Sunday, September 20, 2020

Guitars, Starflight, Covid Art

A very busy day today. I started by updating my website and working on the release of The Ingangible Man, and preparing the Kindle version. This is now in review and will be released this week. Then I recorded a new video of a poetry reading for Nantwich Library and National Poetry day 2020 which is on October 1st.

Then re-stringing my Yamaha acoustic guitar, which still sounds amazing and lovely. It wasn't an expensive guitar but it's amazing how each guitar can sound so very different from each other, and I've been lucky with this one. I hardly ever play it, but it's good to have. It's a strange fact that guitarists, electric guitarists, tend to have lots of guitars. It's easy to think that another new shiny and beautiful guitar will help one play better. Of course, there are often differences in sound between guitars, but this is often very slight; at least, if you find a good one, there's generally little reason to keep an inferior one, yet there seems to be an element of wanting a new guitar every so often, that its grass is greener. Every guitarist I know has about eight guitars.

In the afternoon I listened to an Art and Ideas podcast about the Radiophonic Workshop. I'm reminded that I've programmed all opf my music software, so like those pioneers and too few artists today, I at least create my own sound from my own tools. I also compiled a new video of Radioactive for possible Chinese competitive use, and finalised the Starflight video.

It takes some segments directly from Trax but intermixes these with some footage of rockets and bacteria and Venus, overall adding something a new, and even the borrowed parts do the job of complementing the music. I'm unsure if this is sufficiently good enough, different enough, for me. I'll muse on it a while. I must, at least, analyse and list how anything can be done better next time, how it can be improved. This is an essential part of getting better at anything, and my daily painting diaries were and art essential to learning there. We must be hard on ourselves; inventive, and rigourous, but not so hard that we seize up and stop. Ultimately this is an old tune from my electronic days so the video is less important to the world than it is to me.

I'm feeling newly reborn and energised, full of ideas and the will to create, too much. I'm wrestling with anxieites and over-energy, hardly sleeping. The ressurgent Covid-19 situation is worrying too. The news is best avoided, yet I want to say something on it, surely must, as an artist, but it still feels too strong. Surrealism is certain to become popular when Covid-19 is past; I must be there for it, but people want escapism in bad times, and psychoanalysis in good times.

Onward we roll our rock. On we battle, march, sing, play, with increasing joy and optimism.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Starflight to Venus

After feeling tired for most of yesterday I decided to take a brisk walk in the evening and refocus my art mind, and returned full of new found optimism.

Quik Internet added a new security certificate to my websites, so for the first time they are 'https' friendly. This wasn't really ever a security issue, but in recent years it's become one by consensus, and browsers are increasingly warming users at the so-called lack of security from a plain 'http' connection. This is all broadly meaningless, I cynically think it's a way for the tech companies to make money rather than anything to do with actual security. In computers there is nothing completely secure, but, these standards are increasingly forced upon us. At least now sales from my website and IndieSFX should be simpler; that is people buying can feel more confident in their security (it was secure anyway, my PayPal and MyCommerce gateways were always https).

I made some plans:

1. I vowed to change my name when my passport expires and would like a dwarf dressed as the pope to confer this and to bless Deborah and I in a special ceremony.
2. A new video for Starflight, that should complete a recent pile of videos for older music.
3. A new listing for The Intangible Man. I've added this to Smashwords now. These days bnook launches are not instant or planned but gradually creep across distributors. The official launch is, will be, next week.
4. New updates to my website for licnecing artwork (yes, you can have a Mark Sheeky painting on yout album cover!)
5. A new wig liner! I have lots of wigs for theatrical use, but for the bare head these are itchy and horrid to wear. This is a solution. I have a mind to wear wigs more; inspired by seeing (of all people) Bobby Ball who would look almost like he did in 30 years ago were it not for his hair.
6. I will record a video poem for World Poetry Day.

I slept and dreamed, first, of being chased by death, a skeletal being on horseback, through a forest. I awoke. I slept again, more peacefully, and dreamed of making a strange device; a tiny electric motor powered by batteries and with long spiralling wires. For some reason, Mick Hucknell was there to witness me complete this. He touched it to his (oddly full and permed) beard and it set fire to it and his face.

I started today by beginning work on the Starflight video, which borrows a lot from the Trax video, as planned; a lot of the mood is the same. I've added elements of biological life on Venus to it.

I felt oddly downbeat in the morning and attended to my correspondance. I watched a great explaination of entropy by Dr. Brian Cox. I wondered if eating low entropy food, that is plants and animals further up the food chain; algae, herbivores vs. carniviores, fresh foods, would limit entropic growth in our bodies and therefore extend life. I mused if perhaps eating beetles and spiders, like Dracula's servant, Renfield, would indeed grant more life!

