Erin Clarke

So very much time has elapsed since my last entry, though I had been working on something:

“Last edited by Erin Clarke on 27 December, 2011 at 09:48”

Posted a year to the day later.

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Last month I attended three offerings of AGO artist-in-residence Paul Butler’s Post-Post-Graduate Studies series:

‘What is Art?’ – a panel discussion with Ian Carr-Harris, Yvonne Lammerich, Tara Downs. Both Paul Butler and curator Steven Loft, who were scheduled to be on the panel, were unable to be present.

I took notes, though the most resonant bits continue to reverberate in my thoughts without reference to my little Moleskine.

I summarized the heart (or, at least, what thrilled *my* heart and tickled *my* neurons) of the ‘What is art?’ discussion in a FaceBook comment:

“Well, there’s no single answer, of course, but Ian Carr-Harris had a lovely distilled nugget of abstraction that could apply to the various things people think art is: that recognition is key, where recognition is a mode of connection and art is a connective tissue; that art-making is an attempt to record a recognition and art is a reflection of what the artist recognizes.”

Mixed metaphors notwithstanding, that about sums it up.

There were both encouraging and dismaying aspects of ‘Selling Art without Selling Out’ – a presentation by painter John Hartman and art collector Doug Steiner, who had to cancel due to a family emergency. Now I’ll [de|re]fer to my notes…

Excerpt of my notes from the AGO's Post-Post-Graduate Studies lecture series, with sketches of John Hartman, Paul Butler and my cell phone.

Look! Permission to be goofy! Not only that, following the awkwardness will bring you closer to your own artistic voice! Jubilation and glee (sarcasm-free, serious-ly)! Then there’s that whole “getting into galleries & museums” thing…

‘Artists are Different’ by Dr. Jeanne Randolph was an engaging, entertaining and rather validating experience…

…about which I meant to say much more a year ago, likely even including another scanned image of my notes. But now, I just want to release this long-abandoned incomplete blog post!

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It’s been a long time coming, it’s a little late arriving (in time, that is, for the 30th anniversary of the event), and I’ve been even slower to announce it, but here it is:

Three Thousand and Thirteen front cover

Three Thousand and Thirteen is a 7×7 hard cover (with glossy dust jacket!), full colour photo book.

Artist Erin Clarke revisits various sites of the 1981 Toronto Bath House Riots, retracing the path of her involvement and weaving a personal narrative with the unfolding of this momentous event in Canadian sexual politics.

“Erin Clarke’s photography is sharp and playful, and the accompanying text – a kind of prosetry – defies clear categorization. Clarke is thoughtful and brave in her excavation of personal and public queer histories. ‘Three Thousand and Thirteen’ shows art and imagination as integral parts of a larger movement towards personal and political liberation.”

Elizabeth Ruth, author of Smoke

Preview and buy Three Thousand and Thirteen here:

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2809400

Nothing more exciting than the film work I did in Costa Rica has happened since I last posted, though I did do post-production preparations (video transfer, audio syncing, and data consolidation) over the following few months.

Since then I
– have been working The Day Job™
– visited my family in Hawai’i last March, accompanied by a good friend
– brought home two new feline friends, Murphy in March, and Mickey in September
– participated in the 2011 World-Changing Writing Workshop
– have been learning to play ice hockey with my sister
– sent my car to the scrap yard
– have applied for various jobs
– halted my caffeine intake (none since 22 September) and re-established more healthful eating habits
– continue to struggle with my creative work, whether making time for it, wrestling with some aspect of the work itself, or finding ways to fund its development and production

It is every independent artist’s juggling act, at least in the early years of establishing oneself, to single-handedly manage the time and finances required not only to produce good work, but to send it out into the world, while also keeping oneself housed, clothed and fed. In this blogging gap I have also been doing core reflective work, identifying my values and articulating a mission statement for myself and my art, which is necessary to guide the decisions I make.

Toward the end of summer, I entered into a mutually supportive arrangement with a good friend (the same good friend who came to Hawai’i) in which we have weekly check-ins (on the phone at first, now by video chat) to discuss our goals, plans and related progress or challenges. I’m enormously grateful for this process because, as I have come to understand more deeply through it, I am easily distracted from my truer path in certain consistent ways, which has made my independent artist juggling act that much harder to perform. Having a friendly accountability partner helps me re-focus before I get too far off track, and choose more consciously which items to keep in motion and what to let go.

When I returned from the Costa Rica film gig (3 full weeks of 12-hour days), I hit the ground running, straight back to The Day Job™, until I collapsed in an exhausted heap during my one-week (unpaid!) winter vacation. Fortunately, I didn’t get sick, but I also didn’t work on any of the many projects I’d intended to tackle because I spent so much time lounging, relaxing, reading and hanging out with friends and family.

