March into the archives : YouTube - X

To conclude my reflection on a decade of using YouTube, I thought I'd share ten of my favourite remixes.

While I've already picked out two of the best, in the songs made from a spank and a screen door, making music from unlikely sources is something I do a lot. YouTube has been useful for showing the sources of the sounds I've manipulated.

Above is a remix of a field recording I made outside Wagga, where the wind distorting the microphone became a kick and a passing bee became a bassline.

Above is a remix of my friend's Trent and Lyndall making coffee, which was part of an installation I had at the Narrandera coffeehouse that no longer exists.

This one demonstrates that you can find music almost anywhere in making a remix of the sound in an empty room.

Here's a song made from a recording of a seat on the main street of Leeton.

A remix of firecrackers.

Music in the key of tea!

Here's a remix of one of my favourite sounds: playgrounds.

Windchimes are already musical, so maybe not such a challenge to make into a song. Sounds good with drums too.

Above is a remix of an apple that was made for an exhibition.

And, finally, a remix of a video I found on YouTube.

In review

When I began writing reviews last century it was largely an opportunity to hear new music. These days I don’t listen to much music and when I do it’s often older material. As much I railed against the narrowing of tastes with age while younger, I’ve grown more comfortable with the idea as I’ve become older.

But this mature perspective has also made me uneasy about writing reviews. Too often they’re a bunch of subjective statements with little relationship to their subject, like Zappa’s observation that writing about music is like dancing about architecture.

Subjectivity is a weird thing to try and be objective about, I think. It makes me appreciate those Postmodern writers who grappled with writing statements, even if they were often so verbose as to be impenetrable.

One example for me was reviewing Everclear’s album “Sparkle and Fade”. Wikipedia notes the band endured comparisons to Nirvana and that was something I focused on in my review because it’s kind of easy to look for comparisons. I later felt somewhat surprised and blindsided when the band gained airplay, as I felt I’d dismissed their album on first listen.

There’s an interesting discussion in John Seabrook’s book “The Song Machine” where he discusses the process of testing new music with listeners. He outlines that a song needs to be heard three times before a thorough opinion can be formed. I wish I knew this when I was writing reviews for print.

When I began writing for Cyclic Defrost I was given an album to review. I didn’t like it but persevered with attempting to objectively describe as I really wanted to write for them and needed to demonstrate this to the editors. As soon as I could I said I wouldn’t write any more album reviews.

Yet here I am attempting to write a review after seeing the backlash from an Iranian musician to Tony Mitchell’s review of the album “Absence”. I really feel for that guy because when I dismissed Everclear, who would go on to get a lot of airplay and sell albums, the band probably never read my review and were irked enough to write a statement in response. The internet makes the world a small place.

The other thing is that the album I’ve been attempting to review is one that I have a relationship with already. When I hear it I am transported to a Scout Hall outside Wagga, where I heard the music being performed. I’m not sure those memories will provide anything of interest to Cyclic’s readers.

Anyway, now that I’ve written out these thoughts, I think can attempt to be objective.

March into the archives : YouTube - 9

There are a few reasons why I like this video. It was a collaboration with poet Derek Motion and also KlanKman, whose track appears I'd remixed and used for the soundtrack. You can see an earlier version of the song in the video below.

Another thing I like is that the video above was projected on Wagga's council building and they've recently commissioned me to produce a new video for a screening later this year, as a result of the workshop with Yandell Walton.

March into the archives : YouTube - 8

I've shot a few videos for local arts group The CAD Factory but I think this one stands out for the variety of performances and the lighting.

March into the archives : YouTube - 7

This video was shot at Modifyre last year, the regional 'Burn' for Queensland. It's accompanied by one of my best dance tracks in recent years and makes me very happy every time I watch it as I had a great time at this event.

March into the archives : YouTube - 6

There are many unlikely remixes on my Bassling YouTube channel but one of the most unlikely yet "sickest" is this dance track made from a screen door and a haiku.

March into the archives : YouTube - 5

I've used YouTube for professional and personal purposes and this post will focus on the former, particularly the accounts that have been created through my marketing communication roles.

