July 29, 2016

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6.00 am. My first circulations around the Vicarage Fields, off Llanbadarn Road, followed by muscle toning exercises. At that time in the morning, you can be alone with yourself and in the landscape (more or less). As I became progressively exhausted, my attention narrowed to the terrain of my physique. At that point, I became acutely aware of the body as a vessel that I inhabited — of a marked distinction between the two. I wanted to run further, but my frame refused. (‘The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak’, as our Lord put it.)

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Two poached eggs for breakfast were followed by a time of inner preparation in readiness for the working day. Back, then, to the second pass over the booklet. The focus, now, is upon establishing formatting consistency across all three sections of the booklet. Once this is complete, I’ll attend to text divisions and consistency within the text. Along the way, the writing was sharpened. I discovered a surprising number of paragraph spacing and font type anomalies, due to having imported text from external sources.

In the background, today, I played pieces by John Cage that I’d never before heard. (Its necessary to continually expand one’s repertoire of musical encounters. (Otherwise, you’ll repeat hearing the familiar and well loved only.) There was a very thoughtful response to his Six Melodies (1950) on the YouTube comments list:

What makes Cage so great, in my opinion, is how his music is reminiscent of very modest and (commonly) unimpressive experiences in life. it doesn’t sound like romance, at least not in the traditional Western sense. it doesn’t sound like falling in love or standing before a huge mountain or anything like that. it simply sounds like the undertones of life. it sounds like those moments when you’re sitting in a chair outside and you’re watching it all go by, life happening by itself, never stopping to wait for you to try and intervene. it’s very taoist.

The process amendments proceeded at a snail’s pace. (It’s in the nature of the activity.) I kept it up through the three working periods of the day. My check list of style features got longer and longer as I progressed:

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In the late evening, the family and I watched the Proms concert celebration of David Bowie’s work. It was good to see John Cale — who heralds form the Amman valley in South Wales, and was once a member of the Velvet Underground — performing an arrangement of Sorrow against a vamping keyboard and drum beat that reminded me of the VU’s All Tomorrow’s Parties (1967).

 

 

 

 

 

 



July 28, 2016

9.00 am. I began the day with The Who playing in the background:

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The Who Are You (1978) album cover looks dangerous and intimidating: oozing high voltage, LOUDness, and power. The drummer, Keith Moon — seated on the chair labelled ‘Not to be taken away’ — was taken away three week after the record’s release. He died of a drug overdose. Inadvertent prophecies about the future probably litter our present lives. But they can be deduced only in retrospect.

On with the figure inserts. The final day for this activity (I hope). 11.00 am. A walk to town, where I’d continue Project Body work at the physio. This is the longest period of backache that I’ve ever endured. Today, I was strapped up with blue gaffer-type tape across my lower back. It’s helpful to have a physio, like Clare, who can converse about the complexities of muscles and joints articulately and at a level that I can understand. My appointment left me feeling confident and determined.

I stopped off at the School to sign off on postgraduate admin before returning to homebase to continue with the booklet. This is now three times it’s anticipated size. The works, which are many, require explication and analysis. Some artists write into order to obfuscate their practice, others, to compensate for a deficit within the work and, yet others (and I’m one), to illuminate it. Nothing visual can fully interpret its own intent and significance. A paratext is required. The whole of art history is a commentary and gloss upon art, in this sense.

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Throughout the afternoon and into the evening I inserted and captioned the figures. By 8.30 pm, all were in. Now begins the second pass … from the very beginning of the booklet, once again.

As part of Project Body, I’m pursuing a weight-loss regime. I don’t consider myself to be over weight. But, by the same token, I’m not my ideal weight. (I’ve felt better, lighter.) To reach my ideal, so the tables tell me, I need to lose just under a stone (6.3 kilos). My numerous interactive allergies and intolerances already preclude me eating quite a number of otherwise fattening foods. But diet is insufficient. A regime of exercise will need to be established. It’s simply a matter of taking control. Discipline begins on the inside and works its way outwards: from the soul (our inner-most part) to the heart to the mind to the body, and into the environment.

