Immaculate Deception

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation, c.1430-32, Tempera on wood, Prado Museum, Madrid

Regular readers might be a little surprised to find Fra Angelico adorning the pages of this blog, but don't worry folks...I am not about to change my wicked ways and find God! I suppose technically I should have posted it around 8 months and 3 weeks ago on the basis that despite divine conception the little bastard would have gestated full term before landing in the manger. 

I used this image in a talk I gave a few years back at the local regional gallery on 'Eroticism in Art'. I began the talk with it not because it is in anyway erotic, but it is very revealing. Why? Because I believe that without religion (or at least Christianity) eroticism would not exist, or at least in the form it does today. Call it simplistic if you like, but the churches effort to suppress human desire has created the 'forbidden' nature of eroticism that makes it so interesting.

Above, we see the Archangel Gabriel do the 'Ave Maria' bit while in the top left hand corner Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden. Take home message: Mary good, Eve bad, and it is this 'evilness' of Eve as temptress that led to Christ and his disciples adopting chastity as a desirable quality. And what a wonderful little chain of events and attitudes that has left us with for the past 2000 odd years.

So, while I will certainly be enjoying the company of family and friends this Christmas I won't be celebrating the birth of Christ. I will be thinking about an increasingly fragmented world that sadly appears on a collision course with itself, and on that cheery note I am shutting down the system for a couple of weeks and going fishing...

The Doors of Perversion

Bob Georgeson, The Doors of Perversion, 2012, Photomontage

Just to get into the festive spirit...time to hang out the stockings!


emptywhale is a dark ambient outfit from the UK that formed in 2011. The above is the cover to the first album, released into the public domain by the independent and non-commercial netlabel Haze, which is based in Belarus. Haze specialises in experimental, eclectic and avant-garde music...

I came across emptywhale by a chance encounter on the Internet Archives. I had been searching for a soundtrack for a film I had visualised but not yet made. After what seemed like hours of sifting through some pretty weird and wonderful stuff, there was something about the name, title and cover art that drew me to start listening to the tracks. And what a pleasant encounter it has turned out to be. I was particularly drawn to the track 'Suburbs' which I ended up using in the film 'The Lunar Machine', or maybe I should say it used me, for, rather than finding a soundtrack that fitted with existing footage, the soundtrack ended up determining the feel, sequence and continuity of the film. It was a fascinating (to me at least) exercise in process because there was no attempt on my part to 'visualise' the music, nor obviously any attempt by emptywhale to 'auralise' the visuals. It just fitted the feel I had wanted to uneasy feeling that all is not quite right...

So, I was more than pleasantly surprised to get an email from emptywhale last weekend saying they liked what I had done with 'Suburbs', and to be privileged to a sneak preview of the new album due out in a few weeks time. We also had some discussion about processes, working in the public domain and possible future collaboration. I am not an expert on the dark ambient genre, but I find these sonic journeys full of humanistic concern for the environment and direction of society. As I wrote to Chris, listening to his music, or soundscapes as he calls them, took me to places that I had never been before. A whole new door has opened for me, and I'm excited! I'm steppin' through!

You can download or stream 'fearscapes' by clicking here...

eye candy

This one is a mashup of footage of 60's glamour model Candy Earle and a documentary about mapping in Australia. Sourced from the Internet Archives (of course). It is the first film I have made using Adobe Premiere Elements (thanks Paulo).

Suzanne's right arm

Bob Georgeson, Suzanne's right arm, 2012, Digital photography

This time of the year life gets a little hectic, so I had shot this in a hurry in an effort to keep up the momentum of where I wanted to go with Suzanne. I am not sure why I used this setting because she can't read, she can't see, she can't hear. In fact there is not much she can do at all except dumbly stare into a space unknown to us all. It was only after I had looked at the shot more closely that I realised that I had made a terribly politically incorrect mistake. Wonder if anyone can pick what it is...

Split personality

Bob Georgeson, Split personality, 2012, Photomontage

and all this shall be yours

Bob Georgeson, and all this shall be yours, 2010, Photomontage

With Christmas coming on time to get out the lights!

Maud d'Orby by Jean Agelou

Jean Agelou was a Parisian photographer that produced 'risque' postcards around 1900-1917. I came across his work while researching my earlier post on vintage erotic photography. He remains a little unusual in that most of his existing photographs features favoured model 'Fernande'. This is not her...

Maud d'Orby was an operatic soprano that did a few sessions with Agelou. Opera is my least favourite form of music, but if there were more Mauds around I might take an interest...

