May 15, 2008 at 1:58 am (Derives)

Today I embarked on a journey after attending the workshop with UAL curators. It was a spontaneous decision. I initially had the intention of walking to Baker Street from Davies Street (the blue pointer above), but changed my mind at the junction of Park Crescent. This was partly brought on by the walk through Portland Place, where a beautifully designed church building struck me. I took a few photos and continued walking. At the end of Portland Place there was a curvaceous building in brilliant white, set against a few red and white-striped cranes towering over it in the background. I decided to ride the curve to the right, which lead me on to Euston Road. I felt my overpowering lust for vinyl gnawing gentle at my ankles like some kind of furry woodland creature….. a hazy image of Camden Dance Music Exchange gradually formed in my minds eye. A vein attempt was made to over-power the furry brute, but his promise of the sonic delights that might await was too strong. The destination was set. I pondered getting on the train, as I continued east along Euston Road. I was still undecided as I passed Great Portland Street tube, so I stopped for a moment. My ears picked up to the visceral metallic symphony happening across the road.

I went closer to investigate…..

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Sound Workshop

May 8, 2008 at 8:41 pm (Tutorials & Workshops)

I will write more about the sound workshop I did on 30th April when I get a chance. In the meantime:

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Life without my computer & sequencing time

May 8, 2008 at 8:32 pm (Experiments, Reflections & Planning)

A few weeks ago my computer monitor decided to stop working. Nightmare!

It had been playing up for a good few months already, flickering for a good 10-15mins when turned on, then eventually settling. During this time I still had a strong urge to write music, so I thought it’d be a useful exercise to get some ideas down without my computer

I had 3 recording devices – my minidisc, my WAV recorder and my tape deck. This allowed me to over-dub; e.g. make one recording, then play it back and record another layer over the top, and so on. So, I sat down with my bongo, readied my mouth for some beatbox and got creative! Each layer was improvised, but I would spend a little time thinking and maybe trying out a few ideas out at each stage (layer) before hitting record and going again. This was the result:

The whole experience brought forth some interesting questions, such as, do I actually have any musical capabilities without my computer at all?!? “No” – that’s what the Zai riddle with self-doubt would say. In reality, I re-discovered that I have some. My strength lies within rhythm, in building a groove and exploring the use of different materials (which I shall talk about in more depth in another post).

This exercise has given me more ideas about the use of sound in my project. I shall expand on this a bit later.

Notes for expansion of this blog entry:

– Time becomes sequential, patterns emerge, patterns become rhythms – ‘systems of meaning’ – minimalism.

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Space & Growth

May 8, 2008 at 3:41 pm (Experiments, Reflections & Planning)

I’ve been through a lot of changes in the last month or so and I feel that some self-reflection has been long overdue!

My initial plans of creating a blog entry at least once a week and making more regular journey’s in to London have been slightly thwarted by my lack of time, as well as me feeling a certain amount of unhappiness about my living/workspace environment.

I’ve been living back at home now for close to 2 years – time flies indeed! At times it has felt as if I’ve stepped back in to the past once again. Though mentally I’m engaging with new ideas, projects and people, I still spend the majority of my time working at home, where shadows of my former self and old experiences linger. Some good, some bad. I realized that I needed to move on from these traces of the past by reclaiming and redefining my own space in the present.

But how would I go about this?

I decided that step one would be to re-arrange my workspace (my room). After carefully measuring my rooms dimensions, as well as the larger objects that inhabit the space (shelves/desk, etc), I proceeded to create a scale drawing and began figuring out how I could work with the room to maximize creativity and make the space feel bigger! I found a solution, which basically meant moving most of the shelving and clutter behind me (out of sight), leaving my computer desk by the window looking out over the front garden into open space, as well as neatly storing all my creative tools (camera, sound equipment, etc) for easy accessibility. So far this has worked wonders and I feel a lot happier in my work environment. It amazing how much our perception of space effects our behavior. When people say “I can’t work unless my workspace is tidy”, it’s as if the disorder of the physical space extends to the mental space, making their mind feel cluttered. Through rearranging and ordering the spaces we inhabit, it’s almost as though we regain control over it.

So, step one was successful, but there were still problems, namely the fact that when working from home I spend 90% of my time in the same space (it functions as my living space too)! So, I decide to implement more changes. The second was doing yoga in the park, which I’ve tried to do a couple of times a week (the rest of the week I practice in my room). Again, the park has many memories attached to it, but the act of going through my yoga routine underneath the grand tree has somehow rinsed clean my mental slate and helped me recapture a new sense of personal balance within my mind.

