Interview with an Artist's Model

Woody is a professional, nude artist's model who works exclusively in my studio. With finely, chiselled features and a natural talent for not speaking and remaining motionless I thought it was time to ask the tough questions...

TET: So how did you get the name 'Woody'?
Woody: In a spontaneous lack of creativity, you gave me that name knowing full well that the opportunities for inuendo would make this interview so much easier to write.

TET: Hmmm...well it seemed like a good idea at the time but now I'm not so sure. How is life as a eunuch?
Woody: Would you get your head out from between my legs and ask some real questions!

TET: Okay...What's it like being an artist's model?
Woody: It's actually quite demanding. I have my limbs twisted every which way and then I have to hold a pose sometimes for hours, even days.

TET: Would you compare it to a kind of performance?
Woody: I guess, in a way. You do have to 'feel' the pose in order to bring life to it.
TET: Have you ever given a wooden performance?
Woody: ...!
TET: Sorry - couldn't resist.

TET: Obviously most of your work is nude work, are you comfortable exposing your body?
Woody: I'm made of wood with ambiguous sexuallity what is there to cover up? Actually I'd feel a little weird if you started putting clothes on me...next thing we'd be having tea parties with your collection of stuffed toys and GI Joes...
TET: *coughing* um...well I don't think we'd be having tea parties...

TET: What do you do when you're not modelling?
Woody: Mostly I just sit around doing not much of anything.
TET: Deadwood?
Woody: Twit!

TET: Talk about wood turning!

....okay, so obviously this is a one joke idea dragged out into some really corny humour but at least I had fun creating the photos and I got to tell my joke. Normal, high quality blog writing will resume as soon as possible....do not adjust your connection!

Broadband, YouTube, a New Laptop and Film Making.

Prior to getting broadband internet access I, like many of you, only had dialup internet and for the most part was happy with it. I never experienced the speed of broadband until the day our house switched to it. I could never have imagined just how much more the internet had to offer and the possibilities that would arise from that simple change.

I thought that because I didn't download a lot of video that I didn't really need broadband. I now realise that I didn't download a lot of video because I didn't have broadband.

Discovering YouTube has been like having someone finally stop choking you so you can really enjoy a breath of fresh air. Just browsing the video clips is better than watching real free to air television.

Many of the clips are made by average, everyday people who's best chance of ever getting on TV would be as part of a studio audience. Some people star in their own films while others just upload snippets of their lives. Maybe it was something stupid they happened to catch on a mobile phone camera or maybe it was something serious like a missile attack in Lebanon.

Ages span the generations with young and old alike uploading videos. I know of one senior citizen who is retelling his life experiences from world war II. His channel on YouTube is one of the most subscribed with comments and feedback from all ages who are eager to hear what he has to say. He is overwhelmed and emotional knowing that so many people feel that his story is important.

For me, finally getting a new laptop with enough power to record video has been a real boost for my creativity. If 'convergence' is the technology buzzword of the moment then convergence has finally happened for me. I've never been just one kind of artist, because of that, film making has always been something I'd like to do. I've been involved in at least two film making courses but never could take them further because I couldn't really afford the equipment. Now I can because I have broadband, YouTube, a New Laptop, a web cam, a digital camera, a microphone and, most importantly, editing software that can bring everything together into a movie.

I can be a writer, director, producer and even star of my own films. Catching up with technology has opened up a new channel of my creativity that has been stifled for so long. Whilst my early films will probably be mostly about me I will eventually stop navel gazing and make films that have a story or something like that.

I look forward to creating films that I hope you will enjoy.

I can paint cats...

This new video will no doubt be a bit controversial so let me say from the outset, I do like good abstract expressionist art. In fact I am in awe of artists who can create work in this genre that holds my attention.

Also, if you're not familiar with my art, you need to know that I have painted more pictures of stylised cats than any other animal.

What frustrates me to no end is abstract expressionist artists who
compare my art to that of a skilled crafts person and imply that I am not a real artist. What they mean is that I have learnt how to draw and paint much like a craft person learns how to turn wood or knit a jumper. My work lacks true expression and does not reveal my inner being in the way abstract expressionist, non-representational artwork does.

In doing so they imply that their art is a higher art than mine. Total rubbish.

