Saturday, 2 November 2013

Everything will be alright? What?!

Occasionally, just occasionally when I'm walking down the road I get the strangest feeling of blind optimism, that no amount of 21st century cynicism can kill. Which is nice. 

The odd feeling of potential and optimism  that everything will be alright and ill get there in the end. Of course it may well be the culmination of lots of small events put together. I think the fact that it's Saturday, it's sunny, I'm on holiday away from the toil of work, and I'm off to see my boyfriend who adores me and I feel like we have a secret which no one else knows between us and then were off for a weekend with one of my bestest friends of all my friends. That could be a slight factor. But there are a lot of things I would like to change about my life but it's nice to have the feeling every so often of freedom and fortune that I am young, free, in tied down and have a head full of ideas I want to make come true.

At the same time I can feel the pull of art school overthinking seeping in and trying to ignore it. Some things just should be enjoyed for what they are and not pulled apart into contextualised oblivion. After all, there are precious few moments of clarity and innocence left these days. 

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Just get on with it.....

So I was doing my web design course tonight, while watching Buffy and eating that new Cadbury's stuff with popping candy in it (fatal error) and I kept daydreaming and thinking I should update my blog, as it's been a while. I keep meaning to upload a sketch I did while travelling, in Nepal. It's one which is one of my favourites and took a fair while to draw and I couldn't think what to say about it. 

I like it anyway and I remember sitting on a hill, looking down at the market place, sat with my Danish friend Rikke and all the villagers kept hiking up this uber steep hill and occasionally would come over and stare at us and say something in Nepalese, as they tend to do. They must have wondered what the hell we were doing there, and why we were drawing - not much need for it in Solukhumbhu, it's all about necessity. We saw the high llama of the local monastery, who we'd had tea with and he came and said hello and we exchanged as much of our mutual languages as we could and smiled. There was an extremely old man leading up a line of over packed cows, who strolled up the incline like going down to the corner shop for a paper. (It was an hour and a half walk to the town from where we were staying!) Another guy, with a tiny cute baby stopped and spoke to us, he was a teacher, I recall and, as everyone, seemed to have some extremely specific link to why he spoke English, which he explained and I can't remember. Anyway, it was a very pleasant way to spend an hour or so in the sun, especially to reminisc upon from the cold and trudge of Woking. 

Whenever I see someone I assume to be Nepalese in Woking it makes me think back to Salleri fondly. Them being here and me being there, and the extreme opposites in which people live. 

Anyway, so how this tenuously relates to code is that I was thinking about how everything seems to be some sort of code these days. Everyone knows some sort of code and I should probably learn to but I just want to draw a pretty picture. The guy who was our guide in the mountains in Nepal was this old man called Dambare Sherpa. He is like the Gandalf of the mountains, very quiet, wise, smily, calm and knows something about everything. He definitely wondered what the hell we were doing there when we arrived! If anyone is interested, this is a link to the video my friend Rikke made of our adventures, which gives you some idea as to what it was like :D I just watched it and it brings tears to my eyes still.

Dambare had a small computer shop in the market place, probably smaller than your wardrobe, rammed full of all sorts of things, including lots of mobile phones and bits of computers and wires. I don't know how it was powered, as they only had electricity for about 4 hours a day and after that it switches off and you get your torch out. Dambare was the IT guru there who could fix anything. I have no idea how he learnt it, or where from but I have a lot of respect for him. I don't know how he did it. I'm sitting here plodding through my web design course, wondering if I'll ever actually be employed to do something meaningful and he is so happy in his tiny shop and has accomplished so much. I was becoming disillusioned today and now I realise I should just shut up whinging and get on with it. If I can climb a bloody mountain in the Himalayas I can damn well learn some HTML. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Today I remembered drawing is an end, not a means.

 I was waiting for the train to my baking course (as it's Wednesday) and was sketching and eating my lunch. I have been sketching more recently and enjoying it more and more, which is awesome, as I have been so out of practise that it feels great to want to do it. It made me really sad to see awesome drawings and things I wanted to draw and feel unable to draw them. I worried that they wouldn't look like what I was drawing. Logically, if I am drawing an entire landscape in 3 minutes before a train it is very unlikely it will look like a photo. And that's not the point. If I want it to look like a photo I could photograph it.

However, having been sketching a lot recently, I have realised that I really like the sketches. That as an image in their own right they are interesting and pleasing and say something. I'm not sure what but I just enjoyed the process, the feeling of it and the outcome.

I felt like I had lost that to begin with. I kept getting irate at my drawings not being perfect, and using them as a way to put my ideas down in order to Photoshop them. There's nothing wrong with that, but my style of drawing never has been and never will be perfectly polished. And it's so much better for it, they're rough and raw and have some character and when you put your mind to it, relax, take your time and think about it, the sketches you produce actually become worth something in their own right.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Trees and geekery

This weekend was a bit awesome. I went to Bletchley Park, The National Museum of Computers, completed the Fairoaks Five Mile race for Woking Hospice (my first ever running race) and then finished it off by 'An Evening with Ray Mears'. It was an overload of things I love and very geeky. It made me think about the power of humans, and of nature and the relationship between them all, which is kind of what my work is all about.