I ended the working evening with PIL’s Flowers of Romance (1981) playing in the background:

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July 27, 2016

8.15 am. I returned to the first pass review of the second and third sections of the booklet, and began the process of anomaly extraction:

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Some observations and principles derived from today’s activities and attitudes:

  • Be inside your own head more often.
  • Better to be a little fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond. But better, still, to be a big fish in a big pond.
  • At the beginning of your career, you may not be confident that your work is any good. As your career matures, you may become increasingly confident that the work is good, but doubt whether it’s of any value, interest or relevance to others.
  • It takes great courage to work in the face of indifference and anonymity.
  • Popularity and fame do not make the work any better than it is.
  • No audience. No compromise.
  • Be conscious of the words that you’ll speak.
  • Learn to remain silent under duress
  • Jettison the excess.
  • You can’t fake integrity.

Lunchtime. I made trial of several different buffer and buffered efforters in order to discern whether I could hear significant differences in the tonal quality of the guitar signal passed through each and into an amplifier. It’s subtle:

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Afternoon and evening. I proceeded further with the first pass and the finalisation of figure inserts (which will take another day to complete).

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July 26, 2016

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Today, the age of VCR (Video Cassette Recorders) came to an end. Manufacturing has ceased. On Thursday evening, at a Chinese restaurant in Manchester, a TV monitor flipped between a blue screen and a scene showing one of the business’ holding bays, out back. The ‘footage’ appeared to be in either fast forward or reverse mode (which I deduced from the tell-tale lines across the screen), as though someone was frantically looking for something on the recording. Figures scurried past the CCTV camera; cars arrived and departed. A speculation on my part. For, for all I knew, this was a digital rather than a video image, no one was inspecting the ‘tape’, and the camera’s feed and the monitor were just glitching. My interpretation of the phenomenon was a fantasy. And I didn’t want to hear the true explanation. Some mysteries need to be preserved. (I enjoy not knowing, sometimes.)

9.15 am. Off to the surgery to continue research and development on Project Body:

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On this occasion, the waiting room screen either blanked out or ‘ghosted’, periodically. This was unusual, I was told. (Maybe, it’s me!) The surgery is clinical in the wrong sense of the word: arid and unconsoling; not a space you want to hang around in. The walls are void of visual interest. (Noticeboards and information posters don’t count.) The silence, however, was filled with the often aggressive and dance-orientated pap pumped out by Radio 1 over the speakers. This is not the backdrop you’d want to return to, having been told by GP that you’ve developed a serious illness.

10.30 am. Back on the booklet trail, with journey’s end visible on the far horizon. 12.30 pm. A surprise visit from two old family friends. They stayed for lunch.

Afternoon. At the School, I held the first of two MA Fine Art interviews.

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The first inquirer was professional, freelance graphic artist and illustrator. During their career, they’d designed album covers for the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Status Quo, Uriah Heep, and … :

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(No relation.) The second inquirer wished to pursue an MA across fine art and music/sound. All in all, some interesting prospects ahead.

Audio-visual engineers have been upgrading the equipment in all the seminar room and the lecture theatre. At the close of the afternoon, I responded to further postgraduate applications.

Evening. Having completed the text insert, I began my first pass over The Aural Bible II section of the booklet. It’s remarkable that – for all the due care and attention that I’d lavished on text formatting, line by line, page by page – there’re so many inconsistencies and woeful errors to be found still:

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July 25, 2016

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Having returned from Manchester after a long weekend, where we celebrated my elder son’s graduation and ensconced him back at home, I returned to the booklet and ruminations. On Change:

  • Change what is in your power to control (if it needs changing).
  • Lasting change cannot be imposed externally.
  • Change requires a vision of a better alternative.
  • The vision must be followed by resolve, motivation, and a practical plan of implementation.
  • Change whatever is self-destructive, harmful to others, mindless, routine, numbing, unhealthy, ill-fitting, burdensome, unnecessary, unwanted, and without evident benefit.
  • The greater the change, the greater the effort required to bring it about.
  • Great change can only occur over a significant period of time.
  • Change requires effort to maintain it. The force of gravity exerted by that which you are intent on changing will tend to pull you back towards itself.
  • Change may require endurance, discomfort, and sacrifice in order to be effectual.
  • Change can be either dramatic, gradual, or imperceptible. (Sometimes the most enduring and significant changes take place when we think that change isn’t taking place at all.)
  • Types of change: relinquishment or abandonment, conversion, modification or adjustment, and redirection.
  • Nothing remains the same. If you don’t change something, it’ll slowly change by itself … but not necessarily in the way you’d like.
  • There are times when we need to expend energy preventing a change from taking place.

