Saturday, December 21, 2013

Card Music 2013 - origins and futures

'the snow globe'

card music 2013: 'the snow globe' (free music)

Memory plays funny tricks. After working on my most recent PMusic composition the snow globe, I began to wonder how many pieces of 'Card Music' I had made during the past few years - how many shakes of the glass have there been?

Looking back through my files, I see I began Card Music in 2004, the year I released my CD 'Inlets', and this version featured a recorded/RMusic piece from the next planned album (with no real animation) entitled subtle energies.

At the time, I just saw this musical Christmas card as a way of reaching family and friends and didn't suspect how much the idea would grow. I didn't even issue a card in 2005 but in '06 I made my first PMusic Card Music, with an animated card sequence and washes of 'found' carols and seasonal song I named Carol Cloud. This was an exploration of the possibilities of harmonies colliding, pushing and aligning with one another and was well received, especially by an MA fine art group to whom I gave a talk about my work. This encouraged me to continue and publicise Card Music more widely, esp. via the Chameleon Lectra website.

Carol Moon
of 2007 continued and extended the idea of harmonic tensions not found in the original recordings, and in 2008, under the influence of my CONSEMBLE project, I made Frosted Music built entirely from guitars.

I wasn't satisfied with Noël of 2009 which included a systems music approach in with the mix of Christmas tunes
thinking it rather stale I didn't promote itand so for 2010 took a whole new approach to make an original PMusic piece from my own playing (with just a small amount of caroling samples) called Season's Greetings.

2011's Robin Songs moved away from music entirely and featured an OULIPO-like animated, chance-selected sequence of the letters r o b i n which in turn determined the order of a sequence of Nets, featuring various short (and some slowed-down) recordings of robins at song.

Festive Six (2012) recycled the music from Season's Greetings but used indeterminacy in the webpages to choose from a possible 6 outcomes.

The current Card Music of 2013
the snow globe brings a lot of these ideas together, in that it uses: an animated sequence of indeterminately-selected, found seasonal imagery, 6 themed Nets (for visuals and music) and a framing narrative. The music is an extension of Season's Greetings with additional content (including reindeer barking and old cylinder recordings from the early 1900s).

It now becomes clear to me that Card Music is a compositional opportunity in its own right (rather than an informal calling card) and this year I have housed it on the new Alembic Books site to draw an audience and promoted it via Facebook, as well as the usual channels (this blog, CL website etc.).

Next year's work for 2014 will be an entirely new piece with original music and graphics. On Thursday I bought a kit to make small ice guitars (for drinks) so maybe this will provide inspiration...

'A Book is a Situation'

The rainbow attaches itself

Some speculative writing:

I coined the above titlephrase in a notebook back in 1997 when thinking about my digital work, as I often used the form of the book (metaphor of the book(?)) both to structure my material and suggest perhaps the idea of the 'magic book' - a book in which the images and words 'come to life'.

Books can of course be magical in themselves, in the realm of the mind, but when I first started reading I can remember the childhood desire for pages to be animate and responsiveor even an environmenta place that you could step inside and visit. Some early reading even suggested this in itself: 'Alice in Wonderland', 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' -and even the film 'Mary Poppins' (Stevenson 1964), where it was possible to jump into a coloured chalk drawing sketched on the ground.

Boy in a Box
The illustrations in books assist in this, especially engravingswhere the intricate lines conspire to hypnotize and beckon the eye.

This seems to me a natural, intuitive aspect of what is now called metatextuality: something beyond the rigid, one dimensional code of reading that insists that writing is closed, that chalk drawings are unvisitable, that you cannot 'cut a hole in the sky' (à la Yoko Ono). The creative tension lies in the paradox that you are both aware of reading a text and transcending it at the same time.

So perhaps a book is best thought of as not being defined by print and paper but in relation to what it encloses, what it offers:
'A Book is an Environment'
'A Book is a Clearing'
'A Book is a...' offered over to a fresh phrase picked by author/reader.

In this, the idea of the book becomes an organising principle, independent of the material from which it is constructed.

It is this thought that entices me to make Lectra in the form of interactive, digital books
(and bookworks in the form of interactive, printed books ;-)

Friday, August 16, 2013

It Was A Friday

and I was waiting for my bookshelves to arrive.

