crisis in our oceans - by protecting 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020. When BLUE began its work only 1% of the world’s oceans were protected. It has since dramatically increased, but still only 2.8% is protected.
K: What are the dangers of overfishing?
C.G.B.: It is difficult to know where to start as the impacts of overfishing can and are having such a powerful knock-on effect on some of the most critical ecosystems on our planet – ecosystems that don’t just support marine life but also in turn are of fundamental importance to human existence. Obviously, commercial fishing can lead to the extinction of certain key species if left unmanaged. The resulting impacts of dwindling fish stocks are then felt by those millions of people worldwide whose livelihoods and ability to feed their families are directly reliant on the sea, and eventually by extension the rest of the global population too. One billion people rely on fish and seafood as their main source of protein and 200 million people depend on fishing for their livelihoods. A world without fish is simply inconceivable. Then there are all the complex scientific impacts of overfishing to the many other species that are part of the same complex ecosystems, from corals to the algae that helps absorb up to 50% of global carbon dioxide emissions, more than the Amazon rainforests in fact. If overfishing is allowed to continue at its present rate, the long-term consequences for all of us could be ultimately catastrophic.
K: Dangers of overfishing are not only limited to the oceans but the environment as a whole. Could you tell us a bit more about the interdependence relationships between marine, terrestrial and space environments?
C.G.B.: Put simply, the oceans produce over half of the oxygen we breathe and currently absorb over half the CO2 generated by human activity. You don’t have to be a scientist to see how serious the implications for all land-based life could be if these crucial oceanic ‘life support systems’ are allowed to slip into terminal decline. Healthy oceans can form a buffer against acidification.
K: From an economical stand point, about 200 million people financially depend on fishing. How could we reconcile economic need and environmental impact?
C.G.B.: You are right that millions of people worldwide are either directly or indirectly reliant on fishing for their income. And of course it would not be right to introduce policies that leave these people jobless and unable to feed their families. Almost always better management of the fish stocks would actually provide a higher economic return, as an economic study BLUE has done on the Atlantic Bluefin tuna has demonstrated. The secret, as enlightened organisations like BLUE are demonstrating, is to introduce quota systems and marine protected areas (MPAs) that involve the fishermen directly in their management, removing the “Us-verses-Them” mentality that has seen previous attempts at fisheries management fall short. At the same time, national governments need to be firmer in their dealings with commercial fishing lobbyists, to ensure legislation balances commercial, social and environmental imperatives more effectively than is sadly the case at present in many places.
K: As of today there are many endangered fish species: is it possible to find a list somewhere?
C.G.B.: From a consumer’s point of view, reliable sources would come from online fish rating guides set by either the Marine Conservation Society fishonline in UK, Monterey Bay Seafood Watch in US or WWF seafood guides in other countries. The guides allow consumers to check which species of fish are ok to eat or which you need to avoid. If you want to find out which restaurants are making efforts to conserve wild fish stocks in UK, France, Spain, US, Belgium and Switzerland then visit our sister company fish2fork.com.
K: Bluefin Tuna is so rare today that certain pieces are estimated at over a million dollar on certain markets. How did it become possible?
C.G.B.: Really it’s just a simple case of supply and demand. Bluefin tuna were plentiful not that long ago but as fishing technology has evolved, the odds are hugely stacked in the fishermen’s favor and the tuna no longer have much of a chance. At the same time, the demand from countries like Japan and various high-end restaurants worldwide that should know better by now has seen Bluefin become almost the ‘foie gras of the sea’ – ethically indefensible, increasingly rare and priced accordingly. There has been some improvement in the management of the Atlantic Bluefin tuna, precisely because of the campaign around our film, but there has yet to be full recovery and other, related species in the Pacific are in a dire state. Think of a world where similar supply and demand issues mean that ‘everyday’ species like cod and sea bass cost the same as Bluefin tuna – this is part of the scenario BLUE and its allies are working hard to avoid.
K: Asia is one of the most impacted areas by overfishing even though its population depends a lot on fish proteins. Isn't it a paradox?
C.G.B.: Well, it’s actually the perfect example of how we can’t expect to take unlimited amounts of fish from the ocean on an endless basis. There has to be balance. People need to understand that if they are going to continue to rely on fish as a mainstay of their diets, their fish stocks need to be managed accordingly and they should also explore alternative species aside from their staples like tuna. Farmed fish is obviously another important part of the equation and certainly not without its issues, either.
