Last year at this time, I was frantically working to get “Take a Picture” finished in time for it’s big debut at Nuit Blanche. Brad and I were spending an average of 18 hours a day hand-etching circuit boards, inserting components, soldering, and assembling. Between the two of us, we made just over one thousand boards.
When I wasn’t building, I was typing. I tried to get in as many blog updates as I could. The idea was to plant some digital seeds by writing about the issues that Take a Picture was attempting to tackle. That way, I would be mentally prepared for the questions that would undoubtedly arise throughout the course of the evening. These posts would also serve as a landing pad for interested spectators. If people really like the project, we owe it to them to ensure that there is more content available for them to look up later. Never launch an idea or project without first building the infrastructure to support it. This way, on the off-chance that the idea made it big, I’d be prepared for it.
During the event itself, it was decided that we would not be participating in Nuit Blanche in 2011. It’s not because we had a bad experience or anything like that; we just missed seeing Nuit Blanche ourselves. We were stuck in front of our project the entire night, unable to see any other work. We didn’t want to become disconnected from the experience of participating in Nuit Blanche as art fans.
In the days that followed, the reviews were harsh; too many projects were artists responding to other artists, there was little for non-insiders to enjoy. I fear that if I spend all my time presenting art, I will lose that powerful and direct “This is what I want to see, damnit!” attitude and start producing empty fluff. I don’t want to produce empty art fluff, I want to keep on making cool stuff. I hope this doesn’t sound conceted or egotistical, but I like to make art that I would like to see. So this year the plan was to do nothing. I’d Sit back, relax, enjoy some free time leading up to Nuit Blanche, and hit the sites in ‘art spectator mode’, I’m not going to have to do anything.
That was the plan. The next several paragraphs deal with with why that isn’t going to happen.
In early September, I was volentold (I think that sounds better than ‘I was volunteered’) to give a talk at SoOnCon, a maker/hacker convention at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. This convention would be held the day of Nuit Blanche, before the main event begins. Participants can hear talks from some of the artists, then see the projects first hand that same evening. Or they just have fun hanging out with really cool people from across the province who make awesome stuff.
I’m scheduled to give a 30 minute talk. I might have 20 minutes of material. I’d really love to work on this talk, considering how I plan to pick up a fancy digital recorder and tape the whole thing to upload to YouTube for the world to watch and pick apart, but I’m also presenting “Take a Picture” at TEDxToronto Tonight, and getting things in order for that are eating up all my available time. Two hours to show time!
And as I look back, I can’t help but think that this is probably the best month of my career. In September 2011, I had artwork on display at a blue-chip gallery, I’m presenting material at TEDx, and giving a Talk at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. And all this is happening several months after my work was featured on The Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet”.
Living it, it doens’t seem all that big, but to put it all out in one paragraph feels fantastic. Last year at this time, if someone were to have approached me and said that I would be doing these kinds of things in one year’s time, I simply would not have believed them. Things that are this big and this great happen to other people, not to me. At least that’s what I thought last year.
Now I’m sitting here complaining about how much stuff I have on my plate, how much work is in front of me. It’s been a good year.