Day 30: The end

Final day, final post, and here’s an end to Creative Pact 2014 for me. Given that today is the last day and I haven’t actually finished the piece, I’ve focused on gathering what I do have and doing some last-minute cleaning up so that today isn’t just a day where I failed to finish the piece, but instead a day where I reached a landmark in the piece’s development.

And the landmark I have reached is that I now have all the materials for the final compilation ready. Today I went back over the paper/river video pieces (they feel very clunky to me now, compared to Dirty Lines, but that’s part of the process. And not ‘fixing’ the marks of ignorance after they’re settled on is part of the process) and have settled on version 9 as the final version of this section. I do think it is quite a bit too long (probably by about 2-3 minutes!) but there’s visual stuff in there I really like, and I think it’ll hold its own against Dirty Lines when they’re combined – some of the other versions you mightn’t have known that there was a second video playing at all. And of course, once everything’s cut up into little tiny pieces for the final version, how long this is won’t matter a bit.



I am feeling a little disturbed, though, by the aspect ratio of this one. It’s really bugging me, even though ultimately it’s the same as Dirty Lines – thinking that perhaps I may crop it massively so that it’s just a slim vertical – a tiny glimpse into the quite abstract material. The other video is very much horizontal, so that might be a good contrast anyway? Not sure yet.

I also recorded the final audio section, which I don’t plan to run through Max/MSP at all. It’s just a bunch of pairs of words, spoken in a normal sort of voice, things which I think illustrate some of the stuff I’m trying to work with and think about in this piece. I still have doubts as to whether this will add to the final piece at all, or just be sledgehammery-unsubtle and awkward, but I think I should try it. If it’s awful, I’ll ditch it, adjust the numbers in the compilation patch and have another go without.



I did find myself very tempted to spend this evening making a mockup of the final version in Final Cut Express. Very VERY tempted. It would have been nice to end Creative Pact with a glimpse of what it might look like. But it feels like the easy option: like I’ll do it, and make it how I want it, and then the piece will inadvertently be done. I think that would be valid if all I wanted to get out of this was a piece, but part of what I’m addressing here is the unknown and my own fear of the unknown, of ugly sounds and awkward cuts and pauses, but I think if I mock it up, I’ll be cheating myself by not seeing the project through to its admittedly difficult and a little scary conclusion. It may end up that the compilation patch idea is an abysmal failure and that final product is just horrifically, embarrassingly bad – but I’d rather try it, acknowledge that it didn’t work and then do a handmade version, than just give up because it’s hard and I’m not sure it’s going to work.

I’ve been trying (and failing. Google, you are sacked) to hunt down a quote I found in early 2013 which I think was from Elliott Carter. It was something like “notation exists to prevent the performer from doing the same thing over and over”. For composers, I think deliberately choosing the harder, scarier path is how we avoid doing the same thing over and over. If we always do what comes easily, how are we ever going to progress? So this is what following this compilation patch idea through to the end is about.

So what have I really done and learned this month then?

  • two new audio pieces created
  • two video pieces created, one entirely from scratch
  • learned a lot about the history and current directions of video art and found myself more interested than I thought I might be
  • dipped a toe into the murky waters of Jitter
  • mapped out in detail how I’m going to structure the compilation patch and made a determined start on it
  • that good enough can be good enough. Perfect is not really required at all times.
  • loops in Max/MSP are not nearly so straightforward as in text-based code.

(Oh, and I never missed a day!)

So that’s that! I’d like to thank everyone who’s read any of these posts or looked at/listened to the in-progress versions of stuff. In particular I want to thank Justin Capps for his assistance with the compilation patch when it overwhelmed my beginner’s brain – vast appreciation! I’m probably going to take a couple of days away from this piece now while I finish an orchestral work and let the code-trauma settle, but will post updates on progress on here intermittently until it is done. Hoping that won’t be too far away…

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