K: It would be unthinkable to find meat of endangered species in our plates such as rhinoceros or tiger. However, we do find a lot of endangered species of fish on the menus of many restaurants. Is overfishing still an unknown topic?
C.G.B.: The Rhino point is a good analogy – eating a Bluefin tuna is in many ways no better than eating a rare land animal. Part of the problem is a stubborn resistance by many high-end restaurant and hotel chains to remove these critically-endangered species from their menus. At the same time, greater public education is needed. People should feel as much empathy with a Bluefin tuna, shark or sea bass as they do with a veal calf or foie gras goose. There will always be a depressing minority who will carry out consuming endangered species regardless but we also see signs that public opinion is increasingly starting to shift in favour of protection for the more at-risk fish species. Ultimately these chefs need to ask themselves whether they would be comfortable serving gorilla or elephant steaks and, if not, why is it okay to advertise Bluefin tuna or shark on their menus?
K: One of your main goal is to protect the marine life by creating protected areas in the oceans. How does it work?
C.G.B.: BLUE’s entire model is focused on the importance of creating greater numbers of marine protected areas (MPAs) or reserves – areas under formal legal protection from certain forms of fishing or, in some cases, any fishing at all, as well as creating other conservation partnerships in the sea. There is a strong body of scientific research that demonstrates the potential of marine reserves to help reverse the current general decline in ocean health and fish stocks. When BLUE was founded in 2010, just one per cent of the world’s total ocean surface was under protection. Today that figure stands at 2.8 per cent but through our work and that of our peers, we want to see at least 10 per cent of total global ocean under active and effective protection by 2020. By targeting primarily foundations, high-net-worth individuals and corporates we are also engaging those with the funds available to make a genuine difference quickly.
K: In order to protect oceans, one of the solutions we found was farming. Today it is criticized for many reasons. Could you explain why this practice is very harmful for the marine life?
C.G.B.: This is a complex issue even by conservation standards. Obviously fish farms can offer a sustainable source of fish if managed effectively. However they can also be very detrimental to the health of their own fish and surrounding ecosystems if not managed appropriately. So I think it’s safe to say that the jury is still out. That said, as with farming on land, there are many examples of small-scale fish farms that are doing things right and we would obviously support these examples as part of the solution to the current ocean crisis.
K: Everybody can do a little something in order to protect the oceans. Could you give us tips that can have a big impact in the long run?
C.G.B.: The best thing individual consumers can do is to scrutinize the fish they eat more closely – specifically, what is the species, where was it caught and what fishing method was used? Look out for on-pack sustainable certification labels such as ‘MSC’ (Marine Stewardship Council for certifying sustainable seafood) avoid any brands/products that don’t demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Also scrutinize the menus at your favorite restaurants and lobby the owner/chef if you spot anything that looks like it contravenes accepted guidelines for fish sustainability – stocking Bluefin tuna or other critically endangered species, for example, or not displaying any commitment to marine conservation. Again, there are some real good guys out there but the vast majority still has work to do.
K: How were you approached by KENZO and what was your reaction?
C.G.B.: Carol and Humberto from KENZO approached BLUE proactively because they were looking for a charity partner that reflected their own beliefs and what we had to say really struck a chord with them. They explained the reason they chose us out of hundreds of other marine conservation charities was because we were actually doing something about the issue, instead of just talking about it. Our charity has been partly responsible for a significant rise in the total percentage of global ocean currently protected.
We were absolutely thrilled. We always wanted to be cutting edge and innovative and with the help of inspirational extraordinary brands like KENZO and our other existing partners Orlebar Brown and Crème de La Mer, we are able to get our message across to a wider audience in ways that appeal directly to them.
K: Could you explain us the key elements of your partnership with KENZO?
C.G.B.: Our partnership with KENZO is based fundamentally on our shared passion of the ocean, being aware of the crisis in our oceans and wanting to do something to solve it. I believe our partnership with KENZO has proven how global fashion brands can communicate and really drive positive change. Not only are KENZO supporting BLUE with donated funds but they are taking a proactive role in helping spread awareness of overfishing on a global scale. This can only be a positive thing.
K: Before this partnership, what were you visions about fashion and what did you know about KENZO?
C.G.B.: We had operated cause-related partnerships with other fashion and lifestyle brands before, such as Orlebar Brown and Crème De La Mer. Obviously we were very much aware of KENZO as a global label but this represented a great new opportunity for BLUE in terms of the profile of our corporate partners.
K: Brands were in the target of environmentalists for a long time and today they become spokesperson for causes they care very much about. How do you analyze it?
