Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Universal Embrace - Front Cover for the iBook Store

The Universal Embrace needed a front cover design for the iBook Store, so I put together this with some of the design work from the template and also a reference to a mandelbrot set design.

The manifestation and technical manifestation of the interactive ‘Universal Embrace’.

Starting out:

The Universal Embrace started out on paper and in my mind-so it was hard to foresee where it may have ended up manifesting even though I had envisaged it being on a web page. The candidature proposal was written, with the aim of the project appearing online for a maximum audience. As I started to piece together the way in which I record and publish narrative though, it began to be clear to me that I did not have the  technical skills to put a complex HTML site together online.

The online project however, was shaping up. I had decided on from google to be embedded in my web page for an ongoing narrative. This was quite easily designable to place into the template for my website that was put together under the auspice of

I had already had the building blocks of the project, indeed the candidature proposal was quite like a template to follow when designing and writing my work. I had my research question and statements of significance.

When I started to put together images and words on the website, I had anticipated that if I designed an interactive site, I could host it on one of my servers and place it within the website much like I had with my blog from However, there were other ways forwards.

During my journey doing my masters, I had published a book on the iTunes store, ‘Recent Drawing, Towards A/r/tography’, which had included within it some moving designs, and traditional art presented in a digital medium, much like the work I intended to do. This was a very interesting process, and although there was quite a lot of technical issues to go through, including getting my own iPad to test the book on, I persevered, and the book was published.

The software to put an iBook together for the iBook store is ‘iBooks Author’, and there is another program, ‘iTunes Producer’, that you need to use in order to finally publish your work to be considered for the Apple iBooks store.

The software is quite intuitive to use, and with an iPad, you can instantly see your work on how it will appear as an iBook on the iPad. It’s exciting to see words and images come to life on this contemporary new medium. So, why not consider putting a copy of ‘The Universal Embrace’, on it?

I considered the idea, and moved forward with the many technical issues that I was faced with. I had already put a copy of the Universal embrace online, so I would be repeating myself, that was problem number one. But there was another distinct advantage of doing this.

When I had put my visual candidature proposal together, I used Keynote, which is for presentations. Luckily for me I had become quite familiar with this software, and its potential for interactivity was there-I could easily design something with forwards and backwards buttons, or run a presentation and make a button to go anywhere on a document.

I had also started with the final design of the universal embrace. Like the proposal said, it was to occur on the template of a golden rectangle. So I had illustrated one for this purpose. Slowly, after a few weeks, I began to build a photoshop document in ‘layers’, items that I could turn off and on, to be guided through the complexities of the embrace whilst keeping it visually simple.

My problem was that somehow, I needed to animate the layers that I had saved in Photoshop. This is where keynote came to the rescue. I re-sized the photoshop file with the layers in it to fit an iPad dimension. Then, I placed all the slides into keynote whereby I could add sound, and an interactive forwards and backwards button that was simple and elegant in design. It was beginning to take form.

After putting together the information that I already had into iBooks Author, such as statement, candidature proposal, etc, I then had the option to design how this book would work. Without realising it, I had started to work on the final presentation of the Universal Embrace! It was not online like I had earlier anticipated, (well, finished anyway), but it still had the means to be electronically distributed for a wide audience through the Apple platform. I was excited that the publishable iBook idea was a very contemporary way of presenting a Masters piece, and had support from supervisors Maureen and Neil that this would be acceptable to present. I felt like it was a very cutting edge way of presenting what used to be presented traditionally, and was extremely exited by this.

I looked at ways I could reference my literature review and other quotes and this was acceptable. I had divided up my iBook into sections, and it all seemed to flow very nicely. I had left space to fill in on the major distilled narratives of subjects like Phi, Spirit, and Society as relates to my work. Then, I was able to embed my Keynote presentation, an additional interactive design, into the iBook itself.

When I showed this to my supervisors, I was thrilled to find out that I might be submitting the idea much earlier than anticipated for marking and assessment, cutting my study time down by nearly two years! It was thrilling to think it was moving so fast, and now the challenge lay ahead to produce more of the writing and references that I would need to do to fill out the body of text to go with my overall interactive iBook.

In terms of the website, this could still exist, and I could easily animate a movie of the embrace with a link to the anticipated finished iBook, so this was not in vain.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Notes and thoughts on Phi

Considering Phi, Spirit and Society; all broad themes and arrived at through intuition and a desire for storytelling in images and words.

Here in this section, I’m going to discuss the distilled themes in relation to the creative project, ‘The Universal Embrace’.


Upon explaining the creative component of the universal embraces concept to Neil Hooley, supervisor, he said he understood, but what does it mean, in broader terms? I forget what I said but I wish I had have recorded it. It followed along the lines of creating something macroscopic and microscopic, through divisions and references to divinity and banality, creating tensions between the two, and re-creating the self through an ongoing narrative. We were getting somewhere.