My allocated time slot: 12.30pm to 4.30pm broke the day in half.

Breakfast of egg, sausages, mushrooms and toast. Shower. Add text to previews on alembic books webpages. Correspond. Listen to 'The Sins of Literature' BBC Radio 4 - remain sceptical but somehow drawn in, seduced by the idea of 'being a writer'. Coffee. This blog.

delivery arrived on the dot of 4

Easily assembled, new home for LPs, books an ting. Caused a reorganising mood to sweep over me, so some books thrown, many repositioned. Alembic still needs a proper space but it'll do for now.
TV. Cold sausages with warm mash and vegetables. Possibly small tin of Jack Daniels and ginger wine.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Posting July: 31/7/2013 and Alembic Books is live

Alembic Books - go fetch the water

Alembic Books is now officially live:

There are 4 books in the Summer 2013 release, all available separately and in paperback and hardback versions:

Alembic 1: POSITIONS: A Question of Sexual Mores
Alembic 2: 82 scores (for music)
Alembic 3: POEMS and other insects and other poems
Alembic 4: Jectory Tra

• The paperbacks are the affordable, reading version with B&W printing

• The hardbacks have colour illustrations with black text*

—all have colour covers.

I will be posting here soon on each book, with previews and background information provided. The intention is to be as creative and versatile as possible - just reach for that brush...

A      l      e      m      b      i      c      B      o      o      k      s

* with the exception of Jectory Tra, which is a definite, black and white bookwork

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Scanning June

Slowly, but surely, work on Alembic continues with more minor revisions - the odd tweaking of text here, the repositioning of a graphic there - and decisions on final generic content, such as descriptions, Alembic numbers, barcodes and... promotion.

I'm wary of the idea of advertising as on one hand I do want to sell books and make a profit, if possible, but on the other I'm sensitive to the fact that we are bombarded (and herded) by the ideology of selling in the throes of late capitalism.

My only negotiating strategy is to be a spanner in the works.

withdrawals available from Alembic Books

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

82 Proof

The first of the last swathe of proof reading material arrived on Monday, in preparation for the 2013 launch. I'm pleased that ordering from is an efficient and fairly speedy service - it usually takes just under a week for an ordered book to arrive.

I was originally going to publish 82 scores solely as a paperback in colour but, on reflection, felt it would be best for it to be part of the initial b&w quartet I am going to publish in July. This also keeps it in line with the cost of the other paperbacks.

However, in addition, I've decided to release a colour, hardback version of the scores - signed - to accommodate those who don't mind spending a bit more and would welcome something robust for throwing at a tone-deaf partner/barking dog/Justin Bieber etc.*

* this is a joke. 82 scores does not condone violent actions (unless they are in the creation of music ;-)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Alembic 2013

Alembic graphic
After a timely pause I am back here to describe my artlife over the past year; April 2012 has become April 2013 all too quickly.

My main focus has been on writing (poetry and experimental texts) and the relaunching of my imprint, Alembic Books, for these digital times.

In some ways, this has been a natural progression from my involvement in Songs of Garden Guitars, A Tapestry of British Birdsong and Books in Sound and Light as each of these has featured an interactive notebook or similar, and all have been underpinned by creative writing in their development (see previous blog entries).

I began Alembic in 1990, just after I graduated, as a means of keeping my artwork going. Initially, I began this independent imprint to publish my book of music directives '52 Scores' (which began as scores written for my degree). This was quickly followed by a succession of titles: '11 more scores', 'Positions', 'Poems and other insects' and more performative works: 'A Book Thrown Into the Sea' and its sequel (at the suggestion of Katie Buckley) 'A Book Dunked Into some Tea'. Other books and collaborations were also worked on but not published including 'Collages' with Oona Campbell and 'Khartoun' with Geoff Stocker.

In 2012, I decided I would take advantage of the new publishing opportunities opened up by the internet and the proliferation of the digital devices and reinvent Alembic Books to allow my voice to be heard, once again, but this time by a larger audience.

After a series of trial runs, I decided to use to publish my work via POD. The first four books will be released on the 31st July 2013 with several more planned. New works will include a second book of poetry, a book of cartoons by Geoff Stocker and more experimental writings.

Today, I created a facebook page for Alembic:
and will be exploring other promotional outlets over the next few months.

More on my bookworks and writings will be posted soon.
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