August 31, 2015

9.00 am. On Saturday, I endeavoured to complete, as far as possible, the third lecture on abstraction by the end of that day, in order to keep  to my schedule. I was too readily tempted to tinker with my mix:

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 11.49.12

It was possible to do two things at once, so the writing and the mixing went forward in tandem, each one taking a turn in the front seat. You could deliver an entire module on Cubism alone. Compressing and abbreviating a subject — as is inevitable in a module with such a broad sweep — necessarily deforms it. By the close of the afternoon, I’d got three quarters of the way through the lecture.

Bank Holiday in abeyance. I caught up with my inbox, arranged postgraduate tutorials for the next fortnight, and reviewed drafts of statements for the coming MA exhibition. One matter arising gave me pause for thought: self-expression in visual art. I’ve never really understood, or identified with, the concept. It seems to imply the existence of a conduit for the untrammelled communication of thoughts and feelings from the heart, spirit, mind, and imagination, or whatever, to the plastic means of manufacture. Well, if there is, I don’t have it. In my experience, the creative process is a hard and often discouraging graft that involves a battle between personal inadequacy and materials that won’t play ball, and between ideas and their visualisation. I;ll concede that sometimes there, is in the finished work, a faint glimmer of something (I cannot say what) that might (just might) be the shallow imprint of my personhood. But that outcome, while desirable and wondrous, is unintentional. Which does not necessarily imply that it’s also fortuitous. 12.00 pm. Lecture completed. On with travel preparations, and a brief visit to the School to retrieve parcels:


1.40 pm. I listened to the mix again, this time on the studio monitors. What, in particular, am I attending to at this stage?:

  • the presence of each track and each portion of the track in itself and in relation to other tracks that are playing simultaneously
  • the position and movement (where necessary) of each track within the stereo field: left to right and front to back
  • the dynamics of each track and each portion of the track, moment by moment, independently and within the overall mix
  • the position of each track in relation to its contiguous neighbours and others that are playing simultaneously

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 15.31.35

In the ‘old days’, when the artist would hire a studio by the hour, and hand the responsibility (and money) for mixing to someone else (the producer), decisions were made far more quickly and determinately. The craft of sound mixing is subtle and requires a good ear; but, in essence, it’s not unlike that of mixing and balancing colours within a pictorial composition.

6.30 pm. Practice session 1. 7.45 pm. An end was in sight. Each component part sits comfortably within the mix. There is, now, throughout, sufficient: dynamic and textual contrast; depth of aural space; continuity of movement; and eventfulness, moment by moment.


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