News & Events.

An Interview with Triple O.G.

Triple OG

Triple O.G. is the brainchild of John Harris and Jake Kent. It’s a not-for-profit shop and gallery holed up on the first floor of Backlit Gallery in Nottingham. Any money made is poured back into the project to support the realisation of new publications and artworks made by their ever growing roster of international contributors. Their new show opened on November 21st and runs until December 6th and features new prints from Jonny Negron and Kyle Platts.

 

Contra Internet- Kylie Platts

Contra Internet- Kylie Platts

What would you say is your favourite print, publication or zine you guys have commissioned?

 

Well we’ve only commissioned one publication and one print and they’re both great (James E Smith’s Stephanie and Kyle Platts’ Contra Internet print). We seem to work more on projects commissioned to us by others, our favourite is a tossup between Make it easy on yourself which was commissioned by Nottingham Castle for the Hayward touring show Jeremy Deller: All That’s Solid Melts Into Air and a screen-printed poster/ guest list for I DUNNO SHIT curated by Cactus Gallery at Rogue Projects in Manchester.

For Make it easy on yourself we commissioned two pieces of new writing from Jennifer Reid and Rosza Farkas, presented alongside new illustrations from Kyle Platts and Tara Hill and a pull-out A3 risoprint from Scott King. This was distributed as a free twenty page traditional lithograph A5 zine.

I DUNNO SHITwas funny because Jake cycled to Manchester with the posters and the exhibition was basically just a big party.

 

How do you pick and select new stock? Are there any themes that often emerge? Jonny Negron and Kyle Platts both draw sexualised and grotesque figures which reminded me of a modern day Viz, but your publications for sale covered a whole range of topics and didn’t seem so easy to categorise.

 

Never really made a connection between Jonny and Kyle’s work and Viz Magazine, perhaps that’s due to myself and Jake not growing up on Viz, or just an application of an abstract or nostalgic cultural reference?

In terms of the stock, we just choose stuff that we like and stock products from publishers and artists we know. We owe a lot to Matt and Jess at Good Press and Charlie at Beach for helping us out and supplying us with such great stuff (Thanks!). A few other publishers and artists we really like are: Patrick Kyle, Little Brown Mushroom, Arcadia Missa, Bronze Age and Elvis Press. We also get requests from artists and publishers and are always happy to stock new stuff. We like having varied products.

Stephanie- James E. Smith

What are the successes and what are the difficulties in using the sort of model you guys have built, balancing the shop and sales, exhibitions, publications and commissioning the type of work you feel is important and needs to be seen?

 

When we started out we had a 3m x 3m room in One Thoresby Street (another Nottingham gallery). This was a really good place to “learn on the job”. So we learnt by making mistakes and just doing it, all the products and artwork were in close proximity to each other which was important because we didn’t want it to be an art gallery or a shop. Making a good combo was a challenge which we overcame by changing and rearranging the shop fittings each exhibition. We do this for fun, that’s probably the most important for us. We show work we enjoy and hope that everyone else enjoys it too. Triple O.G. is not funded and by being not funded gives us freedom to do whatever we want, everything is funded out of our own pocket money.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Backlit Gallery and the re-launch in their new space?

 

Well I work there (John works as Assistant Curator), so there was a bigger space available than our previous space, also we thought it would make a nice opening for the newly refurbished space at Backlit.

 

You work with international and globally recognised illustrators and writers but you both live and work in Nottingham. Why is Nottingham important to you? Why should others take notice?

 

People should only take notice if they’re interested. Nottingham is cool because it’s a small provincial city but has a big art scene. It’s relatively easy to start a project like this here because of a large support group consisting of places like Nottingham Trent University, Primary, One Thoresby Street, TG gallery, Nottingham Castle and Backlit of course. These things make it a really good city to live in and were happy to be contributing to that.

 

Interview with David John Scarborough.

 

Visit Triple O.G. at Backlit Gallery, Alfred House, Ashley Street, Nottingham.

Open Thurs – Sun, 12-5pm

www.tripleog.co.uk

The functional and the functionless

An exploration of the relationship between science and art.

The compatibility between art and science is complex, while they often seek each other to develop ideas through using the others knowledge or skills, it can be unclear how the comparatively useless can benefit the useful.

Art has a long history of questioning and challenging the function of everyday objects. Pioneered by Duchamp through his concept of the “readymade’ in the 20th century, depriving objects of function has become a common way to define art. As explains the difference between the tables used by Martin Creed in Work No. 928 – stacked in a pyramid in the gallery – to the one I am using to write this article. While work that explores these ideas act as a visual trigger for philosophising notions of art, its significance pales in comparison to landing a probe on a comet or developing cures for diseases.

However, some works/projects have more practical aims. Grizedale Arts, the rural contemporary arts organisation in the Lake District for example, aims to ‘promote the functions of art and artists in practical and effective roles, as a central tenet of a wider culture and society.’ They aim to give artists a strong use and purpose in the rural environment, developing artists as practical contributors to the working farm and community where they are based.

When art explores elements of science the uselessness can appear more evident through directly comparing its value with a practice that is more conventionally useful. However, art can do a lot to raise awareness of certain issues and areas of research. By looking closely at specific projects rather than art/science, generally the mutual benefits and functions of both become clear.

Bio-Artist Eduardo Kac’s project GFP Bunny uses genetic engineering in an unusual and a seemingly scientifically useless way to highlight the topic and possibility of genetic engineering. GFP Bunny focuses around an albino rabbit that appears like any other, until she is illuminated with blue light showing her ability to give off a bright green glow. Alba, the rabbit, was engineered using an enhanced version of genes found in the bioluminescent crystal jellyfish. On the website, dedicated to documenting every facet of this project, Kac explains that this transgenic work is made up of the rabbit, the public dialogue it generates and the social integration of the rabbit. This project creates a complex social event that functions in numerous ways and particularly raises questions of the cultural and ethical implications of genetic engineering.

While discussion is an important aspect in making scientific advancements, particularly with something as controversial as genetic engineering, art can also be used to deal with issues in a more hands on way.

ONCA, One Network for Conservation and the Arts, is a Brighton based gallery which focuses on providing exhibitions and events that harness art to explore issues of conservation. With group shows that have explored extinct species, climate change and biodiversity, ONCA aims – not only to raise awareness of environmental and conservation issues through the arts – but also to promote educational initiatives for both art and conservation, and to raise funds to support conservation projects. While projects from ONCA do raise awareness for the need for conservation and may rouse viewers to take up the mantle themselves, they are also using their position and funds to support projects like 100: A Making of Trees. An on-going project inspiring the community to think about trees in new ways which plans to plant 100 new trees in Brighton over the next year.

Given the myriad of both scientific and artistic practices, it is impossible to create a general assessment of how one uses the other. However, it is clear that art is a platform that can be harnessed for a range of subjects and issues, and despite its history of creating functionless objects; the relationship between art and science is more about how these different subjects can benefit each other. Using the different functions and possibilities they each present.

 

Mimetica Alphabetica – Muggeridge At The Whitechapel Gallery

 

The Whitechapel Gallery, located in vibrant East London is known for it’s contemporary and experimental art shows. The gallery opened in 1901, and has a long history of education and outreach projects. Currently hosting ‘Mimeographica Alphabetica’ a typographical print display created by artist Fraser Muggeridge in collaboration with students from Welling School. The collaboration with this South East London School is an exemplification of such outreach projects and this impressive display emphasises the importance of such collaborations and their creative capacity. The show is a unique display which expands the way in which we think about letters, letter formations, and typeface -symbols which we are bombarded with daily in our everyday lives but do not consider further as they have become common place in our lives. This display opens up our minds to consider such typography prints and the way in which we view our alphabet further and evokes an interaction with them – the prints are produced to great effect.

fraser-muggeridge-mimeographica-alphabetica

Muggeridge (1973) is a graphic designer currently based in London. He studied Typography and Graphic communication in Reading, and now teaches at the university as a visiting lecturer. The exhibition was created by the artist and students through experimentation with a mimeographic-printing machine.  Mimeographic printing involves stencil duplication which forces ink through a stencil onto paper. Muggeridge encouraged the students to make their own hand made stencils to make up the prints for the exhibition. This hand made process is a slowly dying style of printmaking, whereby most mimeographic machines were replaced with photocopiers in the 1960’s as an attempt to rectify the imperfections that can be made by mimeographic printing. Where photocopying can produce prints which are exactly the same, mimeographic prints may differ dependant on the press of the ink when printed. The use of the mimeograph here, however, adds to the pieces and the creative process behind them and is evidence of the artists self-proclaimed interest in the ‘obsolete technologies and what you can create on them’. The prints may not be exactly the same as would be with photocopier printing, but these slight differences Muggeridge shows, give them a more unique form.

 

The exhibition space is light and spacious, the prints are repeated as if to almost wallpaper the display. There is an interaction between the typography on the walls and the viewer in this gallery in an extremely powerful way. The typographical symbols do not necessarily make up letters that are familiar to the western alphabet, but this is not the point, as one considers the shapes and tries to translate them into a meaningful symbol one is forced to think beyond traditional letter formations thus expanding the boundaries of typography.

 

Typography and letter formations are not something that usually find place in the art gallery, however ‘Mimetica Alphabetica’ is given home in this gallery and the space it really deserves. This is a rich and unique display in which one can view the experimental collaborative process of a highly skilled graphic designer and his students, which is produced to exceptional effect. The process of print making itself is given as much importance in this exhibition as the finished artefacts. This owes itself to the artist’s teaching process where the students were urged to learn through experimentation. The students may print upside down, but as Muggeridge himself suggests this is all part of the process.  This exhibition is not great simply through its presentation of print making, but rather it allows us to re-consider something as fundamental to us as letters. This is also an extremely unique exhibition as it allows use to see the art in letters and gives typography the opportunity to appear in the art gallery. Taken more broadly this display allows us to re-consider the categories more generally which make up our everyday lives.

 

Mimetica Alphabetica is on display at The Whitechapel Gallery, East London Until 30th November 2014 For further information please see the gallery website: http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/about-us

 

 

Art, meet Science.  

Leaving the cinema after viewing Christopher Nolan’s latest offering, ‘Interstellar’, I found myself rendered uncharacteristically speechless by the spectacle I had witnessed. Regardless of the many opinions the film has evoked, most agree that it successfully engenders a sense of wonder and, at least in my case, ignites a desire to know more. More of what we are such an insignificant part of; the universe and all its mysteries, many that we have not yet even begun to consider. The difficulty arises as attempts to ‘wrap ones head around’ many of the theories surrounding the complexity of the universe, often leads to confusion and therefore, frustration. Whilst visiting NASA I saw a film, which presented Hubble Space Telescope’s (HST) images, intended to offer a glimpse into what travelling through the universe would physically look like. I was mesmerised; sitting there in complete and utter awe, desperate for the opportunity to actually experience these wonders with my own eyes and to understand what I had previously ignored due to its complexity. Thus began the investigation which inspired and informed my artistic practice; the question, “I wonder if space really looks like that?’ was simple; the answer; “No, it does not”, was more complex.