Fair Oaks Medal

 Ray Mears talked about the ‘interconnectedness of humans and all things’ and how once things have changed we can’t remember what happened before them. I totally agree with his idea that our relationship with nature is a balance and the earth is not ours to do with as we please, it is a resource we need to look after, and hopefully, in future, technology will help us get there. I generally think Ray Mears is awesome. He likes trees and is interested in everything and is someone I would love to meet down the pub and be stuck on a desert island with. He has a lot of respect for the world too, which I can't help but respect. 

Bletchley Hall itself

Back view of buildings and windows of Bletchley Hall

 Sketches of trees around the park

 The opposite side to this was Bletchley Hall. The beginning of modern computing and digital languages. What I found fascinating is the vision of the people involved. They needed a faster method to decrypt messages from Germany in WWII, other than pen and paper and the Enigma and Lorenz machines. Thus came the Colossus and the Turing Bombe. Which work on the same principle of algorithms used to encode messages, with millions of combinations, which can be cracked by analysing the encrypted messages and looking for patterns. It’s not a very efficient way of doing it. So the Colossus was invented. A machine which reads messages and analyses them, a lot faster than we can but relative to today’s computers, probably about 1/5millionths as powerful as an Iphone (I asked). I don’t know how you invent something which you don’t know if it will work, or what it will look like or that there is nothing to base it on. To have that belief and conviction to work out how to invent it is insane. Today, relatively, developing computers and languages follows a logic, but if there is no language or precedent to base it on, you’re basically making something up, based on being clever and research and the hope that the principles you've been working on make sense. 

Explanation of the Enigma encyphering process and sculpture of Alan Turing

Needless to say, I was well impressed. (Also something I enjoyed, which added a lot to the experience, was the genuine interest and enthusiasm of all of the staff at Bletchley. It makes a difference to feel like you're not in the way of them, and especially as most of them are volunteers, their generosity is even more heartwarming.) 

 And then there was the Raspberry Pi. I heard about them about a year ago and found the concept a curious one. A tiny little computer, which is mobile and can be taken anywhere, which is about £25. You just have to plug things into it, like a screen, keyboard and SD card. But the wonder and possibilities are in that you can plug whatever you want into it, people have done all sorts, like drumkits, barometers, attaching a camera and tying it to a teddy and chucking it out of a plane etc. The point of the Raspberry Pi is that it requires very little battery power compared to standard computers, so it can be run in developing countries, where there is a lot less electricity. But also, because it’s so cheap, it is less worrying if you plug something in that breaks it. I don’t know where this might lead to, but that’s the fascination, and also the fascination of Bletchley Park. The raspberry pi is the next stage in the ethics of technology. We are very clever and developed them and they have developed so rapidly that the rest of the world hasn't caught up. But thinking about it and how it works off little power and saves on resources to run it is a step towards a better balance of man/nature/technology. 

Raspberry Pi connected to an Arduino Uno

 The thing these things have in common is curiosity and vision. People who are excited and patient and curious and respect the things around them. Who knows where it will take us, but the possibilities are endless, and there’s nothing to stop us, and that’s exciting. Hopefully we can fulfil Ray Mear’s vision of using technology to balance nature and humans.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Motorway paintings

Here's a couple of little sketches I've done, inspired by a drive home from Wales. I like filming/drawing/painting motorways. I'm not sure why, they are quite bleak but I think it's the idea of a journey and the possibilities and also all the signposts and things flashing and symbolising stuff. Also trying something new with a scanner on my phone for mobile documentation of my work- not sure how successful that is! 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Some things I've been playing with....

I like playing with photographs and chopped up bits of paper and seeing what happens by suggesting other things by manipulating them. It starts telling a weird little story of it's own. This is what has happened so far....

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Sketches in Nepal

Some sketches from Nepal, nicknamed 'Roof of the World'. One of my journal entries just reads 'I WENT PARAGLIDING!!!'- which makes me smile a lot because I remember how unbelievably-shitting-myself-terrified I was and how i was certain this would be certain death. If there is anywhere to do something this much out of your comfort zone, in front of the Annapurna mountain range would be a good place. It was my first proper glimpse of the Himalayas and after reading so much and anticipating them it was overwhelming to see them. I'd wanted to visit Nepal for years for some unknown reason, I think it's the idea of sherpas and Buddhist monks and stuff and then I read this 'Sky Burial', by Xinran just by chance and it was one of those insane burst-into-tears-on-the-train books which fixated it into my head to JUST GO. Seriously, read it. It's a true story about Nepal and it is......amazing! I also listened to Michael Palin's 'Himalaya' and started reading 'The Snow Leopard' by Peter Matthiessen but still haven't finished it... I'm not much of a fan of travel guides, this was a much better insight. Anyway, the Annapurna were awesome. I kept trying to imagine being on one of the untouched snowy peaks 8 and a bit miles up in the air and what it would be like. The mountains are sacred, so you're not allowed to, but they're also too dangerous to climb so you couldn't, but they're so blue and steep and clean it's hard not to stare at them all day. So there's some context about Nepal and here are some sketches.....
Cows and palm trees in Chitwan (jungle)
Boats on Lake Pokhara
Helicopter flying past temple on top of a hill by Lake Pokhara