‘Inside’ The Game

Previously, I wrote a review of Playdead’s award winning platform adventure ‘Limbo’. I would like to continue with this intrigue in indie gaming by drawing your attention to ‘INSIDE’, Playdead’s new to-be- released three-dimensional platform game.

An exciting hint at the game comes from the atmospherically dense trailer that the developers have released. The trailer is focused on a young child traversing through a harsh prison-like environment and dressed in a red garment; dissimilarly to Limbo’s protagonist who is drenched in the pure black of the games noir setting. A tonal desaturation of the landscape and environment is seemingly idiosyncratic of Playdead’s aesthetic style, as the trailer demonstrates eloquently.

Inside Game

With this subtle introduction of colour (moving away from the pure noir of Limbo, but continuing with its murky haziness) it allows for the playable character to protrude from the landscape, to inhabit the murky setting of the game with an alluring presence.

Unlike Limbo, where the main character blends in with the landscape, the design of the apparent protagonist here has clearly diverted from a flat rendering both visually and characteristically, to embody the contemporary styling of a three-dimensional platformer. The anonymity of the character that we are familiar with from Limbo is less apparent here, this new character seems to have more substance and more personality, even from this short clip.

As the trailer depicts, INSIDE is a three-dimensional platform game that is defined by a style of visual perspective and depth, a characteristic that is becoming more popular in many modern platform games.

Graphically, the game retains the minimal idiosyncrasies of the ‘retro’ design and aesthetic that is emerging amongst popular games such as Minecraft and so on, alternatively demonstrating more reductive styling, again in order to hone in on the main character, this being a difficult thing to achieve in a platform game, especially one that lacks dialogue.

One feature I have noticed from the trailer is the background and foreground are merged together, providing the player with restricted interactive boundaries that aren’t visually distracting, ultimately offering a more of a natural flow to the game.

Inside Game

 

The sounds used in Limbo, from the soundtrack (a dark drone that matched the visual aesthetic of the game) to the puncturing abruptness of the in-game noises, are matched in the trailer for INSIDE with a steady yet pounding marching noise, which raises the tension as we follow the character traverse the perilous landscape.

Artistic creativity in the gaming industry is becoming more prominent, not that it’s been devoid of it before, but I find that certain games are being simplified in terms of the storyline and it’s content in order to emphasise aesthetics and symbolism; likewise other games are reducing the visual activity in order to subliminally communicate more sensitive or sophisticated messages. For example, in INSIDE the desaturation of the environment directs focus to the playable character, drawing attention to the value of the character’s existence in the game.

INSIDE delivers elements of mystery, tension, adventure and curiosity, delivered brilliantly in the compact and exciting trailer. The sheer anticipation of the climactic scene builds up to an inexplicably mysterious event, leaving the viewer in anticipation; the build up includes a moment where the child joins the anonymous group of people, those whom are pressed against an opaque window, in-fact, so captivated by an unknown entity, they ignore the child.

The game is still in development, so I’m sure there are many more features to discuss when the game is released.

INSIDE will make its anticipated debut on Xbox in early 2015. Given the success of Limbo, I’d like to think that it will move onto other platforms like iOS and Android soon after.

Joe Mckenna – Featured Artist October 2014



Artist Statement

My work is loosely based on the industrial aesthetic in contrast with its natural surroundings, reflecting on the concern of early romantic era painters as well as the coincidental beauty of the modern and the man made in its invasive and alien presence. The images in this series are an investigation of not only two types of aesthetic but two types of mark making, ranging from erratic splatters to detailed technical style drawing, which gives room to a selection of organic ‘happy accidents’ on which to bring out and add detail. This contrast in texture and pattern produces a vivid and exciting set of abstract landscapes based on the idea of taking the more interesting extremes of these two visual elements. Based on the notion of opposites, I attempt to connote the equal harshness of both nature and man made structures by placing them side by side below a shroud of beautiful and foreboding cloudscapes. My fascination with this theme comes from my love of expressive landscape painting, such as the work of Turner and John Martin. This fascination of natural phenomena and often aggressive seeming architecture highlights my interest in buildings and machinery and its strangeness amongst the vast emptiness and mess of the universe. Rather than a glorification of might and supremacy of human progress I find it more fitting to highlight and contemplate our own fragility amongst our surroundings.

 

 

Joe Mckenna

 

Joe Mckenna

 

 

Celebrating Art From Around The World – Ewa Goral

 Ewa Goral

O R G A N I C: I am trying to go deeper into the amazing floral world of nature. I draw many fantastic inspirations from past, amongst which one can find classic works of philosopher, biologist and traveller Ernst Haeckel as well as more contemporary, psychedelic representations of wildlife (for example music video At Delphi of Californian group Sun Araw, directed by Cameron Stallone and Daniel Brantley). Floral series has been painted on the round canvas to underline periodicity typical for vegetation?s processes. I transform most of the painting objects; definitely you will not see amongst my pieces a classic still life with flowers in a vase. I am more fascinated by the secret, ?human? life of flora, which is why some of the elements have ears, eyes or teethes. I tend to create my own botanical world which comes out of my imagination and on canvas join with reality.

