[[Chocolate Lightbulb Experiment]]
|Where to find me
||[Jan. 23rd, 2010|03:24 pm]
Part of this whole youtubing thing is that I've been working for a coupla weeks to [re]launch my internet self as part of some ghastly professional self-branding. By which I mean, I'm heading out applying for theatre jobs and making funding applications and so on, so I needed who I am on the internet to look right, and needed stuff to point people towards.|
Upshot is, I have some new sites and stuff. I'm on here very irregularly, so if you want to stay in touch you can find me in various places:
Blog and sort of central hub
I guess with all that I won't really be writing here any more at all. I love this journal, it (and its previous incarnation of Xanga) was a big part of my life, an essential part, for a long time. But I and the internet have changed!
I'll still creak open the door every so often, tho'.
|In which there is an audit
||[Dec. 17th, 2009|02:26 pm]
It seems I have become one of those people who, every so often, opens the creaky door of his livejournal to discover that yes, it is still there, and that yes, it does still mean something to him, and that yes, he should occasionally tap out a few words and let those few people still reading it know how he's doing.|
I've spent the past month in Moscow, studying on exchange with the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts. It was extraordinary and exhausting, the whole experience. For me, the best part was doing three weeks of gruelling stage movement classes, three or four hours a day of difficult, expressive physical exercise. It opened up a whole new realm of being to me; it was the first time in my life I've genuinely enjoyed being present in my body and working with it, outside of sex. I'm looking for an activity to keep that joyful feeling going.
I'm becoming a theatre director; I think I'm nearly there. This is going to be my life. I'm determined. it makesx me happy. It also terrifies me. I'm trying to find that projection of myself that's confident enough to make this happen but not so arrogant as to make life unbearable. Being constantly involved in the performing arts, watching, creating, participating -- it's a celebratory way to live. I just wish I wasn't so worried about money all the time.
Politics and performance poetry have taken a back seat for the last few months. But I can feel my toes itching for them. Basically all of my friends are in Copenhagen right now, on the barricades for climate justice, and I know that's where I ought to be too. And I met a couple of poet friends the other night, competed in (and won!) another Slam, and remembered why I love that too. I've been immersed in theatre, but it's time to get my balance back.
I'm in love.This is an endless source of wonder.
I wish life were easier, but I suppose it's not supposed to me. My mood still fluctuates a lot, but I've learned better how to manage it, and I think I'm happy more often than I'm not. Right now I'm a little bit slumped, but also in an a strange, receptive, other-worldly and sensitive sort of mood -- one of the reasons I'm writing this, I guess. I feel like I'm on the cusp of something, but I don't know what.
I read this much more often than I write it. It looks like a lot of my old flist are in the same state as me -- popping back every few months to put something down. I miss you. I treasure the time we spent online together, or in the flesh, if we did. I'm glad we have these small ways of contact, thin strings still connecting us. I guess you can't expect much more.
|In which a location is broadcast
||[Sep. 26th, 2009|04:03 pm]
My laptop had a major meltdown a week and a half before I moved; took that long to get it fixed. I only got it back the evening before I left. And then the house I moved into had no wireless, and I couldn't use campus computers and wireless until Wednesday. The result is that I've been on a two to three week long internet detox -- just grabbing moments on libraries and other people's computers to check e-mails, and not much more. It's actually been kind of wonderful. And I can feel my internet habits changing as a coincidental result. I've got my book reading bug back, for a start.
There have been losses. It's further extended my hiatuc from this journal and my writing experiments. I'm now well distant fromn the IF and other online interactive art communities. And I'm sad about that. But I've realised something, starting here: I love art, and every time I see an artform done brilliantly I want to do it myself. And I just can't do them all. If I'm really going to excel, I have to focus. And I've committed myself financially and in terms of time to directing theatre and the related arts, because I love it the most, because it fits me like a glove.
So I may not be around as much, despite my will at the beginning of the summer, though I'm still keeping tabs. I'm keeping up e-mail and Facebook correspondence more dedicatedly, mainly so as to keep in touch with St Andrews, so that's a good way to reach me.
It's great. It's terrifying. It's inspiring. Wonderful.
