Tag Archives: Art

Overture

 

Overture

Wow, I guess it’s been a bit a while since my last (proper) post [my recent round-up of Sonisphere 2014 aside]. Well, there’s a multitude of reasons as to why that is, but they largely boil down to me being TOO DARNED BUSY with one thing and another (some of which I’ll shed light on in today’s entry) and not always having the energy to update the blog with all the goings-on and extra-happenings that have been abound since April or so. Anyway, I’m here now to make amends, so let’s make the most of things while it lasts, yeah?

So, what has been happening? Well, I guess the major thing is that I’m now a PROPER ACTUAL DOCTOR (of philosophy) and stuff, and ‘Silly Hat Mode’ got activated last Wednesday at my official graduation ceremony in spectacular fashion.

SillyHatMode

I submitted my corrected thesis back in May; got things verified and checked in June or so; and I handed the final, darned thing in around a month or so ago to get stored in the University library to gather dust, spider’s webs and the weight of no-one looking at it. I’m all done! Four-plus years of research have come to an end, and last Wednesday, I donned silly hat and silly cloak and picked up an official certificate saying that I’m now a { Ph.D survivor } and that I can officially leap into action when the cabin crew of a transatlantic flight announce “Is there a Doctor on board?” and totally be no help at all.

AAAaaaaanyway, since there aren’t enough pictures of me on the internet wearing silly hats, here are some pictures from my PhD graduation. Hooray!

The downside to finally crossing the finishing line in the PhD Quadruple-Marathon was the almost simultaneous (if entirely coincidental) culmination of my funding as a Senior Research Assistant doing research into space debris; meaning that my era at the University of Southampton has, now, properly come to a close, almost ten years since I first begun this crazy journey through academia. Naturally, this has meant that I’ve – yet again – been thrust into the heady world of scavenging for employment, yet so far have had only minimal success in landing some gainful employment. I’m still trudging onward with (at least most of) my marbles still intact, and I’ll no doubt get somewhere in the end, but just making sure that chin is kept well and truly up has been the main priority over the last couple of months. #KEEPPUSHING, don’t give up, #PARTYHARD etc. etc.

PeepShowHard

Despite the fact that I’ve not always been 100% successful at keeping on top of things whilst I’ve been out of either gainful education or gainful employment, I’ve broadly been managing to keep myself busy with job-search endeavours but also filling time by delving evermore into a few creative projects: one of these has been a strategy-board-game-thing that I’ve been desperately hammering into prototype form on-and-off for a couple of months, but the one I’m most proud of (so far) was something known as ‘Project: Elephabric’ ~

Through a whole bunch of stress and last-minute artistic wrangling, 3-metres of burnt-orange cotton fabric, black fabric paint and some potatoes were turned into a badass, home-made Arabian wall-hanging to help decorate a friend’s “Arabian Nights”-themed outdoor party gathering thing.

All in all, I think I’m pretty happy with the outcome; I’m hardly the world’s most proficient artist, but hopefully the hand-painted flaws and imperfections add to the charm rather than distract from it. It also was my first-ever foray into the world of fabric-painting (not to mention the first time I’ve made potato-stamps in about twenty years) so given my relative inexperience, I think I can be pretty pleased with my artistic endeavours.

If nothing else, I managed to get the paint mostly on the fabric and not on myself, so I guess that’s progress of sorts, right?

Anyway, anything that is unrelated to elephants is irrelephant, so I must wish you farewell; at least for now. Godspeed, comrades!

[Zinar7]

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Light Resolve

LightResolve

Okay, so I’ll come clean: I haven’t been loads brilliant at keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions nor my own, unwritten, plans for the beginning of 2014. Stuff has just kind of not happened the way I thought it would, and I’m a little bit behind with all of my goals.

After maybe a few weeks of feeling pretty darned rubbish and moping around like a sad panda, I’m determined not to let my stupid ambitions get in the way of feeling good with myself and resolve to use my hands to punch through the Wall of Awesomeness rather than to wipe the Tears of Inadequacy from my eyes. So, maybe it’s time to evaluate a little better what I want to get out of my (near-) future and where I want to be in life.

