Website Coma

Uh, wassat? How long have I been out?

I know, I know, the last entry was a maudlin meditation on the death of an admired one, then silence.

The truth is, my website has been put at the back of the queue as far as creative output goes. There’s a new lady in town, her name is ‘Day One App’

I’ve been having an affair with it while neglecting to add reflections and news on these pages. Guilty! The thing is, just because there is no news, it doesn’t mean that there is no news

2020 has got off to a racy start of my own creativity. I use Day One to compile and collate many previous works in terms of journal entries, autobiographical gap-filling reflections of the life I’ve lived, dreams dreamt, people, places. The project of digitising old battered diaries has been quite an adventure and I’ve barely made a dent in transcribing the volumes and tomes.

And for what reason? I think it has partly been a growing sense that life is short and uncertain, if my writings and works form part of a creative legacy, then how would I like it to be presented when It gets handed over to my daughter or other friends and family members? The original works are fairly fragile, the grammar in places was terrible, the art has faded etc.

I admired the small series of web-documentaries called “Everything is a remix”. The title alone got me thinking of remixing my own works and to try and consolidate them into a central chunky narrative. I also thought of the time I used to lose when I was a Windows 98 user, attempting to breathe life into my spluttering machine. I’d run a script called ‘Defragmentation’ and watch the visual representation of the computer reshuffling its hard drive contents into some form of order. This project has been the human attempt at performing the same task with my own mind.

Day One App is a marvellous bit of journalling software, I’ll link it below. I’ve been using it since September 2017. I was on holiday taking a much-needed break. During the brief and beautiful period of having nothing to do and nowhere to go, I decided to take up an old habit and start journaling again. Thanks to the multitude of distractions that the web had provided in terms of blogging and social media, I’d dropped out of keeping a written record of my life events and feelings sometime in early 2004. Given that from 2004 onwards, the best years of my life had begun, I had a growing sense of shame that I’d never stopped to write about them. So at some future point, I intend to put this historic wrong to right and compile them into a retrospective journal.

This is all very well for you, the reader of the blog, you’ll probably never get to see any of what I’m describing? What? You think I should share it online? Give it all up for the great algorithm? Come on! I have got some dignity.

At best, I may select certain entries and artworks and ‘might’ post edited versions here.

Well, there is a middle ground…

Earlier this month (Feb 20) I decided to take a small break from the practice of mental defragging , I decided to get my head around some other new software called ‘Affinity designer‘. A very splendid company called Serif have decided to take on the digitally ancient company Adobe, and offer software that not only competes with the likes of Photoshop and Illustrator, it also offers a very attractive point of entry pricing model which confidently urinates all over the Adobe cloud-based pricing plan.

Like many digital artists out there, I create for the pleasure of art. “Art for art’s sake” I haven’t attempted to sell any of my works for a long time, so It seemed like a kick in the balls when Creative Cloud was unleashed into the world and Adobe wanted at least £20+ per month for the privilege of using its software. The team at Serif clearly found this an objectionable business model too and decided to take on the Adobe behemoth with their own alternatives. Cue Affinity Photo/Designer and Publisher. All three programs offer similar functionality with a superb interface, brilliant tools, cross-program compatibility and (Cherry on top) a one-off flat fee for the experience. Their pricing is very reasonable, to me, switching over to the Serif way of doing things seemed a ‘no-brainer’ I’m delighted with the software and what It can do.

During the last couple of weeks I’ve put some of my fairly limited break time into learning Affinity Designer and have fallen in love with what it allows me to do. I’ve returned to the slowly simmering Umpquamadic Peel project as it suits the software perfectly (or is it the other way around?)

I’m delighted with the results, which is a point of creative glee for me personally, as I know I haven’t fully tapped into the power of the software yet.

One suspects that they know how you feel…” – Lord Pointy Head

Keeping things creative, I’ve also spent a combination of Birthday and Christmas money given to me by my mother, on a bloody brilliant little device called an Instax SP-3. (Thanks Mum!)

The device prints slightly smaller than Polaroid format, Polaroid-style photographs. During the history of my dreaming, I’ve often dreamt of taking photos in my dreams of subconscious weirdness that has caught my eye. I’ve lost count of the mornings I’d woken up with an instant disappointment that photos taken in dreamland have stayed in dreamland. I’ve ended up resorting to recreating what I’d seen using photo editing software, then making a digital dream photo. All very well, but a jpeg is a jpeg, It looks nice on screen, but like a dream-photo, it doesn’t necessarily exist.

The Instax SP-3 has helped me overcome the problem with something tangible. I can now print dream photographs and the format more or less makes the imagery seem a little more credible.

