December 14, 2015

7.30 pm. My ‘gig’ at the prestigious Waunfawr Community Hall, Aberystwyth, yesterday, was well received. Professor Noel Lloyd (who was once Aberystwyth University’s Vice Chancellor) accompanied the congregation on electric keyboard. Whatever else the talk may have achieved, it was (for me, at least) a successful exercise in ‘public engagement’.

I’d a good deal of correspondence and business with PhD Fine Art students to catch up on. Some ruminations on the nature of the endeavour:

  • In terms of creating a hierarchy of possible research directions, I’ve always found it useful to think in terms of a Russian doll. Very often, most of the avenues of investigation that you’ll conceive will fit inside one another. Your present difficulty is in discerning which is the biggest doll. It may not be self evident at present. But the identity will emerge. Trust me! … The process of research has to be undertaken before any sense of certainty [regarding its direction] can be established. (You can’t arrive before you’ve set out on the journey.)
  • The PhD Fine Art degree has been, for many, a context and a period ‘to plant, and a time to pluck up  … a time to break down, and a time to build up … a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away’. Your experience of, and in, this degree will certainly exceed any indicative aims and objectives for it. This PhD is, at heart, a transformative process that works from the inside out. 

8.45 am. Having received initial, positive feedback on my research review, which I’d written on Saturday, I polished the text in readiness for the final submission this afternoon

9.45 am. Off to the School to hold an informal discussion with a local applicant to our undergraduate schemes, and get my head around the bits and bobs of outstanding admin. This is my ‘miraculous’ horse chestnut (or ‘conker’):

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One Sunday, some years ago, on a cold, still Autumn afternoon, while searching for conkers for the seasonal family bash, we came across a magnificent tree on Llanbadarn Road. Not surprisingly, it had no collectable yield; children from the local school had harvested all the nuts that’d dropped to the ground. However, when we returned to the tree after a hour-long constitutional, the grassy area at the base of the trunk was covered with them. Stranger still, many had been removed from their cases already. The above is one of them.

10.30 am. On with the research review and outstanding reports and reviews related to the Tell Us Now campaign. 12.00 pm. Done!

12.30 pm. I’d arranged to have lunchtime meeting at Wetherspoon’s with my colleague Dr Roberts. The pub’s food dispensing ability had been completely scuppered. Consequently, only cakes were on the menu. So, we scuttled over the road to Le Figaro’s for a cheapy all-day breakfast and an hour and a half of aspirational, inspirational sound-art development discussions. We must move from vision to practicality this week, and eat more wholesome food in the future:

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2.15 pm. Back at homebase, I continued with postgraduate matters, reviewing draft submissions of theses, and chasing a bill (not my fault) that the Finance Office has yet to pay. Small problems lever large implications, sometimes. An old, college chum, who was picking up her daughter from university, dropped in mid afternoon. It’s always a tonic to see her. By the end of the afternoon, I’d emptied my inbox (if only I could put a water-tight cap on it), completed and posted the research review, got up-to-date with postgraduate matters, and even arranged a dental check-up for January.

7.30 pm. In the sound studio, I returned to the second section of Image and Inscription. How does what create an approximation for the voice of God and a monologue made up of sixty-eight words (Exodus 19.3-6). The answer can only be worked towards; it’ll not arise spontaneously. In order to prepare the soil, I returned to the source, map, and story board of the composition:

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The whole composition has the feel of a large-scale, 19th century, historic painting in the tradition of the Sublime. As such, I’m conscious of having enlarge my ‘brushes’ and work with broader strokes. At this point in the development, I switched source from the data-bent material derived from the pictorial engravings to the turntablist manipulations of the sonic engraving — the two 33 1/3 rpm vinyls. The words of God, spoken by mortals, will become the voice of God. A caution to myself: beware of literalism and over programatising the sound field. This is not an illustration; rather, it’s an evocation.

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