Black Hole Interstellar

We have come to define the contemporary astronomical image with highly saturated, bright colours, established by the HST, as reality, but this perception of the cosmos is flawed. Though driven by science and technology, the finished images are hugely influenced by aesthetics. The Hubble images depend heavily upon intervention and bias to produce a stylistic image; these images therefore provide a bridge to connect the relations between art and science. If you were to go into space, what you would mostly see is nothing; our perception is limited to what we call the ‘visible spectrum’, and much of the cosmos extends outside this. In order to see what else is out there, to gain an understanding, we must rely on multiwavelength observation; recording radiation from a broad spectrum of wavelengths. This understanding allows innumerable potential images of the cosmos, as in order to translate the invisible elements to the visible spectrum, our interference results in false colourisation; and whilst these colours function as scientific encryption, colours have also been selected artistically. This generates a falsified image of reality, which aligns aesthetics with scientific data to reach out to the wider public.

 

Only in the recent past has the cosmos specifically been aligned with art; Kessler[1] specifically discusses this in relation to the HST. Space imagery, delivered by the HST, permits a cosmological adventure, a frontier into the unknown that humans could never otherwise experience, hence our reliance and the importance placed upon images; they provide a window into the universe. It is often argued that we need visionaries able to combine scientific knowledge and understanding, with artistic intuition in order for space to be more widely accessible; this perfectly encapsulates the Hubble image. However, for most of us, particularly those involved in the arts, our perception of science is that it’s ‘too difficult’, something reserved for scientists to explore; why is this? Artists have always explored and actively represented the natural world; historically, art and science were not separate, however, the Renaissance gave birth to specialism, and in doing so, art and science’s distinctions[2]. Today that divergence is still being felt, but the opportunities to unite are opening up. CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) evidences that scientists are willing to collaborate with artists; however artists’ reaction has been described as slow due to science’s ‘arduous’ connotations[3].

Star birth in the extreme

Why should we let it daunt us? Space is so incredibly relevant that it would be imprudent for the arts to disregard it. Erickson[4] states ‘scientists and artists are the best examples we have of human-beings actively seeking and aiming to articulate the intangible’, a notion I would concur with. Nolan and Kip Thorne, the astrophysicist who co-wrote ‘Interstellar’, wanted to create a realistic black hole to include in the film, but where does one even begin when no one knows what one really looks like? Amazingly, rendering one for the film using simulations and calculations, they actually made the scientific discovery. Nolan got a beautiful piece of artistry, whilst Thorne produced new, accurate science according to the laws of mathematics and physics[5].

There is something about space that captures our imagination; it is the perfect canvas for thought, and for artists to explore. We may not understand much of it, but this should not deter us from venturing down that route in order to learn, and bring our own perspective. I implore you not to be daunted, do not turn away from the unknown; be inspired and let your imagination run. Embrace the exciting new learning experiences and concepts science offers, or face being left behind.

 

  1. Kessler, E., 2012. Picturing the Cosmos: Hubble Space Telescope Images and the Astronomical Sublime. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press
  2. Wilson, S., 2002. Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press
  3. Wilson, S., 2012. Art + Science Now: How Scientific Research and Technological Innovation Are Becoming Key to 21st Century Aesthetics. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  4. Erickson, M., 2012. The Beautiful Universe: A Convergence of Art and Science. http://bigthink.com/think-tank/the-convergence-of-science-and-art
  5. Rogers, A., 2014. Wrinkles in Spacetime: The Warped Astrophysics of Interstellar. http://www.wired.com/2014/10/astrophysics-interstellar-black-hole/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Soul Boy

Diary of a Soul Boy (Northern Soul the Film.)  On a rainy autumnal night in Wolverhampton surrounded by fellow soulies, at long last I was seeing Northern Soul the Film. The atmosphere was tangible and I hoped I wasn’t the only one who felt like they could get up and dance.

Northern Soul

Only two years earlier my friends and I had been dancing in dimly lit hall in Blackburn shooting this film directed by Elaine Constantine, trying to recreate Wigan Casino in all its 70s grandeur. Hair and makeup had cut off my precious quiff and slapped my hair into a middle parting and in my high waisted Oxford bags I felt like the dogs bollocks.

Set in 1974 Matt and John discover Black American Soul music and throw themselves in the hedonistic lifestyle that is Northern Soul, all-­‐nighters, drugs, music, dancing, friendships and then the comedown of heading back to reality when it is all over. You must have a frozen heart not to have found something to relate to in this film. As it happens I have gone to the cinema to watch it at least four times. It is wonderfully shot and portrays the Soul scene in a gritty and realistic way. Having danced for 10 hours to shoot the Wigan Casino scenes I was keen to spot myself in the crowd bobbing along to the music. What I took away from filming and watching the film was so much more than that.

Shooting the dance scenes enabled me to establish some solid friendships with like-­‐minded soulies. Before I had only ever seen some ancient folks bobbing along on the dance floor and made a fool of myself trying to copy them, but now I was face to face with young people who were clearly empowered by what they were listening and dancing to. I felt something innate inside me telling me that I had finally found my kind of people. Three years on I am out most weekends, spinning, back dropping, shuffling and generally thriving in a sweaty soul filled state of mind. There are so may records out there which no matter how I am feeling will always make me dance, Yvonne Fair, ‘Walk out the door if you wanna,’ Lenny Welch, ‘100 Pounds of Pain’ and Ike and Tina Turner, ‘Baby what  you want me to do’, to name but a few. My wallet may not agree as record collecting is an expensive business but it is very empowering to know that as a bloke I can get up and dance without anyone taking the piss.

Diary of a Soul Boy

Northern Soul has not only boosted my social calendar as I get to hang out with some of the most fantastic and passionate people out there. But is has also provided me and my mates with some extraordinary experiences. Leaving the    film shoot for instance was gut wrenching as I had lived and breathed the 1970s for two days, I think fondly of Keith the coach driver (Keefy baby) parking the  colossus coach in a terraced street in Blackburn for 20 or so of us dancers to invade a tiny off licence on the street and ransack its stock of booze for the after party. Dancing For Lisa Stansifeld in her music video and on her tour was a highlight, as well as dancing on the One Show and donning our costumes and  doing our thang for a press screening of the film are experiences you cannot buy.

It is the little things that make me want to stay in this crazy scene forever, that instinctive feeling to dance just because you have to or watching Bob effortlessly spins to a high octane tune with perfection, that spine tingling excitement when your favourite records plays and you hit the right beat with a move. I just hope I don’t come crashing down to reality too soon.

Why Watch Anime or Is Kindness Good Enough?

From Up On Poppy Hill, Ghibli Studios, 2011

I have recently visited my brother abroad, in a beautiful country renowned for its strong flavorsome beers, cozy pubs and vivid nightlife. During my week or so of my stay we travelled around the countryside and had a great time together, however, we did not go out a single night. What other, pray tell, did we do instead in this beer-blessed land? Well, we stayed at home and watched anime in front of the fireplace, each with a wine glass in hand. We both work full-time and tired after our long work-hours this was the perfect holiday relaxation. Geeks, I hear? Now, now, let’s think about that.

Why Watch Anime or Is Kindness Good Enough

Whether you are new to anime or a keen fan, you probably have some idea of what this Japanese cult is, but let me remind you anyway to make things straightforward. Anime is often a very stylized type of Japanese animation – think cartoon characters with huge eyes and vivid mimicry in an unusually bright coloured environment. Anime, as we know it today, originates in the early 20th century together with early origin of filmmaking. Its paper predecessor, manga, has been with us since long before with the oldest ‘manga scrolls’ dating back to as far as 12th century. The scale of genres that anime covers is countless, embracing everything from cartoons aimed at toddler audience through the darkest dramas and mysteries to hardcore fetish porn (yes, when I said all genres, I meant all of them).

There is a common shared idea amongst those not particularly intrigued by anime that it is a very self-contained culture accessible only to hardcore geeks. On first sight this seems rather understandable: anime can be, briefly said, a bit weird, which makes it slightly daunting to approach. The sole fact that we are talking about unnaturally-large-eyed animation easily branches it out and places it into a separate rainbow coloured box labeled ‘immature, for children.’ This labelling, although not entirely true, admittedly has some colourful relevance to it, but there are reasons why it does not quite exactly tick the box.

I am sure that by a hardcore anime otaku (Japanese term for an obsessive anime fan) I would be, at best, described as an amateur, occasional and unfaithful genre switching anime traitor. Truth be told, I do not watch anime very often nor am I uncritically devouring every new anime piece. Yet some of my all-time favourite television shows and films fall amongst anime ranks. Naturally, not all animes are good and many of them are utterly rubbish. Following my previous statement that some of the best films I have seen are animes, some of the worst ones I had the dubious pleasure of watching are from the very same category.

I have several reasons why I tend to take refuge in watching anime. As I already mentioned above, the variety of genres, topics and different, mostly breathtaking graphics and illustration styles is limitless. No matter what age group you belong to or what mood you are in, there is something different to choose from. Being a keen and passionate reader, I have always had high demands of book adaptations taken to film screen. Real acted films somehow nearly never reach the qualities of the original pure story, however skilled the film crew and the director are. There are exceptions, indeed, but personally I could count these on one paw of a three-fingered sloth. Anime can consider itself lucky in this sense as it does not have to concern itself with being entirely truthful to the manga or novel it adapts. One of the main characteristics of anime is its rich imaginative world filled with fantastic ideas and this being a generally understood consensus, gives a lot of space for improvisation and for diversion from traditional story-telling paths.

Why Watch Anime or Is Kindness Good Enough

Anime is entitled to be strange yet I am always taken aback at the level of creativity and of breathtaking crazy whims that jump out at you from behind every corner and out of each rabbit hole. Some animes are just plain weird – they are so weird you will actually start to question your own sanity or become nostalgic for both your own and the rest of the world’s (that is, outside anime’s deranged world) limited imagination.

Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ghibli Studios, 1989

What actually induced me to write this article was a relatively old anime film by Ghibli studio that I watched a couple of days back, Kiki’s Delivery Service. It was far from being one of the ‘good days’ for me and I was convinced nothing could possibly improve that. Well, it did. Kiki’s Deliver Service is an utterly nice film. Here nice is not being the word that is in excess applied to anything and everyone plus magnified by hundred, but nice springing out of the heart and soul that have been put into this film. It touched me with its simplicity, beautiful animation and atmosphere breathing out sea breeze mixed with magic. This film made me smile, with its adorable main character, Kiki the little witch who is trying to kick off her flying delivery service, and with its uncomplicated yet absorbing narrative set in a world where people help each other and – yes, even smile at one another.

Too often today we forget to smile for simple things: because it can be hard to smile. Smiling at someone or something unnecessarily has become a luxury that strains muscles and wastes one’s time. When was the last time you smiled at a stranger in the street or on the underground? This leads me to my last and also the simplest reason for my watching anime. I seek kindness. Because I miss it around me – and also inside me and inside other people. I miss empathy, selflessness, curiosity, spontaneity. I miss compassion and understanding. I miss all this, which seemed to be everywhere when I looked at the world through children’s eyes decades ago and then it somehow evaporated as I got to so-call understand the world better.

Imitating the real world, film and television seem to have taken a long vacation away from simple kind notes. In order to amuse ourselves today we need drama, murder, abuse and real-life stories to feel a bit better about our own lives; to see that, yes, some people are still worse off than we are. – Rejoice humanity! The facts stand that kindness is not enoughtoday. Kindness is weak, it’s inefficient and it does not pay off the business. Kind equals stupid. John Steinbeck hit the nail on the head in his short story Cannery Row (which, anime aside, is another great story to reach for):

‘’It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.‘‘

If this was an ultimate truth about our reality, it would be a sad, twisted world we would have the pleasure of living in. Yes, Steinbeck is right in how diligent and effective we are when it comes to submitting our moral standards and values to the money-driven survival game most of us are forced to play. And yes, we have been happily pacing towards our own heartless doom, but things are not lost yet. There are many small ways to work on our lives to incorporate kindness* into them and, yes, to even throw the occasional purposeless smile here and there.