Photographs taken in Dreamland.

There is a grander vision to all of this, but If I told you what it was, I’d have to kill you. Given the limited readership this blog receives, I’m afraid that this is where we have to leave things for today. No, I don’t blog often, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing things in Actual Reality. The most faithful of my subscribers here will eventually benefit from the fruits of my everso secret projects…you are just having to sit it out while I focus on ‘the long game’


Affinity Software

Day One App

Everything is a Remix

Instax SP-3

Umpsquamadic Vector

I stumbled into generating Scalable Vector Graphics by accident as I was experimenting with the Wacom pen.
I began with an app called ‘Assembly’ and it turned out that using fingers was more effective anyhow. I’ve spent most of my breaks this week having a go at making a test Umpsquamadic Peel image.

This took a bit of time and developed into the following graphic

Just for shits’n giggles. I’m encouraged that the digital files are so easy to manipulate and add quick variations to.
In Assembly, certain limitations became apparent. The repetition of dots around the perimeter involved a lot of copy/paste operations and scaling down. The end result being an object of somewhere around one thousand components. The iPad seemed to deal with this fairly well, however, once I’d attempted to duplicate the object within Assembly, adding another thousand or so components, the device went painfully slow, clearly suffering from insufficient RAM . Once again, the case for upgrading hardware becomes a consideration.

Saturday became a day of creative exploration in the visual domain. I carried on with experimental imagery based upon the fateful day in 1992 using a collection of graphics programs mainly for the iPad. These had been apps that I’d previously downloaded but found little in the way of use for as I had no particular plan in mind. Today however, I went to town messing around with all of them (as they suggest and link to each other) the following images are from those experiments.

As it turns out, I can produce artwork on the fly and quickly. Yes, it’s a little rough around the edges but I’m rediscovering how to express imagery that has been kicking around in the back of my brain for years. I think the digital medium is an excellent way of expressing it. I tried with pen and ink back in the 90’s.

Back then it was the best I could do, and as any artist will agree, when a person has a photographic image in their head, although traditional mediums are a useful way of expressing the seed idea, there is always a compromise that the image is an approximation of the idea, rather than a vivid capture of what is seen in the mind’s eye.


Umpsquamadic Peel Song: Pt 2

Umpsquamadic Peel Song: Pt 2

Last night I put guitar practice aside to nudge the Umpsquamadic Peel song along a bit further.

I lined up four vocal variations of me singing the song as an overdub, in Logic. I then experimented with some plug-ins for vocal transformation, space designer (reverb) I was particularly pleased with the vocal transform as it managed to create a female tone amongst the masculine ones.
At some point during the noodling, I added another distortion effect to make the piece a little less human sounding. It worked very well but at the cost of losing the female sounding voicing . I’m not 100% committed to using this experiment in the final piece but it has emboldened me to know that I’m now getting better at taking sounds from my mind and have a basic enough knowledge to do a fairly accurate reproduction of them.

I took the loop I’d created and dropped it into the project ‘Walk of fear’ (working title) I was pleasantly surprised that it fit the composition without my need to time stretch or chop up in anyway. So now I know that the Umpsquamadic Peels sing somewhere around 110bpm

It occurred to me whilst singing the loop , that I could add a variation. It’s a gut feeling that my idea is faithful to the nature of the incident.
I’m thinking of a line that goes:

I’ve always known I’ve felt like this before, and I always knew that I was born before.

Two before’s …I might have to think about tweaking the first line.

(Later )

During the day I had a play around with the Umpsquamadic vocal track combining it with a copy of the ‘Walk of fear ‘ track. Rhythmically, they don’t quite line up and I’m going to have to resolve this somehow without compromising either in a significant way. It’s only the last two bars that present the issue.

When I got home I played around with a couple of other connected ideas belonging to the overall arc of what will he the entire piece. Firstly I recorded a paragraph of dialogue along the lines of

“There is a word. If you find yourself in a terrible place and you are no longer able to cope, if the world becomes mad and you need a way out, then say _________ and an exit will appear”

I inserted a high pitch tone into the blank space, added some vocal butchery to the dialogue and found that the result was a pleasing approximation of this baffling memory.

I played it back to Tanya later and she immediately picked up on errors in delivery and cadence, giving me some tips on how to deliver the vocal more commandingly. This was useful to know, besides, this recorded dialogue was only an experiment.

Down the studio later, I spent around twenty minutes recording another element I’ll refer to here as ‘supersonic bionic
A weird memory of an acid drenched flight of fancy, the amuse bouche before the main course of horror.