Following on from my previous thought, I ponder on why I am happier to learn complex procedures with my body and mind over those requiring only my mind. When for example I practice a difficult sequence on the piano, the improvement of my performance is not only something I appreciate aesthetically, but also physically. The sensation of growing bodily ease is a profoundly satisfying feeling. Although I may feel a sense of achievement with a wholly mental task, understanding alone is confined to the abstract.
Procedural memory occurs when repeating a complex chain of activities until it becomes automatic and without conscious awareness of the experience, for example learning a musical instrument or playing a racket sport which requires delayed gratification and includes frequent failure and frustration.
Although I enjoy physical procedural learning, I have an intense dislike of following or learning a series of mental actions that must be carried out in a certain order or manner. My body works best with mind.
I often pause to catch my breath to think in conversation. When I am with a friend, the trust and interval between us makes our exchange all the richer. When I am less known, the gap between us widens and I am aware my pause could be construed as my having difficulty, awkward, or strange.
Insecurity demands a swift response and is alligned to the reflex of anxiety that distance can bring.
Patience, with and without another, can be a sign of love and requires that love may/not be recognized.
When I was a child in bed and about to sleep I would think of someone close I might loose. I would not stop until I felt my sadness real with silent tears. It took many years to know this search for comfort was how I coped with the separation of my mother and father, and them from me. I was fostered at three. My surrogate mother died when I was fourteen, my mother at nineteen, and my father three years later. Despite my loss I knew love, given and received. My music art and words became my silent tears.
A few months ago I came upon a work of art that moved me. I wanted to share this, however as I researched the artist my responce grew more complex, and I kept the experience to myself.
Despite its undoubted force at the time, the art faded from my view until yesterday when a friend brought up that same work as one that was deeply affecting. At first I did not recall the artist's name.
When I fail to give I begin to forget, I become impoverished. To share rejuvenates my heart and mind.
When I am in the company of nature, a friend, or someone I meet for the first time, it is the little things that stand above the rest.
I walk into the quiet early morning and crouch down, close to a small clay pot that is home to an oak seedling I planted from an acorn in the spring. At times the changing tone of a leaf or spurt of growth captures my attention. At times it is a thought that sprouts from being close to such a fragile little thing.
I have learned that to do anything well I need to be active, and I must be attentive to how I drink, eat and sleep. If I fail to care for any one of these my competence is impaired, my achievements, reduced.
If I am not active enough (physically, intelectually and emotionally), if I fail to drink, eat and sleep enough, I perform poorly. If I am too active, if I eat, drink and sleep too much, I perform poorly.
To know what activity, nourishment and rest I require, I need only pause and listen.
I wake at two in the morning to a great blast of sound through my open window that shoves and splits the sky. Thunder is too tame a word, it roars, tears, splinters the dense dark night. Its fierce untameable force buckles the air towards the west. Rain draws its breath before it spits king-sized drops, then spills itself, full force. The fork of light, too bright, bare, wild hair cuts the air. The traveling crack and roar rumbles far further than I can tell. Before its final fade, a burst of blinding white returns. I love a storm...
In a dry spell I water the young hornbeam hedge that lines the boundary of our back garden.
Light dances as drops fall from the deep-veined light-green leaves and the thick spray of water patters then gathers on the soil beneath. I look down and as I do, birds sing above me on the branches of a damson tree. Bees buzz. The scent of earth fills my breath. Here with nature, the trivial clamour of human squabble subsides.
Biomechatronics: the integration of biology, mechanics, artificial intelligence and electronics. The replacement of parts of the body that are damaged or worn out (e.g. the development of prosthetic limbs); the enhancement of existing biological operations (e.g. the augmentation of vision).
Biomechatronics is not fiction, it is with us today.
The world will be home to partial and non-organic beings. Consider The Rights of Living Things.
Language of any colour can be powerful, whether used in life or art. My choice however has been to steer away from using coarse and offensive language in my work. This helps me reach a wider audience, including children and those from communities that scorn 'bad language'.
Creating work within a disciplined framework encourages me to search for more imaginative solutions.
Showing all, being explicit, removes the mystery, the greatest force that fires our heart and thought.
I release a new piece of music for voices, strings, piano, trombones, solo cello, and solo clarinet.
Hear my sleep, my whisper, my breath at rest, my dream...
For the last three days I have struggled to put into words those things I have found in music. I have known the title of the piece and many thoughts have sprung from this, however switching from the emotional expression of music to the voice of language has been fraught with uncertainty.
This morning it seems my hours of pondering have led to something worthwhile, although I will not know for sure until tomorrow. Despite its significance, music's voice is far from meaning.
I receive a phone call from a family member. She is in distress. She does not know what is happening and cannot find the book she writes things that have and will happen through the day. At times a call can ease her concerns but not today. I say I will be there in twenty minutes. When I arrive I find the book she does not recognize open by the phone. Hi Mike, good to see you. What are you doing here? You called. Did I? Well, it's good to see you. You too. We talk, she smiles, time passes well.
I am able to reach a large audience because I have enjoyed net neutrality ever since I first created a website in 2000. I give my creative work freely because I view those things of greatest value are not founded on a commercial transaction. I afford this because an independent software company I co-founded became commercially successful. I believe the FCC's Proposal will lead to the advantage of those with wealth, reduce innovation, and erode non-transactional content creation and delivery.
Net neutrality is when Internet traffic is treated equally. As an individual, my music, images and words reach an audience on the Internet using the same path as a multi-billion dollar corporation like Time Warner Inc.. The US FCC (Federal Communications Commission) are proposing a change. The FCC Document is long, obscure and misleading. To share your opinion and comment upon the proposal, visit the FCC site, then click the link '+ Express' under the heading 'Filters' on the top left.
Empathy: the capacity to comprehend and be emotionally connected with the experience of another.
When someone is in distress, physically or emotionally, there are some who not only feel, but are driven to act. There is a point when the distance between myself and someone in need is so great there seems little I can do. Still, I try to aim that force of common feeling constructively and make.
During the times I am more open to the world of others my life is enriched, immeasurably.
I visit Cambridge university, a rival of Oxford university with whom I am more familiar. Both bask in the reputation and privilege of 800 years as centres of learning and excellence.
I never attended university or an academy as a student and so I view them as an outsider. I remain hungry to learn, but I cannot fall back on the independent validation of my knowledge and ability. For this I am fortunate, for the words I say stand unhampered by the advantage of association.
The strongest blue of sky, eye and sea are made from the very air we breathe.
When sunlight passes through our atmosphere, more blue is scattered by oxygen and nitrogen. My eyes are blue for a similar reason, despite having no blue pigment.
I love deep ocean blue, sky blue, its reach and wash, its free and feral soul.
I am working on a new piece of music that I will make freely available after its completion. Why?
The more who listen, the greater its impact.
I view the arts as essential to human well being.
I have good shelter, eat well, and enjoy good health. I have time to make without material concern.
I wish to give to those less privileged than I. When birds sing and clouds play, money has no place.
The exchange of money is the single force that dominates the decisions of those in power.
Wherever there is a great deal of money, there is temptation, corruption, and the seduction of self-interest. Not everyone however has a price. Not everyone is caged by its promise of a comfortable life.
Money exists because of distrust between humans. When we trust and act well, there is no need of it.
I have two very different ways of being. One is full with feeling and enchantment that I think of as a poetic sensibility. The other is more emotionally detached, rational, restrained. When I work creatively these ways of being intermingle.
I feel most with others and with nature. When I feel most I sense myself most alive. I think most when alone. I prefer not to be alone yet know being so is as vital for my well being as to be with others.
I think more about time, its value, and limit. These are difficult ideas.
Whatever I do is placed in time. Every breath I take. Things I hear and see, touch, taste and smell. However I act is placed in time. Time stores my sense of being alive. Time is where I come to know.
Those things I value most exist outside of time.
When I experience love, compassion and beauty I sense their nature unconstrained, unlimited by time.
Time: a way to think about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen.
When I think of 'my time' I think of events and experiences that are constrained by my being present.
Time is the place I live within. In order to aquire, I give my time: I do something.