By lunchtime, I’d developed a further ten pages of the booklet. Afternoon. I continue, in the hope of inserting all the main body text by the close of the day.

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Guests’ walkway, graduation, Whitworth Hall, Manchester University (July 22, 2016)

In the end, my ambitions were thwarted by a file deletion crisis regarding the SD card I used to photograph my son’s graduation on Friday. Having administered the requisite software program, the information was restored. Today, few things besides the soul are irretrievably lost.

 



July 20, 2016

6.00 am. Distant thunder rumbled, neither nearing nor departing, for several hours in the early morning as I lay in bed. Bright white flashed, intermittently, against the dawn sky. (I recalled Walter de Maria’s Lightning Fields (1977).)  7.30 pm. Horizontally inclined, I looked to the sky as I performed my prescribed back exercises:

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8.00 am. I responded to email correspondence related to PhD matters before pressing on with the booklet. This has turned into factory-like production: page by page, image by image, caption by caption. 10.00 am. To town, and a shearing at the hairdressers. En route:

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Urban Dictionary: ‘Tander. A term only used by people that can handle the pressure of using it … it means like cool or steller .. .the oppisite [sic] of snarky’. That sounds about right. In Swedish, ‘tänder’ means ‘teeth’.

For the remainder of the morning and throughout the afternoon I pushed out more pages of the booklet. A tedium has crept in. Ideally, I should interrupt the workflow with a contrasting activity. This will be the policy next week, once the bulk of the booklet is behind me.

Plans are afoot to make a return trip to Abertillery in the near future. This was the bus stop on the High Street where, as a young boy, I’d catch either the 121, 122 or 152 Red & White bus to the High Street, Blaina:

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I passed — what seemed to me then — the interminable wait for the next scheduled arrival by pushing the stiff and cold metal buttons that illuminated lightbulbs on the Town Guide.

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On High Street, Blaina (c.1963)

In Greek, the word ‘nostalgia’ means the pain of homecoming. For me, returning to my place of origin is a sweet ache — like that of either a love lost, an intimacy remembered, or a friendship recovered.

I confront myself in a photograph taken at the outset of my life. He stares back at me, aware of being observed (by the lens and the photographer behind it). Frozen (like his ice cream) … as though arrested by some sudden inner realisation or consciousness. (Did he somehow know that I would look at him from this vantage point, so long after?) In photography, there is always someone other than the photographer, looking.

Evening. I determined to get up to page 50 in the booklet by the close of the day.



July 19, 2016

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8.45 am. Promenade. The temperatures are set to hit the lower 30s today. The town is at its best on such a day as this. 9.00 am. At the, now, largely deserted Old College, I held a PhD Fine Art tutorial:

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Some principles and observations derived from today’s experiences:

  • Life’s journey is not GPS assisted. When you lose the path, don’t expect a disembodied voice to set you right. How you, by yourself, find the way again may be just as important as rediscovering where you’re heading.
  • The greater part of your life (experiences, pains, joys, loves, passions, and curiosities) will not be the subject of your work. However, they may inform the motivations and spirit that lie behind the subject and its rendering.
  • I have an aversion to the phrase ‘my art’ in artists’ writing. It sounds too precious, protective, and proprietorial.
  • In the creative endeavour, we walk into darkness with the light behind us.
  • What we most deplore in others often resembles our own inadequacies.
  • Nothing is insignificant. But the meaning of some things is not always immediately evident.
  • The success of those we’ve taught may be sweeter to the taste than our own.

