I watch a movie at home that moves me as much as when I first saw it at the cinema. I find it beautiful, emotionally engaging, texturally rich, and full with social and cultural commentary. Everything works for me: its themes, narrative, screenplay, cinematography, music, lighting, design, acting, and direction.
When it becomes clear that the movie fails to connect with my son I feel as if a great wall descends between us. The only known antidote to counter an experience of unwanted distance is love.
To create art, whatever its medium, the creative person must be loved, love, or yearn for love. Their love may be of a person, a place, or an idea. They may be loved by another, they may love themselves, or they may long to be with their love. The love the artist requires is strongly felt with a consistent commitment or wish of care and kindness. Without love, the need to make quickly fades.
When love of self or self-belief turns to arrogance, love leaves, and with it, all that inspires.
Language is often used to inform an audience of the intent, meaning, and value of a work of art.
Language may be used as the medium or integral element of the work, for example, a poem, or title.
Language is used to analyze, discuss and criticize a work of art.
The artist's and critic's words associated with art may not be consistent with the experience of it.
Explaining art belies its fundamental nature which is to experience it, and in this, we like it, or we do not.
I express myself so very differently when alone compared to when I am with someone else.
When in love this difference melts away. Not when only I feel love, but when love is equal and shared.
When alone in love and with, I take care not to say too much, share too much, be too much.
When alone with light, sound and words, I can be in love, express, then share my love.
Being with love requires judgment and care. Being in love has no barrier of doubt or distrust.
I am captivated by those things that move me, ideas, and what life does.
Once I sense something, I feel something. The stronger my feeling, the more I am drawn - curiosity is the child of how I feel. My curiosity leads to thought, and thoughts to ideas. Despite their fascination, ideas are not enough and so I turn to action: I make. In brief this is my creative process.
When my feelings overrun my thoughts I act on instinct. When I sense beauty, thought is far from view.
I am often faced with a choice: whether I live to my advantage, or live to cause most good.
I have the choice to exploit those things I make to benefit me, or I can share them freely. Selling my music, images and words would give me economic comfort and increase my social reputation. Having more money and kudos would encourage the advantaged segments of society to be more attentive.
The choice of living to my advantage or causing most good extends to my personal relationships.
Art in all its forms is experienced in the moment of time we call now.
Art can string moments together to form its whole: music, dance, drama, all performance art.
Art that requires time to be discovered: painting, sculpture, poems, novels, photography, all recorded art.
Art allows me to revisit my feelings and thoughts of love, fear, happiness and hurt which have happened yet remain, persist. Art is the interplay between those things I am, have been, and may become.
I am charged by life to make.
The word charge has many connotations: I may be charged, accused; I may charge toward; charged with something I must do; charged, revived, energized; I can hold as much as loose my charge.
Making goes hand in hand with being alive. Life fills me with energy and experiences I do not wish to loose. The force and charge of life bursts once more into the world through what is made.
I am one thing in mind, and another in body.
I long to talk but pass by. I wait, constrained, when all I wish is freedom.
I show myself as self-assured when I am far from confident.
I smile when sad.
My body hides the truth of mind, I hope in kindness rather than deceit.
I value meaning and metaphor as two great forces of communication that allow me to convey and understand. I also treasure abstract art, dance and music in equal measure as they can be expressive, beautiful, and encourage me to inhabit qualities of being that lay outside memory and interpretation.
Abstract art, music and dance can simply be. They are experiences I can be, simply.
Being Simply: self aware or active without the complexities of idea.
The spent shell of life: motionless, hollow, grey.
The unknown terror: tamed.
Time has no hold on those who pass away, to where I do not know.
Seven minutes after sunrise on the seventh day of the seventh month, stillness gives way to the restless beauty of dawn.
You are ninety five. Since your birth, your heart has beaten over four billion times.
The body is a wondrous thing.
For twenty eight days you have gone without food, and for three, without water.
You cannot see. You cannot speak. Your hands are cold. You breathe the quickened shallow breath.
I whisper close in hope your spirit hears: love. With love, there is no place for fear.
The first step toward creativity is curiosity, the second: play, then joy, humour, and persistence.
For the creative person the need to explore is ever present, is spontaneous, independent of prevailing ideas, unswayed by conformity, and willing to take risks, both practical and reputational.
Creativity requires openness. The more open I am to difference, experience, change and thought, the greater my chance to discover and make new.
Art is interpretive. For many, its ambiguity is unsettling and unsatisfying. In contrast, an area like science appears to provide answers and facts, and through its arguments and certainty, encourages a sense of certainty. Art has no scientific method and can be created by people of all ages and from any place and social or economic background. Good art moves the heart and mind no matter who makes it.
Art's ambivalence and freedom can be used against the confining forces of greed, tyranny and power.
When what I say or do is not treated with respect, when I am not listened to, when what I am is not valued, the person I speak with is diminished in my heart.
I do not love when I dismiss another or experience disdain.
My danger is in my belief I know more, I am more able, more experienced, more talented. Arrogance and insecurity closes my eyes to the great and beautiful good of others and their art.
What I want to be shapes what I will become.
I want to be in love, I want to be loved, I want to love.
I think of the meaning of these statements and what they say of me. To be in love has the potential of causing as much sadness as happiness. To be loved requires another. I only ever have choice about the last: I can love at any time, in any place. For chance to be in love, to be loved, I must always love.
At times I do not express myself clearly. This can be helpful if what I communicate serves to encourage interpretation and the mind to wonder. The danger is that being unclear can also cause disinterest and distance. This not only goes for my making, but also my being with others.
Some prefer mystery to clarity. The unraveling of meaning. The chase to know.
Perhaps there is time to be clear yet full with the untold: the still surface of deepening lake.
I yearn to understand why others do or do not. The reason someone harms, or turns the other way. Why I and others act or do not act drives much of my day.
Despite my efforts, understanding another's why may not be possible, no matter how long I have known them, nor how much I love them. I hide myself for fear of loss, for want, or love. With art, word and sound I show myself, yet here requires another's need to ask the reason why, their need to know.
Ephemeral: something that exists for a short time.
I think of the moment a single drop of rain falls on the dry dusty earth as a short time. I consider an hour in the company of someone I love as a short time. I think of a week on holiday as a short time, and as I grow older, my childhood as an ever shorter time. All experience is ephemeral. All art is ephemeral.
Think on. I am a creature of time and its appearance and disappearance is my muse. Think on.
Freedom: the ability to act, change, communicate, or think without hindrance.
My view is that freedom is a quality of experience, and in this it is dynamic and different at any given time, and for every living thing.
Freedom was composed in support of The Rights of Living Things.
I have felt included and excluded. I include and exclude. I am, have been, and will be, included and excluded. For a time, for what felt like a very long time at the time, I was excluded from adulthood. I include few I count among my friends. I exclude meat from my diet. I am included as a composer in the mind of some, and excluded as being recognized as a composer in the mind and record of others.
Inclusion and exclusion is sometimes a matter of fact, and more usually a matter of choice.
I ponder on why I return: to understand, to laugh, to cry, for safety, comfort, pleasure, for hope and love. To feed my curiosity, desire, anger or greed. With art I return to meet one or many of these things.
Time never truly permits my return to be with a person or place. During time things happen, a place changes, we change. My return is not the same as my first encounter. The taste is not as sweet, the colour not as vibrant, the sound not as full. I return to know and feel, but most to journey on, and with.
I understand not only by what is said, but how. Some are expert in the use of words: the lawyer, academic, politician, seller. All know tone makes known, yet hide behind their words.
When I see someone speak I not only hear their words and tone, I also see their gesture. These three elements of language help me to better know whether what is said matches what is thought and felt.
My love, hope, fear, and anger is expressed more through tone and gesture than word alone.
I enter a bright room with a high ceiling where children paint and play music with the encouragement of an artist. Indirect summer daylight pours through two large facing windows. The whitewashed walls are covered with drawings and artworks. The old wooden floor is rich with sound. The air feels fresh and full with life. I pause to look around and sense beyond those things I see and hear.
The ambience and delight of place seems made as much by its history as its physical qualities.
One of the great pleasures of making is to experience the unexpected. I write a word, the first that comes to mind: warm. I listen to my mind wander before settling on its quality: warmth.
Quality: the essential character of something that distinguishes it from any other.
Warmth: a feeling of comfort, affection, and kindness.
Five things that do not live that give me warmth: the sun; earth; art; music; literature.
You are an infant. You want happiness. You need care. Do I act? Should I act? How do I act?
You are a young adult. You want happiness. You need care. Do I act? Should I act? How do I act?
You are elderly. You want happiness. You need care. Do I act? Should I act? How do I act?
Caring for others is more than thinking alone. When I am with someone I choose to care, or not to care.