Abstract Expressionism is like every other art form. It can be learned. The more you practice the better you get. The more you learn to tap into your emotional self the more you'll be able to express yourself through non representational art. My point being, abstract expressionist artists are no different from me and no different from wood turners and knitters.

Great crafts people put a lot of emotion into their work. As do I put a lot of emotion into my work. I'm not trying to impress people by saying (in my case) look how well I can paint cats. In my case, just like the expressionist, I'm hoping my work might provoke an emotional response such as a smile, empathy, sadness or any number of emotions depending on the juxta position of my characters and subject matter.

That said, the next time an abstract expressionist stares down their nose at what I do I'd just like to remind them that children, before they learn how to represent their world through art, are natural abstract expressionists. They paint using colours and marks based on what they feel like doing in the moment - and they didn't spend any time learning how to do that. They don't naturally paint cats that look anything like my cats and they can't knit jumpers or turn wood either!

Ebooks, battery life, and the humble stack of paper.

The ebook, or electronic book, has not quite caught on as a cool, mass consumer product largely because of the medium used to deliver it. Namely the computer. Even the smallest of laptop computers don't quite have the convenience of that humble stack of paper, glued or stitched down one side, more commonly referred to as a regular 'book'.

Regular books come in all shapes and sizes, the most convenient of which is known as the 'paperback'. Paperbacks are just the right size to read without straining the eyes and are just small enough to take up hardly any room in a bag, briefcase or maybe even a large coat pocket. Not with standing their use as 'brain food' their durability knows no bounds. They are still readable even after being used to prop up a wobbly table or having been thrown at an annoying colleagues head (not that this happens often but it happens).

Laptops have the annoying habit of being bulky and not very hard wearing at all. Even if your laptop computer is easy to get out on the bus there is still the issues of battery life and finding room to read standing because there are no seats left at rush hour. For those without laptops well, need I mention how unportable the humble desktop computer is. Has power cord, doesn't travel more than a few feet.

Rumor has it that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, is banking that people will want to read ebooks on their next generation video ipods. This could make ebooks cool but seriously, even on an ipod with a larger screen size they're missing the point. You can't go too far away from a power source for too long with an ipod. Even with the one or two dedicated ebook readers that do exist you can bet your life the battery will be flat as you struggle to prioritise charging your mobile phone, laptop, ipod, psp or ebook reader.

An ebook can't emulate the satisfaction of completing a lengthy tome like 'War and Peace'. You know that book is heavy going - literally. You can see how much you've read and that you're making real progress if you're still reading a third of the way into it. There is no better feeling than the visual satisfaction of knowing you've read a book that thick from first to last page.

The problem with ebooks is, unlike music and film, words on paper is the one medium that isn't improved by being reproduced in digital format. Granted you can enhance the text with hyperlinks and search functions and even make parts interactive but once you do that...well...it's no longer a book really. It's more like a web site.

The book is the one form of communication that doesn't require any additional hardware to enjoy. You don't need to be shown how to make a book work and you don't need to remember a password to open it. A book isn't limited to one operating system. You can read a book any way you want, at any speed. You can skip words, pages or even start at the end. You can just look at the pictures or flip through the pages to get a general feel for what's inside.

Most importantly...books are affordable. Even if you don't buy new books there are hundreds of interesting books in second hand stores, garage sales and flee markets. Even the homeless can afford to read books. No power points required. No reader device needed.

It's simple and easy to understand how a book works and the content can be as simple or as complex as your tastes desire. Nothing is nearly quite so impressive as a collection of books in your own personal library. Books do not get more impressive when you can fit 50,000 of them onto a machine the size of a matchbox. Books hold fond memories for people. Many people describe their perfect day as settling down with a good book.

Perhaps I'm beginning to ramble but there is a reason why people don't read long tracts of text on a web site. Reading on a screen is not fun or easy on the eye. Screens require movement and colour to hold our attention. That's what we're accustomed to. Ebooks require you to look at a static screen for extended periods. Much longer than it takes to read a web site.

Clearly ebooks have quite a way to go before they catch on.

