The Machine that Howled, Growled and Wailed

A lot has happened over the past four years; four years from when that little green light turned yellow on my network attached storage (NAS), four years since that strange whining sound sang out from my hard drive, indicating that the majority of my digital creativity had been wiped away. (http://suboken.com/2013/letting-go) Music, photos, graphic designs and illustrations that were all in progress toward bigger expressions of art; gone.

Sifting through the ash of 1s and 0s that once represented so many ideas, including new music building toward two new albums, The Unsound Symphony and The Machines that Howl, Growl and Wail, and only two songs had survived; one sitting on a 16 Gb flash drive, the other on an iPod.

There was never a question of whether or not to produce a follow-up to 2011’s Three Sides of the Same Coin. It was just a matter of when. But the sudden loss of all those songs sucked the energy and excitement out of creating music. A stall that has lasted four years.

After the data crash, I focused my creativity toward other expressions of media; writing, sculpture and illustration. I started teaching more after school programs for children. And, focused a lot on building and creating with LEGO which has been a fantastic healing process.

But the biggest life event was becoming a father. My days have been filled with discovery and love and insomnia and patience and frustration and joy and purpose. Art, in all the expressive ways that I had once wielded, took a back seat.

Our son recently started preschool. This has opened up time for me to center on creative projects that have been smoldering on low heat over the past three years. This brings me to music, and the point of this blog entry.

I decided to dust off the music box last week, and see what I could conjure up. I ran through a few keyboard exercises, familiarized myself with my audio software, and then gave a hard listen to one of the surviving songs from 2013. It’s now a week later, and I am excited to say I have four new tracks!

This fall, Suboken – The Machines that Howl, Growl and Wail (2017) will be available on iTunes Store, iTunes Music, and Bandcamp.

In the meantime, here’s a demo cut from the album.

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program…

… to bring you MOC LEGO Instructions: The Moldy Crow

I was recently asked to share instructions for one of my early LEGO creations. It’s a space ship from the 1995 video, Star Wars Dark Forces, and its 1997 sequel Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces IIThe ship is called The Moldy Crow and its unique in-game design made it a fan favorite in the Star Wars video game community.

My Flickr Album of The Moldy Crow

LEGO The Moldy Crow by Travis Hiner

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Discovering a Visual Shorthand: The Making of The Cartographer’s Dilemma

continued from part 1

A Series Of Dilemmas

“Cartographers use an illustrative short-hand to describe geographical features of the real world. This short-hand form of communication is designed to allow the viewer to have an easy baring on the contours and layout of the area depicted on the cartographer’s map. Exaggerated color palettes, lines of various weight and solid fields of color all act as simplified yet concise forms of communication informing the map viewer of the geography depicted. Instead of focusing on the actual details of the full terrain, the user of the map can rely solely on the map to find her way around the area.
“Spoken and written language serves as a way to describe the real world as well. Words are used as a concise method to describe all the vast facets and features of the world and the ways in which we interact with and within it.
“However, are words also just another form of short-hand, simplifying or exaggerating how we see the real word? A culture’s vocabulary has such a huge impact on how it’s members regard the world in which they live. Could it be that the more complex and sophisticated our lexicon becomes, the more removed we are from simply seeing the real world?”

– as described on suboken.com

The ideas and dilemmas philosophy introduced me to were the perfect concepts for me to explore through my art. Creating art wasn’t about making a thing, it was about exploring an idea. Visual art in particular become a new voice through which I could explore the world. During the process of building The Cartographer’s Dilemma (TCD), the individual elements became metaphors of the different aspects of the theme I was tackling. With regard to the completed piece, the more refined the artwork was aesthetically, the clearer the question posed by the artwork’s concept became.

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Discovering a Visual Shorthand: The Making of The Cartographer’s Dilemma

The Cartographer's Dilemma

The Cartograper’s Dilemma

I’ve written how hesitant I am to explain the art pieces I create. However, this past year I have become more comfortable participating in conversations about my work.

While being on-hand during the hanging of the current show, I enjoyed a spontaneous conversation with Abel Floris, owner of Desert Signs and Graphics, and the artist responsible for creating the vinyl lettering for the exhibition. He was curious about my process; in particular how I came to create The Cartographer’s Dilemma (TCD). I summed up the amount of work that goes into each TCD sculpture into a few sentences. I wasn’t trying to be deliberately coy, I was simply eager to hear more of his thoughts on the pieces currently hanging in the show.

After my brief answer, however, Abel replied with a comment that arrested me with enthusiasm. I can’t recall his exact words, but the gist of his comment went something like, “…and just like that, you came up with the idea for the piece.” It wasn’t just the explanation on the concept behind the artwork that he was looking for, but the journey behind reaching the final presentation!
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Hanging The Exhibit

Today was the second day hanging the show. I knew I had dropped off a good number of art pieces for the exhibit, forty-two pieces to be exact. (I’ll steal a smile with Douglas fans, and don’t forget to bring a towel.) But walking into the space this afternoon with almost everything now hung on the walls made this whole adventure all the more real.

The moment that shifted my perspective was when these letters were revealed on the wall.

ImageThe show opens tomorrow, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the work featured in the exhibit.

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If you noticed that The Cartographer’s Dilemma is mysteriously absent from this post, there’s a reason. It’s in the show, but there’s something additional involved in its presentation. I’ll leave you with a coy hint, an update is long over due for The Cartographer’s Dilemma page on the website.