The Daily Pick

Monday, September 19, 2005

Four Questions: Interview with Frank Feijen of Happy Palace

Frank Feijen is the webmaster of Happy Palace, a collection of some of the most unusual, strange, and lovely images found anywhere on the web. On some days you'll find two new pictures, on other days you'd find a dozen new additions or more. It's quite difficult to categorize or summarize the images. To say that is an eclectic mix is a vast understatement. On a page from this past week I found a book cover for "Les Femmes Docteur" (a buxom young doctor holding a syringe, with a patient strapped to the table in the background), a movie screen from a drive-in theatre illuminating a vast field of hay and grass, and a screen cap from a movie titled "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things." Frank is definitely a fan of the 1950s, and you'll find many images from this era. "Happy" seems an appropriate adjective in the title of the blog. There's a playfulness to the images selected, and Frank is a fan of bright colors, stark black and whites, and interestingly, people smiling in a strange combination of the artificial and the sincere. Happy Palace provides commentary on many of the images, plus links to many of the sites where the images first appeared.

Tom Kealey: I wonder if you could articulate your web surfing experience in some way. It's almost beyond my comprehension how you have found, and continue to find, such a variety of surprising and strange images. Where do you start from? And where does that take you? What would an average "thread" of your day of surfing look like, and where are one or two of the most odd places you've found an image for Happy Palace?

Frank Feijen: Well I do find a lot via other great web searching sites like yours (and Grow a brain, Look at this, PCL linkdump, Cynical-C, Agence Eureka to name but a few) of course, and there are a lot of those. Another thing I like to do is use Google Image. Just type in a word (any silly word will do really) and you get page after page after page of images (and links to related sites) and all you have to do is look hard and start clicking away. It’s a lot like going through a flea-market really: you see a lot of junk and stuff not worthy of closer inspection, but you may stumble upon some real interesting stuff too, and even, occasionally, on some Treasures. And some days you’re really lucky and it’s Bingo all the time and some days it’s just tiring. But fun. What happens a lot too is that when I am searching for one thing, via Google or, I find something else. And I scan a lot of stuff too of course – love those vintage National Geographic’s (and other found magazines or books)!

Tom Kealey: I did my best to explain your interests in the intro, but I fell short. What in an image catches your eye? What themes do you think run through Happy Palace? Horror movies and pulp fiction come to my mind, as well as 1950's advertisements. But these would account for only a portion. What other categories, specific or general, does Happy Palace embrace?

Frank Feijen: Phew that’s a hard one because it’s true I do like a lot. Love scientific images, old photos, found photos, snapshots, X-ray photos, ephemera, design, vinyl sharity, art, retro stuff etcetera, but I think if there is one thread, although this might sound cheesy, it’s about embracing life and celebrating life and all of the good stuff life has to offer. Knowing very well it’s often pretty hard to embrace and celebrate life, and there is a huge amount of stuff around that needs a good butt-kick or acid-like criticism - but maybe that’s exactly why I decided I wanted to be on the positive, happy site, so that’s where I usually am.

Tom Kealey: Your previous site was called One Man Safari. One day in June or July, you decided to delete the entire blog. This wiped clean somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand posts. How did that decision come about? It's one of the cleanest breaks I've ever seen on the net, as far as not only leaving one project, but destroying it and then immediately starting anew. What did you hope to achieve in that break, and have you?

Frank Feijen: I am not sure if I can explain that step, because it was really an split-second kinda decision/impulse, though I did feel a bit burned-out/burned-up I guess. I just thought that if I could start a blog just like (finger snap) that ( because that’s how it started, I was just curiously clicking and suddenly Hey, I had a blog too!), I could end it too, just like (finger snap) that. And I wasn’t even completely sure I would restart again – what tempted me though was coincidentally finding this pretty template the next day that I am now using. I do believe, however, I must say, that destroying, or to put it more mildly: starting a-fresh is part of every creative process and is sometimes really refreshing (and even: necessary). And yes, it did re-fresh me and energise me – but I promise will not be so bold (and brutal, leaving no notes) again.

Tom Kealey: Following that up, your first post on HP is "So there you are. Happy palace. I am glad to have found you. I think you look kind of pretty and inviting and I think I will enter." It's interesting, in the sense that you have found something, yes, but you are also creating it. Creating something to find, or finding something to create. Can you speak to the creation process, both at the beginning and ongoing, and about the discovery process how you are finding something, not only on the Web, but -- I'm speculating but I think I'm accurate -- within yourself?

Frank Feijen: I must say I firmly believe in Instinct, and Intuition and Gut feelings. I like the human brain a lot, and am in awe of it’s accomplishments of course and for sure, but there is a lot to say for Feeling instead of Thinking too, and to just Follow – or even better and best probably: to combine the two and do the Feeling and Thinking at the exact same time. It’s like picking your clothes in the morning (if you don’t have to be in uniform or something): you just Act, pick something. Or like when you’re painting (a picture) : why did you decide to put that black against yellow there (or that red next to that white or whatever)? A lot of times you don’t know, and you don’t really care to know too.
posted by Tom Kealey at 1:22 AM


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