Sunday, 1 January 2012

2011

Oh, hi. Didn't see you there. Or maybe I didn't recognise you; I haven't blogged here in over a month. I know, it's bad, I'm bad, I'm sorry. I'm dying to make an excuse like 'I didn't have time' or 'life's been crazy recently', and though both are true, I wonder why I'm even apologising to a blog that's meant to be about me. If I had some responsibility to blog here, I would, regularly, but I don't. If I don't feel in the mood for blogging, or this blog is an outdated version of me, then I won't blog. Simple as.

Anyway, somehow I'm blogging. I figured, since I can't find anything deep and artistic to blog about (and I don't think it would be right, either), I'd just cover a few of the things that have happened in 2011 for me. As forementioned, December was a crazy month for me, both time-wise and sanity-wise. I am certainly not the same person I was in January 2011, and I am also not the same person I was at the start of December. But hey, I'm a teenager, I'd better just get used to change. It just seems to be happening so fast, is all.

Last year I made 36 posts, which may seem meagre compared to the 330+ of 2010, but I've started to doubt whether this blog is appropriate for me, and whether it really does represent me, any more. Some of the posts have been excellent, and I'm still proud of them: the design articles from the start of the year (The Finnish Line), the odd maths rant (Fingering the Third Dimension) and those two posts on Kafka. Aside from the article-like posts, I've documented my own productivity throughout the year - and I like those write-up posts too, such as the Suspension walkthrough and the Culture War posts.

I'd like to sum up 2011 completely in photos, but I recently broke my external harddrive. No biggie, you might say, it's just a backup, right? Wrong. It's got all my photos on it, plus everything I made before March last year. Shit. So I'll have to scrounge photos from the internet and, mostly, write things. Enjoy.

JOHN'S HIGHLIGHTS OF 2011
(IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER APART FROM MAYBE CHRONOLOGICALLY BUT I DOUBT HE'LL STICK TO IT)


Untitled, as most of my photos became in 2011
Black and White photography happened. Though I don't really like it when I look back, the start of 2011 was a big time for me in photography. I went through my 'gritty urban black and whites' phase. And did it in analogue, developing my own film. Which was fun. These days I'm not too happy at those old black and whites of mine, but I guess it had to happen sometime.

Pyramid Calendar, Xmas present-cum-graphic design project
I finished my portfolio. In early 2011, to prepare for work experience applications (yeah whatever happened to that?), I hurriedly compiled my first complete portfolio. This meant finishing and refining several of my favourite graphic design ideas, most of them recent. These included the Pyramid Calendar (above), my bookmark called Sidemark, my JIS. Medicine redesign (now with crappy Gotham lookalike!), and my WD16 furniture series. I'm proud of that, too. These designs mark a specific time in the evolution of my style and creativity, and I'm still proud of them now. Well, kinda. Nothing's perfect. Apart from, maybe, Helvetica *sheds a tear of typographic passion*

Untitled, because nothing's more artistic than the back of this guy's head
Ladies and Gentlemen, photos now have people in them. Otherwise known as portraits. The middle of 2011 was my portrait phase. Mainly done from my GCSE project 'One', about the individual and isolation in suburbia (here take this sick bag, you'll need it), I started to take portraits, and fashion shots, and generally photos with people in 'em. My photography moved on a lot in 2011, and the best place to read about that is my angsty photography post, which I think I was right to document. Portraits were the second stage in 2011's photography - though I do still attend the odd photoshoot. I recently did a shoot at the Barbican estate, north London, which was great. Maybe I've moved on, but I still enjoy a good fashion shoot. Especially when there's brutalist architecture and Amelia Oakley involved.

The Henne Beach House, which I won't say anything funny about because I still like it.
Lego architecture's fond farewell. The Henne Beach House was my final Lego architectural model, and my best. I'm still proud of it now, though it may be a bit rough around the edges, and I've realised Lego isn't the most accurate or realistic modeling medium. 2011 has also documented a change in my attitude in architecture, mainly in the post I just linked to, but also from my discovery of the modernist classics (the Villa Savoye, for instance), and how I came to 'like' postmodernism later in the year after reading a book about it. Ach, no, I take that back. I don't like it. But I understand it a lot more. And yes, it was appropriate for the time, and yes, modernism was stagnating into glass blocks ignorant of context or site or humanity. Fine. But I still don't like postmodernism.

