Sunday, August 26, 2018

New jazz perspectives.

Simon Ensor
Susan Watson

What's the connection?

At first sight there appears little in common between the two images shown above.  

To understand the connection between the two you will need some back-story. 

Back story to the connection.

As mentionned before, I have been tagging along with Connected Learning MOOC, and their daily doodling prompts,  

Susan Watson, the artist of the second image above is one of the leading co-learners and facilitators. 

Without her and other key people (who and what is key fluctuates), who participate in different online spaces at different rhythms, with different objectives, and different perspectives, I wouldn't be learning what I am learning at the moment.  

There are moments of distance from what others are doing, of apparent disconnection, of fatigue, demoralisation, boredom and then quite unpredictably moments of rapid progress.

I have found the same in learning languages, you can imagine that you will never ever understand a thing, that you will never be able to speak.

Given sufficient motivation, drive, urgency, given people around you to learn with, to support and encourage, given sufficient time invested in failing, failing, failing better, you suddenly realise that you are in a different place altogether. 

Learning ain't linear.

So here's the connection:

Over the past few days, I have gradually been discovering new perspectives. 

Indeed, it is this key concept which connects the two afore-mentionned images.

I had noticed a post of Susan's on Facebook which mentionned the word "perspective."

"Am not sure what part me seeing your work with Perspective has inspired me to go back to basics which I never worked at 🙂 Thank you"

I had also started following artists on Instagram to alter my attention feed.

Some of the artists' work appears formulaic and soul-less, they appear to weaponise technique.

I feel myself impressed by their photorealistic productions but left cold.

Where is the emotion? 
Where is the human? 

I find myself coming back to a conversation with Susan on Facebook.

Both of us are at a point where we are looking to go beyond what comes easily.

In my case, I can doodle and scribble and app smash to effect but I feel myself disatisfied with my technical limits. Susan was working on a big project and found herself limited technically. We found ourselves brought together. 

this is how connected learning works 🙂 Started looking at online resources. Find this guy very clear https://www.youtube.com/user/LighterNoteProd

I had always looked to safeguard my childish soul and independence.

I note here a conversation with my daughter.

She came to draw a lantern with me. 

She looked at her rapidly drawn lantern and then mine and said:

"Your's is really good."



Her frustration at not doing a "good drawing" damped her enthusiasm there and then.

She wasn't ready to give up her child's perspective, her independence.

She would much rather have drawn a unicorn with rainbow colours...

I remember getting bored at the still lives we had been asked to draw at school.

Bloody still life...more like dead life...

I had been unready to work on repetitive practice of perspective at school. 

Art had little by little become another school subject.

Furthermore, any joy of artful expression had been quelled by their insistence on "sensible" career choices and time tables.

No, you would do better to work on more "academic subjects" they said.

I felt, over the years, a dull thudding of regret. 

It had only been in Mr Edwards (if I remember his name) classes where we were left to our devices, and nurtured by Led Zeppelin.

He understood where it was at.

(I note a resonance of Howard Rheingold's story of school and the art classes taught by his mother.)

The rest of school was often times: do the exercise, do the test, do the exam...for marks.

FUCK MARKS...

Another riff: escaping echo chambers, halls of mirrors....

Academic feeds on Twitter have felt to me more and more about  reputation economy management and less and less about learning these days, more and more about Western perspective economics...

But, what's the connection?

I find myself noting: 

"Do we need to bow down to peer reviewed and anointed experts, or search...for personal perspectives...for recognisable wisdom?"

I think of our social media environment...our galleries...

From Twitter's, Instagram's/Facebook's/Google's business perspective model the quality of the content is secondary to the capture of attention...and the cash that comes from it.

If shit captures attention and shit is cheap then shit it will be....

If sufficient numbers of people like, share, buy into shit then shit it will be.

If sufficient numbers of academics cite your shit then shit it will be.

If sufficient numbers of key academics cite your shit then your shit is recognised.

