I am sitting in a tank



Tank-FX is offline and the website has disappeared…
So if you didn’t check it out before here is a fun experiment I did with it back in 2009…

Billed as a ‘non-virtual’ plugin, basically Tank FX was a large echo chamber that you could upload sounds to & then wait as they are played into the reverbant space, re-recorded & then converted for you to download. How large scale? Well the chambers are two concrete water tanks 11m high and 7m in diameter.

The system was run on a unix server & made use of two JBL Control One speakers and a pair of Rode NT-5 mics. When I used it the right channel was not working, but even in mono it is fascinating…

As per the title of this post I fed the first sentence from Alvin Luciers work; ‘I am sitting in a room’ into TankFx… And then iterated, uploading the TankFx processed version again and again…

A wikipedia explanation of Luciers work is here
Ubuweb has a 1961 recording of the work here

Here are my TankFX iterations:





Cyanotype blurr comparison



Left half is from my first attempt at printing from a negative, with 5mm acrylic between the cyanotype paper and the negative/transparency.

Right half is my second attempt, with transparency sitting directly on top of the cyanotype paper (with both clipped to the acrylic sheet for stability)

Pretty happy with both, but it is also a reminder of the creative learning process: experiment, make mistakes and decide whether the mistake is worth investigating and developing. I quite like the distortion, Especially in B&W and the softer focus for what is a sharp digital image. I’ll next try printing the same image with vintage patterned glass in the way… Distortion take 2!



Same image in B&W








Detritus 571



▶ I had never seen this presentation, and it is fascinating to have a brief look at Olivier’s development process, especially of modules that I know so well & love!
Part Two is here



▶ wow you can still buy NOS Uher tape machines!
UHER 4000 REPORT MONITOR AV 3 heads = EU$476
They use strange cables, available here



▶ Adam Savage’s Nagra Spy Recorder Collection!



▶ Using filters with monochrome film



▶ The art of walking meditation



THE 25 BEST FILMS OF 2020: A Video Countdown from david ehrlich on Vimeo.

▶ someone had fun with the edit!

25. Emma
24. Many
23. First Cow
22. Wolfwalkers
21. I’m Your Woman
20. Beanpole
19. Ms. Americana
18. Another Round
17. Ema
16. Vitalina Varella
15. Shirley
14. Lovers Rock
13. Dick Johnson is Dead
12. Babyteeth
11. Borat
10. Swallow
9. Bad Education
8. David Byrne’s American Utopia
7. Nomadland
6. Bacurau
5. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
4. Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always
3. World of Tomorrow episode 3
2. Minari
1. Time





Nagra IV S cyanotype




This one came out underexposed through the centre, I’m not 100% sure why… But it is a lot better than my first attempt at printing from negatives!

The sheets of prepared cyanotype I am using for this come with an acrylic sheet which is about 5mm thick and is intended for eg squashing flowers and/or protecting the cyanotype sheet from the objects above. So for my first test print from a negative, I slipped the sheet of cyanotype under the acrylic and the negative on top of the acrylic. The result was a blurry dim mess, and I started to wonder if the lines in the Nagra wireframe were too fine to register…

But after thinking about it for a while I realised the 5mm gap of the acrylic was enough for the light to scatter and blurr the image. So my next attempt I clipped the negative directly on top of the cyanotype paper (and then laid those on the acrylic sheet for stability) Exposed for 15 minutes and my theory was confirmed with a sharper print!

Mistakes and experimenting can lead to interesting unexpected results and while using the ‘incorrect’ technique I also printed a frame from an animation I am working on, and while the print was blurred and indistinct, the quality of the distortion was interesting and inherently analog in nature. Having corrected my method, I reprinted a sharp copy and comparing them is interesting – the sharp version is better and what I was aiming for, but the blurry soft focus distorted one is also interesting… I’ll post a side by side so you can see what I mean….




My history of distraction



Do you remember when your computer “evolved” from being a tool of production, to becoming a distraction?

I’ve been reading an interesting book, DEEP WORK by Cal Newport, and it has made me think back to how distraction slowly became a default setting when using computers.

Working in sound studios should be conducive to deep work free from distraction, since a sound studio by definition tends towards an isolated environment. And in the early days of computers & ProTools, even running an email program in the background was not wise. But I have never really considered email to be a distraction. You choose to boot up an app to check mail, so it is conscious decision and can be easily scheduled. In hindsight I think the first serious distraction for me arrived with the use of OSX iChat.

According to wikipedia, iChat was first released in August 2002 as part of OSX 10.2 but it was really only once my studio was on the same network as everyone else working on whatever film soundtrack at the time, that the idea of being constantly available insidiously arrived. Of course iChat had a do-not-disturb option, but it was rarely used. So no matter what I was working on, any member of the sound post team could message me to ask a question or get information (or invite for a game of ping pong) and this somehow felt virtuous, especially as a head of department. As they say, post production is about having the foresight and experience to prevent problems before they occur. So whether it was a tiny detail, or a major issue it felt helpful to be available immediately.

