March 7, 2015

Every time I woke last night (which was often), it was half past the hour. An odd coincidence, I thought. But in the morning, I discovered that the minute hand of my alarm clock had worked loose. It swung limply, like an anesthetized limb, at base of the clock face. I put my feet on the bedroom floor at 7.30 am. (It was actually 7.00 am.)

9.00 am. I made a trip to the Farmers’ Market to buy eggs and a cornish pasty (one, with ample crusty pastry, which could feed a family of six), and my monthly guitar journal. One property on Northgate Terrace bears a typographic rendering of the name in relief, finished with a respectable and determinate full stop. In the nineteenth century, many chapels had their titles written upon their facade in this manner:


12.00 pm. Off to School to prepare for the Visiting Day. There was a significant turnout. I wanted to see how many retweets and favourites my tweets would attract. What are people looking for in a tweet? The outcome was more than favourable. My afternoon in tweets:

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5.00 pm. Time to close the shop.







March 6, 2015

9.00 am. Off to the department (via the rather desultory, tradesman’s entrance) to switch on the exhibition devices; then on to town to pick up my prescriptions; and then back to home base to work on my SIP scope of the sound archive:


9.30 am. The tasks for the morning are to create a key for the database headings, a list of general subject terms and their sub categories with which to conduct searches, and   a rationalisation of the topic/theme parameters.

My heavy duty Velcro has arrived. (Joy!):


I now have a compulsion to stick things to other things. [Eat your heart out CW! Not even yellow Frog Tape can top the psycho-perceptual, boundary-breaking potential of this stuff. ‘Klettband, Extra Stark, selbstklebend’!: Doesn’t that make your pulse race?]

12.00 pm. If I work on two projects in parallel, I get further with each than I would if I’d pursued them in series. Once the SIP scoping endeavour was underway, I initiated a small writing task related to a collaborative sound-composition exchange, called Call & Response, which my colleague Dafydd Roberts and I undertook late last year.

1.45 pm. Grim news about job losses and economic cutbacks in the area are carried on the air like a plague. On with the SIP project — diagrammatizing four interrelated topics in order for me (principally) to visualize and conceptualize their connections and permutations:


One of the intriguing aspects of this way of working is discovering the subjects that must necessarily lie between the focal points (S+R, R+L, L+W, and L+S,), as well as upon and across the diagonal dynamics. And, what lies at the central intersection, I wonder?:


6.20 pm. Practice session 1. 7.00 pm. The evening was dedicated to generating a list of words descriptive of concepts related to the cornerstones of the project: supernaturalism, religion, landscape, and Wales. These words will be entered into the sound archive’s search engine.

Reflecting on yesterday’s late afternoon PhD Fine Art tutorial, and the discussion I had with the student about the contrasting aims of science research and fine art research, I asked myself the question: What is the opposite of knowledge? ‘Ignorance’ is one answer. ‘Mystery’ is another.



March 5, 2015

8.10 am. To the School and onto the Old College. In Aberystwyth, the spate of brutal soft-toy murders persists unabated:


9.00 am. Second year painting tutorials. Some principles and observations:

  1. When a train driver enters a tunnel, they don’t know what they’ll meet and there’s no guarantee that they’ll see the other side. Similarly, we must pass through dark passages on our journey through the study of art in order to reach our destination; that involves an unnerving risk — an act of faith.
  2. Woe unto the student who’s entirely confident of success, that they’re doing the right thing, and equal to any exigency.
  3. To create, we must be willing to destroy even our best works.
  4. A concept without craft, like craft without a concept, is limited in its potential for depth and development.

One earnest student wrote and asked: ‘You often speak of work being self-indulgent. What exactly do you mean by that?’. I replied: ‘Self-indulgent: where the prime (and sometimes sole) function of the work is auto-gratification. In such a case, there’s little regard for communication or a sense of audience perception on the part of the artist. They’re also rarely interested in improving, or in the works of other artists. You aren’t one of them.’



‘Students express shock and dismay as advocate of tidy workspaces is found cluttering his own with a pasty wrapper.’ ‘He always seemed so quiet; kept himself to himself’, said one second year student. ‘They ought to lock him away for life, and throw away the key’, spoke a senior porter. Harvey is also helping with police with their inquiries into the recent soft-toy killings in the area.

