Wednesday, January 24, 2018

My P52 Update

I'm going to provide notes on how my personal attempt at executing the long-form creative project I outlined here is going, partly for my own benefit, and partly because I suppose it might benefit someone reading along. I know, I know, I have to write up the second half, as well. I figure I have about five months!

It's been a slightly crazy month here in Bellingham, so I feel like that whole "just get out and push the button" idea has not gone that well, but when I looked over the pictures I've taken I see more than I expected. This week (week 4) I am supposed to organize the raw material into some rough themes and ideas, and it turns out that among the something like 200 frames I have shot I've got quite a few themes.

Lessons learned:

The first one is pretty obvious once you jump in. Don't try to shoot entire projects. Just make some notes. If you think "trees" might make a good theme, shoot a few trees and try some things out, then move on. Don't try to finish the project, don't really even try to flesh it out. The trees are going to change over the year, you'll get back to them if it's the right thing to do.

The second one, only becoming obvious to me now, is that you might not wind up with a simple list of themes. It might be more of a mesh, a network of overlapping ideas.

In my case I have some things like:
  • Urban environment "still life" or "design" thing.
  • Banal architectural details.
  • Alleys (typology?)

The first I visualize as a kind of Miksang minimalist thing but focusing on the built environment. The second overlaps with that a lot, but focuses on tiny architectural details, grates, faucets, gas meters. The stuff no architect ever wins an award for. The last is straight-down-the-alley shots, one after the other. Bellingham's core was built with alleys through every block, so there's a lot of material, and I find a certain fascination with them.

Worth noting as an aside, these are all just visual themes, not actual concepts to build a project around. I can smell the general scent of some ideas around here someplace, but as yet they're not really present. This is another aspect of the Year Long Plan that I think I left out, that transition from motif to concept.

Looking just these three over (and I have a list of 13 items in my notes) there are a bunch of ways these could be combined. Each one is probably capable of being made a project in its own right, but every pairing also makes sense, as does all three together. To say nothing of the fact that any combination or single one could serve as a jumping off point to half a dozen other projects.

As a result, what I will actually expend my creative energy on this week is mapping these things out, and carving out a half dozen things which are not actually the themes I shot, but rather combinations of those themes together with some notion of where one might go from there. I might select the same three themes, mash them together, and invent 6 different ways to go from them. I might select 6 single themes, and spin out one possible path forward from each.

I don't know! But I do see immediately that it's not as simple as "cull your themes down a bit, and focus them."

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