Perhaps I’m not so good at setting my own goals; and even less good at dealing with the disappointment when I inevitably don’t get along as far as I thought I would. Doing so usually leads to a whole bunch of internal disappointment, where I attempt to assess myself against some invisible barometer which marks my { contribution to society / likeability amongst my peers / perceived ‘success’ by people I don’t know } and inevitably come up short. A considerable problem I have is that I try to do too much – I try to live up to this unachievable role as someone who has a broad range of interests and talents, and who must maintain a grasp on all of these things at all time. I feel a compulsion to be ‘that guy’ who

[ plays all the video games ] / [ watches all the films ] / [ does all the music ] / [ makes video game costumes ] / [ does in-line skating ] / [ watches all the motorsport ] / [watches all the ice hockey ] / [ knows all the space stuff ] / [ does blogging and reviews and stuff ] / [ plays all the board games ] / [ does the whole ‘research’ thing ]

that I often appear to put a whole ton of unnecessary pressure on myself to keep active in all areas all  of the time; and if I’m not (or I just have a lazy day not moving forward or practicing any particular aspect) I tend to feel like I’ve wasted a day, a week, a year or however long. I feel an urge to see myself merely as a catalogue of statistics: someone who has +6 in Obscure Star Wars Facts and +4 in Playing Adventure Games – so much so, that if I feel like I’m doing something that I feel isn’t “improving” me in some way (or helping to benefit someone else), then I tend to get frustrated and anxious; as if the time could be better spent on something that is helping myself or others.

Now, this is pretty irrational, since Life inevitably must be filled with things that must be done irrespective of whether you want to or not (like, ‘doing the washing up’ or ‘burying the body of a deceased family pet that was accidentally put in the microwave by accident’). This can mean that I get frustrated quite quickly when I’m doing something that should be improving my Stats but – for whatever reason – isn’t delivering; maybe because I’m trying to overcome a particularly difficult task in my research or hitting a difficulty wall in a video game I want to complete/succeed at. In this respect, I don’t think I do so well with failure or rejection: I tend to reflect on the lost time more than on the lessons learned or the positive steps which were made along the way. For this reason, I’m quite sensitive to criticism or rejection, and I find it difficult to cope with situations that set me back in my goals; be it as cosmic-ly meaningless losing (unsaved) progress in a Word document or dying in a video game and having to go back to the beginning of the level. These clearly aren’t big things in the Grand Scheme, but they clearly trigger something in my brain that sparks anxiety and frustration beyond levels that are considered ‘normal’.

I also find myself worrying a lot that I’m not living up to the visions or expectations of the people I know (and the people I don’t): am I being everything I can be, that they want me to be, or that I deserve to be? What do I base this judgement upon?

I often tend to place unrealistic expectations on myself; usually based on some notion of what I expect people expect of me. Usually, these are far in excess of what people really expect; yet my brain thinks that, short of securing world peace or curing every disease know to man, everyone will have a persistent disappointment in me, everything I do an what I represent. I constantly find myself searching for what people want me to be rather than just being the best person that I can be (and not worrying if it’s not good enough for everyone else). In this respect, the Jimmy Eat World song ‘The Middle‘ (on their 2001 album Bleed American) is, perhaps, perfect for describing how I should approach the thoughts and opinions of the world around me:

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on.
Just try your best, try everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.

Hey, you know they’re all the same.
You know you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in.
Live right now.
Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.

Just do your best, do everything you can.
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say.

[Jim Adkins / Jimmy Eat World]

Much of the time, I tend to do the polar opposite of putting myself on a pedestal – I put everyone else on one, then feel them peering down at me like towering, relentless critics; even people I don’t know and who haven’t done anything spectacular to warrant an ivory tower. I feel like an underwhelming nobody; someone who tries hard and is always in the running, but who fails to deliver and achieve ultimate success when it really comes down to it. I need to know and respect the limits of my talents/skills; to be aware of where the extent of my skills is and not to punish myself for not being able to push beyond them or not being able to be as good as someone else at, say, Olympic sprinting or nuclear physics – some people are good at some things; others at other things. I can’t excel at literally everything I put my hand to, nor do I need to. If I did, I wouldn’t be imperfect and, more importantly, I wouldn’t be human. 

