Sunday, November 16, 2014

Music Art

I've been intensely working on music artwork for the past week, revamping all of my CD art, in preparation for new release Art by Machine. Here is the CD cover...

My recent albums all have a four page booklet, with rear CD case printing, inner case printing (for a transparent Jewel Case) and on-disc printing, but many older albums didn't have any of that. Synaesthesia for example only had a cover and a half cover that could be printed and folded, and no rear image. That applied to many others, so, enjoying the nice feeling of having everything neat and in matching order, I decided to revamp the artwork for every album.

Arcangel, was a good case. The original art wasn't 300dpi and only included a crude cover image. Here is the old cover...

That's the full resolution I had. It was blurry and just one layer, so I had no opportunity to modify it. I had to start from scratch and, once I'd created new 300dpi templates, created a new background texture, re-rendered the 3D model of the game logo and created a new cover style completely...

Rather reminiscent of the Quake artwork perhaps, but then so was the game from the year 2000, and in fact the art matches the rather creepy analogue music quite remarkably. For the text and general design I decided to make use of the stone effect and made the lettering like gilded carved Roman text. Here's the rear case image...

You'll also note the circular logo in the centre. This modification of my 'Aleax' logo is the new logo for Cornutopia Music. I created the label name in a hurry when registering the music with the authorities, but haven't felt the need to create a logo until now, so there it is.

After 20 or so albums (yes, it's been a busy few days!) I had to recreate the CD surfaces. The printing here was simplistic before, partly to save ink as I printed these myself. There's often a balance between artistry and practicality, but this time I decided to aspire to professional printing for all of my music, and so aimed to create two alternatives; a complex colour work that showcases the artwork to the best of its abilities, and a black and white simple one for personal printing.

I wanted a standard design, so fixed the logo in one quadrant of the disc, then used a modification of the cover art for the rest of the disc. Here is the Art by Machine CD surface...

All of this inspired me. I remembered that I love the album as an art form. It's something that seems to be less popular these days, with downloads of individual tracks happening often, and music sales languishing. I decided that I'd try to reverse this trend and make albums that were artworks; beautiful to look at and hold, as well as to listen to. Art to inspire and love. To that end I decided to finally create a custom website for my music, with the slogan and ethos of the album as art. Here is the logo up close...

The art I've been working on inspired me to re-enable CD sales too, and so now for the first time in over a year all of my CD albums with existing artwork are on sale for £9.99 plus postage. This means the existing artwork, for the older albums, is limited edition. If (should I say "as"?) each one sells out it will be replaced with the new artwork.

My next task is to complete and release Art by Machine, which is due in December. This album will be ground breaking because it's my first release that I didn't compose or arrange; although one could say I did indirectly. All of the music on Art by Machine was composed by an artificial intelligence I developed a few months ago. It is probably the first commercial album in the world to be entirely composed, and substantially produced, by an artificial intelligence.

More on that soon...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Doctor Who

And now the (long awaited) words to the Doctor Who theme...

Doctor Who, who are you?
Flying through time in your box of blue.

Who are you, Doctor Who?
Can I come and fly away with you?

I do not know who I am.
I'm just an illusion
just a romantic dream...
in a dream...

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Matt Smith and the Dream of the Future

I had a strange dream last night.

At one point, during an evening conversation with some classic car racing drivers, Dr. Who actor Matt Smith was talking about what he understood about time travel. I said that you can't know the future for certain because it can change, but you can know about the present. Then I thought that the present is then defined by a sharp shift in knowledge and I quickly drew a graph like two curves, one going up and one coming from the base, marked plus infinity to minus infinity, like this (this is all in the dream).

I realised that knowledge accumulates more and more until it reached the present, the time of maximum knowledge, then instantly falls of to zero, the immediate future being time of least knowledge. Knowledge of the further future becomes more certain as it can be predicted or anticipated. Knowledge of the past falls away gradually too, from the time of greatest awareness to a murky past of memory; the crucial moment is the present when a point of maximum awareness touched the point of minimum awareness.

The next day (again, in the dream), I was in some sort of dining room at breakfast, still thinking about the nature of the present and quickly thought that you can't have minus infinity, that's just zero. I lacked paper, so used an orange crayon and some light coloured gauze, like stocking material, stretched over a hoop to write down more. I started to write about it being 1800, and if it was, how would you know when it was, assuming that there were no clocks or calendars, to illustrate the question; how would you know when now is? The answer was information, that you would look around and gain more knowledge and thus determine your location in time. I drew a new graph with zero rather than minus infinities. The graph looked something like this; two upward curves, with the present defined at the point where the top of one curve (point of maximum knowledge) jumped to the bottom.