 

 

ewa goral

 

 

ewa goral

Celebrating Art From Around The World – Bertrand Lanthiez

Bertrand Lanthiez

Bertrand is a French graphic designer, recently graduated from ESAG Penninghen School in Paris.

Even after completing his eight months Erasmus exchange, he continues to be inspired by the majesty of Scandinavia. He likes to twist materials from their original use, changing formats and design in every project. 

He chose to communicate ideas through interactive installations, focusing on a dialogue by letting the audience being an actor and not only a passive observer.

He grew up with Lego, now he is playing with Arduino.

 

 

 

Celebrating Art From Around The World – Lucie Libotte

 Lucie Libotte

House dust is commonly perceived as dirty, intrusive and repulsive. We know it as fine grey dry powder consisting of tiny particles and waste matter collecting on surfaces or carried in the air. It is often associated with unkempt and neglected environments, where as a clean environment is considered as civilized and proper. 

 ‘Dust matters’ aims is to re-evaluate this ‘dirt’, and convey the value of dust as an indicator of our environment, showing how it reflects our daily life and traces our journey through the world.

Focusing on an individual’s private sphere, I have collected samples of dust from the domestic home. Observing the different inherent components inside the dust, I conclude that the dust is different depending of the house and its locations.

By locking inside a ceramic container, the dust  starts  to react and get transformed as a glaze. The colors change the glaze and start to behave differently depending on the component : the particles of metal, organic and synthetic matter that make up the dust samples.

The resulting bespoke vessels display unique beauty that tells a different story from each location where the dust was collected.

 

 

 

Lucie Libotte

 

 

Lucie Libotte Dust Matters process 2Lucie Libotte Dust Matters process 3

 

 

 

Celebrating Art From Around The World – Sam Houston

Sam Houston

I experiment with the idea of ‘desire’ by using familiar imagery to investigate its importance.

I aim to create a portal for the viewer to escape and admire the subjects, encouraging a changeable emotional state. I use eclectic imagery of figures and the landscape to create a new space that explores our thoughts and desires.

 I achieve this by layering subjects that merge together, allowing a translucent depth to delve into. I use instinct to piece together the images, withholding information to encourage obscurity.

I allow the freedom of colour, reflecting our sudden excitement of desire, yet control it to an acceptance, mirroring reality. Whilst exploring this theme, I test our understanding of space and structure, destabilising our safety, leading to alternative interpretation. I strive to entertain the eye and spark intrigue, stirring understanding of scale, subject and form.

 

 

Sam Houston

 

SAm Houston

 

 

 

 

‘I don’t want to get like a Disney Film’ Edwin Burdis at Primary

There is something very inspiring and refreshing about artist Edwin Burdis. It’s possibly the fact that he is not from a traditional, art focused background. Or perhaps it’s due to how he speaks his mind, saying what he wants to say and not what he thinks others might want to hear. Either way, both Burdis’ opinions and his work are a welcome refresher to the art world. Having completed half of his residency at Primary already, Burdis’ own commission – the second in a series of commissioned works entitled “Multiple Points in This Crude Landscape” – is set to open for one month from October 1st.

Edwin Burdis

With a past in producing dance tracks, Burdis has now translated his talent in sampling from other sources, into the artwork that he creates; which is inspired by everything from “books and films”, to “music and the internet.” This explains perfectly how each piece of Burdis’ work continues to be a successfully eclectic mix of every possible medium and colour imaginable. However, interestingly enough, the colours that Burdis uses are something that “just happen”, other than lilac that is, which has a way of seeping into his work due to his Mothers’ influence. While the materials and colours of the work are of significance, Burdis also considers the viewers to be just as important, stating “They are always a part of it, even if they are just looking at it.” Before adding, “I don’t think work exists if it’s not being seen or heard.” This is one of the many refreshing attitudes of Burdis as an artist, whatever he produces he tries to get it out there and seen by as many people as possible, and he encourages others to work in the same kind of way.

 

Having taught in Higher Education recently, Burdis was saddened to discover so many art students relying so heavily on the validation of others that they become almost un-ambitious. Burdis also found that some students were focusing too much on their “Am I doing the right thing” attitude which he considers – and quite rightly so – “kind of, a load of rubbish.” However, as surprising as it is, when asked if he had any advice for recent graduates hoping to become practicing artists themselves Burdis replied with, “I can’t. I can’t, I’d dread to say the wrong thing. I have no advice.” This is a surprising outcome, not due to the fact that Burdis seemed to be lacking the advice or wisdom for others to learn from, but because the entirety of the rest of the interview consisted mostly of advice that Burdis seemingly didn’t know he was giving.