C.G.B.: I think enlightened companies in all industries are increasingly conscious that they have to demonstrate a commitment to a greater social and environmental purpose and corporate citizenship in order to protect their license to operate. This is more true in this era of social media than ever before and also, with public trust in business at something of an all-time low, there is a higher demand for “doing good” and transparency in all areas. So I think the smarter and more forward-looking brands are realizing they can use their profile and commercial power to deliver progress on critical issues like the environment by partnering with credible charities like BLUE. Without a meaningful purpose a brand won’t thrive.
K: 'No Fish No Nothing' is the catchphrase found by Carol and Humberto to sum up the stake and the seriousness of the situation. It is also a line inspired by the foundation. How do you feel about it?
C.G.B.: We are obviously delighted to be afforded such a prestigious and high-profile platform by a brand of KENZO’s stature. It will bring a whole new audience to our campaign whilst also demonstrating the depth of Carol and Humberto’s commitment to environmental issues. BLUE will of course benefit, as will KENZO. But the most important beneficiary will be the ocean.
K: What are you favorite pieces of the line (see the line for women and men)?
C.G.B.: I think the sweatshirts really stand out for me – they are beautiful and striking to look at, whilst also raising awareness of our cause in an unexpected manner. We couldn’t be happier with how Carol and Humberto’s designs have turned out. It really is an honor for a charity like BLUE to see our emblem alongside the cult KENZO logo but we mustn’t forget that ultimately this is all about saving the seas, an issue even more important than high fashion!
K: What change will this partnership with KENZO allow in 2014?
C.G.B.: This is our first big collaborative launch with KENZO and we all hope for a big success of our BLUE capsule collection ‘No Fish, No Nothing’, from which KENZO are generously donating a % of sales from the sweatshirts and t-shirts directly to BLUE. Even without being able to gauge the success of the monies raised from the collection, I can confidently say that this partnership will have a huge positive impact on spreading awareness of overfishing – and the broader crisis in the oceans - and hopefully bringing around change in people’s perceptions towards our largest public resource, our oceans.
KENZINE: Where does your name Synchrodogs come from?
SYNCHRODOGS: We feel some animalistic spirit in us and rather canine, in our behavior in particular. That’s where the word “dogs” come from. At the same time we both are very alike in what we think is beautiful and what's ugly, our tastes and perceptions are “synchronized” to some extent. Those two elements put together are “Synchrodogs” and characterized us quite well.
K: Could you tell us about your background?
S: We both are Ukrainians, self-taught in photography and art. Graduating from technical universities, Tania was supposed to work in some library or archive, Roman should have done some robot automation. Luckily we were both introduced to photography by friends and it also strongly encouraged us to start!
K: How did you two meet and started working together?
S: As we are naturally from two different cities, 8 hours by train from each other, we are grateful that Internet made our meeting possible. In 2008 we both had accounts on some super old school photography website and started exchanging with each other. We were making photographs separately for a year before we met, so we were more or less at the same stage of 'ambitious beginners'.
K: Synchrodogs is a duo, who does what?
S: Both of us do everything. Firstly we develop ideas, then we try to make better ideas out of them. After that we create props and find locations where we can shoot. In between those we also talk about technics, like framing and composition. In our duo nobody is a model and we are both are photographers, though we often use ourselves to make a shot. For us it is often easier to play with our own body, rather than explaining our expectations to a model, so that the shots look as planned. But we mostly use this approach working on personal projects.
K: Do you also have solo projects? Or do you work with other people?
S: No, there is no art of Tania Shcheglova or Roman Noven, we do everything under the alias of Synchrodogs.
K: Is Ukraine a source of inspiration? Kenzo Takada was very influenced by slav cultures in the 80s. Is there a folkloric dimension in your work?
S: For us Ukraine is still a very tribal country, with all its primeval lifestyles mixed up with a slight post-soviet union feeling. People want to look fashionable but since they have no money and don’t read international fashion magazine they have to be inventive to take the most glamorous advantage of their small budget. This creates an absolutely unique background for us to live in, where every girl next door girl is wearing golden high heels just going to buy some bread in a shop. A clear example of this authentic fashion can be seen in our Misha Koptev project.
K: How would you explain the concept behind your Spread of the Week editorial?
S: The main concept for this shooting was to use sewing materials like bows, patches and fabrics, ribbons and brooches, to create those styles that would go in line with the KENZO Fall/Winter 2013 collection.
K: You put your models in abstract situations and poses. How would you define your relationship with the human body in general?