It was difficult to write much because of the chunky crayon. Then Matt Smith peered over the end of the hoop, trying to look at what I was writing. This annoyed me a bit as I wanted to focus on my work.

At that point I awoke.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Big Arts Event This Weekend

I'm taking part in this event this weekend. All a bit of a rush, but the venue is an amazing crumbling building that's beautiful even in decay, and rarely open to the public. About 60 artists will be there, and the vast majority are new to me so it's going to be interesting.

There will be performance art and demos taking place over the weekend. I had a last minute idea to perform piano (once my transport was confirmed) but just missed out (hmm, that reminds me that I dreamed of playing the harpsichord last night!) I'm still waiting for my first proper musical gig! Perhaps that will wait until the Phenomenology of Love next year.

Anyway a few artist will be dressing up for the weekend, and of course that's something I can't resist too. Hope to see you there.

Newsham Park Liverpool Art Festival, at Newsham Park Hospital, Orphan Drive, Tuebrook; Saturday-Sunday, November 8-9, 10am-4pm each day.

There is a link here to a Liverpool Echo story about it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Songs of Life - Part 2

More work on Songs of Life today. Amazing to think how quickly this has progressed, with most of the time spent in time consuming proof-reading over and over. There comes a point where aiming towards an unrealistic expectation of perfection comes to an end and you think of the next project as better than the current one.

At that time, it's time to stop.

Here is the cover. I wanted something relatively simple, with a mix of the illustrations inside, that also conveyed something about the work...

And inside I wanted to use ink-blots for the blank pages. I like the way that people can see what they want to see in them, and I think these fit with the stark blackness of the writing style too. I made a mix of blots and chose appropriate ones for the book...

Finally I had to log the ISBN, generate the barcode and write a bit of text on page two, the copyright blurb and a small preface about the decisions made when copying Blake's work, the things I espoused in the blog post below.

As I type, the artwork has been sent to the printers for approval. This again underlines the difference between the 21st and 18th centuries in terms of printing technology. I expect to have 50 copies in my hand in two weeks. Based only on extant editions; Blake printed less than 20 copies in 35 years!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

William Blake - Songs of Life

In 2012 I painted illustrations to William Blake's poems. Now I'm assembling these into a book. It's proving quite a time consuming challenge. Much of the work is in transliterating the faded and difficult to discern original printing and ensuring it fits. I want to keep it as closely matched to the original text as possible.

Take for example this verse from Project Gutenberg


The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wandering light,
Began to cry, but God, ever nigh,
Appeared like his father, in white.

Some of the punctuation there has been inserted, in part because the original printing has no punctuation, or is difficult to decipher. A comparison to the original results in...

The Little Boy Found

The little boy lost in the lonely fen,
Led by the wand'ring light,
Began to cry, but God ever nigh.
Appeared like his father in white.

See how the meaning of the last sentence changes with that inserted comma! The former assumes that his father frequently wore white, the latter that his father now wears it.

I think retaining the old rendering of "wand'ring" is important too. Also, Blake's use of punctuation might not have been pedantically correct English even at the time, yet lends itself to a unique rhythm. It is artistic license, and as a new transliterator of his work I feel the need to match his words, not impose "correct" English.

On the next verse however, the punctuation at the end of the lines is not present on two lines. Imagery on those areas frequently obscure the text, and duplicating the hit-and-miss punctuation at the end of the lines might harm information as much as retain it, so I made the decision to remove punctuation from the ends of lines, rather than risk further damage. The final verse is thus;

The Little Boy Found

The little boy lost in the lonely fen
Led by the wand'ring light
Began to cry, but God ever nigh
Appeared like his father in white.

He kissed the child & by the hand led
And to his mother brought
Who in sorrow pale through the lonely dale
Her little boy weeping sought

I hope to print and publish the work will all-new watercolour illustrations in a few months. Here is my illustration for the above poem...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Event Coming Soon

Mindscapes: Exploring Your Imaginary World

Venue: Gabriel Fine Art
Cottage 2, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, London, SE1 7LG.

Date: 9th and 10th October 2014, 13:00 to 16:30.

I'm running a free workshop in automatic drawing in October as part of The Big Draw. Come on either day to blot some ink and explore an imaginary landscape.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


In wide domains I rise and rise.
I burn the plains to enflame my eyes.
The seat of the soul, and the mind inside,
that crystal heart where I reside.

A lattice cage, a cube unbroken.
A mind of numbers ever unspoken.
My information cannot flee;
it lives in imperfect symmetry.