Just Call Me ‘Mr.Busy’

Well, I haven’t stuck down any words since I patted myself on the back for using Apple’s easy-peasy ‘iLife’ software and breathed some life back into the .com.

I’ve been busy, not in all the way’s I’d like to but I’ve certainly had me fill of using time. Work has been God-awful over the last two months, I’m talking ‘bad’ in the sense of it drying up and watching my vital income go from stream to drizzle. I’m hoping that things will pick up again soon.

As unexpected free time has been at my disposal, I’ve been keeping creatively busy at home gathering material to rebuild Mrs.HIAB-X’s website. In the meanwhile you can cast your eye on my previous handy-work by visiting www.tanyarich.co.uk I’m quite fond of how it came out, though the new one will be less focussed on flash content and more emphasis on clean, functional ‘Let’s get down to business’ design.

Other than that, I’ve also celebrated my first anniversary of marriage to the aforementioned personal goddess. This partly involved a covert creation of a photo-book containing images from our wedding day. I used a wonderful little application from

www.blurb.com this allowed me to digitally assemble a terrific little book with images & text in a reasonably customizable layout. A few days later the actual hard back, physical version arrived and did not disappoint. Surprisingly inexpensive for a single edition publication. I highly recommend using them.

In celebrating our anniversary, I actually did something that I haven’t done properly for years, I activated my ‘Artist’ bio-ware and made a 3D collage and mounted it in a box frame. Once again, the resulting object worked very well and was well received by my filly!

Having enjoyed this recent spell of creativity, I’ve whetted my own appetite to do some more physical artwork. It really has been a long time, I’ve had a couple of awkward conversations with family & friends where I’ve given some watery excuses for why I dropped my artwork. I sometimes catch myself saying stuff and thinking “Woah! Don’t let THAT become a scripted response” I’ll be doing art again very soon under a different manifesto to those days of yore. Watch this space.

Digital life always looks busier than it actually is, in the time I fuck around on line I’ve enjoyed building a playlist here, I’ve also (guilty as charged) …tweeted quite a bit. When NOT doing that, I’ve updated my flickr

page with some archival imagery from many moons ago. Lastly, still on a photographic note, I’ve had some fun dedicating a minute a day to this, which I think is a stroke of genius in itself (Not me, IT!)

Other than that, I continue with my two days a week college carving my stone niche. I’m working on a piece called a Corbel Bracket at the moment. I’m carving it out of Portland stone, a rather time consuming but ultimately satisfying material.

Sooner or later I might get out and see some friends!

Game Boy

Pah! I’ve dipped into attempts to write this entry for several days now. I’d started writing about my general anticipation of future technologies, in particular the true arrival of ‘Virtual Reality’ (As opposed to the premature ejaculation of ‘Virtuality’ in the late 80’s)  However, the more I wrote, the more I realized that I was opening a can of ‘speculative worms’ that was turning into an essay. I do want to cover the subject in my blog but have decided to give a bit more consideration into how to present the information without drifting into a thousand + word ramble.

So, for now I shall draw attention to the above montage. I’ve had it kicking around in my brain for a while now. I wanted to show a kind of chronological evolution of game characters I have known, played and loved  during my lifetime.

At the same time. I wanted to illustrate the increasing complexity and visual fidelity of these ‘avatars’. The image covers roughly a thirty year span. Should the world of humans survive and prosper for another thirty years, what kind of avatars/game characters will we be witnessing and engaging with then? A question that will return in aforementioned ‘Virtual Reality’ ramble.

I’m a gamer, I am not apologetic or ashamed that I spend hours of my life playing console games. I generally moderate my usage responsibly and thoroughly enjoy the whole business of engaging with virtual worlds in the multitude of elaborate scenarios the gaming world has to offer. I’d go as far as saying that I enjoy it more than television. Gaming is an ‘active’ experience that involves problem solving, exploration,social interaction, artistic appreciation, the opportunity to become another character, to be a hero (Or villain) to engage in the battle between light and darkness and experience a sense of achievement whilst doing so. How can TV compete with this ?

