Monthly Archives: January 2007

Brian Eno

When I began to write my journal in earnest, I decided to follow a favourite route for producing something good. The starting point for this was searching the University library for “art” and “journal”. This yielded two results, one was spurious, the other was Brian Eno’s A Year with Swollen Appendices. This was quite a find, as I’d only days before been reading about Eno and I was really interested in his work. This I think was largely due to his status as a ex-Rock Star with Roxy Music, record producer for people including U2 and Talking Heads, as well as a highly influential recording musician and working artist. Pretty much everything I aspire to be.

It turns out from reading his book Eno appears to be something of the metaphorical anal retentive. But despite this he writes easy to read and entertaining prose, about things that normally would (appear to) be very personal to him. The insight into a successful and intelligent man’s life and the anecdotes and stories that go with are one thing, but seeing how his he produces his work and thought processes is another. I’ve used the book as a resource to dip in to as and when I feel like it, or feel like I need it. The point being I’ve always come away from it with a confidence that Eno’s thinking (I don’t think at least) isn’t too far distant from my own style and methods.

Currently I owe £4.50 in library fines. Worth every penny.

Fourtet Video Contest

I just had a look at Fourtet’s website ( – there is a competition currently running to make a music video for one of his tunes, which I think I will enter. The competition is run by an Italian website, that I had not previously been aware of ( but it seems to be pretty good; it seems to be a social networking site (see MySpace or Facebook) but completely centered around the arts. Each user of the site can upload their own images, videos or pieces of audio/music and then any other members can rate, review and comment. On its own its not that amazing, but the actual quality of the work seems to be relatively high.

Fourtet (aka Kieran Hebden) is a creator of music, in one form or another. I actually have a personal connection to him, which I guess has influenced my opinions quite a bit, but nonetheless he is probably my favourite modern musician. Which is quite a big deal for me.

I will write more about Kieran soon, but for now I must work on the video for the competition.

The tune is called “A Joy” so I’ll have to do something around that I guess.

Jarvis. To suit my current vocation of doing a music video to “A Joy” here’s Jarvis, having some Joy.

Things to Do:

I’ve fostered my procrastination for this particular task for some time, despite it being requisite for the journal; making a weekly plan (weekly. . . !)

  • Photography
    • Print some more photos using the Mac suite at University
    • Find out if I can get access to the Manchester University print room (this will allow me to print up to A1 at high quality, currently I can only print up to A30
    • Transport my framed prints into University for my review in February
    • Enquire about showing those prints at the Link gallery
    • Restart my daily regime of taking photos of my face, bedroom, ash tray, kitchen, garden (I’ve let this slip recently, but the videos would be excellent for VJ purposes)
  • VJ
    • Continue refining library and further develop my understanding of the software that I’m using (OpenTZT;
    • Animate my Romanian doll
    • Create some more digital psychedelic backdrops for overlaying natural images on top of
    • Look at animating my motorway time-lapse images for VJing
    • Prepare my time-lapse videos for review in February
    • Set up my web cam for recording time-lapse again (I would like to position it looking at the street, but I need to purchase a longer cable and set up a mount!)
    • Put together comprehensive plan of what I need to do to prepare my VJ ‘set’ for my review
  • Time
    • Compile a display of time-based photographs and video pieces
    • Look at different presentations of my ‘Time’ material
  • Music
    • Complete “Diamond Apologies” track (should only require some more vocals and maybe a high synthesiser line, could consider recording Bouzouki but it may make it too busy)
    • Revisit other recently recorded tracks (Lifeline & other forays into electronic based music) and look at adding more acoustic elements
    • Put together live set of “finished” material ready to show to Leo
    • Supply Fred Baker ( with recordings for his professional adjudication & input
    • Buy new guitar strings (again!) – Martin, extra light seem to do the trick
    • Book the sound suite at University for mixing down of my tracks using the monitoring system
  • Other Things
    • Sort out passport!!!!
    • Write to Granny and send some photographs
    • Identify something good to review (maybe write a review of the Joe Columbo exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery?)
    • Print photographs taken at the weekend
    • Have a go at making a video for a newly recorded track
    • Decide upon some good music for my VJ demonstration
    • See if Paddy still needs me for the Victoria Hall gig in Keighley
    • Send of release form & DVD to LocalPoint TV
    • Hassle more to see why I can’t post anything to it & try to put new recordings up there
    • Ask people if I can do remixes for them
    • Canvass opinion of local shops for sellings my prints

Having written this it seems highly likely that not all of these will be done and will appear in a future to-do list!

