The Roundabout – Vol1 – Dec 2014

Welcome, welcome, welcome to this first edition of the Roundabout. I hope you find it entertaining and enlightening. Thank you for joining.

++++++++++++++++The Studio+++++++++


Here’s how it is. I’ve been without one for going on six months now. Due to continuing unforeseen circumstances, I am still without a studio, a base from which to work, and place to call my own.


The Mill space where I would love to have my studio is still in limbo. Though progress is being made, it’s still a wisp of dream, and many things may still happen to burst that particular bubble. I maintain hope though.


Many have tried to help with this situation, and for that I am entirely grateful, but it wasn’t quite working and ended up causing more stress and confusion than necessary, therefore, I decided to just step back and take a breath.


A nice deep breath.


A breath in which to think upon things, consider the future, and make a few course corrections where necessary.

===== [FWD]Photo==========================

I had this idea.  What if I gave people art?  But they had to eventually give it away? Could we make art go viral in the real world, be seen and talked about passionately in person? Images flicking by on the screen, tallies of likes and shares and comments and retweets and hearts and whatever other tokens of digital admiration you care to count, they’re all well and good, but what about the sheer impact a piece of art has?  Nothing compares to standing before the physical actualization of an image.


A real, tangible, solid piece you can look at at a size larger than the screen on your phone.  Something you live with and that lives with you – and in the case of something like Eyes of the Universe, stares back at you.


How far would it spread?


I wanted to know.


I’ve been toying with this idea for a year now.  Thinking about how to set it up and to keep track of everything and all the cool little things I could do with the project…and there it remained, lost in my thoughts. Afraid to begin. Not sure how I was going to make it happen.


Until I realized that I had 10 high quality pieces of art, mostly metal prints capable of enduring the rigors of a journey, locked away in a damn mill sitting in a sad semicircle facing a doorway no one ever entered, longing to be seen.


I decided then to pull the trigger.  To punt them out of the nest and see if they flew. Thus began [FWD]Photo, Forward Photo, in earnest.


As of today, 6 of the 10 have landed in new homes, with the remaining four soon to follow.  Phase two will see even more flying abroad, whenever I get them made.


You can follow the progress over at or by searching #fwdphoto or #getlovegive over on the twitters, fb, and instagram.  If you encounter one of mine in the wild…enjoy it and snap a picture of yourself with it and share it with the world.


So far it’s been well received and people are getting into the idea.  One recipient has a grand scheme to get one on a certain film director’s yacht…while another is planning a medieval style gladiatorial tournament to determine who will receive the piece after him.


I’m perfectly okay with either.


<^>^<^>^<^>^<^>^<^>[ O ]>^<^>*click*^<^>^<^>^<

A breath.


Pause for the length of one and consider your surroundings.


What’s happening? Is there anything interesting at hand?


What can you make with it?  Look closer.  Closer.


I’ve given up people photography for the moment to do just this.  To take a closer look at…well…everything.  The detail; the texture; the transmogrification that happens when I blast light in it, around it, and through it. To ignore the whole in favor of the parts.


Journey to the Small World  Where sparks fly and flowers cry, longing to touch.


Sparks-12Rountree Flowers-15



Solar Wind
but actually fits in an aluminum cooking pan.


That’s where my lens has turned the past two months.


With winter upon us and days short of light and a studio in limbo, I turned inward to examine the small and wonder “what if…” much as I did last year with Abstracting Waters.


I’ve made that into a book, by the way, Abstracting Waters.  Ordered six copies of it on the hopes of selling them at First Friday in my bright shiny new studio…three months ago now, before the Mill drama. Still have three, if anyone’s interested.


It’s funny what you can make with a 75cent light table, bamboo cutting board, water, food coloring, a pan, flowers, fruit, a blown lamp, some butterknives, and an empty lighter.


Pictures don’t just sit still. They move, too. While I have had to put a few of my own personal projects on hold due to the studio, life in general, and a nagging lack of that ‘it’ factor that can make or break a film or web series, I haven’t been sitting idle.


In the last three months, I’ve made a short documentary featuring my good friend Neil Lee Griffin for a competition, a promotional video for Let’em Live Upstate’s pet adoption events, and my first music video with Neil for the NPR Tiny Desk Concert series contest.


And also edited several videos for cosplayer Abby DarkStar. In fact, just about everything on her channel since the spring.  We’re working on some new, interesting features for next year.