If sufficient numbers of art collectors buy into your shit then your shit is recognised and your market value goes up.

Quantity of tweets, that is to say the frequency with which tweets are made is key.

Quantity of articles published, that is to say the frequency with which articles are published is key.

Quantity of pictures on the market with a high market value is key.

It's academic my dear AK.

A conversation with my friend Apostolos the other day about PHD's confirmed to me..again...the sterility of much of that world. 

Repetitive technique...no soul.

Produce what sells...

AK was talking about a conversation with a supervisor who had noted a lack of "recognised references" to "key academics". It all seems more about paying tribute in some sort of feudal kingdom. 

A conversation with my friend Sarah about academic voice led to a call to Nick Sousanis for support.






The fact that Nick's wonderful, ground-breaking thesis, "Unflattering" was drawn connects here...

A look at Nick's technical brilliance in "Unflattering" is a tribute to time, attention, talent, independent research and personal inspiration.

No slavish, soulless academic pandering there.

The human shines out.

All that jazz...

So the prompt from the daily doodle was "jazz". 

Jazz is the name of our dog.

I didn't feel any inspiration to start drawing a dog...again.


I didn't feel any inspiration to start drawing a saxophist either. 

I was much too much taken up with failing to draw rectangles - boxes, cupboards, trunks, boxes, televisions, tables, boxes, et al in perspective.

BOXES, BOXES, BOXES...!

I found an artist's grid app to put on my phone.

I worked and worked at finding the right angles, the right lines.

I went and found a couple of Youtube tutorials to learn to get my boxes drawn with perspective.





I worked and worked repetitively at drawing and redrawing boxes, cupboards, books.

One might even say that the work and the research was academic...

I think back to my child self...

He would have found it all terribly boring.

Jazz, Prog Rock, and Punk

The thought of jazz made me curious about the music.

For many listeners jazz can sound strange, improvisations, dischords may challenge.

For other listeners, jazz can sound academic, intellectual, opaque.

Being of that generation in the late seventies, I remember Emerson Lake and Palmer.

I have to admit to having bought records of "prog-rock" - hours of twiddling, pomp, and pretention.

Camel, Yes (oh no), Genesis, (at its worst), Rick Wakemen and his seven wives...and seventy keyboards.

I thought about the extraordinary technique behind the best playing of jazz, progressive rock.

Hour upon hour of practice.

THEN THERE WAS PUNK and TWO TONE.

In an instant, the twiddling and twaddling, hobbits and fairies gave way to ...

ANARCHY and GHOST TOWN.

BUT THEN THERE HAD BEEN JAZZ.

I went and found some information about the history of jazz and found an article:

You will be shot: Five ways jazz can be punk.

"Jazz is a sponge for outside sounds. Add another idea to it — say, European classical or gospel-inflected R&B music — and it absorbs, assimilating the sound into a new subgenre: like "third stream" or "soul jazz," respectively. Wring it out, and its own improvisatory essence remains in the mix.
It's hard to imagine something that could be further in sound and structure from jazz than punk rock, but punk and jazz do have elements in common — the most important being attitude. Whether it came from the boundary-pushing free jazz of the late '50s or the experimental electronic sounds of the late '60s and '70s, the spirit of adventure, creativity and thumbing one's nose at "the rules" has always been a part of jazz's historical trajectory."
Jazz and Basquiat...

I find myself thinking back to my Facebook conversation with Susan.

Jazz impro without technique very limited 🙂 Contrasting Punk and Classical/Academic. Basquiat and Rembrandt 🙂

I went and did a bit of research into Basquiat.

At first sight, there doesn't seem too much connection between his work and jazz.

I would have thought about hip hop, street influences...

But...

Bowie, Bach and Bebop: How Music Powered Basquiat

If ever there were sponges it would be Bowie and ...Basquiat.


"When Basquiat was around, she recalled, “music was playing all the time.”