Money provides a model for me to sell my time. What and how much I do is given a price depending on my age, gender, location, culture, how attractive I am, and how skilled or clever I am perceived as.
Music that works best for me lies in a sweet spot between enough change, but not too much. I enjoy dischord and variation of pulse, rhythm and volume. Discord provides drama and tension. If a piece is nothing but harmonious I feel it too sugary. I do not however enjoy music that is predominantly dissonant, or with patterns or forms I cannot gather by mind or instinct.
Music I most love lets me feel both my comfort and unease.
Poison: something capable of causing illness or death.
Antidote: something to counteract a particular poison.
Ever since first exploring the world online in 1995 I have tried to take care about what I say. The more I shout, the less I hear. Each word, each sound, each moment of light is remembered here.
When I am disrespectful, aggressive, or intolerant, in person or online, I absorb that poison.
A tiny bird tumbled down my chimney and fell into my wood stove this morning. This happens now and again in early summer as fledglings set out for the first time and explore the world. The stove has a heat resistant glass door. I close one full length curtain so that the open French door is the best prospect of escape. I unlatch the stove. The bird flies free.
Watching that little bird flutter from its grey dusty cell back into the garden was pure joy.
I see a young sister and brother outside my window. The oldest is no more than four. Both skip towards a bed of aromatic lavender with butterfly nets in hand. I sense the collision of two responses. The first is my recognition of their innocence, the second, my concern for their fall from innocence.
A butterfly net allows children to capture life so that it can be observed. It is also a tool to hunt and kill. Most often this choice is left to the child. I remember well how I was given this choice over life or death.
I wake from a vivid dream drenched in sweat but feeling I am on the mend.
I was in the company of someone I have known for many years, whom I have met in dream so many times, yet have never known in my waking world. I set reason aside...
What if my dream-life is rich with the entanglements and experience of others? Perhaps somewhere now she wakes and thinks upon our meeting that fades from view like the vanishing morning mist.
For the past two days I've had a powerful virus that has drained me. I've had no food and can only keep down small sips of water. A few short steps leaves me exhausted, and I can barely keep my eyes open.
As someone who usually has a deep well of energy, the greatest lesson of this experience is how, when I am forced to slow down, I listen to my body differently and gather small pockets of time where I ponder on my fragility, for it has taken only the tiniest microbe to stop me in my tracks.
As I do not promote my work commercially nor network my way to notoriety, it has to stand on its own two feet. If someone discovers something valuable, they will share it. If what I make does not resonate or connect, people will pass it by.
The more art is known makes no difference to its aesthetic value or the merit of its expression or ideas. The less it is known, the narrower its impact. Unlike the act of making, in its affect less is not more.
After two hours I slip away from a birthday celebration. A milestone. I rarely meet socially with members of a badminton club I play for. I talk and listen. I meet a beautiful ten day old baby.
There are around fifty people. I find social gatherings of more than a handful uncomfortable as there is so much I wish to say but hold back. We have little in common yet much to share.
I gaze at the newborn held gently in her mother's arms, eyes closed. She knows nothing but love.
Interval: the space between.
I use the word 'time' more than any other in this place of thoughts. I am bound by it. I cannot come to know without its travel, and yet things I come to know can also be unconstrained by time. Although my experience of love is from one moment to the next, love exists through the filaments I know and remember as the passing of my time. Perhaps I need time's interval to prevent my being overwhelmed.
I ponder more on those things that change the way I act:
The love I am given and see given. The love withheld from me. The love I give. The love I withhold.
Desire. My health. What I eat and drink. The shelter I enjoy. My effort in exercise and thought.
The money I and others have. The money I and others have not. What I own.
My time with nature. My time alone. My time with another. Art, music, words. All change the way I act.
I value life, love, and beauty. I want my life to matter, to make a positive difference. I could have spent my time making a mountain of money so that it could be used for the benefit of others, but I would have been, would be, subject to its temptations and corrosive touch.
Art provides the means to share in the importance of those things I value, however, to what extent does art matter? Has a painting, piece of music, or dance ever changed your mind or way you act? Do words?
Two days ago I received a message around 4am that my son was in the accident and emergency department of a hospital with suspected concussion. I raced the one hundred miles from my home to be with him. Over the next twenty four hours it became clear there was no lasting damage.
When I was in the dark about my son's condition I wanted to drive as quickly as possible, but I held back, just a little. The distance forced my hand. There were other sons and daughters on the road.
At the heart of prominent news stories is an appeal to our insatiable desire to know more. Popular news excites and offends, alerts us to risk, and may promise the potential of personal gain.
Love, kindness, and compassion are significantly less prominent in news broadcasting as they appear less dramatic, unless set against acts of harm or discord.
I am in no doubt that far, far more acts of love happened yesterday as opposed to a single act of hate.
Tolerance: my willingness or increasing insensitivity that allows the existence, occurrence, or practice of something disagreeable, without interference.
I can be tolerant of something that is good for me, or that injures me. I am intolerant of those who purposely cause harm. My intolerance is expressed peacefully, and with the full force of my voice.
The celebration of amicable difference is essential for peace. To love requires tolerance.
I make something when my feelings run high. For me, an act of art is directly aligned with something of personal or societal significance. I cannot make unless I feel. This is especially true for music.
An act of art seeks to hold my response, both emotional and reasoned. It is my resistance to loss. The means to share. The closest thing to touch, my deepest need.
Acts of art may not lead to change, but their effort is testament of the desire and will to do so.
A new artwork touches on the fear and confusion of the Grenfell Tower Fire, however it does not show those caught up in it as victims, but rather people with intention and strength, no matter their form. I choose to see their spirits as vibrant, purposeful, powerful.
I pass halfway through this journey of thoughts I call Think This Today. Reflecting on a new idea each morning is difficult, yet the positive change it brings is undeniable.
On any day I might have been half way through my life. At some point this prospect becomes less likely, and at that moment, each breath, each drop of rain from summer cloud that pats upon the dusty ground becomes a jewel full with nascent beauty. Half way leaves time enough to start afresh.
I have spent the last twenty four hours trying to take in the tragedy of a devastating fire that swept through a seventy meter high block of flats where hundreds of people lived. Words cannot express the terror, anguish, sadness and pain so many feel.
As someone from a distance, my feelings are of little worth unless I act.
Many thoughts at Think This Today are presented from my point of view. When I say I, I am not speaking for you or we, although you may find something in common with what I say. With 'I', you are free to judge the value of what you find here, and being less vulnerable in this exchange, your willingness to pause is given greater chance. The use of we or you can be presumptuous, preachy, arrogant. My concern is that I do not assume, assert or proclaim as if I know any more than I.
Following on from my previous thought, I should express, what for me, doing good is.
My shortest maxim, my rule of conduct is, with life: love. As I live, I try my best to act and treat others with love. I often fail or fall short, and my efforts may go unnoticed, but knowing this I try again.
I have expressed what I consider to act with love in The Rights of Living Things. When I recognize the right of another and act by it, I do good. The more good I do, the more peace I find.
I am resistant to selling my time, my freedom and expression as I value these so very much. I view good work, not as a job, but as something worth doing that produces a beneficial outcome. Although a job may also produce positive results, it is done for money. As I seek to maximize profit, time and objects become defined by their economic price, and conflicts of interest arise from why and what I do.
As I see it, my only work of value is in my effort to do good.
Words drift and glide above the edge of my sleep. In dream what is said is often far from clear.
As I write I place one idea in front or behind another. Language arrives as a thin line of meaning that makes its point before it stops. Language, written and said, is linear. It starts then ends. I can dip in and out of a conversation, but it cannot be heard all at once as a painting can be seen.
Language by its nature, as music, is a child of time.
Words and an image are added to The Poetic Adventures of Adam and Eve.
Aura: the distinctive atmosphere or quality that surrounds a person, thing, or place.
With nothing but the ground beneath their feet and warmth of sun...
A piece for piano, violins, viola and cello arises from a period of loss.
We open our arms in the hope we are accepted. We are held by those who care for us.
We hold those we care for, no matter what our difference.
