D4D

Improving sarcasm for thirty years

Archive for the category “Creativity”

A Paucity of Postings

Despite the best of intentions, this week’s been quiet here on D4D™.

Mainly, it’s because I’ve been absolutely snowed under with work, including beating the living hell out of databases – and cursing the clowns that wrote Microsoft Access, which is what I’ve been taking data out of and putting into something decent. One of these days I’d like to meet the people who created it, and ask just what the fuck was going through their minds when they made certain decisions.

Along the way, there’s been a whole bundle of other stuff, insomnia and the like, and well, it’s just January.

I have a hard time with January, for some reason. It’s part of the reason I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, because I know I’m never good with the start of the year.  The thing is, I don’t really know why it’s such a tough one for me.

I’ve got my suspicions – and primarily it’s about preparation.

I know I get affected by autumn and winter, as the nights draw in and so on, and I can fight it for a long time. Then there’s the standard dislike of the Festering Season, which I’m ready for and can keep on fighting.  But now we’re through all that, the days are getting longer, and we’re through the whole Christmas period.

This is where (I suspect) my problems kick in – the days are still short, even if they’re lengthening. It’s just not doing so quickly enough. This week in particularly has been pretty much solidly grey and overcast, with little to no sunlight coming through. And I’m just tired, with no real energy for continuing to fight the whole Seasonal thing.

It leaves me flat, tired and uninspired. It shouldn’t, in all sense, but regardless, it does.

So yeah, this week’s been more about downtime, about being tired and grey, and not really in the mood for doing much. I’ve got a fair amount of stuff in the coming week as well, which will help. But this week’s been a flat and down one. Such is life, and all that rot.

2017 Inspirations – Photography

As things change for me in 2017 – well, as I do new stuff, or restart old stuff – I’m hoping/intending/planning to write more about it here on D4D as well, along with things about what’s driving those choices.  So there’s a new subject/category to cover it all.  And this is where it all starts.

As long-term readers know, I was into photography for a long time, did pretty well at it, and even ended up taking a course while I was in Norfolk in order to better understand what the hell I was trying to do.

But since Norfolk and Suffolk, I’ve been doing a lot less photography. Some of that is due to my mobile phone, where the pixel count is higher than the SLR I still have. It’s also about faff – lugging an SLR around for the day (particularly when doing anything else, like one of my idiotically long walks) is a hefty job anyway, and it’s simply never ready for a quick photo. Using the SLR is a much bigger commitment in many ways, and over the last four years, I really haven’t been making that commitment.

This year, I want to change that, and do more where I actually go out with the SLR, with the intention of taking photos.

The first real inspiration for that has been this story on the BBC, of Dean Saunderson’s photos of a deserted Nottingham on Christmas morning. It’s something that works for me, having been to many places at ungodly-o’clock, and seeing them with very few people around. Oxford, for example, is beautiful at 5am on a summer Sunday morning – and the same applies for many other cities. So this is a theme/topic/idea I could get into, and will probably have a few goes at over this year.

We’ll see at the end of the year how I do on these inspirations. It’s going to be a year where I (hopefully) figure out more about the things I want to continue doing, and which ones I’ll be happier to leave by the wayside in order to do other things.

Inspiration

I’m just leaving this here as a remind to myself, on occasion…

The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.
All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.

(C) Chuck Close

This came from Zack Arias’ DexPxl blog, a piece entitled “Get the F*ck To Work” (his asterisk, not mine!) which also included the clip below of David Bowie’s advice to musicians…

A transcript of that is :

When asked if he had advice for musicians, Bowie replied: “Yes, never play at a gallery. [Laughs] I think. But you never learn that until much later on. But never work for other people at what you do. Always… always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt, that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you coexist with the rest of society. And I — I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations; I think they produce — they generally produce their worst work when they do that. And if — the other thing I would say is that if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in, go a little out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

Again, just a reminder for me, more than anything else – but if anyone else finds it useful, that’s grand.

Durham Lumiere 2015

Two years ago, I went with friends to see the Lumiere exhibition in Durham – which was ace.

This year, it was back, and so were we.

While it’s organised by the same people, and has some of the same artists, it was utterly different – and still brilliant. The weather this time was absolutely rotten – my coat still isn’t dry – but still it was great. The theme (if there really is one) was more about science and maths this time round, with the main ‘showpiece’ projection onto Durham Cathedral this time, “The World Machine” being more about the birth of modern cosmology from the 12th century until the present day.

One of the big draws this year was Mysticete, a projection of a whale on the river Wear, visible from the bridge above. Done by the same people as the Elephant last year, it was ace – and so clever, being projected onto a water-spray. (although with the heavy rain they could probably have just done the same onto the rain)  Sadly, because of that weather it got cancelled on the Sunday, but it was well worth seeing. (we were there on the Saturday)

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

Image (c) Durham Chronicle

We got to see a good portion of the exhibits – although not all, by any means – and really enjoyed it. Some of the stuff was really magic and fun, other bits were ‘just’ excellent.

As per the last one, I will definitely be going again when it’s next on.   I may also visit the one they’re doing in London in January 2016 – I hope that’s as clever and fun as the Durham ones are.

2015/16 – Writing

This post has been nagging me – I’d written the title and post-dated it for publication, but been stuck on what to actually, you know, write.  And then I did it again.

It’s somewhat ironic that the post about my plans for the coming year’s writing has been published blank/empty not once, but twice.

So – third time lucky.

