1. Week 14: Where is you Creative Self?

    Creativity is a trait all humans possess, however, we all have it in different degrees and  types. Creativity can also take many forms, switching between different media and techniques. By its multidisciplinary nature, creativity, especially in the realm of Art has gone on to use appropriation and ‘remixing’. This has created many problems for the creative souls behind such ventures. Some view such actions as a recycling  of ideas, a lazy re-use of material someone else has already made. However, I believe remixing and appropriation is an essential part of creativity. Whilst some people, like Girl Talk may take this to an extreme, simply putting other people’s works to together and calling it theirs, most stick to a tame and all too necessary version. When it comes to my own brand of creativity I find looking at and absorbing other people’s work is an important part of my process. A person’s creativity is not enough to create work. Our entire human experience is based on input from the world and the way we perceive and react to it. Even Sylvia Plath, who based all her poetry on her self had inspirations like W. H. Auden, Robert Lowell and Theodore Roethke. Whilste creativity uses part of the artist, and often very much, it also needs part of the outside world. In my practice, I collect ideas I have, and techniques I see, some of which belong to other artists. But technique is the language of Art, like style is that of music. Just because one artist uses a particular style of an other, it doesn’t mean it’s plagiarism, the letters (notes) aren’t being copied one by one, only their feeling is being preserved. The nature of creativity is to take what’s in the world and reinvent it.

    My Creative Self, in all of this, is in its own place. I am an artist, and with that comes the freedom to be a little bit kooky and crazy, to try strange things and make new work. Whilst I need input from outside , from what’s happened, but my mind is the driving force behind it, twisting and mashing up everything I know to make something new. I use a variety of mediums, I think I’ve worked in all of them, except theater and dance really. I like to create cognitive Art that involves the mind and may confront the viewer, all while being beautiful.

     
  2. Week 11: personal Literary Non-Fiction Take 3

    So hopefully this will be the final take… this is just going over my time at camp again, like the poem from take 1. Here goes….

    It seems difficult to say when it happened. My memories seem to shift and stir about in my mind. From the photos I have, I would imagine some time around 2008, the summer, august to be precise. I spend a few years at camp, and most memories amalgamate into a recollective haze. However, on that specific year, the summer of 2008, our cabin group, the Pathfinders or the Trailblazers, went on a canoe trip. Every cabin group goes on a canoe trips of varying lengths depending on the age of the group. Ours was five days, the longest I had ever been on. I was exited to go, as everyone always is. We set off on the first day, taking a few cars to Opeongo Lake, I think, and unloaded our canoes and things there. From there, after a quick lunch of deli meat sandwiches, we paddled out in fairly substandard cloudy weather and went across one portage and a bit further on the next lake before having to stop when the sky was set ablaze. Once the rain let up, we paddled to the next portage, and camped at the other end of it. The next few days fell into a sort of haze of paddling with periods of clarity in which I remember a portage, two campsites, a canoe fight game and starting a fire from last nights embers in the morning. It was the portage which I remember the most. We had just reached some shallow water with rocks, and the canoes had gotten stuck. I was sitting in the front, so the duty of getting out fell to me, which I found rather unfair, as the boy in the center hadn’t paddle all day because there was a crack in his paddle. But, nonetheless, I was the one to push. I didn’t want to get my shoes and socks wet, it is a lot of trouble to dry things while camping, so I removed my shoes and sock, which apparently took too much time, an extra minute was to long to wait. And even the councilor seemed to have it out for me. He, just as the boys in my canoe argued against it. However, I was half way through, and finished, rolled my pants up and stepped into the shallow water. Even as I dragged the heavy metal canoe which we had gotten as opposed to the other fiber glass ones, I could feel the gazes, the thoughts of the boys in the boat slice at my back. Within a few minutes, a short amount of time, we got to the shore where the portage started, near a water fall. I dragged the canoe onto the shore, as was my job, before getting my shoes and sock to put back on. At this point, the boys complained again, because I was putting my shoes on, instead of emptying the canoe. And, well, I defended myself of coarse, I needed shoes to walk across the portage with it’s rocks and mud. The mud, oh so specific to Algonquin park. And I thought I would simply put my shoes on and hurry the things out of the canoe, even if I felt I was being burdened with all the work. But, the councilor couldn’t leave it alone, he came, took my shoe and dunked it in the water. To make things worse, my shoe had a water proof membrane on it, so that I could walk through puddles, but it made it so that the water stayed inside my shoe. At that point, I couldn’t take it any longer. I swore at the councilor and demanded an explanation. All I was told was to pull my weight and just get my feet wet. So I just yelled back that I been pulling my weight and more, paddling for the boy in the center of the boat, bringing the canoe to shore, unpacking everything, and more. I snatched my shoe from the councilor’s hand and took my drysac and ran off into the wood to see the waterfall. The other campers and the two councilors brought everything down, while I stayed at the water fall, waiting and taking photographs. Finally, when I saw everyone at the bottom of the water fall taking every off the portage and filing back into the water, I left left the water fall and walked down to my canoe and got in the front, with my wet shoe and paddled until we reached the next campsite, the one where I started the day old ember fire the next morning. And the funny thing is, that even after having started a fire from day old embers, a boy saw the fire I had made told me it was a bad one, week and flimsy on a proper construction. Whatever I did, it was never good enough. Another boy from my cabin group got a splinter, and had it taken out, unable to look at his finger, but he was just comforted. But I did all the work I did, started day old ember fires, and tried hard to always do better and go farther, carrying heavy packs, portaging canoes, but it was never good enough. Even when I portaged the canoe, which is tremendously heavy, even in fiberglass, I was told I only went a short distance, and he could do better.

