Self Reflection and my Annual Progress Review (First Year as a PhD Student)

For my APR (Annual Progress Review), I have thought a lot about my work. Throughout this year, I noticed my tools, environment, and mental health have impacted my creative practice. Read more about these observations below:

Music & Reflection

Currently my materials are limited. I use my phone (galaxy s8) to do all recordings and then import them onto my laptop. I then use software like Audacity to play around with the sounds and then Adobe Premire Pro to generate the video. As of now, I am uploading my music onto YouTube because this is the platform I am familiar and comfortable using. Though Soundcloud is not something I am considering now, further in my creative practice I think Soundcloud would be a useful place to share my work, as it does not compress the audio file. With where I am at, I would consider my sound art to be raw like Janet Cardiff’s, or the wild west of music production. I work with the resources and skills I have and often take these fragments of disorder to create something new.

 I decided using everyday objects as my base for this creative project was made from my want to be comfortable with what I am doing. I do not have a musical background. Rather than looking at the technical aspects of music, I decided to use what I know and familiar with to make sense of my future work with binaural beats. Perhaps as I am taking the steps to build to binaural beat instrumentation, I can experiment with binaural recordings and get comfortable with the techniques and uses, much like the way Janet Cardiff uses binaural recordings in her work.

Additionally, it is not easy to admit that I lack formal training in music but maybe this is what allows me to be more experimental and explorative? I draw inspiration from Susan Philipsz, a Scottish sculptor of sound artist, who is known for “her untrained, unaccompanied singing voice” (Corner 2010). Philipsz won the Turner Prize 2010 with her work Lowlands Away (, a sound installation consisting of three version of a Scottish lament (BBC News 2010). She has a passion for singing and has not let her untrained voice stop her from expressing herself and creating pieces for others to respond to. This is an incredible achievement and provides inspiration to my current work.

Involving Multimedia via Instagram

Text and visual elements of my work exist through my Instagram account, Core.Opulence, where I share positive affirmations created by myself using Adobe Spark. I pair inspirational texts with images using an Instagram format, then use hashtags to target more visitors to my page. Though this is not related to my music exploration per se, the affirmation text and visuals are a physical reminder for me to keep going and push forward. I genuinely feel that my work can impact others in a positive light and my hope is that those who interact with me can find feelings of peace, relaxation, love, support, etc. I am very passionate about my creative practice because it brought the light to something dark in my life. I suffer from anxiety and began meditation in 2015 to help combat my stress, worry, fears, etc. Through meditation, I was introduced to new and different ways of finding inner-peace, one being binaural beats. Though my project is artistic and not clinical, I still believe I can discover how people feel when interacting with my work and anticipate that I can help someone is someway find a good feeling, even if it is for a moment.

Mental Health:

Derek Hess, an American artist, is known for his work in making posters and CD covers for bands such as Deftones, Motion City Soundtrack, and Unearth. To promote Mental Health Awareness in 2017, Hess decided to post daily images to his social media pages that displayed his struggle with mental illness and substance abuse. “What started off as self-exploration quickly turned into a personal journey for many dealing with their own mental health and addiction issues” (Valentine 2018). Topics like relationships, loneliness, depression, and suicide were shared and discussed, breaking down the stigma of mental illness. Hess goes to say,

“Artists reflect the times they live in; they are a mirror of society. As far as raising awareness for mental health goes, it seems like the curtain is beginning to be pulled back on mental illness in our current society. When creating pieces inspired by it, it is important for the artist to articulate the meaning behind it. The viewer may like it but may not “get” it. So, talking about your work is important regarding this subject” (Valentine 2018).

This is a powerful statement from Hess and though my creative practice does not target mental health, my work reflects myself, which has a mental illness. I believe being open about this throughout my creative practice will help continue the process of breaking down stigmas.

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