Matt; taken at the weekend on another excursion to Chorlton Water Park. I can’t deduce any particular message or meaning from it – but I like simply like the aesthetics of the image. I converted the original from colour to black and white and increased the contrast in the image to bring out his silhouette. I really like the detail that you can see in it, down to the curls in Matt’s hair.

Back it up; Rhymes with f _ _ _ it up

Crude I know. I feel entitled to be crude having deleted a good 15 hours of work on a piece of music. I have no idea how it happened, but on returning to it, its not there. File recovery programs haven’t recovered anything- simply reassured me that I was so stupid in the first place.

Oh well.

Sorry Leo! (the Creaked Records man)

Undesirable Webs

Despite my ‘love’ of the web and the internet – it is my primary source for doing, well, pretty much anything! – the bigger and better it all gets it simultaneously develops more and more shit flying around it.

My first ever comment on my journal/blog was this (since deleted, thankyou very much);


The VJ Low-down

Note to self:

This requires quite a lot more than this to put in to words and convey its breadth, realistically, but as a pre-cursor it is fit for purpose; It would be best to have a distinct set (set of visuals) for each mood or musical genre that you might encounter; straight-4 dance music, funk, deep house music, ambient, indie etc.

This has natrually come about anyway from putting together my “visual library” so far – but putting it in words I think will help put my thought processes in order!

Flesh out this idea with a proper concept – has been added to to-do list!

Good Vibes

“Good Vibes” are a thing that I crave from time to time. I wrote a song about a succession of these feelings that came about over the course of a weekend in the summer of 2005, you can listen to that on my MySpace page here; I don’t know why it is that when I’m discussing, thinking about or being critical about the arts, I always start to talk in terms of a concept as abstract and non-specific as vibes. Generally I’m very logical and like to see things in fairly black and white or clear cut terms. I guess its probably a requisite skill that you can see shades of grey when trying to analyse something that doesn’t necessarily have a beginning and end, or a correct “answer”, even a particular meaning or reason for existing.

Well really this is all an aside, and not really worthy of being a journal entry. I began writing this just to try and put down in words a good feeling that I’ve gotten from at least getting this far with my journal and regaining some ground lost through November and December. I think my elation has been augmented further with a feeling that my writing is progressing. It has been some considerable time since I’ve written anything structured, for that matter writing anything anything at all; apart from note-taking and scribbling lyrics down. Reading my initial post to this journal and contrasting it with my Pan’s Labrynth review- I’m sure there is progress there. Good vibes.

I must exhibit restraint (a good title for image-based-work maybe?) for if I were reading this as a third party even more objectively (than I write it) I would almost definately think the author were being smug.

Beach Party at Benicassim, in Spain at the FiB (Festival Internationale de Benicassim) festival in August 2006. On the final night there is a free beach party thrown by the organisers to say thanks to the locals for putting up with thousands of drunk English people (amongst many other nationalities). This is a shot of the sea filled with revelers. If I were less intoxicated I could probably have gotten some better shots, but I am still very fond of the depth in this picture and of its encapsulation of movement and atmosphere (or Vibes).

Pan’s Labyrinth

I went to see the film a few weeks ago, and felt it would constitute a good subject for a journal review. I was drawn to it, with the preconception in my mind that it would be solely animated, and that it would probably be inhibited by being a modern fairy tale, which I generally have distaste for. Now, its safe to say that my preconceptions were wrong, but also completely unfounded. Firstly I got the facts wrong, the film is not animated. It does include sections with digital animation being combined with film, but largely it is (or, at least, appears to be) a live-action movie.

