Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Diner Soundtrack

Sometimes in a crowded restaurant or movie theater, I like to defocus my brain and try to listen to all the conversations going on around me at once.


Usually I can't distinguish more than phrases, snapshots. In this case, I sketched one group at one table, but the snippets of dialogue came from other people all around me.

Jotting down actual dialogue is good practice for writers, and it's a good way to get a sense of the zeitgeist.

10 comments:

MimiTabby said...

what a great idea! LOVE IT!

Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors

Tomas Honz said...

Hehe, nice sketch and quite funny phrases. :)

Bruce said...

'French toast' mad me laugh...

Jim Douglas said...

Simple but effective rendering technique. Great for field sketching. Which came first: Ink wash or pencil?

Steve said...

William Burroughs, the author of Naked Lunch, and Brion Gysin played with a concept they called Cut-ups. It was a way, they felt, to make writing as modern as the painting of their time -- the 1950s and 60s. They began with cutting up published works on paper and rearranging phrases randomly. From there, they moved to tape recorders, recording group conversations and then splicing tapes to make new, fragmented conversations. As portable tape recorders became available, Burroughs took to walking down city streets, recording random fragments of passing conversations. Listening to some of the sequences can be oddly compelling. He said that at times, "the future seemed to be leaking out."

Since reading about this years ago, I sometimes do my own version of this while walking in Ann Arbor; not recording the conversations but just listening closely as people go quickly by, letting the words merge in my mind into an unscripted narrative.

In the past couple years, another element as entered the process, listening to see how often some version of the "f-bomb" is used as someone in their twenties passes by. Even though I may only be within range of their voice for 2 seconds it seems to be about 50% of the time -- today's zeitgeist.

Moish said...

From your jottings, sounds like the Zeitgeist is more negative than positive.

Asanuma said...

Nice to meet you, Mr.Gurney!
I'm a Japanese artist.
I love your paintings and I bought your book "Light and color" in Japan. This is really helpful for knowing about how to use color and light!
Your book helps my paintings so much :)
Thank you for writing this!
(And I introduced your book on my page. I hope it help to know by many people!)

brownbird said...

You left out, "Why is that man over there staring at us and writing in that little book?" =:o)

Mikhail P. Schalk said...

In addition to the zeitgeist, it's interesting to examine what your brain chose to hear too.

(Don't think I've posted here before, but I'm a long-time reader of your blog. It's one of my favorites. Always interesting! I thought I'd say hi.)

James Gurney said...

Hi, Mikhail, thanks for reading and posting a comment. Yes, it seems the brain works like a radio, and can only tune in one station at a time.

Brownbird: No one noticed.

Asanuma, I'm so glad my book is available in Japanese, and that it has been useful to you.

Steve, "Cut-ups" is a great idea. It's amazing how our minds connect unrelated information and try to make sense of it. I guess it works with images as well as words.

Jim, I used a Derwent water-soluble pencil, which I dissolved with water in the lay-in stages and then continued drawing when the washes dried.