 

*I would gladly give you, the reader, my Top Ten Advice On Introducing Kindness Into Your Life but, alas, I do not feel quite entitled to do so. Try your own way.

 

In Kiki’s Delivery Service, Kiki is not always a happy little witch. Through most of the story she struggles, makes mistakes. She even gets grumpy and depressed, which results in her losing some of her magic abilities.Yet despite this, all the time Kiki has good intentions on her mind and kind attitude towards other people. She helps selflessly, accompanied by her talking cat and flying broom.

Imaginative stories of anime films, bearing strong resemblance to traditional fairy tales, gently point out some basic ethical values that we so much lack in the real life. Such stories have power over us that we do not realize: to teach, to move, to inspire, to make us laugh and to show kindness to each other. Indeed, even in anime, kindness often does not pay off and not everyone is kind. But there is an ever-present element of the fantastic: that of pure free imagination and child-like carefreeness. Hard work and ideals are not laughed upon and magic is possible; evil will be punished, and kindness rewarded. You can live a happy life and not be ashamed of yourself. You can be kind and not regret it. I could go on and on.

And so what, if this gives us a wrong, false image of the oh-so-real world where you, a hotel owner, throw your guest in the streets when they do not pay in time and where business wins over your principles and money over your heart. Is it not more important to show our children that kindness is something possible in the first place and to remind ourselves of it over and over again, as it is not children who are most prone to forgetting it?

In itself, anime of course does not present any tangible solution to the current state of our accustomed-to-be-coldhearted society. But, together with fairytales, myths and fables and all other stories brimming with imagination, it can serve as a reminder of what we can loose and how much we can still gain. Even if kindness is not a good enough reason for you to watch anime, you can still consider giving it a chance next time you have a day off for all the other reasons that make it an incredible genre: its diversity, lucid imagination, beautiful artistry of illustration and well developed stories.

Alice Maselnikova

Timid Elk (Rebecca Hoy) – Featured Artist Novemeber 2014


 

Timid Elk FMG Arts

Courtesy Of Timid Elk

 

Timid Elk FMG Arts

Courtesy Of Timid Elk

 

Timid Elk FMG Arts

Courtesy Of Timid Elk

 

 

 

 

It’s only the beginning: A guide to surviving the after art school blues

Navigating the next step after an arts education can sometimes feel like an uncharted ocean: filled with a sense of exploration but never knowing where the heck you’re going. You see so many others who have gone before you, all leaving from the same starting point but the maps they’ve drawn up are completely useless when applied to your own journey. In the creative industry, there often isn’t a simple A to B set of instructions but there’s also no wrong route – there’s only the one that’s right for you. With that in mind, I’ve provided some suggestions based on my own experience (and the experience of others with far more wisdom than myself) in order to reassure anyone soon to sail into the unknown.

DO have an art detox

For your sanity alone, taking a break is extremely important. When deadlines are out the way and the degree show has come down, it will almost certainly feel alien to be relieved of the pressure of those goals. For me, it felt like I was just beginning to get to grips with my own practice at the very moment I had to leave. With all the momentum I’d gathered, why would I slow down now when it seemed like I was really making a breakthrough? For practical reasons that will likely affect most art graduates, (like loss of studio space, relocating and time constraints) I couldn’t continue making work and it was deeply frustrating. However, I also know that had I tried to continue at the pre-degree show pace, it would only have been a matter of time before I burnt out with mental (and physical) exhaustion. Taking a rest and stepping back to assess where you’re headed doesn’t mean you aren’t going to continue to be an artist – it actually allows space for you to process your work and ideas. If you intend on investing yourself in your art practice in the long run, remember that it is exactly that – a long run.

 

A guide to surviving the after art school blues

Courtesy Of Sarah Botha

 

DON’T get discouraged

Much easier said than done. The key here is to remember the point I already made about taking a break (you should be taking a break) which might mean stopping yourself from ‘panic applying.’ When the end is nigh, you will begin seriously Googling all the opportunities out there. At first, I was strictly checking arts jobs listings with an optimistic inner monologue – ‘Yes, perhaps I could do some curation for the Tate Britain. Such a shame it’s only part time though.’ It wasn’t long until I’d been turned down by countless employers and was furiously vacancy hunting on any job website I could find, praying to the gods that I wouldn’t have to go back to Costa. ‘Don’t apply to MI5 because you’re probably not quite right for the job,’ were the words of personal experience an older graduate friend gave me after I’d asked if she had any advice to contribute. Whether it’s a retail job, an exhibition proposal or a residency application, everyone will face being rejected at one point or another. A lot of creative opportunities will be looking for candidates whose work has had some time to mature, so don’t feel pressured to immediately apply to every residency programme you hear about. Most importantly, don’t lose heart if you do get knocked back and don’t give up – maybe you aren’t what MI5 are looking for but you are still a talented, capable and creative person.

DO go somewhere new

I’m not talking about a soul-searching trip through the depths of India (unless that’s what you had planned) but simply going somewhere different. It’s very possible that the only places you will have seen in your final weeks are the studio, the library and the view of the ceiling from your bed. Take a trip to somewhere you’ve postponed visiting because your schedule’s been too packed for fun excursions. And don’t feel guilty when that trip probably isn’t to a gallery.

 

A guide to surviving the after art school blues

Courtesy Of Sarah Botha

 

DON’T forget about your uni mates

The phrase ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’ is never more true than when said within the creative industry. The people you meet through your course are all part of your creative network – relationships with peers, colleagues, university staff and local art spaces are all connections you can maintain after graduation. You won’t know the importance of having a support system of creative thinkers around you until you fly the educational nest (and realise no one else understands your arty dialogue). Even if you find yourself in a different part of the country, keep talking to the people who encourage you and who you can bounce ideas around with – you never know when it might spark a collaborative project or lead you to an opportunity you wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.

DO remember what you’re passionate about

The reality is that not everyone who studies art will be – or wants to be – an artist. You’ll have learnt a lot about what your strengths are while at art school because you’ll likely have had a go at just about everything. Just after emerging from the haze of your final year is the perfect time to take stock of all the skills you do have and think about what you really want to do with them. It’s easy to get caught up in all the things you’ve had to do and lose sight of the things you want to do. Maybe you love writing; maybe you discovered how good you were at organising events; maybe you were much more interested in the musical theatre performances you were doing outside of your studies. When you feel you need to open up your art practice again, read through your artist statement and remind yourself what your core concepts are. Give yourself as much time as possible to refocus – you’ll discover what your talents are as you go.

 

A guide to surviving the after art school blues

Courtesy Of Sarah Botha

 

DON’T worry about not knowing

See this next frame of time as an opportunity to take risks and find out what you love. If you haven’t already had a torrent of people ask you what your after university plans are then get ready for an onslaught of insatiably interested friends, parents, distant relatives, old school mates and even complete strangers. If you do know what’s next for you, that’s awesome. And if you don’t feel you do, then you’ve got an exciting time ahead. The important part is that you keep engaged with what you enjoy and you start to make your own map.

 

 

The Art of Getting Started. An Interview With Rebecca Hoy – Founder of Timid Elk.

Have you ever wanted to watch an artist work in a David Blaine styled Perspex box? Well, that opportunity might arise much sooner than you’d think, with The Flash Residency enabling viewers and spectators to do just that. One artist set to take part in this new pop-up opportunity is the founder of Timid Elk, Rebecca Hoy. Excited to be taking part, Hoy states that it’s an opportunity that is “quite unusual” giving her the chance to “demonstrate [her] art to a wider audience.” This is an opportunity perfectly suited to artists such as Rebecca Hoy, due to the fact that her work is so intricately mysterious in nature – it will certainly be a great occasion for the public to see how Timid Elk’s current collection, ‘Curious Commodities’, is created.

Rebecca Hoy Timid Elk

As the beautiful brainchild of Hoy, Timid Elk tapers a delicately fine line between the world of artists and that of designers. When asked whether she considers herself to inhabit one role more than the other Hoy replied, “I think I’m a little bit of both.” Before adding, “I think some of the pieces are more design, more functional like the lampshades. But then you do have that more arty side, with the map pieces.” It’s most definitely a refreshing difference to find someone so drawn to both sides of this creative war, creating not only beautifully intricate pieces of art, but also functional home furnishings and accessories.

 

Using materials such as used train tickets and maps, Hoy uses materials that she sees as “kind of discarded, or a bit obsolete now” as a way of making her work and the objects she creates completely inclusive to anyone and everyone. Having the train tickets donated to her helps create a sense of involvement with the viewers in the creation of her work, and by using maps, Hoy feels as though she is poetically including everyone from the world within certain pieces. “All of those people and their stories are now part of a lampshade or a latex vessel or something. I just think it’s a nice thought.” Hoy added when explaining that she sources much of her un-donated material from charity shops.

Rebecca Hoy Timid Elk

So, how did Hoy end up creating a brand that makes such unique and inclusive pieces? Well, after graduating from De Montfort University with a degree in Design Crafts – specialising, towards the end, in ceramics – Hoy eventually discovered that she was enjoying creating the paperwork prototypes and maquettes for her work more than the ceramic pieces themselves. Stating, “I struggled a bit with ceramics because I found that if something didn’t work in ceramics that was it, there was rarely a way around it so you had to change your ideas.” Hoy began to focus solely on the creation of her paper pieces. That’s how the ‘Curious Commodities’ collection came into existence for Timid Elk – focussing on repetition and this idea of inclusivity, Hoy put her multi-disciplined talents, that she had developed whilst at university, to work. Although, through hearing Hoy speak of her own work it is clear that this way of working is not the be all and end all for her. “I would like to revert back to ceramics at some point”, Hoy mentioned, adding that after all of her practice and development with paper she would be interested to see what she “can do with that now.” Hoy even revealed that she’d also be extremely interested in playing “with the scale” of her work, focussing on “a really large installation piece or something”, with the intention of that bringing “the ‘Curious Commodities’ collection to a good close”, proving that Hoy, and Timid Elk, still have much up their sleeves.

 

“You just need to go for it. Don’t be scared, just dive in. if it’s not for you it’s not for you, you know, you’re never going to know unless you try.”

 

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Hoy and her vision for Timid Elk though. Admitting that the most difficult obstacle she’s had to overcome was the misleadingly simple sounding matter of “Getting started” Hoy mirrors the mentalities of so many artists alike. “I had this studio for about six months before I actually did anything with it.” Hoy goes on to explain. “We’ve had little projects based in West Gate and I signed up to use that and I did no work for it at all, until the last month when I was like, ‘You really need to do something, or that rooms going to be empty.’ And then it just took off from there, so once I got started I had that little bit of pressure on me at first that I needed, and then it’s all just gone from there really.” This tale of Hoy’s hesitant beginnings and need for pressure happens to align perfectly with the advice that she would like all graduating art and design students to keep in mind when it comes to working within the creative sector; “You just need to go for it. Don’t be scared, just dive in. if it’s not for you it’s not for you, you know, you’re never going to know unless you try.”

Phone Photography: A new era

With photography, in the process of pictorial reproduction the hand was for the first time relieved of the principal artistic responsibilities, which henceforth lay with the eye alone as it peered into the lens.- Walter Benjamin

 

Nowadays owning a mobile phone that can take a half decent photograph is fairly ubiquitous. This very concept is becoming more apparent as technology progresses at an unprecedented pace.