S: In our personal art projects the role of human is diminished, the person is something abstract, something that exists only in the context of nature, something that interact in the context of universe. In commercial shootings we prefer the model to remain less glamorous, more emotive, sometimes even awkward.
K: Where does your obsession for shooting nudes by frozen lakes or forests in winter come from?
S: We don’t have some exact obsession with forests, but it’s true that many of our personal projects are nature related, like the 'Animalism, Naturalism' series. We have to admit that we do love spending time outside the cities, with no people and no buildings around.
K: What would be your top 5 places in Ukraine to visit?
S: 1) Carpathian mountains with its snowy peaks.
2) Crimean Peninsula with its wild nature, sea and heaven garden in Yalta.
3) Lviv with its historical buildings and tiny streets.
4) Kiev with its capital status.
5) Luhansk with its deepest ukrainian ghetto.
Tête à tête with Hans Feurer
Hans Feurer is a pillar of fashion photography. For fifty years, he's been travelling around the world, capturing the beauty of strong women in natural light. Yesterday in London, we organised a book signing with him for the launch of his first monograph "Exotic Eye" (Damiani). He accepted to answer a few questions about his work and fashion photography today.
KENZINE: With the publication of your monograph “Exotic Eye”, images from early 1980s Kenzo campaigns are back out there. Can you tell us how your long-term collaboration with Kenzo Takada came about?
Hans Feurer: I was impressed with Kenzo Takada’s sensibility and “multi-ethnic” openness from his very first collection. The fact that he mixed African, Hindu, Japanese and Chinese features in his collection. That tolerance and generosity towards all world cultures. I was impressed with that right away, I loved his work from the start. I wanted to follow all his collections, all his shows. When Kenzo Takada asked me to do a campaign for his label, he gave me carte blanche. I don’t think there was any agency or team in charge of advertising at that time. He had no set concept in mind. Just a budget. So with the help of an amazing stylist named Françoise Havan, we decided to head someplace with a girl to experiment. From the start I wanted to do close ups (and Kenzo Takada gave me free reign there) of eyes and materials. So that was the direction we took. And we did it time and again, with wonderful models like Sayoko and Iman. It was ideal.
I’ve traveled a lot, I spent years in Africa, India and South America, and I always noticed how women, even in the fields, would be incredibly well dressed, much more feminine, with extraordinary colors everywhere. Today things have changed. Africans are trying to look like Europeans. Even Indians want to dress like Parisians.
In photography too, times have changed and it’s all very polished now. You rarely see ethnic features in magazine shoots or campaigns. The models all look the same. Their personality is erased. Or shall we say other personality types come through. But seeing people’s reactions to the publication of my book, I think there’s been a hugely enthusiastic response to using colors, so I think there’s a place for that kind of photography again.
K: You are often described as a pioneer of street styling. How do you feel today about street looks and the surge of fashion blogs?
H. F.: I’ve always tried to photograph women in real life, to give a sense of truth to street poses, so it’s true that I could be described as a street photography artist. But I don’t really have an opinion on those blogs, I don’t look at them. The virtual world is my enemy. I’m a big fan of the sensual, the human. I don’t have much interest in the digital or virtual world.
K: Why are you releasing this book now?
H. F.: I’d never released a book until now because I’ve always found that the majority of print books don’t do justice to the photos, and very few photos deserve to feature in a book. And then there were far too many books. But many of my shoots for Vogue and for English magazine Nova in the 1970s and 1980s had a flavor or particular idea, which went on to inspire many well-known photographers, and I wanted to show where and how some of these ideas came about.
K: Can you describe your work in a few words?
H. F.: I try to project dreams and desires. To show how a woman could look or wants to look.
K: What is your next destination?
H. F.: England for the signing in London, then Russia to do a shoot on the Olympics, and Kenya for a fishing vacation in between.
Portrait by Max Vadukul.
Photographs by Hans Feurer.
KENZINE: You created the 26 letters of our alphabet in a very Kenzo style. What was your favorite letter to design?
Viktor Hachmang: I actually had a lot of fun with the letters D (for Delfina Delettrez) and J (for Jean-Paul Goude). Because these letters signified the works of other artists, I had to meet them halfway so to speak. This meant I had to delve a bit deeper into their bodies of work to find out things I could use in my own drawings, which I think was a lot of fun.
K: In general, what is your favorite letter and why?
V. H.: From a visual standpoint, my favorite letter has to be the Z. I think there's something very beautiful in the contrasting angles and the central diagonal.
K: Did you become an expert in crossword puzzle after staging so much the letters?