With my project in mind, I started experiencing the park in a new way. I noticed how wide and open the space actually felt. Being there at 7am on one day I was slightly overwhelmed by the nature that surrounded me, morning birdsong, the warm, comforting tone of an owls toot, the wind gentle brushing through the bushes and trees. It felt a powerful sense of serenity…. then the train roared past! The train line runs parallel with the park. It’s very hard, even in suburbia, to get uninterrupted experience of nature. Perhaps I’ll explore the woods near me a bit more, away from any man-made sounds and structures.

Now, to return to the grand tree once more…

I’ve felt like my personal growth has fallen in to a bit of a lull in recent months. When I was at University in Bath, I felt fulfilled, balanced and inspired being within a strong creative environment. Doing my MA part-time and living so far away initially left me feeling a bit isolated from my course/coursemates and under stimulated. Though my project was growing, I wasn’t growing in line with it and wasn’t really able to be in Uni enough to learn from my coursemates! Something needed to change. After speaking to some of my closest friends I realized that there were a lot of positive aspects about my situation too and the isolation I was experiencing could be used to my advantage; cultivating my self-motivation, self-discipline and self-reflection.

Since I was 17-18 I’ve taken quite a strong interest in psychology, especially the subconscious and the ideas of Carl Jung. I’m by no means well versed in all perspectives of the subconscious, but I’ve come to understand the powerful effect it can have on our conscious life, through my own experience. Although a bit of a showman and perhaps not the sort of author that gets discussed in academic circles, I think Derren Brown is brilliant! I’ve been reading Trick of the Mind, which I highly recommend to anyone. What interested me about his techniques, asides from the powerful memory tricks (which do infact work wonders – like Loci, for example), is how we can implant symbols in our subconscious to affect our conscious behavior – a trick often used by advertisers (yes, those evil bastards!).

Now, this may seem like a bit of a stretch, but stay with me because it seems to have worked for me! 3 weeks ago I started a short business course at London Business School (New Creative Ventures). In the first week we had the option of pitching our idea for a company to the rest of the class. I decided to get up and do it, despite the fact that I was feeling extremely unwell that day and I usually cower at the thought of speaking in front of a large group of people. I was nervous, but enthusiastic. Unprepared, but still managed to get a few laughs (though it was probably at me, not with me!). That evening I mulled over the days events a bit too much and came to the conclusion that I showed myself to be a bit unprofessional and, well, slightly stupid! Oops… nevermind. But, it really got to me! I found myself focusing on all the negative things about how I presented myself and even lost a bit of sleep worrying about how I was perceived!

The next morning I felt like I needed to move on from this self-exaggerated image of myself as a bumbling buffoon and envisage myself in a new mental space, away from self-criticism. I tried to implement one technique Derren talks about in his book, for people who have phobias. I won’t explain the whole process in depth, but basically it involves visualizing an old desaturated image of yourself in that uncomfortable situation and replacing it with a strong, bright new image of your ideal reaction to that situation in vibrant colours. So, I focused and did this. To my surprise my previous worries subsided and in the following weeks session I felt a great deal more confident and positive. However, I’m sure other things contributed to this change as well.

I liked the idea of planting seeds of change within my mind. I tried to do the same thing with the grand tree to remind myself of my goals, not just in my MA project but in life – growth. The grand tree in the park served not only as my space to do yoga and regain my sense of balance, but a symbol of mental growth that I tried to implant in my mind. I focused on the image of the tree, took photographs, tried to concentrate on the feeling of the space, the feeling of balance I was experiencing. I closed my eyes and tried to visualize the tree as a supporting structure in my body, rooting me to the Earth, it’s winding branches forever stretching out of my mental-sphere to eternity. This may sound completely insane to you (or maybe only partial insane – depending on your current level of sanity!), but this blog is my personal space, so I have no reason to hold back my thoughts

Now whenever I approach a new situation I bring up this image of the tree from my subconscious to remind myself that growth is my goal and should be my approach to experiencing life. As with what happened in the first week of the NCV course, my initial reflections became focused on my mistakes, rather than what I could possible learn from them. Mistakes occur for a reason – learning.

Since I’ve planted these seeds of change I’ve felt a lot more positive. Something has changed within me…. or has it? The mind is such a fantastically powerful thing; sometimes I think simply believing that something will work, often results in it working! But I do believe and always have done since I embraced first it, that the deeper recesses of ones mind holds the key to growth, potential and creativity.

Transformation of our mental space effects how we perceive and interact with our environment and the physical spaces we inhabit. I would like to read more about how this relationship plays out between the individual and the City, Lefebvre’s “The production of space” is a good place to start I imagine.

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