Tag Archives: poetry

Spesh To’ics Week 1, incorporating meta-stress, buoyancy, being reunited, divergent thinking

I find my self,
Back here again,
In pressure to the core (of emotion, work, and more),
Called it ‘meta stress’,
A serious test,
Like collapse,
A moreish emotion,
And sure enough,
That’s the pain of a concrete bucket,
In the head of a man,
I’m happy to be back here,
I’m happy that it’s hard,
I’m happy that I’m stressed,
But I can’t believe I said that,
Special topics? Special topics!
While grappling with the aforementioned stress,
While sorting through a, frankly, torturous assignment on,
And a nonsense data set,
But special topics..? Special topics!
Sounds like fun,
I feel like I’m floating (just),
Buoyed by inspiring academics,
Buoyed by my growing lists,
Buoyed by my happy-to-be-backy,
Thoughts akimbo,
Divergent thinking

So! A poem to start. I’m inspired by Mari on that one, to be honest. What I’m trying to say is… this whole “being a HighWire student” thing, it’s still sinking in. I’m still trying to harness any degree of plasticity still left in my aging brain, and learn the tricks of the trade required to be a (good?) PhD student. I am stressed, to the core. I’m not that happy with my personal life, but there’s little to do about it at the time being, and, if anything, I’m seeing the stress as a good thing as regards my personal life. Distractions are always good. This cognitive compromise, alongside some achievements on the previous terms projects (and a couple of personal projects), finally allied with the inspirational seminars delivered from various academics already this term (and I’m only 3 days in) – that brings the buoyancy.

I’m excited about the idea of the “special topics” module, mainly because for the first time I will – alone – be able to determine my own direction. I’m not a control freak, but I do have serious issues with (things that I perceive to be) futile. So, hopefully, I can avoid that.. which I hope will give me more motivation, more excitement, and better outcomes.

(back to stress, just need to get these other assignments out of the way)

And now, the divergent thinking part. I currently have these ideas to work with (for all, assume ‘something in the field of’):

  • After death, digital legacies
  • Dynamic television, film, or other media, that can reform itself according to the viewers’ use of secondary screen-based media (so a TV programme that realises when you’re checking Facebook and automatically reformats itself accordingly, seamlessly)
  • Sonification as story telling, maybe in healthcare
  • Preserving digital formats (so, what if the ‘original’ version of Hamlet was in a Word Perfect file, but all machines that can run Word Perfect are no longer working… is that a problem?)
  • Can music be an aid at different stages of ideation? What changes how effective it could/can be?
  • A better model for academic referencing; the “semantic web” for academic literature
  • The importance of seed content (as mentioned by Keith), demonstrable in various iterations of my antimatable project
  • Is there space for distance learning (or tele-teaching) to be the preferred method of teaching, in some scenarios? What are the barriers to that, and what would be the potential advantages?
  • …. hard to sum up, but, multi-dimensional sketchnoting on e-ink tables, with the ablity to 3D print the results for physical review (sculpture meets analogue note taking)
  • Is now the time for consumers to power a revolution moving towards modular consumer electronics?

Urban Myths at URBIS

I took part in ‘Urban Myths Retold’ at the Urbis museum, in Manchester. The project was off the back of a literature competition that Urbis had already run, asking writers to create short stories either re-telling or creating brand new urban legends. 10 performance-based installations took place at different sites around Urbis, that visitors viewed as part of a 1-hour-long guided tour.

The work that I took part in was based on the story “Three feet from Leroy” – about a man who becomes obsessed with what appears to be an imaginary rat; his fear lead by the legend that, in a City, you are never more than three feet away from a rat. My friend Bryn Lloyd-Evans had created a sculpture, reflecting on some of the themes running through the story.

To augment the physical sculpture, we created a word-based (using the prose) sound scape, that I performed using Ableton Live. In addition my girlfriend, Caiti Berry, “VJ’d” a video performance (using OpenTZT; cool software)that was projected over the sculpture and in a stair-well of the space we were in. The space itself was a claustrophobic service stairway, in the guts of the building; perfect for this performance but it turned out to be rather unpleasant to spend several hours in.

This is a photo-merged picture of our setup (click for a larger version);

Three feet from Leroy, performance setup at Urbis

A video of all of the installations is being produced, so hopefully I’ll be able to post that on here once it arrives.

Bryn is interested in doing some live performances of poetry, using similar techniques, so that is something to think about. Not sure if its right up my street or not.

This is the story;

Three feet from Leroy by Peter Canning

He knew that in the city you are never more that three feet away from a rat. he moved there anyway, but fatefully for him it would be the same rat. Its name was Leroy and it trailed him everywhere- his bedroom, the loo, his office, parks parachute jumps, lifts, buses and even romantic dinners.

Leroy, despite being a magnificent rat with dark fur and bright eyes, didn’t impress neighbours, colleagues or girlfriends. Soon the office was a distant memory and the only dinners he ate were for one. He grew to hate the vermin and laid poison, but Leroy was too clever.

The years passed. Leroy continued to stalk him down the bust streets and lonely alleyways, screeching mockingly at him whenever they were alone. Eventually, his rat-inspired loneliness drove him away from the city. As he left for his home town he saw in his mirror Leroy loitering irritably at the city limits and thanked his lucky starts that he’d soon have a life again.

But he began to miss those quiet nights when, like soldiers at Christmas 1916, he and Leroy agreed a truce of sorts, watching TV together and sharing a burger.

But his pride was too great for him to return to the city, to be reunited with his rodent friend. Until one day the local council won their fight to reclassify the town as a city. And as if by magic, he heard a screeching from under the floorboards.