I’m not saying that TV doesn’t have its own virtues, but by contrast I find it offers a generally passive experience often interspersed with mind numbing drivel and reminders of all that is wrong with modern society. I could rant…

Or I could invite fellow gamers (Who own PS3’s) to look me up on Playstation Network (PSN). Here are my credentials:

I’m currently playing the crack-cocaine of video gaming, a game called Killzone 2: A first person shooter comprising of a single player campaign/story mode and the jaw-dropping multiplayer mode called ‘Warzone’. Warzone allows up to 32 players to play tournaments consisting of two teams: The ISA (Goodies) & The Helghast (Baddies). These tournaments can last up to 25 minutes of intense battling to achieve certain team objectives (Base capture,assassination,death match etc). When I say ‘intense’ I really mean it, the level of detail in the game is truly stunning. They say ‘A picture can say a thousand words’ here’s a video of a typical Killzone 2 multiplayer tournament:

The tournaments are further enhanced by the fact that you can create or join teams within the battle and communicate with your fellow team mates via bluetooth headsets. This can be superb for building a sense of camaraderie as well as employing strategy.

Killzone 2 gets my accolade for being the first FPS game in around a decade to get me interested in the genre again. It succeeds admirably by being so dense and rich in audio/visual detail. The environments feel solid and oppressive, one can almost smell scorched steel and concrete when in the thick of battle. It is evident that the design team took painstaking measures to focus on the minutiae of creating a living breathing environment.

The immersive nature of the game is further enhanced by the way the environments are affected by whatever is going on in them, bullets leave virtual holes in the virtual walls, they spark when they collide with metal, structures shatter as artillery bombards them . You may find yourself cowering behind a barrier to shelter from a barrage of machine gun fire only to see pieces of the barrier start to break apart until there is no shelter left. This is not some nifty animation technique, Killzone 2 employs an awesome physics engine that has a complete grasp on how gravity,velocity and impact dance with each other and it utilizes these effects with stunning accuracy.

When I was a kid, I dreamt that there would be games of this calibre one day. In the advent of the PS3/Xbox 360 generation of console power, those wished have finally come true. It begs two big questions “What’s next ?” & “How far will it go?”

Neither of which can be accurately answered as the future isn’t here yet. Science fiction tends to indicate that we will become increasingly immersed in our technology and entertainment. It seems to me that the ultimate direction of these complex gaming environs, will be to break free from the frames of the TV screens that house them. How this will occur exactly is the big question, we can only wait and watch to see how the future will take shape. For now I think its fair to accurately predict that 3D TV will be a small revolution in the home and gaming world; we will se this within the next two years.

Above and beyond that ?…


When Light Creates Dark

Yesterday afternoon I got back on my metaphoric Horse and  did a bit of art.

A few years ago I used to keep regular dream diaries which I obsessively illustrated and filled with a plethora of disturbing and surreal imagery. I’d spent most of my life having generally unsettled dreams and nightmares; it became a revelation when, as a teenager I discovered H.R Giger and read that he also had the same problem with his sleeping hours, only he decided to illustrate them.

I think it was from then on that I decided to do the same.

For many years that followed and several books, I detailed all that I could remember from my night time wonderings of my soul. I think it is fair to say, I even began to love the bad dreams (always retrospectively), for even they provided me with a rich, symbolic source of material from which to write about and illustrate.

The only problem I encountered was that I had a very niche audience of friends who were appreciative of my creative outpourings. The rest of the world would look at my art from a disturbed perspective, then look at me as If I had something wrong with me and that would be that.

I generally didn’t mind too much but began to recognise that

If drawing from my subconscious was going to be my ‘Modus Operandi’  for illustration, then I was always going to run into the problem of disturbing/alienating seventy percent of my prospective audience!

Moving on several years, I’d dedicated less and less time to recalling dreams, writing them down & drawing them. I had virtually dried up on the illustration side of my creativity.

I’d met my Tanya, and put much more time into photographing the things that interested me in the world outside my head. People were generally far more appreciative of my photographic offerings and rarely went pale at the sight of my latest imagery.  A much more satisfying experience on the whole.

Recently however, I’ve had an increasingly gnawing feeling in my guts that I’ve been making excuses for NOT doing more personal artwork, a kind of self censorship. My dreams are far less disturbing these days , but the old imagery still haunts me. Its as if those old illustrations were seeds I’d planted, waiting to grow into a more eloquent visual form.

In all honesty, I’m not completely satisfied with it and may well try again. It was a success in other ways though, I really enjoyed the business of creating the piece, 90% of which was a physical, tangible process. I’ve given myself a little bit of a confidence boost which I intend to build upon. I know I’ll still be freaking out and alienating a whole bunch of people who don’t like this sort of imagery, however I think in order to be true to myself, I should not get so concerned about the negative points of view and create in the spirit of just putting some love into being artistic. So the period of self censorship is finally over, expect more artwork soon.

So yesterday I decided to approach a particularly poignant image from around 1993 and tackle it from a fresh perspective. If anything, the new work is far more frightening than the original.