Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Blue Butterfly and MySpace review

To continue the celebration of a year with myspace I am spending the day with my friends updating mylist, reviewing the top listed, rediscovery and remembering. I set to work around 10am and fished the task and first writings of notes between 4 and 5 pm and only then considered what was on television for the rest of the day and noticed that a film was being shown where its trailer provoked interest. The Blue Butterfly is a 2004 Canadian film based on a true event where in 1987 a boy with an incurable tumour was taken into the rain forest to fulfil a dream of seeing and capturing a blue butterfly and where the true life event is reported to have hand a miraculous outcome. The film uses this event to create a drama against magnificent wild life photography and to explore the feelings and issues which a ten year old faces in that situation, his widowed mother and the specialist hired to help the boy achieve his ambition. The subject of a dying young child will be upsetting to children, or those who have experienced the untimely death of a loved one, although the way he film ends, plus the written note as to what happened to the boy creates a feel good and inspiring mood and merited being shown on the big screen rather than on a Satellite TV channel.

My MySpace adventure began by accident a year ago as I went to see Leone Lewis as part of the X Factor Tour and on looking up the backgrounds and competition information on the official site I found that Ben Mills mentioned myspace and this led to exploring myspace and immediately recognising it met a number of personal needs and fitted into my working project now renamed 100.75. Over five years before I investigated the possibility of creating my own site but concluded I had to go to the expense of having one designed for me to meet planned requirements before I had fully worked out the project and got underway. I was in danger of putting the cart before the horse. Then as my project got underway and circumstances changed I lost the confidence in put my central contention into practice that to be considered a contemporary artist the way one worked had to be open to public scrutiny on the basis that I lived at a time when everything we do and say can be viewed by anyone, anywhere, anytime with the technology. While the structure of Myspace does not enable the kind of comprehensive work site desirable it has provided several unexpected opportunities and experiences.

The traditional approach to offering oneself is through what creative work one is good at, writing, painting, music, dance and to write an autobiography if one is successful in ones life time or have a biography written towards the ends of days or after them. This has always seemed unsatisfactory to me because I am interested in the minutiae of lives, for example not just the kind of books, films music someone has been interested in, but what books what music, what films and which over a life will amount to hundreds and thousands of pages of lists, depending on the kinds of records kept, or the extent of personal collections. Then there are the pictures and films. The there are the clothes, the possessions, and the memories of food and meals, places lived and places visited as well as what they did and what they accomplished, what they thought and their interests in addition to the creative work in question. My interests have been much wider than creative people, travellers, sporting personalities, politicians, inventors and discoverers, but always the same approach. Myspace provides the framework for this through the profile, the pictures especially now that the number uploaded has developed included multiple loadings, the inclusion of sound and vision and the writing, as well as feedback and communication on matters of common interest. It also provides the opportunity to restrict information to as much or as little as one wishes. However when I first joined it was a case of moving step by step, devoting sufficient time and attention to produce something which reflected me and my project, accepting the technical help available without being preoccupied by it. I wholehearted reject that strand of concept and installation art where the artist delegates the technical making of the work to others without understanding and being able to control the technology, as without the latter such individuals are creative thinkers and creative thinking can become an art form but I cannot accept that this also applies to those whose work is fundamentally visual or audio.

The unexpected discovery of myspace was friends and the comprehensive searchable database. There are 339000 listings under contemporary artists, 374000 under concept artists and 51600 under installation artists.

After the ubiquitous Tom, my first friend was a singer, musician and composer who finished third in the X factor Ben Mills who sounds like Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker, but is also an excellent musician and composer. I planned top attend his concert at the Newcastle City Hall

