After a long break in blogging, I am making a come back. I have spent alot of my newly found Covid-19 free-time finishing off my blog migration from Ghost to Jekyll; and otherwise updating and fixing my website from being a very very boring single page website to something that actually represents me on the web.
In the coming blog posts I will post about various technical points of interest I came across building this website. Additonally, I will be slowly introducing various categories, verticals, columns to write about a broad variety of subjects. In the interium to avoid missing out any of my frequently updated blog posts you can subscribe to my newsletter below.
As is becoming a regular event on this blog, it is now August 7 and I am announcing the project for this month.
In the months of August and September Spoken Word SA is holding the heats for the 2017 Poetry Slam, so naturally I am going to enter and hopefully win (I won’t). The first heat is the 18th of August and the last is 15th of September with the final on the 22nd of September.
I have had the tab open for this for pretty much 6-months, and have not started working on anything in that time, which is why I am setting this as a project. For most people (myself included) see slam poetry as probably something like this.
I do find something endearing about slam poetry though. My idea is to do something akin to the dual dialogue you hear a lot in musicals. In particular I really love the song Farmer Refuted by Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton.
Yo, pay attention to the sickening amount of sound play that Miranda/Hamilton works into this epic counterpoint takedown. Highlighted words attached to this annotation indicate just about all instances of matched consonance and assonance.
So this is the kind of form I want to write my poem, with two voices that talk at the same time overlapping to create a third meta voice but all performed by one person. Seems hard, maybe impossible and it probably is — but I will try.
I also really like the way the poetry slam is judged.
Five judges chosen by the MC at random from the audience. Judges hold up score cards using a 1 – 10 scale to one decimal point, with 10 being the highest
possible score. Of the five scores for each poet, only the middle three scores are counted. The decision of the judges is final.
I think that is really cool and makes you really work to make a connection with the audience on the night.
While I waited for the delivery of a book I ordered online — which turned out to be not in-stock, and the company had emailed me a week ago asking if I wanted them to order it from the supplier and apparently took no reply as a “no”, nevertheless 3 weeks later I have the book, Famous Last Lies, An Anthology by Claire Cock-Starkey — I started listing influential people in my life. Massively-long-run-on-sentence notwithstanding, these are “influential dead people” and moreover “influential dead people I have never met”. So when I finally go the book, I could look up their famous last words and start to put together the book.
Close followers of this blog — to which I think there is two, including myself — will remember the original intent of the book would be correct false famous last words, which I would call famous last lies and then list the actual last words. Now it turns out, knowing someones last words is hard enough, but finding someones actual last words is even harder. When I issued myself this project I only had one of these in mind: Oscar Wilde.
My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.
Which he had actually said in the weeks leading up to his death and his actual last words were during his Last Sacraments and was the Prayer for Resignations to the Will of God.
Lord, if what I seek be according to our will, then let it come to pass and let success attend the outcome. But if not, my God, let it not come to pass. Do not leave me to my own devices, for you know how unwise I can be. Keep me safe under your protection Lord my God, and in your own gentle way guide me and rule me as you know best.
The book Famous Last Lies, An Anthology does actually point out a couple of this faux last words. However, the list of corrections are not terribly exciting or numerous, so the I decided to change the direction of the book.
The book is still titled Famous Last Lies to which one of my friends quickly quipped.
That’s such a Jayden title!
I guess my lust for all things fraudulent is a defining characteristic of myself. And most of the layout and design of the book remains the same, but instead of correcting their last word I just quote the most-often-quoted-and-easily-referencable-and-maybe-not-completly-factually-accurate version of their last words along with an equally millennial and bashfully literary ignorant 140-chacter tweet length biography.
The only thing left to discuss is the length of the book. How many people will I include? Who do I include? I didn’t want to arbitrarily choose a number, I would need to find some meaning behind the choice and relate that back to the work. I first thought 52, for 52-weeks in a year, 52-cards in a deck, etc. But that was too numerous. Next up, is 42, for obvious reasons — for those who don’t find this immediately obvious, Douglas Adams said “42 is the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.”. All of these are probably too expensive to then print, so I decided on the sickeningly cliche choice of 13.
