BLOG (March 2006 - March 2009)


October 31, 2006

[31.10.2006] Lake

If you are a regular browser to my blog it may have been evident I have been having some trouble inspiring myself into creating works of a various description in the past month or so.

I left my post graduate study at the University of Adelaide in mid-September to take up a job that I was offered at the Australian Network for Art and Technology working in administration and records management. (n.b. This is not the only reason I left of course, and the muddy prints of this affair are peppered throughout this blogs archive.) The ANAT job has a represented dramatic shift away from the way I have been used to working in the past with the most notable feature being routine (shock horror..) Such a change to my day to day work habits has definitely caused some kind of alteration to the way in which I construct ideas and disseminate information, this would explain to some extent the bout of creative impotence I've been experiencing of late.

There's a lake down the road from where I live in Stirling and I've been visiting it and the surrounding nature reserve of late, trying to find some reconnection with where my artistic endeavors were situated around the time I left post-grad. As I was becoming more pre-occupied with aspects of ecology and nautral phenomena, observations of wind through trees, ripples in water and the flight patterns and songs of birds have reminded me of what I was looking to focus on in the research topic. Of course, it has become even more evident how much I had (deliberatly) forgotten about the research, almost as if my head had been aired out with all of the academic rhetoric being done with. I am in no doubt that overanalysis of the topic rendered it useless towards the end of my Uni tenure, I've only just had the courage to look at some of the proposals of my rejected topic outline to see how bad my writing had become at this stage. That said, I wouldn't say the topic itself is not relevant or capable of being revisted in the future. For now I'm just happy being a quiet observer. I have ideas about things I'd like to create and draw attention to, and I'm sure something will accumulate before too long.

October 30, 2006

[30.10.06] The distance between what we have and what we need

I came across this at work today whilst I was compiling ANAT's email digest. The Distance Between What We Have And What We Need is a remarkable installation by Tavares Strachan comprising of a four-ton block of ice which is displayed in a specially built freezer and is maintained by a solar energy system which helps keep block intact. The work is currently on exhibition in a gallery in Miami, to later travel to Europe and eventually the rest of the world. The prevailing motivation behind Tavares' work is to draw attention to climate change and the current state of the environment.

There's something strangely forboding about a block of ice being carried around the world and put on display to draw awareness the array of dire ecological situations currently besetting the planet - the the melting of the polar caps and Greenland ice sheets for one. There's also something very sombre about this spectacle - like an endangered part of the earth has been captured and preserved like the last of an animal species for future generations to see.

The title of the work couldn't be anymore profound.

October 29, 2006

October 25, 2006

[24.10.06] Bob

I've been listening to an unhealthy amount of Dylan of late - so much so that my hair is becoming unkempt and I'm tempted to drink wine on the bus on the way to work. The man puts bad ideas into your head: I fantiscise of being in the back of some dive on Hindley Street scrawling lyrics onto a toilet door, or climbing up a creeping vine to gain access to some secret party. (Actually, both those fanatasies sound more like the stuff of Tom Waits on a good night, but no matter.) The dilemma is that I haven't written any decent songs for eons and I am once again attepting to source the codes from The Great Deceiver. I've been reading plenty of books on him as well - collections of essays, interviews, impressions and his own memior Chronicles, which was published last year. These seems to help as little as much as the albums, which I've been listening to in a scattershot chronology; Street Legal (1978) [the much maligned psuedo-Boz Scaggs one], Freewheelin' (1962) [the first decent one], Oh Mercy (1989) [the comeback album], Desire (1976) [the gypsy one], Time Out Of Mind (1997) [the one about death] and Modern Times (2006) [sketches of the weird America.] The resources tell you all you would possibly want to digest about Dylan without running the risk of intigestion or heartburn, they work perfectly as a foil for crafting songs - anything beyond that is an imitation.

I'm not exactly sure what this post is about, but perhaps it sums up my current position, which is that of confusion. I don't really know what or whom I'm writing for.

Because something is happening here and you don't know what is ....

October 22, 2006

[22.10.06] $1.69

I'm not a huge fan of the iTunes music store as its intentions with regard to pricing and artist distribution are dubious at best, though occasionally they do stuff up. I was roaming the store this evening when I found Brian Eno's Neroli could be downloaded for $1.69! (the price of a single song file.) Though it is listed as an album, it seems the single track of an hours duration is going out cheap, so if you are an Eno fan scoop it up quick before they correct the pricing error.

October 09, 2006

[9.10.06] Menace

...but they're so goddamn cute...

[9.10.06] James Tenney (1934-2006)

I have just found out through a mentor of mine that American composer James Tenney has died. Tenney proved to be one of the most under-recognised though important composers of the latter half of the twentieth century, as both a pioneer of both experimental and electronic music. Tenney's studies into psychoacoustics and the observation of sound phenomenology were at the core of his work - a synergy of artistic and scientific thought. His Masters thesis Meta/Hodos,which I finished reading around the time of his death in August, remains one of the most groundbreaking books on music theory of the last century. I have to admit I only became aware of Tenney and his work over the past year through Alvin Lucier - a close friend and contemporary of Tenney's for over forty years. I am deeply saddened by the news of Tenney's passing. He typified a credo synonomous with composers and artists whom I hold the greatest level of respect for - to challenge artistic and philosophical conventions, whilst encouraging new observations, thought and commentary. Though there is something rarer and more precious about Tenney's work. Just like the work of Lucier, Tenney conveyed his art with with the most elegant degree of articulation and beauty, conceptual and scientific theories became secondary in the wake of observing or imagining a natural phenomena, like ripples in a stream or how the wind shapes a mountain.

Kyle Gann has written an excellent obituary on his blog. You can read it here

October 05, 2006

[2.10.06] COMA Hipnote

On Monday night I performed two works at COMA's (Creative Original Music Adelaide) Hipnote concert series at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Thebarton.

Translations(which I have performed at the Tyndall Assembly series twice) is a piece for an acoustic guitar where its strings are resonated sympathetically by sine wave frequencies. This creates contrasting timbres and beating patterns. Unfortunately, the piece suffered this time round due to the retro equipment I was forced to use since my laptop is still out of action. The lo-fi set-up comprised of a TASCAM tape desk, CD player and damaged loudspeaker.

Thankfully, the second work Two Bowls was realised more satisfyingly. A collage of contrasting sounds from tape (tones and noise) are played onto the bases of the bowls using piezo speakers, the bowls (which contain a shallow amount of water) are then tipped slowly to amplify the various harmonic nodes of each bowl. The shallow water is responsible for this - as the shifting water edge locates the nodal points on the bowl's surface, the rest of the bowl works as a sounding chamber of sorts. The water surface also works well as a primitive filter and is particularily good when playing tape hiss as well.


Lo-fi music technology isn't such a bad thing - it depends on how you use it and how useful it can be for a given process. I'm actually a very strong advocate for endangered and extinct forms. In fact, last month I rescued around 60 reels of tape from the trash outside the Electronic Music Unit, unfortunately they're not blank (they contain French langauge lessons) but at least they've been spared a burial in a landfill faraway. I'm just another thoughtful conservationist in the soniferous garden. ;)

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