 

“It’s up to you. You’ve got this moment. I don’t want to get like a Disney film, but this is the moment and that’s all you’ve got. It’s time. Just time. Forget about the rest of it because it’s gonna go. So, just get on with it. Make stuff.”

 

Burdis, with his non-traditional background, and his truthful and open approach to interviewing in check; he has given some of the best advice we’ve ever had the privilege of achieving through an interview. Starting very simply with the points that, “it’s really important to fail”, and that it is up to you as the artist to “get out there and do it” – Burdis began with the advice as he – apparently unknowingly -aimed to go on. The epitome of Burdis’ interview, and perhaps even his work also, comes down to one epiphany like piece of advice; “It’s up to you. You’ve got this moment. I don’t want to get like a Disney film, but this is the moment and that’s all you’ve got. It’s time. Just time. Forget about the rest of it because it’s gonna go. So, just get on with it. Make stuff.”

 

“Multiple Points in This Crude Landscape” – is set to open for one month from October 1st.

Volunteering in the Arts

I was once pulled kicking and screaming from my sleep into a telesales interview in which they verbally accosted me with the words “previous paid position?” It is true that the financial benefits are minimal, but this goes further than that. Since I started voluntary work, it has become a rewarding path I would recommend to anyone. I’ve had some fairly damning experiences that I’ll share, but in the semi-educational way where I hope you won’t encounter similar difficulties.

 

Cupola Contemporary Art in Hillsborough was my first experience of volunteering in a commercial gallery. Their encouragement helped me cope with the anxiety I felt, and I slowly grew more confident. I was once given the daunting responsibility of making phone calls to a list of forty artists, which I hid in the attic to make. One phone call started with me gushing “Hi! Is this [name]? I really love your work!” met by her bewildered “thank you!”. After a few months of personal development, liaising with artists and visitors became a highlight of my work at Cupola, as they shared creative tips and expanded my knowledge of the local art scene.

Offering whatever spare time you have will always be appreciated. A variety of roles exist within a gallery, and making it your job to tackle them all at least once is great for mining experience points. I’m personally wary of hosting opening nights – the last tram home with a head full of red wine and art speak makes navigating the underpass near the O2 Academy Sheffield anything but jaunty.

Laura Jayne Illustrations

Laura Jayne Illustrations

The biggest problem for me was my commuting costs, particularly as Cupola’s volunteers were usually local. After a simple discussion, half my costs were covered. Checking for offers to cover travel and lunch costs is super useful when unwaged – just remember to keep your receipts.

During my time at Cupola, the owner Karen Sherwood became a huge inspiration for me, cementing my aspirations of gallery ownership. She’s now got a blog documenting her journey karencupola.wordpress.com, which is an important insight into the practical necessity of dedicated volunteers.

Laura Jayne Illustrations

Laura Jayne Illustrations

 

At Bank Street Arts in Sheffield I learnt a pretty big lesson; you need to research how long the commitment is for, otherwise you could not get a lot out of it. BSA offers “stages” within their volunteering scheme, stage one for me was front of house duties, and it’s a shame that’s all I ever really saw of BSA before leaving. BSA is essentially a volunteer run organisation, so it gives the place an interesting dynamic. The only downside being that the fresh “stage one” front of house volunteers often have a slightly disorientated approach to visitor’s questions (and I still can’t remember where the toilets are).

In spite of this, I still made the most of it. Networking is one of the best reasons for volunteering, as you should have hopefully built a sound relationship with someone by the end of your time there. I kept in contact via LinkedIn/email with one of the exhibition organisers where all the paintings were reproductions. Six months later, I was writing a coincidentally inspired essay about reproduction art, and I contacted them for useful resources.

 

Invigilating events across London allowed me to scope out really unique and interesting venues – especially when doing short term volunteering. Artsjobs is a fantastic place to find voluntary roles, and it can give you a route into many organisations. Being available to help friends who already work in the arts is a bonus and makes you feel (a.) a good friend and (b.) an integral part of the event. But always remember that your input is valid and useful so don’t be nervous to offer your opinion.

 

A West London gallery that will remain unnamed was the first long-term voluntary role I took on in London. One of their opening gambits was Stella McCartney is just round the corner, and I absolutely loathe Stella McCartney. So that set the tone nicely. I appreciate the fact that many Sheffield galleries and London events can’t afford staff costs. However this was a sponsored West London gallery that just wanted some free desk monkeys to serve champagne and canapés on opening nights. They used volunteers to open the gallery on Saturdays, yet all we ever did was sit there and get maybe one or two visitors through the door. Boring and exploitative unpaid work. Definitely not what volunteering should be.