I am, I want, I need. When I am with someone and choose to care I free myself from want and need.
It is 5am and the motionless leaves of copper beach and ash are golden with sunrise. Bird song began in the darkness more than an hour ago, grew in extraordinary beauty, then gave way until only the interrupted arcing shrill of chaffinch and caw of crow broke the stillness of the morning air.
Summer Solstice is a day of balance, wonder and becoming. I find a place to stand, look up, breathe in. I close my eyes. For those who see, the closing of a sense so dear is full with contemplation and trust.
Imagine you listen to a piece of music for the first time by an unknown composer. You do not know the name of the piece, when or where it was made, nor the instruments used. You respond to the music according to your taste, what you have heard in the past, and through your interest and love of music.
Imagine you now discover the title of the music: Freedom. Does this change the way you hear?
Although music may be heard without language or broader context, it is often enriched by these.
I am fiercely competitive. I am non-aggressive. I play to win. I respect the outcome of a game played fairly. I do not give up with unlikely odds. I make every effort to the very end. I do not yield easily. I never cheat. I am mindful of my strong desire to prevail. I try to offset my competitiveness with kindness.
Art is not a competition, yet many of the qualities I have learned through competition are used in my making. Non-collaborative art can be a gruelling occupation. Art is not made by the faint hearted...
You have not eaten for fourteen days. The doctors cannot quell the seep of blood. You are ninety five, so very weak, a woman with one need alone: love. If even for a moment you do not feel its presence, you cry out. Your spirit, that you beyond the hold of suffering and pain, crys out.
To bear this time those close must put aside their need, their only action to be at peace is love.
At start and end of life: love. At birth and death and all between: love.
After many weeks of making you are the first to experience a new piece of music, poetry and art before its public sharing. A year passes. I return with a large framed print of the image. The day you first viewed the art has been forgotten, not through lack of care, but because of the difference of its significance to you and I.
The memory of art is set in mind dependent on our love: of beauty, place, and person.
On night with school of art ablaze, with shallow breath and turn of palm you call our names: stay. You rest, then once again you say with whispered quiet strength: stay.
Soon, with dreams and hope of youth long past, the fire hushed, you breathe the shallow breath.
Time is nothing but a moment spent alone or with. Do not leave my reach, my hold of hand, my touch.
With shadow breath, with mourning sound of blackbird song, you close your eyes: stay.
I consider how close I am, how fast I travel towards and away, and how short a moment with can be.
A series of nine images of ships in the night are presented as a single work.
I hear the evidence of wind through my window where I work: the sway of leaves and creak of bark, the wail of air across my chimney stack. I hear the evidence of wind, yet not the wind itself.
I step outside to feel the wind against my skin. I wait, then sense its coming strength: the rush of sound approach; the push upon my open eyes; the line of tear on cheek.
Wind has no form, no clear start, no end. Its beauty is the movement made only by its passing.
Why things are made: to satisfy material need; for pleasure; in hope; to connect with; for memory; to change; to express; to explore; for solace, to understand; to learn; to leave something of myself; for love.
Of these, love is by far the strongest force. My love of someone else, of nature, and of beauty.
When others are disinterested in what I make, when those close are unmoved in body or mind by what I do, I am deeply saddened, but my need to make is more than for my heart alone.
The green sprigs of hornbeams I planted over a month ago withered after the shock of their move. It seemed all one hundred plants were lost. Each day I watered them with the hope they might be dormant and their strength would return, but day after day they showed no sign of life.
Fresh lime-green leaves on four of the plants have started to unfurl. I was impatient. Life takes time.
To nurture is to love, even when it seems all is lost.
Over half my body is made from water. More than 70% of the earth is covered in water. If I do not drink I will struggle to survive. Without water over land, life retreats. As a child, water made up three quarters of my body weight. All life on earth first emerged from water. Water more than anything supports my being alive. Soon, something alive (artificial consciousness) will have no need of water.
When something is abundant I all too easily overlook its value. Without need we value even less.
Art is in part defined by its initial contact with my senses. All visual art: with my eyes, music with my ears, and many other art forms through an array of my senses: dance, theatre, opera, film, sculpture and ceramics. Art may go on to stimulate thought. Poetry can also appeal firstly through its sound.
Literature is in part defined by its initial contact with my mind. The physical medium of literature is secondary to its meaning. I read the same from paper, screen, through touch (Braille), or by listening.
What is important to me is likely not to you. There may be rare moments when our priorities collide. It may be that you and I hear the same piece of music we both enjoy. Yet even as we do, at the very moment of our shared pleasure, what is important, what catches our attention, what takes our mind and heart, for each of us, is different. My journey in whatever I experience is distinct from yours.
To love is to listen to another, to act for their need, to place their hope, their joy above my own.
The significance of language is that it means something. It takes time to comprehend.
My speed of knowing is less important to me than my need to know.
When someone speaks or writes and I do not understand, I feel less informed, less aware, less smart. I feel left on the outside. I wish most to be on the inside. Plugged in, switched-on.
When I use unusual or invented words, when I place them freely, my audience is diminished.
A concept is a thought that acts as a foundation for the development of ideas.
An example of a concept: freedom. Not the word, but the idea. Freedom is the bedrock for thoughts and experiences about power, control, hope, despair, and other avenues of considered exploration.
Art may stimulate ideas, and perhaps this is the basis for some to mistakenly view concepts as art.
Marcel Duchamp's Fountain provokes consideration of what art is. It is object as concept, not art.
There is little I loathe more than the vanity of an artist, the self-pruning and presentation of personal identity as if it were evidence of being an artist. It is not. The appearance of an artist is irrelevant to the weight and quality of their art. The surface of a person, their colour, gender, age, their hair, and what they wear does not reveal the artist. Seeking to be well known, courting publicity, self-promotion, and commercial success have nothing to do with making well. Be wary of those charlatans of art.
I am kissed gently on the cheek. I smile. "Thank you".
I have seen her most days for the last six months. I know little of her, and she of me.
"I am cold". I find her something warm. It takes a moment of my time, and yet this gives us time.
I think of the last time she kissed. I think of the last time I was kissed.
We smile. She closes her eyes. "My mother always sang to me, ninety years ago".
I use computers when making with light, sound, and words. Computers host programs that allow me to generate or recall states, compose, and edit. My tools are useful, but not indispensable.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will soon be ubiquitous in the creative process. What will be seen, heard and read will often only come about as a result of the interaction between humans and AI.
Art's authenticity and voice is changing. Something made by the body alone will become more precious.
The room where I work with light and words is full with pictures my son made as he grew up, art by myself and others, numerous books I have read and have yet to read, and far, far too many things I keep to remember a person, an experience, a place, or thought. As time moves, some of these things become more important, and some, less so. I have always remembered a face better than a name, an idea more than a sequence of instructions. I keep for fear of loosing sight of something never to return.
To make art my body senses, my mind considers. As I sense, I become free to make.
Tools provide me with feedback. A pencil for example makes marks on a surface that not only sets down my gestures and thoughts, but the presence of its marks and my gaze encourages new ideas. The same is true for technological tools that help me record words and manipulate light and sound.
Simple forms of making that need no tools bring me most joy: dance, music, storytelling.
Coexistence may be with nature, a person, living things, family, a group, communities, and nations.
I may choose to coexist with a person or others, or I may find myself coexisting through no choice: by birth, family, play, work, or cultural and national circumstance.
I complete the music Coexistence in support of The Rights of Living Things.
To hear sounds well I need to place some distance from them before returning to them. The same is true for working with any creative medium.
As I compose music I listen and grow familiar with its every nuance. The speakers and my position in the room are fine tuned to hear quiet and loud, high and low. Every few hours I rest. On my every return I hear things I have never heard before. Being with well requires I am also without.
Despite my ongoing and greatest efforts, I will only ever feel so much, think so much, know so much. As a living thing I am confined by time.
Although I experience art in time, art is not alive. As my time is different from one moment to the next, so art changes. Art becomes new each time I hear the same music, see the same painting, read the same poem. Art reaches far further in time and place than I. Art becomes, my liberating force.
Thoughts can spontaneously occur, or they may be the result of conscious effort.
Unplanned thoughts are intrinsic in the making of art. Intentional thoughts allow the refinement of art.
A creative act requires I am open to the unexpected from without and within.
Being open to my thoughts can bring me into conflict with cultural, religious, and social norms.
Presenting my thoughts for all to see ensures those close to me are not subject to their secrecy.
Many view art as a business. Many artists view art as a business. An artist has to live. They have to buy food, support a family, pay for a roof over their heads. Somethings are made to be sold.
Money changes what is made. To sell, I must make something that can be sold. If my focus is on the advantage I gain when I make something, I make it for myself.