Mental Poison

I am a passive control freak. Which means that I organize my life just the way I like it and I get really annoyed when someone else comes along with their way of how things should be done. Yet I won't do anything about it. Instead I'll let these little annoyances fester in my head, building up with successive annoyances until my thoughts are circling around the culprits imagining everything I'd like to do to them for bringing chaos to my world. Mental poison.

A recent example of the kind of annoyance I'm talking about was highlighted in an argument I watched on an episode of 'Australian Big Brother 6' between contestants Camilla and Darren. Camilla had cut herself some pieces of bread and Darren was incensed that she'd cut slices from the new loaf instead of cutting them from an already started, existing loaf.

Now, obviously, I fall on Darren's side of the argument. Who in their right mind starts a new loaf of bread when a previous loaf is still to be finished? However Camilla's answer to all of Darren's assertations on the evils of starting the new loaf was "It's bread!". She was right, end of discussion. "It's bread!"

Darren stewed on this for hours...possibly even days...I'm not sure but if he's anything like me - it was days.

In a way they were both right. A loaf of bread will stay fresher on the inside if you don't cut it. Therefore it will store for a little longer whilst you finish the previous loaf - which is drying up at a speeder rate due to having been cut (see I understand Darren completely). However, at the end of the day, it's bread. The universe will not cave in on its self if per chance somebody should start the new loaf early. Annoying to some? Yes. Worth stewing over for hours? No. Mental Poison.

This kind of thing happens to me all the time except I don't confront the person, I go straight to the quietly annoyed stage. I won't stew over it for hours but I do make a mental note that so-and-so hasn't stacked their dirty dish on the sink, yet again. They've just placed it anywhere and, look there's still at least a mouthful of food on it. They could've at least scraped that off into the bin.

I think this way about dishes because I wash dishes a lot in our house. Stacking dishes neatly in an ordered way makes it seem like there is less dishes to be done and thus not such a big job. As opposed to other people's houses where they just place dirty dishes on the sink one on top of the other, wherever they can find a place that the thing will balance without crashing to the floor. I know, that if you stacked these dishes neatly, they'd take up at least one third of the space they currently take up.

Food is one of the main things that annoys me. Just like the bread issue, in my house we have a lot of food items that people will start off the new bottle, packet, jar or container of when there is still, clearly, enough left in the previous bottle, packet, jar or container for at least another full serving. Once the new item has been started they won't touch the old one. It just goes to waste and gets thrown out. Why do they do that? Don't they know there are starving people in developing countries that wouldn't dream of wasting food like that? Just finish off the old one first would you! Mental poison.

When I go grocery shopping, I'm the kind of person that likes to organize how things are placed in the trolley. Cold stuff together. Boxes together. Cans together. Drink bottles and other heavy items together. Fresh vegetables together. Cleaning fluid and laundry items together. I do this because firstly more things will fit in the trolley and secondly because when I transfer stuff through the checkout the operator will pack things roughly how I have them ordered - without me needing to say anything. Other people don't do this, including my partner. It doesn't annoy me as much but if people only knew what I know about organizing their shopping trolley how much better their lives could be. Mental Poison.

When you think about it...people who don't stack dishes still get their dishes washed. None of that food going to waste will ever feed some starving child in a developing nation and people who don't organize their groceries in their shopping trolley still get through the check out in about the same amount of time. The difference is all these people have done less thinking and been less concerned about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things that is their life.

Being a passive control freak is bad for your mental health (in case you hadn't understood the term 'mental poison'). I could complain about every little thing and impose my way of doing things on everyone else but how much fun would I be to live with? Plus that would make me an aggressive control freak...which I'm not (I did mention the 'passive' bit right?).

No matter how much you want things to be done your way, you can't control every other person. You have to let go of the little annoyances for the sake of your own health or they start to consume you (see my blog article - The Black Dog with Fire Eyes). Free up your mind from mental poison and use your time to think about stuff that really matters.

In life some things are 'just bread'.

- TET
August 6, 2006

My first Vlog entry is so interesting!

In the spirit of my past blog entires such as 'My first blog entry is more interesting than yours' and 'The infamous second blog entry' I felt it only fitting that my first video blog entry should be equally lame.

That way things can almost certainly get better from here on in. Enjoy (or not) - you'll be back I'm sure!

Just press the 'play' button to view the video. Not sure what it's like on dialup but works good on broadband.

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