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Thursday, 23 February 2017

New Video uploaded for #bookdraw

I Just uploaded next video introducing the next three books I'll be looking at. They are The Hours by Michael Cunningham, Closet Case by Robert Rodi and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz- (all happen to be incredibly handsome men as well!)

(from left to right Michael Cunningham, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Robert Rodi)

These three books will be reviewed with images coming over the next few weeks. Reviews are posted on Wednesday and explanation of the images are uploaded on a Sunday.

I also have a Facebook group to complement the videos. On the Facebook group I provide a daily quote and find an image, fan art or book cover of the novel I'm looking at. What I'm encouraging people to do is add their own art works, doodles, fan arts, collages or quotes on this platform as well. I'm hoping that it will build up into an archive of different LGBT fiction were people can share their interests and discuss their favorite books.
You can see the Facebook group here:

Please support either by subscribing, liking or commenting- I love seeing people comment it lets me know you're really out there!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A book chose me today!

A book chose me today, Root of Passion by Ann Roberts. There was nothing to indicate that this book was queer. It has an image of a purple glass heart bubbling with a wisps of mist rising out of the lip of the bottle neck. Maybe it was the shade of purple that caught my eye? Maybe it was the look of a nineties romance television series that screams ‘drama’ made me reach out to the shelf of miss matched books and read the back cover. Maybe the book itself compelled me?

I sense this book will contain magic inside it and maybe that magic will spread on to you, dear reader. Maybe now were both infected? It’s only a slim read. I’m always nervous about burrowing from the library. I have a tendency to hoard or forget and build up fines for myself. I’m in the middle of the Forever War at the moment too; making the potential to shelf it and forget about it even more likely. No risk, no reward right? I need more Lesbian literature in this project, this book appears to be a slim, slight thing, so I’ll give it a go. I’ll keep you posted.

What is really exciting about the find though is that Root of Passion is published by Bella Books. I had never heard of them but when I gave it a google I was really excited because they specifically publish Lesbian Literature! I'm definitely going to explore there website and find some interesting reads, I have read a lot less Lesbian fiction so far so now I feel like I can address the imbalance a bit better within my project to explore a range of LGBT voices in fiction. They have over 550 published books so there is definitely a few to choose from.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

New Video! Annabel explained

Just a really quick post to say my latest video is up which is an explanation to how I created Annabel!

Please click like or subscribe if you've enjoyed it. I'm just starting out the channel so your help would be massively appreciated! Please leave a comment to let me know where you're from and how you got here!

If you would like to make your own artwork/fan art please check out my Facebook group #bookdraw and you join in! I leave my favorite quotes from the book each week and art works/ cover art of the books themselves. Hope to see you there :)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Claiming voice's reflecting on Annabel by Kathleen Winters

So this is the image I created in response to Annabel by Kathleen Winter I hope you like it. It's not a finished piece you'll have to wait a while for me to get it back from a printer and then I'll work into the image with stitch. If you want to see a review of the book please click here. I also have quotes and other fan art from other places which you can see here on an open Facebook group.

I don't go much into my thoughts of the rest of the book especially in the second half of the book in the video. I feel like I can explore the rest of Annabel a little bit more here. There are spoilers so be warned if you continue reading.

I really didn't discuss was how well the book was received in the video but when I looked into it, it got me thinking...

This is just based on a quick google and a wiki but I did learn that although it had received several awards (about five according to the article) it wasn’t however well received by the intersex community itself:

Despite popular acclaim, the book has not been welcomed by intersex organizations. Organisation Intersex International Australia described the book as fundamentally flawed and deterministic, based on misconceptions about intersex.

This is really interesting to me, when I was reading it I did feel like a parent’s voice had dominance in the book and I suspect that’s the writer Kathleen Winter’s empathy for the situation shining through (this was later confirmed by an interview linked below she has daughter who is Wayne’s age).

It did make me consider the concept of a claimed voices.

