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Category Archives: Life the universe and everything

With the year 2013 now a closed chapter, here’s a short reflection….

Highlight

The highlight of the year, without any doubt, was the performance of Amhrán na mBeach (Song of the Bees) at Glenstal Abbey. It was the happiest moment. All events leading up to that moment were also very enjoyable, and sometimes scary. It wasn’t until the day before the performance I felt confident that the eminent monks would actually perform the choral part of the score (many thanks to Wolodymyr Smishkewych for making it happen). The rehearsal with the ICO in their studio was pure magic. Something happens when a score is moved from my imagination, through the computers, to the paper, to the musicians, and they play it. The Softday Apiary Ensemble also turned out to be a real buzz, and I hope the friendships that developed over all our workshops will remain and continue to develop in some future project. Jenny Kravis readings filled the space between the sonic elements, like beeswax between cells in a honeycomb – it made all the parts stick together in its final structure. It was also amazing to work with our friends Dave Carugo, Lette and Keith Moloney and Bob Corrigan who formed a professional audio, video and photograph team documenting the performance.

SotB

The feeling that washed over me at the end of the performance made me think that THIS I have to remember and THIS is the way I would like to feel more often.

Summer

When it eventually got started, the Irish summer was beautiful. I reworked my herbal garden and we had several pleasant evenings with BBQ and watching the sun set in the west.

bbq

Then, we went for a holiday break in Sweden to visit friends and relatives, which turned into a medical and emotional frenzy with elderly parents in different hospitals.

Migration

Moving the Interaction Design Centre, from Engineering Research Building back to the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. This was not an easy move, as we didn’t want to move.

Engineering Research Building

Engineering Research Building

CSIS building

CSIS building

We lost some high-quality space and we gained some. We’re building a new design lab in the CSIS building. In the CSIS building, the heating is insufficient during winter months. My office gets to a maximum of 15 degrees C with its only radiator turned on. I know, from having spent years in the building before, that in summer it will be too hot. Apart from the lack of climate control, corridors are very narrow and we are more isolated from our research students, not by distance but by the structure of the space.

Economy

The recession continues. From my perspective the cost of living in Ireland is increasingly expensive while net salaries continue to fall. The politicians and their mates are getting top-up payments, while the rest of us are getting cuts. The only way to survive the political Fine Gael + Labour propaganda is through positive disengagement.

protest(from Softday‘s Silent Protest)

Bees…

Can you live without this?

What if you wake up one morning and this isn’t here?

Will you have any honey for your porridge?

In fact, will you have any porridge, at all?

Bee colonies around the world are in decline, due to a number of mitigating factors.

Perhaps we can listen to the bees in a new way….

We’re concerned.

Very concerned…

Over the past 13 years, I have had the pleasure to work together with Sean Taylor under our common name Softday. It all started when Sean asked me if it was possible to make music form a year’s collection of weather maps from the Irish Times, which in due time resulted in Bliain le Baisteach (A Year with Rain). This was an excellent starter project for our collaboration as it was well funded and went straight to prominence as it became part of the Irish Pavilion at the Expo2000 World Millennium Exhibition in Hanover in Germany. Since then, our Softday collaboration have resulted in numerous projects (check out our web site www.softday.ie ) and we are now working on a new and very exciting topic: the life, and potential death, of honey bees. At the time of writing this we have about two years of research done, with plenty of field recordings from honey farms and nature, photos, video, scribbles and sketches. We are now heading for the final realization of the project and the premier is set to the 27th of April 2013, starting at 15:00, in Glenstal Abbey, in Murroe, Co. Limerick in Ireland.
While we have managed to get all our projects over the past 13 years funded, one way or another, this time we’re exploring what has become known crowd-funding, in addition to the great support we have received from Create and the Irish Arts Council. Perhaps, as a friend suggested today, we should call it hive funding, as our current project is about honey bees. Please note that if you support us, we give you something back.

Here’s a link to our Call for support on fundit.ie.

Beside one of my working-at-home locations, there’s an off-white wall over a fireplace. On a sunny day (not too many of them this spring!), between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, the sunlight is refracted in a window in front of me, painting a very slowly moving pattern on the wall beside me.

As a graphic, it looks almost organic as it’s fading like breathing when small, light clouds pass the sun. The pattern moves, ever so slowly, along the wall and then suddenly disappears when the optical alignment is beyond whatever special condition that was there for a while disappears.

For another day, I might try to make sound from this…

More observations of light can be found here.

Vogon deodorant

A couple of weeks ago, our local community in Lisnagry and Annacotty in county Limerick discovered that our neighbour, county Clare, are planning to build a dual carriageway (what some would call a highway or cheapish motorway) straight through our local community. Their plans would require several houses to be demolished, farms to become unviable and the community segregated by a sacrifice on the altar of unlimited growth in road traffic.
Clare County Council claimed that they had made the plans publicly available already last year and that they had conducted at least one round of public consultation, which is really strange as none of us in the target area had any notion of this. Not even the farmers and landowners that the road would have a direct impact on (obliteration) had received any notice – no letter, no email, no carrier-pigeon, no nothing.
This, of course, reminds me of Douglas Adams‘ book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where Arthur Dent‘s house is about to be demolished due to the construction of a motorway and while Arthur is trying to protect is house, the Vogon Constructor Fleet arrives in the sky and shortly thereafter demolishes planet Earth. The plans for the new intergalactic route, for which Earth was an obstacle, had been exhibited for several years at Alpha Centauri 4.1 light-years away, on public display in a filing cabinet in the basement of the Galactic planning authority.
The pure arrogance of post-Celtic Tiger politicians is stunning. Having read all available documents (they are still holding back the Constraints Study!), it is very clear that they have extrapolated growth in traffic volume exponentially based on a few years historical data when cars were whizzing around paid for by pretend-money from some of the now defunct banks and trucks were rolling in every second with globalised goods to be consumed in an ever-increasing death spiral by the happy Irish consumers. It is just tragic that Clare County Council and the consultants they hired have completely missed the fact the Planet Earth have just passed Peak Oil and it would be time to consider alternative economies and different ways of living, for example, growing your own food, use a bicycle and stop buying cheap and unnecessary garbage products from far away factories filled with child labourers.

December 1997 - 16th of May 2011

He ran like a greyhound
He swam like a dolphin
He fulfilled our dreams,
walking across green hills
and Atlantic beaches
He had a heart of gold
We miss him.
R.I.P.