    I believe that was the first time I really felt an injustice, and targeted. In all the years I had been bullied, I didn’t feel individually targeted, so much as seen as bullyable. But then, I truly felt targeted. The next day, the day I started the day old ember fire, after a portage, the councilor came up to me and apologized for dunking my shoe. I think he truly meant it, and it was nice to be in a sense, vindicated. I think that canoe trip amongst all of my camp memory haze is the most important memory, or close anyways. That is as close to a transitional moment as I have come. I still remember it so clearly, especially considering my tendency to have a recollective haze.

     

    N.B.                                                                                    

    The photograph is the actual one I took at the waterfall. It was just with a disposable film camera.

     
  3. Week 11: Personal Literary Non-Fiction Take 2

    I’m doing this again, because I felt that the last one might have been a bit of a stretch for the genre. So here is a more… literary approach I guess. I sort of turned out as a stream of consciousness writing thing about how I don’t have any transitional moments in my life. So there’s a third entry coming for this.

    Most people seem to talk about revelations they’ve had, transforming experiences. They make them out to be amazing, wonderful things. Not that the experience itself was wonderful, but having had an experience that is transitional. I’ve never had an experience like that. I thought that, maybe, I should go on a vision quest of some sort. But to be franc, I was always afraid a vision quest would simply end up like Jack Kerouac’s time in the fire station. I’m afraid of that sort of paralyzing and devastating loneliness. I guess that sort of fear has kept me away from things I could have done… To quote Holden Caulfield “I’ve got a yellow streak a mile long”.

    My life has really flowed in a more ambiguous way, with events intertwining and stepping over each other in my memories. I can’t really say with any honesty that one event above any other was transitional, as many other people seem to be able to say… whenever I hear of a transitional moment, in writing or conversation, these moments seem to center around death. Maybe I haven’t have such a moment because I haven’t had to deal with death. I haven’t really experienced any one traumatic event. Let alone one I could consider transitional, or pivotal in my life. Perhaps I simply haven’t lived enough yet, perhaps I need to get out and do something, fall in love, fall apart… I need to go get hurt. That’s the key to art, getting hurt and talking about it; Rothko, Francis Bacon… I don’t know. I do have that yellow streak, maybe I’ll never get out.

     

     
  4. Week 11: Personal Literary Non-Fiction Take 1

    This week we had to write about a transitional moment in our lives. We just had Shelagh Plunkett come to our class. She was this very lovely lady who writes literary non-fiction. And we have to write such a work for this week’s blog entry. So, here goes I guess.

    This is a poem about my time at summer camp. It isn’t really a moment, as a period, but I though it more important than any other things to talk about. I can’t quite write properly anymore, I’ve been stuck on poetry more and more lightly. It’s liberating and descriptive in way other writing just isn’t. Anyways, so it is…

    Bushcraft Master

    Pff! Lilly dipper at the stern!

