Wildcode

Wildcode

I have enrolled again for Experimental Drawing classes at the Midlands Arts Centre.

We start from basics, over two sessions making marks with charcoal, then an eraser, smoothing over the depths and highlights by abrasion and water, building in new layers: finding a picture in the unplanned image.  I know this stuff but I never do it.  Coming straight after work and despite a grabbed sandwich and beer on the way, I find it hard to unwind and let go. Still, it is great to have the space and time and permission to play with marks.  It is like rediscovery.

The headline piece has been digitally manipulated, altering the brightness and contrast a little, but particularly, boosting the red channel.  The original is below,  actually drawn the other way up.  When I can get the original back, I will wash over it in layers of sepia ink and see where this leads.

three sheets 1

As I worked, my fleeting ideas included making calligraphic marks like a script, masts and rigging of tall ships and sunight breaking through foliage overhead.   Once I turned it upside down, this came immediately to mind:

“I helped her see patterns in the desert, in the wind, in the wildcode.  We found treasures.  There are ghosts beneath the earth, you can dig them up if you know where to look.”

This is perhaps as close as we come to an explanation of the desert or the nature of wildcode in Hannu Rajaniemi’s novel, The Fractal Prince.  In so far as I could tell, beneath the layers of  quantum physics, wildcode relates to our core canon of stories which truly come alive when our flesh and digital natures converge.

Sinfonietta to Fleshquartet

To the sounds of Janacek’s sinfonietta, I layered translucent pixels onto the uploaded blotswyrm

Now my mind dances to a different tune: a chance mention on the radio opening up new ideas for drawing.

Landscape with gun

I listened to Janacek’s sinfonietta on the radio.  The anchor commented that two different recordings of the same music  provide the soundtrack to Murakami’s novel, 1Q84.  I downloaded the music, and the book.  Janacek’s sinfonietta marks the boundary between the real and unreal, the profane and sacred.

Landscape with gun 13

Around the same time, I listened to a learned discussion on the writing of Anton Chekhov.  In 1890, the ill young man made a three month journey from Moscow across Siberia to the penal colony of Sakhalin Island.  After listening, I have begun to work my way through his stories. As it turned out,  Chekhov’s narrative power is another thread running through the tapestry of 1Q84

Landscape with gun

According to Chekhov, says a character in 1Q84, once a gun appears in a story, it has to be fired.

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Story before bed

Over one week, I retold to my children a tale they know well, illustrating it on the iPad as I spoke .

Here it is.  Sweet dreams …

The children lived in a cottage on the edge of a forest.

They knew the forest was haunted: they went in only a few tress deep and never at night.

Lost deep in the haunted wood.

A cottage made of sweets. How welcoming for hungry children.

He nibbled the roof, she the walls.

Ensnared by a magical weave.

Asked for flesh, he offered a bone.

“I am too stupid: show me how to test the oven.”

All it took was one push

The released spells rent the forest.

Entering the city via the sewer

One night I experimented with powdered charcoal and pastel, scraped into shapes with a time expired credit card and palette knife on a smooth resistant plastic surface.  The first version developed almost by chance to show a distant city, part obscured by mountains against a red sand-blown sky.

https://kestrelart.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/powder-and-glue-2/

The second piece was undertaken more deliberately.  I wanted to show the path into a city through a river that in the way of cities has become more an outflow for waste.  The city was to have been monumental.  The superstructure of the tram system was to spider across the foreground above the open sewer.  These two urban arteries were to draw the eye back to a massive city that reached up and up, piercing the clouds.

At the start, I built in the textured surface of the tram supports over the smooth waterway.  But at some point, the picture lost direction.  I began lifting out with tissue, lost much of what I had done and in exasperation scrubbed at the surface, abandoned it and went to bed.

After a week, I began to work into what was left in pastel, then ink.  I began to see an alien city, with distorted organic buildings.  I tested options digitally on the iPad.  This weekend I added stalactites to make clearer the structural positioning and added what is not quite a bird.

Here it is, not the image I had imagined at first, but one that grew in the drawing.

The way into the city.

Listen … Poo tee weet

It is written that of all the 31 known sentient species, only humans believe in free will.  This illusion arises because although perceiving the existence of four dimensions, none the less, their view of time is severely constrained to glimpsed, mostly falsified memories and a probablistic view of the future.  Their outlook on life is as if their heads were imprisoned in helmets and vision permitted only through rigid six foot scopes without mirrors or lenses to enhance the passing image while strapped unknowing to flatcars careering under their own momentum along interweaving railroads.

Even if you read the book thirty years ago, i bet you will get the literary reference right away.  If you are guessing, I won’t spoil the game but someone I hope will post it below in a comment.  It is a classic of twentieth century fiction (actually much based on fact, frighteningly).  I re-read it in snatched moments recently.  I’ve had little time to draw, hence this rather rough sketch.

Drone II

How might it feel in my home town if we walked under constant surveillance from a kilometre in the sky?

If those remote eyes guided missiles?

If any male over 18 years were defined as a legitimate target?

If any gathering of more than three people were viewed as terrorist activity?

How might we live our lives, buy and sell, celebrate and mourn, work and learn, protest and be free in fear of sudden, targeted, guided but blindly lethal attack?

How much or little might our society have to change for this to be thinkable?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/02/drone-wars-secrecy-barack-obama?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/11/obama-drone-wars-normalisation-extrajudicial-killing?

Also

https://kestrelart.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/experimental-drawing-shards/

https://kestrelart.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/drone-i/

Pancake day

On the way home from school, they asked me why we have Pancake Day.

I talked about myth and metaphor, of feast and fast, of journeying into the desert, stones and sand, scorpions and snakes, of isolation, solitude, prayer and meditation.

Their response was  “so we can eat pancakes!”.  They talked of lemon and sugar, chocolate sauce and liquid toffee, cream and ice cream, of batter hitting the ceiling and falling on our heads.

“Knock knock” “Who’s there” “Philip” “Philip who” “Flip the pancake and don’t miss the pan!” (We’re not very good at knock knock jokes in our house).

I remembered that decades ago, in another life,  I had been asked to provide visual aids illustrating a powerful Biblical passage, used to mark the start of Lent.

Actually, the accompanying sermon was more striking, beginning with the preacher throwing off her cassock to reveal the most violent orange check shirt you can imagine, going on to deliver a high pressure pitch as Satan in the persona of an East London salesman (voices she knew well from her childhood days around Woolwich market).

Do the dead know what time it is?

That’s the title of the track I’m listening to.  Kenneth Patchen was perhaps best described as a Beat poet. On this track he speaks over jazz accompaniment.  I can’t close down the computer until the track finishes.  Go on Spotify and listen … really.

These are accumulated doodles done on the ipad.

  

  

mmm – I wonder what you make of these.  I’m not sure myself.

  

  

finger painting, no mess.