Thursday, August 6, 2009

May 1 - Change of direction

It's the first day of a new month and I've learned that the approach I adopted for this project isn't working for me. Before I launched into my "Learn Something New Every day" project I thought it would be easy to learn something and create a new artwork from it every day for a whole year. Others told me I was mad but I insisted that it would be easy.

The idea to blog the learning process and then create the artwork from that seemed to be an efficient way to go and, for a time, this was true. Until I got stuck, that is.

In February I was working on a scrapbook album for my Dad's 90th Birthday. Part of it was to produce four pages about his war service and it became a fascinating learning process for me. He fought against the Russians in the Second World War and it had been such a traumatic time that he didn't speak of it until fairly recently. For the album he wrote 12 pages for me and that's when I found out what it had been like for him. To honour his war service I spent a good deal of time on the pages and this halted my work on the blog. Also, I used the work from the scrapbook pages in my "Learn.." book so for a long time it was stuck at that point.

So, by the end of February my good intentions for my project had gone off the rails already and it all got away from me and I started to fall further and further behind with it. So I had to alter the process in some way or give it up entirely.

The solution came with the addition of just two words. In the introduction of my book I've written that it's about 365 things I learned in 2009, to which I've added "and beyond". With these words I've given myself permission to finish the 365 things over a longer period of time, so that's what I'm now going to do. Beginning in May I'll add as many entries as I can for that month, and so on. What a relief it is to allow myself to change my mind about something. It doesn't happen all that often and I think it should become a habit to avoid the stress I put myself under.

Yay! I feel so much better about it now.

April 30 - The internet of things

This is Joe Pemberton's photo from today's Future Tense. The article was about the internet of things. Anthony Funnell's introduction went like this -

"Imagine your toaster has an inbuilt computer and it can speak to your fridge. Now imagine your fridge talking to the computer at your local shopping centre. All without your involvement. More and more everyday objects are becoming internet connected. So are we about to witness a new phase for the internet? An internet where objects, not people, communicate: 'an internet of things'"

The idea is that you can put intelligent microchips into everything now, including people, and this means that if those chips are wirelessly connected to the internet then you can track them wherever they go. Interesting, but scary in a way. It solves the problem of stolen goods because they can never disappear, so that's a good thing, but I'd be interested to know what life would be like with everything sending out "I'm here! I'm here!" signals to everything else.

Perhaps convergence is a good thing to a certain point only. I guess we'll see when it starts to happen, then we can decide whether we like it or not.

April 29 - Stitches and Craft

This is the ATC I made for this month's swap. As I thought back on the sewing and craft projects I've worked on over the years I realised that the drive to do this is in my blood.

My mother is a tailor and from a very early age I was taught how to sew. My sisters and I used to sew clothes for our dolls from patterns that my mother drafted for us. I don't even remember learning it and it seems that I have always just known how to sew. When I had my first sewing lesson at school I knew it all already but didn't know how I did.

I think it's a really good thing for young children to spend time playing with and working on craft projects. Who knows what genius ideas may come out of a basic knowledge of manipulating objects and learning how to connect things?

April 28 - These Boots

I made this art piece for an exhibition a while ago. The show was called "These Boots" and the brief was to make a piece by altering a pair of shoes/boots so they tell a story.

For the piece I wrote this story and attached it to the back of the box they were displayed in. The story was this -

"These Boots had an identity crisis from the very beginning. It wasn’t just that they wanted to be something else, they also wanted to think outside the square and that wasn’t easy.
It was the postcard that finally did it. Just an innocent-looking thing that arrived one sunny spring afternoon. These boots had been relatively happy until that moment. Well, at least they thought so. The postcard was from a friend travelling around the world. It smelled of exotic, faraway places and hinted at new worlds and new ways of thinking. It spoke of freedom.
Freedom had been just another word until that moment but now it brought about alteration and innovation. It was the reason behind the whole redecoration thing and influenced the new designs and textures that now emerged. The designs and desires had been there all along, really. They’d just been hidden behind a facade of conservatism. A facade that had been broken down on that sunny spring afternoon by the idea of freedom.