    Paddle good boy, paddle better

    I can do this right, paddle well

    Water splash, wet shirt, windy day

    Let’s go boy! We’re falling behind!

    Don’t get us lost already boy!

    Swirl the water, silent push pull

    Owl’s wing, Silver fish, do it!

    I should have done it boy, land ho!

    Pff! Lilly dipper take the bow

    Paddle hard, I can take it, boy!

    I can stern us right, back on route

    Incapable, incapable!

    Swirl the water, like Silver fish

    Paddle all day, camp for the night

    Bitch take that in hand! Paddle bitch.

    Walk a kilometer, help me

    Boy I said tipi me! God damn!

    Man, that kid knew about it boy.

    Sorry cuts it now, grab a bag.

    Paddle all day, supper at night

    Swim in the morning, breakfast, go

    Get some fire wood, good armful

    Last day in the forest of birch.

    You should try harder boy, you should

    Find out what you want to do boy

    C, I, Teenger, try very hard

    Boy, you’ve got work ahead of you

    Don’t forget to pull your weight son

    Never forget to pull your weight

    One hundred meeter portage, boy

    Five hundred, two kilometer

    I can do it too man! I can

    Walk two kilometers, back heavy

    With pots, pans, paddle in my hands

    My feet in the mud, Algonquin

    Blue barrel, food tub, Algonquin

    Portage, long distance man, I can!

    Pff! Lilly dipping is for them

    I’ll be teaching them next summer

    Swimming lessons, canoeing, man

    AWSI, speedo

    Speedo Marc says you hold promise

    Man, you’re on your way. Don’t forget

    Don’t forget to pull your weight man

    Woodworking, handyman, do more

    Study everything, master it

    Gotta be a bushcraft master

    Certified bushcraft master, man!

    Step outside, underwear, tree branch

    Congrats man, better pull your weight

    Left the snake man, don’t forget them

    Make your pine needle tea, bushcraft

    Master the tasks, sharpen your knife

    Man, you’re on your way, almost there

    You know your mushrooms, saved the kids.

    Made a day-old embers fire

    Pff! God didn’t help me one bit

    Fire bearer, saved the tribe man.

    Didn’t even speak to bring it

    Across the lake, baptized today.

    He’s the Silver fish in water

    Forest of birches, fire land

    Portage, two kilometers meters, man!

    A note for reader:

    I’m sorry about all the terms that might be a bit elusive. The camp was out in the forests of Southern Ontario, and it was very heavy on the idea of masculinity. The terms all come from camp.

    • A lillidiper is a bad paddler. We have regular canoe trips, and lots of canoeing there, and  everyone has to pull their weight. Lilliydipping if seen as general bad paddling. However more specifically people regard it as a failure to create whirlpools behind one’s paddle.
    • Owl’s wing is a term for swiftness and silence, like the owl’s wing. It is used to refer to good, beautiful and practiced movements. It comes from the feathering technique in canoeing which we began to call the owl’s wing for it’s smooth and beautiful motions. In the poem it is used to hurry the lillidiper along and tell them paddle well.
    • The Silver Fish is a fish from a song, Land of the Silver Fish I believe. The silver fish was a swift spirit that ran through the waters of lake, according to Algonquins, so we hear. Native american myths are heavily used for their symbolic aspects, although there is an obligatory chapel service every sunday.
    • A paddle bitch is the camper on a canoe trip who is left with paddles and other miscellany to carry across a portage. They are most often seen as the rejected member of the group, and given the title as a way to keep them behind and struggling while being seen as week and unable to carry much more than the things they struggle to keep in hand because of their scattered nature.
    • Tipi me is a term used when talking about portaging a canoe. After carrying it across the portage, the transporter would let the stern fall and ask to be tipied, to have the bow supported by an other man as they stepped out of the yolk of the canoe.
    • C.I.T. (C.I.Tennager) is short for Councilor in Training. I added the teenager as a play on words to illustrate the youth of the C.I.T.s and how I felt seen as still young, and not grown up.
    • AWSI is a swimming level. It is a teaching level,it stand for Assistant Water Safety Instructor. Mark, who always wore a speedo gave the course. He was nicknamed Speedo Mark.
    • Bushcraft Master is an honor one can earn, a distinction, a level essentially that signified one’s advanced knowledge in fire starting, weapons making and all manner of crafts related to living in the bush. Although, I don’t feel I’m much of a bushcraft master, even having obtained the honor.
    • “Baptized today” is a play on words. The lake crossed to be ‘baptized’ or accepted was Lake Baptiste.
     
