Monday, July 16, 2018

Zero 7, Sketch Plugins & Torture Art

Weekly Update 2018-28: Good vibes from the music of Zero 7, giving thanks for sketch plugins and looking at how modern art can be weaponized as a torture device.

Music: Zero 7
Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker are the English duo that make up Zero 7. I have been on an instrumental music kick lately, and recalled that their earlier work contained a lot of really good lyric-free tunes. Since then, they've grown into their own sound with guest vocals from all sorts of talented musicians like Sia, Sophie Barker and Eska. It's just good vibes music all around, and great for concentration.

I have a soft spot in my heart for 2006 album The Garden, so why not start with that?

This past weekend was another estate sale run by my father for his little side hobby. While the family themselves didn't have much of anything that I found particularly interesting (my favourite thing to do while I help to organize and run the sales), it was still really nice to meet all the people who came into the sale. There really are so many things to enjoy about this hobby of my father's, especially the way we've begun to help him and do this as a family. I'm not too dumb to realize what a lucky opportunity I have to spend with my family these days and how we've started to get along a little better.

I've been trucking along with adding the real estate redesign project to my website. I've got all of the case study writing finished, as well as about half of the design changes and assets I need to make for the visual part. I'm actually getting pretty excited about posting the project next week. It took about ten months from start to finish so it was a pretty big project.

I also managed to be a good patient through a restructuring of some old cavities at the dentist a few days ago. Having cavities re-done is so much worse than having them done in the first place - what with the extra drilling and scraping of having the filling removed. Glad that one's over.

Finally, I took the plunge and had my iPhone battery replaced at the Apple Store. I was lucky enough to get it back only three hours later (I always prepare for the worst with the Apple Store - it could have been a week!). It was really weird to be without a phone for three hours, especially since I had to go and meet someone in the intervening time. It was the first time in a long time that I felt regret for not wearing a watch.

While I was without a watch this week, I actually quite enjoyed not having my phone with me. While I realize it is a slight security risk not to keep one's phone on them, it felt really freeing not to have it. So I brought an old-school charger downtown and decided that I'll charge up my old iPod (watch AND music) this week for a bit of nostalgia and phone-free time.

Plus, let's be honest, my iPod Nano 3rd Gen still looks hella fly (circa 2007).

I've got some work ahead of me this week, hoping to finish posting the new project to my website and send a quote to a potential new freelance client. My main goal is to be in a good place to focus on the freelance project by next week, if it goes through. If not, I can figure out what personal project to pick back up and do some file organization.

Random Thought: Sketch Plugins
Using Sketch more and more over Adobe products these days, one of the things I find most attractive about Sketch is the open-source nature of it all. The product isn't perfect and everyone has their own missing featureset to gripe about, but that's where they allow third-party developers to create their own custom features in the form of downloadable and (generally) free plugins. So if you're missing something from your experience in Sketch, and you can't live without it, you can make it. As far as I know, Adobe has no plans to implement anything remotely close to this type of thing.

An incomplete list of plugins I can't do without:
  • Sketch Runner - The omniscient plugin that's a workhorse - download plugins directly inside Sketch (no, Sketch can't do this out-of-the-box!), insert symbols in seconds using their names instead of the clumsy dropdown list stacks, quickly jump to pages or artboards, and so much more. It's like Mac Spotlight for Sketch, but it doesn't suck. In fact, much the opposite.
  • Paddy by David Williames - Auto-magically aligns all your layers as you specify, simply by adding specific characters to the end of your filenames. Also allows you to create symbols that expand and shrink depending on dynamic type. This should be built into Sketch, but it isn't. Thanks David!
  • Stark bCat NooneMichael Fouquet, and Benedikt Lehnert - Provides lots of colour-related accessibility checkers right inside Sketch (it's really never too early to test colour pairings for accessibility). 
It's amazing that we live in a time when we as users have the power and tools to shape our software the way we want it. To find a tool that does the job is good (and necessary) but to be able to shape or even create the tool to custom-fit the job is wondrous.

Inspiration: Torture Art
Art is so subjective, and that's one of the things I really love about it. Two people can look at the same painting and feel completely different emotions depending on their experiences and personal tastes. Optical Illusionist Art, or Op Art, seems to be one of those especially polarizing movements, causing ceaseless intrigue for some and discomfort to the point of nausea for others. Trigger warning, Op Art below.

As is the theme of humanity, if we discover something that makes us uncomfortable, we use it to torture others. I'm not condoning this type of behaviour of course, but I do find its weaponization unprecedented and interesting at the very least.

As was such with the Spanish Civil War.  "A Spanish art historian has found evidence that suggests some Civil War jail cells were built like 3-D modern art paintings in order to torture prisoners," reports BBC News. "The cells were built in 1938 for the republican forces fighting General Franco's Fascist Nationalist army, who eventually won power."

Beds were set at a 20 degree angle so that it was nearly impossible to sleep.

These cells also contained flashing lights to heighten the experience. The creator of the concept, Alphonse Laurencic, admitted in his 1939 Francoist military court trial that he was inspired by modern artists, such as surrealist Salvador Dali and Bauhaus artist Wassily Kandinsky.

Can something be both horrific and beautiful at the same time? I'd mark this one under that category.

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