In my early twenties I would read the work of Paul Davies ‘The Mind of God’, about fractals and the genesis of patterns in maths, how this was extricably linked to the universe, physical matter and its outer worlds.

I enjoyed that type of philosophy and have always had a fascination with shapes, mathematics, and free energy, as described in the animation accompanying this project. What I was really interested in was ‘the sweet spot’ of a cricket bat-the ideal resonant state of things that ended up in the manifestation of reality as we know it. Even to go further, as someone experiencing high levels of anxiety and a diagnosis of schizophrenia, I was interested in the mind and how it worked-so at that time I would leap from written work like Davies, and onto Carl Jung. I marveled at his theories of synchronicity and archetypes, and related it to the art I had studied-suddenly, every piece of art slipped into a dimension of an archetype, both visually and thematically. Art back then was a cathartic attempt and a method to understanding mind.

I felt like I had discovered a blanket ethos I could place over art-and further understand and push my own art to its extremities. In relation to phi, this old feeling that there is a base, a template, for everything that is and ever was and ever will be-fascinated me. As an avid observer of nature I saw this mechanism in the plants and the world around me as a child.

When I started planning this narrative, I came up with a drawing on which an interactivity would be placed, and because life experience has shown both the dark and light sides of reality and emotion, phi was something I felt I could work with because under that all encompassing template, I could construct or design anything at all, and it would fit comfortably under that all encompassing auspice.

In this way, metaphotically, anything was possible to describe in this space. Possibility was an is important.

What I chose to describe, is an embrace between two men, diaristically my partner and I. This was a real turn for me, in the many years I have made art sexuality was suggested, pained over, distorted and feared, yet here at age 40 I feel that a celebration of the narrative of my comfort in this relationship was a good way to keep the project positive and optimistic, and contribute to the well being and greater good of society.

I have had quite a few partners in my life, and the transient nature of relationships for me personally has happened over and over. Yet despite how solid I feel in my relationship now, the universal embrace focuses on an event-a thing that occurs in a particular environment, in a sliver of time. Interestingly though, the focus on this moment visually and philosophically has awakened the feeling of timelessness to all experiences.

Within this environment, there is a moment, and during the interactivity, different themes are pursued.

During writing my narrative, I have come across confronting the self, and also re-creating the self. Re-creating the self (Beattie) in terms of A/r/tography has been wonderfully liberating. This is a celebration of life and love, in all its dimensional qualities. It also pushes schizophrenia, to a lesser extent, into the past, to a degree lesser considered, which I feel very comfortable with.

Even in terms of the universal embraces structure, the genesis of the present is in the past, yet the unfolding past that results in the largest square where the embrace occurs fades into the background, a smaller, but all together necessary component.

Phi as relates to resonance is the celebration of love and commitment-a divine energy that has found its essence at this time in my relationship. However phi was not always celebrated as a sacred number. In his book ‘The Golden Ratio,’, Mario Livio describes pythagoras’ school and philosophy as the study of whole numbers and their ratios, and that the discovery of the magical number phi was considered a ‘cosmic error’; and was suppressed.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Blessing for myself, mindfulness from 2010

I wrote this text in 2010 and put it on my wall where I light candles every night.

I think its quite poetic and thought I might post it here as part of a narrative from around three years ago.

Take from it what you will!

I bless myself.

Leave the Ego behind, a prayer to spirit.

I have emotions; yet I am not the sum of those emotions.

I have shared creations, yet they remain a record of the time-I am not only those creations.

I have a body, but I am greater then my physical body suggests.

I have an illness, and I suffer, but I would not trade the pain for what I've learnt.

I have fears, but I am not those fears.

I have some money, but that money does not make me.

I will pass over, and I accept this.

I have an ego and identity, 'Richard William McLean', but the ego is corruptible and to be dis-assembled.

I ask for spiritual, physical, and emotional protection for myself and those I love and touch every day and give thanks everyday.

I am kind, and give thanks to something greater than myself for that kindness.

I have kinks in my armor, and accept faith to amend them.

I am sorry. As my toe touches the ground and the earth be my witness, and the reply is, you are forgiven.

I love you, and the reply is: 'You are loved!'

I am lots of things, but no section or element of them is me.

I bless myself.

Thank you.

I am.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Animation design

I've been working on the slides for the concept of explaining 'The Universal Embrace', and its themes of the emotional, physical, spiritual, and political aspects of an embrace.

Today I put the frames into a multimedia program and animated it, and I really like how it presents, so I thought I would post it.

This YouTube video will most likely appear in similar form in the iBook version of this project as introductory media.

I hope you enjoy looking and listening to this ongoing project.