  5. Week 10: 10 Questions for Guest Speaker

    1. How different is it to write for a publication than for your self?
    2. Where do you draw the line of separation for art and not in your writing, if you do?
    3. When you call yourself a “Watcher. Listener. Teller of tales”, could that be considered an accurate description of your writing process?
    4. Do you think your different genres of writing feed each other to create a different style?
    5. In “The End” you talk about Lake Ontario. Does place have an influence on your writing, wether on your mood or anything else?
    6. When writing things like “Walk to the Black Rock”, are they written for the publications?
    7. Considering the presence of images on your website, are they important to your writing in anyway?
    8. Looking back, how do you think you’ve evolved as a writer over the years?
    9. Do you prefer long or short form writing, why?
    10. Was it difficult to move from short form writing to a full length book?

    You can visit Shelagh Plunkett’s website here: http://shelaghplunkett.wordpress.com

     
  6. Week 8: Abstract Expressionism and Literature

    Part 1: What is Abstract Expressionism

    Abstract expressionism is a movement in painting that encompasses many styles, which aim to express the artists feelings, and convey greater meaning about the human condition using non-representational painting. The style is credited as largely a creation of west-coast american artist Clyfford Still, whom became an important figure in the movement. The movement includes three major styles, Action painting, Colour field painting and Hard edge abstraction, although the latter is sometimes included within the colour field genre, or no at all. Action painting is a style in which brush strokes, marks or paint traces are gestural and visceral from which a viewer can get a sense of the movement, the action required to paint the picture. Its most well known artist is Jackson Pollock. Colour field painting is characterized by very large paintings with fields of expansive colour engulfing the viewer. This style is known as Mark Rothko’s. Finally Hard edge abstraction is the genre that includes solid colour paintings, pictures that relly mostly on colour and geometrical shapes and patterns, such as Barnet Newman’s work.

    Part 2: How Abstract Expressionism relates to Finnegans Wake

    James Joyce’s book Finnegans Wake is a notoriously difficult to read, and especially difficult to understand book. I’ve only been given the exert from the page 3 of the book, that is the first page of writing, and I am quite in awe of the phenomenal task of reading such a work. As many people, I have been able to make out a few biblical references, water, some sort of journey I think, but no real understanding. And in this way, the book could be considered an abstract work of writing. And in that way, it really does relate to abstract expressionism, which is hard to understand and abstract because of that; only when one knows why the pictures are so, can they truly examine and understand them.

    However, Finnegans Wake has a cast of characters and a plot. The book, whilst very experimental, is not an abstract work. It is prose, a fiction, a story, which is representational, unlike abstract expressionism. Abstract expressionism is based on the idea of abstraction, which Finnegans Wake is not. Furthermore, the book is not intended to convey the writers feeling during the writing, or speak of the human condition by the means the writer’s feelings. It was written over a period of 17, for which is hard to maintain the exact same feeling and express such a devastatingly intense emotion.

    Whilst Finnegans Wake may resemble a written version of abstract expressionism, it does relate to on more than a superficial level, only perceived by those who don’t understand the book, or the painting movement. The book does not share the methods, ideals or goals of abstract expressionism, therefore, is not related to it.

     
  7. Week 7 - The Creativity of Photography

    Since its beginnings as the camera obscura, used by vermeer or others, it’s always been seen partly as a skilless pursuit of merely technical qualities. It seen as a device to help those who had less skill at drawing back in Vermeer’s day, and now as a medium everyone uses as documentation, nothing more. Even when Fine Art Photography is a renowned institution with museums like MoMA and many more, magazines and galleries like Aperture, photography still seems to encounter some resistance. Most of the ‘in-crowd’ has come around, and people who see photography as not, or less creative that other media, are most often uneducated about either the medium, or the field of art. Well, at least, it seems to me. 