Look, I'm doing a course that's genuinely allowing me to follow my heart/dreams/wishes. In return it's demanding from me utter and total dedication. There seems to be this thing I'm encountering also: in order to be able to make it, you've somehow got to keep faith in yourself, have to genuinely believe, at least most of the tim,e in what you're trying to achieve. That, I think, is the thing I'm going to find hardest of all.
On Pump Hill, Loughton. It's essentially the first big hill as you go Northeast from the city. So from my front door I can see across tree-tops and ex-villages right to the Thames, the dome, the financial district. Across London. It's kind of beautiful. Also, I live 5 minutes from an entrance to Epping Forest. It's a good place to be (apart from being in Zone 6, with it's £2.20 tube fare). I'm feeling happy.
Pina Bausch: Cafe Muller (extract).
It's a short youtube video of the revolutionary choreographer and creator of Dance Theatre. You have to watch it. It made me cry.
||[Aug. 8th, 2009|11:42 am]
I'm overly time-conscious anyway: I wake up (early, with the sun, irrevocably) and lie for a while thinking of the things I have to get through in the day. But full-time work has turned me into an obsessive scheduler -- not in the appointments and tight diary-keeping of first and second year, when I was juggling societies, plays, and protests -- but of my precious, precious hours of free time. I'm trapping my free time. With one or two days off a week, I'll have a handful of hours to apportion to the things I love: reading, exploring the internet, playing my ukulele (I have a very beautiful proper Vintage Acoustic-Electric now), gaming. Fewer still, taking into account sleeping, eating, washing and being in love. And so I think: half an hour of this, up to this page, this many songs. Just to try and cram it in. But whenever I'm doing something, I could be doing something else. And in the back of my mind, when I'm trying to relax, there's a clock, ticking. Tick. Tick.
Strangely, sadly, there are points at work where I reach the exact opposite of this state. Sometimes during repetitive actions like wrapping hundreds of pieces of cutlery, but more often in the ultra-busy periods at a specific workstation: the short-order food cookery, the dishes, the coffee machine. My world will be a few paces either side in front of the equipment, with everything I need around me. A ticket or a bucket of dishes gets delivered and processed, and, if I'm in tune, the required micro-scheduling (which type of dishes to put through, how to fit them together, how to streamline milk-heating, how to make ergonomic journeys between fridges) happens entirely unconsciously. I just work, unthinking, all this action flowing through me. The Dao of the Coffee Shop. These days, it's one of the few times I'm really at peace.
Dead Bird Dundee
I was having a terrible day already. The argument of the previous night had echoed through sleep and into waking; my heart was still in a daze. I had a full day of work ahead of me, but before that I was up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus to Dundee -- visiting a bank to apply for a loan.
It was one of those clinically sunny day -- the world looking bleached clean, artificial, and everything bright except for me, tired, sweaty, shabby, hunched. And an out-of-tine busker. And I just felt so sad -- and there was a dead bird, lying in the street, still, its red brains spilling out. It stayed with me through the rest of that depressed day, and into the next, and still, when I'm feeling bad, I catch the ghost of that bird in the corner of my eye, bleeding, brainless, numb.
St Andrews is emptying of friends. The latest contingent has poured out of town to Edinburgh: all the exciting people doing exciting plays, soaking up the Frine and being part of it. I desperately wish I was there. I desperately miss theatre. I want to be part of it.
But I'm hanging on to this astonishing thing: I'm actually going to drama school, I'm going to be studying directing, I get to make this my life. I am the luckiest. Just a few more weeks to go.
I have two surnames. My old letting agent accidentally registered me under only one (reasonably, as I generally don't use the other). The result was that the Council didn't manage to find me in the University's records, and so at the beginning of the year decided I wasn't a student. I started receiving notices that I was due to pay council tax. I hopped on it sharpish, sent them the required notifications, and they left me alone for a couple of months. Then they started sending me the notices again -- and decided they'd never received any paperwork from me. So I went through it all again. Seemed to have it sorted out. Until, after I left the property, they sent me another notice -- this one a final demand -- for the period 30th May to 30th June. I got this several weeks late, at which point a collec tion agent had become involved. Except that they'd been told to collect for the period 1st-19th September, for which I'd never received a notice. On the phone, I got someone to admit that they'd inputted the wrong dates at some point, hence the notices, but no-one anywhere at the Council wil admit to having got the collec tion agents involved. I've shouted and pleaded with so many people at this point; I've sent them so many bits of paperwork; I've experienced nervous apologies and brusque rejoinders - and still I haven't received the letter saying "whoops, we got it wrong, here's the bit of paper proving it". I'm terrified it's going to be on my credit history somewhere, or, even worse, that it'll continue forever, and that I'll still be receiving notices for random periods when I'm 50. It's somewhere between Franz Kafka an Douglas Adams. Idiobureaucracy.