Love is never sold. Love, by its nature, is given. Making art can be an act of love.
Desire: I want. Thirst: I need.
I glance left, right, then briefly over my shoulder. I am alone. A wilderness stretches out in front of me as far as the eye can see. I could step out and pass the road's end, or return to my car and travel back to the suburbs. I look ahead towards the endless unknown. I choose between safety or discovery.
When it comes to making, I find it helpful to separate those things I want from those I need.
What is important to me is often not to others.
Some will hear my music never to return, some will see my images that for them quickly fade from sight, some will read my words that fail to move their heart or mind.
No matter what or how I say, despite my very best, some will never feel nor think those things I do.
I make with as broad an audience in mind, yet not for everyone for that would be a fool's paradise.
A low haze hugs the still early morning after rain.
The sup of earth. The sweat of leaf. The drip of final drop from tip and top of towered trees.
My skin absorbs the scent of spore, the musk of deer, the shine and wet of wood.
Here, where life begins and ends. With hoof and beat of wing, with brown-green dappled blue.
Here is where I most belong, with you.
I find myself as either or.
I am immersed in the open sea of my passions and love, or absorbed by a world of ideas.
I keep balance between these two great forces through my making.
Making is the fulcrum of my either or. The expression of my otherwise ordinary life.
I journey through the great wilderness of creative discovery. It is the only way I know to remain, whole.
I have three choices: I can add something, take something away, or do nothing.
Painters add or remove pigment; potters add or remove clay; choreographers add or remove movement; photographers and digital artists add or remove light; music composers add or remove sound; writers add or remove words. At times the action is irreversible, unalterable, final.
When I consider any of my actions, I give or take, for doing nothing leaves me only as witness.
Each person who makes finds their comfort to create in different places, times, alone, or with others.
To work well I work alone, but my mind is always full with others. To make well I need freedom: from thinking only of my self; from the practical demands of life; from the restraints of convention.
The creative act requires I listen honestly and openly at all times: to what is being said from within and outside; to the self-critical eye; to the independence and strengths of touch, light, sound, and meaning.
I witnessed the conflict of my parents, verbal and physical. One would shout and scream at the other in exasperation. My mother would hurl objects across the room at my father. I was two years old.
As a boy I experienced long periods of calm before the storm returned each holiday when my sisters arrived home from boarding school. The air was full with deep resentment and hostility.
As a man I wake early from unsettling dream. I write, for making gives chance my dreams are heard.
I discover a creative tool that promises to be valuable. The developer also makes a product that allows film and game makers to mimic the sound of weapons discharging. Although any tool or resource can be used for ill or good, there are some that are more likely to be used thoughtlessly and gratuitously. These may harm. I decide not to buy anything and contact the developer giving my reasons why.
Though others neither know nor would likely care about my choice, my work would carry its shadow.
What makes great art? What great art have I experienced? Ask yourself. Pick a work.
Great Art: something made that significantly moves the mind and heart.
As my mind and heart is different to yours, great art to me will be different than to you.
Many may say (a friend, critic, academic, institution, cultural norm) that a piece of music written by a well known composer is excellent. It may not be if it fails to move my mind and heart...
Whether the qualities that define me are innate or nurtured matters to my confidence and sense of self-control. Perhaps my insatiable need to know was embedded in my environment and upbringing, my need to make, forged from the fire of childhood experiences. Perhaps we are born with propensities.
If it is my nature to be something: this seems more difficult to change than if I have learned to be something. Can instinct be to love or harm? Whether nature or nurture, I am human, I act by choice.
A young robin hops closer as my watering can lets loose its early shower onto the newly planted limbs of a hedge. Pale blue speckled blackbird eggs lay under their mother's down.
A bird's flight and freedom lifts my heart, their song shakes the still morning air with life.
I reluctantly inherited a young cat who, through his own choice, rarely ventures outside. Over the last few weeks his curiosity has increased. I ponder how to prevent harm to predator and prey.
I am by the bedside of a relative in pain. They ask to hold my hand. I do not easily touch others. I hold their hand which helps them cope as they cry out. I am in quiet undisclosed distress.
Her discomfort eases. She rests. I rest.
As I touch I give something precious of myself. My willingness to meet with. My acceptance of another.
I find it difficult to touch when I do not wish to be with, give to, when I am not wholly honest.
A friend loves a photo of woodland more than the artwork I created. Their response encourages me to revisit and revise the page I published by adding two photographs. Both are of the wood in May.
I view the artwork in a new light as I am reminded that my view is coloured by my senses, my sensibilities, temperament, memories, insecurities, happiness, loneliness, and love.
At each moment of its giving and its taking, art becomes new, as my image to the mirror.
Some artists say little about their work: "art should stand on its own two feet, it is what it is".
Take music, an abstract art form. I hear it, I like or I do not. My experience is aesthetic. Listening to someone talk about it may extend my appreciation, but rarely changes my level of engagement.
I think of a poem, an art form that invites understanding: about an individual, many, a place, or ideas.
When the originator does not comment, their art is more likely made by instinct than by thought.
The creative person's sensitivity may be limited to a particular area (for example visual, or aural).
When I come across an artist or composer it is a mistake to think their sensitivity extends to personal understanding, empathy, and insight. How I act with others has little to do with my creative capacity.
My innate sensitivity is no more or less than yours, it is different. We are unique. Although I yearn to share my experiences, I learn and comprehend most when I am open to what others feel and sense.
Transparency: easily perceived. Made known, honest.
During my childhood I trusted my senses: when I viewed a photograph I thought it genuine; when I answered the phone I listened to someone. My general level of trust was greater than today.
Now, when I see an image I know it may be changed. When I hear someone speak it may not be a person, but technology that mimics human speech. Living openly and honestly becomes more prized.
I spend many, many hours making a case for my art. I use the lightest, strongest materials. The case can be easily opened with fastenings. I stand in a long queue of people bringing their work for final consideration in a major exhibition. The air is curiously quiet for so many whose skill it is to express. We shuffle forward towards the thickening sound of bursting bubble wrap. I hand over my work gingerly, it is placed on a trolley. A moment later I witness the clatter of falling frames against my art.
I ponder on what is mine alone: my pleasure; my pain; my sensory experience; my thoughts; my trust; my hope; my happiness; my sadness; my memory; my being self aware; my love.
Although I cannot prove any of these most important experiences that define me, I can express them and indicate their presence through communication, art, music, and by the way I act.
I feel most vulnerable, most misunderstood, most alone without voice, and so I shout.
I walk in a wood of beech trees in early May close to my home. The wood is full with life, from its carpet of leaf and bluebell, to its canopy of glistening light high above.
As I walk I sense my nature and the nature of others. I sense my story as child and man. I sense myself as small moment of a greater thing that breathes.
This coming together, this interdependence is the 'experience', the inner world of plants.
A wooden fence is hard, stark, dead. A hedge is vibrant and alive. Over the years I have replaced a wooden fence in my garden with a hornbeam hedge. Using wood panels as the boundary takes away from the land, growing wood gives back and supports a rich ecosystem of insects and birds.
Like all living things, a hedge requires care. I have responsibility for only one of three sides to the boundary. Persuading my neighbours of the change took many years. Now our gardens teem with life...
Holiday: the setting aside of routine. A time of spiritual observance. A day of celebration. A period of pleasure and change: of place, environment, and experience. A day or days devoted to one another: with family; loved one/s; alone and with nature.
Holidays are often viewed as time off. I view them as opportunities to switch on.
With creative occupation I try to count each day as set apart, sacred, full with chance and change.
I ponder on my words of yesterday. Why experiencing the same is of such significance to me.
With distance I am separated. Physical distance. Emotional distance. Distance un/intended. Distance of circumstance, purpose, and comfort. Distance experienced close and far.
With distance I learn, I am challenged, I grow, and yet at all times and with every opportunity I try to close the distance between myself and others, and another, between who I wish to be and how I am.
I look up. You look up. We see the sky. With two miles distance between us, the further those things we view, the closer we see the same. A low passing cloud, overhead for you, is far closer to the edge of sky for me. As we each view the moon there is the slightest difference to the angle of our gaze. With a star, at a short distance between us, our angle of gaze is experienced as identical.
The shape of sky. The sound of bird. Day, cloud, night, moon and stars. The stars, our place of meeting.
I hold the oldest object in my home, made two thousand years ago: a beautiful bronze vessel that lays in my palm with an exquisitely shaped lid. I wrote a poem to accompany this gift I never gave.
I touch the oxidized green, blue and brown surface of the vessel. I breathe moments from the past.
I am transformed by something made, something as still as stone, something that never lived.
The object holds me like a spell, for art moves me: in thought, with feeling, from place to place.