    Let me begin by defending the creative and artistic integrity of photography. I myself am a fine art photographer, and know the medium better than most. I consider photography creative because of its similarities to all the other media of art. Like painting, drawing and sculpture, it is crafted, considered in the artists mind before being set in life models and ‘captured’. It creates a visual representation that involves light, shadow, composition, volume, tonal range, tone, size, colour texture, luminosity, and more. Those are some basic reasons. but they are key to define photography as an art. People use photography mindlessly, and expect it therefore to always be used in that way. But, in the same way they mindlessly take photos at a party, a child mindlessly doodles or paints. I’m sure a child’s paint splatters would only be art on a parent’s refrigerator door. A key component of art is intent. And photography is no different.

    Secondly, photography is creative, even though some see it as less so, because of the lack of ‘craft’. I would beg to differ however. Anyone who has seen a magazine cover can testify to the amazing craft of photography. Whilst we may not make the representation with our own hand, we do the rest. People tend to imagine art as a precise, hand crafted object. But more media like performance art have exploded, and we can no longer subscribe to the outdated definitions of art we carry from the medieval times. Photography is a meticulous process of intent, cognition and composition. When making a photograph you are coming up with a novel image that has all the factors of painting or drawing. Even if you don’t draw the photos, you are creating something, making a new image that wasn’t there before. The act of creation is creative. Artistry is separate from this. But any act of creation, like pressing the shutter release, is creative. Even if you take a photo, only to document, a war, a wedding, or a party, you are creating an image, a document of time. Not the camera. The camera doesn’t make the man, the man makes the camera.

    This is why I consider the photo above, one I have taken, creative and artistic. This was taken on a brownie camera, no great tool, but it is better than any facebook duck face with a DSLR will ever be. It does not rely on the tool, but on the artist. It is a beautiful image with aspects of compositions that was created by me. And that is enough to make creative. I call it art, because I have the intent to, and that makes it art, like Marcel Duchamps’ ‘fountain’. It is creative.

     
  8. Week 5: Sylvia Plath, Confessional Art and Creativity

    Now before I go on, let me first say that I love Sylvia Plath; I find her poetry some of the best laid out, most emotional and raw poetry, or writing of any kind, that I have ever encountered. I think she she has a very honest way of exaggerating things, like her poem Daddy, that makes us see her ambivalence, her confusion, her pain.

    Many of Sylvia Plath’s fans find the confessional aspect of her poetry make it more authentic, honest or touching. However, some seem to think that the idea of confessional art makes it less original, less creative, as if one is merely presenting a journal as art. Whilst I can understand their position on this, I have t think that they haven’t read Plath’s poems before saying this.

    Art, and writing especially, is very much influenced by what the artist has experienced and what they know. After all they do say to write what you know, or paint, draw or sculpt what you know. Sylvia Plath takes her experiences and terns them into elaborate metaphors and illusions, spinning the words into a beautiful melody of sorts. Her poetry is anything but a direct recreation of her journals. In the same way that Bernini’s sculpting his muses was creative, Sylvia Plath’s reiteration and poetization of her life was creative. Creativity is not limited to the creation and expression of novel ideas, it relies on inspiration and feeling to make something new and beautiful. If anything, Sylvia Plath is one of the most creative poets of her age for her fantastic mastery of words, their structure and what she could evoke with them. She did not only write her experiences, she made us feel her pain, through her words and their beauty. Her poems are so beautiful, that they hurt. If she had simply written down he experiences directly, we would have only felt awkwardness and pity; but in making her pain into art, she’s given us a redeeming factor of her pain (although not redeeming enough).

    Sylvia Plath’s work, and all confessional art, is creative because of they way it arranges and transforms the experiences referenced into a piece of art, not a mere document, and makes something beautiful, something new and different.

     
     
  9. Week 4:


    We had to create our own ‘art form’. It was supposed to be like the Cut-Up, so it’s more of a technique really. I liked the idea of making something literary, so I came up with what I call the Semi-selective Affective Poem.

