Blog Archive

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Recent Drawings

Sometimes I draw on printer paper, mostly in biro late at night listening to music. Usually I'll blast through a good wodge of drawings per sitting.

In my 2nd year at Uni I plastered all three walls I had with scribbled on A4. Coincidental I just added my old UCE tutor on Facebook and she's the only person ever to own bought artwork by me. She bought one of those drawings. I've never made much you could own (being into performance, video & multimedia art), but I kinda promised myself I'd get my drawing out more, as aside from my music, they are the most primary creative output I have these days.

I'm on the lookout for exhibiting op's if there's any out there..?
I will not be charging for beers.

copyright © Ben Neal 2007

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Nine Inch Nails - Remix Site

Just seen this which is pretty god exciting;

- Download multitrack audio files for NIN songs and create your own remixes
- Create a profile and post your mixes for the world to hear
- Listen to, rate, and discuss thousands of other fan-made and official remixes
- Find remixes based on your specific tastes
- Create custom playlists and share them with other fans
- Download full quality MP3s of every song on the site
- Subscribe to any playlist as a podcast, and get automatic MP3 updates you can sync to your iPod

Oh, and it's all free. Enjoy!

A few musical gems from my YouTube favourites

Apparently this is what Bjork's got on her new tour, but just have a look at this amazing bit of kit - The Reactable - is a synth, which is a table, onto which you place objects and move them around in relation to each other to create your sounds. WILD!

Here's Bjork kicking off using the thing (but not actually playing it sadly);

On the subject of music videos here's a few odds n sods I love;

Black Dice - 'Smiling Off', THE most bizarre music video I have ever seen and so truly fitting to their sound you can only commend the genius behind it.

Dillinger Escape Plan - If you don't already worship them, this is your reason too right here. These guys are worrying...

This is them at Virgin Mega Store a few years ago, doing a little bit of crowd pleasing;

This is brilliant: Music made from the objects in one room!;

Gogol Bordello - I'm on my way to see you soon..!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Pay for my drink?! At an Art show..?!!

More on Halloween at Eastside here

Yep, that's what I thought when I went to Ikon Eastside's Halloween event . 'What a disgrace! You never pay for drinks at art do's! That's why people turn up!'. And then a close friend reminded me of a conversation we'd had where we'd discussed how you pay to get into a music event and then quite happily pay for over priced drinks because you at a concert, but expect free entry & booze at art venues, and how this must be detrimental to the art world at grass roots where people are struggling to make and show work. I'd better buy 2 drinks then. thought I. And did.

But the point is; OK, so artist's are always skint and free entry & free drinks do make people turn up.. but at the expense of the people putting on the show? Now maybe this isn't so much a concern for Ikon, but I'd like to see places like Colony and the Springhill Institute with more cash for their next show. After all money is your lifeblood whatever you do. And if you can't really afford it, then maybe there wont be a next time. And if you make some money, even on reduced price drinks &/or entry then the next show should be better right? Dunno how this floats with funders and licensing laws, but it's a thought.

You can find me at the Ikon Gallery Private View tomorrow night drinking free beer.

Random Fact; It was I who made those jittery animations of the flyer as a backdrop for the musicians!

In a Moodle (Moodle Sucks!)

I've been venturing into the world of Moodle which is supposed to be a Virtual Learning Environment for use at academic institutions such as Colleges, Universities etc. I've discovered that 'Virtual Learning Environment' is a very grand name for a pretty poorly designed website.

I can however definitely see the benefits of using it. The idea is that students can upload and download files, and interact online, while the system can also be time-responsive; so things are active at certain dates and activities logged (like submitting assignments / completing tasks etc.). These are all great, but Moodle has one huge problem - it's appalling design & functionality.

For some reason the most basic tasks, like uploading a document, are painful and over complex. It should be a case of clicking one button and selecting the document you want, but no; you are bombarded with additional, non-essential information and even worse, you can only upload one file at a time. (I am told that you can upload many files if you zip them and unzip them on Moodle, but why cant you just select a folder or collection of files? OK so, I can create an interactive test, but why cant I just do basic things quickly?)

This is one among a whole range of poorly thought-out functionality/usability/design issues that Moodle offers and these are, in my opinion, why everyone in the College is talking about Moodle, but no one is actually using it. As this thing was built entirely by teaching staff, it makes you wonder what they taught.

I'm assured that there's an update in the pipeline, but this won't be implemented at the College until next year, which is a pain as I'm supposed to deliver an amazing lesson using it this year. Blaahg...

What I been reading...