The front cover
The JOHN Collection III One of the definite highlights of my year was the release of the longest project I've ever undertaken: the third JOHN Collection catalogue, nearly one and a half years in the making. It had had its possible release dates - and many of them - but, in May, it was finally finished. 18 pages with over 100 new pieces, and a huge hit on Flickr. The catalogue became my defining moment in the FOL community, even getting me a Lego employee's business card at STEAM in October. Am I still proud of it? Yes, as a Lego project, but as proper furniture it's pretty rubbish. But hey, it was brilliant to finish it after all that time.

The leaflet, kinda 90s-styled but eh, I dunno
That Lego point-and-click game I made. Also known as Suspension, and there are no pangs of regret that accompany this Lego project. I love it, still, and I wish I still had the inspiration to finish it. You see, a lot of people were expecting an early release date because they thought the whole game was set inside. It isn't; there are three parts to it, and they're all complex and varied and two of them are outside. One's in a city. Even the second demo scene I was going to release didn't happen - I needed to make a forest for that one. Once again I had been too ambitious, and ruined my chances of even starting on the full project. Regardless, the demo stands for itself, go play it. Again.

Culture War, because lens flare makes everything better
Culture War, another flash of inspiration, took hold of my creativity and my life and thrashed them around for two weeks in the summer until I had finished the film. And I loved it. I still get nostalgic thinking about the nights we spent filming, even the nights before that I spent designing the titles. I used to make so many films, it's a real shame I don't any more. Culture War was a reminder to me of how much I still love it, and how film is still a passion of mine. Ah, Culture War. We had some good times together. And now I'm getting all sentimental and nostalgic about you. Perhaps it's because you were the height of my summer, perhaps it was all my friends working together for something of mine and enjoying it, perhaps it's the particularly sad Death Cab song playing on my iTunes at the moment. Sigh. Anyway, read the post or watch the film. Just remind yourself.

Kids fingering my catalogues at STEAM. Feel free to add your own innuendo.
Exhibitions were also a part of 2011 for me. I first attended the Brickish exhibition at the NSC in Leicester, then STEAM in Swindon. NSC was fun, and we had a good parts draft, but STEAM 2011 was one of the best days of my life. Maybe it was the business cards and interest I got after showing my JC3 catalogues (above), maybe it was making my own way to Swindon and back, maybe it was messing around with Harry, Jake, Tom, Luke and Wimbe. It was just great fun and I only wish I could get out of this damn Dark Age (ie. time of not building), but I can't. I'm worried that I won't build any more. I've made so many friends through Flickr, gone to exhibitions like STEAM, and spent an awful lot of money on bricks, it would be a tragedy for me to end my FOLdom here. Who knows what 2012 will bring, but I can't promise anything.


...and that's pretty much 2011 for me. Obviously there were lots of other events and things I haven't mentioned, mainly social things, other design projects, and too much Minecraft. Oh, and not to forget the school art trip to Florence. I am definitely a different person after that. Maybe I'll get around to writing about it one day. It was eventful, to say the least.

I'd also like to use this post (because who knows when the next one's coming) to list a few things I'd like to achieve in 2012:
  • Make another film. I enjoyed Culture War, and though I'm not too happy with it now, I am dying to make another film. I've got another idea, I just need to propose it to someone who may be able to make it happen, then it may get made before Spring's over (we need the darkness). If that doesn't work out, then maybe another idea will.
  • Start a magazine. I've had an idea to make an indie 'zine for months now - since the MUME concept in May, in fact. I'm about to get it started now that I've got the details sorted out of the developed concept, abbreviated FYM. Check out my Tumblr if you want to see some of the early designs for it. Suffice to say it will be a photography- and art-based 'zine, and hopefully as cheap as possible.
  • Do something with that radio station idea. I don't think I've ever mentioned NURADIO/the radio station idea on this blog. It was going to happen, then the people who were going to help me with it pulled out, so it died. Maybe I'll resurrect it. I still like the idea.
  • Continue with that 'modern art' thing. Recently, as part of my AS art project, I've been experimenting with performance art and other modern art concepts. I'd really like to pursue this and see what comes of it.
  • Enjoy it. I'm in sixth form now, and though the last few weeks of term were the busiest I've had in ages, they were also the most fun. For god's sake, John, have fun in 2012. Somehow, my creativity will have to comply.
Well, that's all I have to say (and I think I've said enough). Happy new year to you all, and I'll see you whenever I choose to blog again.

~John