Today, I will vote. In England, candidates with the most votes in each constituency win. Losing candidates win no representation at all in our parliament. I have voted for thirty eight years and in all that time candidates I have cast my vote for have never won. A proportional system along with the right to abstain, and compulsory voting would be more democratic. I vote because it is my right. I vote so my voice is counted in opposition. I vote because it is a rare privilege born of sacrifice. Please vote.
I hoped to do no more than encourage those in the UK to vote during the general election. With the announcement yesterday by the Prime Minister Theresa May that human rights laws will be changed if they "get in the way" of preventing terrorism, I feel conscience bound to voice my strong opposition to this view. Governments require checks and balances to offset their power. Human rights laws are designed for this. I urge you to vote against a party that argues the ends justifies the means.
One of many reasons I value the creation of art is the experience that, at least for a time, its completion is a positive encounter with an end. When I no longer make, I witness something new come into being. The end of my efforts becomes the start of my sharing. The making of art, a cycle of life.
Like many endings I re-visit them. I reconsider, and at times I realize the end was far from sight.
As I approach the completion of a new piece of music I ready myself for its leaving.
I value my freedom to express, but I try to do so with care. I make content that I feel comfortable sharing with people of any age, and the principle I work by is to do no harm. These are challenging self-imposed boundaries as it is far easier to immediately affect people using explicit content.
A pen is neither good nor bad. Its strength lies only in how it is used, what is said, and by whom.
In response to violence, strengthen peace.
I consider the second article of The Rights of Living Things: The Right to Peaceful Coexistence. In the short clarification that follows I have changed 'threaten' to 'imperil' which places greater emphasis on the immediacy and significance of a threat to existence. My concern is that this right is not perversely used as a justification for premeditated violence in the face of threat.
I often frame my thoughts and opinions in the hope I might reach those in opposition to the views I hold. The weakness of this indirect approach is that at times what I say might miss the mark.
My previous thought sought to encourage those reading it to consider not just humanity as family, but all living things. To think of the world's minerals, its air and water as family requires a further leap of the imagination, but only then can I proclaim myself a citizen of this fragile, beautiful world.
Who do I count among my family? Those close to me who share my genes, those I love, my friends. Could my neighbours, my wider community be my family? What of those with whom I share a country, a continent, the world? Are all humans part of my family? And what of other living things?
I do not trade with my family, nor compete for advantage over them. I cooperate and treat them as my own. One Family, One World.
As with many ideas, the start of something varies depending on its climate, tradition, and culture.
I have always felt that in England where I live, May drifts its spring into summer, and that June describes its start, and yet, for you, this very same time may be far from all those things I know as summer. My summer, autumn, winter and spring is much the same. Each day the seasons turn.
At times I tilt towards the cold, at others, the warmth. My earth spins unpredictably around my sun.
When I compose music, create images, or write words, I am alone.
Creating art of one kind or another is, for me, a reflective, solitary experience. It is not that I wish to be alone as I most love being with. It is that being alone I better, more honestly listen. Being alone I focus on the beauty of a place or person. Being alone, I come to value the company of others even more.
Being solely by myself my need to share is fierce, my love of life: intense.
I hold strong political views, yet avoid stating them in terms of party politics. Party politics in a social democracy brings together a consensus of ideas with the aim of persuading voting members of a community to entrust decisions about the way they are governed. People have firmly-held sincere opinions on both sides of an argument of how to make life better. Voicing my opinion reduces the engagement with those whom I disagree with. A place to meet gives chance to understand.
When words from those I love are spoken or written to me, they cause feeling. When I say or write to those I love they do the same. When giving words, I am not always careful over their choice. When receiving them, I feel, I have no choice but to care. Language is the best tool I have to understand, and so I pour over the use of words I hear and read, perhaps at times too much.
Language means, and yet it is still so far from the meaning a single kind and caring touch can give.
Perhaps I enjoy daybreak so much because of my good fortune in living where the silence and sounds of nature can be heard. When I wake it is as if what I hear and see is for the first time.
My first time is rich with heightened sense and feeling. In my work I often seek to rekindle the ephemeral, precious instant of experiencing something new. The mystery is that I take so long to do so.
The brief periods when I feel moments as my first are my richest.
It is warm with early summer as thunder rumbles through the dull-gold of morning light. Crows cor with the come and go of falling rain. The tingling drips drop gently, then more densely as the shard and crack of cloud jostles to the earth. Soon the charge of sky moves off, birds begin to sing.
I share the foundation of a new piece of music with a friend. The sound: a fledgling under passing storm, fully formed, yet vulnerable. A time of listening full with thought and care.
When I feel strongly about something, I temper my desire to immediately express myself except with those I trust. Although this is born from my need to understand what people do and say, it is my way to maintain the bridge between one view and another. The snag of self-control is that often-times people remain unaware of how I feel, and how I feel is imeasurably important to my sense of resilience. And so, when I feel strongly about something, I make with hope to share.
It takes time for me to take things in. I give myself time to take things in. I need time to take things in.
Late in the afternoon, following a night and day of feeling, of thought, I sit at the piano and start to play.
Music arrives from a place unknown. It is the bringing together of my experience, it is not concious. I listen as I play. I listen, as a child I play.
Music is my kernel, the fruit within the shell.
I search for words that reach the young and old in equal measure. Words that touch those who believe and those who do not. Words that hold the mind and heart from striking out. Words that let us breathe, that say with strength: I am with you a stranger on this day:
Love shows itself with force in times of unimaginable loss.
For those with deafening silence where once their loved ones spoke. For those with pain, with fear, bewilderment and grief.
Life is all I know. Each breath, each moment, a chance and choice to love.
'The World Without Money' is launched and the first instalment of 'The Poetic Adventures of Adam and Eve' is published...
Before children are taught that money is a means of exchange, they learn far more of what it is to give and take.
Overthinking: trying to understand too much, analyzing to excess, thinking beyond its usefulness.
My resistance to thinking carefully about something, to my taking time and viewing things from many points of view, is that my knowing becomes less certain. A fast and confident response allays my insecurities and avoids the hesitancy and dangers of doubt. It is far easier to follow than to lead.
The charge of overthinking only occurs because of our propensity for quick, easy answers.
Money, the most ubiquitous means of human exchange, is used to gain, and eases practical need, however in itself has no value. Money cannot buy those things I treasure: love, compassion, kindness, friendship, hope, wisdom. In considering the commissioning model for Public Art World I reached the decision that I will continue to make art at my own expense. To do otherwise may cause some to be suspicious of my motives to make as Public Art World comes to fruition.
What if my every action, my every hidden move is seen one day? Would I be proud to show my all? Should I reveal my every move to those I call my friends, to those I love? Perhaps I cannot say I lead a good and fruitful life unless I am content for this to be revealed. Being human I make mistakes, I choose to stay when I should go, to go when I should stay, I say too much, I offer too little, I seek to satisfy myself. I fail to be as good as I might be in many ways. Yet honesty in this gives chance to trust.
I easily forget: the soft give of moss beneath bare feet; the scent of pinewood cabin; my first taste of blueberry, the unbroken song of skylark; a mist that rises softly; the plastic waste washed up on shore; the countless living things that die because of human thoughtlessness; where last I left my glasses; with those I am in love. I all too easily forget...
I have low tolerance to a lot of sound. Loud sounds cause me pain, and so I avoid places where they are likely: road works, amplified concerts, a lively party room. When playing in a band I always used cotton wool to dampen my discomfort. A sneeze can hurt. I hide this in the company of others.
When I am quiet I hear ringing. At times my tinnitus is piercing but it does not impact on my ability to hear. When I work, am focused, centred, with a person, place or art, my unwelcome sound dissolves.
When expressing and sharing my experiences and ideas, I am mindful of a path that leads to self-importance, and vanity. This is difficult as what I communicate arises from what happens in and to me.
I cannot create an image without my imagination, I cannot dance without my body, I cannot write without my mind. I cannot do without my I. And so I value my self, yet I must be wary of my I that all too easily becomes the focus of a world which in truth is far more than I alone can be.
The Brain-Computer Music Interfacing system built by Professor Eduardo Reck Miranda and Joel Eaton enables four severely motor-impaired patients to interact with a string quartet. Richard Bennett, Rosemary Johnson, Steve Thomas and Clive Wells choose musical elements that are performed live.