Fast-forward (not very far) to the New Year, when I became determined to get a grip on the sprawling, tangled mass of tasks involved in establishing my Independent Artist Career™ (a nice complement to The Day Job™, though I hope the former will render the latter unnecessary sooner rather than later) and realized that I seriously needed help sorting out all the Things-To-Do flotsam swirling about my thoughts.

Having found useful software that greatly facilitated my screen writing last year (Scrivener), I began looking for project management tools and soon happened across OmniFocus (sorry Windows folks, it’s a Mac-only app).

Long story short: I am now using OmniFocus because, not far into the free trial period, it neutralized the near-constant feeling I had of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work I have to do on my own. Reflecting on it now, I’m amazed I got as much done as I had up to that point without it.

OmniFocus, being based on its method, connected me to a book called Getting Things Done, which has been around for awhile, but which hadn’t appeared on my horizon until I became desperate enough to go looking. I generally think of myself as an organized person, a natural-born sorter, even, but living an art-committed life* means creating my own business structures and managing my own work-flow in a way I haven’t done before.

Because managing work-flow at my computer is only one aspect of better organizing my work, I bought the book to learn more about extending the GTD method to the physical aspects of my work (office space, materials and equipment). In browsing online for said book, I happened across another book that addressed a pressing need at this transitional wobble of my erratic career trajectory (and which struck a chord in the things-I’ve-struggled-with-for-a-long-time department): my finances.

I’m pretty skeptical of wealth-building books, not to mention critical of many aspects of the neo-liberal capitalist society of which I am part, but instead of a get-rich-quick formula or instruction on how to claw one’s way up the corporate ladder Barbara Stanny’s Overcoming Underearning identifies self-defeating behaviour in one’s work patterns that is connected to underlying self-worth issues, and addresses both the inner (emotional) and the outer (practical) work needed to effect lasting change in one’s money matters. So I bought it, too, along with Getting Thing Done, with a gift card I got from mum for Christmas, and now I’m working through both.

* This is a term Eric Maisel uses in his book Creativity for Life

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here at Casa Elsa (between Quepos and Manuel Antonio) a week already. Along with the other crew, I arrived last Monday amid heavy rain that drenched the region for five days, causing sink holes, mud- and land-slides, road and bridge wash-outs, and which forced many central valley and Pacific coast residents out of their homes. Fortunately, we remained unharmed and did what could be done indoors to prepare. I didn’t get much beyond test recordings, however, as the weather made it difficult to gather any environmental sound other than that of heavy rain fall (and the rushing water of run-off). Highlights of the week were the mama three-toed sloth, baby clinging underside, and the various squirrel and capuchin monkeys that come to visit.

When the sun finally prevailed yesterday, we ventured out to check some other locations, a couple of which were quite spectacular. I spent today labeling and packing all the audio gear, which is housed in our lesser-humidity zone (AKA “the bodega”) along with other important equipment (to protect it from the mold that has appeared on various articles of clothing and baggage). In addition to location sound I’m also managing both audio and visual media, so I prepared various external hard drives and made copious notes about what’s going where and how it will be organized and named.

The cast arrived this evening and is settling in. I’m going over the script making notes about extra audio needed for each scene (ambient, foley). Soon we’ll all be caught up in a whirlwind shooting schedule.

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In just over two days I’ll be boarding a plane for Costa Rica. I’ve checked off many an item on my To Do list, but a few things have been added and there’s still more to get done. Among other things, I tested the boom kit rented from Viztek and the Roland R-44 portable field recorder. On Tuesday I bought a new battery and RAM for my laptop. Today I also picked myself up a new 8GB USB flash drive and 4GB SD card for my still camera (a Pentax K10D that I’m bringing to shoot production stills with when I get a chance). I’m glad I’ll have a week before the actors arrive in which to further familiarize myself with new tools (while recording a breadth of specific location sounds).

Over the last few weeks I’ve been preparing for a month-long stint doing location sound for an independent feature film that will be shot in Costa Rica. This has involved familiarizing myself with the recording device, a Marantz PMD661, and several different mics.

While I’ve had various bits of training and experience in sound recording and mixing, it is not my most comfortable area of technical knowledge, so I’ve also been reading a bit, from my own library (Rabiger’s book ‘Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics‘ and Ascher & Pincus’ ‘Filmmaker’s Handbook‘) and from a few online resources, such as FilmSound.org, where I found this inspiring article ‘On Being Creative‘ by Randy Thom.

From Twitter, Erin Clarke

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