 

Capturing an image is incredibly easy with todays technology; mobile phones have the capability to take numerous images in under a second, and even edit them just before they are posted online via an application or website. This is testament to how personal tech has developed since the days of film photography.

Phone-Photography-A-new-era

Courtesy of Jan Ove Iversen

 

The processes of capturing an image have diversified, and so has the sentimentality we associate with the picture, along with the manor in which it is exhibited.

All of this can now be achieved not only by artists but anyone who owns a mobile phone.

This also goes for moving image; phones are becoming the modern day video cameras; no longer do we need to carry camcorders and multiple memory cards; we can film and edit the videos almost instantaneously.

 

Walter Benjamin’s words in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction couldn’t be more resonant here. In the text he stated that art was and is being created and reproduced at drastic speeds, thus forcing critics and viewers to reconsider values such as genuineness, originality, provenance and monetary value.

 

Phone-Photography-A-new-era

Courtesy of Jan Ove Iversen

 

 

There is reference to the various ways of mechanical reproduction, such as print, modeling and photography etc. Which drew the form of the essay to discuss these factors when considering artistic creativity. Granted that these factors were far more prominent in 1936 with the industrial revolution in full swing, the content is still very relevant, especially when one is to consider modern photography and the way it has been utilized.

With this in mind, how should we consider the every-day photographer over the professional when accessible digital media is involved?

 

Instagram is brimming with talented photographers and people who have decided to advertise their photographical skills via the internet. Conversely, Instagram is also used as a way to document the every day, allowing individuals to store photographs that document their daily activities and lives.

It is relatively uncommon in contemporary culture for such a multitude of varying talents to be associated with each other and to be accepted artistically. This medium gives aspiring photographers of varying ages an opportunity to express themselves creatively, in a way that can be shared by a vast audience, as opposed to the more critical and inaccessible gallery environment.

 

The work of art in this case, the digital photograph, is probably the most mechanically reproduced artistic medium to date. Being able to take a photograph and upload it to one of many digital galleries is instant, therefore allowing a greater breadth of creatives to display more examples of their creative ability.

Phone-Photography-A-new-era

Courtesy of Jan Ove Iversen

 

Jan Ove Iversen’s (www.overpari.no ) work has been particularly chosen as a strong example of the points made in this article, along with the following Instagram Photographers:

Stayfound – http://instagram.com/stayfound

senns_less – http://instagram.com/senns_less

insighting – http://instagram.com/insighting

reillyhunter – http://instagram.com/reillyhunter

diaphragm – http://instagram.com/diaphragm

brockdavis – http://instagram.com/brockdavis

 

Neutrality vs. Tourism


An exploration into the differences between expected and contemporary behaviour inside the white cube.

 

The gallery, like many constructed institutions, has established a specific etiquette that people are expected to adhere to within its walls. These expectations are intrinsically linked to how the white cube presents itself. While it was conceived as a neutral space where art can be seen without any external interference, it is in fact, steeped with associations – including that of religion and purity, as well as neutrality itself. Its visual conventions act as cues to alert visitors to the way they must interact – walking meditatively around, contemplating each work for an allotted time. While artists have challenged this passive interaction, through the development of installation and relational practices, the gallery still perpetuates a calm, meditative image.

Neutrality vs. Tourism

By using various means of representation and documentation, the gallery constructs this image, enforcing the rules for behaviour and our expectations of fellow viewers. Brian O’Doherty, in Inside the White Cube, describes that “The installation shot is a metaphor for the gallery space” as provides the idealised viewing of art, without the intrusion of physical bodies. This is part of a more extensive propaganda that includes the representation of art through postcards, posters and monographs that show art in isolation from its physical surroundings. The reality for me, and the majority of viewers, is much more messy. While the attempted neutrality aims to separate art from life the presence of spectators and their ‘physical bodies’ bring this interference, and life, into the space.

 

One of the reasons public galleries gain funding is so that art can increase visitors in an area, providing income for the local economy. While for galleries in major cities this isn’t the only attraction, the idea of art being an element of tourism is pertinent to our experience within them. With renowned museums like the Tate, the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) being part of the itinerary for most tourists, they attract a much more general public and conventions of tourism seep into the gallery. Just as you would photograph Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, it is important to capture the equivalent ‘celebrity’ artworks upon visiting these institutions. While the Mona Lisa is the undeniable champion, galvanising the most attention, with swarms of visitors partaking in the attempt to photograph her enigmatic smile – despite the excess of others attempting the same. Works like Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans and Van Gogh’s Starry Night generates a slightly less extreme, yet similar behaviour.

Neutrality vs. Tourism

While some galleries prevent the paparazzi flooding the white cube by not permitting photography, many leave the decision to the viewer resulting in an array of different interactions. From methodically capturing every work with an SLR, so you have your own version of the galleries documentation to show others what you failed to look at – apart from through a lens; to the new trend of taking selfies beside, or in front of, famous works. The integration of high quality cameras into smart phones allows almost everyone to thoroughly document their lives, including visits to galleries.

 

While this type of photography within exhibitions does a lot to contradict the empty, lifeless image of the gallery, other more simple aspects of human behaviour similarly disrupt the illusions of the space. From coughing and sneezing, creaky floors and phones ringing, to general conversations, life is never truly separated from the white cube as long as there are people within it. And while the institution does its best to keep it out, with today’s technology where everyone is connected to their smart phone and social media has become integrated into our daily lives, nothing can be kept separate from life, even the gallery.

20,000 Days on Earth Review


20,000 Days on Earth makes for a very unique viewing experience, the film follows 24 hours in the life of the multi-talented Nick Cave. Arguably one of the most important figures in popular music, Nick Cave has fronted two legendary bands, co-scored critically acclaimed films such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) and The Road (2009), Cave has even proven himself as a successful screenwriter, boasting credits such as The Proposition (2005) and Lawless (2010). This is Nick Cave as we have never seen him before, part-truth and part-lie.

20000 Days On Earth

Cave’s 20,000th day marks the very start of middle-age for the Australian rockstar, the film attempts to shed some light on the mysterious cult of the god-like figure but ends up taking us somewhere completely different, perhaps revealing more about ourselves than Cave himself. Right from the beginning 20,000 Days on Earth begins to blend fact with fiction, it soon becomes clear that some of the events of the film have been fictionalised and the real truth remains unclear. The film does a great job of imitating reality, for example, we are led to believe that Cave is on his way to a routine visit to meet with his therapist, in reality it’s not his therapist: the man playing the therapist is none other than famed psychoanalyst and writer, Darian Leader. The therapist engages with Cave about everyday life but cuts in with difficult questions here and there, peppering us with anecdotes and personal reflections, we are teased the truth but it’s hard to spot the man from the myth.

Cave has shot down and dismissed any plans for a so-called “honest documentary” as he did not want his life invaded by a film crew for months on end, if anything, 20,000 Days on Earth satirises the artificial nature of certain rockumentaries and concert films, Cave is playing a version of himself, not too dissimilar to the people depicted in popular concert films like One Direction: This Is Us (2013) or Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011). 20,000 Days on Earth is very much the anti-documentary, directors Ian Forsyth & Jane Pollard purposely distance themselves from myth-making works like Searching for Sugar Man (2012) and Bill Maher’s controversial Religulous (2008)

 

he connects and engages with the adoring crowd in a way that’s hard to put into words, his performance at the Sydney Opera House left me in complete awe.

 

The rare and seldom glimpses into the real world of Nick Cave are just as fascinating as the fiction, seeing the living legend in the studio is quite incredible, Cave has a has a wondrous way of words, his voice is soulful and tortured, every syllable has some profound meaning or depth behind it. A big-budget rockumentary would have added unnecessary glamour and polish to the raw and unfinished sounds of the studio. 20,000 Days on Earth expertly uses concert footage to help remind us of what a powerhouse Nick Cave can be when performing live, he connects and engages with the adoring crowd in a way that’s hard to put into words, his performance at the Sydney Opera House left me in complete awe.

20,000 Days On Earth

Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue both make fleeting appearances in the film, the two of them share conversations with Cave as passengers in his car, there is no real importance to these scenes but they help make sense of the distorted reality. Winstone and Minogue have both been part of Cave’s life to some extent, they talk not of being fellow actors and musicians, but of friends and acquaintances, they talk about their fears, their hopes for the future and pretty much everything in between. These scenes paint an ugly portrait of show business and the cult of celebrity, seeing Minogue and Winston as real people helps bring the message home.

Quite understandably, 20,000 Days on Earth may prove to be an acquired taste for many, at times, the film can seem a bit pretentious and overly self-important, as if the same joke was being repeated time and time again. The film does not serve well as introduction to the music of Nick Cave, if anything, 20,000 Days on Earth is very much a treasure-trove for devoted fans; those not already familiar with Cave’s music may feel a bit isolated and left out. The cinematography and sound design is very hard to fault; the crisp and frantic editing style lends itself particularly well to the dreamlike and alien imagery. If you are looking for a straight-forward concert movie then you will walk away disappointed, however, if you are looking for something a little bit different to the standard fare then there is much to take away from 20,000 Days on Earth.

I Origins

Someone once said, moaning cleanses the soul. Me, it was me. I just said it. Many things in day to day life grind my gears. For instance, when intellectually stunted girls begin sentences with: ‘I’m not being funny, but….’Don’t worry. It wasn’t funny, one bit. A second instance, is when I get uncontrollably enamoured by a film I’ve seen, proceed to reinforce my love with the approval from my bible of all review websites, Rotten Tomatoes, only to find a shockingly contrasting rating to what I expected to encounter. Being an amalgamation of different opinions from various critics, it’s almost always a trust worthy source that corresponds with my judgements. Saying that, these instances are very rare, but for I Origins, I anticipated a higher rating than just 53%.
I origins

Another Earth director Mike Cahill addresses the interesting theme of religion vs science in his second feature film. I Origins dogmatic philosophical approach may seem pretentious to some, but its intriguing subject is undisputedly intended to disarray the heart strings. As someone very much fascinated by the ideology of souls and spirituality, but also a cynical realist, the concept of questioning the universe is at the top of my list, and I’m sure similarly is for other like-minded thinkers.

 

Scientist Ian Grey (Michael Pitt) is a PhD student researching the evolution of the eye. Rather than a belief in fate, his life philosophies are based on solid facts and science, and through his explorations he hopes to prove the non existence of god. In an engaging opening scene Ian meets a masked female at a Halloween party named Sofi (Astrid Berges-Frisbey). The closed off mysterious girl quickly disappears from the party, and after their brief but captivating encounter, Ian is left with just a picture he took of her eyes. He adds this to his visually mesmerising collection of Iris snapshots and becomes infatuated with seeing her unique eyes once again. Fate seems to reunite the two, and the cynical scientist is brought face to face with circumstances that contrast completely with his firm beliefs. It is in fact science itself that leads him to question these beliefs, as him and his lab partner Karen, (Brit Marling) studying non-seeing organisms, begin to develop an eye from scratch.

