An Excercise In Mobility: Madrid

Our first trip of the summer was a short hop to Madrid via Dublin for a music festival in its second year called Mad Cool. I recognize that it's a slightly awkward sounding title for a festival but we confidently assume the 'Mad' is in reference to its geography. Spread across five stages the headliners featured The Foo Fighters, Kings Of Leon, Green Day, Royskopp, Trentmoller, The Lumineers and Alt-J among many others.

The event itself was incredible and provided a standard of organization and entertainment that other festivals ought to aspire to. However it was delivered a massive PR blow when on the second evening, minutes before Green Day took to the stage, acrobatic performer Pedro Aunion Monroy, suffered fatal injuries during his routine. The equipment suspending Pedro some thirty meters in the air gave way and he fell to the ground sustaining injuries too severe for paramedics to save him. Green Day began their set with no address to what had just happened and left those who witnessed the incident severely confused, stressed and if their social media comments are anything to go by, extremely angry that the event continued at all. Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day released a statement saying nobody had told them what had happened and they only found out when they had finished their set. It's not going to be easy to sell this event again which is a great shame given the setup, but we'll have to wait and see what organizers do in the coming months. 

Now, while it was a massive music festival it was not a camping event so we booked a couple of Airbnb's and a hotel for the course of our stay. Bands started at 6pm in the evening and finished at 6am the following morning to avoid what was expected to be unbearable mid-day heat. The weather in Madrid had been increasingly and exceedingly hot in the run up to the weekend, when all of a sudden two days of thunderstorms hit and the heavens broke between short bouts of sunshine. Fortunately, it didn't rain during any of the time that the festival itself was running, so during the daytime showers, we visited galleries and art museums taking in two particularly incredible exhibitions. One traced the history of cinematography as it emerged from the art world, its overlap with historical legends like Dali, Picasso and Warhol meeting modern heavy hitters like Hitchcock and David Lynch. I had no idea these worlds had ever collided and that these founding father artists had worked with industry defining directors on so many projects, through so much art world politics and turmoil. Seeing their work first hand, particularly David Lynch's paintings and Dali's sketchbooks was truly awe inspiring. And as luck would have it, another revolutionary artist was being exhibited in grand fashion right in the heart of the city, the great M.C Escher. You almost certainly know some of his work, and to see it right there in person only added further bewilderment to his chaotic, mathematical skill set. Learning about the artist behind that art was even more rewarding, as I can relate to his story; his hangups with his craft and his deep romanticism with Italy. Also worth noting, I basically learned that Escher invented meme's. There is absolutely no arguing that fact, but you may have to visit the exhibit to learn how and why it came about.

With regards to my own creations. the photos below have been 100% shot and edited from an iPhone 6. A lot of the scenes were very dark, but I believe the camera really held its own and let me shoot quickly and with accuracy; removing the choices I often have to make such as lens type or focal length, and creating a freedom I could really measure. I have always recommended that people utilize their smartphones for holiday trips and so decided to take my own advice. This project has only strengthened my resolve in this regard. Using the built-in camera app and then editing in VSCO Cam; an extremely powerful colour correction tool means I was able to shoot and edit on the go, leaving me free to enjoy the process without worrying about how long the post work would take once I got home. Of course, we were taking fun selfies, shooting 35mm film and Instax Polaroid, but the photos below demonstrate that you can shoot and process serious and emotive photos, with just a phone. 

I started a 'non-fitness' Instagram account nearly two years ago, and I have rebuilt it several times regardless of its popularity (some photos racking up as many as 900 likes). Aesthetically I knew I couldn't maintain the style which was generally sunny, coastal days in Galway. The account peaked at 60+ photos and had a very small but strong follower base. Unfortunately I think my mix of a year long inactivity and new IG algorithms, has dented its reach but I shall be working on it very often regardless. You can follow that account here as it will be my main iphone based photography account going forward.