Sunday, October 17, 2010

What's up with Phil? A quick blurst of news.

It's a long story I may go into later, but I got kind of burned-out working on the last project I was on. So I decided to take some time off and apply to go back to university. I'm now at Goldsmiths college in London, doing the MFA in Computational Studio Arts.

This is quite a departure for me. I've tried being a scientist (but really don't have the attention to detail and statistical rigour for it), hung out with philosophers (and felt tempted by philosophy), and married an artist. But I've never thought of myself as *being* an artist. Or even *wanting* to be an artist. (Despite all the music I make.) I'm not sure I do now. There's still some puritan part of my brain which finds the whole thing rather self-indulgent and disreputable.

OTOH, here are two things I find really attractive :

a) the idea of being a "craftsman". That is, an expert maker of things.


b) the idea of artist as self-directed "gift-giver"; that is, someone who's work is inspired by what they want to give to the world rather than reacting to commission.

Of course, the world is full of programmers who say "I'm looking for a job where I can write what I want instead of having the pointy haired boss telling me what to do."

Well, artists are effectively living that dream. (Though, naturally, having to cope with the financial constraints that inevitably follow.)

So part of what I'm looking for on this course, is to stretch that part of me. Not so much the part which makes stuff up, which is fairly extended anyway, but the part which turns vague dreams into real things. A lot of it is to do with observing and modifying my own attitude and values. Even getting a bit more disreputable if it helps me push things forward ;-).

Inevitably the course is starting with some "learn to program for artists" type courses. Which aren't exactly an issue for me at the moment. But we're getting shown some nice graphics and sound related tools like Processing and openFrameworks (the latter of which I hadn't seen before).

And, soon, we'll start working with multi-touch, audio processing, and what Goldsmiths call "Physical Computing" which is all the magical, device-swarm, circuit bending electronics stuff. This is something I've wanted to get down to for a while, but haven't had the structure or time. I hope this course will give this to me. And if all goes according to plan, some of my device ideas may become reality.

Meanwhile, you can look at my ongoing course sketch-book (starting with Processing sketches.) I'll keep using this blog as my main "artistic" blog. So expect to see more art and music appearing here. I'll also use ThoughtStorms for further notes and ideas. And any swarm music I make will probably also find its way to the Gbloink site.

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