 

The idea of using the ‘eye’to evoke a debate of interpretations from both scientific and spiritual stances is rather genius. Never mind the characters; the eye itself, as something to think about, but something you never really ever think about, is almost interesting enough. For example, all people with blue eyes share a common ancestor. Cool, right? Every single adult in this world has the exact same diameter of eye, but every single eye is completely unique to each person. There’s another. When I left the cinema I found myself noticing strangers eyes more than I normally would. Wondering about all the amazing things those eyes have shown them through the years. What their favourite view of all time has been. Your eyes define you on this earth. When you’re dead and gone, your once shining and bright distinctive eyes that brought you this world will also appear dead and empty. We have all heard ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’, and perceptions like these make it seem a possibility. On the other hand, from the scientific view point, the eye has a diameter of 24mm, only 1/6th is exposed and there are over 7 million colour cones that detect colour. Yes it’s impressive, but facts and figures equate to science and evolution, awakening quite a veteran debate. The dispute is conveyed through two characters who share an exhilarating love, and Ian’s opinions begin to be swayed by Sofi’s spiritual ideas.

I origins

I must confess, despite being rigorously impassioned by my first viewing of I Origins, watching it again some days later left me with a slightly lesser sentiment. I failed to notice that almost every line of dialogue is some sort of philosophical speech, alongside the amount of in-your-face establishing shots conveying conceptions already expressed enough through other means. We get the point Cahill. Having said that, its appeal is probably an acquired taste and I am a sucker for these types of ‘deep and meaningful’articulations. Its flaw also lies in cramming way too much into the plot line half way through. It even diverts the complicated concept all the way to India, which begins to feel like a whole different film. However, this confusing plot turn is somewhat validated by an unexpected and emotional end.

Technology rather than experience

It is not unknown news that artist Ai Weiwei is currently exhibiting a somewhat controversial body of work at the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace. Opening on 1st October.

However, it is not only the controversy of the work itself creating media interest, but how does a dissident, restricted from leaving China, install more than fifty artworks inside a stately home in Oxfordshire? Using modern 3D technology, Weiwei was able to install his works using a computer model created through meticulously laser-scanning the whole building. Through forming a virtual world, he was granted the access he needed to practically and theoretically produce artworks specific to the site itself.

Ai Weiwei

Image Courtesy of Blenheim Palace

Although there are some simple technologies used to enhance the practicality of exhibitions and creating art – for example the current use of the 3D printer – this drastic reliance on technology in order to even form and develop an idea, let alone producing and installing the work, seems unheard of.

it seems that the use of 3D technology such as this, is in a limbo between the extremities of both ideas

At the outset, this particular artistic method of working could be seen to criticise the artist as a craftsman. Not in the sense that Weiwei has not created work from his own ideas and in keeping with his body of work, but that through the development of reproductive techniques such as 3D technology, it could be said that the originality, or aura, of the works were questioned. Now, that is an extremely concise and basic analysis drawn from an out dated theory on aesthetics – imposed by traditional views of art – but in this case it is perhaps true that the artist’s method of working served as a kind of imagination and interpretation of the world. It becomes more than purely an additional resource and attains a role of central importance in the artistic creation – integral to the works themselves. These ideas would require a far more in depth exploration, and could even overlap into the use of digital art, editing techniques and even social media.

However, if you consider the history of the ready-made in art and it’s long tradition of anti-craftsmanship – albeit not necessarily current theory in terms of modern art – it seems that the use of 3D technology such as this, is in a limbo between the extremities of both ideas.

In a similar vein, exhibitions such as Henri Matisse’s Cut Outs have been produced into a live tour of the exhibition itself, broadcasted in some 200 cinemas around the UK and pulling in around 15,000 people. This will shortly be transformed into a film of Matisse Live which will be released in screening rooms around the world. In this case, virtual technology have been used primarily to enhance viewer participation beyond the gallery, but does this detract from the interpersonal elements of traditional art experiences?

It is interesting to note my position whilst writing about these ideas, for I have responded entirely to second hand media sources and videos of the exhibition and so have been unable to comment on the impacted physical experience I may have felt when viewing the exhibition. Ironically, you may say this point of view doesn’t allow me to consider the use of virtual technology whatsoever, for this is based entirely on the reliance of Internet technology itself. In a wider scope, it seems that the bigger question to consider is whether the use of the virtual lends itself not only as an alternative to the physical experience of art, but in the future, as a replacement.

 

‘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

 

 

As It Transpired – An interview with Victoria Lucas

There is something undeniably fascinating about an artist who is able to work in different disciplines. It’s a fascination comparable to how you might feel on discovering your friend’s secret talent. UK based artist, Victoria Lucas, is one of these artists. Working between sculpture, film, and photography – with a little interactive work thrown in here and there for good measure – Lucas is most certainly not a one trick pony.

 

With a background in sculpture, Victoria Lucas has moved into the digital arts later on in her artistic career, and has now fully established herself as an exceptional digital artist. Although Lucas admits that she is still her own biggest critic, stating that she is still working towards the “feeling of calm and satisfaction” that all artists seem to chase after. Perhaps this revelation wouldn’t come as such a surprise if Lucas didn’t have so many successful artworks to her name already. So, how does the artist who has created pieces such as, ’12 Months of Neon Love’‘Interruptions’, and ‘After’ repeatedly create such intriguing and diverse work? When asked to describe her own work Lucas said that she always “starts with a place”, she “finds a hook” and creating work she hopes might “make people think about things in a different way.” “I kind of experience things and I’ll find poetic meanings in certain objects and places” Lucas says, explaining a little further how the “Non-places” she randomly encounters often become perfect starting points for her work to launch off from.

 

Victoria Lucas art

‘Market East, Philadelphia’ Victoria Lucas

 

Much of Lucas’s work over the past several years has been focused around these “Non-places” – places that many of us encounter and travel through or have past by on a daily basis without even batting an eyelid. This nondescript invisibility of these places to the everyday passer-by plays perfectly into Lucas’s work, as she turns the tables, photographing and videoing these usually crowded and unnoticed spaces in their unusually empty states. It is easy to understand when looking at pieces such as ‘After’ and ‘Interruptions’ how Lucas could use the word “Apocalyptic” in relation to much of her own work. Lucas takes spaces that otherwise would seem run-of-the-mill and mundane and displays them in a rather ominous and uneasy manner. The spaces themselves suddenly become void in their emptiness, and Lucas’s photographs and videos alike show much more than an idle set of stairs or an empty shopping centre – they display a lack of humanity and life, that otherwise would have gone unseen and unnoticed. “Everything will crumble and everyone will disappear.” Lucas stated, after addressing the way in which her own work helped her to “grapple with all the big questions”. Perhaps this is what makes so much of Lucas’s work, which is mostly void of any human presence, seem so human and emotive nonetheless.

 

Victoria Lucas had a lot of great advice for any wannabe practicing artists who might be struggling to find their footing. “Setting up your own things stops you getting really low from rejection.” Lucas advised, admitting herself that the most difficult obstacle she’d faced in her career had been the simple, yet all-important matter of, “Earning money.” Before honestly adding, “It’s a real struggle and it really affects your mental health I think. Being that close to the edge it can get quite desperate.” However, most importantly Lucas wanted aspiring artists to know that, “You have to make mistakes, you have to fail, you have to have those moments. You learn things from it and it doesn’t matter. It’s all part of striving to be an artist.” “Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to fail. Just keep pushing, even when you think it’s impossible.” If any more inspiration was needed on this point it’s very clear that Lucas herself has proved this advice to be true; using her art to work through hard times, and continuously pushing through uncertainty and financial struggle, Lucas is steadily making her way to exactly where she wants to be in life.

 

Victoria Lucas Art

‘Remedy’ Victoria Lucas

 

Finally, does Victoria Lucas believe artists can use art to change the World? “We can, in a very small way, change the world.” Lucas replied, adding, “I think artists have a lot of freedom, freedom that the media or other institutions don’t have, so we can tell things as they are. We have a really valuable responsibility to keep questioning our environment and the things that are happening.”

 

So, perhaps we should all start viewing art in the way Lucas does – as a platform to express our own thoughts while also forcing others to look at things from a different angle. Who knows what we could change?

 

Reviving Romford

Fact File

Name: Sarah Walters
Born: Upminster, Essex
Age: 27
Studied: Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths, London
Job Title: Director of Romford Contemporary Arts Programme (R-CAP)
Random: Holds a black belt in karate
I speak to Sarah Walters about life after graduation, being a visionary and never giving up…

Reviving Romford R-CAP

 

If there’s one thing I don’t doubt, it’s that Sarah Walters knows how to take on a challenge. Five years after graduating and two and a half years after the birth of R-CAP (Romford Contemporary Art Programme), Sarah never seems to have lost sight of her desire to see this side of East London culturally transformed.

The first time we met came after I’d heard whispers of artists rallying in Romford; if there was something creative – anything creative – happening here, I had to find out who was responsible. Positioned in the north-east London borough of Havering, Romford has – in recent years – begun to develop as a large centre for retail. However its provision of creative opportunities has yet to reflect its proximity to east London’s art scene or the number of art graduates in the area.

Over the last two years, R-CAP has inhabited some of the town’s seemingly unloved and vacant spaces, drawing on local artists, college students and undergraduates in order to utilise art as a regenerative tool. Live events and site specific projects have animated abandoned restaurants and empty shops in a bid to bring contemporary art to places where its presence may seem alien. With a particular soft spot for students, one of their public projects was even consolidated with a ‘graduation’, after the participants had completed their ‘studies’ in such subjects as confidence, collaboration and resilience.

‘I think that’s where it started for me,’ Sarah says, recounting her time at university. ‘We were pumped full of all these ideas about ethics; about what we should be doing and what the art market should be.’As she graduated from Goldsmiths in 2009, Ideastap was starting to emerge. ‘I was organising the degree show at the time and thought, ‘I like this!’ So I applied for a grant to curate another exhibition once I’d finished. We wanted it to talk about what it was to graduate into this recession and how we were supposed to negotiate that. We couldn’t afford to make work anymore; we couldn’t afford to show work because competition entries have to be paid for.’ It would later be these same hurdles that would fuel future projects.

From that initial post-graduation exhibition came an art collective but – after a year and a half of waitressing full time and seemingly getting nowhere with sourcing more space and funds – Sarah was exhausted and ready to walk away. ‘I’d applied for about 30 grants and decided to apply for one more, thinking that I would stop if I didn’t get it. I was so desperate – I was basically begging them.’

As fate would have it, she did get the grant and – with that money – Exchange Studios was birthed. ‘We created a model based around the idea that it doesn’t always take money for things to be exchanged. The question we asked was: what does a graduate have to offer?’ I smile and wait for her to answer her own question. ‘They have lots of time – presumably because they don’t have a job; they have loads of energy and passion and enthusiasm; and they have all this knowledge from the education they’ve just paid for. But what don’t they have?’ This was answered by providing artists with equipment, rent-free studio space and an exhibition as payment for their time.

 

Reviving Romford R-CAP

 

I comment that Sarah clearly has a mind for business, especially seen through her seeming ability to negotiate almost anything with the council. ‘I definitely used to be the least business minded person in the room,’ she laughs, ‘but it’s a skill that has become necessary. The council know that art equals regeneration, which equals profit. It’s like having a second language – if artists can speak business, then they can also start to demand that things are done more ethically.’

‘What do you really want to see happen in Romford?’ I ask.
‘I think Romford has the potential to be a really creative place. I don’t want it to be the new Shoreditch – I want to tap into what Romford is. New creative graduates look around their home towns and think, ‘What’s here apart from my rent-free parents?’’ I wince slightly at the truth in her words. ‘Nothing! But we want to do whatever we have to do to keep those people in the area. Putting art somewhere isn’t a miracle worker in itself but – when you build a culture of creativity – you can start to change not only individual lives but whole communities’, she says.