3.30 pm. Shamefaced, I return to basecamp …


… and two further tutorials: one with a photography student who has very ably composed a sound accompaniment for a kinetic photograph; and another with a PhD Fine Art student.

7.00 pm. Catch up time with the day’s admin and a finalization of a little teaching preparation. I want to get all the tedious, onerous, and complicated tasks off my desk before tomorrow. Friday is sacrosanct: for research.

March 4, 2015

8.30 pm. Exhibition TV screen 2 has behavioural problems. The monitors will be monitored. 9.00 am. Admin emails are eased into the Outbox. 10.00 am. On with research arrangements — pushing forward the SIP sound archive project (and the Graven Image III event, especially), as well as a public lecture on the R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A project. Making art is the easy bit. The hardest part is funding, promoting, and facilitating the production. It’s one thing to coerce materials, processes, and ideas into a coherent shape; but persuading others to back one’s vision is a task of an entirely different order.

11.00 am. The Graven Image III project is a sound articulation of  the first part of the second commandment, as translated in the Authorised Version of the Bible (1611):

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: (Exod. 20.4).

I’ll also be using a Welsh translation of the same text, taken from the Bishop William Morgan’s (1545-1604) Bible of 1588:

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11.45 pm. A walk to the School. Why does a visual incident insist upon our attention on one occasion and not others? What prepared us to be receptive to its beckon? (I referred to Christmas Evans, the one-eyed Baptist preacher, in the Chapels in Wales lecture yesterday (?)):


12.30 pm. The first of two MA inquirer consultations. 2.00 pm. The second. In such meetings, I often encounter people who are in transit — moving from one career, from one set of expectations about life, to another. My first intent is to dissuade them from embarking upon the degree: ‘If there’s any other alternative to studying art, take it’. If they relent, and abandon the proposed path, I’ll have done them a favour. (They were, for whatever reason, unready or unprepared.) If they persist, I’ll have done them a favour. (Their conviction will have been strengthened.)

2.45 pm. Back to the Graven Image III project, reviewing the second-stage proofs of the wax cylinder project chapter, and undertaking general searches of the sound archive catalogue. 3.30 pm. An interesting idea is not necessarily a good idea. A good idea stands up under scrutiny. To scrutinize one must first interrogate:


view the idea from different perspectives; take it apart; fit in back together in a different way; and see whether it remains consistent.

6.20 pm. Practice session 1: harmonics and overtones: 2nds, 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths. 7.30 pm. 7.30 pm. On with the SIP project survey. 9.45 pm. I need an earlier night’s sleep.

March 3, 2015

8.15 am. En route to work, I encountered an exceedingly large stick of strawberry marshmallow in a drive on Llanbadarn Road. Who could have dropped it? I shall take this as sign of unknown significance:


8.30 pm. The School of Art: resplendent and magisterial in the cold air and brittle light. I shall miss this place, one day. But today … what will this day bring forth?:


8.45 pm. The computer in lecture theatre 312 is ailing. I needed to route my laptop around the system to conduct the Chapels in Wales lecture. Some success. However, the projector failed to register warm colours sufficiently. Every image looked sickly and tired, as a consequence. The university is currently without internet access this morning. We are too much at the mercy of technology. 10.00 am. On with admin as far as I could … without internet access, that is.

11.00 am. An extended MA Fine Art tutorial with Tali W, who’s a productively ‘messy’ artist in embryo. ‘Messy’ isn’t the right word. It suggests uncoordination, randomness, haphazardness, and carelessness. This is certainly not the case. But we have too few words to describe different types of complexity in art:


12.00 pm. Tali was joined by Jan M for a Vocational Practice advisory session on the teaching experience workshop, Food for Thought, which they’re organising. Yum!

2.00 pm. The second MA tutorial of the day: Cheryl W’s studio wall of wisdom. (Other nomenclature may pertain):


If what you want is pleasure and self-fulfilment, then don’t pursue art — not at a professional level. The reality of fine art practice is like this: you’ll have days when it’s the last thing you want to do; sometimes, you’ll see no good whatsoever in your work; or else, you’ll lose all confidence in your ability to do anything, artistically speaking; often, you’ll be tempted to mistrust either the motives or judgement of those who laud your work; and, worst of all, everything you do will appear to you utterly futile — without worth, direction, or future. To make matters worse, in your eyes everyone else will produce work of quality and ambition, and appear untouched by the insecurities that cripple you. If you think you can swim against that maelstrom, only then be an artist.