During my time working for Charles Sturt University I set up their YouTube channel and it's pleasing to see it has continued to grow.

The television commercial above was produced in my first semester studying TV Production, so it isn't particularly flash but it was great that CSU gave me the opportunity.

While working for the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority I created a YouTube account to share this video that was made to allow author Pat Murray to speak at the launch of her book on wetlands in the mid-catchment area.

When I started working for Leeton Shire Council I created a Leeton Tourism YouTube account to host this video that I made to promote the town.

Then I created Living In Leeton with a view to promote the town as a destination for new residents, rather than tourists. It features my partner Jo.

For a year or so I ran a business called Witch Media and was employed by Leeton Shire Council to create the television commercial above to promote a health message for their Bidgee Binge program. I also produced a number of other videos for the Bidgee Binge theatre projects.

While working for Western Riverina Arts I produced this video to reach a new audience after I spoke at Dream Big in Narrandera.

More recently I have begun working for Griffith's Pioneer Park Museum and an opportunity presented itself to make a video with my son Oscar to see if I could interest a younger audience.

March into the archives : YouTube - 4

This isn't the YouTube video that I'm most proud of but in less than a year it became my popular upload.

Presumably the short length coupled with the salacious subject matter being stated in the title have worked in it's favour with search engines.

Originally I uploaded the video to demonstrate the short sample used to create the song below, but it's clearly found an audience of its own.

March into the archives : YouTube - 3

This video was one of the TV Production assignments completed in first semester and one of the few times when I convinced the group I was assigned to work with to develop an idea.

I'd heard there was a shortage of doctors available to undertake forensic examinations of victims of sexual assault in Wagga. In fact, only one semi-retired doctor was taking calls for this important service. As a result, victims would have to travel for an hour or more to hospitals in neighbouring towns. This was in 2006, hopefully things have improved.

It was a story that I thought deserved more attention. I'm not sure that it works as journalism and the assignment only got a credit, I think. Looking back I can see what I was trying to do and the tone isn't so bad considering the subject matter.

Henry Lawson

Above is was? a track from the Disquiet Junto last week that uses a poem by Henry Lawson. I've seen a couple of references to the writer this week, so I thought I'd bring them together here.

Lawson was well known as a poet when his friends organised for him to be offered a job in Leeton, the town where I live. He arrived in 1916 for a job promoting the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, which was under construction. It was a 'dry' area and his friends hoped Lawson would have a break from his alcoholism.

There's a story that Lawson would travel to nearby Narrandera for a drink, then his horse would walk him home while he slept in a carriage. In one of his letters Lawson described summer as being hot enough that your washing would dry in the time it took to run around the house. As you can see from this picture, he lived in a small house and he shared it with a housekeeper.

In recent years the old cottage has been restored by the local council and is used for much of the year as a residence for visiting doctors. When Lawson lived in it he found time to collect his poems for publication. The picture here was taken in 2010, I think. These days there's a statue of the poet in the front yard that looks a like the figure of Lawson shown in the image above.

March into the archives : YouTube - 2

Continuing my reflection on a decade on YouTube, here's one of the first videos I uploaded. It's also one of my first music videos, when I added a soundtrack to a clip of my mountain-biking outside Wagga Wagga.

I entered this video in one of the Reel Is Real film festivals that Michael Agzarian ran in that town and he was good enough to screen it in 2006, I think. Pretty sure I made the video in 2005, which was the year before I started my TV Production course. So I hadn't any experience in actually editing video yet.

March into the archives : YouTube - 1

According to my oldest YouTube account, today marks my tenth anniversary as a member of the service.

I'm not totally convinced that today is the actual day but it'll do. Dates do change in online accounts, for example my Blogger account says I started in 2007 when I know it was for a university assignment in 2005.

Above is the first video that I can recall watching online, the short film They're Made of Meat. Interestingly, it's since been removed from YouTube but you can find it has since been uploaded again and again -- just click here.