On Thursday, the exhibition “Basquiat: Boom for Real” opened at the Barbican Center in London. The show focuses on the artist’s relationship to music, text, film and television. But it is jazz — the musical style that made up the bulk of Basquiat’s huge record collection — that looms largest as a source of personal inspiration to him and as a subject matter."



"Basquiat’s tastes were eclectic: Curtis Mayfield, Donna Summer, Bach, Beethoven, David Byrne, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Public Image Ltd.’s “Metal Box” album."



"Basquiat was especially devoted to bebop, the restlessly inventive genre typified by the likes of Parker, Davis, Ornette Coleman and Thelonious Monk. Basquiat’s love of bebop fueled his art, said Eleanor Nairne, co-curator of “Boom for Real.”



“Bebop was quite an intellectual movement,” she said. “It was also quite iconoclastic in wanting to break away from these older jazz harmonies. That idea of a kind of rupture, and of these musicians who were very young, vibrant powerful forces; there were lots of parallels he found with his own work and life.”



"The multifaceted nature of the scene gave Basquiat license to crisscross artistic forms on the way to developing his own style."



What is the connection?

"Connected learning combines personal interests, supportive relationships, and opportunties. It is learning in an age of abundant access to information and social connection that embraces the diverse backgrounds and interests of all young people."



"The research is clear: Learning is irresistable and life-changing when it connects personal interests to meaningful relationships and realworld opportunity."



"Learning is motivating when it grows out of personal interest. A growing body of research indicates that interest helps us pay attention, make connections, persist and engage in deeper learning."

Footnotes.

Like the succession of boxes, I will come back and study my scribbling here with new eyes.

I have already come back and cut and edited a bit.

We are constantly redrawing our lines.

I won't try to hide it.

I always preferred annotated artist's sketch books to uncontextualised finished "masterpieces" floating on a gallery wall.



















Thursday, August 23, 2018

A vine branches wildly...

This year in CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) I have been tagging along with the doodling in July and August.

What I like about it is the low stress challenge of regularly creating some sort of artistic image which is shared with others in the community.

In past editions I have taken time to explore digital image manipulation applications or digital drawing/painting applications.

This year I started concentrating on finding the limits of what I could draw with my fingers on an iPhone and then playing digitally with resulting output.

Generally speaking such "creations" are very fast. A few seconds or a few minutes of scribbling on a screen and then I share.

Speed in a sense was of essence...

Then I got fed up with the facility of it all.

If, actually drawing on a small screen with a finger isn't that easy - it's fiddly, it's quick to get effect.

I got fed up of fiddling and then swiping and clicking.

If "connected", it felt like I was disconnected from the world around.

Is that what being in jail feels...I wonder.

Are we being fiddled for effect?

Quick sale...long retraction...

Clearing out the cellar

We were clearing out the cellar.

I came across an old artist's box which was falling to bits and covered with dust. I repaired it's warped veneer, sharpened a couple of ancient pencils, tried to soften up the paint brushes, inspected the pastels, looked wistfully at the child's watercolor set and sat down in the garden to draw a vine.

That vine attracted me on a number of levels: its form, its colour, its texture, its history, its rootedness.

A vine branches wildly.

I got taken up in the intricacy of the vine's winding, I found myself drawing and redrawing its elipses, eyeing up its angles, and got altogether wound up in how the vine had grown.

It doesn't look much of a drawing but I spent a fair old time in communion with that familiar yet unfamiliar plant.

I could have photographed it in an instant and ignored it.



I would have had no relationship with it to talk about.

I realise what I have been missing in recent times.

I had serious longterm relationships with trees, rocks and mountains.

I would lose myself exploring their textures with my fingers.

We had history.

That beaten up artist's box...

I would lose myself for hours drawing on scraps of paper, smudging the charcoal, the pastels, the pencil shading.

Art, I feel, is an intimate relationship with one's surroundings, with one's fellow beings.