We don't sell coke. But the expressions on customers' faces when we tell them is priceless.
|In which Harry travels to London and back, twice, thinking
||[Jul. 23rd, 2009|03:35 pm]
A Rolling Coke|
When I stepped out my front door I heard a turning, grating noise -- like a manhole twisting open, or the sound of the stone doors in the temple level of Goldeneye. Rolling, measuredly, down the very centre of the road, was a shiny red coke can. It didn't seem to be gathering pace -- friction balancing gravity -- just rolling down the hill. It was about halfway. It was going slowly enough for it not to be worth my while waiting to see what happened to it. Was it clipped by a car and knocked off course? Or did it reach the bottom of the hill and just rock slowly until it stopped?
I went to my next school's open day. So the way I keep telling it is: You know in like, Fame, or Fave the Last Dance 2, where the hero(ine)(s) go to an arts school or something and then a very severe matron of the artform gives them a long speech on how dedicated they have to be and how demanding the course will be and punctuality and correct underwear and things with occasional glimpses of bitter humour?
Yeah, we got one of those.
Vegan 2 (the Streets)
After months of severe lapse, I had a moment of clarity (in the bathrooms, at work, for no apparent reason) and decided to return to solid veganism. I'm doing OK -- partly I keep forgetting to remind people and not wanting to turn down an offered meal, and partly I keep salivating at cheese -- but the important thing is that I have successfully made that mental switch where I can prevent myself from buying something. Once the slow erosion of will had flicked that switch off, I was at the whims of taste and advertising. At first I found it liberating, but eventually I just felt trapped by commerce and guilt. Now it's so nice to be able to return to restraint and denial -- and feel freed by it.
At work, simultaneously: an out-of-tune bagpipe busker playing Scotland the Brave on repeat, two separate families of children having temper tantrums, and, worst of all, outside, a heavy-duty rotary blade cutting up paving slabs. For three hours. I still have tinnitus.
I'm sitting on the floor of a bus station buzzing with different languages, watching summer rain hit the ground at eye level, covering the concrete in an overlay of television static. Its like I've never seen it before -- rain expressed as a relationship with the ground rather than with the sky. It is not something which falls from clouds but something which hits Earth, which, alongside the thrum of engines and repeating-loop automatic doors, hypnotises me, leaving only the corners of my sight awake, reading safety notices.
Apparently, in Washington DC, there is an underground movement of beekeepers.
I was walking along the South Bank (where the trees have been wrapped in polka-dot fabric) and took a wrong turn, ending up stuck in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital. I ended up round the back doors the open above the walk. Before I doubled back, I looked down, and noticed a healthy, bulging clump of mushrooms growing out of the wall. Above them, across the Thames, was the Houses of Parliament. I didn't know whether they were poisonous or deliciously edible, so I just took a photo and left.
|In which Harry goes to work
||[Jul. 16th, 2009|04:34 pm]
So to Start With|
I've been working at Zest, a juice and coffee bar, for just over a year now. Since the beginning of May I've been going at the minimum wage work full-time, trying to save up enough to make this absurd drama school jaunt affordable. It's a good place to work: not too strenuous, lots of sociability, excellent perks (I get most of my food from there, free). But still: full-time minimum wage slavery.
Here's the rub: I've been meaning to blog about working for months, but I'm often far too worn out by working to write.