Technology matters when it aids life, when it helps us connect with another and the world, when it brings us together. The related triptych and poem is published at 100 Artworks.
I have used technology to make music since my school days. I first used the Internet in 1994, built my first website in the year 2000, and founded a software company in 2004. During my journey I have often considered the fragility of my digital achievements. My use of technology now is as a tool to create and publish work focused on experiences far removed from the digital. And yet I continue to devote large swathes of my life within the digital arena in the hope, perhaps ironically, of reaching those outside of it.
I wake as the silence of night is broken by the first hesitant call of a songbird I know well. There is no sound of wo/man, no distant car nor plane. I hear only the slow and growing swell of small feathered spirits as they come to life. As with humans, some birds are more tuneful, more colourful than others. As I listen, closely, entirely new patterns of sound appear.
The value of my waiting is that I hear far more.
A broad, freshly furrowed, deeply ploughed field dips then rises to the horizon. I experience the newness of this landscape to my eyes as beautiful, its ripples of soil and shadow. With beauty comes my ache to share. I take photographs that no more than hint at my encounter. Nothing matches being there.
Art is often the effort and journey of return.
Instrumental music has the capacity to touch my heart, deeply, no matter my mood, my personal circumstance, my strength, my hope.
Music falls outside of meaning, yet is profoundly significant to me. It offers an opposing force to my incessant need to understand. With music I inhabit the same world as touch, as scent and taste: a world without language: the worlds of nature and the spirit, both worlds where I feel at home.
As I waited for a system update to install on my computer I set myself a challenge to make something using only my imagination. For me this is far from easy. Images and sounds stay no more than a moment in my mind. I thought perhaps I could make something with words, but not seeing or saying made it hard to ponder, order, and return to them. Making, at least for me, is inextricably linked with my body's sight, sound, and touch. My senses work in concert with my mind, and for art, I also need to feel.
Public Art World is envisioned as a place to discover and commission art, music and literature that is made available freely in the public domain. My lengthy efforts to encourage others to express their interest in this project have fallen on deaf ears, and so I am moving forward anyway, independently.
The making of art requires time and resourcing. Commissions that provide financial support during the creative process will result in new, freely accessible art being made available for all in perpetuity.
I stand alone in the early morning light of an oak woodland with the scent of moss and the uninhibited sound of birds. I ponder on how its significance and value is different when I experience it with others as their scent, light and sound alters the very character of this place.
Beauty does not require many for its nature to be known. Perhaps the same is true of friendship, love, and tenderness.
Film composers often talk of the presure to do as much as possible in the shortest time. While I recognize the dangers of procrastination, I only ever publish my work once I feel I can do no more to make it better. Even with this approach there are far too many occassions when I am proved wrong as I return to a piece, or after a longer pause feel a work falls well short of its potential.
Giving time is a gift: to others, to that being made, to the possibility of reaching a journey's end.
When it comes to how people act most of what I do not or will never come to understand arises from those things withheld. I use no force other than my efforts to communicate as I try to know why someone does or does not. While I yearn to know why someone acts in a way that hurts me, I respect their right to dignity: their privacy of body, home, thoughts, feelings and identity.
With rights I acknowledge the prospect of my never knowing.
The result from my biopsy came through and I am fine. Living two weeks with the prospect that I was not, brought me a little closer to those who struggle to retain hope in the face of serious illness. Even with this short and minor episode of my unease the control I exerted over my concerns has left its mark. Rather than relief I continue to hold a part of me back. As I think more of this I realize how much of my art, music and words draws from those places of my self that I have tucked, so secretly, away.
I ponder on the first word of a poem: With Life, Love. I cannot think of life without with.
I complete an orchestral piece with the same title together with my thoughts.
The vessel of our thought, full with voice,
The absence of all that moves,
A sign of doubt,
A stitch in time too still to touch, too slippery to climb.
The zero of my world,
The start and end of all I know or knew,
With thought's unknown yet certain guest,
With love, the open ended view.
I have spent four days refining a piece of music to feel right before I begin its end. I listened over and over to reach the moment I felt I might start well. I had ideas about what might come, but in the fullness of time I was utterly surprised. It was like diving from the world of air to sea.
To dive is to be the moment of flight, the touch of finger tip to liquid skin, the pierce of body from air to sea. To get things done, I feel, I am immersed, as one with many. I absorb, I am, utterly absorbed.
I think of things I have or only ever will do once: I sail along an inlet with my old friend as water gently pats the side of the boat. I part from my first great love in a New York apartment. I greet a member of my family for the first time, a labrador named Sam.
I travel through this first of May but once. I breathe this breath before another, but once. With once I am mindful of the moment that opens as a petal leaf under the early morning sun.
In five days, mid-morning, I will walk into a small hospital room. A consultant will say a few words following the result of a biopsy and my world will change. I hope that change will be one of profound relief, but it may equally be to face head-on my uncertainty and fear. No matter the outcome, my intent is that my love remains the same. My love of people, of nature, of art and thought.
My joy, sadness, loss and hope live only in my now. How the past and future feed my now is up to me.
Distance: how far apart things are or feel.
Small things shift the distance I experience: a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, something shared.
I can feel distant from someone in the same room, yet close to someone a thousand miles away.
With art I feel close to the possibility of sharing the better part of me. For me, art is the antidote to the insecurity and dislocation of distance, near and far.
I am told I look too long and too intensely at others, but despite my efforts not to impose I find myself spellbound by the inner world of strangers, as by those I know.
People are my endless source of fascination. I am drawn to those things that lay beyond the shell, the furtive gaze, their tone of words, the truth of how another feels.
To uncover is to find. To find I have the chance to understand.
As I work on a new piece of music I listen as much to how it moves me as to its evolving beauty.
I stand outside myself and within.
It is the same for the making of images and the building of words. For art to work well it makes me feel.
I ponder on the value of my weakness. The weakness of my body, my mind, my frailty of self. Some are more straight forward to admit than others. Some are so deeply embedded they have become a part of my nature.
By acknowledging my weakness I take a small step forward, I appreciate better the weakness in others, and I counter the conceit and dangers of my ego.
My creative process relies on my insatiable need to return.
I am inspired by an experience or idea.
I find a time and place where I can begin, express myself instinctively, then stand back.
When making, most time is spent understanding, shaping and refining what comes naturally.
Imagine two painters. The first has established a large loyal following and enjoys critical acclaim. Their painting is seen in a public place by many people. The second hangs their painting on their wall in their home. Each time the painter passes this painting they touch it, gently, and revisit their inspiration.
The significance of painting is often unseen.
As I waited in the sun at the entrance to a public park a stranger asked if she could use my phone. She was in her late teens, untrusting, suspicious. She looked me in the eyes "I need to phone my father".
She spoke too loudly, impatiently, she swore "where are you?", the signal dropped, she tried again "I'm at the entrance up from the police station". It seemed she might take flight so I asked for the phone which she gave back without thanks and walked off. A small risk of inconvenience curbed my compassion...
Our son is off to university for his third term. I have always loved being in his company, and I was very much mistaken when I thought I would grow used to his leaving.
Although I will miss him, terribly, it is good that he will meet new challenges, discover new friendships, and continue on his journey, independently.
If I think more of him than myself, the good things in his life, this intensity of my missing, subsides.
I enjoy dreaming.
Influencing the characters, narrative, and place of a dream is a delicate matter. If I push too hard I wake and the dream quickly fades from view. To move what happens in my dream I have to let it flow:
When I paddle a boat in rushing water I change the shape of oars rather than the flow of the river.
When I compose, create an image, or write, the process is much the same.
I ponder on those things of most importance to me: those things that I come directly into contact with, and those things outside of me. I think of those and that I love.
For those I love, I think of my place and theirs in my life.
I think of those things that I love: art, music, words and story. Simply put, beauty and meaning.
For those things outside of me, I am free from the uncertainty and concern of self and work untroubled.
The doctor had some concerns. I had a chest X-ray and I need to see a specialist consultant. It may be nothing to worry about. I should know within two weeks.
In this meantime I have the choice to focus on my dark uncertainty, or the beauty of light that unfolds outside my window. I can look inward, or outward.