Finally it's only when one really loses oneself a good while that one may find oneself.

I came back and redrew the shape of the trunk (does one say trunk for a vine?) out of pleasure for its form.


I came back and started a close study of its offshoots, its cracks, its cut and tutored branches.

After a few minutes the heat of the sun forced me to seek shade.

Sun-lounger, feeling the heat...

I turned my attention to a turquoise cushion and orange towel on a sun lounger.

It was the colour which got me, the colour and the light, then the cushioning.

The child's watercolour set was set awash with wet brush.

I rediscovered the care one must take with the flow of water, gravity, pigment intensity.

I rediscovered the joy of scribble, shade, smudge, time, taking time.


Whilst the digital gives me rapid effect, the old artist's box brings me affect.

I feel my breath, a little breeze behind me and I pause for thought.



Touched by vines, cushions, sun on my back, my daughter sitting over there on a sofa, I am given time to contemplate....

From clicks to contemplation.





Saturday, August 18, 2018

Screen captures freedom.



"The time to hesitate is through
No time to wallow in the mire
Try now we can only lose
And our love becomes a funeral pyre."

The Doors.


SCREEN CÄPTURES FREEDOM.







HUNGER.

HUNGER FOR KNOWLEDGE.

DEFINE KNOWLEDGE.



HUNGER.

HUNGER FOR KNOWLEDGE.

KNOWLEDGE OF HUNGER.

HUNGER IS NO RHETORIC!

HUNGER DEFINES ACTION.

SCREEN CAPTURES FREEDOM

I am working on finding my path through a page to freedom.

SCREEN CAPTURES FREEDOM

HELPLESS?
HOPELESS?

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE?

CAPTURE DEFINES ACTION.
HUNGER DEFINES ACTION.

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends."
Martin Luther King

Reflecting on < What "decolonised education" should and shouldn't mean < and could mean.




EDUCATION? WHAT EDUCATION?




EDUCATION MAY DEFINE INACTION.
EDUCATION MAY DEFY INACTION.

LINES OF FLIGHT....

LINES OF FLIGHT STUCK TO FLY PAPER?

CAPTURED IN LIGHT?

FLIGHT? LIGHT CONSUMED? FUTILE CONSUMERS ALL!

EDUCATION WHAT EDUCATION?

SCREEN CAPTURES FREEDOM TO QUESTION.



SCREEN CAPTURE DEFINES ACTION




KNOWLEDGE OF HUNGER DEFINES ACTION.
KNOWLEDGE OF INACTION DEFINES HUNGER.




SCREEN RAPTURE DEFINES ACTION




LINES OF FLIGHT STUCK TO FLY PAPER

What will they be when we are all stuck?

They will be stuck.

They will be struck down long before.

SCREEN CAPTURE 

20 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.

HAVE FAITH! FAITH PLAGUES THEM.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail.”

BUZZ.

AGAINST ODDS

BUZZ.
BUZZ.

SO COUNT, COUNT.

HAVE FAITH! FAITH PLAGUES THEM!

Against their odds.

FAITH CONSUMED?

They would have us consumed.

They would have us consumed in their neon, their néant...

HAVE FAITH! FAITH PLAGUES THEM!

They would have us dumb.
They would have us meek.

SEEK AND YE SHALL FIND.

EDUCATION? WHAT EDUCATION?

ASH, DUST, DUSTED

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.
Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19 the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.

So go on,
COUNT
COUNT.

SIRE, MY LORD, YER HONOUR.

ASH, DUST, DUSTED
.

LET THEM LIE.
LET THEM ROT.
BE NOT AFRAID.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE?
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.

CONSUMED IN OUR PYRE.
RIVER FLOWS, FLOWS IRK, FLOWS MIRK, FLOWS NOT.
DESERTS US, JUST DESERTS, OUR DESERTS, THEIR DESERTS, JUST DESERTS.




UNLOCKE FREEDOM.