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons...

People Like Us

People Like Us, video still from The Sound Of The End Of Music, 2010

I always enjoy discovering new things and often feel a kind of comfort when I find that someone has trod a similar path before me. One does not always follow a solitary road. Recently I had been thinking about how Bill Viola did his extreme slow motion videos, and realised that it was a relatively simple effect within the software. (Sorry Bill, I don't want to denigrate the obvious technical expertise that goes into what you do). I also discovered that Brian Eno had also been doing extreme slow motion stuff back in the 70's. And I made and posted a video earlier on this month with my own clunky low-res effort in slow mo.

Which brings me to Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us. Here's the blurb: Since 1991 Vicki has been an influential figure in the field of audio visual collage, through her innovative sampling and appropriating of found footage and archives. Using collage as her main form of expression, she creates audio recordings, A/V performances, films and radio shows that communicate a humorous, dark and often surreal view on life. These collages mix, manipulate and rework original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film and radio. People Like Us believe in open access to archives for creative use. In 2006 she was the first artist to be given unrestricted access to the entire BBC Archive. People Like Us have previously shown work at Tate Modern, The Barbican, Sydney Opera House, Pompidou Centre, Maxxi in Rome and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. Her back catalogue is available for free download and hosted by UbuWeb.

Having written a few posts back about working in the public domain, and the reaction I get from people, it is great to come across Vicki's work and successes. She is a total inspiration, and reminds me of the quote from Max Ernst about the excitement of discovering collage and photomontage back in the early dada days. "It is something like the alchemy of the visual image. The miracle of total transfiguration of beings and objects with or without modification of their physical or anatomical appearance".

Father, when will my dress be ready?

Bob Georgeson, Father, when will my dress be ready?, 2010, Photomontage

This one from 'The Brides of Christ' series references the famous quote favoured by the surrealists, "beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella" from Les Chants de Maldoror by the Comte de Lautreamont. Apologies to Helmut Newton for the appropriation of the nude but I think he and June would appreciate the humour.

Imaginary Landscape

Bob Georgeson, Imaginary Landscape, 2012, Acrylic on Panel

in the spirit of...

public domain art...

More of Griet Menschaert

I had featured Griet's work a few posts back, but for those of you that didn't bookmark her site, she has just produced a brief portfolio stretching back over the last 3 years. A nice production using Scribd. If you click on the rectangle at the lower right hand corner you will get the full screen view.

Griet's work intrigues because of the contrast between her graphic works and her self portraits. While the former seem to have a life of their own and grow from the spaces they inhabit, the latter reflect a closed world of the privacy of the imagination. Perhaps the old dichotomy of the artist: introverted personalities that choose a public career in the most extroverted of worlds?

Suzanne's right hand

Bob Georgeson, Suzanne's right hand, 2012, Digital photography

Did you know that shunga literally means "spring drawings"? I didn't until the other day when I found this volume in a second hand bookshop for $10. Nice little addition to the collection. Now, if only Suzanne could turn the page...


critical engagement

least obviously
intricate web
geometric poem
insistently intervenes

a demarcation
stake out
sacred discourses
strings plucked
within the fabric

texture may
virtually any shape

deepest recesses
whose claustrophobic
is something of an unquiet soul

it will always find ways to return

Bob Georgeson
November 2012

Art in the digital domain

Every now and then I feel the need to remind my son, who is 29 years old and knows everything, that it was old farts like me that invented and developed the Internet and WWW, and that the sophistication (and I dare say usefulness) of things like HTML, cascading style sheets, online relational databases etc, are far more interesting and likely to be remembered than the ability to be able to Tweet from your smartphone. Of course pronouncements such as this fall on deaf ears to the Me++ generation who, in an attempt to find relevance in a world where everything of interest has already been done, have formed the spatial ability to arrive at the conclusion that the universe began in 1980, and that anything prior to that is therefore irrelevant.

I mention this in relation to art. When people ask me what kind of art I do, and I respond that I work in photomedia, photomontage, video and predominantly online in the public domain, their eyes glaze over, the bottom lip starts twitching, and the ensuing silence seems interminable. Young artists just stare with incredulity that someone of my age can even mouth these words, while my peers mumble stuff about the tactile nature of art. Unless it hangs in a frame on the wall of a gallery then it can't be taken seriously. I understand their point, for many of them computers are things to be feared and used only under sufferance, and when it's a sunny day in paradise who wants to be inside anyway? And, there is always the question of money...