 

And that’s exactly what R-CAP are aiming for. With a just-signed contract for a year’s access to a block of empty retail units within Romford’s busy centre, setup is already underway to host artist residencies, creative startup businesses, a performance festival and a fashion design competition. Another facet of their plans is to set up a shop where local artists, designers and art students can test a market for their work. It is this want to provide a platform for ideas that Romford so desperately needs if it is to keep hold of its young artists.

 

What advice would she give to graduates wanting to transform their own community?

‘Never give up! Don’t lose sight of the end goal and just keep going.’

All That is Solid Melts Into Air, Jeremy Deller, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne

All That is Solid Melts Into Air, an exhibition curated by Jeremy Deller (Britain’s representative in the Venice Biennale last year) explores the impact of the Industrial Revolution on contemporary British society.  Deller combines contemporary music, archival film, historical artefacts and written text panels to forge connections between materials and finding new meanings in familiar objects.  This exhibition is a personal, intuitive journey which reveals how the trauma of urbanisation and modernisation has affected the culture of this country, from our music to our shopping habits.  However, the exhibition is an extensive survey of our cultural heritage and how every aspect of British life has been informed by the Industry of the country.  Because of the enormity of Deller’s project, I will only attempt to write about a small part of this remarkable exploration.

 

This exhibition opened in Manchester last October, and has travelled through Nottingham and Coventry before finally arriving in Newcastle upon Tyne.  This last stretch of the journey is being shown in the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle’s city centre, a gallery which features a notable historic permanent collection, including John Martin’s 1852 painting, The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a biblical illustration of Gods destructive power; a glowing pit of fire as a whole city are punished for the sins of its people.  This incredible apocalyptic painting, familiar to Laing Gallery audiences, is the first that we see as we walk into Deller’s exhibition.

 

John Moore

‘The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah’ John Martin . 1852

 

The red light and smoke of Martin’s historic painting is cleverly paired with imagery of the steel industry, exemplified in Steel, a British Council produced educational film made in 1945, which depicts men producing steel in a factory.  In this film, displayed on a large monitor in the space, bright orange molten metal bubbles in huge crucibles while showers of sparks fly over the heads of the workers who stare into the hell-like mouth of the intense, fiery heat.  Martin grew up in the rural Northumbrian countryside, but it is easy to see the influence of London in his painting; the smoggy urban landscape of the capital and the glow of industry are definitely in this painting of the burning city.  Bringing the imagery up to date is the jacket of Unleashed in the East, the 1979 Judas Priest album, where the band are shown standing in smoke, amber lights illuminating them and their instruments.

 

Deller draws comparisons not only between the imagery of the theatrical Victorian painting, the heavy metal album artwork and the post war steel industry, but he also uses Martin’s painting as the starting point for other associations.  In the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of Gomorrah are punished for their vice and their desire.  Just as there were similar moralistic Victorian concerns about excess and sexual desire leading to sin and disease when Martin was painting, so we too, in contemporary society, worry about the physical and ethical effects of our consumerism.  This anxiety is reflected in Ben Roberts’s large photographic print Amazon Fulfilment Centre, Towers Business Park, Rugeley (2013).  This image shows the vast interior of an Amazon warehouse where unskilled workers appear tiny among the expansive shelving units, each one filled to the brim with stuff.  The text panel mounted underneath this image explains that most of these staff members are on zero hour contracts and work for minimum wage.  To the left of Roberts’s image is a poster, the rules of Church Street Mill in Preston from the nineteenth century.  The very first rule feels particularly poignant.  It reads that factory workers must ‘give one month’s notice, in writing, previous to leaving his or her employment …but the Masters have full power to discharge any person employed therein without any previous notice whatsoever.

 

Deller’s careful juxtaposition of materials draw worrying links between the rights of mid-Victorian factory workers and the current working conditions for low level employees.  All That is Solid Melts Into Air is a carefully curated exhibition which is full of incredible objects, ideas and artworks, effectively exploring British culture and the roots of capitalism in this country.  The works read like a  piece of research, a visual essay where you can draw your own associations and conclusions.  If you’re in the North East between now and October 26th, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

An Arts Guide to Amsterdam

A colloquial reason for many to travel to the Netherlands is to get a whiff of the green stuff,however if this and Madame Tussaud’s are not for you, there is a great art scene to take advantage of on your visit. Amsterdam is a museum lover’s destination as much as the gallery goers; with a mixture of historical and contemporary you could spend up to week absorbing the culture, but only as long as the bike lanes don’t get on your nerves.

 

‘TherIs No I’ at W139 Gallery

 ‘W139 explores the unknown; we value the freedom not to know.’

I first came acrossW139 on Warmoesstraat, close to the Red Light District and known as one of the oldest streets in the city.  W139 sets out create new dialogues in art by taking artists out of their comfort zones into an experimental space. Focusing on painting and employing ‘energy, difference, theory and monochrome’ as categories of departure, the emphasis lies within the process of painting as opposed to the result. By expanding ideas around the processes of painting we can hope to extend the boundaries contemporary art is conformed to today. Featuring 20 international artists numerous works measured a large 3x5m, a staircase wall mural amongst smaller pieces and a ‘painting installation’. Many of the canvases may have been collaborations between two artists alongside approaches with performance such as Raymond Cuijpers kicking a painted football onto a constructed canvas goal.

 An Arts Guide to Amsterdam

Museumplann

 The Stedelijk museum boasts some of the greats from the 20th Century to the present day, hosting contemporary art exhibitions alongside its permanent one all within an oversized bathtub architecture. Neighbouring Stedelijk is the Van Gogh Museum where during peak times you will find over four floors of tourists absorbing the Dutch masterpieces. For the price ticket of 15.00 euros you also witness a small display about methods of conservation and an insight into Van Gogh’s more successful contemporaries where he failed to make money attempting to fit in with commercial trends.

Not far from Museumplann is Vondelpark, a picturesque setting with complimentary sculpture from ArtZuid, an international sculpture exhibition hosted across this area of the city. These works by ArtZuid Junior were particularly playful and greatly enhanced my colour contrast bar and is a great encouragement for any young artists.

(We should do more of this in England).

 

Personal Codes of Conduct’at Torch Gallery, Jordaan

 

 Personal Codes of Conduct alludes to the theme of our lives becoming increasingly digitised amongst the role of surfacing subcultures; each artist exhibited here visualises their online identity with a partially negative premise. Suzan Holen’s embroidered code communicates a paradox between constructive functionality and irrational feelings we may encounter as females using social media. Artist duo Pinar & Viola looked to emulate ‘the streets of the internet’ consisting of Trompe l’oeil Human Barbie Dolls with fantasy overlays. ‘I’ll Make You Feel Real’ is provocative of the height of narcissism we now encounter either on Instagram or embedded in the underground of net fetishes, almost verging on idolatry self love.

 

Do your own Human Barbie Overlay here: http://www.overlayer.com/u/pinar_viola

 

South Africa Art Nowat No Man’s Art Gallery

 Towards the west of the city centre, slightly off the beaten path, I came across No Man’s Art Gallery who set out to represent scouted talent at their boundless pop-ups around the world. ‘South Africa Art Nowpresented a healthy variety of photography, installation, painting and prints representing a small body of young artists often confronting domestic subjects sensitive to display. Standing out from the exhibition is Hidokuhle Sobhekwz’s undiscovered photography documenting those he knew who have succumbed to addiction of Nyapope.Nicolene Van Der Walt’s deconstructed pig graves focuses on our role in consumerism and waste as well as challenging the animal’s stereotype using the medium of soap and site-specific soil to show the futility of the still-born piglet as a product.

Mia Chaplin’s minimal palette creates an expressive set of paintings with a sense of detachment. The voyeuristic nature of her work could be said to concentrate on the inner-self and our difficulty engaging with the outer world, visually communicating this through still lives and figurative portrayals.

 

Cobra Museum

Venturing outside the city to Amstelveen, the Cobra Museum is host to a large collection of contemporary art and more recently exhibiting a host of 1950’s masters from the Guggenhiem Museum. Wherever you visit in Amsterdam, you are bound to find yourself in a creative body depending on how far you scratch the surface. The majority of gems you may find in Jordaan, where the gallery art district is the most condensed in the city. Just remember to book tickets in advance for the largest museum attractions as we do not have the privilege of walking straight into them as we do here.

All about Wes…

To many cinemaphiles, Wes Anderson is a director like no other. In a world full of sterile blockbusters, unnecessary sequels and unwanted remakes, the films of Wes Anderson offer a safe haven of brilliant weirdness, vivid imagery and original storytelling. Anderson has a filmography to rival the likes of greats such as Quentin Tarantino, Werner Herzog or the Coen brothers, with stellar titles such as the Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012) delighting both audiences and critics worldwide, and just like Tarantino and the Coens, Anderson has an ever-growing and loyal fanbase who hang on his every word.

 

Wes Anderson

 

Wes Anderson has long been seen as the one of great titans of the indie cinema circuit, a true auteur who really understands the power of cinema, a Kubrick-esque figure who makes every single frame count. The director rose to fame and reached international recognition shortly after the release of his debut movie, Bottle Rocket (1996), which also helped launch the careers of both Luke and Owen Wilson (with Owen being credited as co-writer). Early hits such asthe phenomenal Rushmore and the groundbreaking The Royal Tenenbaums cemented Anderson’s status as a talented director who blended comedy and drama with the absurd and esoteric. As he became a more recognisable figure, his films became noticeably grander. Recent projects such as The Darjeeling Limited (2007), The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and particularly, his newest release, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) showcase Anderson’s brilliant eye for the big screen.

There are several visuals motifs, techniques and traits that Anderson employs in his films in order to bring his creative vision to life and many keen cinemagoers have been amazed by Anderson’s clever and subtle use of colour palettes. In The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson utilises colours that are closely associated with autumn (yellows, oranges and browns) reflecting the earthy and organic bearings of the film. Similarly, in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) the colours feel much more vibrant and eclectic (think of Team Zissou’s red caps!), in touch with the tone and feel of the movie.

 

Wes Anderson

 

Perhaps the most brilliant part of any Wes Anderson movie is the focus on practical effects and tricks of the camera over CGI. In the most memorable scene of The Life Aquatic, the infamous Jaguar Shark is revealed to us, second by second it’s beautiful luminescent pattern is shown, then finally, we get to see the beautiful creature in all of its majestic glory. In reality, the shark was a stop-motion puppet courtesy of animation genius, Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), but during the movie, the shark seemed to have a life of its own, obviously it looked fake, but I believed it was alive in Wes Anderson’s cartoon-like world.

In one memorable moment, Zissou faces the shark that killed his dear friend and utters the line “I wonder if it remembers me?” to the melancholic sound of “Starálfur” by Sigur Rós. This particular moment of the film caused many cinemagoers to tear up and that’s the power of a great Wes Anderson film. You invest in the lives of characters that you will only know for a few hours, but you believe in their problems and adjust to their crazy world. Anderson manages to make the fantastic seem normal but never quite takes the magic away.

It’s no secret that the director has a fondness for nostalgia. If The Life Aquatic was a very personal love letter to the work of the underwater filmmaker and explorer Jacques Cousteau, and Moonrise Kingdom was a bittersweet youthful love story set amongst an antiquated Eagle Scout 60’s backdrop. The Grand Budapest Hotel is Anderson’s most bold and welcome attempt at bringing a lost period in time back to the big screen. He has a strange love for life’s peculiarities and the self-imposed rules we live by.