I find the notion of owned and claimed voices massively interesting, conflicting, and problematic but in some ways liberating? If I was a writer the concept of creating a character from another world or a separate identity form my own is exciting. As a reader it’s a big part of why I enjoy reading so much. I get to enter someone else’s world and point of view. That’s exciting to me. I understand however the danger of having access to a limited number of voices and taken those as authentic experiences. Especially if the reality is that they are fictional with little dialogue from those that the writer is representing.

However, as someone who is creating an artwork based from someone else’s story. I see that in a way am partially claiming it for myself too. The experience is being re-interpreted and displayed in my own way. It is however from a place of having experienced their work through reading the novel. Also just in principle I no problem with a woman writing about the experiences of a man or vice versa, but then you we have access to each other all the time, so we have direct contact with each other making it easier to identify with each other and draw a characterisation from our shared experience.

What gets trickier is when facts are misinterpreted or agenda’s are thrown into the mix to push certain ideals on to others.
So with regards to Annabel, I googled Organisation Intersex International and found the following article which explained their issues with the book:

To be absolutely clear about a fundamental flaw in the book: there have been no recorded instances of self-impregnation by any human anywhere. The biological circumstances depicted in the book are fanciful, and essentially appear based on misconceptions of intersex as hermaphroditism. Very many people with intersex variations regard the term hermaphrodite as pejorative or, at the very least, misleading because humans, indeed all mammals, are not able to reproduce alone

A form of biological determinism is evident in the book’s treatment of Wayne/Annabel, insofar that discovery of a fictitious intersex trait appears, ipso facto to require a non-binary gender identity, or dictate gender identity confusion. This is reductive: identity and biology are not necessarily intertwined in this way. In reality, many people with intersex differences do have gender identities that are informed by their intersex variation, but our identities are hugely diverse. And many intersex people have a typical gender identity as a man or woman.
Moreover, fears around perceptions that intersex traits subject an individual to gender identity confusion form rationales for medical interventions aimed at “normalising” the bodies of infants and children.
In a world with so few positive, realistic portrayals of intersex, we had looked forward to reading this book but, sadly, we are unable to recommend it.
So the issue appears to be highly problematic! I did wonder about how Wayne/Annabel appears to want to identify with one particular sex more over the other and I questioned if it might be more complex than initially described? I did also googled the whole self-impregnating concept. Where I found this article which states Jose Maria Garcia gave birth to twins and is intersex.

Now again my research is limited to a quick google search so the validity of this is certainly could be in question but look legit? Without DNA evidence I could certainly say if this is made up internet story headline or actual fact? But several sites have run the article making it appear more legit. It’s certainly interesting that someone- Jose Maria Garcia, who is intersex gives birth to twins and they are super cute!  
I’d be interesting to see what the twins look like when they’re older how similar will they be emotionally and physically to Jose Maria Garcia? I am totally different to my two sisters we’re all from the same mum and dad. So surely they would be different as well even if only one person was involved in their creation?

Through googling Organisation Intersex International and Jose Maria Garcia nothing doesn’t come up with anything which is also interesting? Even if they were to either celebrate it or call it a hoax?
I also dug deeper to see what research Kathleen Winter’s did in prep of the book. Turns out she has done some but not ever actually met someone who was intersex, at least not until after her book had been released. She reflects how she had done research in the form of reading and looking at pictures, but when she actually met someone who was intersex she appeared to develop a different appreciation for the fluidity of someone who is actually intersex?

The person she is describing also really loved her book by the sounds of it. Maybe if she had spoken directly to more of the Intersex community directly before writing the story she would have gained more support from the rest of the intersex community?
In reflection for me though, I’m going to do a series of three reviews about claiming another person’s voice because of this. So keep an eye out for that in future because the ones I have in mind might be unexpected?

There is more discussion on the fluidity of Wayne/Annabel in the book ‘Shifts in the Representation ofIntersex Lives in North American Literature and Popular Culture’ by Viola Amato you can sample it here.
For me overall I enjoyed Annabel but I can also appreciate that the story may have rung untrue for some. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

New Video Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Just uploaded a new video today! Annabel by Kathleen Winters. 

I'm a little annoyed with myself I never actually included an image of the mother in the piece. Instead I focused more on the father, he is a big feature of the story and definitely has the most negative impact on through his actions to control the situation based on his personal beliefs of what is normal and orderly.