I work 10 hour shifts, mostly, with shorter ones here and there. Either I'm opening, which means getting up at 6 spending several hours making sandwiches, paninis, soups, foccaccia and such, or closing, which means spending several hours scrubbing stuff and not getting home 'til 8.30. Either way I'm dealing with the lunch rush: two to three hours of demanding customers. We do a lot of vegan, gluten free and otherwise alternative diet catering, which means lots of finnicky short order cookery. And we rush through coffees (on a gorgeous machine) to order; generally there's four people on over lunch, and I do think the rapid pressurised teamwork is a thing of beauty sometimes -- we have to be tuned into each other and what's going on, ready to improvise, back up, whatever. But, god help us, all in pursuit of earning a buck. I take pride in my work, and M tells me there's dignity in all labour, but . . . but . . .
Will there be coffee shops after the revolution?
I don't know anyone who truly wants to be there, apart from the owner/manager, who's life it is. The workforce is about 50/50 students and non-students, meaning it's a mix of people who're just doing it to afford a degree, aiming at doing something else, and people who're doing it to live on, without really planning to go anywhere else. Thankfully, there's not a noticeable rift between them. But sometimes I feel self-conscious, middle-class, like I'm faking it somehow. But then I realise we're united by *not wanting to be there*.
Really, it's absurd: spending ten hours a day somewhere I don't want to be so that people can get coffee and pulped fruit whenever they want it. Why does money exchange hands for something so trivial? Why does it have to? I know I sound daft, but with an entire economy built around people doing things they don't want to do because, for one reason or another, they *have to*, is a sick economy in a sick society.
What I mean to say is: having to do minimum wage service work has certainly made me feel more radical, but also more politically impotent at the same time. COuld we really overhaul something so big? No wonder I wrote two dissertations this year struggling to find a revolutionary theory, ending up more lifestylist -- more about the hope of at least fixing my own psyche -- than I'd like.
And here's the other thing: I've worked in a lot of offices before this, doing much more "mental" tasks. But everyone I work with works so much harder, smarter and more skilfully than anyone I've seen in admin. This kind of work is highly specialised, requiring really specific skills that take months to do halfway well, and you have to maintain energy and commitment to something you have no personal investment in. COmpare that to work where you get to be creative, spend most of it just talking to people in order to make things happen, and which you merely have to spend years at university getting paid to get drunk before you can do. Am I the only one who thinks that global payscales are completely the wrong way round? Or who thinks that, if there's any dignity in labour, then mopping floors is a damn sight more dignified than, say, suing businesses?
I think I must be the only one, because at least 50% of the people I serve seem not to realise I'm a human being. I'm happy that the other half will chat with me, smile, and say thanks -- but I'm perpetually astonished at the rudeness at presumptuousness of my customers.
I think it's best symbolised by a chap I saw this week reading a current affairs magazine I subscribe to: "Ooh, is that the latest Prospect?" I said, as I gave him his coffee. He turned round and looked at me in slack-jawed astonishment -- either that I tried to make conversation or, I fear, that I, serving his coffee, could possibly know what the magazine was. For one I got the response right: "I thought that piece on Mandelson was rather hagiographic -- didn't you?" I said, and turned on my heel.
Or the woman, model-thin, angular, who sashayed up to the till and said, "Ouewah (Oh), you make your smoothies with frozen fruit as well, do you?" and then sashayed out again before I could respond with: no, actually we have mango trees in the back garden.
It's a job where, apart from minimal pride in work well done, the only pleasure is in talking to people. So it breaks my heart that it's destroying my faith in humanity.
Ech, there's so much more I want to say. The other pleasure is in just spending all my time thinking about what I'm doing. This has helped me order some thoughts -- but oh my, what a world. What a world.
|In which a month sort of vanished
||[Jul. 5th, 2009|09:09 pm]
What I've been doing|
Working. Watching television on the internet. Not doing any of the three things I set out to do.
Part of the reason why is that that "so I have all this time now" I blithely wrote a month ago turned out to be rather an error. Full-time work has sapped my energy and time far more than I expected it too. I'm going to blog about that in the next week. But I'm getting pretty accustomed to it now -- so the other part of the reason kicks in, the part that's about me staying in the low, grey areas of my mind. I let myself get sucked into lethargy too easily, and deliberately miss the goals I set myself, spinning guilt-cycles. I don't feel great, except for glowing half-days here and there when I remember what optimism feels like. My time and energy get sucked into the black hole of sorriness.