So the idea of ‘chat’ is not new by any means. And everyone uses such apps differently, I am not trying to speak for anyone but myself. I don’t really consider websites or forums a distraction, as they also require a conscious effort to engage with. But at a certain point in the development of our online world it seems distraction and engagement became synonymous and it was not by accident: it has been a motivated and sustained effort by developers to interupt us, by every means possible.

I joined FaceBook in October 2007 and Twitter in January 2009. Are they distractions? They potentially can be, unless they are contained and scheduled. But just like an open plan office, if they are active on whatever computer you are using (and especially if notifications are enabled) they become the antithesis of deep work that necessarily requires focus and uninterrupted concentration.

As the book clearly explains, a lot of work now is created in the shallows, without really paying full attention to anything. Having achieved saturation with its main platform, Facebook have evolved to assault our attention via Messenger, with aggressive acquisitions and development including WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Remember when every time someone friended you on FB they would try and make you ‘wave’ at them in Messenger? Its like a red flag to a bull: “Hi, I have nothing to say but I’d like to distract you.”

What is the big deal with such a simple gesture? According to a University of California Irvine study, after becoming distracted “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”

Read that again:
Someone messaging you to say “Hi!” costs you 23 minutes and 15 seconds. If you only ever exist in the shallows, then maybe it doesn’t matter… But to assume that of the recipient of your message is quite something.

When I first started job hunting while at Film School, I read a book about the process and they had a golden rule for cold calls: your first question should always be “Are you free to talk now or is there a better time for me to call back?” Nowadays my phone is always on silent and if I do see it ringing I never answer it unless caller ID shows it is my Dad. But occasionally someone calls me and if they ask that golden question I thank them and make a mental note I am talking to someone with the awareness to value my attention.

But here is the issue: no one who messages me has ever asked if I am free to chat. Yes I can ignore them but eg if I visit Instagram to look at photos and there is a chat alert it is deliberately hard to ignore. Similarly there seems to be an assumption, again deliberately encouraged by Facebook, that if you are friended by someone then they also have access to message you. This bugged me so much I now have a TextExpander shortcut assigned:

“Please do not use Facebook chat to contact me – Messenger is not secure.
But also be aware FaceBook scrapes Messenger data for targeted advertising.
Please consider deleting FB Messenger – your supposedly private data is being sold.”

And I provide an email address and a link to a contact form, so they can contact me. But guess what? They never do. So it isn’t that they have any reason to message me, they are just being manipulated by FaceBook to distract me. And 23 minutes and 15 seconds later I get back to work. Thanks for less than nothing.

I’ve been invited to a few chat servers, mostly hosted on Discord and Slack, and the first few times I went & checked them out… But just like Reddit, it feels like an echo chamber of randoms who exist solely to distract me, for a minimum of 23 minutes and 15 seconds. I really cannot comprehend how people work and use such services at the same time. But they are clearly not doing deep work of any kind, so that is their perogative, whether they are aware of it or not.

Eliminating distractions from chat apps is only one aspect of this attack on focus and deep work. The first day I update my iPhone requires time spent disabling every app from distracting me with notifications. Same for OSX and their notifications. And how many times do I have say no to notifications from web sites? It should be simple: I never want to receive notifications from any website ever. But does Safari let me set any kind of permanent preference for this? Nope. This simple preference ommission is deliberate – Apple profit from distracting you, and the more often they distract you the more profit they generate.

The first half of the book discusses at length the cost of only ever working in the shallows, and the second half provides tactics and techniques for creating time and space for deep work. Some of the methods described are ‘off-grid cabin-in-the-woods’ extreme, while others involve creating simple rituals for yourself. But the most important takeaway from the book for me is this: achieving deep work does not occur by accident. It takes conscious choices, planning and significant time spent developing new habits.

Another important lesson or observation from the book (and from another I am reading) is that willpower is a finite resource. If you solely rely on willpower to try to achieve something, be aware that as the day continues and you become tired, your reserves of willpower depletes and it becomes more difficult to stay focused. This is where establishing rituals and habits can help, as they reduce the need for willpower and the process slowly becomes a fundamental part of your modus operandi.

Here are Amazon links for the books, but if you are interested in reading them please try to shop locally. Your local bookstore needs your support more than Jeff Bezos.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr



Update: Thanks for people mentioning Freedom type apps that can block websites and/or all Internet and network access for set periods of time. These are not new or recent and while they do help to eliminate elements of such distractions, they do nothing to stop OSX or iPhone notifications or people walking into your room etc.. While my post focuses mostly on computer distractions the DEEP WORK book discusses startegies for dealing with all forms of distraction.



Detritus 570



▶ North Island Kokako pair duetting



▶ David Bowie as spiders



▶ Most annoying sound?



▶ What a hideous human experiment Spotify is. As if conspiring with the big labels to reduce royalties to an unsustainable level AND distributing them inequitably wasn’t bad enough, now they want to listen to you and gauge your “emotional state, gender, age, or accent,” in order to recommend new music!?
It amazes me what people will allow, simply for the sake of what exactly? Convenience? To avoid thinking? It feels to me like these big tech social experiments will eventually end up like cigarettes, where they have to display a (mental) health warning on the cover before you opt in to use them.



