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.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Biolism and Technolism

There are two forces, philosophical standpoints. Biolism sides with nature and the biological capacity to store information and attenuate its loss, in other words, to survive. Technolism uses non-biological means to achieve the same ends. In the future, the conflict between these forces will grow stronger because it appears that technological ways of storing information are superior to biological ways, and I believe that this slight preference will, through evolution, cause technology to supplant biology.

Okay, so what are these concepts? Well, many functions of biology, of people and animals and plants have been replaced by functions of machines. We use cars for transport, rather than horses (or even motorised chairs, rather than legs). We use machines to plough fields, rather than oxen. We still use dogs to herd sheep, although technological solutions are in development. We use animals for food, although artificial meat has been developed. These explain the two forces, one natural, the other artificial.

These could be seen as political forces, and in politics these forces do surface.

Biolists would stand for living "in harmony" with nature; eating organic food, food produced without chemicals or machinery. As a political example, biolists would support fox hunting with hounds, rather than controlling populations with guns or poisons, or perhaps not supporting population control at all, although hunting for pleasure itself could be seen as a natural drive and therefore fitting within a biolist view.

Technolists would support the replacement of all animals and animal functions with machines, using artificial meat for food; robot companions for pets; replacing and extending human memory with computers and mobile phones; and the creation of artificial intelligences to assist human intelligences, and the gradual transformation of the environment from a biological to a technological one.

The extreme biolist view would support the eradication of technology, and the extreme technolists view would support the eradication of biological life. It is obvious that the world is moving from a pure biolist to a pure technolist environment.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Being Left Behind

Being Left Behind

I spent the evening in a thick dark room,
staring into liquid space,
wishing I was somewhere else;
in Hell, or Egypt, sky or day.
Any place but here.
Any place but warm thick death,
the tepid heat of decadent breath.
Any touch with any skin.
Near any ear.
Or eye.
Or mind.

I spent the evening quietly dying.
Being left behind.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Sun Set Free

A new painting and associated poem.

Sun Set Free

I'm flying like a spirit,
high and transparent,
in perfect air,
penetrated by the warm rays
of a distant god's golden hair.

A new day is begun.
A new flower scent of sweet clarity
curls in and around as I run
in nature's loving breath.
My soul is free from pain and death
like an everlasting sun.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Gravitational Wave Detector

For some reason I spent two days last week thinking of gravitational waves, something which might represent a useful form of astronomy in future decades. I thought that an array of condenser microphones (effectively a static electric field) would make a good detector, as a fuzzy cloud of electrons can be more densely packed in three dimensions than using laser interference and chunky satellites to detect these. Of course though, these would be ultra sensitive to vibrations and so would ideally need to be placed in orbit or off planet somehow, so I thought the dark side of the moon (to avoid stray E.M. emissions from Earth), in a crater shaded from the sun, perhaps buried deep under the lunar surface. Yes, cheap (sarcasm) (actually though, it shouldn't be too expensive to do this. All you need to do is crash land a tunnelling machine into the surface and it could bore a vertical shaft into the lunar surface automatically).

Anyway the electron cloud would probably be subject to all sorts of interference from different sources in the radiation of space, and the capacitors would need a power source, which would also be a source of interference (as well as shortening their life-span - still that could be accounted for during analysis).

Then I thought of using the piezoelectric effect to create another type of three-dimensional gravitational wave sensor, little more than a matrix of wires in a crystal. I initially thought that a geologically inactive planet itself could be used as a detector, most planets being crystal rocks of some sort of another, although of course every planet is regularly deformed by gravity, and stochastically which would further corrupt the data. However a big crystal cube in orbit might be relatively tough and free from such concerns.