So, what is it and why do it? Just about every major gallery in the world has an online presence, in some case their entire collections are available, as well as research or commentary. Past criticism of online galleries has been image resolution. The Google Art Project aims to bring together high res pics from major collections. Wikipedia's Arts Portal is worth bookmarking, particularly for more detailed information about creative culture across the ages. In an earlier post I have featured UbuWeb, and I cannot reiterate enough how good this site is for anyone interested in 20th and 21st Century contemporary culture and the avant-garde. It continues to amaze and inspire with every visit...

For the artist two sites deserve mention. First Wikimedia Commons is a vast repository of public domain images, sound files and videos made available through the GNU and Creative Commons licences. And there is The Internet Archives, an equally if not more outstanding resource in the public domain that contains video,  live music, audio and texts. Many artists are now drawing on these resources, and some, like myself choose to work almost entirely within the public domain. Why? Exposure is  the answer. While it is nice to be  a legend in one's own backyard, ultimately not many people get to see your work, let alone participate in thoughts or discussion. Starting this blog and a new way of working this year I had no expectations of what might happen. Now, over 7000 page views, 800 looks at my profile, discussions with artists and organisations around the world later, to go back to the white cube with 20 visitors a day seems a little, well, quiet.

For me working in the public domain is exciting and challenging. I am always learning, or having to learn something new. This is rewarding because, unlike my son, I know very little.

la mariée mise à nu

This film is a mashup of a talk given by Marcel Duchamp in 1957 entitled 'The Creative Act', and footage of 60's glamour model Candy Earle. The visuals owe a lot to Brian Eno's 'Thursday Afternoon'. All of this can be sourced through The Internet Archives and UbuWeb...

But it says here...

Bob Georgeson, But it says here..., 2009? Photomontage

Another one from the Brides Of Christ series that I had forgotten I had done! An interesting part of the creative process...I don't know if other artists have the same experience. Guess one is busy looking forward much of the time, so it is a surprise to go back through the files and discover these works that have never seen the light of day. Either that or I was so smashed I just didn't remember doing, that can't be the case because I never get out the spray adhesive while inebriated...nothing worse than gluing ones face to the table...


Portrait of Australian Salmon with author, October 2012

In general I aim to focus on the arts in this blog and not turn it into a chronicle of daily life, but I couldn't resist this little interlude, and some might say that there is an art to fishing. And the fish was caught among one of the most extraordinary sights I have ever seen. We had heard that there were lots of salmon hanging around the mouth of the lake, so puttered over in the tinny to take a look. On an incoming tide the water was literally boiling as hundreds and hundreds of these magnificent fish were schooling. (For my international readers the Australian Salmon is not a true salmon species but a migratory pelagic species that moves around beaches, headlands and occasionally estuaries. They are fast, powerful and can be voracious feeders).

Being able to see these fish at close hand in clear water about 2-3 metres depth was a special experience. Why they were there I can't explain. They did not seem to be feeding or on the move. One could only feel sorry for any tasty smaller fish that tried to move through them. I cast out a 4" plastic lure and quickly retrieved it bouncing it along the surface when the first fish struck. For an angler a surface strike is the penultimate experience as the fish breaks the water, it's silver body leaping into the sunlight.

Then that moment of elation is broken as the fish dives, the drag on the reel screams as line disappears, and the rod is bent at a 45 degree angle and just about ripped out of your hand. And the battle begins. No point in trying to skull drag this animal into the boat. She (as it turns out) had other ideas and was clearly not happy at being hooked. All I could do was hang on, occasionally try to reel in a little line and watch as she dived and swept from one direction to another to escape. My biggest problem was trying to keep her from going completely under the boat and tangling the line in the outboard. She finally tired after about five minutes and we manged to get her into the net. To be able to see all this happen at close hand in such clear water was a first for me. A memorable fishing moment: fresh ecologically sustainable catch in perfect condition. Filleted, skinned, blood line cut out, herb crumbed and fried with garden salad and warm homemade bread. It doesn't get much better than this...

...and if you are REALLY into fishing then check out this blog...

In the studio

Bob Georgeson, In the studio, 2012, digital photography

I have put this up to remind myself that I really should take Suzanne out of the cupboard soon...