As someone experiencing art I have the chance to meet with, be with, and observe the inner world of another. Not just that of the artist, but of others who encounter art. An artwork may be abstract, it may not represent anything in the physical world, and yet I am still offered these gifts by its presence.
When I look at a painting, hear music, or read a poem, I am equal with others who do so. Art charges my senses, my feelings and thoughts. I become the mirror and the eye.
An idea is abstract and has no physical existence. An idea may be simple or complex and can include imagined sensations experienced by the body. To have an idea I must be conscious, self aware.
Thought: a string of ideas that often leads somewhere.
Art: something created that holds special significance.
Art is more than an idea. Art is more than thought alone. If I say a thing is art it does not make it so.
Creative Estate: things that have been created and made by an individual, and that have rights associated with them. These could be material, recorded, or intellectual in nature. For example, a painting or poem could fall into all three areas, music would fall into the last two, and an idea that is only passed on aurally would fall only into the last.
I set out my creative estate that I make freely available for all to experience as a list on a single page.
In common with all creative people, there are periods when I loose my confidence to make. This may result from the practical demands of life; that I judge my work falls far short of the line of excellence I aspire to; that those close to me are unmoved by what I make; that I loose hope my work can ever bring me close; that I doubt my work has the potential to be the cause of positive change.
More than anything, it is the medium itself that re-reignites my spirit: light, sound, words.
A one line poem by an unknown individual:
I sit on the pavement as a king upon their thrown: a stone silent subject without respect or home.
If a homeless person wrote this, a sovereign head of state, or computer algorithm, would it change its strength? Its meaning? Its worth? Would the words be less or more?
With words alone my world shakes free from the tyranny of authority.
Language is immeasurably important to me, yet much of the time I struggle to use and understand it.
Take music as an example. I may try to talk and write about it, but whatever I say does not come close to the experience of it. When I imagine a wordless tune in my head it is without language.
The same is true for dance. Both music and dance, those things I experience so easily, so beautifully, are far distant from language, and perhaps this is why I love them so intensely.
Two leaders from hostile nations shake hands. It is in the moment of touching, skin to skin, when the journey towards positive change is given chance.
Touch, personal and political, is often withheld. Touch is meaningful. It is a sign of giving over, of trust.
Some misuse touch for personal gain. The insistence or force of touch crosses our inner line.
I rarely felt the touch of my mother, my father, or my sisters. As a child I knew the power of touch well.
I make most when in love or with the hope of love.
I make for one, or many. For someone to love, or for all to love.
Making for one is far easier than making for many. For one, the creative process flows like a force of nature. For many, the creative journey is more abstract, principled, altruistic.
Making something is only half the story. Stories are only complete when read.
I make to express my love, as a means to change, and to return to the ideas and experiences I find most important and powerful. Most often my work does not retain the strength I felt during its making.
Although my failures weaken my confidence, they do not undermine the reasons for my making.
My hunger to share is as strong now as when I first made as a child. It is not self-belief that sustains me, but love, the necessity of change, and the ideas and experiences of life, its beauty and potential.
Stopping short a life is within my reach as it is for most humans who are not restrained. For many, the willingness to take a life, to kill, is a matter of degree. Most are comfortable taking the life of a flower, a tree, but might pause at the loss of a forest. Many are comfortable for others to take life on their behalf for food: vegetation, fish, cattle. Some will agree to a life taken during or after a serious crime, or in self-defense. Some take life for principle, self-interest, or madness. Some sadly take their own.
It took a day before the ideas of yesterday solidified. A day to consider and better say. A day to remove the unnecessary dry language that arose from my strong wish to convince.
Those who read my first draft may not clearly remember what and how I wrote, but they will indirectly remember. That is, their reading of the newer draft will be involuntarily coloured by the first.
When I return to be with someone, when I see and hear them again, all that has passed remains.
Collateral Damage: unintended harm. A euphemism that serves to deflect feelings of moral concern. The term first appeared when I was in my mother's womb.
A child that is inadvertently killed as a result of a military operation. A fishing net that traps seabirds, turtles, and marine mammals while catching a target species.
Language may be used to conceal, deflect, and calm our guilt. Unintended harm is not unforseen.
On the floor in front of a street busker a sign reads "Don't Give Me Money, Just Listen". Some walk by, but many stop. Once the music comes to an end, the crowd applauds. Some stay, a few move on. The performance is recorded on a phone and uploaded. Online there is little give and a lot of take. Few spend a moment to express their thanks, even with a swipe of the finger.
In person I often respond, I am prone to remember. On screen I can all too easily forget.
To live I require air, water, and food. To live well I need shelter, health, social care, education, and the arts. When I compete for these things, I reduce their prevalence.
More evasive is my need of purpose, confidence, understanding, community, and friendship.
Outside myself, yet in my interest, is care for the world and living things.
Politics debates whether to or how to support these. Put simply, they are nurtured with love.
Water Vapour: the invisible, gaseous phase of water.
Dew: tiny water droplets condensed from water vapour.
As many mornings since childhood: I walk outside, bend down, then run my fingers and palm gently across the dew-soaked blades of grass. This simple gesture connects me with the earth and sky.
Poetry is as dew: the evidence of something changed, that comes to view from one state to another.
I need air, not just to breathe, but for its open sky.
I need water, not just to drink, but to cry, to float and swim.
I need food, not just to live, but for its fuel of time, to be, of being with.
To make I need the share of air, of water, food, of you.
To love I need the all and none of this, the kiss of life, the touch of dew.
Everything I experience is subject to the possibility it will be expressed in my art, music, or words. Take yesterday as an example. I reported my sister's accident and ponder on the brief moment of time when she viewed the inevitability of impending pain. With this account the reader becomes witness.
The experience I wrote about was not mine. With this comes the added care of shaping the words so they are respectful of a person's dignity. The artist can so easily be the parasite of incident and feeling.
My sister trips and falls badly down some concrete stairs as she walks back to her home. She calls for help but no one comes. She makes her way to a local church where kind people tend to her. I receive a phone call and take her to the hospital. She has broken her nose and cracked her cheekbone. It is four hours before the drip of blood subsides and her confidence begins to return, slowly.
Back home she recounts her thoughts as the ground approached: "This is going to hurt".
The human mind prefers simple, speedy solutions. I often take the shortest route from A to B, but this may not be the wisest nor the safest path. I judge the choice is mine to take.
A violent action in defence or agression by a democratic nation represents its collective resolve and will. Certainty by its leaders seeks to sustain the people's support, and asserts the authority of their act.
To call a nation democratic, its actions must follow a free vote after open dialog of its representatives.
The Right of Self Protection: A living being has the right to defend and protect itself with a proportionate response when in imminent risk, but not to carry out a preemptive attack.
It could be argued that the principle of self protection extends to states and nations, but justification of defense outside the national sphere requires the "self" represents human kind. "We protect humanity".
Before using physical force in this way, the disclosure of evidence and transparent debate are essential.
I talk. I smile. I fall in love. I move. I make.
I am a skeptic. I doubt without evidence. I do not follow quickly, nor believe swiftly.
I try to act with care. I know my many failings. I know my feelings well.
I am unbending in my convictions. I am unyielding in my optimism. I am ever hopeful.
I trust in my love: of people; nature; the world of living things; where art, music and words make known.
Language is at the heart of what it is to be human.
Language is not passive, it creates laws, builds alliances, and provides a means to understand the world of others. It makes shape of our cultural, spiritual and political accomplishments, and is what has and will continue to be the primary tool that humans use to change the world.
The care of choosing words, how many, to whom, and when, is our means to live in peace or war.
In the summer of my sixteenth year I lived for a week on a small uninhabited island, the bird sanctuary of Burhou, home to puffins, storm petrels, oyster-catchers, gulls, and the never ending tidal rapid of fast-moving swells, eddies, and strong underwater currents that will wash a careless swimmer out to sea.
This single week of fleeting cloud and sky, of razor sharp and craggy rock, of daily circumnavigation of a lonely, beautiful, natured isle, is never far from where I breathe, I stand. I sleep with sound of wave.
My body is made of cells, the smallest structures within me. Over half of these cells are not human.
My body is host to many tiny forms of life in addition to the fourteen kinds of cells I make. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses, both helpful and hurtful, make up the community of my physical presence.
If I think of myself only as a physical being, I am far less than meets the eye.
It is my mind, my spirit, my actions that form my me, for my body is but the vessel of existence.
I visit Wentworth Place, the house where the poet John Keats lived two hundred years ago.
During his short life of twenty five years, he published fifty four poems in three short volumes.
In his time the poems of John Keats were little known - two hundred copies read.
This place is not the same, and yet I sense its touch. A time of spring and nightingale, of love still whispered through the walls in hopeless ache. The muse and loss of time's oppressive might.
