Thursday, 7 April 2011

Wossup #2

I return to these blogging depths with a new Wossup. I have a bunch of post ideas and Easter holiday coming up so we'll just have to not predict anything and hope some of them see the light of day. Until then:

READING 'Franz Kafka: Short Stories' or some book like that. As I've said before, it has all his short stories, both novellas like The Metamorphosis and little snippets of prose like A Dream. It's a great read, though I try not to peruse it so often because reading Kafka in the afternoon means I'm bound to feel like shit all evening. And I always have this niggling feeling of uselessness and pointlessness in the human race. Reading Kafka makes me realise the Human Condition too much. Too much? This is our situation, I shouldn't scoff at something which makes me more aware of it! Pfft, life goes on. Too much, it does - too much for us to say 'oi stop' for a second and realise we're missing the bigger picture and that we'll never be around to see it all. Might as well be ignorant and not even know we're missing it. It's worse when you're aware. Jeez.

WATCHING Several good films. Notably Shattered Glass, a brilliant small project film about the downfall of a lying journalist and general madman Steven Glass, made in the 00s and set in the 90s. The main performance by Hayden Christensen (Star Wars, Jumper) was brilliant, such a great attention-whore character who - on reading Glass' Wikipedia page - is surprisingly true-to-life. Plus, it has one of my fave actors, Peter Saarsgard, in it as the editor of New Republic magazine. Dammit, I love everything Saarsgard does, and this film - small budget and small subject matter though it may be - shows his talents to the full. He's so understated, great performances all round.
I also had the  - pleasure? Experience? Eventful evening? - of watching I Heart Huckabees, a film that aims high but doesn't take itself seriously enough to really make an impact. The plot is based around an environmentalist who goes to an existential detective agency to see whether his chance meetings with a tall Nigerian man mean anything in the bigger picture (yes, Kafka is referred to in this film), but ends up going on a journey about the connectedness (or non-connectedness) of life along with Mark Wahlberg and Dustin Hoffman. It has some seriously deep elements, lots of explanations about life and what things mean, but these wonderful insights are interspersed with comedy bits and indie sequences, making you wonder whether the writers actually know what existential dilemmas they're writing about or whether they're just making a comedy indie film. True themes or not, the comedic elements and off-the-wall directing nullifies the 'meaningful' bits like the blanket and the rubber ball, producing viewers at the end of the film feeling deeply unsatisfied and confused over whether they'd just learnt a lot of meaningful stuff or whether the film was just having a laugh with them. It's a real shame, I was hoping for something like Synecdoche, New York but more accessible and indie and with Mark Wahlberg. And Jude Law. Sadly it didn't meet expectations, little though they were.

LISTENING TO 'Vices and Virtues' by Panic! At the Disco. Like all great bands, I didn't like them at first - dismissing them as a 'meh version of You, Me and Everyone We Know', and accrediting all those boring 'trendy' songs I hear at parties to them - I'm warming to them. There's something quite enjoyable about the album, there's a lot of great tunage to listen to there. Maybe the songs lack the punch and pure American rockness of YMAEWK, but this latest album of theirs is concise and worth a listen.

ADMIRING Some of the best indie photography I've seen in a long while (woah, two indie things in one Wossup post? Hipster John is proud), from Tamara Lichtenstein. Not only is she a great photographer and follows the style of many of my Flickr faves, but she does a lot of professional shoots, including a lot for Converse's 2011 range. Regardless of whether I like Converse or not, she's a great photographer and her Flickr 'stream definitely deserves a gander from anyone interested in photography. Professional stuff and uniquely personal pieces, portraits, observations. Great photos all round. I wish I could embed her photos in this post but she's disabled downloading of them, grr.

DRAWING up ideas for a conlang a friend and I am making. It's a big, big project, and will take some time, but I'm very interested in it and hopefully it will go somewhere. Eff Why Eye, a conlang is a constructed language, a new language that people create that doesn't evolve naturally like English or French. There are hundreds that people have created, but the best take time and dedication. It's not just saying 'house' is 'zoowap', it's deeper than that. Firstly, you must create the phonetics of the language, choosing from the myriad of consonants and vowels that human languages contain, picking some from English and some unusual ones from European languages that we can pronounce or hope to pronounce. The sounds have great names, like uvular fricative and bilabial plosive.
Then there's the issue of vocabulary and grammar. Which sounds occur most often? Which consonant-vowel pairs? How are words formed? How many tenses are there? How many cases? What's 'the' and 'a'? Shall we even include words for 'the' and 'a'? There are loads more questions. Then, my favourite part of making this conlang, the writing system must be created. Sure, some conlangs can be written using Latin or Cyrillic script, but we wanted to go for something adventurous and so I spend some time each evening doodling scripts and letterforms for our conlang. The genius about started afresh is that you can include phonetic parts in the letters themselves - for example, differentiate between voiced and voiceless consonants by a common diacritic that can be recognised by the reader. Then we have the actual forms of the script, the adaptions that can be made for handwriting or formal and modern typefaces. Ooh, it's just a fancier and more creative type of typography, with a chunk of phonetics at the start. Excitiddling.

WEARING nothing new, annoyingly. Hoping to go to Topman for some new yet boringly highstreet someone-else-is-probably-wearing-it clothes tomorrow but we'll see what we get out the other side of that.

PROMOTING my portfolio! Yay! It's finally finished, not totally done but it's ready for some of you select viewers to have a looksie at it and appreciate it or give me feedback. The About page needs to be rewritten, but apart from that it's quite complete and there's a lot of stuff on there I haven't shown on this blog, including my WD16 furniture set:


An experiment with forms in metal sheet, modelled in card and featuring a triangular bin from WD15. Also in my portfolio are my portraits from three posts earlier, JIS. medicine packaging, the sidemark (remember that?), Snowfall and my architecture MOCs. Go check it out.

PHOTOGRAPHING a bunch of irregular portrait stuff for my art GCSE. It's hard to keep track of but a few days ago I took a substantial photoshoot of my ever-so-willing friend in an empty car park at night. I also brought a bright LED lamp to illuminate him like those indie photos of crazy parties, and even if the non-lit photos come out all underexposed, the lot ones will hopefully come out well. I also whacked my head on the camera when some policemen walked by. Awkward moment. Other than that, expect those photos very soon! Or at least as soon as Bogusprint - oops, sorry, Bonusprint get them back to me.

Laters, guys. I've got some badass Minecrafting to do on this free evening.
~John

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