Laura Jayne Illustrations

Laura Jayne Illustrations

One of the final emails I received before quitting showed their desperation for volunteers, “we’ll cover your travel costs!” They said. Ah, the penny finally dropped. They finally realised that a gallery sponsored by a paint company giant could at least cover travel costs. Cue round of applause. I didn’t care by that point anyway. Breeding apathy in your volunteers through fruitless work doesn’t make a reliable staffing.

Your time is valuable. You should value it, and where you are working should value it. They shouldn’t just be valuing free labour. And you shouldn’t just value the fact that it’ll look good on a cv. What I found most disheartening about that place was how many graduates were there as something to do. There was nothing to do there, little to be gained unless you’re one of the artists… leave, call the gallery bitter names, move on and hope they get called out eventually for unpaid labour.

 

Ad hoc volunteering with Museums Sheffield means I can stay connected to a city I love whilst studying in London. Delivering art workshops to families is one of my favourite roles because I get to share skills and learn things from the children. It’s a good feeling letting children take home what you’ve made – and living in the knowledge that I’m helping fill their parent’s houses with that they would normally deem as “rubbish”. But where would their child be without their cardboard box rendering of Park Hill Flats?

But you can’t always please children whilst invigilating events and you can’t clear parents of blame either. I have witnessed nervous prods at sculptures followed by encouragement to their offspring to follow suit. Or father-daughter iPhone photo shoots of them wearing an exhibit. Don’t touch is a rule young-and-old have a flagrant disregard for and you have become the sharp-eyed and peremptory figure in this game of cat and mouse.

 

Ignite Imaginations in Sheffield is the most recent voluntary role I’ve taken on, again on an ad hoc basis like Museums Sheffield. I got this role from emailing Karen at Cupola Gallery, asking if she knew of any summer jobs. She suggested that Art in the Park were looking for volunteers to help with their rebranding as Ignite Imaginations. My oldest connection helped make my newest connection and many more in-between. Utilise your contacts – utilise everything you learn from volunteering, you never know when you’ll need it.

Pangaea

As a ‘gallery day out’, the Saatchi is still one of my favourite art spaces to visit. Stepping out into South Kensington always feels like a different (and dare I say more expensive) world but the gallery itself seems to provide a peaceful, light resting place. Their current exhibit entitled Pangaea unites a melting pot of different artists from across Africa and South America. Incorporating a breadth of mediums, the work on show feels strong at face value as well as being rich in cultural content.

Sara Casa Tomada, Pangaea, Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery.

Sara Casa Tomada, Pangaea, Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery.

From gaging the response of others who’ve visited the exhibit, the most memorable work in the show would likely be the first you encounter. An installation by Colombian artist Rafael Gomezbarros meets your gaze as you approach the first doorway, its efficacy immediately evident. Unnerving or even sinister, it is only once you are fully within the space that you realise you are surrounded. From the huddles of dark shapes sprawling across all four white walls emerge a colony of giant ants, their bodies each comprised of two cast human skulls on closer inspection. For the artist, this work speaks on behalf of thousands of Colombian people displaced by the country’s conflict and the many anonymous and invisible people who forcibly become immigrants across the world.

I was intrigued by a collection of work by Jose Lerma further into the exhibition. His enormous canvases house a mixture of densely built-up pen and paint markings, each portraying a complex array of political and cultural references. The layers of marks allow the artist to reveal and conceal information, creating vague figures on each surface. But it was the objects outside of the canvas’ frame that interested me – the weight of the largest canvas was supported by a small keyboard under one of its bottom corners and by a guiro (a wooden percussion instrument from Latin-America) beneath the other. The overall presentation leaves the work open to sculptural interpretations in relation to the historic place of the canvas.

Ejercicio Superficial, Pangaea, Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery.

Ejercicio Superficial, Pangaea, Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery.

Freddy Alzate’s spherical brick sculpture brought to mind Gabriel Orozco’s Yielding Stone; a ball of plasticine that the artist rolled across the street. However instead of absorbing traces of its environment, Alzate’s object appears to have been produced by the architecture of the urban surroundings itself curling into an orb.

In one of the lower galleries, Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama creates an encounter that envelops the viewer. The room is hung wall to ceiling with coarse, dirtied coal sacks, sewn together to cover the space entirely. The material quiets the echoes that would otherwise bounce against the smoothness of the gallery walls, bringing an eerie stillness and sense of otherworldliness.

Leonce, Pangaea, Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery.

Leonce, Pangaea, Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery.

As I often find myself commenting about many of the exhibitions I’ve seen at the Saatchi, each work is respectfully given the breathing space it requires to command the viewer’s full attention. Pangaea is no exception to this; the curation seems sensitive to both the art work’s individual presence and the conversations created between different subject matter. A considered snapshot of contemporary art from Africa and South America and well worth a visit.

Pangaea runs until November 2nd (2014).

Jumpcut!