4.00 pm. The final MA Fine Art tutorial of the day. 6.20 pm. Practice session 1. 7.30 pm. I reviewed marked-up proofs of my chapter (courtesy of Mrs H.) and finalised admin for the Vocational Practice schedule and projects. (It just keeps coming.) 10.00 pm. A second breakfast: coal to the furnace for the ‘night watch’:




March 2, 2015

8.15 pm. I booted up my exhibition devices the School before returning to homebase, determining my teaching schedule for the week, notifying folk of such, and, then, inserting the final few footnotes into the wax cylinder chapter. I’m just a few hours overdue on my own deadline on this project.

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11.00 am. Text complete, I return to the National Screen & Sound Archive project (the first phases of which has to be completed by the end of the month). To begin, two websites related to the wax cylinder need to be finalised and launched. The first provides a streamable source for the CD album. In publicizing this, I may be shooting myself in the foot. Sales of the CD might plummet. But the quality of the latter is far superior IMO:

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The second site provides material supporting transcripts of the source and its recompositions, and a more in-depth examination of the processes and methodology underlying the suite of sound works:

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1.30 pm. I caught up on teaching admin before opening the two web sites, inspecting their contents, and testing their functionality. My external hard driveis yielding sound files of the suite exceedingly slowly. (The new iMacs assume that the user downloads everything online; thus, they don’t have an integral disc slot). The CD player makes a stuttery-fluttery-slippery noise, like I do when on a longish jog. It’s our age, you see!

The National Screen & Sound Archive notified me that the CDs have now been delivered by the record company. We now need to determine the date and nature of a release event. Plans are also afoot to stage a sound event in the concourse of the Drwm as part a series of The Bible in Translation sound events during the next year.

6.20 pm. Practice session 1.  Explorations of harmonic parallels and octave sweeps with the ‘Whammy’ pedal. 7.20 pm. I read through and corrected the transcriptions of the CD suite, mopped up emails, and wrote a few letters to those who might benefit from them. 9.40 pm. Practice session 2: Plucking with the fleshy part of the right thumb. In so doing, the right hand is as intimately and immediately connected to the strings as the left hand:


10.30 pm. The ‘night watch’. I uploaded four tracks that were made in collaboration with Dr Roberts (a sound artist and a university research officer). The outcome of the exchange is such as to merit some public accessibility.

February 28, 2015

9.00 am. I released and advertised The Floating Bible sound piece on line. 10.00 am. With the morning’s second cup of tea at my elbow, I then crawled back into my rewrites:


11.00 pm. Once you begin to discover new perceptions in relation to the topic of the text, the writing takes off. In the absence of such moments of insight, the task is like polishing the brass. A third cuppa:


1.30 pm. I put together two, postcard size images for the Artism, open-themed exhibition based in Aberaeron Comprehensive School in March, held to raise money for students with autism. All works will be sold for £1. (But a sale is a sale.) Mr Garrett is acting as our School of Art liaison. My pieces are miniature prints of two oil on panel paintings: Psalm 22: Builded as a City that is Compacted Together (2000/2015) [top], and The First Day (Gen. 1. 1-5) (2007/20015) [bottom]. Now my pictures really do resemble barcodes (as they are sometimes unfairly maligned):


2.10 pm. Back to the polishing and listening to the R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A suite. One should should no more write about sound art or music in the absence of the artefact than about visual art without an illustration to hand. Never trust your memory, even of your own work. And one must never stop ‘listening’ to one’s own work; it has always something more to teach you. You change, even if it doesn’t (deterioration apart); and, as a result, your relationship with the work matures and alters. Things that you once hated you may grow to love, and vice versa. However, a work’s attitude to you remains loyally consistent: unalloyed indifference.

3.50 pm. No. 4:


5.00 pm.  I’ve not achieved all that I set out to do, but have done what was needed; and the chapter is the better for it. Pull down the blinds! 6.20 Practice session 1. 7.30 pm. An evening with the family.