Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The mind of Man is framed even like the breath
And harmony of music. There is a dark
Invisible workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, and makes them move
In one society.

~ William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book 1

John Taylor has a new process. In the 'blog' section of duranduran.com, one can find the currently in-progress 'JT's 30 in 30,' wherein John is taking a photo of himself every day for the next thirty days. More than just snapshots, these are tiny windows into his world. In the same way that the artist is more than how he appears on the street or in over-styled photo shoots, this series of photos affords us a glimpse into his private mind.Reading everyone's comments and discussing the project with other fans has been just as interesting to me as looking at the photos. Of course, there are limits to photography as a revelatory tool, and some fans are complaining about not having a blog with words. Personally, I'm excited by John's willingness to embrace image-making as a fresh technique to communicate with fans. I firmly believe that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, and there are a thousand more returned from each viewer.

There are also those who have been eager to roll their eyes at each new photo, pointing to physical flaws and the effects of age upon his visage, just as there are those who are happy to simply squee over the cuteness. I am not ashamed to admit that I would probably frame this man's colonoscopy photo, but I think the overall project is worthy of contemplation. The un-retouched laugh lines, the unshaven whiskers, and the rather un-dainty contour of his nostrils all belie John's willingness to share himself with us as he truly is, without pretense or vanity. Just as a mother could not judge or discard a photo of her child, I find it impossible not to find beauty in what some would call imperfection. Though unorthodox, I think it would be unfortunate to dismiss this method of communication with the fan base, especially in light of John's recent comments about social media. This is unique and unexpected progress that I feel should be heartily commended.I've had great fun sharing the anticipation with other fans each day, waiting for the new picture to be posted and wondering together about what it all means. Perhaps John is drawing from his recent reading, regarding this project from a Jungian perspective. When considered separately, the two seem to contradict. The Jungian looks for links internally, while a photographer is looking for links externally. Put them together and possibilities do emerge, using the camera simultaneously as the mirror to the soul and the window to the world. After all, a mirror is the transparent made reflective.Examining these photos has taken me back to my art school days, filled with discussions about Lacan's concept of the "artist's gaze" and the question of what is subjective versus objective. I wonder, just who is doing the gazing here? With whom does the power and possession of the gaze lie? Are we looking at him while he looks at us looking at himself? The Lacanian implications of the series reach far, lending interpretation to the effect that perception supersedes actuality, that schism is actuality, that actuality is false, and that the interlocutor is the only real.
Self portraiture is a tender process for any artist, an attempt to capture a clear view of one's transitional essence. For both the photographer and the viewer, the portrait is inherently subjective and contingent, involving selection, interpretation and chance. Each of these photos is a beautiful but failed grasp at temporality, and that is why they are so interesting.

As is the nature of any ADDict, I want more. I want John to pass the camera along, putting it in the hands of Nick, Roger, and Simon to do their own series. I want them to then photograph each other, and I then want them to share their photos of us as we have of them. Take it even further, a reflection of a reflection of a reflection, resulting in an infinite blinding light of admiration for the moments that bring us all together.Many fans are still waiting for a press release, hard news about the new album, or firm answers to nebulous rumors. I don't think we'll see any of that for a while. For the moment, I am cherishing this unexpected and highly personal exchange with the man of many moods, and consider this as decorative yet meaningful element to the communication we all crave.


  1. I am completely speechless. My jaw has hit the floor while my hands are compelled to clap frantically.

  2. I love your take on this. I've been really surprised at some of the negative commentary on these photos -- that it's supreme vanity/ego, why isn't he writing anything, etc.

    But I've really appreciated it -- it's just another way of communicating. In my opinion it's more of a LACK of vanity on his part -- no careful retouching and color correction to hide the flaws of middle age, etc. (though admittedly his flaws are very minor!)

    And how many people out there post self-portraits on their own blogs? Why should John (or any of the band members) be any different? I'd like to see him get even more creative with what would constitute a "self-portrait." We still have many days to go, so I'm really looking forward to what comes next.

    Thanks for your thoughtful analysis!

