October 21, 2015

9.00 am. A new day: mild, wet, overcast, dark (like twilight), strangely comforting (like a consolation):

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9.10 am. Wednesday is my PhD and overspill MA tutorial and admin day. Applications required a response; registers and related websites needed updating:

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10.30 am. A BA dissertation tutorial. At the beginning of any art historical investigation, all things appear to be more or less relevant and connected to everything else. The trick is to find the golden thread that runs through all, and to write about that only. Art History is as creative a process as art practice. The former times are fixed, but our understanding and construction of them evolves. (The past and history are not synonymous.) 11.00 am. An MA Fine Art tutorial on topics that ranged from Samuel Beckett to physiognomy to slug trials. All these concepts really did connect. Wonderful! 12.00 pm. Email catch up and a gentle assault on a few first year absenters under my charge. Nip the problem in the bud, and you can save the student. All that’s required is their willingness to be helped. And we all need a little help, once in a while.

Secondary school education breeds a culture of dependence, in my opinion, one that some students find very difficult to emerge from. Maturation, at higher-education level, implies a gradual growth in conscious self-dependence. This is a state of awareness regarding their obligations to themselves and others, and about the expectations placed upon them by their educators. In my experience, the best students that I’ve ever taught (and those most likely to become artists and art historians in the future) have demonstrated the following attributes, among others. (Note that the ‘possession of great talent’ is not one of them.):

  • a fierce tenacity
  • a passion for their subject
  • a sober estimation of their abilities that errs on the side of modesty
  • a refusal to pass the buck of blame
  • expectations regarding their personal performance that exceed those of the degree scheme
  • a thorough understanding of what is required of them
  • a capacity for healthy self criticism
  • a capacity to respond to criticism, positively
  • a capacity for consistent, focussed, and intelligent hard work
  • clear sightedness
  • developed organisational skills
  • an innate professionalism and work ethic
  • a practical concern for the student community
  • a vision for life and themselves that is larger than art

2.00 pm. Back to the data bending. I began by converting the source image into a postscript file, extracting a small sample of the text and converting that into an image file, and then importing that into sound software, where is was slowed down by 1600%:

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3.30 pm. I moved on to the engraving of ‘Moses’ holding the two tables of the Ten Commandments, which had been printed in Welsh. Unsurprisingly, in the English editions of the same edition of the Bible, the text is in English. Which suggests that the original plate had a removable inner section, corresponding to the shape of the tables. The files were variously rescaled and saved in some of the more exotic image formats, before conversion into sound files. This opened up new possibilities:

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By the close of the afternoon, I reckoned on having enough bricks with which to build.

6.30 pm. Practice session 1. 7.15 pm. Now begins the development of sectional tracks that will remain free floating until the structure of the composition begins to mature. First, the files have to be converted into a common format, sample, and bit size. A tedious and slow process. My instinct is that the composition should begin with the sound of an image.

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