Issue #7 April 19, 2020
While I began this newsletter with the intentions of tracking and discussing the books I've been reading, I also named this newsletter, Farrago, which is defined as "a confused mixture." And that is entirely what this newsletter is; a confused mixture of things I find interesting, because I find a lot of things interesting. If you've signed up, then I'm sure you do too. Every week I'll run across many interesting things like article I find enlightening, a fact that I didn't know, or a viral meme that catches my attention. These are pretty ephemeral. Worth noting and sharing, for sure, but they come and go. But, sometimes, what I find interesting sticks around longer. It lodges in my brain and because of it I'll dive into a topic and I'll stay with it for weeks or even months. I am the kind of person that, if something interests me enough, I become obsessed with it and I focus on little else. A year ago it was drawing with pen and ink. Several years before that it was photography, a hobby I focused on for years. But, over the last 6 months I was a bit lost looking for something new to focus my attention on after my focus on drawing waned following my last move. I mostly spent my time reading fiction; something I spent so much time on that it almost became that kind of interest in itself. I mean it did serve as the initial reason that spawned this newsletter. But that changed recently, all because of this tweet by Fabian Iwand. The tweet contains a short video that begins as a picture of an airplane at altitude being observed while looking up through a canopy of trees, which then devolves into an image that resembles a landscape. It also contains the hashtags,
#generative. And that is the entire tweet, but it was enough. I was fascinated and I wanted to know more.
For my day job, I'm software engineer. Now, I have always avoided interests and hobbies that cut too close to what I do for 8 to 10 hours of everyday. I always felt that doing so was a sure way to burn yourself out, but this was different. While it involved programming, it only did so as a means of constructing art. One of the reasons I don't draw as much anymore is that I wasn't willing to perfect my use of the tools. It wasn't because I wasn't interested in making art. But, this is art using a tool I'm already pretty good at. I was thrilled to find two things I enjoy intersecting like this. This tweet by Danielle Navarro contained four images that, while computer-generated, strongly reminded me of the pen and ink drawings I used to admire when I drew myself. While this involves programming, this was all something completely different than my daily work of writing micro-services, API code, unit tests, etc. I wasn't unaware of the field of computer-generated graphics and animation, but I had never found a need to explore it or use it, but these videos and images I saw on Twitter were compelling. I stared at the piece by Fabian Iwand over and over and down the rabbit hole I went.
Over the last week I've been reading about generative algorithms, looking at glitch art, reading about the work of Georg Nees, and so much more. There is just so much to learn and there really isn't anything better than finding yourself on the cusp of a new journey to explore something fascinating and brand new to yourself. I'm sure I will have more to say in coming issues.
I've been taking a break from my rather relentless reading schedule over the last two weeks. I just haven't been in the mood as much, but I did start listening to Underland by Robert Macfarlane on audiobook during my daily walks and I'm very close to finishing In the Distance by Hernán Díaz.
There is way too much good TV anymore and it is impossible to keep up, but one series I'm embarrassed to say I've never seen is Community, so I've been watching it this week after the full series was added to Netflix. I'm halfway through season 2 and it is making a case for being one of my favorite TV comedies of all time.
I don't usually listen to music, but while staying at home I've started. I stumbled on a setup in my home office that actually makes it fairly nice to listen to music throughout the day. A Mac on my desk connected via bluetooth to a speaker half way across the room creates a nice ambient music that doesn't feel too in-my-face and keeps the sound from being distracting while I work. The following playlists and albums on Spotify have been my gotos over the last week:
- The Leftovers - Season 1 + 2 + 3 is a playlist by Gareth Penrose. Max Richter is one of my favorite composers and his work on the show, The Leftovers, is top-notch. I can't get enough of the variations of the song, Departure.
- Work From Home With Minimalism is playlist that just came out this week by Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and Steve Reich. Since I would also consider Max Richter to be a minimalist, I apparently have some sort of affinity to minimalist instrumental music.
- Before The Flood, is a soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who you might know from Nine Inch Nails, but if you haven't listened to their film and television scores, then you might be missing out. They also did the scores for The Social Network, The Vietnam War by Ken Burns, etc.
- Tales from the Loop is the soundtrack from the Amazon Prime TV series of the same name, which was scored by Paul Leonard-Morgan and Philip Glass.
My apologies for skipping last week when Issue #7 was originally scheduled to come out. I've been struggling with the logistics of putting together this newsletter on a weekly basis and sometimes my lack of preparation means that Sunday comes and I don't have anything to push out. But, this week, I've been working on that and while I still have a bit of work to do in finalizing a workflow and schedule that works week-in and week-out, I feel like I'm making progress. Perhaps a future issue can discuss some of things I do to help me craft this newsletter in between all of the other things that demand my time and attention on a weekly basis.
Images used in this issue:
That’s it for this week. Good luck and take care of yourself in the week ahead.