I remember I was studying Television Production at Charles Sturt University and immediately grasped the opportunity presented with a service offering to host video. The reason I was studying this course was a realisation that video would become a persuasive form of marketing. I was working at that time in the Marketing Communications section of the uni and also saw that students of the course had a very high level of satisfaction according to graduate surveys.

YouTube has since become an repository for around 200 videos that I've produced in the last decade, so I'm looking to share ten over the next ten days that reflect on various personal and professional developments.

Peaceful protest made illegal in NSW

I find it unconscionable that the NSW Government led by Mike Baird with the support of The National Party have lifted the fines for peacefully protesting against mining including coal seam gas.

The fine has been raised from $550 to $5500, despite widespread opposition to coal seam gas mining.

At the same time they have reduced the fines for companies who illegally mine from $1.1 million to just $5000.

See what they've done there? It's now the same penalty to protest destroying our environment as it is to be penalised for undertaking the destruction without permission!

The images shown come from social media and are not mine.

Moving along

This week I resigned from one of my jobs. It’s been fun working at Western Riverina Arts and I’ve learned a lot but it’s time to move on.

When I began I thought too much arts funding went to artists with an overblown sense of self-importance. Now I know that the funding available doesn’t go far enough to encourage everyone to experience the joys of creating.

Before I started working at WRA I had a conversation with the previous Regional Arts Development Officer where I argued that more funding should go to fund workshops and less to fund individual artists.

The former RADO argued that individual artists raise the profile of the arts and this encourages everyone but I still think the greatest benefit would be greater participation, rather than just greatness for a few individuals.

Just as most people know that physical exercise is important for their health but probably realise they need to do more; it’s the case that creative exercises are important for mental health.

The small amounts of money doled out to people trying to promote creative activities in our communities do not go far enough.

The arts are important for bringing people together and also for prompting reflection. It develops empathy, for example, the skill of understanding how other people are thinking and feeling.

So often we’re force-fed answers in the form of marketing, when the process of thinking of a question is far more stimulating because there’s usually more than one answer. Harrison Young has nice line about poetry that captures this idea:
Poetry is full of metaphor, and metaphor is where one thing means another, it is saying two things at once. And this to my mind is like reality, there are often two aspects. Or more.

The experience of working to promote a regional arts board has educated me. I’ve gained a better understanding of the hoops one jumps through to access those small amounts of funding. I’ve also helped develop projects and, as someone who throws around lots of ideas, it’s been gratifying to see some of them develop.

My idea that the arts should engage and develop understanding has shaped projects and also encouraged me to run workshops. The knowledge I’ve gained from helping assess CASP applications has led me to successfully apply for CASP funding.

There’s more I want to do to promote the arts and their benefits but I’ve come to realise that there is only so much one can do while working within a regional arts board. There’s a significant issue in managing the perception of self-interest if you’re an artist hoping to secure funding to promote the arts. People don’t see the small amount of money, they see that you’ve gained an opportunity. These people don’t see the hoops that you’ve got to jump through or are unwilling to do so.

So it is time for me to allow others to have the opportunity to gain experience in the arts and to learn to jump through these hoops. I hope they will continue to develop and promote creative activities for everyone in our communities.

20 videos

Today I uploaded my 20th video produced through undertaking the projects promoted by Naviar Records. These include audio responses to haiku, as well as tracks inspired by stories and a song inspired by my suburb Willimbong.

Modern designs inspire

I like this Dethridge-inspired water feature in Leeton's Chelmsford Place almost as much as I like the Walter Burley Griffin-inspired water tower behind it.

John Stewart Dethridge designed the water wheel to measure the flow to irrigated farms. The design was widely used around the world as a result of his refusal to patent the invention. These days a civil servant might not get the choice but I think it's inspiring that he wanted it to be used, rather than attempt to make money. This is an attitude I take toward my creative endeavours in sound recording, with my work made available under a Creative Commons licence.

Walter Burley Griffin is famous for winning the competition to design Canberra. Less known is that he left before Canberra was completed and only saw a memorial built to his designs in the Australian national capital.