V. H.: It did feel like a puzzle for some letters. I wanted to obscure the main letterform as much as possible, so the viewer would find out at second glance that the letter is actually hidden inside the drawing. This did prove to be hard on some letters…
K: Is there an alphabet that inspires you particularly?
V. H.: I actually really like Takenobu Igarashi's typographic works and alphabets. He has his own very distinct technical, constructive and three-dimensional approach to letterforms, which I think is very beautiful. My G and the X drawings are tributes to Igarashi's works.
K: Do you prefer working on letters or numbers?
V. H.: I'm actually very bad at handling numbers (not really the maths type), so I'd have to say letters.
K: What anagram can we do with your name?
V. H.: I quite like 'Caving Hark Moth'.
K: What is your favorite wordplay?
V. H.: I like this palindrome: "A Toyota! Race fast... safe car: a Toyota".
K: What is your favorite word?
V. H.: Yes.
K: What is the most inspiring city?
V. H.: I actually really like walking around my hometown The Hague in The Netherlands. I ended up here by accident and grew to love the strange mix of architecture. There are some stunning art deco buildings, a few prime examples of New Objectivity architecture and some great post-modern icons.
K: What is the biggest influence on your work?
V. H.: Comics are a big source of inspiration – especially the work by French 'Clear Line' wizard Pierre Clement. I think his 'Les Souris' and 'Tralalajahal' series are very poetic and powerful. I also really like designers/illustrators Barney Bubbles, George Hardie and other artists from NTA Studios from the 1970s. I'm always in awe of the expert draftsmanship and the handling of patterns by artists of the Japanese ukiyo-e tradition.
K: What is your favorite font?
V. H.: I don't really have a favorite font, I always think a font should convey a message and it should complement the style of design or illustration. It's not just a question of aesthetics. But if I'd have to pick one, I think I'd have to go for Gill Sans. I like the fact that it's very recognizable, yet modest and understated, traditional and modern at the same time.
K: Your least favorite?
V. H.: I really hate fonts that are "the hip new thing". They seem to pop up simultaneously in every poster by third rate graphic designers trying to be cool and "on trend". At the moment it's those modernist sans serifs, with round lower case a's. I hate them even more when stretched vertically.
K: Do your nightmares involve bad designs and Comic sans MS?
V. H.: I actually don't really dislike Comic Sans, certainly not with a passion. Thankfully I don't have a lot of nightmares, but if I do I'm mostly haunted by things unrelated to graphic design.
K: And what do we see in your dreams?
V. H.: As I child I actually had a very strange recurring dream of a woman playing with baby blocks. If someone can tell me what this means, I'd love to hear it.
Tête à tête with Charlie Engman
KENZINE: You were born in the US, you studied Japanese and Korean in UK and you now split your time between Paris and New York City. Do you feel like a citizen of the world?
Charlie Engman: I feel like a citizen of the airport security line! But without sounding so glib, what I really mean is: there are definitely still physical and cultural boundaries. I am actually very grateful that I live in a time when it's easy enough to move around as much as I do, but it's still not so easy that I take it for granted. I still feel like I have a home that I can return to.
K: Are Asian cultures a big source of influence for your work?
C. E.: I think Asian cultures are a big influence in my life in general. I developed close connections with Asia when I was quite young, but not so young that I didn't already have something to compare it to. It's very similar to the airport situation - I know where I'm from, but I'm not stuck there.
K: You did not study photography. How did you learn and what motivated you to become a photographer?
C. E.: I started taking pictures in university while I was studying Japanese and Korean. I was always doing my own little half-finished art projects, and the accessibility of photography was very attractive during my busy busy school years. I loved that you could push a button and instantly retain an idea. It was a rather irresponsible way to approach photography perhaps, but it's the gosh darn truth! But again, it's this same phenomenon: nowadays there is really a very low bar to entry to photography - we almost all have camera phones - and yet photography is elusive. It's approachable but still respects a lot of energy - there is something very compelling to me in this.
K: For you, what distinguishes fashion photography from other kinds of photography?
C. E.: I am very generous in this regard. I think any photographic imagery that contains a malleable material and some functional styling thereof can be considered as a fashion photograph. Essentially, everything. It's the context, of course. To me, if it's given the right treatment, a picture of a trash bag is totally a fashion picture - that's an obvious example even!
K: You’re mainly known as a fashion photographer, do you also show more personnal work as well?