From that moment on creativity had emerged and made itself known. That creativity provided the energy for the painting and beadwork that adorned the previously conservative boots.
Freedom of speech also emerged during this time. Long-repressed ideas and opinions sought a way out from the dungeons of the mind. The boots discovered how easy it was to express feelings and thoughts. Thoughts about the meaning of life and the nature of time and many other things cascaded from a mind that had been freed from its imprisonment.
Life is all about creation. In every moment of every day we are creating the reality we see. What we see is what we expect to see as a result of our conditioning and environment. We see with our brain, not our eyes. The eyes are just the way we capture information for our brain to process. The world we create for ourselves is totally personal and unique. Just like these boots."

I had a lot of fun making the piece and just today I found it in the corner of my studio. It looks a bit worn and sad and insects have made a home in them. I realised that the boots had embarked on a new journey - this time the inevitable process of decay that is a fact of life itself. The cycle of life.

As everything else, art is ephemeral.

April 27 - memory and the brain

My brain is an incredible tool. It processes billions of bits of information from multiple sources every moment of every day, and it does this automatically. I don't have to consciously monitor its functions to ensure that it works perfectly and it does a fabulous job in performing the things it's meant to do.

Inputs to the brain functions come from multiple sources - sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, all of the body's internal organs, the nervous system and the rest of the body's structural systems AS WELL AS my thoughts. Whatever I think in every given moment will affect how my brain directs its internal orchestra.

For example, I'm in a cinema and watching a scary movie. One of the actors is hiding behind a tree in a dark forest waiting for the bad guy to find him. It's a tense and nervous moment and I can feel my heart beating quickly and my breath becomes shallow and rapid and only returns to normal when the situation returns to normal and all is well. My body went into "fight or flight" mode because of my thoughts, not because of something that was actually happening. This is the power of my brain.

So, whether I'm consciously aware of it or not, my brain is reacting to my thoughts every moment of every day because that's what it's programmed to do. Therefore, if I spend most of my time consumed by thoughts of anxiety then my brain will translate those thoughts into action in my body and, perhaps, tense up my shoulders and neck to reflect those thoughts of anxiety. Make sense?

So here's my light bulb moment for today.

For some time now I've been complaining about my memory and how I don't remember things and of course my brain has been politely making this so all along. BUT there are some things I always remember without any effort at all (like the fact that DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid) and I'm good with phone numbers. So the "I'm not good at remembering things" is not a rule at all. It's become a belief simply because I keep on thinking it and telling people about it.

So if a belief is just a thought I keep thinking then it stands to reason that if I now replace that original thought with this one "My memory is perfect and I can recall all relevant facts whenever I need to" and if I keep thinking it then it will become my belief and, hey presto, my brain will comply and make it so.

Here's to my brainy conductor leading my internal orchestra in playing a new tune!

April 26 - Bilbao

Bilbao in Spain featured on Artscape. Frank Gehry's Guggenheim museum was praised for it's design and visual appeal.

I looked Gehry up on Google and found that he has some detractors who say that: the buildings waste structural resources by creating functionless forms; the buildings are apparently designed without accounting for the local climate; the spectacle of a building often overwhelms its intended use, especially in the case of museums and arenas; the buildings do not seem to belong in their surroundings "organically"; the buildings are often unfriendly towards disabled people. The Art Gallery of Ontario, for example, had most ramps removed at Gehry's behest, making it very difficult to navigate.

I think I'd have to agree with Gehry's detractors because whilst the Guggenheim Museum looks interesting I expect it took a lot of tricky engineering in it's contruction and also caused a lot of waste in resources.

Gehry has been described as "the one-trick pony" and an "auto-plagiarist", referring to the fact that a lot of his buildings are similar in style, as you can see in the images below.

April 25 - Anzac Day

Australia and New Zealand commemorate the ANZAC Day holiday on 25 April every year to remember members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who landed and fell at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

In 1951, Australian and Turkish Soldiers came together for the first time after World War I. It was the Korean War and this time they were allies. In the first year of the war in the lead up to ANZAC Day they planned a shared commemoration. Members of the Turkish brigade were to meet up with the 3rd battalion but unfortunately on the night of the 24th the Battle of Cap Yong started and the 3rd battalion were committed to that battle as were the Turkish brigade elsewhere. Even though this joint commemoration in 1951 didn’t take place the idea was not forgotten and two years after the end of the Korean war to the sound of Turkish bugles, they finally realised their dream to commemorate Anzac Day together. We have been allies since.

Since 1998 the Turks have been permitted to march in the Anzac day parade. You can read more about this in the Compass archives at -