Last year I embarked on a journey of writing exactly 101 words for 101 days. Today I’m on the verge of jumping into something similar, only this time round I’m planning on approaching the project a little more loosely. Although Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project is based on the idea of repeating a chosen design activity, I’m thinking that my only requirement will be to make something. Whether that means stringing together some words, posting a drawing, putting together an Audulus patch, or some combination of the above, the days will show. I’m also thinking that not everything need be made public.
Spring on our street.
I’m wondering if this counts as “making something”?
One normally talks of “taking a photograph”.
Still at the start of these 100 days and thinking about the nature of the undertaking. Is it making something that’s the important part of it, or does simply posting something count as the same? An action in both cases. And both require clearing a space in the day if they are to take place at all. That might be the most valuable part of the exercise.
Looking at Michael Bierut’s description of the 100 Day Project on Design Observer I noticed that he refers to repeating a “design operation”, whereas in his interview on The Great Discontent he refers to it as a “design action”. The word ‘operation’ reminds me of John Cage – “Nature in its manner of operation”. Chance operations. A use of language that suddenly seems to belong to a different time.
Paul Ford published a little article about a site about Brutalist Websites. The discussion on whether the brutalist label is appropriate or not aside, it’s an interesting excursion that includes small interviews with the makers. It reminded me of a Brett Terpstra podcast (back in the days when Systematic was still on 5by5) in which his guest (I don’t remember the name) quips that “CSS is so bourgeois”.
iA tweeted about the beta of their new site today. A move away from the starkness of their current site – which I’ve come to love even though I initially missed the beautiful curves of Oliver Reichenstein’s own typeface when they changed to a special version of Nitti.
“Sometimes it Snows in April.” And today, for a brief moment, it did!
Khoi Vinh recently posted some sketches after a first week with the Apple Pencil, and yesterday a portrait of Prince. I’ve noticed quite a few drawings in my Twitter feed since his passing. The same with David Bowie. Drawing as a means of processing the event.
That got me thinking that this was in fact Michael Bierut’s approach for his own initial (private) 100 Day Project after the 9/11 attacks.
Everyone was so shaken up, and I recall wanting to do something therapeutic for myself—something to get in touch with something that had atrophied a little bit. I decided to do a drawing in a notebook every day. To define the goal more, I decided to buy a copy of the New York Times every day, find a photograph in it, and make a drawing based on the photograph.
Ableton recently posted a video of Robert Henke’s “Failure=Success” keynote at the Loop summit in Berlin last year. He offers some interesting insights into the (blurred) lines between programming, composition, and performance – and how they might be re-drawn in our digital age.
He closes with a fascinating peek behind the scenes into the making of a 10cc song that etched itself into my mind as a young boy. I never would have guessed – nor will I ever listen it in the same way again.
I’ve huffduffed the talk (with the help of a handy workflow) should you want to listen to it in your podcast player of choice.
Frankenstein’s Lab partnered up with Dansehallerne for a special lab on The Choreography of Sound this evening. A chance for composers and choreographers to meet and discuss the relation of sound and movement.
Special guest Gerhard Eckel (who happens to consider himself neither composer nor choreographer) presented a fascinating talk covering some of his work in this field. (I’m pleased I got to experience it since his work isn’t all that well documented online). I’ll write a more in depth post on the Frankenstein site covering some the gems of his presentation and those that followed. There was however one comment that particularly caught my attention: “Sharing prompts research”. That resonates with my experience of writing these posts – both this year and last.
“It’s Frankie’s night tonight.” That’s the phrase that runs through my head whenever it’s time for the next Frankenstein’s Lab. It comes from “Sharkey’s Night”, the closing track on Laurie Anderson’s 1984 Mister Heartbreak – an album that I listened to repeatedly as a teenager. The text, I later discovered, is by William S. Burroughs, and it’s also him reading it:
Sun’s going down. Like a big bald head. Disappearing behind the boulevard. It’s Sharkey’s night. Yeah. It’s Sharkey’s night tonight.
And the manager says: Sharkey? He’s not at his desk right now. Could I take a message?
And Sharkey says: Hey, Kemosabe! Long time no see. He says: Hey sport. You connect the dots. You pick up the pieces. He says: You know, I can see two tiny pictures of myself and there’s one in each of your eyes.
And they’re doin’ everything I do. Every time I light a cigarette, they light up theirs. I take a drink and I look in and they’re drinkin’ too. It’s drivin’ me crazy. It’s drivin’ me nuts.
And Sharkey says: Deep in the heart of darkest America. Home of the brave. He says: Listen to my heart beat.
Paging Mr. Sharkey. Wife courtesy telephone please.
Another time and place.
“Well, I’ve always thought it’s worth a little temporary discomfort to get to do something remarkable.”
That’s the lesson that Eric Meyer learnt from his grandfather and the lesson that he shares in the latest issue of the beautiful online publication that is The Manual.
Discomfort is something we often come up against when creating art, but push on through with the hopes of reaching that remarkable something. Sometimes the temporary discomfort is stretched, and then stretched again. It starts to look more like a constant state. You get used to living with it – at some point you’ll get to the something.
And that’s not really the point.
Last night, while collecting the words on “temporary discomforts” that might grow into something else, a Chris Newman poem popped into my mind: The Black Balloon. It’s a black balloon that bursts. It’s about Darmstadt (in the 80s). I can’t remember much of the text though, nor have I been able to find it online. I originally came across it in Kevin Volans’ Summer Gardeners: Conversations With Composers, Summer 1984 – one of the many collections of interviews I read during the 90s in my eagerness to learn about composition.
If you’re not familiar with Chris Newman, take a listen to this excerpt of him singing one of his songs.