    Manifesto:

    The Semi-selective Affective Poem is a technique of art. It helps to create an emotional snapshot of the author. This poetry is but a technique, but it will help whom ever uses it to unlock their creativity. Follow the steps and see what you can make.

    • Select an equal number of nouns, adjectives and verbs from the dictionary, at random.
    • Label the words according to emotional seriousness
    • Set the word in in the order of noun, verb then adjective in a line.
    • Put the words with most seriousness in the same ‘sentence’
    • Rearrange the words into a sentence, adding in necessary articles such as ‘the’.
    • Arrange the sentences or descending order of most serious to least serious.

     

     

    Example:

    So here is my first example.

    Words:

    Nouns:

    -Heart

    -Rose window

    -Counteroffensive

    -Lilac

    -Raspberry

    Verbs:

    -Dismiss

    -Point

    -Tag

    -Keep

    -Cycle

    Adjectives:

    -Tandem

    -Checkable

    -Periodic

    -Nilotic

    -Productive

     

    And the final product:

     

    Dismiss the tandem, heart.

    Point, to the checkable rose window.

    Periodic counteroffensives, must be tagged

    Keep, the nilotic lilac.

    Oh, productive raspberry cycle

     

     

    Now you go and try few people who follow me for some reason. And the teacher, you too! 

     

     

    So, why is this creative? I mean, it is only an algorithm that you’ve filled in with random variables, isn’t it? In a way, I suppose it is, however, I think the most important thin about it, is the emotional weight variable. By arranging the words in such a way, you’ve created a emotionally charged piece of ‘poetry’ without even trying. You’ve taken random things and made something resonant out of it. You haven’t just arranged the words, you’ve given meaning, in a way that can give insight into you, your feelings and your thoughts. It is creative because it forces you to create, wether you know it or not.

    I believe that this technique I’ve come up with IS art, because it makes people create things, it gives those things meaning, and makes them inherently mysterious and interesting for that mystery. It might be an algorithm, but it is an affective one that guarantees a proper, emotional free verse poem.

     

  10. Week 3: Cut-up Technique

    Got to try the cut-up technique. I’ve never tried it before, but what the heck right, this is homework.

    You guys can try it too at http://www.languageisavirus.com/cutupmachine.html#.UQ6DcKXQ9cO

    I decided to cut-up some lyrics I wrote. Here are the results.

    Original:

    You made my days a struggle

    Made my days miserable

    I’v never seen like then

    Always knew you different

    Always knew you well

    I always knew you different

    I stayed at your house

    Slept on couch when you wouldn’t let me

    Slept on the floor when you had me

    Didn’t have you

    You weren’t good with me

    Wish you’d been bad instead

    Wanted him when he got some bad before you

    Why don’t you find some good?

    I was always here

    Girl we had good

    We had it going

    Was walking to the fuck zone

    Now you got me stuck in the friend zone

    But we ain’t good friends no more

    I remember how we had it good

    You remember the good times

    Stayed at your place on the lake

    Went on the waves

    We were the same the same

    I don’t think you really know

    But I really do

    I know I miss you, but you’re not you no more

    I know I’m at a loss

    I wish you knew you have a greater loss

    Last night you wrote me

    Thought it was a dream

    Didn’t you were still in to it

    Thought you’d moved on

    Though you didn’t

    All I know now is I don’t know

    I miss you

    Hope you miss me

    Maybe we miss each other

    Maybe we can get together

    Cut-up:

    place you times Stayed had different I miss me Slept my still on Though always always let like think always on loss I you the me Wish the me Didn’t your don’t good you couch always got moved different Always we when miss friends have you, knew bad you’re good the I remember before we you’re more I different I know we a you you know But you Hope we always knew you’d don’t to with you do I think me Slept bad knew I we seen always each stuck know remember you you he got moved good We the more I when the days you me Thought you to we we greater we knew he loss I miss stayed it other Maybe good some was to always to don’t a you wouldn’t ain’t you’d know me Didn’t I You greater at wish loss Last on my we me is got lake Went you it Thought it we walking to always a we the the the had me get good me at but me Slept waves We floor good? I you me Wish had I have struggle Made you’d were know I good before loss Last when some you Why a you made miss the the in been good You me Slept ain’t your other Maybe friends always on you You