Light painting by Darren Pearson http://www.dariustwin.com/

Light painting by Darren Pearson
http://www.dariustwin.com/

Maybe I need to develop more of a thick skin to deflect perceptions that I’m a failure or a disappointment, or an anti-missile system that automatically takes down potential criticism (no matter how minor) before it begins to work its way under my skin to erode my self-confidence. Certainly for the sake of my health and sanity, I need to worry less. I need to live in the NOW and not concern whether it’s effective use of time in the grand scheme of things; just to do the things that make me happy, and to be comfortable with who I am and what I stand for. I need to take life more as it comes rather than trying to second-guess what it is I’m supposed to be.

To continue the proliferation of music lyrics in this post, there’s a fantastic quote from ‘The Hero Dies in this One‘ by The Ataris (on their 2003 album So Long, Astoria), which I reproduce here:

The hardest part isn’t finding who we need to be; it’s being content with who we are.

[Kris Roe, The Ataris]

And yes, I think that’s my greatest challenge for this year: to not race and rush to live up to some unattainable vision of myself, but to be happy with who I am and where I fit in with everything. I may not be perfect, but I’m more than just a jumbled collection of matter; with all the faults, feelings and faculties that that entails. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all that matters.

[Zinar7]

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Interstellar

Interstellar

It’s been a little while since I properly posted here. So what have I been up to?

Well, I’m still plugging away at my post-doctoral research, trying to push through the wall of Academic Sucess & get my own research paper published and working on a bunch of ‘space’-based infographic-type display materials for some of the University’s outreach and public engagement events that I’m involved in; the latter of which I’m going to show off here because I can.

From some of the space debris work that @spaceman_ben and I have been involved in, I’ve constantly been looking for engaging, and interesting, ways to communicate some of the information that we’ve collected about the current state of Earth Orbit and to inform the general public about some key facts about ‘Space’. There’s a lot of cool, interesting and captivating infographic posters floating around the internet; and I thought I’d put my hand to coming up with some for myself. Some of my inspirations were:

I designed and produced each one from scratch (well, after making a template myself for the style of the graphic) in CorelDraw X4; collating some of the data on active spacecraft and debris drawn from the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Satellite Database and the public catalogues of space objects (SpaceTrack // Celestrak). Some of the results are also from the EU space debris project ACCORD which I’ve been contributing to, along with results from debris simulation results from the University of Southampton’s space debris model, DAMAGE [Dr. Hugh Lewis]. It’s been pretty fun; turns out I quite like doing graphic design and getting to funnel a little bit of creativity into my regular (research) job. 

Anyway, without further ado, here they are (I, II and III):

I. SPACE: 2014 |

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1llwe4T

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1llwe4T


II. SPACE DEBRIS |

Debris_InfoPoster_LR

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1lltche

III. EARTH ORBIT | 

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1cPNSsR

Larger Version: http://bit.ly/1cPNSsR

Each poster is (IRL) at A0 size, approx. 84 x 59 cm, which is pretty big. Since the (original) files (output at like 600 dpi) were MANY MEGABYTES big, I cranked the resolution down a tiny bit to upload them here. If you want to download the super-high resolution [600 dpi; warning: large file size], then head over here:

Download full versions:

I | Space: 2014 (.png, 6640 x 9492 pixels, 4.4 Mb)
II | Space Debris (.png, 6640 x 9492 pixels, 5.4 Mb)
III | Earth Orbit (.png, 6640 x 9492 pixels, 4.4 Mb)

Hopefully they should be winging their way to the printer’s office very soon and all ready in time for Southampton Science and Engineering Festival, which is just under a month away. I feel fairly proud of the end result (so far, at least), so hopefully I’ll feel even more pride once they’re turned into actual, physical things that I can hold in my hand/hang up on the mantelpiece/etc.  Either way, it was a monster effort and a massive time-sink to make and edit then around my regular research responsibilities, so I’m fairly pleased that they’re at a point where I can shove them out of the door and not keep tweaking them indefinitely like the perfectionist that I am.

Not sure what my next creative project will be quite yet; I’m toying with the idea of designing a card+dice game based on WWII air race/dogfighting, but that’ll need some further thought before I thrust myself into the endeavour. In the mean time, I will ponder.

Divider

Anyway, that’s all the proper stuff that I wanted to say; I shall finish up by sharing some of my most-recent playlists, cataloguing the soundtrack to 2014 so far.

