Week Five – Blackout Poetry. Pretty Things, Pretty Words.

Blackout poetry has been my favourite writing technique we’ve been exposed to this semester. I like the idea of finding a new way to create or present something from a piece that someone else has already loved or torn themselves apart for. The idea that a writer could have read their own words over again and again,  rewritten it tens or hundreds of times over, to use the exact words to make the sentence, paragraph or page perfect. Only  then to feel almost resentful to that piece because of the painstaking measures it took to complete it. The idea that I could then find new meaning in their words, to show a new form of magic or mystery, to create something beautiful that really, came from them to begin with. To me, that’s something to be admired.

We looked extensively at A Humument by Tom Phillips, a Victorian text which was reconstructed into blackout poetry. The pieces were very surrealistic, something I really enjoy working with as a writer and, on occasion, terrible artist.

A Humument by Tom Phillips
A Humument by Tom Phillips

In the workshop we were given random pages from several texts and asked to choose one that stood out to us. I decided not to agonise over it, and instead  pick one without reading it first to see where it took me. From there we were given different materials to make it either colourful or three-dimensional. Admittedly I stayed within the realm of two-dimensional. The words I found created their own sort of poetry. Something sad and almost bitter, speaking of human connection and consciousness (or sub-conscious).

My piece
My piece

“noisy multiplicity
swings from simplicity
platonic form
superfluous flesh?
dream and promise
extract human memories
we have
immortality
an imaginary act
a holistic phenomenon”

I used water colour pencils to cover the page in erratic swirls, and drew a naked, sleeping girl in fine-liner, upside-down. It seemed to fit, and I liked it a lot.

I have decided to do this for one of my four large pieces of assessment. I’ll get an assortment of pages and create my own blackout poetry, and then edit them in Photoshop.

Not only were the texts presented to us in the workshop helpful and inspirational, a range of blackout text can be found online that isn’t published. For instance, you could find a range of blackout poetry on Pinterest or Google Images just for inspiration, that said none of these fragments are as beautiful, or I believe as sophisticated, as A Humument, which is now the latest addition to my bookcase.

Sourced from Google images: simple and funny
Sourced from Google images: simple and funny
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Week Four – Train of Thought Videos. Seemingly Silly Investments That Pay Off.

Today, once again, we were enlightened to another of Jason Nelson’s talents. We explored the notion of videos created without script and using found objects. Looking at Jason’s, it was obvious that sometimes these pieces either flowed excellently, or went off on tangents and became either weird or just confusing.

These videos however, similar to the writing exercise we undertook in week two, forced you to be spontaneously creative while hopefully easing your threshold of embarrassment. They proved that with even the smallest inspiration, you can write or create something completely ridiculous, surprising and even a little bit amazing. It was interesting to see where your mind goes and what you can produce from it.

We were asked to bring in several objects. I brought in a scorpion encased in glass, a wristwatch, a replica ‘Game of Thrones‘ dragon egg, a yellow jumper, a lighter, and a plaster mold of my own teeth. I also found a piece of paper in the classroom with several random words on it. It was something found, and I thought it would be good to utilise considering the boundaries of the task.

I created both a shared video with another person, which was odd, and in my opinion, quite funny. And another on my own which again, I thought was hilarious. I actually loved this activity, despite the fact that I had trouble uploading them on the computer.

Individual Video:

Shared Video [Feat. Lucy Morgan]:

However, when I went to research ‘train-of-thought’  or ‘stream-of-consciousness’ videos later, YouTube didn’t produce anything helpful and I couldn’t find any trace of Jason’s clips either. Google too was less than helpful, with the only videos coming up in the search engine belong to an A-Ha song, or deeply developed short films.

I think this form of hyper-textual media is actually a brilliant way of writing. Both to enhance creativity and spur productivity and inspiration, but also a brilliant technique. If up-and-coming writers were to produce stories this way, well spoken creative narratives with visual media, it would not only prove their worth but also illustrate their ability to adapt to a range of platforms. After all, radical writing is being adopted more frequently.

Week Three – Failing at Photoshop. Practice Right?

PART ONE:
Not my greatest achievement to date. In high school I did a Photoshop and photography class for a semester. Clearly none of it stayed with me, and one could assume I was pretty awful at it. At home the only editing suite I had at the time was ‘Adobe Photoshop Express‘, which  essentially works within the boundaries of set filters and changes to contrast/exposure etc.

Today’s class made me realise that working in class itself wasn’t going to be enough. There wasn’t enough time to complete anything substantial or manpower to guide me through it step by step.

ENTER GIMP.
gimp

This way I could self teach myself with tutorials and actually accomplish complete works to add to my portfolio evidence (hopefully). This was needed as it was still, like Photoshop, completely foreign.

Basic beginner’s tutorial:

Creating a GIF tutorial:

Admittedly this made me feel a little intimidated. I still wasn’t getting a great grasp on it, but again, practice, practice, practice. Hopefully you’ll see some progression in my portfolio evidence as the semester continues.