The mother Jacinta however was more willing to accept her child for whatever person (even a little biased towards being raised a girl) but is weaker in challenging her partner Treadway. 

she says 

·       I am dishonest. I never tell the truth about anything important. And as a result, there is an ocean inside me of unexpressed truth. My face is a mask, and I have murdered my own daughter p142

     So I'm going to add in a mask either floating or within the water and sew it into the final composition. I also wanted to include some petals as Jacinta's friend Thomasina reflects what her daughter smelt like. Her daughter was called Annabel and that is why it becomes a private nickname for Wayne between the two of them.

·       I’d see my daughter, Annabel. I’d smell the rain on her clothes. She used to sneak up from behind and hug me. Her breath was like cold petals.’ P169

I'm also going to include the outline of a Lotus flower, an owl and a red tailed hawk into the image as well as each of these symbols reflect different metaphores within the book.

The owl provides Treadway with counsel to discuss his conflict with the nature of his child. The Lotus is used to described the hidden layers of Wayne/Annabel's body and soul and the red tailed hawk represents the murderous intentions when Treadyway discovers that Wayne/Annabel was raped. 

I worry that the images could become too littered with symbolism. If I can incorporate them in subtly it can add more depth to the images. It's a difficult balance and I'm unsure if I'm getting there correctly?

Revisiting the text of the book reguarly is important to me because I want to try and incorporate as much of it without actually using words to make the best possible image. Which is a challenge!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

New Video released! Reflections on the Color Purple

Here is the latest video post explaining how I chose to construct the image for The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Please also go check out my facebook page which has quotes and images from other people’s fan art which I regularly upload during the week!

Reflections on how the project is going so far...

Okay, I have an hour commute between Manchester and Leeds before I can get to the office. Sometimes this is longer or shorter if I’m meeting other clients around the North. This gives me a lot of time for work, catching up on emails, power naps, reading and sketch book. However the wifi is awful on the train and the carriages swing from left to right making it an undesirable space for pen and paper. Solution? I’m going to have a rant about how I feel things are going. Here goes

I just have to reorganise myself, I need to optimise the time I have on the train for the things I can do. I’m doing it right now, I’m blogging on the train about to pass Dewsbury. This won’t be uploaded for a while (sorry for the illusion this occurred in the past). But I am making the most of this time I have in a constructive way and it will rotate between picking up emails for ten minutes before I hit the black hole that is the transpenines.  I’ll then have the choice between reading documents for work, blogging, reading or a power nap. Power naps have also become important to me, especially when I get up at 06:30 and usually don’t get home till after 18:00 sometimes 23:30. If I am to have any creative juices left for the evening a 10-20 snooze can make all the difference.
I’m beginning to feel a slight well of panic inside myself, now that I’ve actually told the world about the project. I feel like I have to make regular posts across the different platforms in order to drive up audience members as suggested by every other social media buff and active participant with solid audience numbers behind them.

So I’m aiming to produce two videos a week. The first one is a book review of the novel which I’ve decided to respond to. Then at the end of the week is another post which explains how I constructed the image itself and what the themes are in the image. So I have to be ahead to create these actual images and have read the book. This felt like something which was manageable in principle four tasks, make two videos and two images. But then I began to realise there is a lot more involved and additional tasks which take up lots of time. For example the videos themselves, I’ve got a body of music and sound effects collected now, so that part is ok.

 Editing is a proper job and feels like it is massively time consuming. There is something also incredibly narcissistic and uncomfortable about watching yourself stutter and stumble only to rearrange, prune and clip those words into a quicker pacier content. On top of that it can take a while to transcribe the video you’ve made once it’s been uploaded to Youtube. This totally feels worth it though and YouTube has made it as easy as possible. You can watch the footage and loop it back as many times at the speed and section you need so that you can transcribe the whole of your video. It then auto-sync’s it for you and you can even re-align where it shows up on screen as you speak. It means that more people can what the content. My first comment came from someone in Italy, so you never know who will watch the videos; so making the content as accessible as possible just makes sense to me.

