"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence." - Ansel Adams
On February 28, 2016, I took a walk.
It's something I do multiple times a week: walk in nature, take a few photos, and enjoy the silence. I don't know exactly why I do it or why I'm drawn to it. I just know that it's something that I enjoy.
Whenever I'm walking outdoors I'm usually taking photos with my camera or my phone. It's become a habit. I must stress however, that I am very much an amateur; I don't own a DSLR, I have never used photoshop, and I have very little experience or technical knowledge in the field of photography in general, but I find it to be a fascinating medium in which to capture beauty and to express distinct feelings. There's some sort of a therapeutic aspect to it all.
What I'm drawn to the most is vastness. There is an overwhelming feeling I get when viewing a photo of an unending horizon, an image that depicts a seemingly endless sky above an endless earth. The two seem to meet at a certain point but that place is somewhere unfathomable. Those images depict the place we get the opportunity to exist in and I'm constantly on the lookout to view the wonderful natural world, the world that hasn't been tampered with by man, even if it's something as simple as staring up at the stars in the night sky for a few seconds.
I took quite a few photos yesterday, photos a bit like I described above. And there's a uniqueness to them because of the time of year: the dead of winter. My walk could be summed up with the following:
Capturing the lifeless time of winter can be problematic because of how uncomfortable the cold can be but yesterday was a rare exception with the temperature being in the 50s. And even though I love the desolate look that winter brings, I am greatly looking forward to the start of spring within just a few short weeks when the temperature rises and nature comes back to life.
Sometimes the best part of being outdoors and away from the rest of the world is the silence. Let's face it, most of us (but not all) live in noisy places. Believe it or not, I have found very few places near me where there isn't noise pollution. Even when I'm in the middle of the woods I can still hear the sounds of loud cars moving through busy streets far in the distance. Complete silence in the middle of nature has been hard for me to find but I have found it nonetheless and it's a special thing, it's something to cherish. It brings about calmness, inspiration, and a certain joy. Seek it out and maybe take a few photos while you're at it.
The best thing a photograph can do is make others want to be there in that split second moment, whether it's in the middle of nature, within a city, or with a group of people. That's really what I try to communicate with these images. And that's what's special about art, it captures and communicates the abstract, the immaterial, the things that cannot be expressed with language. After all, there's no need for any of it to be verbalized.
P.S. Happy leap day!
"The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul." - J.S. Bach
Music is a curious phenomenon. If you think about it on a surface level, it's merely sound, vibrations that travel through the air that can be heard when they reach one's ear. It's organized sound, but it's sound nonetheless.
So why then does it make us feel? Why does the emotion of happiness come to mind when a C major chord is hammered out on a piano or the feeling of moroseness is communicated through a D minor chord strummed on a guitar? I don't have the answers to those questions right now but I'm sure they can be found somewhere. And honestly, I'm not interested in getting caught up in the how or why of it. I just know that music has the power to make one feel and I find that wonderful.
For about 2 years, I struggled with composition. I was under the impression that a piece of music wasn't "good" unless it met certain qualifications. Does it ever change key? Does it have any time signature changes? Is there any chromaticism in the melody? If the answer to any of these questions was "no" then the piece of music you have crafted has no value. It's simplistic, boring, and there is no intellect behind what you wrote. The impression I had of what it takes to create a "good" piece of music was wrong.
In 2012, I was studying music at a school in Miami, Florida and I had the opportunity to sit in on a clinic by bassist Victor Wooten (check him out if you've never heard of him). He ended his talk with a simple question, "If you could sum up music in one word, what would it be?" The crowd that was there shouted out numerous things: emotion, feeling, heart, soul, etc. He then pointed out that every time he has asked a crowd that question no one has ever said things like chords, notes, scales, or keys. These technical things are tools you use to craft music but not what the music hinges on, it hinges on the feeling, the emotion, the purpose behind the piece. Something in my head (and my heart) clicked and I began to compose in an entirely different way.
I dropped the mentality of trying to write technical and complex pieces. I started to write things that made me feel something. I thought of what I wanted the piece to communicate first and then use those technical tools to make that happen. After 3 years of on and off writing and recording, I came up with this album of 9 pieces of instrumental music:
Is the album good? Is it bad? That's not up to me to make that decision. I'll admit that it's not a collection of songs that one would consider to be "mainstream" or anything you can sing along to (lyrics have never been my forte). However, what I do think it succeeds at is its ability to communicate emotion. When I listen, it makes me feel hopeful, it makes me feel nostalgic, it makes me feel grateful for the gift of music. Now that might just be because I'm the composer and am therefor personally connected to these sounds. However, it's my hope that someone else, even just a single person, feels something similar. And if not, I'm glad to have just been granted the abilities to create something like this. When I started to learn about music when I was 13, I had no idea that one day I would be making music myself, let alone music that sounded like this!
Music is a gift, any form of creativity is. Drawing is a gift. Painting is a gift. Photography is a gift. Filmmaking is a gift. Writing is a gift. If you've been blessed with any one of them, do something about it. Compose a piece of music, take a photograph, write a story. Just do it to the best of your ability. Think about the emotions first and the technical aspects second.
And last but not least, take Bach's advice:
Glorify God, refresh the soul, create with a higher purpose. Your art will be better for it, trust me.
Project Atlantic. It's an idea that's been floating around my head for a few years now. For some reason, now is the time to really run with it. It's an idea that isn't fully developed yet and I'm sure isn't entirely original. However, it's an idea that encourages, that's what excites me.
I've always been creative and drawn to art. I can still remember days when I was younger, about 5 or 6, where all I wanted to do was spend the day drawing with my mom (who is an artist), listen to music on my cassette player with my sister (Raffi was our favorite), or watch movies on VHS with my dad (preferably old Universal monster movies, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones). Those things inspired me even though I didn't start to become a real artist until my early 20s.
I consider myself to be a few things. I'm a musician first and foremost. I got a bass when I was 13 and I haven't stopped playing since. Over the past 12 or so years I also picked up piano, guitar, drums, and a few other instruments that many would consider to be unorthodox (didgeridoo anyone?).
More recently, I've begun to branch out into other artistic endeavors. Filmmaking is something I've always been a huge fan of and a couple of years ago I started to get serious about it, even going so far as studying it in college.
Photography is another passion. There's something special about capturing a single, split second moment in time. My favorite thing to capture is nature or people in nature. Landscapes are special, God's artwork if you will, and I could stare at them for hours. To be able to capture things like that is something else.
Last is writing, my weakest creative outlet. I'm still learning (so bear with me!) but it's fun. Written text has always been more fascinating to me than verbal expression.
So that brings me to the site. What is it and why is it here? As of right now, it's a place to encapsulate all of my creative endeavors: music, photography, filmmaking, and writing. A place not just for me, I never want anything I create to be about myself. What I want to do is inspire. I want this to be a place others can come for inspiration, to then go and create things themselves, in whatever medium they choose.
With all that said, I don't want Project Atlantic to be forever coming from a single individual. If all goes according to plan, I want others to share their creativity here as well, whether that be with music, photography, writing, or even something completely different. Project Atlantic is going to be a place for artists to share their creations and to inspire others.
Until then, feel free to browse. As of writing this, the site has only been up for about 3 hours. There isn't much here yet save for a handful of music releases, a few photos, and a single piece of filmmaking. The site will grow, it will just take some time.
There are plenty of ideas swirling around in my head that will appear on here within the coming months. I hope you stick around. Whether this succeeds or fails, it's going to be an interesting endeavor.