When a child's life, a woman's life, a man's life is lost, no matter where, I loose my chance to love that child, that woman, that man. With them my greatest gift in life to give is gone.
I am never far from hostility, as humans we know it well among ourselves. I am not helpless in conflict near or far. I can resist: when something disheartens me, frustrates me, angers me. I have the choice to stifle my urge that strikes back with words or deeds, and when I do, I sense the gift of freedom.
I spin words endlessly over in my mind. This is useful when it comes to making, but difficult when with others as there is no tap or switch to turn off my flow of thought.
My greatest contentment is with nature, whether alone, or with another when silently sharing its force.
With nature, as far as the eye can see, as distant as the ear can hear, words are not required.
Wilderness: a place where my heart and mind settles. A place not of thought, but of being.
My discussion with an editor at Wikipedia appears to be drawing to a close. I have tried my best to persuade them of my case, however it seems at this stage I have failed.
I ponder on what to do when someone is resistant to an exchange of opinions. Without meaningful response a conversation halts. The audience turns away, closes their eyes, and covers their ears.
With art there is always the possibility of return, no matter the mood of my leaving.
When making, whatever the medium, I try to bring together two often opposing forces: the instinctive and spontaneous creative impulse; and the considered skills of experience and judgment. The first allows me to make in the moment without conscious thought and can be immensely pleasurable. The second is the toil and craft of making, the thoughtful effort of composition and careful choice.
I try never to loose sight of the moment as I make something to last.
The role of an editor, whether working with words, music, film or another medium, is to carefully consider material then decide upon its final form. This often requires an appreciation of content from a dispassionate distance in light of those who will most likely take it in.
As yesterday progressed I continually reworked On Being Deleted, and still, after over 150 edits I sense the process is not yet complete, perhaps because I am not fully and emotionally detached...
A user page at Wikipedia provides information about the contributor or editor of content. My user page at Wikipedia has been deleted under the premise that I misused the page for self promotion. I have held an account there for very many years and I strongly refute this. I only ever use Wikipedia to inform.
Although I made few direct contributions as an editor, I have pointed frequently to the site in my publications since 2002. Its value as a research tool is immeasurable. Read my thoughts:
To live with another, one or both set aside their preferences. Take eating food. A shared meal, neither seasoned or plain. For the one who enjoys strong flavours, the taste may be bland. For the other, the food may still be strong with spice. Compromise makes plain the gap between.
Living with requires I balance my love and need for, against my tastes: of food, film, art, music, clothes, of what I care for, of what moves me. At times difference strains, and at its broadest, breaks.
I browse a vast book store, home to over 150 thousand volumes. I am struck by how many have something to say, yet how few read their words. By how little I know and is yet to learn. Being among these books I faintly sense the scale of human expression. What could possibly add to such wealth?
Your voice is unique. You travel a path from birth like no other. You sense like no other. You feel like no other. Never doubt, you who read these words have things to say that others wish to hear.
We search for something lost. A short phrase that held some truth of shared experience. Words that briefly, beautifully, held the us together with the why some are so driven to express and make.
We write. I, here. You, there. For one to see. For all to read. We write with hope, with anger, with pain, with doubt, with love. We write to know, to be transformed, to feel the same or differently, to hold ourself alone and with. The act of making breaks and bonds my heart with moments lost and found.
Each day I come across more I yearn to share: of beauty, sadness, and strength. I do so rarely.
In casual conversations a woman shows her deep devotion to her faith. She leads a quiet family life of prayer, contemplation and love. She is to retire from her work at my local chemist. I will miss her.
By sharing here the smallest thing about her, something of her life settles with me, and with you.
Making known helps me return to the kindness of her face and the warmth and humour of her voice.
The difficulty in being someone who searches to understand before they make is that at times I do not have, nor will I ever gain the knowledge of why someone acts in the way they do.
Following a day of practical difficulties or an experience that has moved me deeply I recover best with simple tasks and silence. My I is settled when it has the space to breathe.
To learn I need the comfort and the stretch of time.
Over the last three months I have come to know a community of elderly people who require more care than can be easily provided in their own homes. Anne finds it difficult to walk, Peter cannot see well, Don is for the most part in pain and bedridden, Joan finds it difficult to remember.
I arrive. It is good to see you. With a smile: and you. You're staying for a while. Yes. Do not leave me. We talk about anything and everything. An hour later: stay, just a minute more, do not leave me, do not go.
Intelligence: the ability to perceive or infer information from data, the senses, stillness or change (physical or emotional), and to retain this as knowledge that leads to new pathways and actions.
Artificial Intelligence: intelligence demonstrated by non-organic networks and devices.
Decisions made as a result of AI are no longer transparent. We do not know how the latest and most powerful AI works, despite our insight and instinct. A new way of being with, is upon us.
Something can be expressed that is of value by someone I do not care for.
Art is interpretive, it is often used to make a point. Although an artist may create a body of work, a work of art assumes a value and significance of itself. Despite the artist's intention, motivation and behaviour, art enjoys a life all of its own: politically, culturally and aesthetically. Mozart the man is not his music...
If I dismiss or deny the voice of those I disagree with, if I close my eyes, if I scrub art out, I blind myself.
Watch as water flows. Translucent. Dappled. Mirrored light. See all as one: the river's wedded might.
When making I am easily caught up in the detail. Is this word well said? Does that word sit well? Is its sound and placement clear? Whatever the artistic medium, I can become so immersed as to drown in the task and pleasure of making at the expense of experiencing the emerging work in the round.
Whatever I make, with light, sound or words, at times I must pull back.
My passions are easily roused. I am prone to exuberance, and melancholy. I unveil the force of my emotions in my own company and tend to quell them with others as they cause discomfort.
When I feel strongly about something, perhaps by the way someone acts, I have an intense need to understand and express myself. If I view their act as helpful or harmful, I point it out, obliquely, and as with all things that most personally affect me, I take my time, often so much, many leave...
A well known self-publicist, entrepreneur and serial pretender of the title artist is once again adding to his considerable personal wealth with his new show. A collection of noted paintings in an eighteenth century mansion have been replaced in situ by roundish marks of paint on canvas created by anonymous hired painters who are required to apply an average of 1,500 spots a day.
Words and placement assert this as art, characterized by exploitation, ridicule, and greed.
The purpose of promotion is to make people aware. I do this by publishing my work and informing those interested of its availability. I do not however network, advertise, or market what I make as these activities take me away from making. There is too little time. Events designed to raise the profile and status of my work require I claim its significance. This is not for me to say. I have no wish to manipulate interest of and in my work. If it is of value, people will come, if it is less so, people will not.
If a work of art does not appeal to my senses, enrich my experience, or provoke ideas, it fails in its purpose. This may be as a result of the work itself, or of my willingness or ability to connect with it.
In my previous post I wrote: when I look directly I see less. The same is true for art and life, but in saying this I change the nature of my words from the poetic to the mundane. I state the obvious. I try again:
When I look directly I see less, as much as when I sense the edge, with mind, in mind these coalesce.
At night and in the dark, I see far better with my peripheral vision as compared with looking straight ahead. The rods in my retina that are more sensitive to light and motion are fewer at the centre where the cones of my retina that help me see detail and colour are over fifteen times more numerous.
When I look directly I see less, as much as when I only attend to those things at the edge of my vision.
If I am to use light well in my work, then I must know it well, as is true of sound and words.
During every moment of my life, somewhere on this earth someone loves. It may be a child's love for their parent, or a parent's for their child; the love between siblings, partners, friends, strangers; between one species and another; of nature, of ideas, of self. Now, as you read, and now once more is love.
By love of self I mean the care, respect and kindness of the self. Love is not desire nor seeks gain.
Alone and with others, at any time, I am free to act with love. When I choose not to love I harm myself.
I often wonder what it must be like to be physically beautiful. I am not, however I love things that are.
I love the shape and texture of a ceramic bowl, the dancing light of a movie, the ideas and words of a poem, the sound of someone's voice, the push and pull of trees in high wind.
Physically beautiful people are under the constant gaze of others. Their human exchanges are with those who wish to be close, often not for their interest, but for what they transfer by way of their beauty.
Article One is published in support of The Rights of Living Things.
Pulsing rhythms play in sympathy and syncopation. A sea of sound, effervescent and full with dance. An ancient and beautiful Armenian instrument made of apricot wood sings soulfully with the ebullient, ever present palpitation of life...
Defining life and how I act towards it challenges my sense of human self-importance.
An image I created is on the shortlist for The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The RA has presented this annual exhibition that invites submissions from anyone and everywhere since 1769.
It is curious that association with a place can change the perceived significance or status of a work of art. The piece chosen is no different than it was before its selection, and yet others may think it so.
Art is judged so often on a whim, or through association, despite the artist's wish.