During his time here Griffin undertook other work, including the designs for Leeton and Griffith in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. The water tower shown at the top of this post was built in the 1970s but retains the design Griffin developed for the two towers that lie behind it. He thought they would form a gateway to the town, like a walled medieval village.

Griffin also added features to Leeton including a bandstand, which I like to think shows the value he placed on cultural activities like live music, as well as park that is like the water towers in being kinda small for contemporary times. I remixed it as part of my project for the centenary of Leeton, see below.

Google News promotes gambling

I've observed that Google's generated news service sometimes goes wrong, like this satire last year that was promoted as actual news.

This morning I noticed the site was promoting as news a sponsored piece for a gambling app.

I think this is significant as many jobs have been lost in media organisations to "cost-cutting" and many more will be lost as artificial intelligence compiles news reports from available data. With it will go editorial judgment and audiences will lose respect for the content as quality suffers.

50 videos

Just noticed that this weekend I've reached the milestone of producing my 50th video as a result of Disquiet Junto projects.

I've lost track of how many tracks I've produced, but at last count it was over 120 recordings. There's a bit about how much I love the Juntos -- and why -- here.

Hi-fi tiki guy

I like this drawing on DJ Food's blog.

I think it's by Derek Yaniger.

Mad lowers its price

Ha ha.

Jailbait clickbait

Looking at Google News this morning and I was confronted with an image I thought was risque, only to click-through and find it was more tasteful than I'd thought.

Feel like I've got a dirty mind now.

Reflecting light

The piece below is the third and final piece in a series prompted by ABC Open. (Here are the first and second parts.)

It picks up on an earlier post here because I liked the idea of shifting focus from the physical landscape to an emotional one, in part for the idea from the road movie genre of using travel as a metaphor for personal change; mostly as I'm seeing so much anxiety among friends at the moment. It's been fascinating to have the observation of my own state reaffirmed by those around me.

Anyway, here's the piece:

The days have started to shorten but the bite hasn’t softened in the sunshine.

As the sun lowers to the north and rises later, I can see the shadow of my car stretch out in front at times as I drive from Leeton to Griffith. Last week the light was at an angle that revealed a police car tucked away in the boree wattle by the side of the road. The red and blue of their slim rooftop lights twinkled from about a kilometre away.

In paddocks by the side of the road I see corn drying on stalks, as well as rice looking lush green, and lots of oranges on trees. The wine grapes have been picked early this year, and early in the day too. On those mornings there was a trail of grape leaves scattered along the road leading to the wineries like a bread crumb trail from a fairy tale.

My partner lamented last week how summer used to build to blazing heat, but now the cooking starts on the long weekend in October and eases around Easter. I hope she’s right as Easter is early this year.

As the light changes I notice internal changes. There’s an increased feeling of anxiousness. I start spending more time on shopping websites and remind myself that I observed this trend toward compulsive spending last year. I tell myself that I don’t really need another synthesiser that will accumulate dust under my bed.

It really is bizarre how the rituals transplanted from the northern hemisphere are inverted in the south. We antipodeans celebrate the resurrection of our son god as the sun diminishes. The winter solstice lacks the festivity of Christmas, a time when gathering and expressing good will would be a benefit. I realise my partners’ family must’ve come to this conclusion long ago, as I remember their annual winter bonfire and the friends who I often only see on that night each year.

I want to share these observations with friends on Facebook but reconsider. There are studies that suggest our emphatic natures will see people reflect on my feelings of morbidity and mild stress with their own.

And so, as I start reflecting on how disconnected I feel from the seasons, I also start to feel disconnected from many of my people. It’s further reminder of the physical distances between us and the way that, over the years, our lives have grown in different directions.

Then, as if to pinch myself, I remember the term seasonal attitude disorder. It’s cute the way the acronym encapsulates a sense of its effect. I also think of that term I’m seeing more often among my friends with a New Age bent, and that’s ‘light worker’.

Clearly I need to focus on bringing my own light into these looming shadows or winter will be a drag. In the meantime I remind myself to be grateful to see light twinkle back at me from the eyes of my partner and children. The time I have with them is passing with the seasons and it’s wonderful to see them grow.