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Archive for May, 2010

So today was a pretty vigorously dramatic day. I didn’t know that the government could automatically apply your tax return to your student loans. Neat.

Also didn’t realise that my apartment echoes without couches or dishes. Also Neat.

I’m fighting off  sleep after a day in the cold that started off blearily rearranging bags of manure, learning about antipodian monotremes, creating an amphibious concrete narrative montage with garden fountains and gargoyles, and finding my new roomie moved in, and the furniture gone. Now I wish I hadn’t built my coffee table so tall… pillows only stack so high.

I made it tall so that I could put my feet UP... and to make it more horsey...

Art-wise, Telemek3 is well on the way, just some white touch-ups, then epoxy problems forever, then lighting… probably will be a nightmare. I don’t really feel that bad about not working on it today because is like 2 degrees out there and the latex acrylic doesn’t really set well at that temp. The gears for the first few mini-meks are on the way, Kevin has sent them after retooling his CNC mill several times… But I havent worked on Mo Bot’s piece because everytime I try, I fall asleep at the comp. Damn you illustrator. I’ll try out solidworks soon, see if its better.

I want it to work. I want all of this to be worth it. I want it to keep working, better and better, so that I can laugh at the people that say “you should give up everything you want to do so that you can have all the things that you are supposed to want.” And I’m gonna make that happen.

I’ll be posting more pics after Thursday, and Alex B is threatening to help me do a time-lapse of some of my practice, which I’ll also post here and on FB (assuming it happens in due course).

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It occurs to me that for most of the people that I meet, the standard mode of passing interpersonal time is the telling of anecdotes.

I vote for a new system. Maybe I’ll just use it personally.

1)Only use anecdote if it is exceedingly entertaining, if it is needed to relate to someone who speaks only in anecdote after the introduction period or if you can use it to successfully and subtley manipulate the conversation to something everyone can enjoy.

2)The telling of anecdotes should only take up a maximum of 20%  of the conversation (this number might have to change).

3)One-upmanship between two or more main speakers must either be avoided or be calculated to induce good humour at the least, and escalating hilarity at best.

4)Commiseration-style negative anecdotes must be meant to console the justifiably sorrowful, or to cajole the hopelessly negative… that said, if you somehow feel like you need to drive the conversation down into the bottom of the pity-party ditch before it can improve, then do so at your peril.

5)If the conversation turns into a monologue, no matter how successful it is in entertaining the other members of the conversation (or venting the speaker’s personal issues), then the torch of attention should be passed to the next person who has an interest in speaking. If they break any of the rules, the conversation can be stolen back from them at an opportune time and re-focused on someone else.

6)If the anecdotal group conversation is limited to having only one orator or a few poor orators, the conversation will eventually devolve to individual one-one conversations, probably about sports or anecdotal in nature. Its the orator’s job to prevent this from happening… not sure how this works yet.

I’ll think of more later. Did I ever tell you about this one time at Band-Camp?

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Popularity is a gauge of the pervasiveness of certain qualities, not in the popular object or trend, but in the minds and hearts of the “consumers” of that trend or object; and as such tells more about society than the item. When the motivation behind producing the product or trend is untempered capitalism, the goal of maximizing profit dictates that the product appeals to the greatest number of people on some level. This is why popularity of a product should be taken with scepticism when considering the quality of the object or trend. The popular runs the risk of being mediocre.

That said, there is security in the mediocre.

In the arts, it seems more and more to me that a bit of the “normal” is required. The neuroscience blogs are talking about how our choices as humans are actually more limited than some of us feared. Certain decision pathways are hardwired into our monkey-brains that actually “force” us to go with the herd, to raise our hands when everyone else raises theirs, to look up when the people around us are looking up.

From this line of thinking, the artist must find some middle path between the extreme limits of their  creativity and the middle of the mainstream. Depending on your resources, the demographic your work appeals to, and your geography, the distance you can orbit “planet normal” and still pay for paint or better yet, buy a car, will shrink.

Disheartening? Yes.

But there is good news. The human brain is also equipped with an appreciation for … lets call it “novelty”. Some of us really like things that stick out. Some of us really LOVE things that stick out. I think it was easier to sell really out-there art before the “age of mechanical reproduction” (Walter Benjamin) because the people who were buying Van Goghs couldn’t just run down to the Walmart or Ikea and buy a print of exactly that thing their neighbor had that was calculated to give them a nice mainstream consumer buzz… at a price equal to an hour or two of work.

So what do you do as an artist? Do you slave away in secluded corners of society, trying to make your vision a reality? Or do you slave away next to your fellow humans producing goods so that you can buy more goods?