As a human I am vulnerable and clothe myself with the pretense that I know better, that those with me are as me, that they should look, feel and think as I, that those who disagree are likely to be wrong.
Trust and doubt are at the centre of all human relationships. How much I trust or doubt leads to how I act or fail to act. Thoughtful trust requires effort and courage, doubt requires neither.
To make I must at all times question my doubt. To make well is the search and care of trust.
I find myself in the accident and emergency department of a hospital through the early hours with someone in extreme emotional distress. By morning their acute anxiety has lessened.
At times there are clear reasons for anxiety: when at risk; when a task is overwhelming; as a result of the consequences of an action. More often anxiety is mercurial and increases when the self is at the forefront of the mind. The most effective weapon to counter its effect is to act in the interest of others.
Photography mirrors what I see so well I think it ordinary. Unlike a painting, a photo rarely comes close to what I experience. When photos are beautiful, ambiguous, when their form and subject is unusual or arresting, my attention is captured for a spell. Photos are however rarely found on my walls compared with the imperfect gesture of painting, except when acting as an aid to memory of a loved one or place.
As art, the photo often remains constrained by its flat, uninterupted surface. Its touch remains remote.
One thing I could not be without is love. To love, and be loved. Although I am not immersed in love every moment of every day, when love is not present it is often something hoped for and informs how I act.
Self-control is the quality I find most significant in my efforts to love and work well. This leads to the care of action. I try to encapsulate these thoughts in a short poem:
Before. Now. After. In work. At play. The all of anything with weight. Alone. With others. Love.
I strike the key of a single note in the middle of the piano. A sound rings out and gradually fades to silence. There is no rhythm or beat to the sound. This is not music. This is not organised sound.
I strike two keys on the piano. The sound rings out and gradually fades to silence. With two notes a relationship forms. There is no rhythm or beat, yet I experience the sound as more than two separate notes. I hear their combination. If I repeat the sound of two notes playing, music begins to emerge.
My friend asks whether sharing is by nature an exchange. If I make something, then publish it for anyone to experience freely, is that sharing? I think of different ways to understand sharing: I share food or shelter; I give and take in conversation; I experience or think about something with another. Sharing is often immediate and reciprocal, but does it require the clear prospect of receiving something back?
Share: a portion of something that can be given, with/out requirement, expectation, or hope of return.
During my childhood I spent many months of the year without sisters, and periods with them when they returned from boarding school. My twin aunts who fostered us decided I would attend a local day school. My experience of frequent separation as a child did not lesson my need or desire for others, however it led to resentment against me, and hesitancy in my forming close friendships. I became familiar with how and why we come to hide ourselves when together.
I ponder on how much of my day is spent on me: the love I feel or hope for; my thirst and hunger; eating; drinking; the risks I face or avoid; my entertainment; my learning; my daydreams, my dreams at night; my thinking about the consequences of how I act; my thinking of myself before another, or the world.
When I hear music, when I walk with nature, or act in the interest of another, I am free of myself. I am heartened that music touches so many, nature is above and below, and that love is found far and wide.
I think of an object in my home. I appreciate the astonishing skill and craft of its making, and the pleasure it brings to my senses. The object is not easily placed into a cultural or historical narrative. There is no clear indication of its origin or creator, and because of this its price is low, yet as an anonymous work of art its beauty is undiminished, its significance aesthetic, personal.
The experience of art derives from what is seen, heard, said, or touched. All else is smoke and mirrors.
With family and friends my name is Mike. A single syllable name: the outward breath begins as lips are closed, as they part the tongue pulls back, and half way, is held to the roof of the mouth until pressure builds, and the tongue is suddenly released. Online my name is Mike de Sousa. There are others with this name, but I have more. My name from start to end is Michael Peter Lawrence Paul de Sousa.
I use my name to signify I stand by what I say. To say with made up name would weaken what I say.
Things are done because of love, anger, practical necessity, desire, faith, greed, ambition, frustration, curiosity, the wish to learn, to be known or recognized, or a chaotic combination of these things.
By their nature, the artist is unable to remain silent or submissive. Their doing arises from their intense personal discomfort of being motionless. The products of their doing are often made public.
My restive spirit, my unsettled soul is the fuel of my doing. It is also the cause of my undoing.
A restless song in the still darkness ripples through the narrow gap in my window.
Insistent, exuberant, percolating.
No words sufficiently describe the restive, bubbling, life attesting flitter.
As dawn unseats the night, the sound of robin fades.
The hold of heaven, hushed.
Half of yesterday's photographic work is unrecoverable, gone. That light and experience will not return.
When something is lost due to my fault I can dwell on it with nagging regret, or use my discontent as the engine for a new journey. As soon as day begins to break I will tread out into the freezing fog.
The photographs I lost were the most dramatic and forceful. Without them I turn to words:
I stand in whirl of powder white, the bite of bitter cold, of rasping wail of wind, and here I find my home.
Near my home, on the single track lanes that fall between bare ploughed winter fields, snow drifts grow to twice my height. I am out early with my camera as the wind howls and the blizzard builds.
Nature overwhelms with its beauty and force. Within its enveloping might my being is full with wonder.
The camera is my companion, and as I, it retains only the faintest spec of experience.
The photograph is no more, no less than a frozen memory of place, its spirit and vitality.
I talk of art more than any other area of human activity because it has the capacity to bring people together, irrespective of their age, gender, cultural practices, politics, and religious beliefs.
I view art as essential in my journey to understand others, and the appreciation of those things within and outside of me. Art is my most significant means of sharing and is aligned with love.
In common with love, art is often exploited personally, competitively, commercially, and for status.
If art is the movement from the mind to something sensed and significant, is literature art? Yes, but not always. The same is true for painting, film, photography, ceramics, and music. At times these things are made exclusively to persuade, inform, emote, to be practically useful, decorative, or to entertain.
I spontaneously hum a short tune. I create music, but not art. It is possible for this to become art through its development, repetition or placement. I can make art, but art is not everything I make.
Art is more than an idea. At times art has no idea. An idea is something that only exists in the mind.
Some artists have an idea and present this as if it is art. For example, the following phrase could hang suspended from a ceiling in a gallery: IS THIS ART? Perhaps for some, for others, no.
Asserting something is art does not make it so. If it did, everything could be art, and art would be of no importance. Art is the movement from the mind to something sensed and significant.
Giving unconditionally does not mean one does not long to receive.
I make something with light, sound, or words. I spend many hours and days that often turn into weeks, and for my larger works, years. I publish these so as many can experience what I most value and observe without the distraction and cost of commerce or public comment.
The price and prize of giving is by its nature far greater than receiving.
The faint ghost-like form of a rocket launches from the centre of our forest-green earth, its fiery plume wraps the world with layers of gold where only a hint of ocean-blue remains.
Through things unknown and its appeal to our senses, art draws us back, and as it does so, we ponder.
Art's seed of discontent is laid.
During a conversation I pause to catch my breath, I ponder, I think. With my friend, as we talk, the silence that sometimes falls between us fails to unfasten our attention.
With friendship silence is neither passive nor uncomfortable, it is where the act of mutual attentiveness takes shape. Here, silence is rich with interest, kindness, and anticipation.
Friends wait unencumbered in their shared silence.
Pigment on shells for a necklace made by Neanderthals has been dated to 115,000 years ago. Paintings in a cave in Maltravieso, western Spain are 65,000 years old. Prior to these discoveries, Neanderthals were thought not to have created art. Homo sapiens no longer stand alone in this.
The need to express visually and the appreciation of beauty is ancient, primal.
Art connects me with my ancestors, those living, and those to come. Art's flow is far and wide.
I listen to a short piano piece. The music is beautiful, powerful, mysterious. If I listen with others, if they move as I, slowly or with pace, at the same time and in the same place, we sense and share without the need of words. Movement and sound precedes language and meaning.
Music I hear alone is enough to change my day from dark to light, and back again.
Music I hear with others gives me, in its time, hope that others feel the same.
From a young age I have taken care of animals and birds, usually after the loss or incapacity of a relative. Although I have been a reluctant volunteer I have learned a great deal from my experiences with non-humans. My reluctance stems from my duty of care, an especially powerful force within me as I was cared for by others outside my immediate family from early infancy.
Animals and birds come to trust in their own time. Mutual trust cannot be forced, but is required to care.
My son asked where I think thoughts exist. Somewhere physical? Or somewhere else? I think of a bird, high above, against a blue sky. The bird does not exist except for a time in my mind, and now, in yours.
Words are magical in conveying thoughts... Is the bird between our ears? Or somewhere else? Is the bird where neurons fire in the brain? Or does the idea 'bird' have a 'life' of its own? I look up and see a real bird against the real blue sky. I sense both my birds fly somewhere else, at times, out of sight.