Ofelia; as played by Ivana Baquero, in trouble after going on a critical mission inside the trunk of a dead tree. She has wrecked her new clothes, bought by her wicked step-father and will be in trouble.

The central character is Ofelia, a young girl who’s mother has married a man (not her father) who is a captain in Franco’s army after they have taken Spain in 1944. This situation eventually brings the girl and her mother much pain and strife. This is the first parallel to a “standard” fairy tale plot-line. Twenty minutes into the film after the scene has been set, and with fairy tale promise but also an extremely dark and sinister overtone; Ofelia finds a gateway into a mystical world filled with fantastical creatures, stories and monsters. Here perilous evil and potential haven stand side-by-side, if only she can fulfil the tasks set to her by a Fawn, the first creature she meets.

At this point in the movie, the directors obvious intentional showcase of the contrast between the stark reality exhibited by the setting of the film with authentic fairy-tale concepts becomes evident. Simultaneously the contrast (but also seamless blending) of the digital animation and effects, with the live action filming and Ivana Baquero’s natural performance (as Ofelia) works with sublime effect.

The exposition of pure conflict is generally what fantasy is about, but in this film I was taken with quite how well the conflicts were presented. Parallels are obvious between the mystical fantasy world Ofelia has discovered, and the world that her and her mother actually inhabit. In both places Ofelia must confront her fear, drawing on her own bravery and strength.

Ofelia’s mother (bearing the commander’s child) falls gravely ill with pregnancy complications and Ofelia is constantly bullied and resented by her step-father. He is a man obsessed with ruthlessly hunting down and killing all of the resistance fighters who are hiding in the nearby hills; on more than one occasion you are shown quite how brutal he can be with plenty of blood and relatively crudely used gore- for want of a better word. However this doesn’t detract from the film at all, and if anything makes the other sections seem all the more real.

Eventually Ofelia ends up in the Labyrinth and discovers a Fawn. Despite his slightly freaky (but definitely intimidating) appearance, he appears to be her friend. The Fawn tells her she is the lost princess of a secret Kingdom, and that she can return to take her throne and the riches that go with it. She only has to perform the three tasks he sets her, without fail and without questioning him.

Ofelia meets this creature whilst completing one of the tasks set to her by the Fawn. Intensely creative costume and presentation. This particular beast’s voice is deep and harsh, I would commend the voice artist and audio engineer equally. Very scary!

The two parallel worlds, only joined together by Ofelia, form the basis for the rest of the plot to unfold. The plot continually confronts you with unexpected twists but is still easily accessible and simple for the mind to move along with.

I think because of the sensibility and intense emotion being conveyed in the film, it does feel like it takes quite a long time to get you from beginning to end, even though it is only two hours long. Again though, for me this is a big plus rather than anything negative, and adds to the over all effect.

To sum it up I think its an excellent piece of cinema and is certainly a film that could be watched several times without decaying its affecting qualities. Unsurprisingly this comes from all the pieces of the jigsaw coming together perfectly; excellent live action cinematography which is uncomplicated but exquisitely presented. Digital animation to the quality that most people have come to expect thanks to the explosion of that particular medium. Ivana Baquero’s Ofelia leaves a bitter-sweet taste in your mouth, but all of the key roles are delivered with tactility and finesse– something I often find abundant in European cinema and lacking in Hollywood pictures. Topped off with an original concept and plot line the whole thing comes together faultlessly.

Ofelia talking to the Fawn, who is her guide. This shot stirs memories of the Alien films.

Being in the position I am – experimenting with film and animation (amongst my other exploits) – watching a successful picture of this ilk I am both inspired and awestruck. It somehow seems impossible to imagine being in a position to create such a work, but there’s only one way to find out, and that is to try. Hence I came away from the film totally satisfied with my cinema going experience and with a drive to create a narrative based film with a similarly intense reality come fantasy texture.