Or do you find some middle ground?

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I think this one's actually newer...

Today was more of the same. for the first six hours I tore my hair out, having to force myself through every step that I was working on. Stupid abs, stupid water-bending (heh, “water-bending”) and drying, stupid flaking wood putty cause the temperature is a bit too cold…

struggle, stuggle. And then… my bandsaw blade snapped. I was expecting it though, it hasn’t been cutting very straight or quietly lately so I replaced it with one better for tight corners.

Just in time for the entire unit to stop working like 10 minutes later.  So i rechecked everything that I’d just touched, but no hint. lame. Darwin had never let me down before!?  I thought it had stalled out, worn out its bushings, died of old age, or gotten filled with sawdust.

Luckily, it was just a loose pulley bolt on the motor, so I didn’t even have to check the brushes (cause what else can you really fix “easily” on a 30 year old electric motor the size of your head?).

So, with the amazing performance buff (+10 “new, skinny blade of the rotational cutting”) on the saw, I started to really make some headway, and then when K came over with beer, talking with her made me see that no, I don’t have to set my work of the last few months out on the lawn in order to punish it with fire for lacking in awesomeness.

It still works, the form and the concept is still intact and “relevant”, I’ve just been looking at it for too long and too closely to have any perspective. Why does this happen with every piece? Am I taking too long on each one so that I start to hate it? (probably) Can I avoid it in future? (probably)

So just remember, if you start to hate your piece, and you’ve spent too much time and attention to be comfortable trashing it, just step back, leave it alone, call a friend… and get some sleep so that your hands stop shaking.

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So tonight, I stayed up late and really pushed it. I’m at the “abs” section of Telemek 3; the most tedious, time consuming and risky section of the piece. Similar to the “scales” area on Telemek 1. I had a headache the whole time. I felt jittery. I dropped a few pieces, which promptly shattered, and had to re-glue and re-shape them with wood filler. I had to hold each of the 21 pieces with one finger while I cut the base to size with a Japanese saw. The clearance between the saw and my fingers was minimal, and each piece was in danger from being wedged and breaking… some did, so I had to re-do them. This is after routing out grooves in a big piece of wood with a dremel so I could get them all at the right angle and height. Gluing them together was ridiculous. After gluing and holding a couple for a few minutes, I started to rotate the pieces through the five or six vice grips that I could find with flat tips and no flash left over from welding problems.

Whining portion over.

So after this adventure, I put everything together and looked at it and had .one.single.moment. of excitement. Then I realised that maybe, just possibly, I really kind of hate this piece… especially the part that I just spent so much time on. Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve just made something that totally failed?

I’m pretty sure that when I look at it again in the morning, I’ll have renewed my excitement and passion for the design. But tonight, I don’t want to think about it anymore.

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gravitron manipulating, history devouring, hungry pan-dimensional brain-beast.

It seems like everyone is doing mail art stuff, and I wondered why I never heard anything about it for so long. Its because I don’t think it works alot of the time. Its hard enough to keep a pen pal going, let alone a sketchbook. I’ve got 3 of them going right now, in 3 different cities, and the only one that is actually still “live”  is the one in Calgary… where I live. Its really fascinating watching the combinations of style and the graphic conversations that you end up having though. Each book has its own combo, and the style undulates from page to page so that its my style and the other person’s, then a unique mixture… I guess the unifying theme is my work/style. But the problem is that since the books are going back and forth, and sometimes taking up to a year to come back, the continuity is disrupted and it no longer becomes a conversation. Well, unless you were talking to Betelgeuse.

BetelgeuseBetelgeuseBetelgeuse!

Nope, didn’t work.

Actually, that’s like 640 lightyears away, the closest one is Proxima centari, about 3-4 lightyears away, but I’m using Canada Post, so no telling how long it will take.

Still trying to come up with a name for the Blog.

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Working Title

I’m still trying to come up with a new title, I’ve been bogged down with taxes, and have spent way too much time playing Warcraft 3. I’m still trying to get my first attempt at getting my art auto-milled off the ground… we’ll see how it works out. The questions going through my head currently are the usual: Why do I need to make art to the exclusion of the things that most other people seem to want… and how do I make that work for me? I’m thinking I’ll make some smaller pieces that hopefully will be easier to sell. I think I’ll call them Micromek or something. I just came up with an idea to start making things out of fibreglass or carbon fibre, but I want to wait on that process until I get my current project out of the shop. Soon I hope to finish Telemek 3. These things take me way too much time!

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