Wisdom is a quality difficult to describe, yet easily recognized.
To see things as they are rather than as I hope or wish: I try to set aside those things I want but do not need; I try to overturn any feelings of frustration and anger; and I try to remain open to journeys of thought, knowledge and experience that may challenge my long held views.
As I ponder on my meagre efforts I am far from being wise.
To make I must feel.
Feelings may arise from things said to me, from ways people act towards me, and from my imaginative journeys of hope and fear. I make most when in love: a state of love for one, many, or with nature.
The love of one, the need to love and be loved by another concerns myself. The love of many requires I think far less about myself. The love of nature includes myself but only as a part of a far greater whole.
I voice my opinion about art in its various forms. I am not paid to do so, nor do my words appear in a distinguished publication. That I also make with light, sound and words may be enough to bolster interest in what I say. I think about the experience of art, and the nature of art and artists.
Much of what I say is open to a range of readings. I may use poetic language to make my point.
The critic asserts their analysis and judgment. At all times be sceptical. Interrogate my thoughts...
Does what I make matter? Is it enough to stir another's thoughts and feelings? Does what I do lead to change? If no, then am I no more than the empty howl of wind across some distant moor?
Self-doubt is necessary for anyone who has anything worth saying, but it makes the journey hard.
Giving without receiving is a struggle, and yet I know its importance. Is making art, alone, enough?
Light, sound and words remain immeasurably important to me, and I continue with hope, for others.
You may be my mother, my father, my son, my daughter, sister, brother, lover, friend or foe. Whatever we are to one another there comes a point when you are no longer near in time or place.
If you hurt me I may dwell on you with darkness. If you loved me, I dream of you with light.
Today I think not of our time, but of yours. What you leave when you are gone is more than what is shared. You form the very fabric of my world. I think of you and you alone, with love I think of you.
Some value words that calmly and carefully uncover. Others prefer the zeal of fearless enthusiasm.
Those who enjoy a carefully crafted argument may tire of my tendency towards the poetic. Those who enjoy my passion may wilt at my need to interrogate and understand.
At times it is difficult to keep the balance between these two spirited forces at play.
The storm is as vital as my most peaceful moment. I need both passion and control.
Art, in all its forms, offers places to meet in mind and body.
Unlike politics or religion, both personal and social, art invites different points of view. Although art may be political or spiritual, it is a context that is home to all ways of being, and in this it is unique.
Whether I am strong or weak, with or alone, art brings me close to the fingerprints of life.
Art, the open sky and boundless sea.
Representational Art: the products of creative activity that stand for something experienced, or for ideas. For example, narrative literature, theatre and film, portraiture, landscape painting/photography.
Abstract Art: the products of creative activity that are non representational. For example, music, painting and dance whose enrichment is through its movement, form, tone, texture, and colour.
Art is most often both, as an ink blot spreads its reach, animating thought and imagination.
Once I complete a piece of music I have a choice of what to do with it: I could only allow you to listen to it for a price; I could license its use as stock music in advertising, games and film; I could gain status and notoriety from its success; I could use it as the source for my income to live. All these forms of personal benefit take the focus away from the music's core nature and purpose.
Art's primary strength of enriching thought and body are diminished by its exploitation.
When you come here it is you and I. Two minds meeting through language, the victor of time.
If I charged to view these words, it would make what I say no more valuable.
If I told you a million visit here each day, what I say would be of no more importance.
If some of what I say strikes a chord you may judge your time well spent. If not, you will quickly leave never to return. Come or go for what is said, not for the snare of popularity nor the charm of promotion.
At times, when exasperated or in pain I swear, but I avoid using offensive language in my work.
Some count profanity as an indicator of normality and realism. Although the most vocal, they are not the majority. Despite the analgesic benefit and social comfort of cursing, those who place their spontaneous expression over the respect of others deny themselves opportunities.
I am more challenged to make art that that is as powerful for the old and young, as those in-between.
Mistake: an act in error or view that is unwise or wrong.
Wrong: not true or correct, factually or ethically.
I make many mistakes. I hope the majority of them are honest. That is, I make a choice with good intention, but after the event I realize through thought or discovery, I could have made a better one.
Accepting a mistake as honest aids forgiveness. It is not possible to make art without mistakes.
Socrates, the Athenian philosopher, said words are to knowledge as pictures are to their subjects.
When I come to know through words, sound or images, I know only a facet compared with the experience of my being in a place or with a person. Socrates believed we only truly come to know through dialogue, through sharing. When I watch a film it can be personally affecting, meaningful, and powerful, however without dialogue about it, my knowing is limited by my small, deficient perspective.
To live is to change. My body is a moving object, inside and out. All life and all else I touch is in constant transition. At times and for some things the change is imperceptibly slow, and at others, and for others, the time of transition from one state to another is in the blink of an eye.
I am drawn most to art that I can return to, a poem, music, sculpture, a painting, a photo, a film. I ponder whether part of art's magnetism is its relative and contrasting stability to my ever shifting existence.
Instinct: innate behaviour in response to something that moves us physically or psychologically.
Will: the desire to act, distinct from reason and understanding, and often driven by spirit or appetite.
Doing anything requires instinct, will, or a combination of the two. I have a strong resistance in doing anything I do not want to do that I feel has little value.
Through instinct, the willful artist creates, despite social and practical pressures, despite clear cause.
I often fail to recognize the detail of written symbols. I am dyslexic. Take my name: Michael. To this day I have to check the order of letters to ensure I have written it correctly. It is the same for written music. I can read, but to do so quickly I absorb the overall shape, tone and context of what I see.
My failure to recognize written symbols accurately forces me to consider their meaning more carefully. This habit extends to listening and being with others. The things I fail to see frame my urge to know.
Making requires time. It is easier to estimate the time it takes to make something similar to something already made. When objects have a functional or clear use, the process of making is also more efficient. In contrast, the time required to make art is unpredictable.
A price is often placed on the time devoted to a task. Surrendering my time I write for you.
Time I take, I give, I make my time for you. Time is all I have: my moment as a word upon the page.
The more I come to trust, the more I am at ease. I trust in love's potential to make good.
I write: the politics of friendship is negotiating the scope of what is comfortably shared.
Trust requires the never ending flow of effort and love. Even between the closest of friends, there is a boundary to trust, an edge defined by vulnerability and risk. My strength of trust is in direct proportion to a person's kindness, not just given to me, but instinctively and honestly given to others.
As I make, darkness and light is my routine. One moment up, the next, down.
The more I devote to the creation of an artwork, the more my personal investment, the further the fall that follows. I wait to know how others feel, far more than what they think. My confidence rides high or low on the response of those I love.
After such a world of sound, silence, while no one's fault, is hard to hear. And then, someone speaks...
The music and artwork Fragile Earth is published in support of The Right of Self Protection.
I consider whether this right could reasonably extend to defending and protecting the earth against the grave risk humans cause to the environment and countless living species.
The final draft is a point of view that something is ready to complete.
I made over thirty drafts before deciding on the final approach for the artwork that will accompany the music I will publish tomorrow, and that I will point to here before this thought: above.
A draft precedes or is made in preparation for something more refined, meticulous, eloquent.
There are many times when what I make goes no further than the final draft.
For those who returned after reading yesterday's entry when first written: thank you.
I was tired after a prolonged period of poor sleep and my words held many mistakes before I revisited my thoughts. In addition to correcting my errors I gradually pared away the wheat from the chaff.
Those who journey here frequently witness my weakness. I often pick myself up, dust myself off, and start over. Perhaps the greatest value in being an onlooker is that one learns most from the fall.
Force or the denial of liberty may silence a problem, but it does not resolve it.
Conflict leads to pain and resentment.
Difficulties between people, large and small, are resolved with open, honest dialogue. Body to body. Person to person. Nation to Nation.
At times, words are deeds.
Among the most intense hurt I feel is through words. I can be hurt most by those I love. I tend to hide my hurt. When hurt I withdraw, I ponder on the words I and those that hurt me spoke.
Hurt most often occurs with loved ones when they too are hurt. Once I become mindful of this and set my own hurt aside, my injury begins to ease.
I enjoy the winter, not for its cold or darker days, but for the chance from early evening to gaze at the moon and countless pricks of twinkling light.
Two figures look up from their ocean home, their place of vibrant life, towards the great sky, sun and stars above...
A thought occurs in the mind. Although language is the most apparent expression of thought, I also have musical ideas, ideas of movement, and visual ideas. These thoughts arise from different places to where language springs from. At times I am aware of my thoughts, and at others I am not.
When I taste, or sense an aroma, I am often transported to a different place, person, or event. In my dreams I talk, I hear sounds, I see, I move. Memory too is thought. Thought, the vessel of my being me.