Fraught Thoughts

These words were written to be used for a piece of music that I wrote called Last Thoughts (you can download it from here; I don’t think I will actually use them for their intended purpose. My writing style comes about in an almost ‘stream of consciousness’ manner, both for “journalistic” writing and poetic writing such as is below. These thoughts are as they came out of my head, unfiltered. Although it wasn’t a conscious decision at time of writing, I think the source for these thoughts is my awareness of mental illness. Various friends, family and people close to me have suffered from all kinds of mental illness and it is something close to my heart and head.

Originally, the piece of music I wrote these words for, used a (very copyrighted) Bob Dylan speech, “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie”. The audio recording I have is (I believe) from Guthrie’s wake, and is extremely moving, and in my opinion a magnificent piece of wordsmithery. The text can be found here but the speech should really be heard from Dylan’s own lips.

Some Thoughts

Twings and Twangs are simple sounds but in essence they’re pure,
I’m lost in thought as we wonder along a path,
Ringing echoes of muffled tones – Bob Dylan in my ear,
Distored sounds images and faces come out of nowhere to create something real,
Physical and gutteral – a feeling?

But these arent real, they dont exist, its a digital fortress to pilfer a title,
Girl I want you here and I want to be there with you, to steal my own line,
And now I am- a little,
A vital thing is that I have comprehension.

An evil face can be deceptive and often decieves,
With deceipt so far that our naievity is revealed,
On occasion so little comes into focus even though we look at the same blades
Of grass in the field and a swan on the lake.

I know there’s tangibility there and I know your nightmares aren’t really real,
They’re reflections of our dreams and reflections of sounds we might not even know,
But combined can swing to nothing or funky flare,
Pain not destroyed by pleasure,
Purity not derived from just an essence of some good feeling and,
Innocence not lost through being insightful.

Floated on the sea of a life in a new world thats lost in the ocean,
Just a pindrop in the Universe,
Pictued on my wall paintings of your soul,
Not a metaphor.

This is not a war or a battle of wits, but,
I’ll fight the fight with you,
Everything is more solid now and safe, we’re all safe
In some thoughts.

A suitably phsychedelic collage of shots taken from a car dashboard. Taken on a small apeture (f22~) with about 30 seconds shutter time. I love the effect of taking shots of motorways from a fixed point and wanted to look at the same kind of shot but from a moving vehicle. I’m trying to give the pictures (althogh still) their own essence or sense of movement. I am also going to look at using this type of material and giving it more life (enough that it could be used for my VJ projects) by some form of digital manipulation. At the moment these shots are as they were straight from the camera, apart from putting them in this collage.

God! (blasphemy?) I do Have Problems

I do have problems with the pleasure and (I suppose it is) business crossover. This was never a problem working with computers. . !

To elaborate, when me and my girlfriends artistic desires and tendancies collide. . . . . . . . there can be fire.

Bed time now.

Outside The Astoria. This is my lovely girl friend, Caiti. One of the few photos I have taken using a flash that actually looks good. I must do more work on improving this skill. NB- this was taken after walking out of an ‘Animal Collective’ ( ) gig in London. Although amazingly creative recording artists, their live performance was a terrible mess. Just too much experimentation (with music and/or drugs, I suspect).

Focusing on Reflections

Focus on reflections
Hear the dimensions
Twisting the light rays
Turn around their vibrations

Focusing on reflections but still deep and
Deep-still, in tensions
That across my temples extrapolate
Unfortunate thoughts and now
Times are gone

Fred & Matt by a Tree, on a trip to see a Installation de Feu at Platt Fields park, Manchester. It was an exceptional event, virtually all of the installations (it was like a mini-festival, with many different things to see) being based on fire and involving fires of all different types. The best art event I visited last year (2006). The picture brings back good memories of that for me. I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, it was semi-posed but basically taken on the spur of the moment. I chose this image because I think the ghostly effect is sympathetic to the words above.