At some stage I decided to also write a series of 3 essays on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness which is a horrifically American thing to want to write about, but I found a screenshot of this on my desktop which probably explains the latent thoughts in my brain that made me think this was a good idea.
Also the constant Hamilton listening over the last year probably contributed.
With the inclusion of the 3-essays I decided to reduce the number of people by 1 and have 12. This way I can weave in the 3-essays in a natural way.
1 x Essay — Life
3 x Famous People
1 x Essay — Liberty
3 x Famous People
1 x Essay — and the Pursuit of Happiness
3 x Famous People
And hence the now complete and ready show title page.
Most tortured souls spend the day-time pretending to be a starving artist and the on prowl for grants and other large sums of money to fulfil their creative vision that no one else wants to pay for. 11-months out of the year this is me. So why did I turn down a grant of $2000?
I live in the-city-I’m-beginning-not-to-hate of Adelaide in Australia, we are a small microcosm of artistic endeavours and other fun things. Once such organisation which strives to bring “streets and public spaces to life through a series of activations, events and projects” is Splash Adelaide. So you can imagine my surprise when they gave me $2000 to put on an event. I had emailed them at 11:56 PM — for a 12:00 AM deadline — a hastily written, rorted with spelling mistakes, and grammatically questionable proposal for a previously aborted event called MAGIC x WINE. They liked the idea, but didn’t like the wine part, aiming for something a little more PG-13. And so started the journey to today where I finally pulled out of the Splash Adelaide Winter season.
The red herring should have been the breaking down of the original vision when they wanted to get rid of the wine — and when the title consists of two elements and one of them being wine, its not a great place to start. I had a meeting with my frequent collaborator and we came up with some other ideas for the evening including — but not limited to: an infinity cube of mirrors, The Adelaide Festival of Magic, taking over a carpark for a magic show, a gala show and dinner, and some other ideas that I can’t surmise in a handful of words.
The literal back of the napkin sketches.
I email Splash Adelaide back with the revised ideas for the event I want to put on, at this stage quite expanded in its scope. And in the series of the most predicable events that could possibly ever happen, they email back with “this is expanded in its scope” and “may not be appropriate for your first large scale event”. Deflated and defeated I put this project on the back burner as I continued working (and wasting time) on other projects.
Fast forward to about three-weeks-ago when aforementioned collaborator sent me a bunch of photos from the Fringe earlier this year. And that night I edited some of the photos and put together a website for one of my shows The Expert at the Card Table — How to Cheat at Cards which you can see at the forever long URL www.TheExpertAtTheCardTable.show. Literally that night I got an email from Splash Adelaide “just checking in, haven’t heard from you in a while”, the stars aligned; I had just finished this website and it’s ready, I email it to them for yet another change in direction. At the same time I had secured a venue for a one-or-twice-a-week show that would run indefinitely and I would use the Splash Adelaide funds to get the ball rolling on this, and this would be my event.
Then it all fell apart. Splash Adelaide emailed back saying this new idea was too different to the original idea I got funded for and among other issues was not right for Splash Adelaide. It is now late-July and the Winter season runs until September, so I bit the bullet and withdrew from the Splash Adelaide Winter season. And this morning I got an email from the venue I had secured for my show saying that they are closing down “a quite immediate decision at the breakpoint of one tenancy and the beginning of another, dealing with a pretty gruesome landlord”.
So now I have no Splash Adelaide fund and the spin off show it helped create is dead in the water. As I write this I received yet another email.
See you in another 6-months for another post-mortem?
To anyone who follows me on Instagram — @jden — have probably already noticed a particular style of my photos, and what often follows is,
Why are you all your Insta photos blurry?
To which I frequently reply, “they’re not blurry, they’re out-of-focus”, one of my friends will always quip “the only thing out-of-focus is your head”. The answer to why I my photos are blurry is numerous and many, some of which I will outline here.
1. I like it.
I like the way out of focus photos look. I’ve always been a fan of bokeh and ever since iPhone could show focus I was always trying to push them to the limits of the focal distances. Early versions of iOS — which was called iPhoneOS then — didn’t allow third party applications (or even first-party applications) take manual control of the camera, and hence you can’t hold the focus. You had to do tricks like focus on your finger up-close and then quickly remove the finger from the frame and take a picture before it autofocuses at infinity.
