Tenday Notes 21 Apr - 30 Apr 2021
Every ten days I share a quick digest of what I've been working on. Here's the latest. More in the series here. Want them in your inbox? Sign up.
This instalment is a bit link-heavy - as explained below, I've not had a lot of time for side projects lately, and a lot of my work time has been going into things that I can't talk about publicly yet or are simply quite boring. But they're good links, so let's get started.
I'm making my way through Brian Eno's 1995 diary, A Year With Swollen Appendices, slowly, so it lasts as long as possible - and I'm very taken by the amount of work he puts into making what he calls "frames".
A frame in this context is the place that an artwork lives - where and how it's perceived by others. That could be a website or a book or a newsletter even. But almost all of the artwork I see at the moment is framed by social media - which is probably the worst possible frame for a piece of art. It's there one moment and gone seconds later. It's very much vindicating my decision to scale back my Instagramming and focus on this newsletter and my blog instead.
More to the point, though, I feel like people don't spend enough time making frames for their work at the moment and I would like to see that change. I would also like to see more collaboration, where one person makes a beautiful, unique frame for another person's work.
Do you have a piece of artwork that needs a frame? Can I help? Drop me a line and let's explore it together.
Goat towers are "an idea whose time has come" wrote Modern Farmer magazine in 2014. So where's mine?
Wouldn't it be fun to make fictional data visualizations? Ones where the data is constructed by hand to tell a fictional story. Authors, and particularly fantasy authors, love puttiing fictional maps in their books - so why not fictional dataviz?
If you loved the OG Microsoft Paint, then here's a web version with a handful of neat extra features.
I've been a bit off side projects lately, for two reasons. One is that I've got loads of main projects to do - between Possible, Loud Numbers, Mojang and some editing work I'm doing for Conservation International, there just isn't a whole lot more time to dedicate to extra unpaid work.
The second is that I'm feeling a little uninspired. The generative art scene has disappeared up its own NFTs, and I'm enjoying my modular synth stuff as a form of meditation and practice, rather than something to create artefacts (songs, music, etc) from.
So I'm reading a lot and playing games and generally working on my input instead. And to that end I've signed up to a five-week course at the Berlin-based School of Machines called Visual Methodologies for Climate Futures. It's all about creating databases of images, and then analysing those databases to see what you learn.
Week one was all about ways to scrape large amounts of images from platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Google Images. Our homework is to assemble 300 images themed around a climate-futures-related hashtag, like #solarpunk or #cottagecore. Next week we'll be using computer vision to tag these images and figure out what's in them (and what's not in them).
It's loads of fun, and exposing me to a whole new set of tools that I've not worked with before. Perfect for setting up my next round of side projects...
Take a couple of minutes to watch this adorable video of a Belgian man parking in a garage that's 6cm wider than his car. Look at how pleased he is with himself! I think we should all aspire to that level of satisfaction in our lives.
100,000 black Lego bricks went into the making of artist Ekow Nimako's enormous afrofuturistic reimagining of the capital city of the anciet Ghanaian empire. It's stunning.
Very long ago in this newsletter I shared Everest Pipkin's collection of open source, experimental, and tiny tools. Now it has a website of its own, where you can search through loads of tags for exactly what you're looking for. The randomize button is particularly useful.
Couple of music recommendations:
- Green-House makes beautiful, verdant, ambiences.
- Luminous Kid's "at the end of the dream" is a lovely, heartfelt new indie-pop album.
- LARRY PINK THE HUMAN's new single, ELEVEN11_GTR_SONG is fun, vaguely angsty pop-punk.
99 more bits of unsolicited advice from Wired founder Kevin Kelly. One of my favourites:
This is the best time ever to make something. None of the greatest, coolest creations 20 years from now have been invented yet. You are not late.
His first list of 68, posted a year ago, is excellent too.
Ordnance Survey has written a lovely guide to hand-drawing Middle Earth-style maps of the real world (via Giuseppe Solazzo).
Finally, two months ago our dog Laika went to a big farm in the countryside. That's not a euphemism, she's not dead - she is genuinely living on a farm in the countryside, where she's had a litter of puppies. We'll be getting her back in a couple of weeks and we're very excited.
First because it'll be nice to have her around the house again. After having a dog for three years, it's weird to suddenly not have a dog around, quietly loving you and/or judging all of your actions. It's a bit lonely without her, and I'm definitely not getting as much walk time as I was.
Second because one of her puppies, Luna, will be coming with her. We're going to be looking after it for a month or so until my partner's parents can drive up from Austria and pick her up. I am extremely excited to be having a tiny fluffball around the place, even if it does mean a few weeks of terrible sleep while we get her properly housetrained. Tune into Laika's Instagram if you want to see lots of puppy pics.
All of which made this article from the perspective of a dog on why you should "consider second dog" extremely compelling.