That’s fine though I anticipate those additions and I feel like the more experience that I get the more comfortable I’ll become with the whole process. It’s the other tasks on top up that which is making me feel like I’ve set myself up to fail though. I’ve create a Facebook page which I will upload one thing per day on. Sometimes it will just be a quote or an image, other times it will be links to the video content or an image of the response I’ve made, the actual work. Other times I’m hoping it will become more about responding to other people’s uploaded content. That is going to take some time and effort to nurture, but I see the long term goal of that becoming a self-sustaining element once I’ve built up enough people and capacity and interest. That feels like a long, long way away right now.

Then there is all the additional extras which I hadn’t properly considered. Like thumb nails-they’re a little pain in the butt! I have to find a suitable face shot which doesn’t make me look like I’ve overdosed or hurled mid-sentence. Freeze framing video often results in closed eyes and unusual postures. Then it’s layering up the title and fiddling with light affects as these little buggers are individual calling cards. Each one needs to excite and appeal to viewers in order to get people to click on my content. All of these parts are actually fine, but what really irritates me is fiddling around with pixel size to match the 1280 by 720 frame! I’ve got it sussed now, but for a while I could understand why the thumbnails were being cropped and there is nowhere to re-adjust the position of the frame.

Now on top of these tasks I’m trying to keep up with other content creators that I’ve subscribed to and I’m now more invested to make comments that are genuine and instead of just thinking I should say something about it, I actually do it. As it’s another possible route to draw in people longer term. Every comment potentially might resonate with someone in some way causing them to look at my profile and possibly then clicking on the channel. Here is hoping.
It’s also incredibly annoying that I broke my phone because those lose minutes where I can watch content comment, or flick through twitter to reach out to more people has been sabotaged by my own clumsy nature. It also frustrates me that I’ve said I will be uploading pictures on Instagram but can’t because you only do through your phone. Whereas at least with twitter I can do it on a computer if I need too.

This post became really ranty, apologies! Maybe finishing this reflection on the train home tired, was not the best idea either. The learning continues…

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A response to The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Each time I click public on a video I’ve been editing and amending for days, it feels really weird. I have immediate waves of why am I doing this and is everyone going to make fun of the content, will they understand what I’m even doing? Then it turns out hardly anyone is immediately watching it and I feel like a toddler who has done their first dump on the toilet and no one is paying attention. But I know the reality of set up an audience is a long grind and it’s going to take time to build.

Making the videos has been a really fun process though, with each one I’ve made I’m learning a little more. For example, once I uploaded the first one, my dad and sister immediately told me the sound was too quite on the video. Apart from swearing to myself for a little bit, I paused and let it go. It’s up now and it was just an introduction video. But I’ve since gone back through the video’s have saved to give me a league time of six weeks to generate new content and modify each of the video’s to make them clearer for the audio- at least I hope (feedback welcome!). What I also found out is that when I did change the audio it affected the percentage of the output for the music which became to quite to hear, so I had to go back for a third time and change it all again. It’s fine, it’s a learning process. Or so I keep telling myself.

So here is a new one a book Review of The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I’m trying to spread out my content now so the next post will be on Sunday explaining how I made the responding image.

Each time I’ve been making videos I’ve been taping my phone to a tripod because it doesn’t fit in the attachment bit. Then a couple of days ago I was about to start making a new video and it slipped away form me (not once but twice) and on the second slip mashed my screen. This was actually a blessing in disguise. It’s massively annoying because I’ve lost numbers, pictures and notes but the silver lining was that it made me dig out our old camera and trail a recording with it. Turns out picture and sound quality is better. Why did I not use it in the first place?

So I’m excited because I feel like future content will crisper and when I was editing the latest video for Aristotle and Dante Discover the secrets of the Universe I felt like I wasn’t editing me saying ‘Um’, pausing for breath or saying ‘kind of’ every three seconds. So I think I’m beginning to feel a bit better about being in front of the camera now as well.

I feel in some ways that I’ve been working on this project for ages, and I have been researching and developing the idea for month, but now I’ve click public for the first times. I’ve come to realize, I’ve just started.