I always write these things, these missives from the Grey, a few weeks into it. I go through cycles: I'll start to feel sad, I'll spend a couple of weeks getting slowly worse, I'll spend a week or two at the bottom, and then I'll start to see the way out, and write the feelings down into a ladder to climb up. And then I let my optimism set me more impossible goals. Should I avoid that now? I'm writing now because I'm starting to feel better, because Molly comes back from holiday the day after tomorrow, because I crossed a lot off my To Do list today. My natural inclination is to bulk up the list and demand that I chug on through. But maybe if I hold back then this time, this time I could sustain a better mood. Let's try it.
My Awful Week
Self-pity aside, this week I have every reason to feel crap. I think I've got to make myself realise that.
Last week Molly's family and our friend Kalea came to visit. I was so happy to see them. But towards the end of the week the stresses of the situation started to kick in -- the feeling of constant expectations, the inevitable family arguments, the resentments I feel whenever I have to take responsibility for things. Molly left on Sunday and I was by myself, left to simmer in all the after-effects -- with the realisation that I'd spent a week not looking after myself and not talking about my problems, taking on everyone else's instead.
Compounding that, drawing things right down to earth: I was left with the whole house to clean. I don't know if anyone on my flist has been left holding the keys and the blame before at the end of a student rental -- I know it happens often. I've spoken to a few others, though, and it looks like mine is the nastiest one I know of. Half my housemates helped me clean the weekend they left; the other half had departed a week earlier and, as expected, done sod all in terms of cleaning. So come Monday, the day before the lease ended, I had to clean everything top to bottom. I had to reclean their rooms; I had to swab out drawers and cupboards; I had to dispose of several plastic bags full of other people's waste. Everywhere people had left belongings, and muck, and rotten food, and hair. I spent half the day feeling utterly dreadful, crawling through the tasks. It was all set to be one of the worst days of my life -- unpleasant tasks compounded by screaming resentment -- until friend/ex M turned up to cheer me up and lend a hand. Without her I don't think I'd've made it through.
I moved out. I left the house still messier than I wanted, and missing people's keys, and worrying about my deposit. I moved into another warm friend's. Then the next evening, while sorting out my stuff, I trod on something sharp. I didn't think anything of it, I saw no blood, I couldn't find the sharp thing. I woke up at 4am on Wednesday, my foot throbbing, and didn't really sleep again. Dragged myself into work, and realised within the hour that something was very wrong: I could barely walk for the pain, and it was starting to swell. I taxi'd it to the hospital: they looked at it, did an x-ray, and it turned out there was an inch-long sewing needle buried deep in my foot, up against the bone. It had gone in under compression, and the skin had sprung up around it, and then walking on it had worked it further in. It was agony. I had to go to Dundee for minor surgery under local anaesthetic. It took them 45 minutes to find it.
So that lost me 4 or 5 days of earnings due to not being able to walk, with my finances for next year pretty stretched. And now I'm doped up on cocodamol and antibiotics, which have killed my appetite and have me feeling drowsy all day long. It was only a couple of hours ago that I realised that the drugs were helping me feel crap. I'd been alone all weekend, feeling sorry for myself, and blaming myself for having no energy and feeling miserable. Maybe if, for once, I stopped trying to take responsibility for every little thing, and let my own feelings and health issues just happen, I might feel better more often.
ARG! Plans Awry
Today I checked who'd recently started following my Twitter. There were a bunch of spambots, a couple of friends, and then Hallucinine. A sequence of cryptic, semi-poetic, quasi-religious references. What this seems to be is a Trailhead for an Alternate Reality Game -- a game/narrative spread across websites, e-mails, phones, and live events. I've been lurking the ARG community for a while now, and a month or so ago began playing my first: a brilliant, comedic one called Must Love Robots in which a vlog about one man's search for a girlfriend for his robot flatmate is the gateway to a sordid world of robot dating, porn, and robophobic conspiracy. I've also started interacting with a transmedia novel ARG called Personal Effects -- a horror mystery which begins with a novel but expands well beyond it (most interestingly, its transmedia elements provide evidence for alternative interpretations of events from those given by the novel's unreliable narrator). And now I'm active enough that an ARG has actually sought me out, found my Twitter, and sucked me in. Which is exciting.