Wes Anderson

Anderson appreciates film as an art form, something that sets him apart from his contemporaries. He has a unique way of bringing his kinetic passion for the moving image to the screen. The Grand Budapest Hotel, offers a different aspect ratio (1.33, 1.85, and 2.35:1) for each timeline in the film.

We are very lucky to have a director like Wes Anderson in our lifetime. Anderson’s films fight against the popular image of modern cinema as a greedy, cynical and self-fulfilling creature. He treats his wide-eyed audience with respect that they deserve and he knows exactly how to play them. Anderson somehow manages to blend a childlike sense of wonder with offbeat comedy and just a tad of weirdness, whilst throwing in the serious issues that plague our everyday lives, from the fears of infidelity, to parenthood and even the death of a loved one. After watching one of Anderson’s films, I come away feeling heartbroken but underneath there is a feeling of hope, an uplifting sense of wonder, for all of his credit, Wes Anderson is an original.

Didactic Display: The importance of personal experience

Information hungry, the way we live revolves around what we know, how quickly we can collect information and how much information we can retain; this is true of the way we consider education, the way we live socially and the way we encounter the world. This also very appropriately describes the way we view art. Encountering wall texts, audio-guides, guided tours, information booklets, catalogues, not to mention the usual amenities such as artist’s names, titles and mediums, upon entering the vast majority of art galleries we are faced with fixtures which in terms of knowledge and understanding leave few stones unturned. Although what could be considered the current standard curatorial method (a didactic approach to viewing art) allows a viewer an impressively comprehensive theoretical understanding of a particular work, it does not seem to invite more creative approaches to the process of mediation or understanding. Such a heavily didactic approach to information greatly reduces the probability of a viewer forming any sort of personal or emotional connection to a work. People don’t fall for a Rothko because they understand it.

 

In Wonderful uncertainty a text by Raqs Media Collective, they write: ‘people bring their own histories, memories, scars and desires to bear on any work they encounter’. Surely the more prescriptively one is fed a work of art, the less one is able to bring of one’s own and thus is supposedly far less connected. Colours, shapes, objects etc. all have there own cultural and social associations, layers of representation or ‘meaning’ which we bestow upon them.  However, often colours, shapes, objects, etc. are also inexplicably tied-up with personal association, representation and emotion. When one experiences a work of art, one undoubtedly experiences the work from one’s own individual viewpoint of the world.

 

Suzanne Lacy in her publication Mapping the terrain: new genre public art talks of engagement in terms of particular artworks, within the text is a diagram depicting what Lacy refers to as ‘rings of engagement’, which in concentric circles transform the notion of different audiences into a diagram representing different groups’ levels of interaction with a work of art, and their importance insofar as the works existence. Lacy states that the ‘innermost circle represents those without whom the work could not exist’, the outermost circle being ‘audience of myth and memory’. I suppose, the question this poses (at least to me) is whether one could consider the perspective of ‘the audience of myth and memory’ as either part of the inner circle or a different diagram completely, as although yes, the work could exist without their perspective, the work from their perspective could not exist without them. Without a specific viewer having gone through an individual process of mediating a particular piece of work, their ideas would have never been realised. It’s arguable that works of art exist as a multiplicity of individual interpretations and understandings (of which the artist is one), in which case, the individual experience is of extreme importance and the work couldn’t exist without each and every viewer (in whatever capacity that may be).

 

Additional information in which I am including titles, mediums, descriptive and/or explanatory wall-texts, etc. is just that – additional. The information, at least that which is crucial, is unspoken and present in the work itself. Looking for more, it’s easily forgotten that these often over-didactic methods employed by the gallery are not the only place to search. It’s important not only to understand what the work has to offer but what one has to offer to the work – experiences, memories, emotions which ultimately one has in common with the work are as, if not more important than any conceptual understanding on the part of the artist. When does information or understanding become counter-productive?

 

Do we really engage with a work we are told everything about? There are most certainly works that more effortlessly lend themselves to a more fluid, creative process of mediation. Just as there are works which it is much more difficult to engage with in this way, of which conceptual art proves particularly problematic. How can a work’s conceptual ideas be explained, whilst still allowing the space for a viewer’s personal thoughts and feelings to manifest? It is, I suppose, important that conceptual understanding, in terms of the artist’s understanding of their own work, is presented in some way and in that sense, a didactic attitude towards the work’s meaning is difficult to avoid – but do we really want to close off the possibility to the artwork’s full potential? Do different varieties of work require different levels of mediation and do some works in particular require there to be a more open, more fluid form of viewing?

 

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled 1989-1990, a stack of endless sheets of printed paper, along with Dominique Gonzalez-Forester’s Tapis de Lecture (Reading Rug), a carpet on which an ‘L’ shaped stack of books sits waiting to be read, are both works which invite a participatory viewing.  Both works surround specific conceptual meaning with an aura of ambiguity and in this sense encourage the viewer to engage in a deeper, more intrinsic encounter with the work. Gonzalez-Torres’ paper-stacks, which are intended to be taken one by one, by the viewer and are constantly replenished by the gallery, are a heavily conceptual body of works and yet in their minimal forms, do not necessarily dictate the experience or understanding of the individual. Inviting the viewer to engage in an act seldom acceptable in an art gallery in both touching and removing the work, the viewer is offered another rare opportunity of experiencing an original work of contemporary art (or at least a piece of) in their home. Tapis de Lecture is entirely different in its methods of non-specificity. The foundation of its bibliography being Gonzales-Forester’s practice; the books are ones commonly referenced within her work. Despite the specific nature of the selection of material, what the viewer (or reader) chooses to read is completely up to the individual. A viewer could read the entirety of information present in Tapis de lecture and yet their thoughts, ideas and connections between documents would be completely unique to that of Gonzales-Forester’s. Whether viewers read at all is, I suppose, dictated by the situation they might find themselves in; participation is more likely to occur if some level of participation is already taking place. As I have already attempted to establish within this text, current methods of curating and viewing art often stand in the way of the potential for a more engaged, creative experience, and this is true also of physical participation.

 

At the 2014 Tate Summer School Jenny Dunseath gave a talk specifically focused towards making; she had her audience/participants occupying their hands molding plasticine and their mouths with the act of chewing gum. Dunseath who sculpts and has a particular interest in idiosyncrasies and processes of making, had her audience fiddling and chewing whilst following various instructions. As her audience/participants became increasingly involved with their own process of making she spoke about an array of works, ideas and theories by both herself and other practitioners.  She reeled off huge amounts of of information, including information about her work as an assistant to Antony Caro – making remained at all times the theme of her monologue. It was both my understanding and that of all other audience/participants that we experienced a point at which we had stopped listening to what Dunseath was saying. Discovering an inability to sculpt with the plasticine, follow instruction, chew gum and listen to/digest information, there came a point at which each audience/participant sort of ‘woke up’ in a panic that they had failed to take notice of what Dunseath had to say. Thankfully Dunseath reassured her listeners at the very end when she spoke about the importance of the talk/exercise being in the process and experience that each individual had had with their materials (plasticine and gum) and that learning was intentionally taking place through the physical process of doing and not listening.

Finding Vivian Maier

Finding Vivian Maier is a documentary film created by amateur John Maloof that is based upon the somewhat obscure and mysterious career of Nanny Vivian Maier. It was unknown that Maier had a cache of over 100,000 photographs in her collection. This has led to her posthumous reputation as one of America’s best and The New York Times regarded her as “one of America’s most insightful street photographers”. The documentary itself has won a variety of prestigious awards and been chosen as part of the official selection of Berlin and Palm Springs International film festival 2014.

 

vivian maier

Vivian Maier was born in the U.S and spent most of her childhood in France. She was a self-taught photographer and was meticulously private. She shot mostly urban life in Chicago and New York. Maier had a talent for catching the most striking monochromatic street photographs and examples of her work are shown continuously throughout the film. Themes that are popular with street photographers such as the down and out, crying children (or children with ice-cream), crime scenes and the interesting old man with a hat and a cigar is prominent within the Photographer’s work. Nonetheless, Maier’s photographs are beautiful. I absolutely adore how she captures truth and strong emotion from her subjects. Maier has a sense of humour documented within some of her photographs that include cheeky shots of women’s skirt’s flying up, dogs that provide comedy value and various other random shots. Within the situations Maier has been able to make her subjects feel at ease and capture close and personal shots that is highly commendable.

Of the various interviews throughout the film from the children she had cared for, none of them knew much about her. Truthfully, they all appeared as rather odd individuals that described Maier’s imagination, her stern demeanour and her political views. They all stated that Maier was never without her Rolleiflex Camera and guarded her possessions zealously.

 

vivian maier

John Maloof encountered Maier’s negatives at a thrift store in Chicago’s West side that led to his decision to reveal the photographer’s work to the world. This raises the question of the artist’s rights and if Maloof had the right to promote and curate Maier’s work. It was widely advertised throughout the film that Vivian was very private and showed her work to no one. Maloof questions himself continuously throughout the film and debates if he should continue to promote Maier’s work without her permission. To begin with, the photographer’s work was not even accepted or recognised by major galleries. The film documents Maloof’s struggle of raising awareness in regards to Maier’s photographs. Currently, Maloof has catalogued over 90% of Vivian’s work and is in the process of receiving recognition from major galleries across the USA.

Vivian Maier documented American street life from the 1950’s and continued for the next five decades. Maloof relates her to Henri Cartier-Bresson, which is a rather strong statement although her photographs are striking and each one is stronger than the last. The film is mediocre and does what it says on the tin (describing the life of Vivian Maier). The most important part of prying into this photographer’s life was being able to see the magic of her work on film. It is inspiring and is a must see for an aspiring photographer.

 

 

Limbo

‘Uncertain of his sister’s fate, a boy enters Limbo

 Darkness, terror, isolation and tenaciousness, these are some of the traits present in Playdead’s atmospheric platform adventure Limbo.

 A contour of what seems to be an unconscious child lays lifeless, its form fused with the silhouetted landscape, the stillness is broken when the game is interacted with. A confirmation of life comes from two vacant white spots for eyes, glowing amongst the darkened surroundings.

 

Limbo Game

Without an introductory animatic, one is immediately immersed in the game, with no precursors or guidance we are forced to proceed onwards. There is a clear reservation regarding the boy’s ambition until later in the game, raising questions about why the boy is there and where he is going.

Unlike other games, at no point does Limbo introduce the controls or objectives, it unifies the ignorance of the characters objective with the unfamiliarity of the player. This introduction sets the tone for the entire game, presenting the ambience and the vignette viewing screen through which we control the child’s movement.

The name of the ‘boy’is never mentioned, much alike the characters in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, preserving the anonymity of the characters throughout the novel; I’ve found that having nameless characters is an alluring feature in any game or work, it forces the viewer to take consideration of the context in which the characters are placed. This is imperative to the sophistication of Limbo’s storyline, given that it is incredibly bleak and minimal, the immersion the viewer has with the game is drawn on the journey, forcing a relationship to manifest with a very distanced and vacant being.

One notable attribute of the game is the bleak landscape, and the way that the boy must traverse it. The challenges present themselves when one must distinguish the threats from the safe routes, in order to progress onward. When presented with a spike pit or trap, the repetition of failure presents the solution which allows for progression, as the developer stated the ‘trial and death’technique is inexorable and part of the games mechanic. Admittedly, I’ve been compelled to abandon the game on a few occasions, certain puzzles in the game were a little arduous at times.