In what is probably my favourite photo I have ever taken I did this exact technique.
I was an early convert to Instagram, I signed up for the service before it was really a social network, when it was just an app with cool filters. This is a photo a took at Lunar Park in Sydney with iPhone 4 using Instagram, it is my most favourite photo I’ve taken and am still taken a back at when I took it: the 5th of January 2011. And if you were to pin-point when my obsession with out-of-focus photos started, it’s here.
Details are messy, composition is king.
No ones said that — probably — but I believe it. Details are excruciating, the benefits of the ever expanding number of pixels is to quote Oliver Pendergast from Easy A an “accelerating velocity of terminological inexactitude” or to be terse: a lie. You always get told this by seasoned professionals, or by you teacher that it’s not the camera that’s important, it’s not the number of megapixels, it’s your composition that makes a good photo, and a good photographer can take a masterpiece on a dollar-store disposal camera. It took me a long-time to really understand this — I like fancy equipment — but looking back on my photo library there is a trend to reductionism and composition.
I like classical composition (I’m not sure if this is a real term but’ll suffice) in that I’m not doing anything too fancy except for symmetry and the rule-of-thirds. I also shoot all photo exclusively in 16:9 aspect ratio, I just like the cinematic look and forever lover of widescreen anything. This is the part where I now overlay the rule-of-thirds over some of my Instagram photos to illustrate the point.
Technical point: I use Manual by William Wilkinson & Craig Merchant for the manual control over focus, VSCO for editing (mainly film grain) and finally Whiteagram for posting to Instagram with white 16:9 border.
#arch at University of South Australia
Happy Christmas Ron
First Blurry Photo of the Year
#chooselife at Trainspotting Live
“Look more candid” at Mr Goodbar
This is Amy—a friend I made at the art gallery—staring at a blank wall.
Digital photograph transferred to Instagram, 2017.
jden redden, 1994-present. at Art Gallery of New South Wales
hashtag art at Carclew
at National War Memorial (South Australia)
A mirror. #soedgy at Her Majesty’s Theatre
Man dates. at T Bar
🙈 at NOLA Adelaide
versus Rodin. at Art Gallery of South Australia
And now some that are symmetrical.
Street art not in the street. at The Art of Banksy Melbourne
⭐ at Adelaide Railway Station
“art” at Art Gallery of New South Wales
Morbid Curiosities. at Peanut Gallery Adelaide
Trainspotting at Ascot Park Train Station
versus 👫 at Art Gallery of South Australia
3. Transient Memory and Moments
Now for the third reason I like to take out-of-focus photos; it lets me remember moments as hazy recollections of being present. Rather than take a picture of all the art in the gallery or document every curiosity I walk past, I take one or two out-of-focus photos that capture the vibe of the moment. Why take a photo of something that has been photographed a thousand times? Someone always has a better camera than you, the documentarian will always observe and report the details — but I will save the moments in perfectly composed out-of-focus frames that blend with the way my brain will remember it, and then spend time remembering it by being there — presently.
You can see the complete collection and some-other-rare-non-out-of-focus photos on my Instagram @jden.
Time for a project that I can actually start and finish in the one month allocated, alas I am posting this on the 9th day of July — the deadline is still within reach. For the months of July I hope to write a book, but rather than 100% original content it will focus of a tried and tested skill of mine and that is desktop publishing and layout.
The premise of the book is a compilation book of famous last words of some famous people, but will focus on how often these last words are actually not really their last words and hence famous last lies. I am not sure how many of these I will be able to uncover in the complete set of; famous last words, the dispute, and finally the actual last words. But nevertheless this will be nice design challenge and editorial challenge as I write very short bio’s of these famous people to go along with their words. Also an exercise in searching WikiMedia for public domain images of famous (dead) people.
The end goal will be to have this available as a hardcopy book and for sale on Amazon, all independently published. I will be using Blurb to have the book printed and distributed, I’ve not used them before but they look pretty cool.
Unlike most of the projects I have started this year, this one has already been done. Someone has already designed and brought to market (albeit limited) eyewear that is designed from typography.
I first stumbled upon these many years ago probably in 2012 or 2011, and I remember it clearly because I was devastated. There is nothing more crushing than discovering that something thought you came up with in an original and unique way has actually been done before. I’m sure everyone has felt this in some way or another, it is frequent in creative fields, but I also experienced it a lot while completing my degree in mathematics — most of the times it had been done centuries before you were even born.