C. E.: So for me, I don't draw so many distinctions. My work is all just a big fetish-fest of materials and gestures. I like to make things for and with other people, and I have had the great fortune of collaborating with a lot of fashion brands and magazines, and of course with collaboration comes compromise, so much of my work adheres to more traditional notions of fashion photography. Recently, I have returned to my personal practices a bit more, and I'm working on several of my own projects as well. Look out for them!
K: Who would be the fashion photographers you love or who would inspire you?
C. E.: I am partial to photographers whose photographs use fashion and not the other way around, if that makes any sense. People like Jason Evans and Roe Ethridge, and some younger photographers like Jamie Hawkesworth and Tyrone Lebon, for example.
K: You shot a story for us, what was the brief given to you and what is the concept behind those photographs?
C. E.: The brief was wonderfully free! The idea was to feature the criss-cross pieces and eye evil pattern pieces from the fall collection, and that was about as specific as the brief got. I gathered materials that had angular lines similar to the criss cross looks and that also could have a conceptual wink to idea of an eyeball print. Mirrors, TVs, glass plates… The rest I left up to the spontaneity of the shoot. I used Ataui Deng, who is overflowing with playfulness and positive energy, so we just had a lot of fun together. She has great skin and no hair, so it was a refreshingly personal shoot - no hair, no make up, no stylist, just me and her goofing around in my studio!
K: Models are really key in your work. Do you rather like a model with a big personality or a beautiful face and body?
C. E.: I can go both ways. Beauty aside, if someone has a really compelling face or body, I'm there no matter how boring he or she is. Like I said, I'm a material girl, I'm not a photojournalist. Still, it is a partnership, and it's important for the model to give something back to the camera. Most of what makes a compelling face or body is how its owner uses it.
K: Let's talk technical now, do you use the same equipment for most of your shoots or do you like to try and experiment as well?
C. E.: I am always experimenting with my imagery, of course, so whatever tools I need to create the image at hand, those are the tools I'm using. You can do a lot with a decent camera and one or two lights, but sometimes you need something else.
K: What is a perfect fashion image for you?
C. E.: A perfect fashion photograph is convincing. I better believe it!
10 EYE FILMS - #2 : "TOKYO EYES"
Sight is the sense prized most of all by movie-makers, and the inclusion of the word “eye” in a film title is not without significance, often alluding to subtleness, double-crossing or recursion.
It is as if the producers wanted us to watch the movie twice, rather than letting us sit back and indulge in a lengthy tale. In an era when we are all under the surveillance of the electronic eyes of cameras phones, the question of eyes and what they see has never been more relevant.
Tokyo Eyes (Jean-Pierre Limosin, France, 1998) A hi-tech romantic stroll through Tokyo under the pretext of a police investigation. Cell phones are a breakthrough technology, devices are getting tinier by the minute, and miniature video cameras –and eyes– are everywhere…
TêTE à TêTE WITH KIRCHKNOPF + GRAMBOW
KENZINE: How would you describe your aesthetic?
KIRCHKNOPF + GRAMBOW: fact fucks fiction
K: What or who has influenced you over the years (photographer, music, tv, cinema, cities, etc.)?
K+G: Everything we see, do and experience is adding to our continuous live feed and may leave its impression. But for sure the more fundamental these influences break into your life the more you´ll probably have to deal with them.
K: What's the story of this girl samouraï who inspired you for the shoot?
K+G: To quote the "Hagakure", "The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong. (...) One should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. It is matter of being determined and having the spirit to break right through to the other side." And as the book continues "It is good to carry some powdered rouge in one´s sleeve. It may happen that when one is sobering up or waking from sleep, a samurai´s complexion may be poor. At such a time it is good to take out and apply some powdered rouge." It's never a bad thing to wear a good looking armor!
K: Can you talk about your model? There is something very rough, very tough about her.
K+G: We were running across Tamy and were immediatley taken by her contradictory qualities, appearing both heroic and sensitive, weak and strong. We love her yearning attitude and her ability to oscillate between assumed opposites.
K: Are you influenced a lot by Asian culture?
K+G: One night in Tokyo, we had this get together with the producer, the SFX suitmaker and the stuntman of the latest series of Godzilla movies which we adore. They revealed us this one fundamental truth about asian culture and the soul of godzilla, which we deeply soaked up that night together with a lot of warm sake.
K: Which pictorial references did you have in mind for this story?
K+G: In this case particularly, we’ve been thinking a lot about ancient japanese color woodcuts and lacquer painting masterpieces, japanese fetishism concerning patterns and texture and about immaculate surfaces, in a mechanical and digital sense likewise. And as the new era basecaps originally made their way via HipHop to us and we were listening to RZA´s Album Afro Samurai while shooting, there´s probably also a certain Hip Hop ingredient in it.
