Getting Artsy

At school my art teachers hated me- I wasn’t very good at art and I wasn’t very good at doing things that were artsy. And whenever I tried to be artsy I would fall faster than an apple onto Issac Newton’s head (Hush… I don’t care if that’s just a myth… It works in the context of what I’m trying to say, right?).  One of the primary reasons I failed AS level photography was because I wasn’t artsy enough- It wasn’t that my photographs were bad (see below,) it was that the artsy stuff I was supposed to do with them wasn’t good enough (at least not for the teacher anyway.) But recently I’ve found myself back in the realm of the artsy and this time I think it might be working.


St Luke's Church, Liverpool

This all started when I began redrafting the Past Force movie… I was after making it slicker, pacier and more fun than the first draft but I also wanted to make it look good on screen and my best way of doing that was to think like a film director, to think of how it could be shot. So I looked into things, at the way other films were done, and that took me into a whole world of camera angles and close ups and transitions, stuff I’d never really thought of putting in before. I started putting stuff like that in and by doing that stuff it gave the film an artsy feel. There are scenes that mirror each other- There’s one shot where a character is on the ground, someone looming over him, and the angle is low but later when the situation is reversed so is the camera angle. I made a conscious decision, with the first montage scene, to do the mirroring thing, only in a much more subtle way. In terms of transitions there’s one where a bottle rolls down the street and then into the next scene, where it rolls across the floor of a bar. There’s one transfer with a close up and then this is cut through into the next scene by another character slamming a glass down on a table. One character is consistently shot from beneath, to give a sense of power and might. There are flat shots and close ups and things like that… I’m even now contemplating doing the whole thing in black and white. With each new scene I find something new I can put in and at this rate it might end up reaching such a point I’ll have to direct the thing myself, which is not a good idea when its your own life story you’re dealing with (even if you are intentionally making ninety percent of it up).

And then, jumping to an almost completely unrelated note, I tried to read Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce. Word to anyone thinking about it… It isn’t worth the bother. Whilst the text is somewhat readable and the first chapter makes a little bit of sense the rest is just garbled nonsense. It has no plot, no characters (despite what Wikipedia and various academics will tell you) and it reads more like the nonsense ravings of a lunatic. And I got wondering ‘why?’ Why is this book the way it is? Is it supposed to be literature presented as art? That last question set another question off in my mind- Can literature actually be art? Can you write a book like you’d paint a painting? You probably know where this is going… I decided to try it. I decided I would attempt to write a book not as a piece of literature, but as a piece of art. I can’t say a lot, other than what I said last week, that it has a greek mythology basis, is set across two time periods (at once) and that I can’t use my Stymphalian birds because some ‘person’ decided they would inappropriately trademark them for their ‘organisation,’ a fact which I am still very annoyed about. I started on it this week and I think that it might actually work. And the antagonist… Hoo hoo! He’s a creep… He might be my worst villain yet.

Finally, I’ve been forced to get artsy in terms of my YouTube videos… This week at least. I had this particular idea for a video and because of what it was about I was always going to do it in a different way. Rather than the usual front-on shot/bookshelf background style I was going to do it side on, facing away from the camera, in black and white. But then some twit over the road decided they would start having noisy building work done and it was virtually impossible to film what I wanted to film over the noise. My last video was a fair few weeks ago so I needed to film one and thus decided I would get artsy… I wrote a short script (normally I come up with what I want to say on the fly) I went and took various black and white filmic shots of the room and of myself writing (nothing to do with the story) and I peppered them with subtle/not so subtle clues about the above book- I might add one clue to all my videos actually. I had to wait until evening and there was a certain degree of silence to record the audio but I could get away with that… Unlike with filming you don’t need a decent amount of light to record sound. With any luck the video should be really artsy when it’s done but, of course, there is a chance it could fall flat on its black and white behind and I’ll end up reshooting it in the way I originally intended. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that… I’ve also realized that it might take time to piece together and my original intention (to have it as my next video out) and I probably need to cobble together a quick placeholder video, which will not be artsy in any way.

None of these are done yet… Whether they will turn out to be as artsy as I intend or whether they will be of the same result as my earlier attempts to be artsy, who knows. But does the fact that I can now be artsy (perhaps) mean that all my teachers, especially my art teachers, were wrong about me? Not necessarily. It’s been a long time since I tried to do anything artsy and perhaps my experiences over the intervening years have improved me- Though I still contend that in terms of the photography course the teacher just didn’t like my work, apart from the one piece below. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if any of this lot turns out to be worth it. Just watch this space!

Fire In the Sky


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