I choose to walk under the great reach of sky before returning to my making.
For the past few weeks I have had a sporadic dull ache just to the right of my lower sternum. I've thought it might be indigestion, my fighting off a virus, a muscular or skeletal issue, or perhaps something more concerning. As I can't seem to shift it I'll visit the doctor today to get their opinion.
Anxiety is the counterweight to contentment. Despite my wish it was not so, unease brings balance.
Much of the time I search to say something simply, oftentimes I fail.
A little under a year ago I wrote the short poem 'With Life, Love'. Although this is a work in progress, I value its call to action and have given time and effort to its own place.
I view the poem as the title and all that follows, an elaboration:
Idea: a concept. Concept: an abstract thought. Abstract: something that only exists in the mind.
I ponder on the short phrase I wrote yesterday: ‘Ideas change’. Can they? Do they? I think of the number 1. I think of darkness. I think of a person I know and love.
I speak only for myself, but depending on the context where I place ideas, each of them changes. It is as if an idea is a tree with many leaves. Some new, some old, some long gone, and some yet to come.
Change: the process through which something becomes different.
Change will always come. Physical, emotional, personal, societal. Ideas change. Rocks change. Change is the one thing certain to happen. All things confined by time are touched by change. I may embrace or deny change. I may seek to protect myself from change, but with each moment change is taking place.
Through change I try my best to love, unselfishly. Love above all helps me to face and weather change.
For those I love: May you be loved. May you be, in love.
For those I do not know: May you be loved. May you be, in love.
For those I have no common ground with: May you be loved. May you be, in love.
For those who disagree: May you be loved. May you be, in love.
For those who hurt: May you be loved. May you be, in love.
When humour needs an explanation, it fails. I have fun during my time with others, yet humour plays no part in the visual art and music I create. Visual art invites scrutiny which counters the impulse of laughter. The funny soon turns to the bitter pill of irony and the funny is no more. Music can support humorous narrative but in my experience never causes laughter in isolation. Humour is the mild and surprising violation of the way we feel the world ought to be. Art is the search for how it is.
I think to comprehend, however I value understanding and feeling in equal measure.
More often than not my words convey my journey to make sense of, to elaborate ideas, and to articulate my experiences. At times with words I point to art and music, two mediums that routinely carry more weight of what I feel. In poetry I use words to think and not to think.
I think most alone and feel best sharing with others. My constant making is in search of this.
Those things I see and hear remain within me, whether I consciously remember them or not.
The purpose of social art is to use creative expression as a means of persuasion that has the potential to affect change. While this change may be as modest as to cause pause, or as great as to save life, the artist has no say in the impact of their work.
One thing leads to another, often unexpectedly.
My eye explores the darkened deadly beauty of a land on fire. Saplings stand amid the flame.
When I feel at risk I often focus on those things that feed my insecurity. The same is true for groups as for myself. If someone acts against me, or seems to oppose me, I will inflate their smallest action that supports my view, past and present. I can all too easily think a person is bad, a people are wrong.
With any group of humans there is art, music, dance. As I gaze upon the art of a person or a people, art becomes the memory, the footprint of their life, their lives. Art shifts my position of hostility.
For the past two days I have continued to work on images that emerged from my visit to the wooded area I spoke of yesterday. I find and feel nature as immeasurably powerful. I experience its strength to transform my inner world.
My hope is that expressing the beauty of nature gives pause and provides a context for reflection in times of careless impulse.
Not fifteen minutes walk from my home there is a young copse full with rust-red aspen trees that reach tall and skyward. Close by, as I look towards the low strong sun of a spring day, two roe deer graze.
In my work I try to advocate peace and argue against violence and war. Most often I will express my views indirectly as many dismiss pacifism as naive and ineffectual. These are the very people I wish the body of my work to reach most, and so I tread carefully as in a copse of crisp dry leaf and deer.
In my work I hope to convey those things of beauty and importance to me. With others I try to act well. I have made countless mistakes in both my work and with others. It is the nature of my being human.
The angel at my side is my ache to reflect on those things I express and do. It is my conscience that drives my future action, my spur to improve, my way to envision a force of good.
Although I do not follow a particular religion, I recognize the undeniable power and experience of faith.
For me, words are as precious as the breath between them. The space we choose to breathe informs their tone, their progress and their power. I add one comma and a break to make one line, two. With this the meaning of a poem holds firm, while making better the ease of its sound.
I often wish I could rerun a conversation with a friend or loved one. They could ask what I meant here and there, and I would do the same. A change of breath is all at times it takes to be believed.
I return to a short phrase I wrote yesterday that emerged as a two line poem from my experience of photographing a field of tall dry flower heads that spread far into the distance:
Worth all the scrapes and scratches,
Walk through this field of thorn and seed...
I listen to and work with many sounds not heard in the final published piece. These sounds inform my creative decisions, they provide invaluable inspiration and direction during the act of composition.
The same is true for my choice of light when creating images, words for written text, and those friends and strangers whose voices remain a part of me long after their leaving.
Music is made with sound unheard as much by sound I clearly note.
I sit alone in my small music studio at the keyboard and load my favourite piano library. It is not the most expensive, but for me, it is the most beautiful. I begin with two gentle notes, and as I hear, I play.
The order and strength of sounds emerge without plan. I play almost at the very moment that I hear. Making music from silence is a magical experience like the unfolding of remote uncharted wilderness.
Treasured, the piece comes to a close, never to return. Played once I live my life...
When I see art or read words my immediate response is to the work itself. I feel first, then think. After I experience art and words that connect with me, I search for more by the same originator and uncover their story. What I find can change my feelings and judgments about the work.
The strength of what is said may swell or lesson with the knowledge of who says it.
With art, proof or its absence is magnified.
With people I hold back much of what I want to say but often say too much. With people I find conversations full with sub-text, doubt and need. My own and others.
When writing I can better state my mind and worry less about my awkward pause. When I write I judge the tone and gesture of my words more carefully, I interrogate their consistency and honesty with more intensity. Whether words are spoken or written, I cannot help but question them.
I found myself in conversation with someone from the world’s largest source of orchestral samples, the raw materials used by composers to create music. It was assumed, because of my work, I have a complex and expensive setup. When it was discovered I do not, the exchange dried up.
The words we speak or sing directly to others can be as powerful, emotive and affecting as anything produced on a sound stage using the best, most sophisticated equipment. Have less, do more.
I love seeing. The experience of colour, mass and shape, of texture, line and movement is immeasurably important to me. I love light, and by love I mean that in its company I am more than when I am without it.
I am not someone who imagines the world of light well in my mind's eye. If I close my eyes most of what I see is lost. With closed eyes I ponder on the beauty that is sight.
Art is not a scholarly text crafted to provide an unambiguous investigation, explanation, research, or argument about a particular field of interest. Art leaves things out and is often perplexing, enigmatic.
For those who prefer the unequivocal, art can seem deficient. My previous thought ends: 'When with, I search no more'. With whom? In search of what? Some bolt at the very hint of poetry. Others enjoy the disordered journey of the heart and mind that art evokes. Art takes time.
Autonomy: liberty; freedom from external control; independence.
I move online without restraint from one place to another. I act and feel as if by choice. I read, I see, I hear. For the most part I travel according to my whim, and as I journey I take much, and give little. No matter the size, social context, or power of device, my practice online is as an unsuspecting sovereign.
My gaze is only disrupted by my need to be with others. When with, I search no more.
I experience something that moves me, makes me think, and that I find beautiful. Last night it was a film. From the opening sound of a delicate string trio I am transformed and hope others feel the same. We witness a mother and child, their journey, loss and love. I hold back my tears.
We reach the end. 'I'm glad I watched it, but it didn't work for me'. 'Oh, I loved it. And you?', 'Not really'.
Perhaps I do not share so readily for risk and danger to my heart.
Body: a coherent material structure; something abstract forming a unified whole.
Mind: the internal, sentient place of feeling, perception, thought, will, and reason.
Every moment my body breaths my mind works. Every moment.
At times I am aware, at others I am not. My being, my being alive is the confluence of body and mind, despite how preoccupied by mind or body I may be.