Limbo Game

The desolate and noir landscape, with its harsh grain and distanced vistas is paired with an equally disturbing monotone soundtrack. The tension intensifies and the sound distorts when in close proximity with any other being. The use of harsh brazen sounds is complimented with a drone that is perpetually present throughout the development of the chapters. It’s almost as if it follows the boy through his cumbersome struggle for progress.

The latency of the tension is something to be admired, it seems appropriate for the horror element of the game to manifest sporadically; the first encounter with any being is with an unnaturally massive arachnid, which is only threatening when in near proximity. This notion of threat often comes from dangerous objects such as oversized hacksaws or bear traps.

On occasion, the game managed to make me jump, mostly from the abruptness and the harshness of the death animations, primarily from the exaggerated and accentuated sounds.

The aesthetics of the game are the most striking of its features, bringing focus to the developers style, redeeming the fact that the gameplay is relatively slow in some areas.

Publicly, the game has received strong praise with undertones of criticism, mostly down to the streamlined yet monotone nature of the gameplay. Most of the attention has been evoked from its aesthetic presentation and purely visual plot, supported by the immersive atmosphere and haunting ambience.

If you want a lengthy, aesthetically pleasing, artistic platform game, Limbo is the one to get.

Limbo is available to download for Xbox, Ps3, iOS and Android.

Counterpoint

I find myself standing in the street outside the Talbot Rice Gallery, here to view Counterpoint’s showcase of eight contemporary artist’s work. I find myself here on the back of a recommendation from the festival’s art director, interviewed in last month’s FMG Monthly. My curiosity roused, I cross the threshold into the building. Many beautiful, intriguing and provocative pieces adorned the walls and floors. Of the eight artists, two in particular captured my imagination.

 

The first of these artists is Craig Mulholland. As you walk into the first room, placed right by the stairs for the second level, Mulholland’s installation – constructed from various materials and media, including sand paper, wood and visual projections – takes the shape of a bowling lane, a singular slice extracted from an alley which appears to be in some state of disrepair. I find myself searching for the background to this intriguing construction before me, and in this search my mind connects this sight with emotion, a longing for narrative, as if entering an abandoned, aged property, which oozes character. Upon the wall above the lane, the words “Potemkin Function” are projected in a font reminiscent of the fond neon squiggle used by many establishments to indicate whether they are open or closed. Thin wooden bricks have replaced the pins and these too are displayed in the projection which cycles through moving images of a bowling ball being cast down the lane towards these bricks. For me, Mulholland’s bowling alley offers an insight into how the picture painted can often differ from the actual function. The warping of an area usually utilised solely for recreational purposes into an area harrowed by black paint reminds me of how propaganda is utilised to portray whomever in disfavour in a negative and objectified light. As this feeling rested inside me, I made my way through to the next room of Counterpoint’s exhibition.

 

Counterpoint

Talbot Rice Gallery
Installation views
Part of Edinburgh Art
Festival and GENERATION
Photography by Chris Park
Courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery

Before me lies two full size street lamps, a neat stack of magazines cut zig-zag down their middle, and a large wall of corrugated iron graphitized with black spray paint – an eclectic mix provided by artist, Keith Farquhar. Farquhar’s intention is to “rework the inherited visual of the original appropriated work”. As I stand by these full size street lamps I begin to have some comprehension of Farquhar’s goal in these pieces. Removal of these commonplace functional installations from their usual surroundings and placed with intention on the floor by one another, they begin to feel personified, as if feeling emanates from them. I noticed that I no longer found this material object to be simply that, instead I began to form some type of human connection with them. From when I entered the room, I had presumed the writing on the steel wall to be written in spray paint but upon closer inspection, the paint is pixelated at it’s edges, and within the exhibition booklet, my curiosity is sated. Farquhar reveals his use of a large UV printer – which can print on any material – to create the text within the graffiti. Graffiti, created outwith artistic purpose, is often considered a thoughtless act of vandalism alluding to the carelessness of its creator. Farquhar however, appropriates graffiti, using the UV printer to create what appears to be spray paint. Through this exact act we reconsider this “graffiti”, knowing now it has been carefully and thoughtfully created.

 

Counterpoint

Talbot Rice Gallery
Installation views
Part of Edinburgh Art
Festival and GENERATION
Photography by Chris Park
Courtesy Talbot Rice Gallery

Leaving the Talbot Rice Gallery, I am left with a feeling of lightness and whimsy. All too often artwork and exhibitions are portrayed as being heavy events for the soul – Counterpoint’s Exhibition however, is not such an event. Despite no conscious thematic connection between the eight artist’s works, the quality of each piece creates a feeling of unity. Evident throughout all the work on display is a demonstration of each individual artist’s ability to play and experiment with mediums and media, ultimately creating work that is fascinating, stimulating and wholly intriguing.

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The 68th Edinburgh International Film festival ran from the 18-29th of June, and I was lucky enough to score a press and industry pass for the occasion. Showcasing over 124 films, including 11 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 7 European Premiers and 95 UK Premieres, the festival boasts a range of indie surprises alongside several recognisable faces. Inviting glamour and red carpets to Edinburgh for 12 days, the atmosphere inside and outside the various showcasing screens was incredible. Buzzing with industry casts and crews, there seemed to be an infinite amount of activities to ignite excitement in any cinephile. From question and answer sessions, panel discussions, outdoor movie screenings, and interactive workshops, it became hard picking the best events to attend out of an overall impressive list. I was very thankful for the final day, entitled: ‘Best of the Fest’, allowing a catch up of some great films I’d unfortunately missed. And since I know how thankful I was for that day, to anyone who missed the whole event, here is my article for you: a chance to hear about the 2014 festival and a guide to some brilliant independent films.

An elegant red carpet masking the familiar floors of your local cinema is not something you experience every day. Either is Elljah Wood casually strutting along said walkway, for the World Premiere of his new film, Set Fire to the Stars. Albeit a classy and VIP filled event, the welcoming atmosphere of the fest really made the world of film feel accessible. Not just something we sit back and watch behind a screen, but something anyone who appreciates cinema can be a part of. Stick on a nice dress and anyone might think you’re some sort of elite tycoon. Furthermore, the director of Set fire to the stars, Andy Goddard, is a past graduate of the BA (Hons) course I’m currently attending, and it shows success is clearly possible so very far from Hollywood.

FMG Arts

Feeling just slightly underdressed in my jeans and T-shirt, I sat next to a couple sporting a picturesque tux and frock. With high expectation of Set Fire to the Stars, I was marginally disappointed. The film is a semi-biographical portrait of the complicated relationship between the poet, Dylan Thomas, and John Malcolm Brinnin, the manager of Thomas’s final American tour of 1953. I felt that the idolisation John felt towards Dylan wasn’t portrayed effectively enough, and I didn’t feel the emotions, or believe the bond, that was trying to be conveyed through their relationship. After the end applause, I was asked by the smartly dressed lady to my left what I thought of the film, and I said just that, not knowing she was in fact the sister of lead actor and co-writer Celyn Jones… Thankfully, before I gained this information, I also mentioned that the film was beautifully shot, well acted and an interesting depiction of a literature hero. She told me very proudly that Celyn had wanted to make the film since he was 13 years old. As I listened to him answer the audiences’ questions during the afterwards Q and A sesh, I truly admired his ambition and determination. It evidently paid off in the end.

Although it would be impossible to comment on all of the many movies that appeared at the festival, there were a further three significantly accomplished films that captured my interest. Firstly, Uncertain Terms uses a very organic and raw approach. It may not be the first ever film to use improvisation, but it’s the first indie I’ve ever seen that didn’t shoot with a pre-written script. Director David Silver has a small role in the movie himself, alongside his own mother, and ‘Exit Elena’ cinematographer David Dahlbom. Keeping it personal within his circle of family and friends, the film is based loosely on his mothers own experience as a pregnant teen. The girls starring as the pregnant teenagers attended the LA film festival just a few weeks prior, wearing their pregnant stomach suits for the occasion. Shame they couldn’t make it across the ocean, but Silver’s Edinburgh attendance was just as appreciated.FMG Arts

A second personal piece, which isn’t so loosely based, is the autobiographical final film of Nils Malmros: Sorrow and Joy. The tragic account of the Danish directors adult life depicts the death of his infant daughter at the hands of his mentally ill wife. The directors presence made the viewing deeply intimate due to the sensitive issues the film deals with. Pouring the most personal time of your life onto screen is intense, let alone opening the floor to prying questions, which Malmros commendably did. However, my favourite film has to be Jim Michle’s revenge thriller Cold in July. Being a huge Michael C. Hall fan, it was a rather strange experience seeing him sustain the role of feeble redneck Richard Dane, who accidentally kills an unarmed intruder. The intruders father, a felon recently released from prison, eerily sets out to inflict justice upon his son’s murderer, leaving Richard fearing for his families safety. I felt a part of me was waiting for the Dexter in him to come out and show everyone who’s boss… And although this didn’t happen, moral justice is served up rather nicely with a trio vigilante team. I’m glad I didn’t watch the trailer before watching the film as it annoyingly gives far too much information away. All i’ll say is there’s something satisfying about initial enemies teaming up and working together. The film corresponds a tense atmosphere with unpleasant brutality, and some subtle aspects of comedy. Its electro soundtrack also adds a sleek and stylish vibe. It was the last film I seen at the festival, and I’m glad I ended my experience on a high.

So there we have it. Your short recap of the Edinburgh International Film festival. And since I feel the small amount of films I’ve discussed doesn’t even nearly do the 124 films shown justice, I shall leave you with two final films that also deserve a watch. The powerful drama Joe, directed by David Gordon Green and starring an emotionally complex badass/hero Nicholas Cage, and the independent horror film Honeymoon, which follows newlyweds Paul and Bea to a cabin in the woods. Best known for her Game of Thrones role as feisty wildling Ygritte, Rose Leslie was present for the films UK Premiere at the festival. I hope you check out these films. I hope you enjoy them. And see you all next year!

Tor Simen Ulstein & Geir Stian Orsten Ulstein – Featured Artist August 2014

Tor Simen Ulstein & Geir Stian Orsten Ulstein collaborative series’ ‘Det Som Var: Er’. For this series Tor travelled with his brother around europe and photographed the remnants of concentration camps and Geir Stian Orsten Ulstein wrote poems to accompany the individual photographs.

 

FMG Art

Majdanek

Hinderet bak det største hinder.
*
Skjult av avstand, det uformidlede,
Det absurde i elendighetens nåtid.

FMG Art

Gross-Rosen

Reveljetårn i stillhet.
Ingen å vekke,
Ingen å terrorisere.
Ikke lenger en leir.
*
Stadig går mennesker til grunne
I urettferdighet.

FMG Art

Belzec

Bortenfor alt kjent,
i ugjennomtrengelig grått.
Natt. Tåke. Utslettelse.
*
Bortenfor deg og ditt, de utslettede.

 

FMG Art

 Soribor

I naturen eksisterer ikke tilgivelse.
Ufortrødent visker den ut våre ugjerninger
hvor mye vi enn skulle kjempe imot.
*
Menneskene bryter tausheten i naturen;
Kommandobrøl, redselsskrik…
Og vi, vi ser mot fortiden, 
Vi ser alle andre veier
Mens vi lytter til gode formaninger
Om det som var. Vi ser ikke vår egen tid.
Vi ser bare skogen.