11.30 am. Back at the mothership, I completed my review of the PhD Fine Art thesis ahead of schedule, dealt with postgraduate admin, and responded to emails.

Afternoon. Homebase. I took up the booklet again until my appointment with the physiotherapist. 4.30 pm. Having been lovingly and intelligently (wo)manhandled for an hour, I returned home through what felt like a fast-assisted oven to pick up where I’d left off. By the end of the afternoon, I’d reached page 41.

Evening. A family, birthday celebration:

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July 18, 2016

Let us lay aside every weight (Hebrews 12.1)

On Saturday, the the new pitch modulating module was added to PedalBoard III. A full test of the board will be undertaken on Monday:

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PedalBoard IV has also undergone a significant reconfiguration in recent months. Both boards are now optimised:

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By the close of Saturday, I’d completed the first run through of The Pictorial Bible III section of the booklet.

Sunday. A profound mist dematerialised the scenery at Nant Yr Arian. Landmarks were rendered as stains on a toned ground:

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Monday, 9.00 am. There were a few emails that required immediate attention. Thereafter, the meat of the morning was a review and correction of the first section of the book. By 11.30 am, the first pass was complete. A second pass was initiated. On this occasion, my attention was upon the text, rather than the formatting and placement of text boxes, images, and page furniture. (One can only attend to some things at once.):

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Afternoon. On with the second section of the booklet: The Aural Bible II. Half way through the afternoon, I put PedalBoard III through her paces. She sings!

In Practise session 1, after dinner, I explored the potential of the pitch shifter in conjunction with two delay pedals operating in series; the first was set to reverse mode, the second, to feedback mode. There’s some mileage in this arrangement.

Evening. Back to the PhD thesis review. I need this off the desk by tomorrow evening.



July 15, 2016

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On whatever grounds the majority of referendum voters wished to distance themselves from the EU, last night’s atrocity in Nice reminds us that there are worthy reasons to continue to confirm solidarity with our European neighbours and allies.

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For the first two hours of the day I battled with TIFF files placed in parallel. At 600 dpi and a bit depth of 32, the aggregated TIFF would not convert to a JPEG within PhotoShop. The file’s settings had to be reduced to 300/24 (which is quite large/dense enough for my purposes).

Throughout the day, I maintained my routine of constructing page and plate artwork for the booklet. It was a painfully slow process. Mercifully, the artwork illustrations (the figures) were designed for the exhibition boards, last year:

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Letter formation schematic for Preaching = Painting (2014)

There is, now, an unsettling. The earth trembles, violence erupts, powers topple, the unspeakable is spoken, what should not becomes, and a distant, dark tide rises. This is how it begins.



July 14, 2016

8.30 am. Light pours through the study blind:

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To begin: I composed several professional references and gave advisement to alumni seeking teaching posts. I anticipate that, increasingly, universities will replace some of their contingent of senior (and, therefore, costly) full-time academic members with younger, zero-hours contract staff. This will create more job opportunities for younger post-postgraduates (Good), albiet of an insecure and poorly remunerated nature (Bad).

When I was applying for my first full-time post, back in the early 1990s, jobs were just as difficult to come by. (A similar state of affairs had existed in the mid 1980s.) Not since the 1960s have posts in art schools been relatively easy to secure. But, in those days, artists taught principally to support their practice, rather than out of a commitment to art teaching as such. Those who were in it for the money only, rarely made an effort to impart their knowledge and experience. And sometimes, others would withhold such because they didn’t want to encourage competition. Appalling! But, then again, art education was free. (Perhaps, you do get what you pay for.)

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Preparing slides for a lecture to be delivered as part of a job interview (1992)

I returned to the booklet infill. Having completed the introduction, I proceeded to input the text for The Pictorial Bible III section and generate plates:

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The sunshine persists:

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Throughout the afternoon, I continued composing and formatting the booklet’s pages, inserting text, figure, plates, and captions. By 5.00 pm, I’d reached page 19.

Evening. As yesterday, I returned to my review of the PhD Fine Art thesis. The first 70+ pages were returned to the author by the close of the evening.

 



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