Saturday 29 May 2010

The Last Post

This is very probably the last post on this blog. The conversation will continue here.

The more I find out about the major companies behind the world wide web, the more suspicious I get, which, if you ignore the sadness of the situation - the promise of a free, open, critical and liberal internet being closed down - is also a perhaps a more informed and strategic place to be.

Because of this, I have started a blog on my own site called Binary Stumble, where I will continue the conversations and themes started here. As well as this, the blog will be a place to reflect on thoughts, research directions and passions that currently occupy me, from linux code to wild flowers.

This blog is also mirrored on the site of the organisation that made the residency possible: Radiator, so I feel good that the material is not solely in the hands of a major corporation.

So for now, I encourage all of you who have looked at this blog in the past and all that land here now, to follow me where I hope we can communicate more comfortably. See you there.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Watch this Space

Just to let everyone know that even though the residency is finished and I'm back home, I will be uploading more material from the last day.

But first I have a busy schedule, I have to finish this web site by the end of the week!

Thanks for your patience.

Sunday 21 March 2010

After the Last Walk

It's now the end of the residency and I'm typing this in the coffee shop opposite the hotel I've been staying in. It's very busy today in Hathersage, a sunny Spring Sunday certainly does attract people to this area. It seems that taking in the landscape is big business in post-industrial contemporary Britain.

I'm really pleased with the results of putting the webcam pointing upwards today and wish I could walk around longer to capture more frames. Like yesterday's downward pointing series, pointing upward is not only evocative of the light, weather and objects above my head as I walk, it gives me another insight into the landscape I was walking through, one that I am not capable of percieving easily.

Talking about this as capturing data is a troubling and interesting frame, what is called 'irritierend' in German, a false friend that means something milder than 'irritating'. I'm thinking of going home now to Berlin which is perhaps why I'm thinking of German words. I'm also looking back on these few days away and what I have learned about what I set myself to do and am trying to draw some conclusions.

I think that the good thing about sketching, analogue or digital, the journal or the blog, the drawing or the photograph, is that it builds up material that can be returned to later, much as in the working methods of the landscape painters I have been haunted by. I'm wondering what I will make of all the impressions and thoughts that have been racing through my mind and body while walking in the hills in a few weeks or months when I have some distance on it all. I can only hope that the blur of thoughts slow and distil into something more legible to me than at present.

I think that the extending of a digital practice into the landscape has been difficult, not just technologically (the screen is too dim in bright daylight, the equipment too susceptible to rain) but perhaps more interestingly, there is a conceptual difficulty: What DO you do with a laptop in the landscape? I get the impression that the walkers around me would think that taking a computer on a rural walk was perverse. The laptop is the very thing you are glad to leave behind, happy that its battery won't last and that there is no internet connection, happy to be at last detatched from the working world, free to roam in the fresh air. Perhaps because as an artist I don't have such a rigid division between work and life outside work, that I have the impulse to take my tools with me when I escape, in order to bring those impressions and experiences back and share them to another audience.

In this way, Going Solo has been more about getting work done than getting away from it all, or rather getting away from it all in order to work. I am only too aware that as I type this, a number of factors have conspired to make all this possible, Miles and Anette's tireless application-writing, organisation and fund-raising, my friends that are putting me up again tonight so that I can get to the airport early tomorrow morning, and above all, my partner who is looking after our daughter at home and whom I have been away from for the past week.

To all those people, I want to send a message of heartfelt thanks and to all those who read this blog, thank you for the attention that made me feel supported through this period of Going Solo.

Saturday 20 March 2010

The sun goes down on the Vernal Equinox

Instructions for sitting

The benches that I've passed today and yesterday, have all been put in places I don't want to stop. All of them seemed like a slightly military bark to stop there and look at Nature - 'It'll do you good'. I can't help associate them with the notion of the improving landscape that has its route in the period I'm interested in thinking about, the period of the construction of the modern idea of landscape and what to do in it. The thoughts that perhaps propelled those teenagers into the 'fresh air'. Thoughts I can't help thinking were not theirs, but their parents, perhaps now enjoying a few moments of quiet at home.

Not one of these benches had shelter over them, like the structure I fantasised I would find, a sort of bus shelter half way up a mountain. The strangest for me was the one I saw yesterday, by the side of a moderately busy road, placed up a bank, and overlooking a singularly unnoteworthy view of the blank heather hill opposite. It was dedicated to 'a local walker' but I can't help thinking he'd be a bit disappointed at its placement.

Thoughts I had to save for later

My walk today had a totally different character to yesterday. This had a lot to do with the weather and my choice of route to Bamford. I went on the "Derwent Valley Heritate Trail", the prominence of which on the map should have alerted me to it's popularity. At the start were clumps of goretexed teenagers bright as petrol station primulas, saying goodbye to their teachers/parents/scout leaders. Another group I passed, equipped for a hike up a mountain, rather than a stroll by a river, were being patronised by some sort of local area guide, who was asking just as I passed, "High Low [a local hill] - funny name, any ideas or comments?". I got a sympathetic "Hello" from one of the participants.

The upshot of all this, rainy weather, wet surfaces, followed by packs of walkers, was that there was nowhere I felt I could stop. It made me wonder what walkers and painters of old did - waited for better weather probably. Is it a function of our busy schedules that we go out in all weathers because we only have one shot at it? Perhaps that is a positive aspect of having to schedule things so tightly.

Another walk film

This time I put the web cam on the back of my rucksack, facing downwards.
I think it gives an even better impression of the walk than if it were pointing outwards