Welcome to the first dispatch of the year! Gonna be honest, it took me a while to get back into the newsletter and I haven’t put much thought into reshaping it yet. Things haven’t been entirely without creative work though. It’s going to be a very image-heavy edition. Let’s get to it!
# Photography #
I’ve been posting my Game Boy photography adventures on Instagram the past few months. I’m a year into it and still not tired of taking pictures. I just keep finding new things to try out, which is pretty sweet for a hobby. Now, Instagram is far from the ideal place to host my picutres, so I am looking for a better place to put them, especially with sets or albums in mind. Does anybody still use Flickr? I was not a fan of the upload & management tools but at least it has albums and nice detail pages. Other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I just don’t want to build my own tool, I still need to rebuild my website to properly handle image galleries.
I’m also working on a small photography book. I like the idea of turning this ephemeral digital thing into a semi-permanent analogue object. Nothing about Game Boy photos were meant to be permanent or living outside the screen. The Game Boy printer worked with thermal paper and all those images just faded into oblivion after a few years. But that isn’t stopping enthusiasts from doing new and interesting things with it.
# Seen #
In december, we went to see a Magritte exhibition and I took my Game Boy Camera with me. I’ve taken to bringing it with me everywhere I go, so the rest of this dispatch will be heavy on the pixel photos. Long story short, the exhibit only had a few paintings (the image here is of 1 of those) and was mostly 1 big room with animated projections, a short movie by Magritte himself and a 3D exploration (with an Oculus headset or something similar). That’s not to bring it down, the experience was very fun and I can certainly recommend it. You just have to adjust your expectations a bit if you were expecting to see static paintings hanging in a room.
It seems projections-based exhibitions are popping up more and more, with varying quality and reception. I remember seeing one about Van Gogh, 2 or more years ago, which surpassed just about every one I’ve seen so far. The projections were mapped onto the architecture of the rooms inside La Bourse in Brussels. It had beautiful music and even brief moments of dancing. Two others I can think of, are one about Klimt one (good reviews) and one about Dali (disappointing, according to Booo).
There was also this great Orient Express exhibition at Train World (still running). They’ve got actual train carriages used by the Orient Express as well as bits and pieces (like these and other posters) telling the story of the Orient Express and the Belgian behind it (Georges Nagelmackers). A bit disappointed that the gift shop didn’t have any of those spectacular poster designs for sale but they did have 2 books that are related to the exhibit somewhat. Warning though: it’s a lot of walking. I think we went through the whole museum in about 2 and a half hours, since the spaces with the exhibit do cross over into the permanent collection. And I didn’t even read or watch everything.
# Made #
A retro-game emulator made for a friend. It’s a Raspberry Pi 3, running DoxBox (via RetroPie). With an enclosure made from EVA foam, sealed and painted/weathered to look like metal. Home-made manual added for quick reference. We tested it out last week-end and it does the job pretty well. All the games on it are abandonware or have other legal ways to get them, so that made hunting them down easy enough. And now I know Bar Games is a thing (thanks Brecht!)
Continuing the ‘retro’ trend, I’ve also been making various inserts I can put into my shoulder bag or packpack, to carry my Game Boy Camera stuff with me. 3 variations so far but nothing quite perfect enough. I fear I’ll have to do a version 4.
This is my current Camera setup when going out:
Black Game Boy Pocket: modified to have an LCD screen, rechargeable battery (micro-USB), switch to turn off the screen, black and yellow buttons (to match the yellow Camera cartridge)
Yellow and Blue Camera cartridges: modified with an adapter so I can screw in CS-mount lenses (types of lenses used in security or other digital camera’s)
Several CS-mount lenses: my favorite being one that can has manually variable focus and distance. The other ones are a wide-angle and one for macro-shots
Blower: gotta keep dust out of the lens and Cameras
Small plastic bag to keep lens caps or other stuff in
Portable Game Boy Camera reader
The most recent project I built, is this portable Game Boy Camera reader. It is based on Matt Gray’s WiFi adapter. Inside that clear case, is essentially a Raspberry Pi Zero, with a cartridge reader. When you insert a Camera cartridge and turn the contraption on, it reads the photos, copies them onto an SD-card and turns on a Wifi hotspot with a website so I can view and download the photos from my phone. This is handy if I want to immediately print the pictures with my small bluetooth printer, or just archive them to my online storage.
It also turns those pictures into all manner of sizes and formats for different purposes (eg. add a border, scale up, colorize, …)
# Closing thoughts #
In other news, … well, you know. It is what it is. My theory is that reality visibly broke, around the time David Bowie died, and every time someone thought “This is the worst year.”, that crack became bigger. But seriously, nothing we’re witnessing is new. I mean, the seeds for Russia’s behaviour lie in the past, we were overdue a global pandemic of some kind, it’s been known since the 80’s that climate disaster was coming, celebrities die just like other people and it’s a small miracle they haven’t all died from a drug overdose, etc… It’s only natural to think of an avalanche as a personal attack on your life when you’re in the middle of it, but it was just a matter of time and some asshole to shout, for it to come crashing down on someone else’s head. Doesn’t make it any better when you’re the one in it of course.
Until the murderous pack of snow and ice comes for me, I’m trying to also think of the nice things that have happened. I, for one, am lucky enough to not be in immediate danger and have my own house with room to tinker with Game Boys (even if I wasted an hour trying to fix something that turned out not to be broken). In this part of the world, spring is getting close and the weather is definitely lightening up. I try to get out a bit more (not to the office though, 1 day a week is plenty enough).
If you’d like to put out a bit more hope in the world, my aunt is trying to create more awareness about the different faces of domestic violence with a book she wrote. We went to see her talk at a book event last week, which was enlightening, to say the least. She could use a vote in this audience award competition (vote for Anne Groenen en Trienemie Le Compte).
Hopefully you have some good things in your life and get to pass it on in your community. Stay safe, wherever you are.