During my previous four years at University I was told consistently and repeatedly how important work placements were for boosting future employability, and, like most lazy, initiative- lacking students, I decided to ignore the advice. Consequently, I graduated with nothing to distinguish myself from my (thousands) of identically, or near-identically, graded co-graduates. New film course, new year and new perspective, I decided to finally embrace the world of work experience this summer. After hundreds of applicants and two interview rounds, I was one of the very lucky 22 students to be selected for the 2014 JUMPCUT Summer Production crew. I quickly realised that lecturers aren’t in fact lying when preaching and promoting their massive benefits, and it was one of the best personal and professional experiences I’ve ever had.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

JUMPCUT is an initiative founded by SIGMA FILMS and Film City Glasgow to enable the development of young film-makers living and working in Scotland. With Channel 4 as a broadcast partner and funder, the mentored training programme takes place over twelve weeks for young people aged 16 – 25, enabling the production of a high quality 10 minute short film. The professional mentors include producer Paddy Higson (credits range from Gregory’s Girl to The Magdalene Sisters and numerous Television Drama productions); Production Designer Mark Leese (God Help the Girl, This is England, The Magdalene Sisters); Location Manager Lloret Dunn (World War Z, Never Let Me Go); Assistant Director Susan Clark (Coronation Street, Still Game, River City) and Production Manager Claire Campbell (Sunshine on Leith, Starred up) – all of whom worked closely with us during the production process.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Being a rather inexperienced first year film student, it was both heartening and interesting to learn that even the graduate film students, with four years of uni experience, were just as clueless as I was about what actually goes into a professional production. This industry, with its massive budgets and large-scale crews, is so vastly different from the small-scale student films we’re accustomed to making as students, and JUMPCUT provided an invaluable experiential bridge between these two worlds. The process was split into pre-production and production, and in the first week I bonded with my fellow crew of eager students/graduates, alongside meeting with, and hearing inspiring words from, some very wise and experienced people within the TV and Film Industry. One particular meeting with Production Executive Gillian Pauling (Fresh Meat, Peep Show, The Cube) was extremely valuable. She opened my eyes to professionalism and good practice not just being common sense, but something that so many people unfortunately fail on. Something as simple as sending a formal email seems to cause difficulty for many hopeful graduates.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

The film itself is one of two initial script choices that had to be pitched by us to SIGMA FILMS. ‘Dropping Michael Off’ was the winning preference, and pre-production commenced by organising our office space into its various department teams of Production, Art department, Camera, Locations, Sound and Post-production. The script, written by prior 2013 JUMPCUT participant James Price, depicts 18 year old Michael’s final day of freedom before his court hearing. Trying to calm his apprehensive nerves, his Uncle Duncan takes him out for what he believes should be a ‘real man’s’ last day before jail. However, Duncan’s true intentions soon become apparent.

Directed by Bafta award winner Zam Salim, ‘Dropping Michael Off’ was an incredible production to be part of. Alongside my production assistant and locations assistant role, I was also able to shadow direct, where I observed Salim’s directorial techniques and his interactions with our actors Brian McCardie (Filth, Speed 2) and Michael McCardie. Their relationship as real life uncle and nephew really magnified the realism Salim was hoping to achieve.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Jumpcut Shots, 2014.

Returning to normal life was a difficult transition after being so immersed in the professional world of the production. It seems crazy schedules aren’t a burden one bit if you genuinely love what you’re learning, doing, and the incredible people who surround and work with you. Director of Photography James Blann and his camera team render a gritty yet stunning look with the industry standard ARRI alexa camera, and I’ll be proud to see my name on the end credits next to many talented people. ‘Dropping Michael Off’ is currently in the post-production stages and will be shown around various festivals and air on Channel 4 in 2015.

Tim’s Vermeer

Tim Jenison is a talented architect, an accomplished musician, a pioneer in computer effects industry and something of a prolific inventor. This documentary follows Jenison’s goal to recreate The Music Lesson by legendary Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer. The only problem is that Tim is not a painter.

Tim’s Vermeer is directed by Teller, one half of the famous double-act, Penn & Teller, the duo also serves as writers, with Penn producing and providing narration. Tim Jenison is an old acquaintance of the magicians and they have both been in awe of Jenison’s unique ability to marvel at any skill he lays his hands on. Though technology is at his heart, Tim has long been fascinated by the works of Vermeer, he is fascinated by the “filmic quality” of Vermeer’s paintings, this unique quality distances Vermeer from others Renaissance artists. The great works of Vermeer have an uncanny glow to them, akin to a photograph rather than a painting, the colours too realistic and the attention-to-detail at a near-impossible level. Jenison believes that Vermeer was aided by optic tools in order to achieve such perfection in his paintings and so his investigation begins.