I therefore leave you with these014/01 – Black Sails to the Wind (folk metal);  014/02 – Flextronix (electronic/indie lo-fi). Onwards to glory!

Playlist_01401

Playlist_01402

[Zinar7]

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Rhino-Hunting: Part 4

Rhino_4

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part One // Rhino-Hunting Part Two // Rhino-Hunting Part Three // Rhino-Hunting Part Four

In the past three photo-blog posts (linked above), I’ve had a marvellously merry time tracking down the Go Rhinos! sculptures that make up the Southampton Rhino Trail. As part of the Rhinotastic! event at Marwell Wildlife, all 97 sculptures (36 full-sized sculptures and 51 school-sized) are re-united at the Secret Garden behind Marwell Hall between 10th and 14th of October. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to go visit Marwell and catch up with my most favourite rhino, along with the few that I hadn’t managed to meet quite yet.

Despite the rain showers later in the day, an awesome time was had and I managed to sneak in a few photographs in between the raindrops; representing the very final results of my summer-long rhino-snapping efforts. Enjoy!

[Zinar7]

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Rhino-Hunting: Part 3

Rhino_3

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part One // Rhino-Hunting Part Two // Rhino-Hunting Part Three // Rhino-Hunting Part Four

Over various weekends throughout the Summer, I’ve taken immense joy in taking a closer look at my hometown and hunting down all of the Go Rhinos! sculptures that make up the Southampton Rhino Trail. After ten weeks of inhabiting the pavements and parks of Southampton, the rhino are biding their time before the ‘Rhinotastic!’ event at Marwell Wildlife between 10-14th October. I’ll certainly miss their friendly faces dotted around town, but aim to catch up with them all again at Marwell in a week or so’s time.

Anyway, in accordance with my previous couple of photo-blogs on the matter, a few weekends ago I once again trotted into Southampton city centre – camera in hand – to photograph the major sights and sounds of this vibrant city. Here are a few more of my snaps from my excursions:

[Zinar7]

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Rhino-Hunting: Part 2

Rhino_2

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part One // Rhino-Hunting Part Two // Rhino-Hunting Part Three // Rhino-Hunting Part Four

Last weekend, I continued my exploration of Southampton – camera in hand – taking photographs of my humble little city and seeking out more of the Go Rhinos! sculptures that make up the Southampton Rhino Trail. On this week’s excursion, I wandered round the rest of town scooping up pictures of the remaining lurking rhino, before taking a trek around Ocean Village and the marina, and some of the back-streets of Southampton.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the results of my efforts. Enjoy!

[Zinar7]

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Rhino-Hunting: Part I

Rhino_1

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part One // Rhino-Hunting Part Two // Rhino-Hunting Part Three // Rhino-Hunting Part Four

On Sunday I spent a merry afternoon troddling around downtown Southampton, taking photographs of my humble little city and following the Rhino Trail which marks the Go Rhinos! event which is organised by Marwell Wildlife to support conservation efforts & exhibit and bunch of local art and design. The result of the project is that, for a 10-week period over the Summer, there are 36 life-size (ish) Rhino sculptures dotted around Southampton that have been designed and decorated by local artists. It’s a super idea, and it certainly brightens up a dull trudge to the shops to see your trail populated by hordes of brightly-coloured and painted rhinoceroseseseses.

Because I have a massive ‘Collector’ gene in my body somewhere and I’m now armed with a fancy new camera, I thought I’d go trekking around my wonderful, vibrant city and take photographs of all the rhino, as well as some of the other sights of sunny (well, sometimes) Southampton. [I packed my in-line skates, but because of weather-based inclemency and a lack of nice surfaces down the lower end of town, I didn’t actually end up on them, harrumph.]

Sunday’s jaunt was my first proper hunting expedition on the Go Rhinos! trail, and I covered most of the rhino located near the docks and the centre of town; I endeavour to head out again in a couple of weeks to hit the streets (except on my skates next time) and snipe down the remaining beasts. It was certainly a pleasure to wander round my adopted hometown without a proper agenda, and it was nice to explore some of Southampton’s more nook-ish crannies and interesting areas, rather than merely visiting the usual haunts.

Anyway: without further ado, here’s a catalogue of my first rhino-hunting expedition. Enjoy!

Head over here to find Rhino-Hunting Part Two //

[Zinar7]

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