I have a big list if changes to make to Argus, but I'll do this after the Starflight video.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Music Video Musing

Have converted and uploaded the Trax video today, and finished an edit of The Enigma of the Two Heads for the Magicland Mermaid tune, but I'm not very happy with it so won't release it. I've had a sharply paintful migraine today for many hours, at my left temple, and it's sapped my strength today.

I've also released The Intangible Man on Smashwords, so on eBook across several platforms. I think I'll try this rather than make it exclusive to Kindle. It will take a week or few days to appear anywhere. I plan on releasing the print version next Friday. I expect that, like The Burning Circus, a book of which I'm pleased with and proud of, nobody will notice. This is the story of all of the art I make, but I continue to do my best to make what I do as good as I can, and to analyse and improve. I am reminded that my parents trained me to avoid and ignore the world as they ignored me.

I'm unsure what to do next. I'm pleased with the recent few videos, and wonder if I should do more for older, existing tracks like Starflight, or Pandora. These are fine tunes, but I wonder what is the motivation for making these old videos? Essentially it is to gain experience of creating new videos. The newer albums, Burn of God etc. would probably benefit from new videos purely to promote the music.

I feel very tired today, like being trapped in a library of books on the floor and in the wrong order, faced with an insurmountable Sisyphean task. I feel like a boxer at the end of a fight, that the world is an eternal match to be played until death by exhaustion. I could make new videos and sort out any current ones for weeks or months for no reason except my satisfaction.

But, isn't that the way with art anyway? The videos don't particularly feel expressive or particularly personally satisfying, but perhaps they can be, and some so indeed show off new things, things only my software and thus self can do. Also, anything made, shown and done is a contribution to the universe. The boxer who punches the very floor of the ring is doing something; alive, defiant.

At some point I must get back to music and completing the albums in progress. That would feel more like art.

Perhaps the logical course is set a reasonable limit of older videos, complete those, then move on.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Finishing Trax

I awoke before 7 and completed the Trax video today, the more I watch it, the more I like it. I also started to edit together a video for Magicland Mermaid. The day has flown by as a result. My plan was to make at least a video, ideally two, per old album and perhaps I could say I have made enough now, although there are always more to do. I can find it hard to stop. Certainly, I'm learning with each one; that never ends, so I might keep pushing until I can push no more. This is perhaps my life mantra.

I've felt tired and even weak today and had a few long periods of just doing nothing but resting, which is highly unusual for me. I realised today that I haven't painted since Cat died, and that I started shortly after we found her. I wonder if, when, I'll love painting again... of course I will. I had hoped to enter The Discerning Eye, perhaps I will with older work, or perhaps finish the one painting of 2020; I have a few in half stages anyway, even last year's Oliver Cromwell painting.

On we push. I rather like this Sisyphean mood, it is the artists' way. The artists philosophy is exactly mine, stoicism with a soupcon of Catholicism for its aesthetic and ritualistic qualities.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Trax Video

Deb is on holiday so we've spent a nice few days catching up with friends in gardens.

I've managed to start work on a new video in-between, for Trax, one of the most electronic sounding tunes of my entire musical ouvre. The video is a high speend flight through space and the sky, made by patching togethr various zooming effects. It looks pretty, and very artificial and digital, which suits the music. At times I thought it looked too much like a game of Wipeout, too pin-ball, too computerised, but then then music is too, and it's hard to really insert some real-world elements without those seeming somehow artificial.

This way of working; tinkering with effects until I make something that looks good, can work and is valid but I generally prefer to have the idea first and then create the images to fit that. The tinkering option is like a band creating music by jamming and experimenting in the studio (many great albums are made this way, like a lot of Genesis' work, for example). Why do I prefer to start with an idea? Perhaps because the instant of idea somehow feels more authentic, an instant 'genuine' reaction to the music... as though tinkering with the images first could somehow contaminate the idea... but perhaps that's wrong because a music video is also something of a dialogue with the music.

The analogue in painting though is painting without a plan, seeing how the picture evolves, vs. a detailed plan. Now, in paint, the latter often looks better but only because I'm a planned and meticulous oil painter who paints in layers... in terms of creativity, the former is often more creative, more free... odd how this feels more authentic here, yet seems less in music or film. Perhaps both are equally valid.