 

Tims Vermeer Review

Screenshot from ‘Tim’s Vermeer’

After doing some initial research about optic tools of the era, Tim begins to paint aided with a curved mirror. He uses a photograph of his father as an early template and successfully replicates the photograph. After working out the correct colours, he only has to follow what he sees in front of him, not quite tracing the image but rather filling in the spaces. The finished painting looks flawless, looking like an exact reproduction.

Feeling happy with his results, Tim decides to pay a flying visit to legendary English artist David Hockney. Hockney himself had previously published a book that argued Renaissance-era painters were aided by optical aids and other technology. Both Hockney and Jenison marvel at Vermeer’s technical skill as well as his tremendous artistic ability, they agree that science and art don’t have to be mutually exclusive, they can work together to produce something extraordinary. Tim’s Vermeer does not set out to destroy the romanticised portrait of the master painters, if anything it applauds the Renaissance painters as pioneers ahead of their time.

Now reassured in his actions, Tim begins work on his very own copy of Vermeer’s The Music Lesson. As an absolute perfectionist, Tim wants to paint exactly as Vermeer would have done and every detail from The Music Lesson is slowly replicated in his warehouse studio. We are treated to a fantastic montage that shows Tim’s exhaustive efforts in sourcing every object from the picture, the montage is truly incredible, reminiscent of something straight out of a Hollywood film. Tim’s extraordinary, almost super-human efforts are proof that this is no vanity project, Tim has had a love affair with Vermeer for most of his life and wishes to honour the great master as best as he possibly can.

Arguably the best part of Tim’ Vermeer is seeing Tim becoming more and more attached to his painting, behind the tears and the frustration is someone who understands the importance of art, how it can improve our life and of the unexplainable way it makes us feel. For me, Tim’s emotional journey was as important as the progress of the painting.

Though I believe Tim’s Vermeer is an excellent documentary for both art connoisseurs and everyday cinemagoers, I do feel that the film has a certain agenda behind it, mostly due to the inclusion of Penn & Teller. It’s a commonly known fact that Penn & Teller are sceptics: the pair have spoken out against a variety of subjects such as pseudo-science, faith-healers, psychics, Feng Shui, capital punishment and several other controversial subjects. At times Tim’s Vermeer feels like an attack on the concept of artistic genius. A few scenes are dedicated to debunking that Vermeer was not an artistic savant and they make it clear that the great artist had no profound physical abilities, a noble conclusion but it feels like the filmmakers are trying to take the “magic” out of his paintings. Tim’s finished painting is presented more as a finished experiment than a brilliant painting. It’s true that Tim did not paint unaided but the brushstrokes and focus didn’t come out of nowhere.

 

Tim’s Vermeer is a wonderful film but it has drawn some inevitable backlash from members of the art community for understandable reasons, but in my opinion, the film should be seen as a form of entertainment rather than a serious document. The claim that anyone can paint like Vermeer aided with tools may be a bit much for some, but you can still take some joy from watching a near-impossible project that took years to finish unfold before your very eyes. If you take the film at face value then you won’t regret it, Tim’s Vermeer is packed full of heart, warmth and humour, it can be moving at times and perhaps it may even teach you a thing or two. It may not be the most cinematic documentary ever but it’s an honest film and has its heart in the right place. Whatever you think of the finished product, the journey getting there was the best part.

 

Stranger Than Fiction

Joan Fontcuberta’s first major UK show, Stranger than Fiction, at the London Science Museum is currently running from 23rd July until 9th November 2014.

 

Inquiring into religion, biology and even the role of the museum itself, this understated retrospective presents six bodies of the artist’s work, which span over three decades. Through interweaving the visual expressions of museum display, scientific findings, advertising and journalism, the works mix both fact with fiction and science with art, investigating into the authority of photography and our disposition to trust what we see.

 

From the Herbarium Series, Joan Fontcuberta, 1984. Courtesy of The Science Museum, Exhib. Stranger Than Fiction.

From the Herbarium Series, Joan Fontcuberta, 1984. Courtesy of The Science Museum, Exhib. Stranger Than Fiction.

The first and largest body of work, Fauna (1987) greets you upon entering the space. It sets the tone for the rest of the works, taking on a slick, authentic style of display – in keeping with the rest of the museum. Formed of uniform framed black and white photographs with accompanying fact-files for each individual finding, it is also accompanied by typical museum supporting information, such as sound and video recordings, taxidermy animals and sketches. Presenting itself as a historical scientific breakthrough which meticulously documents zoological discoveries made from the work of Professor Peter Ameisenhaufen. Every element – from the professor himself, to detailed notes and taxidermy animals, is a collaborative artistic fabrication. Fontcuberta and Pere Formiguera (1952-2013) question the authority of museum display, and the power institutions hold to provide factual and educational information for an audience willing to learn. From snake-tailed rodents, to winged-deer, we are transported through fact files of animals with enlarged legs, to the mythical centaur, finding our deepest childhood fantasies coming true.

