I am a Camera
I have been making the zine “I am a Camera” since 1999. These days it comes out annually and takes the form of a story or stories about my life. This is its most basic definition, each one has a particular focus and mood, relating to my life and interests at the time.
I am a Camera #16
As the label says, this is the story of my journey to Japan’s rabbit island, Okunoshima, which is in the inland sea. Okunoshima is a small island that was once home to a poison gas factory and therefore left off official maps. Now it is a rabbit sanctuary, where people come across on an old, battered ferry with bags of carrots to feed the bunnies. I travelled there in summer 2011, and this zine is the story of my adventures on the island and in Japan in general. I also put together a short travel guide for Japan, with all the details that I didn’t read in the travel guides and learnt the hard way.
I am a Camera 15, here pictured among the stuff on my desk, is a long story about visiting Dunedin and what kinds of things I found there. Follow me as I climb its hills, enter its public library, eat its lolly cakes, and look for the house where the Death and The Maiden videoclip was recorded. It’s a tribute to the Flying Nun bands of the 80s that I love, and the romance of being in a small city at the bottom of the world.
Behind the alligator cover (he is my favourite shipping container logo, for MOL) is a long story that weaves in and out of my life here and now. It is about fibro houses, love, dust storms, freight trains, the suburbs, Halloween, poodles, death, sex, talking to strangers, jelly beans, garage sales, matchboxes, spying. So in other words, just everyday life.
It’s 44 pages long, A5, and 10 000 words long.
10 years after I am a Camera #1, still going. This issue has 11 036 words in it – if words were days, that would be 30.2 years, dangerously close to the age at which I wrote it. There are many other mysteries and spells contained within.
The Pocket Watch Edition, a web of interlinked stories about time and falling in love. It has stories about ghosts, Jehovah’s Witnesses, book sales, crosswords, ferris wheels, explosions in the middle of the night, picnics at night, and how to perform a ritual with a large dried fish and a recording of Les Rallizes Denudes.
Topics covered include: watchmaking, spa shops, Russian hats, fish, thistles, souvenir spoons, crossword puzzles, teenagers conversations, drugs and liquor, kissing, cycling, bears. It’s A5, 48 pages, with a red and black riso-printed cover.
I spent a long time in the library, searching for pictures of peacocks, and so they pop up on every page of this zine. It has stories about Halloween, skulls on sticks, Simon Joyner, a knitting machine, the Aisler’s Set, an old milk bar, time travel and going out in Prague. As is the trend, most stories bear some relation to what actually happened. It has a gocco-printed cover, of a long ago Parisian peacock.
50 pages of memories, desire, photographs, dresses, cars, songs written in the 1980s and rescuing things other people have thrown away. It has a lino-printed cover and a mixture of both fact and fiction, decorated with zoetrope strips.
I match up particular dresses with memories of kisses, make the lights go out on King St, describe what it’s like to be kicked in the head by a stranger, and rave about the XTC album English Settlement.
I am a Camera #10
A story about Portugal, an unusual gem. It is based on my travels there in 2005. It has the expected, things like sunlight and custard tarts, and the unexpected, things like shops that sell only gloves and goth clubs. There are two different covers, but both feature old postcards of swimming pools in Portugal. Despite their long coastline, they were really proud of their pools in the 70s.