K: Why do you think the eye is such a recurrent symbol today?
K+G: Maybe because we human beings are based mainly on our visual perception. What we see is what we know, is what we trust. Ever since humankind seems to be tempted to have a all seeing, protecting and all knowing eye or prism.
K: KENZO is all about travelling, what is your favourite city and why?
K+G: We love Berlin for it being our homebase, Asian Istanbul for friends, Lahmacun and Raki, Saigon also for genious food, its moped racetracks, it´s vibrant haze and Sao Paulo for it´s sweat and sweet dirt.
K: Where would you like to travel if you could go anywhere now?
K+G: "2001"'s Star Gate or "Solaris". Besides, earth loses its photographic appeal by the minute. Until you guys at KENZO are designing a globe-sized basecap... But to be earnest: we don´t see that happening any time soon. Except the ghost of Buckminster Fuller swings in your office and drops a blueprint of the thing.
K: What are your projects for the upcoming season?
K+G: Until that happens we´ll take it with the words of Alphaville and get "Big In Japan".
Tête à tête with brianna capozzi
Brianna Capozzi, a New York based photographer, shot an epic story we published this week on the KENZO x VANS collaboration for this season. She played with the iconic patterns of the men's Fall/Winter collection : Lightning Bolts, Clouds and Flying Tigers.
Kenzine tells you all about it...
KENZINE: How would you describe your aesthetic?
BRIANNA CAPOZZI: My work is less about the technique of photography and more the making of an image. I am interested in creating the entire story and the styling is extremely important. I often make a lot of the clothing in my personal shoots. I am also really drawn to the models I work with. I am constantly asking strangers on the street to shoot with me. I’m very interested in creating a character based on them, and when I meet someone, I know exactly who I want them to be and need to do the shoot immediately, like tomorrow.
For a long time, my shoots were just the model and I. I would style and do the hair and make up myself; this allowed me to really develop my own aesthetic.
K: Who has influenced you over the years?
B. C.: My biggest influence comes from my schooling. I went to an amazing program at Parsons and, for three years, was taught by Pascale Gatzen. She is one of the most amazing artists and mentors I have come across. She taught me not to be skewed by rules and to go where I want when creating. She has had the biggest impact on how I create and the process I go through to get to my images. Also, Susan Cianciolo and Sarah Aphrodite, both incredible artists and fashion designers, along with Antek Walczak, one of the members from the Bernedete Corporation, taught me to make whatever I want. These people were breaking grounds! Still are. Creating is not really something you can control, thats one of the biggest mistakes people make. When you finally allow it to just be, that is when you will begin to make work that is truly orginal.
K: What is the concept for this story?
B. C.: The concept for this story, which I hope is quite obvious, is that the girls are news anchors reporting on some epic weather.
K: You have your own way of using the models, can you talk about it?
B. C.: Julia (stylist of the KENZO x VANS story) and I are very drawn to the aesthetic of the past, and the eeriness of recreating that. We knew we wanted the girls to look a bit 80s and 90s, and Clark and Niko really got that down with the hair and make up. Also, I still shoot film - maybe that has its own effect on the models, too.
K: Did you have a cult movie or tv show on media in mind for this story?
B. C.: No, not at all. For this shoot I spent more time watching the news than ever before. I recorded the news channels all day and went through them at night. My mother would have been pleased at how up on current event I was. I also watched a lot of 80s news on the web because I knew I wanted the gritty, dated feel. Ed Benitez killed it with the graphics too, perfecting the low quality feel I was looking for. That really brought the images into a new realm. I am, however, aware that a few images are very "Saved by the Bell", which I’m totally down with.
K: How do you use humour in photography or how do you play with images?
B. C.: That’s something that just happens. There is a whole a lot of humor in my life, so it would be pretty hard to not convey that in my work. I will always like something that’s funny more than something that’s not.
K: Are you more a summer, fall, winter or spring girl and why?
B. C.: Summer. A reoccurring conflict in my life is if I should just pick up and move to Hawaii and surf all day. I follow this one amazing pro surfer chick, Alana Blanchard, on instagram and am just in awe of how cool her life is. I mean this one orange wetsuit she wears is unreal! I’m dying to shoot her.
K: The perfect thing to do when it rains?
B. C.: It’s really nice to be alone and make something on those gloomy days and not talk to anyone.
KENZO talks a lot about traveling, what is your favourite city and why?