 

Following suit, Herbarium (1984), Sirens (2000) and Karelia, Miracles & Co (2002) are presented in the same way: framed documentary images, research information and even ‘found remnants’. Exploring biology and belief, these three bodies of work really take advantage of the trust of the museum viewer.

 

The Miracle of Dolphin Surfing, Joan Fontcuberta, 2002. Courtesy of The Science Museum, Exhib. Stranger Than Fiction.

The Miracle of Dolphin Surfing, Joan Fontcuberta, 2002. Courtesy of The Science Museum, Exhib. Stranger Than Fiction.

Simply formed from a set of framed black and white photographs, Herbarium appears to be a collection of rare discoveries of exotic plant. It is unlikely for the majority of viewers to be an expert on plant biology, so to most these images depict unusual, yet not ridiculous, plants. The artist has in fact used litter such as electrical wires and textiles to form shapes mimicking pre-existing human and inanimate forms. It is especially important to consider the specific museum here, for many visitors wouldn’t expect a critically interventionist exhibition, within a family-friendly, popular, free museum space.

It is often true that the easiest way too fool somebody is to provide them with something they wish to be true – and in this case we’d love to believe mermaids exist and that miracles can be performed. Both Sirens and Karelia, Miracles & Co add science to very mythical and belief-based elements of everyday. Suspecting that viewers may question the legitimacy of these discoveries, the artist claimed in Sirens, where the discovery of the mermaid fossil in the Provence landscapehad been vandalised; I suspect that this is the only reason they aren’t currently displayed at the Natural History Museum.

As you reach the final room and body of work, Karelia, Miracles & Co, you are exposed to an exploration into a Finnish Monastery, where monks are said to learn how to perform miracles. It becomes apparent that unless you are a firm and faithful believer, a monk riding a dolphin or developing female breasts, couldn’t possibly be realistic research. This work adds a new dimension to the artist’s critique, for it doesn’t only challenge the viewer and the museum; it unmasks the concept of miracles as a hoax. Fontcuberta has really challenged the strongest rival to science in this particular body of work, but presents it as consistently as the rest of the exhibition. Through challenging the balance between what’s reality and what’s photography, the viewer develops a peaked skepticism towards not only the show itself, but towards photography as a medium constantly engulfing an ideology; the artist chooses the particular vision to present, showing you a particular culmination of concepts.

 

Centaurus Neandertalensis, From the Fauna Series, Joan Fontcuberta, 1984. Courtesy of The Science Museum, Exhib. Stranger Than Fiction.

Centaurus Neandertalensis, From the Fauna Series, Joan Fontcuberta, 1984. Courtesy of The Science Museum, Exhib. Stranger Than Fiction.

Although it is said Fontcuberta is primarily known for his exploration into the truth and reliability of photography, it is the very site in which these meticulous bodies of work are viewed which has been ultimately criticised: the museum. Using this as a platform for critique, the artist has seamlessly displayed six research projects, purposefully using the museum as a validating platform. There is an expectation associated within a gallery, of order, attached to conventions of cognition, within a prescribed and predictable way, where the interaction of the audience and the forms of the museum, are in an infinite cycle of change that is influenced entirely by one another. It is this cyclical process that Fontcuberta highlights throughout his exhibition, and leaves you questioning your involvement as a viewer within the museum. It could seem that these works cannot comment, or even exist, outside of an institutional structure, yet being within it immediately elevates its acceptance of the display, language and criticism of what it means to exhibit.

 

Documenting a changing neighbourhood – Vitturi’s ‘Dalston Anatomy’ at The Photographer’s Gallery

The Photographer’s Gallery, located in central London has been host to many contemporary and stimulating photography exhibitions. It was the first gallery opened in Britain, which was devoted entirely to the art of photography. Since its creation in the 1970’s the gallery has been a vital medium for reinforcing the role of photography and its capacity to play an important function in both society and culture. Lorenzo Vitturi’s ‘Dalston Anatomy’, currently on show in the John Lyon gallery, exemplifies this capacity. Vitturi is a Venice born artist, formally cinema set painter, who currently resides in Dalston, East London. As an artist he uses photography in order to cross boundaries and re-shape and interact with the world around him.