So ARG is one of the actually exciting and worthwhile things I've been doing with my time (as opposed to obsessively watching Robin Hood, Weeds, True Blood and the BBC2's Thursday night comedy). My involvement there -- which is a combination of roleplaying, creatively creating content, and solving puzzles -- has distracted me from the other new media projects I set myself up two posts ago to pursue: Chocolate Lightbulb, interactive fiction, and this blog, I suppose. I love new media art. I just wish I could stop getting so caught up with the latest thing and patiently explore the things I already love.
But. I'm not miserable and hopeless. Even in the Grey, I know I'm going to get out of it. So when I sound down, don't worry about it: when I write it, I feel better. And the money is working out. And I'm in love. It's all going to be OK. I seem to be unable to maintain optimism, but I don't lose hope.
|In which there is a year
||[May. 30th, 2009|10:52 pm]
My degree is over -- as of a couple of weeks ago. All library books and fines had to be handed in yesterday. I have to order my graduation gown tomorrow. I get my final results in a week.
I've fallen out of love with academia; I got exhausted about halfway up the ivory tower and started looking at the landscape through its narrow windows instead. Our relationship was always one of images and words anyway. And the tower has rotten foundations. We've had somegood times together, but it's time to go our separate ways. And while I've blindly groped my way towards the top classification, I barely believe in it. (This is an extended mixed metaphor; an impressive feat.)
Besides, I've been seeing someone else . . .
I directed four plays this academic year, and my production company produced a furhter two. it's been exhausting and beautiful. It's become my life. So for those of you who didn't know: I applied to drama school, somehow managed to get in, and am going off to do an MA in Theatre Directing. I want to do theatre. I'm certain it will be my life.
I was told I never look more in my element than when I'm directing; I can feel that it's true. I feel like everything else I've done that's given me pleasure was just because it had a facet of the glorious experience that is making theatre happen -- part performance, part textual sensitivity, part artistic vision, part relationship management, part radical pedagogy, part love, part fear . . . just so much together.
I'm happy that I have an answer and a plan for now, but at the same time it's terrifying: I'm sending myself into a world I know little about (I love the act, but am ignorant of the people, places, traditions &c), and by having high ambitions I'm setting myself up for a fall.
I've not been so well. There are these great things in my life (see above anad below) but I'm still not a peaceful, contented person -- I rocket from highs to lows. I've had a couple of crashes into the world of self-hate and paralysis. But I am learning to manage it better. The rollercoaster is getting less crazy and loop-de-loop; I know how to cope with a dip without burning now, and I know how to pick myself up again. I can keep going, and cope, roughly speaking.
I do wish that I could find my centre, though. Studying Daosim, Buddhism and radical politics intensively for projects in the past two years has led me to some conclusions about how I'd like to be, but I don't seem to have a path from these philosophical beliefs to real, practical peace. I don't even know what one would look like.
Plus, I haven't been looking after my teeth, my limbs and joints ache more than they should, and my eyes are failing. But on the plus side, my hair is rich, my body is filling out, and my stamina is increasing. Maybe if I exercised and brushed everything would get better.
I'm in love. And we've made it into a close, sharing relationship that's lasted nearly a year so far. I think that's pretty special. It's the closest I've ever been to someone. I think she's pretty special. The whole thing has taken me to very new places. I get scared. But it's OK.
I wrote her a poem.
I've kept up the performance poetry thing. Things never realy took off after the end of last summer, and I'm not going to give it another major push, but it's been a good companion. I organised a series of slams in St Andrews, and it was great to see all the wonderful poets there taking to the new form -- by the end there was some real talent. I'm always amazed by our poets.
Slam is great, because you know that you're going to get applause and appreciation no matter what -- and sometimes, randomly, you get to win, and that feels great too. You never really lose, because its atmosphere (and poets) are so encouraging; it's a healthy passtime for me, because I don't have to strive at it -- I can just enjoy it.
That said, I somehow managed to win the Scotland heats of the BBC Radio 4 National Slam last week -- so I'm getting paid to appear in the semis in September!