Much of my day is spent among the fragments of my memory. I think of those I have known, of those I have loved, and those I love. Close and far in time, I turn my small moments with others over in my mind, and as I do they meld with me, become a part of me.
Fired by word, sound, taste, scent, light or touch, memory is the food that keeps my feelings close.
I struggled to express a response to the appalling events of yesterday until news began to filter through about the multiple acts of compassion given by passers-by.
I wonder how much time I spend thinking each day. Thinking about my experiences, my feelings, about those things I am doing or will do. Thinking about my impact on the world, welcome and otherwise. Thinking about others and how to act, of those things I have to, or hope to do. Ideas take time.
I think less when in the company of nature and music. Sometimes, thinking less is good - my happiest moments are when I feel, and thought is far removed.
I live in a prosperous neighbourhood with abundant shelter, water, warmth, food, and good health. I have time to contemplate, play and work with those things that interest me. I live a comfortable life.
My capacity to ignore the distress and injury of others and the earth is sharpened by good fortune.
As I write, birds are full with song. They sing as the early morning air not only enters their fragile frames, but as it leaves. Birds sing with alternating lungs, some in harmony with themselves. Their songs declare forcefully, beautifully: I am alive, I am here, hear me.
Eight weeks have passed since a thought first came to me. I value its simplicity, its call to action, and its encouragement to reflect.
I hope the music and light that has emerged from this idea stirs others to approach it.
The school I attended had a grass field with a football pitch that stretched forever. Although I didn't have a passion for the game I liked to play with others and to loose myself far beyond the reach of bell. And so I would wait uncomfortably along with my friends, hoping not be one of the last to be chosen. It is clear to any child that selection so often comes down to politics and personal whim. When it was my turn to pick, the unchosen would come first which made for a game full with passion and grit :)
I contemplate the words of others in response to a piece of music heard for the first time. I am struck by how important place becomes a vehicle of expression. These imagined places reveal feelings for the sounds that reach within. Each place, personal, intricate, precious, and very different to my own. This difference gives me pause, as I think again about the text and nature of a work, now, not yet complete.
When governments fail to support the arts, science, and free access to information, their international contribution to make the world a better place is profoundly degraded. This issue affects us all.
I urge US citizens to contact their member of congress to express their opposition to these proposals.
I step out into the still blanket-grey of morning. I close my eyes. I breathe. I feel. I listen.
Outside, this everyday teams with life, with countless sounds of souls than all my years could capture, study, contemplate, and love.
I open my eyes, and there is more.
Art has the quality of presenting intimate experiences at arm's length.
For the audience, art provides a way to discover without risk. For the artist, art gives choice of what, how and when to reveal.
People are careful about how close they get, how much they talk and touch. For some who are alone, art provides a path that makes real in mind and heart the world of others.
Much to the frustration of my school teachers, I sought to understand relationships and events through journeys of dream and the imagination. My mind was prone to wandering which was nourished by intense childhood experiences. Perhaps because of deep-seated need, I will not let things go until I reach a point of completion.
It seems I have a paradoxical nature: I am easily distracted, and yet utterly absorbed by a single task.
My son asked whether I view art as a means of exchanging knowledge.
In my desire to understand I search for ways to put things simply. It has taken a day to consider my response which I think is as true for art created by one person as by many.
I view art as a means of connecting one world with another. I prefer this to it being considered 'a means of exchange'. My experience of art is more than the acquisition of facts, information and skills.
I do not generally present comments beside those things I publish. Although this approach does not benefit my ego which is in constant search of affirmation, it allows what I say to speak for itself and for you, the viewer, to pause a little longer with your own unencumbered thoughts and feelings.
The greatest price of untangling my work from self-interest is that I limit the tremendous pleasure and gain I enjoy when talking with others.
The conservationist reveals, makes known, keeps from harm, is the guardian of those things cherished that feed the body and spirit. I conserve a memory that was my present long ago:
In the morning I wake with the dew of dawn and ride an old bicycle along the narrow winding roads of northern Tuscany. I am a speck in the undulating landscape of cypress, earth, olive grove and aged stone building topped with terracotta tiles. I live once more in land of beauty, sun and grape.
I listen to many sounds and spend days moulding their tone and charecter. I tread carefully, slowly, as if I find myself in woodland and my slightest motion would startle the comfort of grazing deer. I keep myself in that secluded spot until I sense it right to move.
Building well takes time and place, real and imagined.
A politician is sacked from government for standing firm in principled opposition to his party. Dissent is the essential ingredient of progress.
Speak your mind, be strong in voice, be certain of your view today, disobey, stand resolute, declare your firmly held belief, despite the censure, rage and blame, be true to self with pride, with confidence proclaim.
When I write a poem I choose to rhyme. I write to plant pleasure with its tone as much as the discovery of its meaning over time.
The sound of words have been and will remain profoundly important to me. It is not just the meaning of words I value, but their flow and form, their rhythm, how they are said, when they are spoken, and by whom, in mind or through the air. Words sound as well as mean.
At heart I have a spirit that will not yield.
I work when the time is right and value my creative freedom over financial reward. It has always been this way for me. My work is unconstrained by the demands of others. I express what I want, in the way I want, and when I want. My downside is that I work alone, intensely, relentlessly.
I work for love, for people, place, and hope.
I ponder the meaning of "I". I: the singular first person pronoun; myself, the speaker, or my imagined self.
Much of what I write here is written from this point of view. It is not always my point of view. Placing speech marks around the letter, the word, encourages me to think more carefully about its meaning.
"I" declares distance from me to you and invites your scrutiny. My hope is that by expressing my thoughts as I, you are more willing to come closer, and that "we" are given chance and voice.
I lie to reach my objective. This may be in the interest of myself, or others.
I lie to protect. I lie about my actions, my behaviour, and my past. I lie about others, I lie to myself.
I fail to recognise my lies and call them something else. I search for lies in others.
One lie leads to another.
The less I lie, the more in truth I gain.
I live on an island where the weather's voice is my constant companion:
The uncertainty of sky, the moving cloud, the changing wave of air, of sea.
On this morning, rain falls. Drops patter with the song of birds before they sink into the suckling earth.
Rain, like the artist, is defined by its falling.
I listen to a traditional Nordic waltz performed beautifully by The Danish String Quartet.
I love its simplicity of tune, of single voice and sound that builds, together.
Although I find this music intensely plaintive, I take solace from its expression. I am moved to tears.
We humans are capable of such delicacy, and yet at times such brutality. It is music that always brings me back to what we can best become.
Dispite its scarcity I seek trust every day.
Trust requires the wish to be close, if only for a moment.
I trust when my hope in someone's honesty croses the line of my shield of doubt and safety. I trust when understood, or in the hope I may be. I trust when I have not gathered enough to know for sure.
In trust I find my better self, but trust is far from easy to find, and far from easy to build.
Kindness: the quality of being helpful to someone in need without need of return.
Being kind requires I set aside myself.
My world is full with decisions about doing, not doing, and undoing.
More often than not I take my time before doing with others. This pause sometimes leads to my not doing as undoing can be difficult, painful, and at times, impossible.
When I work creatively, I am more spontaneous and impulsive. My doing, not doing, and undoing are free and constant forces at play as words, images or music are made.
I have used small movements to work on digital art for 20 years. Today I will use a pencil and paper.
As I have no training and little confidence in drawing I will take a simple approach. I have a small, ring-bound black-faced pad with heavy weight paper, a 4B pencil, and sharpener.
The pencil will leave something of the earth and my gesture on the page - the tracing of my moment, the mark of the life I see, think, and feel. Perhaps we bond to art created by material things more readily.
I imagine myself in a room where I see nothing but a single colour. There are no objects in the room which is lit completely evenly: the colour is without gradation or shadow of any kind. I hear no sound. I see no floor, walls, nor ceiling. At first I experience this in my mind's eye as an uncomfortable beauty, before growing increasingly unsettled. If you decide on the colour, do you become the artist?
This is my wish: this idea is not art. An Idea may conceive an artwork, but thinking does not make it so.
I ponder on the nature of emotional distress: sadness.