I’m not honestly sure what will happen with my writing plans over the next twelve months. There’s a couple of options (as well as the fallback point, of “do nowt” or “fail”) which is never a good start, as it leaves me in a quandary from the beginning.

The thing is, I’ve got lots of ideas. Loads. I just haven’t yet clicked on how they could stick together. Or even if they could adhere at all. I’m missing that bigger picture, the whole that all these parts could/should/might fit into.  Or maybe each one is a different tale, and I need to focus on one or two of the better concepts, and just develop those. Maybe that will allow the others to rest, or maybe to develop along in their own timelines. Maybe.

I’ve definitely got two concepts which are kind-of similar, but separate. They fit into different moulds, different methods, so I could do both at the same time. Or I could focus on one and then the other. Or. Or. Or.

And that’s what’s sticking me up at the moment. Too many ideas, not enough drive.

I’d love to be ironic (or meta) enough to be able to write about a writer that is stuck on the writing, so that it’s turtles all the way down. But that’s beyond me.

I think the plan for the coming year will be to do just one project, focus on it, see if it works. If it doesn’t there are others waiting in the wings. If it does, there are others waiting in the wings.

Between now and 2016, some of it is just going to be brain-dumping stuff onto paper/keyboard as a record – perhaps that’ll help too.

So yes, I think that’s the plan. But now, which to choose as the first one. Which to choose…

 

Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy

Following on from yesterday’s post about my most recent day trip to London, this one focuses on the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the RA.

It’s a great exhibition, and shows a wide range of Weiwei’s works, including his massive (and understandable) loathing of China.

The first thing you see, as you enter the RA’s courtyard, are the trees, made of assorted pieces of wood

TreesHidden in there as well is what looks like a knackered leather armchair. Only it turns out to be made from black marble…

In the exhibition itself, there are just so many different things. Tables that have been melded with timbers from 14th century temples, and/or bent to rest with legs against walls, epic cubes (including one that is a ton of compressed tea leaves), video installations, 3000 porcelain crabs, and many others.

The cubes are fantastic, and a particular favourite of mine was the wooden epic-scale puzzle box (that needs two people to get it to work) which was just beautiful, and so tactile…

Mystery BoxThere’s also a work called ‘Straight’, which is entirely constructed from steel reinforcing rods, and is a thing of beauty. (Although you do wonder just how long it took to get it all to work!)

Straight - Steel rodsOn the walls in that room there are also two panels, listing every single identified body from the 2008 earthquake. Just the scale, the number of names, is gob-smacking, and upsetting in a strange way.

There’s also a lot of humour in the exhibition – surprisingly so, and in contradiction to what I’d imagined and understood of Weiwei’s work. My personal favourites of the entire exhibition are the two wallpaper designs. (Yes, wallpaper)  The first is this, whole patterns created from a stencil of a man’s torso and arm, ending in a fist with a raised middle finger.

wallpaper1I think it’s the first ever wallpaper I’ve seen and gone “Yeah, I could live with that”. Although at nearly £500 per roll, I won’t be able to do so…

The second wallpaper, “Golden Age” is even more clever. Surveillance cameras and Twitter birds predominate

wallpaper2And then you look closer, and realise that in every Twitter bird, there’s Ai Weiwei’s face. And that’s really clever.

wallpaper2_detail

There are many, many other pieces – in a variety of sizes, materials, and styles. (I also loved the chandelier built from bicycle wheels) It’s an impressive body of work, and I suspect a number of pieces will stick with me for quite a while.

All told, I loved the exhibition. It’s so much better than I’d expected/assumed, and is so worth going to see.

Bike Chandelier

Even better, the RA are actively encouraging people to take photos of the exhibits, to promote it themselves, and to touch most of the items. It’s very tactile, very open – and so nice to see that kind of understanding. (Although they did still tell off the German who slammed his camera and bag onto one of the bent tables, impervious to the fact it was an exhibit – but you can’t do much about idiots, in fairness)

The only (small) downside is that for the price you’re paying to see the exhibit, and the fact it’s only ticketed admission, it was still crowded. I would rather that there were fewer people allowed in at once, and thus those people can see the exhibits better, without being being constantly blocked, wandered into, and having others drifting into one’s eyeline. But then, I’m an antisocial git.

All told though, it’s great. I’m actually considering going again before it finishes…

Creatively Becalmed

This year so far – and probably for a bit longer than that, if I’m honest – I’ve not been getting all that much done on a creative front, and I don’t really know why.  It’s more a feeling of being bogged down, uninspired, and just not in the mood.

Writing is going better than anything else – lots of ideas, but nothing is particularly gelling at the moment. I’ve got a couple of things started, but it’s still bogging down, and not flowing.

Photography-wise, I haven’t even taken my camera out in ages. Really it’s been since I did the NCFE course, which is a bloody long time now. I don’t know why that seemed to flick the ‘can’t be arsed’ switch, but it has.  I’ve tried a few things and ideas, but it’s just all a bit “meh”, with no real desire to take the photos.

In some ways, the day-trips over the last few months have helped on that – I’ve taken photos, even if ‘only’ with the phone (although that’s a surprise, considering how good they’ve come out) but still can’t really bring myself to take the actual camera out for a day. A lot of that is also because I can’t be arsed with lugging it around and faffing about, but mainly it’s just the faff of it all at the moment.

I’m sure things will change again – I certainly hope so – and that the changes will be positive for once. The rest of this year to date has been positive, so I’m hoping that once I have some headspace and time, I’ll be more prompted.

(And I’m sure I’ve written about this a couple of times this year already, so forgive the repetition. It’s just something that’s bugging me at the moment)

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