The last great novel I read was definitely Haruki Murakami's 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle' which was pretty incredible. Very surreal and dark. Really deep and visual like Lynch. I was totally gripped. Read it now! His other novels ain't as good though. I read about another 3 which were not a patch on it.

Ive just finished 'Neuromancer' by William Gibson; the book which kinda invented 'the matrix'. It was good and very escapist, but bloody hard work. Every sentence is laboured and you've got to keep a clear head and keep up with every last hint to hang on to the story. There was definitely a few parts where i thought I'd completely lost what was going on, even after retracing what I'd drunkenly read the night before, was still a bit miffed as to what the hell he was going on about. Still, it was pretty different and rich. Very cyberpunk.

The last big impact on me was definitely 'The Art of Travel' by Alain de Botton, who is a rather bald and sad looking philosopher/art critic mostly, but his book really changed the way I looked at life. The premise is that when your away on holiday / travelling etc. your are in a different mindset and so are more receptive to the world - thus making your experience more lucid and exotic. There's a book called 'A journey around my room' which basically works from this idea and Xavier De Maistre explores his bedroom with the fascination he may have had for a far away land. It's been recommended to me by a friend. Fact is, since I've started applying this odd travelling mindset to everyday life - everything has become much more enriching. I'm now planning to travel the world next year. Think on...

Sunday, 25 November 2007

What I been doing...

Did 'Sewn to the Sky' (a guitar controlled Owl shoot-em up) with the lads from Juneau Projects & uITgs from Jazz Thrash Assassin again, this time at Loughborough University. Musically it went better than Bath Guitar festival and we even had a JTA fan turn up & a drink in the bar after... which was nice.

Going to Hott Date when I can - this night is stunning Soundclash stuff from some great Djs in Birmingham, who despite not being able to mix certainly know how to throw a hoooge party & play some amazing tunes. Definately recommended lets-get-trashed Sunday fun at The Rainbow in Digbeth.

Colony Gallery
(Jewellery quarter) have some interesting stuff going on & Ikon Gallery seems to have improved the last year or so, after been decidedly luke-warm for a few years. Private view tuesday I'm looking forward to.

What I been watching...

Lots of Current TV. Channel is great lotsa art, interesting travel & news stuff. All short & relevant. Everything from Bull Scrote festivals to War journalism. On me Virgin Media cable doncha know...

Twin Peaks Series 2 is out now on DVD - I only waited 6 years for the thing to be released on PAL. You have to buy it from the Netherlands though. Its released in the US if you got a multi-region player. Otherwise still a wait in the UK for the complete collection.

Got Inland Empire on DVD too. 3 hours of confusion to delve into once again. It was only aired in Wolverhampton for a night when I saw it on cinema. Hard work, but genius. It's like an exercise in breaking all the rules of film-making.

On the subject of weird films, check out the Matthew Barney / Bjork epic - Drawing Restraint 9. Saw it at Electric Cinema in Brum and it really is stunning. There's a scene at the end where they slice each others legs to pieces in a bath. Hard work again but totally unlike any film your gonna get from Hollywoods endless tripe.

Here's an oldy I re-watched too; The Holy Mountain by
Alexander Jodorowsky. Really stunning & very visual - every shot laboured over and looks beautiful. Bizarre story, that completely lost me perhaps even more than Lynch! At least I feel at home deconstructing his films.

What I been listening to...

Got my CD today by Meet Me in St.Louis. Took best part of a month to turn up from Big Scary Monsters though, plus the vocalist has just left! Agg.. These guys are pretty mega, I'm loving 'Why thankyou Suzie' and 'The Torso Has Been Severed In Mid Thorax'. A friend said they sound pretty Emo, but they're better than that. You gotta know the lyrics, but the music is stunning anyways. Drummers great. Dont like the way the first track merges with the second though...

Another wicked band I've seen of late is Rolo Tomassi - young girl screamer - amazing live. I think the drummer was a builder and the synth player a manga bear when we saw em. Just check em out! Gonna go check em again in Wolverhampton in December.

Also: From the recent Specialten DVD - Bonde de Role. Brazilian electro stuff. Cheeky female singer. Great video.

In fact go buy Specialten now it's a real bargain; £5 and you get loadsa great music vids, shorts and animations. Guaranteed to introduce you to great things everytime. Buy it at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

Apart from that I'm addicted to Joanna Newsom who is the best thing I descovered in many years, also on the back of that addiction; renewed interest in Tori Amos and Bjork.

That lot aside, I'm really getting off on Calyx (Dark DnB) and loadsa freaky breakcore (Wrong Music) - loving Jungle breaks that sound like they been dropped down the stairs!! Yess-eye!

Might try and use this blog as a way of testing my typing skills... Excuse the spelling errors!