▶ I think Hiroshi Sugimoto was the first long exposure film photographer i ever became aware of, via my first trip to Japan and a visit to Naoshima.



▶ This is so beautiful – a monarch butterfly swarm filmed by a disguised drone…
But put a horror score & sound design to it, and watch those lovely images make your skin crawl!





nuzic 154



▶ new On U sound release!



▶ B’Zircon – Azure x Ultramarine (Perko Remix) via Stinky Grooves



▶ The Cinematic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall
PSA: Sat 29th/30th January depending on your timezone
More info & buy tickets here

In their debut streamed event and first performance at the Southbank Centre, the band plays tracks from latest album To Believe as well as their hits.

To celebrate this performance, The Cinematic Orchestra is giving every ticket holder free, exclusive access to four brand new, unreleased tracks. All ticket holders will be emailed a link after the show to receive their download.
The film is directed by Leander Ward.
Ward co-directed, produced and filmed the award-winning The Crimson Wing – Mystery of the Flamingos, the first film in the Disneynature series, with a soundtrack composed by the Cinematic Orchestra.
This event was filmed in the Royal Festival Hall in November 2020 exclusively for the Southbank Centre. Join the global streaming event on Friday 29 January 2021.





Days of Reckoning



Silence is violence?

After the mass shooting in Christchurch last year I saw a photo of a Muslim woman holding a sign. It had three words on it: SILENCE IS VIOLENCE. I keep thinking about those three words, I like to think silence is a dear friend of mine so it created cognitive dissonance to see these words together. Silence is Violence.

As revolting and disturbing as it is to read of exploitation in creative industries, as a cis white pakeha male it is easy to be naive: “I don’t see sexism, racism etc…” But whether you see it or not, does not mean it doesn’t exist. Silence is violence, as it is only silence that allows such behaviour to perpetuate. When people say they ‘don’t like sexual politics’ or ‘political art’ or similar, what they are actually saying is they are happy with the status quo. But the day of reckoning has arrived for the status quo.

Example 1: ‘World’s most beautiful toxic waste dump’ – Weta Digital employees claim sexism, bullying and harassment

Example 2: Wellington musicians say they’ve had to call out sexual harassment from the stage

Example 3: Police urge people to contact them after sexual assault allegations surface against Wellington musicians

Example 4: The NZ music industry’s #MeToo reckoning

Example 5: Music industry professionals demand change after speaking out about its dark side

Example 6,7,8,9, etc…
Google has an endless supply of such reported toxic behaviour



Silence is violence!

How do people who commit such inhuman crimes live with themselves? Do they not have mothers, sisters, daughters, friends? Do they not have empathy? Such people men know what they do is inherently toxic and exploitative. How do they live with themselves? They abuse and exploit trust. But the biggest lies they tell are to themselves and their pathetic self indulgent egos.

They are a metastatic cancer on the most vulnerable, and it is time they got a serious dose of exposure, so they can feel the shame of their actions. And every man can see that such behaviour is unacceptable.

But exposure is not enough. They must pay a greater price. An audit of behaviour and visits to a psychiatrist are not enough. If a doctor sexually abuses a patient, they are struck off and can no longer practice medicine. The same must apply in the creative industries. They must forfeit their careers.

Men: if you cannot control yourself, put your ego aside and get help. If your addictions are the cause of your toxic behaviour then know this: they are not. They are a symptom, they are not the cause. Get help because you are accountable for your behaviour, and your day of reckoning is coming.

My heart aches for every person who has suffered from such appalling manipulation, and can only imagine the psychological toll it takes when your career depends on any kind of relationship with such people, business and/or personally. Kia kaha to the brave women who have stepped forward to bring these exploitative cowards into the light.


Silence is violence!!!




Detritus 569



▶ Best one yet?



▶ If you enjoy karesansui, check this insta account by artist Yuki Kawae



▶ “There are some things that when you listen to them again and again begin to irritate you, but when you get to the point that nothing irritates you, then it’s done.” – guess the artist?



▶ BBC: Caroline Catz on Delia Derbyshire



▶ Sample Snitching: How online fan chatter can create legal trouble for producers



▶ I ordered the BluRay of the Koudelka – Shooting Holy Land documentary partly as it contains extras including an interview and Q&A with him… During the Q&A someone asks the question, whether success is important to him, and what success looks like:

“To answer this question, as far as photography is concerned, it is a great success for me to do two or three good photographs a year….. And another success is that, when I wake up in the morning, nothing hurts, I can go outside, I feel good and I can photograph.”

A follow up question led to one of the most insightful commentaries on the current state of photography, and his own modus operandi. Beautifully philosophical, but grounded in hard won experience.



▶ At some point in the distant future, when international travel is safe, my next trip to Japan is going to include a visit here – fantastic work by architect Junya Ishigami



▶ love the shockwave that travels across the chain after impact
also: mute the ridiculous music – its a bicycle, not the end of the world!?!