Discover more from The Spaces in Between
Issue #176 - The Spaces in Between
It’s Saturday morning and I’m still catching up with myself. The week flew by, soon as my teaching was over, I couldn’t believe it was Thursday, a couple of days until the weekend, then waking up this morning and it’s already the weekend. I’m in hyperspace.
I had a lovely afternoon at the Pittsburgh Art Book and Zine Fair, that took place at Carnegie Museum in Oakland. I managed to speak to a few vendors and purchased some books for the shelf in my room. Such talented people working with great skill and dexterity. I made a little film of all the books, zines and other bits I found.
On sunday evening I’ll write a short planning document for the week, make a list, then add the week’s activities and obligations in the calendar. It might feel a little overwhelming to see everything laid out, almost all the slots filled, but this habit is giving my week a little structure. I’m starting to get into a rhythm at least, and make sure to included some personal goals, and family evenings. This week this included a new Yoga class at the recreation center, it did me some good, although I was a little achy the next day, the aim hopefully is that it will keep me limber, and help me sleep. I’ll need to back this up with a few sessions at home, maybe down in the basement, there’s yoga on Netflix, that can guide me through half an hour here and there.
Even if I’m paying a little more attention to myself this week, I still feel tired. We bought a new mattress, but still waiting for the frame to arrive, and I’m not sleeping that well, waking up a few times in the night, sometimes unable to get back to sleep, wandering downstairs for a glass of water and lying on the couch until my eyelids drop again and I make it back upstairs where I can stretch out at least.
Teaching & Learning
I can’t believe it’s week three already. We’re working hard in class, I introduced the group to their first assignment, a solo project where we offer up the opportunity to play and experiment, make short immersive outcomes, maybe by playing with Quill or Open Brush, or use Snapchat and Insta filters, or even create a projection piece, or animation in procreate. There are so many projects that they can do, they don’t have to create masterpieces, just try our a few ideas.
I’m working on a short documentary series with another student, at least she is making documentaries, I’m just giving her some advice and guidance. I hope she won’t mind me revealing that in one of the films she is hoping to talk about Alan Perlis, a computer scientist who taught at CMU in the 60’s and was the first recipient of a prestigious Turing Award. There’s an interesting Medium article by one of my colleagues Jim Morris who was taught by Perlis and also became a computer science professor.
Amidst everything that is fascinating about Perlis, it was his attitude to learning that caught my attention, reportedly he said anyone who was in the rat-race for grades could simply write it on the front of their exam paper, and he’d award it to (them). That’s the way I feel too. There were a few conversations this week where I wanted to reassure my students that risk will be rewarded, that I will find ways to support students who are stepping out of their comfort zones and trying something new. When students ask for examples from last year’s course, or spend time asking questions where they are trying to decipher my subjective tastes in the hope they’ll make something I like; the hair on my neck stand on end, my spider-senses tingle.
Let’s see what they come up with, I’ll let you know how they rise to this challenge.
I had something of a revelation this week while listing the many projects that I’m involved with, either collaboratively with colleagues, or those I’ve initiated myself, through the opportunities encountered at work. I was thinking that there are many more projects initiated than completed, of course that’s the easy bit, thinking of new projects. You can sit with a colleague over a cup of coffee, and you can talk for a bit, and say “…we should do that.” or “okay, let’s start a document”, and immediately, almost as forming a pot from the sodden earth, it has been made real, it has parameters, it involves people, and place. It is a thing.
Except it is not. It’s just the seed of an idea, one that might years to grow to fruit bearing maturity, or not. The next time you bump into that colleague, you might feel a little awkward, because you haven’t written the first page of that script you promised, or had a conversation with a third, potential partner, or sought out a grant, or funding source. I’m suggesting you shouldn’t add the idea to the baggage that you already carry around with you, because it isn’t anything yet, it might not even be real.
So, can we find a new way to think about ideas, not in the embryonic way that every cell will one day become a living, breathing person, but perhaps something else? I’m not sure what that is; the start of journey, a building block, a conversation, who knows. It costs nothing to have good ideas, and you shouldn’t stop having them, because you need to complete every one of them. Can we give ourselves a break? Can we turn the valve counter-clockwise, release the pressure? You might say this is a cop-out, that I just need to finish what I started. You might be right, but I’m going to try and see this differently, this needs to be reframed, because I don’t think it’s necessarily healthy to think you’re always behind.
Lost and Found
I fell down a few rabbit holes this week, some of them are recorded here for posterity, so that I don’t forget them. You might find some of this useful and interesting too.
I use Canva on a regular basis, I’m lucky that I have an Adobe licence, so I can use Express or Photoshop. I edit with Premiere, so when I’m in that workflow I tend to jump around between different products, Illustrator, After Effects etc. I was introduced to PhotoPea this week which is a free online photo editor that links to your google drive or box folder.
I also watched this trailer for Procreate Dreams, that I’m very excited about, there’s a strong possibility of losing my evenings to this. There’ll be a one time cost of about $20 and it works on your iPad.
I watched Film: A Living Record of Our Memory which is about the archival and preservation of film, those celluloid reels that are being lost, digitized, or stored in dark rooms. I feel lucky that I was able to make my first films, on…film, Kodak 16mm to be precise, just when the industry was turning to digital. I still have the cans, in a box at my parents’ house. I wonder if they’ll play.
I finally found a moment to put together a playlist for one of my friends, you can enjoy it here if you’re interested, a mix of different things, that all have heart, and could give you direction if you were feeling lost.
Okay, I’m quite proud of having made some time to write, so I hope you’ll forgive missing a week.
The weather is great at the moment, sunny days with blue sky, it’s still t-shirts and shorts, apparently it will get warmer still in the next few weeks before Fall sets in. A few leaves are starting to turn, and there’s definitely less humidity in the air. I love it, and I’ll try and get out on the bike a bit more.
I hope that you’re doing well. I’ve been in touch with a few people this week who are working on super fun projects, it does seem to be a productive time; although equally if you’re not feeling productive, then don’t sweat, read books, watch films, regroup. It’s all good.
Okay, that’s all for this week, see you next Friday.