  3. Sorry as a fellow Duran Duran fan I have to disagree. I'm sure some diehard John Taylor fans enjoy this as an arty project, and that's fair enough. But when John said he was releasing "30 blogs in 30 days" I got very excited, as normally his blogs are excellent. What would he discuss? Would it be information about working with Ronson and the new album? Would it be some song titles, or an in-depth analysis of each song, or how they wrote the music, and what was Dom's influence in the process? Would it be information about any proposed tours, or record label interest, or methods of marketing and promotion?

    Or, alternately, the current incarnation of Duran Duran has been going for 30 years? Why not blog about his memories of each year every new day, making it "30 years in 30 days" instead? That would be interesting to read as well, especially considering John's poetic and descriptive writing style.

    No instead we are left with lame photos. By saying he was releasing "30 blogs in 30 days" John has promised us the world, and given us an atlas. A crappy atlas at that - one where most of the countries are missing and the viewer has to work out what goes where.

    If any other musician, say Prince for example, had said he was releasing 30 Blogs in 30 days, and then released a stupid self-taken photo each day, everyone would say "well that's Prince for you, he lost the plot years ago". But suddenly when John Taylor does it Durannies say it's great he "embraces image-making as a fresh technique to communicate with fans". Double-standards much?

    Give me a break. It's not a blog, it is a let-down. If he had said he was releasing "30 photos in 30 days" then I wouldn't be complaining right now. As a heterosexual male I don't need to see photos of John Taylor. But when he said 30 BLOGS, something he normally excels in, and then releases that garbage, then I have an issue with that.

    Smell the coffee for what it is fellow Durannies - a massive letdown. Hopefully the band realises there are also fans who would rather hear about little things like the band's actual music and future direction.

    I guess in the end it's just easier to point a camera at yourself and upload it every day then actually having to put any thought into what you're releasing to your fans :(

  4. it is what it is. we can question his motives all we want. we bitch when they do something, we bitch when they don't do something...or they do something we don't expect. i think it's pretty ballsy for someone to take pictures of themself and post them for the world to see. try doing it sometime, no editing. no photoshopping. no 'oh this is a bad one, let me try again' it's pretty nerve wracking.

  5. Thx Kitty for a very interesting read. I've enjoyed the pictures. Not because I'm all gah gah over John, but because I just think it's so different, unexpected, and REAL. Not the polished photo shoot type stuff we usually see. Good stuff.

    Bitchers keep bitching! Nothing new there, that's for sure.

  6. I appreciate your perspective. I think that each of us as fans (or critics) will view these pictures through the filter of what we are thinking and feeling at the time, whether it be positive or negative. In that respect(in my opinion), you absolutely correct. It is art. It is how this artist is choosing to express himself at this time in his life. We as viewers may be deeply affected, or completely turned off. Both reactions and all in between are, I think, completely valid.

    Is it vanity? A little bit, yes. This is a man long prized and praised for his looks and I'm sure it still turns his engine to be praised for them. It's human. We all want to be told we are pretty. Why show the lines and the stubble? Because he's not all looks (Who is?) and he wants to recognized for that, too. Also very human.

    I could go on about perspective and angle and who is looking at who, but this is just a reply, not my own analysis. What I'm getting at is, be it squee, or snark, or genuine admiration, this project is being discussed, as I'm sure was at least one of the goals, and that can only be a good thing. I think. I hope?

  7. Beautifully put Kitty! I would add more, but you've nailed exactly what my thoughts were.

  8. Nice work, Kitty-Kat!

    As for the 30N30, I like it. I'd also enjoy 30 days of words from the man, but ya know what? I'd love 30 words from the man whispered in my ear on a rainy afternoon.

    And so, I'd like to share the immortal WORDS of my son's Kindergarten teacher: "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit."

    Peace out.

  9. He will always, always, always be beautiful to me. I always feel like Velvet Brown in this - "I'd rather have that [man] happy than go to heaven!" (But you know, haters gotta hate. They live on it, like oxygen.)

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  11. I apologize for the odd spacing and garbled grammar. My keyboard had issues. I promise to be more coherent in future posts.

  12. No worries, `N` ! I really liked your earlier post... it just freaked out the spacing. Feel free to repost. :)

  13. Well, all I really want to say is that after my own analysis of these photos, it's just truly nice to get a photo "Hello" from someone I appreciate and feel a sort of affection/love/squishiness for. And thank you for explaining his tattoo. :)

    He's Venus as a (Man)-apologies to Bjork :D