What I Like

Artistically I’m kind of inept in many ways. I’m a novice at having to look at things from an artistic angle and then having to critically analyze it. I do enjoy it though, even if I (well I think I do…) end up at rather cynical and negative mutterings towards a lot of the populist (I presume its populist) work I’ve seen in commercial and non-commercial galleries I have visited.

Recent exceptions are a furniture exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery of Joe Columbo‘s work and Ben Hall’s Wild Britain exhibition at the Manchester Museum. Joe Columbo’s embodies the swinging sixties. Eccentricity flows throughout his work and designs that have now become some modern design classics. Without going to heavily into it right away the exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery comes highly recommended. Ben Hall’s exhibition in contrast is a straight up photography show. I’m not an expert in the field, but his are some of the most evocative and inspiring photographs I have seen in a gallery recently- vibrant colours throughout and thoughtful composition. I was also slightly ‘chuffed’ to see that all of his work exhibited here is from a digital camera. See

I’m particularly impressed with the technical skill required to take this shot, as well as the photographer’s patience and vision for getting the shot. After having watched all of the BBC & David Attenborough’s Planet Earth documentaries I’m even more in awe of the wildlife film/photography brigade. Maybe key to his success, Hall studies the animals he photographs extensively prior to attempting a shot. I wonder if this is possible with humans?

My tendency in art appreciation, is toward enjoying and liking pieces that (deliberately or not) evoke some kind of emotion in me. Sometimes it is explicit, and you can see what the artist is trying to do. Other times its not and everyone will come away with a different feeling. This withstanding it is definitely what I look for in art works, of all kinds, and also what I aspire to produce myself.

Bob Dylan, Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright:

It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don’t matter, anyhow
An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m trav’lin‘ on
Don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in turnin‘ on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin‘ on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin‘ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin‘ anyway
So don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in callin‘ out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It ain’t no use in callin‘ out my name, gal
I can’t hear you any more
I’m a-thinkin‘ and a-wond’rin‘ all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I’m told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

I’m walkin‘ down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word, gal
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin‘ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

These words, in combination with a beautiful piece of acoustic guitar playing, make probably my favourite of Bob Dylan’s songs. Its not a protest song, its not political – and I’m not trying to say Dylan’s more political works are better or worse songs – but for some reason, this is always the one to make me feel the most. I’m not even sure what the feeling normally is, but I always know it’s there.I took this shot on a day when I went to visit Crosby to see Anthony Gormley’s “Another Place”. I was interested in the piece after its extensive coverage on television. The timing of my visit meant that it was an extremely windy, wintry day and the tide was up so few of the figures were accessible – however I think this probably added to the experience. I really like this photograph and feel that even though I am ‘bouncing’ off Gormley’s art it does have its own merit autonomously.

Procrastinate Daily

“journal – a daily written record of (usually personal) experiences and observations” – according to WordNet Search on

That is what I am meant to have done. For the last, say two months, at least.

This is a shot used in a film me and Bryn made during the early part of the University term. This is the sex-pest “Abu” who featured in the film, as played by Bryn. I think the blurriness of the photograph compliments its devil-like qualities. Since putting the film online I have been contacted by an American TV station (Localpoint TV) who are hopefully going to broadcast it. You can see the film (at rather degraded quality) here;

On the whole I have tried and failed to write my journal, so far, but I have cultivated an amount of determination from my procrastination.

This, I do believe, is one (possibly the sole) advantage of procrastination.

I must have a genetic disorder, to suffer from the condition as badly as I do. Rarely does a day pass when I don’t have pungent desires teasing my senses, seemingly whispering at me to get on and do some of the number of tasks that I internally classify as “work”.

On our first University outing in the Science & Industry museum. Focusing on reflections; to describe the photo but also just a rather satisfying flow of words. Maybe I will use it in a song.

At the moment those work tasks are split between my various artistic activities directly spawned from my degree course, producing an album which is already late for a small Swiss record label ( the Director-of-which, incidentally just called to arrange a meeting in January- exciting!), on-going photography and some cash-cowing (so to speak) designing a couple of websites for my cousin and her friend (who are both journalistic-types on the larger than life, upper class, Hampshire equestrian scene – an amazing beast). My University work is top of my priorities but as I have only newly been forging out my own methods of working artistically for the last few months, it is sometimes the hardest to gather momentum. Having said that I often only start proper work on such projects, as with the music or the websites, if I have been cheered up by other successes, and vice-versa. That seems to be the key for me satisfying my urges and overcoming my procrastinatic (is this a word?) tendencies – balancing the success and momentum of different projects with each other, to achieve overall progress. Having written that down, I think has turned a pattern of disconnected and unrelated thoughts into a tangible philosophy. Hopefully for people other than my self, if said others, can scramble through my occasionally scrambled prose.

Photograph of scratches whilst working on “Scratches” project (see below for more information), (vintage) macro lens borrowed from University.

Current University projects include:

  1. VJ Project, evaluation of VJ software that is available (including learning how to use the software and understanding the principles) and also building a ‘visual library’ to be used for VJing. Includes many sub-projects.
  2. Time, this has spawned from the VJ project; work exploring representing and simply showing time passing through photography, video & animation pieces can become part of the visual library for the VJ Project.
  3. Classic photography, experimentation with printing and framing (or other presentations) of my digital photographic work that I have been doing since becoming a camera-owner half way through 2006. As well as having gotten promising results and feedback so far, I have been working on both subtle and severe digital manipulation of images to create dramatic effects.
  4. Websites, I have various interactive websites that I either have in development or would like to produce at some point. These include an online version of the paper-and-pen game of consequences, my website about scratches. Scratches was a “one word” project given to me in the first few weeks of University. The piece of work I presented was a sound-based piece with many noises playing simultaneously – all of which were scratching noises. I also took some macro photographs of the many scratches I see in the world around me. But my final piece of work for this project is the website. The website will just display the progress of a mail-art based thingy, where-by an object is mailed around. Each recipient scratches the next story (or not-story if they don’t want) into the object which is then mailed on again. At each point a digital photo will be uploaded on the website for all to see, also a map of where “scratches” has been. Eventually the object will be obliterated and cease to be, but will be preserved digitally. The idea was to represent human life on earth, its evolution is slow, but has taken us far in artistic, social and technological progress – which is what allows us to create and appreciate projects such as this. Eventually however, we will destroy our habitat. In terms of the whole of human history that time is very close to us now. That is why I want destruction to come eventually, but to celebrate our progress by saving it on in digital format for anyone connected to the web to see. Unfortunately, I have (again) procrastinated! I have created a website, with some horrible drivel written on it (which if I ever take the project further I will change) this can be seen at
  5. Sound and Music projects; as well as independently (from University) working on my music, I would like to explore further sound-art based projects. I was intrigued and interested by an artist who came to present his work and talk about himself at one of our lectures at University – his name has eluded me presently. He had several sculpture works that involved an element of sound, from scratching a record to amplifying the sound of a pin-dropping- all very inspiring for me. I think I probably wouldn’t focus so much on creating noise-touting-sculptures, but maybe it will be something to experiment with to test the water. I would definitely like to refine my scratches sound project to a point where it could be performed with some visual element as well as the sound (and without pushing near-by lecturers to complain about the noise!

So that’s all of me at the moment. I know its the wrong thing to do (starting at the end. . . ?), but at least for the sake of writing this I have written the present first and next time I write I will write about the past.

Sign Parody; I like the sentiment, I took this shot in a squat in the Northern Quarter of Manchester’s City Centre. The people living there were operating a gallery, where anyone could go and exhibit their work (often the canvass they’re working on is part of the building itself). Also hedonistic parties, DJs and so on and so on. A cool thing, in my opinion. Unfortunately I wasn’t really affected by any of the work I saw, the biggest impact on me was what the squat stood for and the fact that (at that time, at least) it was working and existing. Everybody there has now been evicted. Until next time. . . (both the squat, and me).