Language is at the heart of me. It helps me understand and express myself through the lens of meaning. Language forms a bridge between my world and others. Art and music do this too, however it is language that is by far the most articulate, and my clearest path to becoming aware.
My thoughts flow as language, sometimes silently, sometimes aloud, often repeating or disappearing. I develop or interrogate ideas, or one spontaneously appears, yet thought is more than language alone.
I talk with Jim, a man whose every moment is an imaginative journey made from the continuous flow of thought from his distant past in an effort to make sense of his present. His creativity runs wild, his verbal inventiveness is without restraint and made known with deep conviction. He unsettles many.
I have known people like Jim since childhood when I visited my mother who spent many periods of her life in psychiatric hospital. My father's name was Jim. Jim needs to talk. I listen. We come to be at ease.
Alive as bitter winter bites, on a small plot of land for care and cultivation, you find in flower, with scent and love: lavender and rosemary. Despite the cold, the northern light is strong. You make, then send the image of a dark blue paper print that holds their form, that you will further tend and forge as art.
Fragrant, evergreen, healing needled leaves of old, purple-blue, culinary herb, ameliorating oil.
Art is not merely the safekeeping of experience, it is its transformation.
Beauty: a powerful positive quality I feel emanating from somewhere, someone, or something - outside myself, experienced by myself. That which is beautiful may be physical, an idea, or an action.
A person, place, action, object, or idea is beautiful by way of its nature to inspire. When I sense beauty, I try to seperate my wish for it to remain, I try to place desire aside. Desire is my urge for something to be mine, the illusion that something can be owned when in truth all I ever have, as music, is momentary.
Those who write believe they have something worth saying. I ponder on when my sense of self crosses the line from confidence to arrogance. Is what I write significant? It is conceit to think it so.
I write because something moves me, or when I find something beautiful - I yearn for someone else to feel the same. I write to make sense of my experiences, and those of others. I write in hope.
I try to write with love, for only love dulls the stupor of the self.
With art I am free to make mistakes. I can improve without concern or offense.
Take the poem below. The words I wrote are not spoken to one but written for many. I revisit my words and make changes. Unlike a conversation I am not judged by long silences, I am not too much, or too little, neither misunderstood nor viewed of as insensitive. With art I take my time to say.
When making art I can return. With people, sadly and so often, I sense their unease with my persistence.
I feel the loss of less, my smaller moment with,
Far from the crash of wave, the taste of salt, the scent of sea,
In sight of land and sky alone, I feel my loss, my less,
The sail in wind becalmed, the wrench of rope and strength of nature's hand, elsewhere,
With less I feel my loss, as speck of grit my time escape, a wistful grain of microscopic sand.
Music is organized sound that often has patterns we enjoy in the mind and body, that can appeal to our sense of beauty, and may trigger ideas and emotions.
When I hear music I do so differently than anyone else, and so it is with you. We might respond in a similar manner, but not identically. We feel unpredictably according to our personal experience.
Music becomes within.
The piece of music I work on will be called 'Fragile Earth' and supports The Right of Self Protection. At present every choice I make creatively is with this in mind, however for the most part these choices are not reasoned, but instinctive. I have for example selected the instruments for the piece through my feelings about their sounds rather than an adherence to convention or logic.
The journey of making requires trust in my natural inclination. The artist depends on instinct.
Does art make me act? Without doubt in its making, cumulatively in its receiving.
The same work of art may move me to action over many years, yet have no affect at all on another. Art is hit and miss, relies on its resonance to affect, and may or may not aspire to, or do good. It is limited, but the best tool I know to reach across the boundaries of race, gender, culture, politics, and religion.
Can art help protect the environment? Reduce conflict? Champion love? For some, just a little.
Birth: the start of something new: a being; an idea; hope; faith in another; love. A moment of beginning.
I choose to separate those qualities that harm: the birth of hate, of anger, of greed, of envy and desire.
Birth is not only something that happens outside myself, but also within. On this my son's birthday I celebrate by choosing hope. The bedrock of the shale of my uncertainties.
Each day I have the choice of birth.
I do not name the man who scorns nations with his words. A name makes known, and such a man is not a man to note. His words inflame intolerance, the ignorant, the foolish soul.
When someone insults another on the basis of where they live, they make known their own insecurity, their weakness, their failure in thought and honour.
To such a man, face to face, I say with calm and fixed intent: leave my sight.
Some artists create for themselves or for art alone. Art is their means and end. They paint, sculpt, write, compose, dance and more, but not for others nor to pass on, but for the things art gives: shelter, solace, security, pleasure, closure. For some the creation of art is a world contained and controlled for one.
When I do a thing only for myself, no matter its pleasure or benefit, the peace it brings is all too brief.
My choice is to see or not to see, to say or not to say, to act or not to act, to share or not to share.
My aunt fell in love many years ago but never married. She, together with her twin sister who passed away forty years ago, fostered me together with my sisters. My aunt now lives independently in a self-contained home adjacent to mine. In her nineties her faith continues to be integral to her life, she remains intensely inquisitive about the world, and enjoys conversations about anything and everything.
To live well and long requires passion, good fortune, curiosity, tolerance, self-sacrifice, and love.
Art of any kind is made from fragments. Small incomplete pieces: of light, sound, movement, memory, shape, something touched or thought.
Art happens in place or time and sometimes both. With painting it is a place for there is no painting without this. With music it is time for there is no music without this. With a movie it is both.
Making art brings together or presents fragments of my experience and ideas with care for its form.
Antibiotic: anti (against) biotic (something living or having lived); opposing life.
Bacteria: a single cell organism - their biomass exceeds that of all plants and animals on the earth.
I often express my love of life, and yet I do not hesitate to end the life of the bacteria that invades me.
Living, I breathe. I feel, I move, I think. With pain, I protect and defend myself, my all that is my self.
I consider my right of self protection and ponder at the point that life has rights.
I wait for the morning. The pain is intense. My infection has taken hold during a period of tiredness and turmoil. The battlefield of bacteria and white blood cells is beyond my control.
Art also spreads rapidly within me. I hear music and feel better. I read words and ideas flow, one to another, then another. I see the beauty of a painting and my physical distress is relieved.
Art, both infectious and restorative.
A job requires payment. Work does not. The value of work someone does has nothing to do with money. Many define their status and success by the amount of money they earn rather than the non-economic outcomes of their work. It is unfortunate the same is true for many who create art.
A parent may work far harder in their care of a child, than their partner does in their job. That one earns money and the other does not has absolutely no relevance to the significance and impact of their work.
I wake after a couple of hours and cannot sleep. Along with others I spent much of yesterday in an effort to keep my elderly relative at ease as she moved into her new home. I left her in a good place, and people are on call to care for her around the clock, but I cannot sleep. I begin to make.
The act of making brings me balance. Working with words, light and sound I explore my feelings and thoughts in hope they will be shared. After an hour or so of making I am ready once more for sleep.
With another, no matter how flimsy or strong our relationship, how shallow or intense our feelings, there are things I fail to say. As I take in what you say, I think of our history, your gesture and tone. Whether we meet in person, on the page, with sound or light, scent, touch, or taste, there are things I fail to say.
Things can so easily be broken by what in person is said.
With art, music and words I make I do not fail to say. With these the frailties of my life are expelled.
Visual Art: the outcome of creative effort as a means of expression appreciated by sight.
Music: the outcome of creative effort as a means of expression of sound in time, appreciated aurally.
The Vogelkop bowerbird creates elaborate decorative structures that show off its skills and is designed to attract. It also uses a complex landscape of sound to court its mate. This bird makes art and music.
As artificial consciousness approaches, representational art will no longer be an exclusively human act.
My eyes worked well until a serious cycle accident many years ago left me with severe double vision.
Gradually, after many hospital visits over two years, eye muscle physiotherapy and time for my mind to re-synchronize the light that streams through me, the two images gradually came together as one.
I wear glasses for near sight. I am distracted by the smallest smudge or speck of dust and feel uncomfortable if what I see is not pin sharp. For me, to see clearly is wondrous, vital. I love to see.
I love birds, I do not have an affinity with cats. Nevertheless I have taken it upon myself to care for the comfort and security of one as my elderly relative is no longer able to look after him. The cat who is shy and nervous remains with her, but I try my best to ensure he has food, water, and feels settled.
Kenny is bonded with my relative, and she with him. She forgets many things but does not forget him.
Kenny and I have come to trust one another. Unexpectedly, reluctantly, I have come to learn from him.
We Are But Once: words in a poem that consider the privilege and fortune of life and the earth.
Unique: A single word that recognizes the abundant treasures of existence.
You: The reader. Someone else. Another. The all that is not me.
I: Everything I feel and think.
We: the custodians of life.