Sadness is associated with loss or absence of some kind: of my body, mind, or spirit; of someone or something that comforts me or gives me confidence and strength; of love.
Sadness is also a tool that helps me feel the world of another.
Sharing sadness is an expression of hope. Hope that another can be with, rather than apart.
Composition, movement, colour, form and sound can in part be revealed through mathematics.
One of art's essential characteristics is that it is an expression, a conscious and proclaimed utterance.
A work of art requires an audience, whereas mathematics (ideas about number, quantity, and space), does not.
I ponder on different points of view, the worlds we make believe, and how time is often conceived of as a three spoke concept: the past, present and future.
Each of my moments, real or imagined, is my chance to stay outside, above, in the open clear of day.
If I hold a thought inside, unshared, it moves to my place unseen, and once there, is rarely heard again.
I am drawn to words, images and sounds with more than one possible meaning. I turned the title of yesterday's thought over and over in my mind before deciding on it. On balance I felt its intensity, its provocation more likely to hold the reader. I hoped to use the strength of the phrase against itself.
The invitation to call me the enemy is followed by what I consider among my enemies: distrust, hate, and dishonesty. Although I have no control over how others read my words, I do over their choice.
Enemy: a thing that harms or weakens something else.
At times the thing most harmed is a principle. Take honesty as an example. If I am deceitful to those I know, if what I say is not truthful, I risk the prospect of friendship and trust. This goes for my personal life as much as for how one group or nation acts and communicates with another.
By calling you my enemy I sow suspicion and fear. Far better that I do not break, but build.
I return to work on the poem Breathe Deep This Dawn after reading the most beautiful phrase 'pushing up the sky with song' referring to the sound of two blackbirds in full voice.
At times I wish myself to be the bird, the song, the quickened early sight.
A single letter separates word and world.
No matter what my beliefs, my politics, my values, my hopes or fears, my word is only as strong as the trust you give it.
What and how I, you, and we say makes the difference between us.
I watch a short film of a composer talk about his work. As the interview unfolds I hear clips of his music and see him in a large concert hall with an adoring audience. The composer references software and hardware of the company that has produced the film. This is as soft and subtle as promotion gets. So why do I choose not to do this? What's the harm? I think it comes down to trust and integrity.
I want my work to be seen, heard and read unsullied, without hesitation, and with open arms.
Mystery: something difficult or impossible to understand or explain.
She is ninety four. I try to calm her. She is upset that her memory has failed once again. I tell her I have forgotton many things today. She feels a little better, less alone. She needs comfort and company - someone to sit with her a while. The mystery in her life is at times too great.
I talk about small things: the birds outside her window, the shadow, the sun. Her darkness lifts.
Creative conversations flow like music improvisation. Someone throws an idea into the mix, another picks it up, rolls it around then tosses it back. At times It is often not what is said, but how something is said that shifts the tone, and before I know I'm heading somewhere fresh.
Reading is a world apart from hearing someone speak.
I love to talk. I love to listen. Perhaps I talk too much, and so, I rarely talk out loud.
Large-scale works of art have no more personal significance over smaller ones. The scope and ambition of an artwork may increase its complexity and breadth, but size plays little part in its affect.
If I listen to a solitary voice sing a simple tune it can be as powerful, as beautiful as listening to a 120 piece orchestra playing a four movement fifty minute long symphony. One has as much value to me as the other. Large artworks are however always more expensive to produce, and may be sold for more...
Words give chance to share.
The words I write take time to fully form. I choose words carefully, slowly, and yet as I return to them their meaning shifts, their strength becomes less or more with the passing of time.
I write no more words here each day than can be said out loud within a minute. Their mystery is that they play upon my mind throughout my day, far past my concious reading. Words compel me to return.
I wake to see a light covering of snow. Delicate, translucent, a soft thin skin of nature that melds as the warmer wet of morning greets the earth. I do not see snow often, and so I gaze, I wonder.
I walk out and hold the palm of my hand to face the last few lightly falling crystals. As they touch I feel their icy prick, their moment of change, the life of a snowflake end. Transfixed, I think the same since boyhood: I am the cause of this. I look up once again at the gently drifting sky.
Imagine you and I enter a lift where we hear the same sounds, see the same walls, and feel the same confined space. Even though we are physically close, our personal experience of the journey will be profoundly different as we each perceive in our own way, and bring our intentions, memories, culture, and character to that place. Difference defines us, even when it seems there is little to divide us.
I ponder on how difference is at the root of our strength to grow - genetically, culturally, and personally.
I have a choice when I hear news I feel strongly about: I can ignore my feelings and thoughts; I can vent - perhaps comment on news with others; I can submit my thoughts to a prominent publication - if successful I would reach more people; I can protest with others; I can donate to a cause.
I choose to make things in the hope people will return to them, and with the conviction that over time a single voice can lead to change.
Violence: forceful behaviour with the intention to hurt, injure, abuse, damage, or destroy.
I have for many years sought to create content for people of any age and culture. I avoid expressing or condoning violence, although at times my work presents the consequences of it: sadness, trauma, poverty and homelessness.
Violence of any kind, of the mind or body, is the antithesis of love. Stand as the oak against the storm.
Pain is something I feel. There are certain kinds of physical pain I find difficult to shake. My only defence against sustained pain is through loosing myself: in a place, person or activity.
When I view a painting of a person in pain, I am invited to feel empathy. I may look away or wince, but the representation is a shadow of the intense experience.
Pain is at its most when personal. Perhaps art, music and language must be so to convey it well.
When children find themselves by fine wet sand, one of the first things they do is to press their open hands into it. They pull back and look at something only they can leave. This is their hollow proof to change the world, the affirmation of existence at a time and place. I continue to enjoy walking bare foot on a beech of sand laid silky smooth by the falling sea.
In part, I make in hope the memory of myself is not washed clean by the coming tide.
I am faced with the choice of breaking or building. It is easiest to break. I can break the confidence of a person through criticism, break a friendship by not caring for it, break something I am making by giving up when it fails to work after the fifth draft, or when it seems not to serve me.
Being constructive, despite its challenges, leads me forward. I choose to build.
We live on a fragile and beautiful planet. We are but once. Unique. You. I. We.
There is one thing I do that matters, that builds a chance for our better world: love.
I enjoy a change of air to the stillness of recent days. The wind picks up from the south with the threat of gale. The sky shifts from the bright light-blue of north. High clouds, then low, start their push as pressure builds, the trees begin their sway.
Later, when the wind is at its height, I will walk in the fields, wrapped in nature's strength and beauty.
When I listen I attend to and consider a sound.
I hear different sounds all the time and every day, however most flow through me as a river. I can only focus on one sound at a time, and when I do, I am listening. An unexpected sound might catch my attention by its volume, difference or pattern. When I read I am also captivated by a word's meaning and association. The mystery of a poem is that its music can be listened to both aloud and in the mind.
I spend the day working on a poem about the sounds I give and wish to give attention to. As I stand back from the poem and hear it out loud it begins its journey from the closed place of my mind into the world of tomorrow where it will be heard in the minds of others.
Art is a magical thing...
I have a powerfully independent spirit that is by nature resistant to the influence of others, despite my wish to learn from them. I did not attend university nor an art or music academy. I am not a member of a political party or a religious organisation. I tend to avoid groups as I find it difficult to be honest in them. I do not wear the clothes of an artist or an unconventional person. I do not wish for a solitary path as I so love being and sharing with others, yet I find the journey to uncover is so often a lonely one.
Politics: activities that aim to improve someone's status or power.
Some artists and writers express their protest frequently. Their audience expects their voice. My effort is to reach those I disagree with, as much as with those who share my views.
There are dangers to both approaches. The first may fan division and conflict, the second may be ignored. Artists and writers concerned with politics must make a choice, for their purpose is to provoke.
As I experience the deep of night and its gradual transformation into dawn, I am struck by its tremendous beauty, both common and rare. Each day brings something new: the sky, moon and stars shift, the air, the sight and sounds of life, all alter with each moment.
When I see something beautiful I have never seen before, I am easily captivated, and yet beauty so often surrounds me in my every day. My pause and gaze upon the ordinary is far too infrequent.