Schwitters in Lobosice

A delightful story I re-read recently, told by Raoul Hausmann:

Kurt Schwitters, Untitled (with early portrait of Kurt Schwitters), 1937/38, Collage, Sprengel Museum, Hannover

"The day after the performance, we started out on the return journey. First we went to the little town of Lobosice, because it had the Elbe, in which Schwitters wanted to bathe, and also a ruin. We left Prague in the afternoon, and, to Schwitters' great regret, we were compelled to take an express train in order to get to Lobosice on the same day. It was packed, so Kurt and Helma (his wife) got into one carriage and Hannah (Hoech) and I into another.

It was evening when we arrived at Lobosice. There was only a sort of covered platform on a high railway embankment. We went down some steps, looked round and saw nothing but a pine forest, nothing else whatever apart from the station building, about two hundred yards away. There we stood. Was this Lobosice?

Schwitters said "Hausmann, you and Hannah go over there and ask if the town is far away and whether there is a hotel we can spend the night." No sooner said than done.

We came back. Under an apple-green evening sky, against a high black embankment, burned a single feeble street-light. There stood a statue; it was a woman with her arms stretched out in front of her and draped with shirts and underclothes. She stood there like Lot's pillar of salt, while on the ground knelt a man, surrounded by shoes and articles of clothing, before him a suitcase full of papers, like the intestines of a slaughtered animal.

He was doing something to a piece of cardboard with scissors and a tube of adhesive. The two people were Kurt and Helma Schwitters. The picture is one I shall never forget: these two figures in the great dark Nothingness, totally absorbed in themselves.

As I approached I asked "Kurt, what are you doing?"

Kurt looked up and replied, "It occurred to me that collage 30 B 1 needs a little piece of blue paper in the lower left-hand corner. I shan't be a moment."

Such a man was Kurt Schwitters."

and there are days...

...when 450,000,000 year old rocks on a steely overcast morning are more important than art. Do the cormorants care about such things? I suspect not, but who really knows what these majestic animals are thinking, or what forces it took to make these shapes.

Scenes from Camel Rock, far south coast, southeastern Australia. I may be long way from the civilisation and culture of the Northern Hemisphere, but give me this anytime...

Griet Menschaert

Griet Menschaert, Landscape as Jewel, 2012, pencil on paper

Griet Menschaert is a Belgian born multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Eindhoven was rated in 2011 as the worlds most intelligent community, and if Griet's work is indicative of the population you can see why.

Griet Menschaert, Self Portrait, 2012

I came across her site while looking at other bloggers that list Hans Bellmer as an influence (seems that there are not that many of us!). I really like what she does, so thought I would share it with you...

Griet Menschaert, Drawing for 'Buiten de lijnen 02', 2012, graphite pencil and blue chalk on wall

I particularly like the quiet elegance and her capacity to work beyond the 'frame on wall of gallery' aesthetic, and her self portraits which are disarmingly painterly and self deprecating. Well worth a look, and personally very inspiring... 

The Lunar Machine

The 5th of my video works...and as always, any feedback re quality, technical issues greatly appreciated.

And for those interested in the technical aspects click here...

The Magus

Bob Georgeson, The Magus, 2012, Photomontage

petit mort

Bob Georgeson, petit mort, 2009, Photomontage

Love Me Do

50 years today since 2 minutes and 22 seconds of pop perfection started a phenomenon that transformed the world...I feel privileged to have lived at this time...

Norma Shearer

I don't know a whole lot about Norma Shearer, who made films from the early Twenties through to the early Forties. A bit before my time I am glad to say! But I came across a book on her in a local Op Shop thinking one day I might be able to use bits of it in a montage. A couple of images, the first a very contrived studio publicity shot from 1925, and two stills from the 1924 film Empty Hands. It would appear from the book that this was about as sexy as Norma was ever going to get, but I wanted to share with you a few lines from a review written about this film by Morduant Hall in the New York Times the same year the film was released:

"Miss Shearer's eyes are really beautiful, and, as her hair is not curled according to movie fashion, she is quite pleasing in this film. She seems to be a good swimmer when in the water and is evidently conscious that her ankles are by no means ungainly. Her eyebrows deserved at least two words of praise".

Good on you Mordy! They don't review like that any more...but remember that the 'talkies' didn't start til 1927, so we can allow some latitude here (maybe)...

Tony's Taj

Bob Georgeson, Tony's Taj, 2012, Photomontage

Part six of the Bega deconstructed project, and the last in this series (at least for the moment). Next month we get back to more international themes...

Blue Grid

Bob Georgeson, Blue Grid, 2012, Photomontage

anonymous waves

UPDATE (March 1 2014) Since this article was first published the blog known as Bob Georgeson has been transformed into the anonymous waves website, therefore some of the ideas have been superseded and the links below may no longer work. The article has been left intact for archival reasons.

a visual poem inspired by Francis Picabia, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Thierry De Mey...

