series, groups, tags?

December 30, 2016 - news / workbook

I like to categorise and organise things. I like groups of related items, and looking at the features that they have in common and those that distinguish them. For me, this is a useful creative strategy. When applying it to pieces, it helps me think about what I’ve already done, and what a small change to a piece might do to turn it into something different. A number of my pieces have strong relationships between them, sometimes sharing a similar mechanism such as with the things to do series, or having a common structural principle, such as some of the template and overlay pieces which layer iterations of the same material.

At the moment, I have a few groups of pieces on the go. I’ve given them labels, such as ‘group behaviours’ or ‘distributed pieces’ that describe some of their common features. But I’m finding now that I’m filling in the gaps, there is often less to distinguish pieces that might sit in more than one group. Perhaps it’s the time of year, but I’m gradually working through a stocktake of what I have and thinking about other ways to categorise the pieces with a view to seeing where my focus is. On the whole the pieces are not organised into series as the core mechanisms are mostly too different (although both things to do and divisions that are autonomous… are exceptions – see my paper on series in the Wandelweiser composers for the reasons why). They do function as groups given the similarities, but there increasingly too many overlaps. Of course, this gives me an opportunity to start drawing Venn diagrams–this is a worryingly exciting thing to do–but I’m finding it’s too complex as a way to map what I’m doing, and it still focuses on groups as an organisational principle.

So I’ve returned to Omnigraffle to make a network diagram showing links between pieces and groups (the way it redraws the network each time you make a change is just excellent). It’s beginning to take shape and show how some groups overlap, but when I added some tags it has really begun to be useful. By relating pieces to concepts such as ‘modularity’, ‘games’, ‘place’ or ‘materials’ the links and areas of focus are beginning to be more apparent. So essentially I’m moving towards tagging pieces with a series of keywords that describe features of each piece. At the moment, this seems a much better way to proceed as it is a more flexible way to think about what I’ve made so far, and where the gaps might be. I think I still need to do this more rigorously in a database rather than in a graphic representation, and eventually port that to this website so it is useful in other ways, but it’s a start. Feels like a good new year project.

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