I was due to attend his concert in late summer at the Newcastle City Hall and then suddenly the tour was cancelled along with the proposed single. I thought the choice of single was wrong and of those featured on myspace 'Don't miss a thing' seemed to me better. The album the first of a signing for five reached third spot in the first week. I was then delighted to find that he was appearing at the headline group in one of the five afternoon free concerts over weekends in South Shields in July. Because there were a number of performers his session were restricted by time and before then the success of the afternoon among the family audience was the female group who sings the Sheila's Wheels Car Insurance commercial. The gig is a difficult one with a very mixed audience, many of whom come into the park stop for a while and then continue with walking the sea front, going for an ice cream or cup of tea, taking the younger children to the playgrounds and amusements, across into the adjacent park for a ride on the train, or on the lake or just getting close to the swans. The weather is also a factor. Many artists, especially those used to adoring and attentive audiences find the atmosphere difficult and having attended the shows over the past two years, it is clear that there are two kinds of performers. Those that come and give 100% whatever the day and the crowd and those who come and deliver what they have been paid for and no more, sometimes less. One felt Ben and his band were half hearted, comments about coming to Newcastle did to help, or having just woken up from having been asleep, and not sure where he was and then starting do one number when band decided they were doing something else disappointed the majority including me. I looked again at his myspace site and the band site and also on Wikipedia and there was no indication of new work, or any live appearance. Wikipedia mentioned that last summer he had appeared on a specialist TV medical programme in which he is reported to have admitted to having developed a serious cocaine habit over a four year period before the X Factor opportunity.

I break off to watch a repeat of six sixes hit by Durham's Paul Collingwood as England in the fourth on day game in New Zealand to achieve the quickest fifty by an Englishman in this type of game. It was a case of brilliant batting and brainless bowling to quote one commentator. It was also an innings in which for the first time five members of the team scored forty runs or more and with four reaching over 50. There were thirty hits for four and ten hits for six in the total of 340 for 6 on a perfect wicket on a perfect day on the pacific coast at Napier, rebuilt in the art deco style after an earthquake in the 1930's.

Originally I decided to build 101 friends whose profile reflected aspects of my life and then something happened which I did not anticipate, I received requests, the majority from singers, musicians and groups, but also a significant number of interesting individuals, a few of whom have maintained contact. Of the 339 listed Friends 180 accepted from searching, sometimes listed as the friends of friends. One interesting aspects is that some friends come and go with some sixty departing either because they have left myspace or left me, the latter is not surprising given what I have written from time to time is likely to have alienated vast chunks for committed interest groups as well as individuals. It would be a misrepresentation to say that I have always alienated friends as well as foes throughout my life, as there have bee three periods, the first between 1959 and 1963, then between 1964 and 1971, and then again between 1985 and 1991 when making genuine friends and as part of my political and work interests was successful, but as the end self aware existence draws closer I have become more concerned with consistency and the truth and my own interests than those of others. I almost daily wish that this was not so as much as expressing gratitude for the opportunities that also now have opened for me.

The most surprising aspect of the Myspace experience is that friends and passers read and continue to read the writing as for the previous 18 months before Myspace I had scribbled notes two or three times a day on an AOL blog site, with what now seems impossible 151 postings in June 2005 and with no indication that anyone had been read any of them, or looked at the daily postings of pictures, sometimes as many as 300 - some 900 writings and abut 50000 photos of the 200000 photos then taken. The lack of reaction did not matter because what I am doing I am doing for me. It is an esoteric activity.

That others are reading the writings and, looking at the pictures on a regular basis, sometimes commenting, is much appreciated, especially as it reminds of the need to try and to ensure that what I say does not intentionally affect others in an adverse way. Technically there have been some 328 posts in the year but only 286 are original as the others are correct. Until the 19th there have been 7259 viewings which works out an average of 25 a writing which is amazing.

Selecting a top list of friends has been a constant problem given that I have wanted to reflect the diverse nature of friends and interests, my work and my life, to remain loyal to those who were there at the beginning and to include those whole life and work I would like to draw attention to the casual visitor from time to time having recently celebrated over 3000 viewings of the profile.

The one area where I have not achieved intentions is the creation of volumes of 101.75 photos and this is my priority over the coming weeks, to finish as many of those that have been commenced as possible as well as those from Rivera 2007 which are not already included in the photos of South Shields and Sunderland. Both activities require time which is not the priority for the early part of the week. I had also hoped to add a total of 101 videos, although given the time some profiles take to load, I want to avoid a similar situation but the present selection is unbalanced because of too little jazz and classical music and from other genres.

One of my reasons for not giving priority to completing some tasks is the point that means are more important than ends although it is important to have a goal. How I spent my life every and any day is more important than what my life adds up to although I am interested in trying to find out if the good I have tried to do out weights the sins, whether intention or not.

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