The collection called TYPE by Japanese eyewear company Oh My Glasses — which is an amazing name for a company — and are for sale only in Japan.
They have some pretty cool marketing.
The collection covers 14 different typefaces and hits most pet favourites including: Helvetica, Futura, Garamond, Din, Times New Roman, and others. They retail for 27,000 JPY which equates to around $300-350 AUD, which is about what you would pay for designer eyewear.
Why are you doing it then?
It can sometimes easy to feel that just because someone has already done the thing you want to do that it is not longer a virgin idea and therefore no longer worth your time. And well this is how I have felt for many years now, I’ve been waiting for them to open up to international delivery so I could get a pair. The glasses are something I want first, and something I want to design second. If I could get a pair the urge for me to do the project would have subsided somewhat. But if I can’t buy it, well then I might as well make it.
Secondarily, I think I could do a better job at the design. The designs to me look somewhat pedestrian, I would struggle to identify many of them to their derivative fonts without cheating. I don’t think they did a really good job at capturing the character of each typeface and converting that to a piece of eyewear.
This is Helvetica Regular, perhaps the most recognised typefaces in the world — one that comes with a cult following — yet I don’t see any of its iconic curves in the glasses. The stroke widths and the relationships between the thick and thin parts bear no resemblance to the regular and idealised glyphs of Helvetica. Two of the most iconic shapes of Helvetica, the leg of the uppercase “R” and the counter of the lowercase “a”, the whitespace in the hole are no where to be found. I’m not sure of the two dots on either side, not quite sure how they tie into the rest of the design.
Some are better than others however. The Din design does slightly better, but still is more like a standard modern piece of eyewear than it is an “inspired by” piece.
A monospace serif typeface like American Typewriter to me seems like the perfect starting point for a piece of eyewear, but again we have a pretty stock-standard and uneventful design. The unique serifs so characteristic of American Typewriter are no where, the closet we get is the nose arch resembles them almost.
Perhaps the most disappointing design is the one based on Times New Roman. The default font for Microsoft Word for years and years and in return it gets a Clubmaster clone. It feels like they ran out of eyewear shapes and needed to have a Clubmaster clone in there somewhere and Times New Roman got drew the short stick. The contrasting thick and thin strokes of Times New Roman that gives it the distinctive and iconic look are wasted on a gold chrome finish. It could be better.
Can I do better?
Believe it or not these are the only real commercial versions of this idea — at least that I can find. I believe there is a market for this outside of Japan and particularly in Australia, but also America and Europe. I want to create a character profile for each font I design for and make sure the most characteristic and iconic shapes are reproduced in the eyewear. I think stroke is going to be the most important aspect, glasses are a fixed form designed for a human face, there is only so much you can change and stroke is the most prominent. It is all well and good for be to critique this product that has actually made it to market and has been on sale for years, and another for me to actually do something better. Wish me luck.
This month I will do something I have wanted to do for a very long time. I will be designing my own glasses, as in spectacles for the face — but they will be modelled on fonts (or typefaces if you want to be fancy).
There has already been at least one of these glasses been designed before, but there are a number of issues with them — that I will go through another time — nonetheless I am excited.
The plan is to 3D print them at some stage and stealth send them to Bailey Nelson (or anyone else that makes eyewear) and get them instores and make a bunch of money and live happily ever after.
This past month has probably been the least productive month of my adult life. A large part of this is my failure to complete this month’s thing. I call it laziness but someone with a degree in psychiatry might want to claim it’s something else. I blame it on my appalling diet of this month, I’ve eaten more processed foods and transfats to last me a decade.
The good news I guess, is the project of this month Poppigami doesn’t have a hard due date until October of this year, so never fret it will be finished—just not now. Also, turns out the legality of creating a non-for-profit is much harder than one might expect.
Among the other things I should have done at sometime this month was to sort out my enrolment for University to finish off two degrees, a Splash Adelaide event, personal website, and national Fringe tour registration. Not a great time to be unmotivated.
We must continue and tomorrow I will announce the next month on the every continuing list of projects that get 90% complete. See you then.