Apart from pretty colours, pretty lights, and effects there is not much to this video. Its pace and feeling matches the music well; the finale is more intense visually as the music is musically, and the time rockets by, it's stimulating, exciting, a rip-roaring ride. Part of me wants some intellectual content; that it is 'about something' or there there are characters or a story... but, then, some of my videos are like that already, and perhaps variety is good because it pushed us into new areas. There is room for abstract work, images that create a feeling with lights, colours, geometry. Perhaps this video is something like a digital Rothko.

It's more unified than The Dance of Summer. I'm still not quite happy with the unity of that video. I can see good parts in it, but it feels somehow disjointed and arbitrary. I keep tihnking of revisiting it and regret rushing it out.

I'll keep working on Trax. I expect this video will take the rest of the week to complete. I also hope to make another for the tune Magic Mermaidland as an edit of the surreal film The Enigma of the Two Heads. The Pandora video however can wait... with Trax I will learn and have learned a few more tricks to make any future videos easier. Here's a look at frame 666 of Trax so far:

Monday, September 14, 2020

Pandora Walls, Migraine

A slow day yesterday after a night of long sleep and a dream of making a YouTube video which exploded with popularity. I spent all day thinking about how to create a video for Pandora.

I listened to a BBC radio documentary about Jodorowski, and watched some music videos to fill my visual mind. I watched one of the recently screened Battlestar Galactica, and mused more, noting the structure of the music, working on its main feeling of growth, building, climbing, triumph. I rested in the dark to think of these things but still hadn't settled on a key idea. I went out for a walk to meet Deb and watched some more. Then I noticed that I couldn't see properly, that I had blind spots which seemed to be growing, some sort of migraine. All day I felt very tired, semi-sleepy.

I've been wrestling with a video for Pandora for years, perhaps it's the lack of narrative in the music, but also, I want to push and make something better each time, yet this stops me from making anything at all at the moment.

There's no benefit to fighting a wall and getting nowhere, I must make some small steps each day. The problem needs tackling, but a lot can happen in the background. I've spent today working on the ebook for The Intangible Man. I'll probably release the book at the end of this month.

Yesterday's migraine didn't cause a headache at first but it evolved into a mild one in a specicific location which seemed to hurt in pulses if I coughed or lay down. It is still there but very mild, it feels like eye strain or something like it. Must try to pull back and think of new areas to explore. I feel like I'm in a fog and in need of a new challenge. I've made five music videos recently, I'd like to make five more for music from older albums but they would have to be good artworks in their own right. There's no point in putting any old video to any old tune.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Delamere Forest, Lost Child

A relative day off today, a trip to Delamere Forest and I saw my first natural lizard, a Common Lizard, a tiny grey slither of a thing in a wonderful heatherland which was filled with many flying insects. A dragonfly landed on me and seemed quite at ease, they seemed so tame.

Most of the pipe work on the house is done, I've managed to move the piano back and have played guitar a little. I've also made a simple video to accomapany Lost Child from Stupid Computer Music, partly because it's a simple piece of music with a strong mood and I had an idea for a video related to the Ultramarine and Islands of Memory videos.

Friday, September 11, 2020

New Islands of Memory

Two good days. I had a full day yesterday steadily working on a new video for Islands of Memory, a lovely relaxing tune from Synaesthesia. Years ago I made a video for this, just after I made Challenger, and it was very similar to that, but that video didn't exist in high definition, and also the bright colours and technological-look didn't suit the music as well as it did for Challenger. I thought about doing a new high definition remake, so I began with the idea of memory and images looming out of a fog. The key with these videos is to consider how it makes you feel and what the feelings mean, from that a story can be made.

The video starts in a sepia mist, the mist of time, we could be in a brain. Images fade into existence and out again like shadows along a ghostly pathway. The storyboard called for silhouettes but I quickly thought that real old photographs would be much more evocative, and be much more visually interesting, so I assembled 37 or so, a timeline from my past from childhood to now. I added some sparks of light when the pizzicato strings appear, and some shapes of green light to correspond with the main lead; this is an echo of the first version.

As the colour scheme was broadly a coffee-fog sort of brown, I thought of my old digital images for palette guidance, like Sardt below; lights of green and pink which seemed to work better than blues.

The intro needed something, so I added a glowing embryo which seemed to match the angelic voices which appear.

Finally, I thought of a finishing touch. The video fades to darkness, as the music fades to peace, but I thought it would be nice to add an element of afterlife or rebirth, as this fits the next track in the album, so I added a tiny twinkling speck of a distant star, tantalising us in the distance. A few millisecs before the end it shoots forwards to emblazon the screen with pure white.

I'm really pleased with it all so far. I've made some program changes to Argus too, now on v1.07, all tweaks to make certain aspects easier. Here is a screenshot from the video. Each of the glowing objects is an instrument playing: