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Joseph Galen, For Triangles

Joseph Galen is a moniker for my solo recording project.

It’s done. I’m going to finally admit that its done. It’s like coming out of a tunnel, but the tunnel was always in my mind, and has been about 2 years long. I’m talking about the recording of my album, which is going to be titled For Triangles. The whole thing has been a massive learning experience, ranging from developing my song writing, music production skills & muscianship right through to just being able to comprehend when something is ‘finished’.

The recording has been quite a journey, taking me through 4 different houses, 5 guitars, 3 keyboards, 25 ups, 72 downs, 1052 words, 3 sound cards, 2 computers, 2 microphones, approximately 312 eggs and about 752 days off.

But I’m nearly there now and with it comes a certain apprehension. It is the knowing that I’ll have to free my songs and let them live their own existences. No longer can I be the over-protective father that I have been up until now.

In July I wrote this on my music website, with the firm intention that it would be finished by August. Even having realised how over protective I was being, I couldn’t stop, so it’s taken until now to actually approach finishing.

Anyhow. It’s great. I’m proud, satisfied, excited and looking forward to sharing the songs with anyone and everyone. It also means that I can re-open my mind for other creative business, which is no bad thing. Since my final University year started I’ve spent virtually all my time finishing the record and writing my dissertation. Next to no time has been spent actually working on my artistic practise, and I’ve missed it.

Academia so far, seems ok

Well, I handed in my journal. I finished my projects and exhibition piece, we did the show. All good, good fun and productive in work terms too.

I did a poor presentation for my assessment of this year, but hopefully I’ll make up in other areas. But possibly I’ll be let down in other areas. Anyway, year 1 – it all could be worse.

Part of my exhibition was a display of about 950 photographs, making up a photo diary of the last 12 months of my life. During the process of taking them down (much more fun than sticking them up, 4 bits of blue tack per photo is 950 * 4 little pieces of blue tack) I was thinking about what to do with the photos.

I’ve decided that I will start another photography project, I’m going to attach my photos to public places with blue tack. Each one will be tagged with a sticker, that links to a website detailing the project. I’m also going to try and photograph the situations in which I put the prints and also try and photograph whoever takes the photo from its situation. I think I’ll call it photobombing.

Also – must make an Eastenders style soap, but in a documentary style. Perfect.

Reflections on This & Bibliography

I slept for a pittyful hour or so this morning, with birds tweeting and the light endlessly seeping into my room. I wasn’t working, rather my head was looping various thoughts, some about WikiPedia – I spent a lot of time reading it yesterday – and also Nena’s 99 Red Balloons came back to haunt me again. So I’m not the freshest daisy today!

Today is the day to hand in my journal. This, I think, will be the last entry for the adjuged 1st year journal. I thought it maybe useful to reflect on how I’ve developed through writing it. Also I want to state its omissions.

I hope that I’ll continue to write this journal, writing has proved to be a valuable thinking tool as well as delivering gratification simply to try and articulate my thoughts. Writing is something I used to hate, but the older I get the more enticed I am by the beauty of it. Also, as I’m slowly becoming desolved into a world dominated by Google and the Blogosphere, I should make a stand. Take the fight to them.

Incidental- I asked one of the IT guys in Chatham if there would be any mice lying around, for me to dismantle, for my Autotalk button. He’s a nice guy, we ended up chatting about Freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/) – just another facet of the dawn of Web 2.0 and the internet’s constancy of innovation.

I’m not sure if its evident, but I certainly feel like my writing has progressed through the practice I’ve had here. Maybe it’s just a confidence thing, either way, a good feeling.

Incidental 2- For Autotalk, paint the floor black and invite the audience to write something down if they’d prefer that to leaving a recording of their voice? Maybe getting too wishy-washy.

I’ve tried to be referential to other artists, as I believe that’s an area where I generally falls down, in terms of being assessed for University, but I still don’t think I’ve fixed the problem. I guess its because I’ve only been exposed to the art world (and actually looked at it, in anything other than a casual sense) since September last year and the majority of the time I’ve been relatively self-obsessed. Mainly looking at other artists’ work as it relates to my own progress. Also I harbour a strong belief that if I like something, for no particular reason, there is no need to spoil it by over-analysis and being overly critical. Or indeed critical at all. So maybe that will be a weak spot of my journal.

Another thing that I know I haven’t done “to specification” is reviews. I have written only two reviews, I think, as a result of sitting down after having come to the decision to write a review. I do, however, have significant other review-type-text that hopefully will fill the void, if it can be distinguishsed from general musings.

Lastly; a bibliography.

The one text that I’ll mention (again) is Brian Eno’s A Year with Swollen Appendicies. I don’t think I’ve used any material directly from it, but as I previously stated it has been a useful tool for generating confidence and, to an extent, has probabl been the largest influence on my style of writing.

Otherwise I haven’t looked at any literature to find out about things or gather inspiration. As you may have correctly presumed, WikiPedia is generally my first port of call regarding pretty much anything (particularly anything that, should be, factual). If WikiPedia itself doesn’t satisfy my curiosity I would then revert to traditional web searching using Google (althought depending on the subject this is sometimes my starting point). To catalog my browsing throughout the writing of this journal would result in a list of thousands of unconnected websites, and not really mean anything useful.

Incidental 3- my good friend David, from my hometown/school classes is having an interview for Interactive Arts today. It would be so good to do some collaborative work, were he to get on.
Other sources are the television and the Guardian. I’ve never previously got into reading a news paper (apart from the Metro, but does that count?), but with a little practice I’ve learnt my way around this particular one and enjoyed reading it a lot, as well as doing the “quick” crossword whenever I can – normally being shamed by my wiki-saboteur friend Matthew.

Breakfast time now I think, then after David’s interview I can go home, relax and catch up on yesterday’s missed sleep.

Adele Prince & Mars Bars

Adele Prince (an Interactive Arts graduate) came to talk to my group this week. She has been very successful with exhibitions, commissions and winning an innovation prize from the Yahoo! website. Through her various projects she has also attracted a lot of media coverage. Her success alone was enough to keep me attentive, but as it turned out I really enjoyed the presentation and her work definately aroused my interest. Most of Adele’s projects seemed to utilise the web, with more recent work reflecting the changes in the how the internet is used and having a distinctly Web 2.0 feel about them. One of her latest works, involved being tracked via GPS, which updated her position on a map on a website, and being given instruction via mobile phone – very technology heavy! This web-centricity was particularly interesting to me; as many of my ideas and things I’d like to do involve the same kind of things.

One commission that Adele showed us, was for a train station in Linconshire. How she created her work (which was a video installation) was to travel the length of the trainline and alongside it. But she did this by foot, taking photographs at 5 minute intervals throughout (the whole journey took several days). With the journey complete the photographs were Adele’s source material, along with video footage recorded by her boyfriend who was following her on a bicycle. The end result is displayed on two video monitors housed within the station ticket office. I really liked this concept, its the kind of self-involving art that I really like. I guess there is something of a likeness to post modernism with exposed self-referencing, that really gets my juices flowing. With this piece I like it that there is no certainty about what the images would be, but together they can be directly relevant to the subject.

Another piece of work she talked about (my favourite I think) was her “Lost Something?” website. This was born from Adele collecting lost items from the street, and cataloging the item, where it was found, and when. Eventually all these items were compiled and uploaded onto a website. People can log on to the website, check the list and see if their lost item is there. Launched in the late 90s Adele still recieves many emails per week with regard to the lost items on the website.

Adele seems to have been prolific since leaving University, with further projects including Lost Something and another web-based affair; Trolley Spotting. Trolley Spotting is an online database (with maps & images) chronicling Adele’s journeys around various cities to find trolleys. It is true that trolleys turn up in many odd places!

I’m enticed by the all Adele’s work, and it is very reminicent of a number of my own concepts – I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing for most of the projects. Like a “missing link”. Of course this is just my preference, and I was exceedingly excited to see someone doing things so similar to some of my aspirations. Also her success speaks for itself.

The presentation did make me think back to discovering the Bookcrossing.com website. On the site, you register your details and you’re then given a serial number. You print the number in a book, which you then leave anywhere you like! The idea is that someone else finds the book, which as well as the serial number has details of how to get the website. They then register the fact that they’ve found the book, where, when, how etc then once they’re finished with the book they are supposed to leave it somewhere else. Thus you get a large network of people sharing books with people using the Internet as a medium for tracking it.

There is another website called WheresGeorge.com and another called PhotoTag.org – one tracks US currency and the other disposable cameras (and then shows the pictures taken with each camera). The ideaology seems very similar to that of a lot of mail artists, but in this case making the most out of the internet.

When I discovered these websites (about 3 years ago now) the concept of each struck a chord with me; and I started trying to wrack my brains to figure out something similar that I could set up myself. The lost something idea was one that came to mind (I was unaware Adele had done it!), but I decided it would only really work as a self-contained thing if the lost objects were posted on the website by its users, rather than just me, and that this would constitute a massive programming task!

The thing that really turned me on about BookCrossing (which, incidentally, is now a word in the Oxford English dictionary!) was the fact that the people interacting with the site were giving each other a gift. Even if it is to a complete stranger! I like this idea of not being able to control something, but engineering conditions so the “art” actually evolves by itself (plus its always nice to get something for free, from another person). The concept is quite similar to Dave Gorman’s book Googlewhack Adventure, which is an amazing book. I think it qualifies to be called a work of art.

Mars Bars! I think the reason I chose Mars bars was that it rhymes, and I liked the phrase “Mars bars go far..”

My plan is to create a replica of the BookCrossing system, but modified so that Mars bars are the subject, rather than books. I will start with, say, 100 Mars which I will release through a variety of methods – each of them tagged with their own serial number and instructions. Whoever finds or recieves one of the bars, is instructed to log on to the website and record the fact they’ve recieved (and eaten!) the chocolate they are then requested to purchase a replacement chocolate add a serial number (provided by the website) and release that bar.

I would love to create this chocolate giving network, see how far it can spread, track its progress, ultimately see where it takes me and see where it takes the Mars bars.

Later on, I had two thoughts; firstly I was worried about the legality of using the Mars company’s trademarks but then that led me to thinking how valuable it maybe for the company. I wonder if I could create such a thing and sell it to Mars as a viral marketing technique or simply tell Mars about the project and see if they would give me a nominal sponsor to get it off the ground.

So I’m extremely grateful to Adele for rekindling my interest in this kind of project and very pleased to have been made aware of her work, which I’m going to be watching with a keen eye. Maybe at some point we could join forces! Its funny how things work together, I started doing my first computer programming in ages with Max/MSP last week, and now I’m thinking about doing a whole load more.