B. C.: As much as I can cringe at the fact that I am saying this, I am pretty New York.
K: Do you like photographing or instagraming the sky?
B. C.: Not really. I instagram butts!
K: Where would you like to travel if you could go anywhere now?
B. C.: Anywhere tropical!
K: What are your projects for the upcoming season?
B. C.: Julia and I put a big personal project on hold to work on this shoot, so we are going to get back on track with that. You’ll see ;) <3
Tête à Tête with Brenmar
KENZINE: Could you say a few words about your musical background?
BRENMAR: I grew up in Chicago on ghetto house, hiphop, and r'n'b as a kid. In my late teens I got into noise, jazz, punk and indi-rock. I definitely went through my phases before coming back full circle to making/producing club music, hiphop, and rnb.
K: Partel Oliva duo used your "Kingpinning" beat for the KENZO "Cloudbusting" video, how do you think the music feeds the images here?
B: I love it! I think the music fits really well, its a bit surreal in the coolest way possible.
K: There is something in "Kingpinning" that reminds us of the "Akira" soundtrack by Geinoh Yamashirogumi, did you have something like that in mind when you were working on it?
B: I can't say i was actually thinking about Akira when i made the beat but it's funny that you bring that up because i must have seen that movie god knows how many times in my teens, it's amazing and one of my favorite animes. Maybe in some subconscious way i was tapping into that?
K: You have an accurate sense of style, how do you use fashion?
B: I absolutely LOVE fashion . What you choose to wear and how it can say a lot about a person, it's important to me. One of my favorite part of the day is deciding what to wear, it's almost like a game. It's art if you let it be. You look good, you feel good, that's a fact. Designer has its perks for obvious reasons but style is really EVERYTHING, if you got a good eye you can walk out of a cheap store looking sharper than someone walking out of a high-end boutique and that's a great thing. In regards to music, music and fashion go hand in hand, always have, always will for me.
K: KENZO is all about travelling, you tour a lot, what is your favourite city and why?
B: Chicago will always be home in my heart because it made me as i am but New York is my baby, my playground, my inspiration, my favorite city in the world <3 If we're talking touring and foreign though it's either London or Tokyo. London for its club culture and fashion, Tokyo for its food and fashion.
K: Also, as many musicians you must spend a lot of time in planes, where is your favourite place in the sky?
B: First class (lol)
K: Can you think quickly of any good song with the word "Cloud" in it?
B: "Clouds So Loud" by Le1f
K: Where would you like to travel if you could go anywhere now?
B: Africa or the Middle East!
K: What are your projects for the upcoming season?
B: My first solo artist project is coming out in September, 8 songs, all originals, all with vocalists. Its called "High End Times Vol. 1". Followed shortly by a collab ep with the homie dj sliink, all ratchet club music, 4 songs on LA label Body High.
Listen to "Kingpinning" here.
Partel Oliva, a creative duo who also oversees the artistic direction of all communication at KENZO for our creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, directed its first film for the brand: CLOUDBUSTING. Their interpretation of the men’s collection and women’s precollection for Fall/Winter 2013, focusing on the key prints of the season : Day Clouds and Night Clouds. They talk about the concept of the film for KENZINE...
KENZINE: Can you tell us something about the duo? How long have you been working together?
Partel Oliva: Six or seven years? Partel Oliva is the best excuse we could find to spend our lives together.
K: Who does what in Partel Oliva?
P.O.: We don’t have respective specialities. We try to help one another out, finish each other’s sentences.
K: How did you approach this video for Kenzo? What’s the concept?
P.O.: The concept came from the men’s collection. We saw these very precise looks emerge at the show, with a focus on technical purpose and function, but they were embellished and decorated with painted motifs. The contrast was beautiful, like a hand embroidered space suit: almost a contradiction. We wanted to expand on that first impression by exploring the world that spawned these looks and the activity that warranted them. That’s how we came up with the motorcycles, the helmeted acrobats perfecting one stunt after another, and the anomaly of the girl in their midst, in breach of a mechanical world."
K: Can you tell us about the music?
P.O.: Our starting point was the gamelan, the instrument used by Geinoh Yamashirogumi in the soundtrack to “Akira.” The finish line was the instrumental from a Mykki Blanco track produced by Brenmar. The two aren’t as far apart as you might think.
K: What’s your favorite KENZO piece for this winter?
P.O.: The raver parkas, the half-moon jacket.
K: If you could hop on a motorcycle and go anywhere, where would you go?
P.O.: Neo Tokyo.