January 24, 2019

During the final half hour of last night, I made a piece of whimsy in support of the Visual Theology II conference. This will be held in September, and celebrates the bicentenary of the art critic John Ruskin. If he could’ve gone there to collect rocks, I’m sure he would’ve:

Ruskin on the moon

8.15 am: A communion. 9.00 am: I conducted assessment admin, while listening to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue in the background. 1959 was a good year. Coincidentally, the following tweet arrived. It relates to Davis’ Get Up With It (1974):

The writer draws attention to a temptation, but not an inevitably, of ageing as an artist: to rest on your laurels, play safe, and continue to do what one has been told you do best. Davis (whom I consider to have been as important to jazz as Picasso was to art) outgrew himself at an alarming rate throughout his career, leaving audiences behind. I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing in five years time. To this end, a note to myself:

9.30 am: The morning was set aside for writing. I could conduct sound work in the afternoon and evening sessions.

In translating a text that was written to be read alongside a multi-media PowerPoint presentation into a read-only text with static illustrations, compromises are made. (In the background, Fredrick Delius’ Two Aquarelles (1932).) Ordinarily, I’d rewrite the text from the ground up. Time, troubles, and competing priorities have robbed me of that option on this occasion. I need to prune away 1,500 words from the original manuscript. If I can, then, it probably means they weren’t necessary in the first place. (Sigh!)

1.30 pm: A quick to-and-fro between homebase and the School before settling to an afternoon of noisesomeness. In between bouts of understanding > devising > acting > reacting, I made some final adjustments to my plugboard. These changes were of an aesthetic, rather than of a functional, nature:

I needed a recording of an unstretched click of a tone-arm drop in order to ignite my bomb:

I listened again to tape recordings of nuclear detonations in the USA during the 1950s. My aim was not to replicate the effect but, rather, to render the characteristic components and timing of the event.

6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: On to the post-detonation tail of the composition. Presently, I have little idea how far there’s to go in bringing the piece to resolution.

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