 

Vitturi’s work, in this series, documents the changing landscape of Dalston; an area of London, which is rapidly undergoing a process of gentrification. This series is the end point of a 7-year documentation process in which Vitturi witnessed his local neighbourhood transforming at an accelerated speed. The artist’s interests lie in documenting this process of decay. Such interests are highly visible here in the gallery where the Ridley Road market square is represented as lively and vibrant, yet the process of its decay is highly detectable. This photographic and sculpture exhibition seeks to capture these precarious conditions in an image.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Hairy Orange Yellow Balloons and Rotten Camote, 2013. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Hairy Orange Yellow Balloons and Rotten Camote, 2013. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

 

The gallery space is a vivacious and uplifting burst of colour. Such vibrancy is the artist’s representation of the energetic streets of Dalston. In order to produce this series Vitturi collected objects that were discarded from the Market – he literally collected up the pieces of the changing Dalston streets. Vitturi uses many of these organic and discarded materials to which he gives a new form. The market square is brought to life within the gallery space; it is there to be seen and admired in all of its vibrancy, but Vitturi has re-shaped it and given it a unique new form as an artwork. Some of the objects were used as found, others were doused in pigment, others were taken apart, dismantled and left to rot. Many of the objects are seen in these varying states of decay, perhaps metaphorical of the adapting world that Vitturi witnessed around him.

 

His arrangements are produced to great effect – combined with sculpture he creates a dialogue between the photographic images and the materials used. There is a distinctive play on form in this gallery and an interesting re-composition of shapes.  His exploratory artistic practice involves multi-layering objects and textures, which create energetic and dynamic pieces. The centrepiece is an almost ceiling high sculpture which gives form to various recycled materials, a beach ball, plastic cups, wooden pallets and synthetic hair. This work reinvents the meaning of the objects used, they are taken apart and dissected – they become repositioned and shifted to become part of Vitturi’s re-imagined ‘Dalston Anatomy’.

 

Lorenzo Vitturi, Exhibition Installation. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Exhibition Installation.
Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

 

The walls of the gallery contain many of Vitturi’s photographic portraits of market traders and other local residents. They are often hung alongside of other images, which contain an arrangement of fruit and other items. The people and the market are always represented as inter-connected in this way. On occasion they appear faceless – their faces are covered with chalk powder and other materials.

On the floor of the gallery lays a huge carpet. This carpet spans almost half of the floor space. The composition of which is extremely distinctive; it was produced in collaboration with the poet Sam Bergson. The words written on it are words, which the poet and the artist placed together to mimic the rhythm of the market street. The viewer is deliberately confused here in order to represent the confusion and busyness of the street market.

Vitturini’s work may seem confusing and whacky – its powerful use of colour is certainly not understated. Yet, if the viewer looks beyond the piles of waste and decaying bananas one can see the portrayal of a unique and individual neighbourhood. The market and the surrounding are is represented as an area, which is slowly falling apart and being adapted to suit contemporary London, but the market itself is resisting.  The market holds a unique character in spite of the process and adaptation of the surrounding areas of East London. Vitturini’s work makes statements about the ever-changing landscape of London; his work is both contemporary and energetic.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Plastic Blue, 2013. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Plastic Blue, 2013.
Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

 

This gallery is extremely thought provoking – it moves beyond being a photography exhibition, which simply represents the world and the artist’s surroundings. The photographic images here are the end product of a wider process. This style of photographic movement is becoming ever more politically minded – it is important to document these neighbourhoods before they are changed beyond recognition. Viturri’s artistic mood captures a working-class market attempting to gain some stability against a backdrop of rapidly changing east London.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Yellow Chalk 1 & 2, 2013. Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

Lorenzo Vitturi, Yellow Chalk 1 & 2, 2013.
Courtesy of The Photographers Gallery.

 

The images and the formations he produces show the capacity for such adaptation and the vibrancy and individual character of the market is still maintained.

Dalston Anatomy is currently on show at The Photographer’s Gallery, W1 Central London Until 19th October 2014. For more information visit the Photographer’s Gallery Website: www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk

 

 

Victoria Lucas – Featured Artist September 2014

Victoria Lucas Art

‘After’ 2013, Victoria Lucas

Artist Statement

Victoria Lucas (b.1982) is an interdisciplinary artist based in the North of England. Working predominantly with photography, video and installation, she creates markers of time through the moments and objects that are captured. The work is concerned with flux, as she searches for evidence of the futile struggle against the effects of entropy. Buildings, living organisms, moments and the medium of video and sound are explored in conjunction with one another to create works that archive this constant shift from order to chaos and existence to extinction. These elements form an investigation into the everyday, capturing and bringing to light minutiae as a means to address underlying existential concerns.

Recent works include Untitled (Cranes) (2013), a four screen installation that sits somewhere between photography and video. Stationary landscapes are punctuated with a series of elegant movements, as the cranes pivot and hoist materials across various construction sites situated in Berlin. Caught in a state of transition, this video installation emphasizes a constantly shifting landscape as motion is captured and repeatedly looped. Similarly, the photographic series Remedy (2012) captures a number of empty billboards situated on either side of the European Route E94, as one travels between Athens International Airport and the capital city of Greece. Once clad in brash advertisements, these large sculptural objects denote economic austerity in Greece, whilst offering a solution in the face of late capitalism.

 

 

Victoria Lucas art 1

‘After’ 2013, Victoria Lucas