Just click on each image to take you through...

Images are a combination of my work and others sourced through the Wikimedia Commons website, and posted here under the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license public domain 'copyleft' principles.

The Other Side

Bob Georgeson, Self Portrait at 62, 2012, Photomontage

Well, the medications finally kicked in and things seem OK. For those of you that are into self-medication I find a 2009 McLaren Vale Shiraz about as good as it's going to get. I have noticed a predisposition for artists to do self portraits lately, and have previously commented on the LARGER THAN LIFE SIZE sort, so here is my small offering...

PS The glasses I found in the Uniting Church Op shop in Narooma...had to find some excuse to use them...

The Pearl

A bit of a lull in posts this month while I have been working on a blog based interactive visual poem, which I hope will be of interest to someone other than myself! The old contradiction of an introvert baring their soul to a world wide audience. Ho hum...

Meanwhile, an oldy that was done after a long period of inactivity, and spurred me on to stop ****cking about and make some stuff...and to actually keep it rather than the usual destroying it in a fit of depression. It's OK folks...don't worry, the medications working...everything will be alright tomorrow...

Bob Georgeson, The Pearl, 2003?, Photomontage

God moves in a mysterious way

I came across this nun doll in an church opportunity shop. Anglican surprisingly. Now I don't collect dolls (well, not many) but I have never seen one like this before. Who made it and why? Was it a gift (to a child)? An attempt to determine ones path in life? And how many nuns do you see wearing lipstick and mascara? Who knows...but for $4 it had to become part of my collection of curiosities...

I shudder to think that it might have been a plaything for a cardinal...


Ecstasy was made in Czechoslovakia by director Gustav Machaty in 1933. It starred a young actress called Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, later to become Hedy Lamarr in Hollywood. The film is perhaps best known for it's nude scene, and while not the first film to show nudity, it is considered the first to depict intercourse and a woman having an orgasm. During the early days of censorship in American film it was banned for "violation of the Production Code. This violation is suggested by the basic that it is a [story] of illicit love and frustrated sex, treated in detail without sufficient compensating moral values..."

The reality is that it is one of the most moral tales imaginable, and by today's standards far from explicit. But that is not why I am writing this. Having recently watched the film again it struck me that is a masterful lesson in film making. Virtually a silent movie, every frame is there for a purpose and that is to tell the story. It is beautifully written, paced, lit and acted. A wonderful example of how simplicity of approach can still be capable of expressing the most complex of human emotions...

Mother Superior

Another from The Brides of Christ series...

Bob Georgeson, Mother Superior, 2009, Photomontage

Electric Woolies

Part 5 of the Bega deconstructed project...revisiting the scene of the architectural crime that is the new Woolworth's complex...

Bob Georgeson, Electric Woolies, Auckland St, Bega, 2 Sept. 2012

Vintage erotic photography 1845-1920

Anonymous c.1845

Photography began in 1826. The first nude (a male self-portrait) around 1840. The earliest 'erotic' photo I can find around 1845. I should point out that a nude photo is not necessarily erotic, pornography never. But what quality is it that makes an image erotic? Today we are bombarded by visual cliches, and it is hard to find anything in the commercial or creative world that is in any way original. In the world of fashion photography Helmut Newton set the bar so high in the 1970's that no-one since has seriously challenged his achievement. And today's cult of celebrity with body modification and photo manipulation tools result in beauty and desirability looking distinctly alien.

At first glance we might admire the apparent naivety of the early attempts at erotica in photography. Keep in mind that the first photographs required long exposures, certainly taxing for the models. Many of the photos in this post were taken in Paris, and while we might admire French liberalism the reality was the models were often girls who had fallen on hard times. Modelling may have been a slightly more attractive proposition than prostitution or virtual slavery. The photos themselves are a strange mixture of attempts at 'art', sexual humour, enticement or just 'naughty'. What effect they had on their audience is unknown, but we do know that a number of photographers specialised in the field and made a living from their sales. They also reflect the development of technology and techniques in photography.

I have selected a number of favourites from the vast repository that is available through the very wonderful Wikimedia Commons website, and posted them here under the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license public domain 'copyleft' principles. 

Enter the gallery here...

Anonymous c.1920

When did you last have an orgasm?

Various locations, Bega, New South Wales, Australia, 22 August 2012...