September 4, 2015

8.30 pm. A short exchange of views with a colleague regarding the completed The Wounded Heart Ministries composition and the process of databending:

DR: Thanks for sharing, an interesting run, what was it that you bent? I found that sometimes the most useless looking file yielded the most harmonic/textural fruit. The process of enquiry is often unrewarding. Are you working on a full/long sequence of this? I think with this kind of thing (our kind of thing?) it is either high impact (brevity, volume, irregularity) or immersive (drone and incremental spatial or microtonal adjustment) that brings a satisfying wholeness to the ‘release’.

JH: The thing I ‘bent’ was the screen capture of a glitched website. I converted it into a variety of image formats (JPEG, TIFF, GIF, etc.), then as a RAW format, before importing the files into sound software and saving them in a WAV format. I also sampled sections of the source image (areas of absolute black, white and red, overlaid text, etc.), and afterwards collaged them together as a new whole, one which followed the logic of the source: repeated motifs, superimposition, erasure, deformation, and areas of emptiness, and so forth. 

It’s very hard to extract material from the file conversion that sounds sufficiently engaging. (Much of the source file translated into pink noise.) It’s tempting to process the output too much in order to compensate for its inadequacy — which is rather against the spirit of the unspoken rules of the game, I suspect. So brevity and concision were called for. The track, in its finished form, will be on the forthcoming Bible in Translation CD, along with the piece that I’ll be making at the National Screen & Sound Archive at the end of the month. 

I don’t think this process can yield the results that I need. Which is why I’m in discussion with Computer Science to see whether there are other ways of undertaking image-to-sound file conversion that might give me more consistent and controllable, and less obvious outcomes. 

9.30 am. I made a response to issues related to a much needed upgrade of the School’s main lecture theatre (We need a better sound system!) and recent NSS feedback on our provision, and answered postgraduate queries. 10.30 am. A second push with the fourth lecture for the Abstraction module, while edging the draft mix of The Wounded Heart Ministries to a conclusion:


2.00 pm. Third push, and into Malevich and this …


… a book that had a considerable influence on my conception of art history, and sealed the deal on my future career. It was presented to me, in 1976, as a school prize for my contribution to Milfraen House — one of the four divisions of the school, each named after a Welsh mountain. Mynydd Milfraen is a mountain close to Nantyglo Comprehensive School, which was closed in 2013. I’m surprised that it hadn’t been demolished by the pupils long before then. Like many comprehensive schools built in the early 1970s, the school was constructed of inadequate materials and furnishings that either punctured, cracked, or fell out within months of our occupation. The art room, drama studio, and music room were my ‘safe zones’. The only places and subjects where I could breath. I was woefully under par in all other dimensions of my education. In truth, I was headed either for the coal pit or an art school:


View of the art rooms, Nantyglo Comprehensive School, 2001

For this reason, I’ve had, ever since, every sympathy for the academic underdog.

Arnason’s magisterial sweep across, and interweaving of, the painting, sculpture, and architecture of Modernism since the mid-19th century remained at my elbow throughout my undergraduate degree. I read it from beginning to end several times during that period. In ambition, clarity, and compelling story telling, it has not been surpassed:


6.30 pm. Fourth push. 9.30 pm. Practice session 2.  Restraint is power. 

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