I have some grand plans myself. Once I’m fully able to set up a studio, I have several web series I will be producing – chat show, podcast style, documentaries, and a few fictional ones.  That’s one of my major goals for next year.


To help in this endeavour, I finally pulled the trigger on a three camera set-up.  Many of you may have heard me extol the virtues of the Canon EOS M, a longer discussion of which can be found here, but suffice it to say I consider them the best lens accessory ever made. I grabbed one a while back to test out and enjoyed it. Recently, I saw a deal I couldn’t pass up and grabbed 2 more for 150 each. I call them the 3 Ninjas (because I’m a 80s-90s kid) and so far they work fantastically.  They had their first trial during Neil’s music video and they performed admirably.


By the by, is the under construction hub for all my future doings.  Videos, blogs, shows, etc will pop up there first.  Maybe. That’s the plan at least.


We are what we eat…mentally, not just physically.


READ THIS BOOK: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North.
This is the first read I’ve had in a while that I’d consider absolutely exceptional.  It’s a clever take on a stale subject – time travel. It’s not a science fiction novel in the contemporary sense – more a beautiful thought experiment on what would happen if we could live our lives over with complete knowledge of everything we’d done – good and bad, right and wrong – all the lives before. Mix that with the thoughtful examination of a complex friendship that lasts for centuries and strains the meaning of the word. Balanced against the end of the world, which comes sooner than it ought to each life. Written with such style and grace that the tale flows effortlessly from the page.


It happened to catch my eye in the store.  I wish books like this one came along much more often.


I’ve also quickly consumed most of the Alex Verus novels by Benedict Jacka. I literally bought the entire series to date in the bookstore due to the blurb on the cover and the fact that the first line was a passably constructed sentence that started on page 1.  I like books that start on page 1. The cover blurb in question is from Jim Butcher…my favorite author…  Haven’t been disappointed yet.


It’s an urban fantasy series much in the vein of Butcher’s Dresden Files, Greene’s Tales from the Nightside, and Thurman’s Cal Leandros novels.
In theaters…One Last Time.


The cinematic journey of over a decade is done. The Battle of the Five Armies is perhaps the most visually stunning, beautiful film I have ever seen. The craft involved in creating the look of the movie is superb. Simply gorgeous. The film delivered on the epic scope promised and was a nice capstone to a roundabout journey. I saw it in the theater with a friend, neither of us wanting the credits to end.


The Imitation Game. I loved it and wish it had gotten a much wider release.  I believe it is an important film to see that was hampered by a limited release. It tells the tale of Alan Turing and how he broke Enigma, in the process inventing the computer and laying the base thinking for what would become the field of artificial intelligence. Stellar performances delivered by Cumberbatch, Knightly, Strong, and Goode. Summed up best by the seminal line of the movie:

“Sometimes, it’s the people no one imagines anything of, who do things no one can imagine.”

Also watched:


Currently in the middle of rewatching Luther and Cowboy Bebop.  Previously in December: Turner & Hooch, From Russia With Love, Frequencies, In Your Eyes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Maleficent, Deadman Wonderland, Broadchurch, Black Mirror, Ascension, Batman, Young Justice, Log Horizon, SAOII, TerraFormars, Akame ga Kill, Goldfinger, The November Man, The Equalizer, Knights of Badassdom, and Unicorn City. And probably a few I’ve forgotten.


Most available on netflix, hulu, or via redbox.


Why a newsletter? It’s so old fashioned. Well, because it works. Because the current, trendy avenues used to reach people have become so clogged and congested with click bait that real engagement is lost. Because 140 characters is not enough for a notion, much less a fully thought out idea. Because to get this newsletter, you have to want to be here, to be part of the conversation, to participate.


I can’t take complete credit for the idea.  Like all good art, it’s borrowed from a couple of other sources. The format and concept come from Warren Ellis’ Orbital Operations – a simple, functional, text based presentation of Ellis’ thoughts distributed monthly.  The need to do it comes from Amanda Palmer’s book The Art of Asking (highly recommended) in which she stresses among other things the need for a genuine community comprised of people who want to be there and who give a damn. I’m trying to build that.


If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. Seriously though, thank you.  Thank you for being interested in the doings of one guy with big dreams and a few cameras. Thank you for speaking up and making an effort.


The end is the beginning. We’ve come full circle.


Welcome to the Roundabout.  (previously known as the monthly goings on update thing-a-ma-jig)
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James PittmanJPG
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