 

PART TWO:
Creating the GIF was and probably will be the most difficult task for me this semester. I’m still not savvy in Photoshop, or Gimp for that matter, and the process was long and frustrating. I had help from a class member, Lucy, who I took inspiration from and helped me with the process.

I had to crop the leaf as close as possible, which ironically was the easiest and yet most tedious part. After that it became more a matter of understanding how Photoshop worked at a finicky level. I realised I had to duplicate plain layers that had my original leaf over the top of them, and then add in the separate pictures in another layer in order to merge them together. However, this only worked half the time because I didn’t realise the original layer with the plain background and overlapping leaf must be on top of the second layer [physically, in the side bar] in order to merge. Tricky tricky. After that I still couldn’t get the timing for each moving piece exactly correct, that said I was pretty proud that I’d come this far.

I really want to go with a concept that the beauty of the environment is slowly being sullied by the world. To a degree I took inspiration from ephemeral artist Andy Goldsworthy
(http://www.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk/), who works only with found materials and creates pieces which will eventually decay or change. Though I do realise this is also contradictory in the sense I created something with a computer, instead of with nature itself.

My GIF, created outside of class, using the images sourced from the same day and produced in photoshop.
My GIF, created outside of class, using the images sourced from the same day and produced in Photoshop.

Week Two – Exploring the field? Going into the unknown? In over your head? Research.

Week two and still a nervous wreck about this course and its content, but I hope you enjoy the cliches. So where to start? Research, research, research.

I was first enlightened to the notion that the simple written word (book form) is a dying art by Dr. Stuart Cooke in university course ‘Radical Fictions’.  Along with his associate and guest lecturer Dr. Jason Nelson, they crushed my childhood memories and dreams. Books are going out of fashion, multi-platformed writing is the future and for young writers something that must be adopted.

Due to this research starts with Jason Nelson, a writer in the field himself. He briefly showed us his works in that lecture, though now I had a reason to actually go looking.
http://www.secrettechnology.com/
I liked the platforms used in ‘Sydney’s Siberia’ (mosaic-like), ‘Birds Still Warm From Flying’ (cube-like), and ‘This is how you will die’ (game). All similar and different at the same time, illustrating how interaction can be multi-modal and executed differently.  That said, while conceptually the site is wonderful, it is less than desirable to look at. His new website, however, that almost flows like a blog is much more appealing.
http://www.secrettechnology.com/speechpoetry/

In my continued search I wondered into the Digital Writing course content and discovered the National Archives. This was similar to Jason’s ‘Sydney’s Siberia’, in that a box lead to another box and another, however this was physically beautiful and structured.
http://digitalvaults.org/

From here: National Archives > shuffle records > Cliff Palace > A Big Tree > AND VIOLA. Initial stages of research complete. Now to fret over how to accomplish such design.

 

Sourced from http://digitalvaults.org/
Sourced from http://digitalvaults.org/

 

To get us motivated, we also undertook a spontaneous writing exercise, drawing inspiration from different locations around the university. It felt good to write again. This was the outcome.

1. The air conditioner feigns to cool the sticky humidity. It falls short of triumph when the building smells like food, gas or something familiar but too distant to recognise, not that removing such odours is its responsibility. Beep. Beep. Beep.

2. Swanky perspex umbrella tables and their freshly designed seats to accommodate the lazy hipster. This is the ‘new’ Griffith.

3. A slew of caffeine addictions create their own culture pots. They are busy. Noisy. Aladdin pants, sunnies and tattoos. At least the place smells decent.

4. A lack of tea makes this hospitality venue far less accommodating. However, almonds in the shade on a sunny day make for a happy, albeit green tea deprived, Hannah.

5. PHD’s like Lucy. We’re stopped by Marcus Waters and Jason Nelson. He’s charming, though it seems he considers himself an enigma. What comes of this meeting? A magic marble. A tale, a sentiment and a gift passed down from his grandfather and is now given to Lucy. A kindness. I like him for this. Marcus prattles away as he always does. I enjoy his company, despite his constant use of the words ‘cunt’, ‘fuck’ and ‘bullshit’. Despite receiving tenure it seems the students still haven’t warmed to this, he’s stressed to our class if they have a problem to see him directly, not the board of directors. Funny things, the sides we do and don’t see of people. The faces presented.

6. We sit down. The breeze is nice. At least she got her coffee. It’s nice to finally make a friend, not just an acquaintance. We talk about simple things, the pop culture of our generation. Something you think would flow naturally, but when you’re surrounded in other classes by girls who talk about fashion and boys who try to construct arguments to make their intelligence greater than its current standing, you forget how easily it should flow.

7. Jake’s here. He cut his fro. Much more attractive bro.

8. Already feeling in over my head with this course. Didn’t realise how involved the ‘digital’ aspects would be. Silly rabbit, should have read the profile better, hell, should have looked at the name closer. Tech illiterate n00b.