3D films will soon be a thing of the past as manufacturers announce they are stopping production of 3D enabled TVs. The pseudo approximation of our three dimensional experience and the failure to think carefully about its nature will stall its artistic development until the arrival of the moving hologram.
Our rich three dimensional experience is more than what we see. I feel 'in' a place not only because of my ever shifting visual focus, but as much by my sense and ability to touch, and my proprioception.
Silence: the complete absence of sound.
Be willingly silent. Being silent well takes time. We rarely come together in silence, yet when we do there is no mistaking its strength. Today some will share silence as they remember their loved ones.
No word can say, no sound nor light convey the sadness, loss and love on this our coldest winter's day.
Torture: any act that inflicts severe physical or mental pain as a punishment, or in order to force someone to do or say something.
President Trump believes torture works. I believe compassion is one of ten inalienable rights. It is not possible to be both compassionate and to condone torture. If I point a loaded gun at your heart and fire, you will die. That the gun works is not why I will never do this. Compassion is by far the stronger force.
Although my latest dream remains briefly with me, it soon fades from view.
My Forest of Lost Dream touches on the richness of my world unseen.
At times my self-confidence is high, and at others it is low. Although I do not enjoy the unrest doubt brings, it provides the balance to my certainty. People who make things repeatedly pass the fulcrum of their contentment.
As children we have little control over the constant flux of feeling good and bad, and perhaps becuase of this, when young, we tend to make far more.
I enjoy the creative process most when it is an unencumbered conversation of ideas and practice. My ideas are expressed with sound, light and words. When for example I place a word before me, it asks something of me through its meaning, associations and beauty. I experience this as a conversation. In this context the practice refers to how that word is used, and where that word is placed.
After I begin something it often becomes something else.
Proof: the evidence and argument that establishes the truth of a statement.
Faith: the willingness to believe that something might be true despite little proof.
Belief: an acceptance that something exists or is true without proof.
Truth: a fact that in future may be overturned as new evidence and understanding comes to light.
Those things I value most are not easily proved yet undoubtedly exist: love, compassion, and beauty.
Shortly after I wrote yesterday's thought I began to create a simple publication to cement my personal commitment to it. Speaking the single word love at the start and end of each day is meaningful for me. It gives my day form and purpose, when alone and together. Thinking silently is different, perhaps because when I push a word through my breath into the world I somehow make it real.
'Love', when said in isolation is my declaration, my pledge.
Language is the tool I value most. It is free to use by all. It is how I share the meaning of and in my life. It is my path to understand another's world. How else can this be said without its force?
Love: let this be my first word each morning and the last before I sleep.
A method to solve the problem of translating one language into another more quickly and effectively has emerged within Google's Neural Machine Translation system (GNMT). This new solution, now at the heart of Google, converts over 100 languages almost instantaneously and was not arrived as a result of instructions by humans, but rather spontaneously developed within the GNMT.
As machine understanding evolves, so The Rights of Living Things require our close attention.
When I hear someone sing without words my spirit is touched.
I am by myself, and as I play the piano a strange, magical comfort strays from the sounds that spontaneously emerge. Perhaps the act of creating music serves to heal.
Making music as it happens is a two way street, even when alone.
I began sharing one thought each day a year ago. In doing so my experience of the passage of time has intensified. No matter what my effort, failure or success, the next day is quickly upon me. Those things I say and do recede swiftly with the challenge of examining a fresh idea so frequently.
What I do/not over time makes me different.
In my experience around one person in every two hundred thousand thanks the originator of something that is offered without cost. I base this on observations of tens of millions of users to my websites over a fifteen year period who have enjoyed free software, music, images and words.
Online behaviour is a more truthful indicator of human conduct as compared with the way people say they act in the presence of others. As you browse today be rare, be one in two hundred thousand.
I continue to work on the words that accompany Tomorrow's Highway and struggle with the smallest change that makes a world of difference to its meaning.
My challenge is to marry image and text to form a whole. I've tried to shape the words to appear at first as explanation, to be personal and how I see things. On return my hope is that the text reads more richly as it moves freely from elucidation to metaphor. Saying things simply is fraught with difficulty...
I ponder on whether art's purpose should be to change my view.
When I see a painting, is it more affecting if it moves me to think as well as feel? When I hear a piece of music without text or image, is my experience no more than the pleasure of its' sound?
Perhaps art is always confined by what my heart invites.
It is a mystery of how an artwork connects so powerfully at a particular moment. I worked on several images yet repeatedly returned to one. Perhaps because of the beauty of its light and shape, perhaps because of its personal resonance. Perhaps it is good not to spend too long considering its attraction, but rather swim in its ribbons of gold and darkening blue...
I have used physical and digital materials to create music, images, and words. I compose and perform 'in the box', the box being a computer. I decide what, how, and when materials should best be used. I work with sound design and image software, recordings of acoustic instruments (sample libraries), and keyboards. The box provides affordable and effective tools to create and disseminate my work.
There is no weakening to the power or meaning of art because it has been created in the box...
I play the piano. I improvise. I have not the slightest idea of what will immerge. I let the music guide me to its place of rest. I listen, often in surprise as I have so much to learn, and for this I am thankful.
Play is at the heart of what it is to make.
I try to be open to the world yet careful of its risks. I have food, shelter and good health, and so this path for me is easier than for many. With love the path broadens. With loss of any of these things, the path narrows and I pause.
I am most open when I trust, I close when uncertain. It is the same for nations as for you or I.
I listened for two hours to three prominent film composers in conversation. They described their work as having to create against the clock, compromise, deal with unreasonable and inarticulate people, and coping with feelings of uncertainty and rejection. I was struck by the similarity of their experiences with those of commercial designers I have known.
When the creative act is little more than craft and politics, art is impaired.
I wrote poetry, painted, and composed as a child. Whether these creations were any good in the eyes of others was of no concern. Perhaps this was in part as a result of my being fostered from the age of one and a half. I had no say over who cared for me, and not the slightest idea why my life was so precarious, but through art I had the means to find my voice in the chaos. Art is personal. Its function is to discover and express. Its purpose is to be absorbed by others. All else is smoke and mirrors.
My art, music and words have little or no impact on my immediate family. When I share my work it does not move them past a few short words. 'I like it' is the most that is said. It has always been this way.
When people do not experience the world as I, whether strangers or those I care for, there is no fault. We see things differently. We return only to those things we love. Love cannot be forced, it is not persuaded, we feel or we do not. The sadness is my difference with those close drives me to express.
Know: to be aware of.
You read my words. The more you take in, the more my world is known to you while you remain unknown to me.
My trust is in the value of what is said. If what is said moves your mind to thought, you may return unknown in search of knowing more.
Some sounds touch me deeply. When my son is happy he sings to himself. This is the sound I love above all others. He is not conscious that his voice carries through the closed doors of our home when he is close to sleep. It has been this way since he was an infant. In contrast and in daylight he is shy in song. This makes the sound of his song all the more precious.
Perhaps sound and light are at their most powerful when they are swathed with love.
Whether social, physical or psychological, there is a limit to the tension I can comfortably tolerate. Art, music, dance and drama allows me to explore that limit through its discord. The experience of art can cross the boundary of our discomfort. In performance art and film it is however difficult to withdraw, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why we think carefully before attending.
Life without disagreement, a life of only harmony is sickly sweet despite its comfort and safety.
My friend of many years whom I have never met, John Berger, the artist and cultural commentator, with piercing eyes and insight, with love, with hope in the power of companionship and community, has died.
John devoted his life to human expression and the creative life. I call John my friend as his life and work has moved me over many years, changed me, provoked me. He has, like countless artists, writers, and composers, enriched my life: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. For this I am profoundly grateful.
I have a choice: I can make something that has the potential to encourage acts of kindness, or I can ignore the moral impact of my efforts and seek only financial, social and personal gain.
Perhaps my enjoyment in the act of making, my opportunity to express and its sensory pleasures should be enough reward. There is however one more most important thing: I make to share, despite the uncertainty of how much will ever be returned. Making is my act of hope.
I dedicate my new work 'Daybreak' to Billy, a student of philosophy and literature who died suddenly.
Whatever our darkness, daybreak will unfold...