Past, Present, Future
I feel so different from who I was when I arrived in St Andrews 4 years ago -- not happier, but better. I wonder if I seem different to others. I find it so strange to see these people I've travelled all this way with -- most feel much the same to me, but I can see they've changed, like I have, and here we are heading off in weird ways into the future.
I've become much less social; my friends are fewer and firmer. I seem to still have an odd little kind of fame about town, but don't really know who people think I am. I'll be glad to leave and start fresh.
I really just don't know about me and where I'm going. Right now I have a kind of fearful optimism. I think that's good.
Here endeth the rambled review.
||[May. 17th, 2009|01:43 pm]
The Set Up|
My favourite thing about being done with my degree is that I can now properly explore the internet again. I'm serious. With "write dissertation" on my to do list for weeks, the internet was reduced to a procrastination tool, and I was stuck in that terrible cycle where actually doing interesting stuff on the net seemed unjustifiable, while just refreshing Facebook or playing another level of ColourShift was just too easy. Not working sucks the joy out of the rest of life as well -- and the paradox is, if you actually go out and enjoy something, it makes it easier to work.
So the other evening, a happy browse led me to extraordinary artwork after extraordinary artwork, the internet pouring beauty down its tubes and into my laptop. Check it:
Spencer Tunick : an installation artist who gathers together hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of nude volunteers and builds live sculpture out of them and their surroundings -- or maybe they're paintings, with the human body as the paint and the city as the canvas. And what's the relationship between the fleeting three dimensional event and its fixed two dimensional representation on my grubby screen?
Blueful : an interactive narrative spread across interlinked Web 2.0 sites. It's the prequel to one of the most significant interactive fictions of recent years, Blue Lacuna. I love the intertextuality of this; the words are beautiful, but their presentation is more extraordinary. I imagine a lost Wayfarer spinning through the routers and ports of cyberspace, leaving a narrative where ey can, a trail of digital breadcrumbs.
itsjohncampbell : the webcomic author turns Twitter into art. He's composing semi-surreal narratives in the style of Twitter updates, complete with ephemeral feelings and tedious detail; they read like banal missives from the set of Monty Python cartoons, or what would happen if Beckett was a Twit.
So I have all this time now, and there are specific things I want to do with it. This is hereby a record of my three aims for the summer:
- To get the Chocolate Lightbulb Experiment up and running again, and keep it going at least until I start school again, when hopefully the momentum will be great enough.
- After missing a year, to rediscover IF and write a game for this year's competition: probably an adaptation of my lycanthropy-as-gay-plague story Hunt -- shorter and less hard to program, but more "arty" and thematically subtle than The Chinese Room
- To keep this journal going again, with at least one weekly update, and to return to using it as a writer's sketchbook rather than a vehicle for self-fuelling angst (or only as such a vehicle if I can make it beautiful, even if in a horrific way
You see, I've started to really care about interactive art and text (see the art above, for example) -- it's the artform I believe in, that I think has genuine ground-breaking potential, that's populist and poplar while still deep and dark. Not just in Text 2.0, but also in performance art. Thinking back to my amazing year of theatre, Call of Cthulhu was, I think, the most theatrically exciting and explorative, despite being essentialy a genre work. (I love genre work, in which I think "comedy" can be included, far more than often-tedious literature and other worthies.) That doesn't mean it was the best -- that I simply could not choose, nor should I -- but it was a genuinely exciting format. I've been reading about Punchdrunk, a total theatre installation company, and thinking about theatre's crossover with tabletop RPGs and multi-dimensional ARGs (how many dimensions? Not just space and time, but also cyberspace and narrativespace . . . ) I'm increasingly sure this is the area I want to work in. I just need to find a way of incorporating it into, finding the space where it is relevant to, projects for empowerment and social change . . .
|I just finished my degree.
||[May. 12th, 2009|01:26 pm]
Reaction 1: Arg arg arg arg! Panic! Terror! Arg!|
which segued to
Reaction 2: Woah . . . look at all this *time* opening up in front of me . . . time to do *so much* . . . return to forgotten projects and neglected friends . . . fix my life . . .
and which I expect will eventually become a disiullusioned
Reaction 3: My life is now empty and hollow
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