Lygia Clark – Organic Planes at The Henry Moore Institute


Nicola Cappleman

The Henry Moore Institute is located on The Headrow in Leeds city centre. It is well acclaimed for its sculpture shows – exhibiting both contemporary and historical work. It is currently hosting an exhibition of Lygia Clark’s work entitled ‘Organic Planes’.

 

Brazilian born Lygia Clark (1920) was a leading abstract artist; Clark trained as an installation artist in Paris in 1950, returning later to pursue her career in Rio de Janeiro where she died in 1988. Clark’s artistic career has Constructivist roots that supported the autonomous nature of art, such roots were evidently influential to her and origins which she never strayed far from. She maintained an intention to produce “non art within art”, a statement which took form throughout her career. Her experimental work and influence brought her to the forefront of the ‘Neo-Concretist’ movement in Brazil during the late 1940’s to mid 1950’s. The movement advocated the role of the spectator in viewing exhibitions – pieces were intended to be created not simply to be perceived from a purely aesthetical standpoint but were to be actively interacted with. The artwork itself exists as a transitional entity rather than a ‘finished’ object – the relationship between it and the viewer is thus on going. Such concept is explored and represented here in Organic Planes, which offers a notable retrospective of the artist’s work and artistic capacities.

Lygia Clark – Organic Planes at The Henry Moore Institute

Clark, as this exhibition highlights, intended to break the boundaries between the spectator and artwork. Her work centres around exploring such possibilities and particularly in the latter part of her career she created pieces, which the spectator explored increasingly using their body. The touch and texture of her work was always significant alongside the poignancy of the relationship that connected the work with its receiving audience. Her works are endowed with a sense of possibility, which makes for extraordinary viewing.

 

This small, but perfectly formed, show highlights a sculptural work created in 1960, ‘Bicho pássaro do espaço’ (Creature passing through space’). The work is contextualised by three collages made and shown alongside the work. Her sculptures are experimentation with form and space –the metal used is endlessly manipulated in order to achieve a shape. There is a topological nature to these pieces as they appear almost as diagrams straight from a mathematician’s workbook. Their delicate combination of folds and sculpted angles allows them to be viewed in different ways from the varying positions of the viewer. The aluminium sheets are endlessly folded and unfolded, it has no end or beginning, no top and no bottom, such constant re-manipulation of form are features that reiterate the finite qualities of her work. Such re-folding ad re-shaping is interestingly still visible in this piece it is not ‘neatened’ to be displayed – the process of its creation is clearly there and is vital to the piece giving it a sense of timelessness. The work is an organic process – indicated in the title, which labels the work in the present tense – the creature is ‘passing’ it has not passed.

The pieces in this exhibition are pleasantly contrasted with the small space of the Henry Moore’s Gallery 4 which seems almost as if it were made to house this selection of Clark’s pieces.

Conrad Shawcross – The ADA Project

The Vinyl Factory Space

Natasha Eves

Technological advancement manifests itself in unusual ways. You climb the stairs of the late 1920s Brewer Street Car Park, shades of off-white and duck egg blue blurring in your peripheral vision. At the top, you enter the temporary home of Conrad Shawcross’ dancing robot, The ADA Project. The robot is situated at the far end of the Magna(-science-adventure-centre)-eqse space, so your attention is first drawn to the wall texts and prints. By politely perusing these wall pieces, you reach the information desk, collect information sheets, turn around and finally lay eyes upon the robot. Like a caged lion, it has a coy majesty as it moves seamlessly through its programmed choreography.

Conrad Shawcross – The ADA Project 1

Retina burn is a small price to pay for viewing this piece, as the unmediated light on the robot’s tip invites and holds our gaze, whilst the music makes sense of its motions. When the music ends, it whirs through the silence, repeating its routine. It is tempting to think that the robot should stop when the music does, as we dance to music, we dance with it. But Shawcross’ robot commissioned these musical scores, its movements inspired by Ada Lovelace, the mathematician. Four renowned female musicians, Beatrice Dillon, Holly Herndon, Mira Calix and Tamara Barnett Harrin responded to these movements, creating four new and unique compositions. Dillon and Herndon created pieces that synced perfectly with the programmed dances, expressing the robot’s implied sentience.

 

One hundred years previously, motion studies were used by Frank and Lilian Gilbreth to increase worker efficiency rather than to create music. The Gilbreths attached a camera to a timing device and photographed workers performing various tasks. The motion paths were tracked by small lights attached to the worker’s hands or fingers. This was called a chronocyclegraph, used in the hope to reduce worker’s movements to the shortest sequence of gestures. Long exposure prints of The Ada Project and the Gilbreth’s chronocyclegraphs bear such a visual resemblance that it is curious how different their intentions are.

Conrad Shawcross – The ADA Project

Frank and Lilian Gilbreth’s intention was to robotise factory workers; it wasn’t about beauty, it was about efficiency. These movements were written on photographs and in models and retrospectively they have a certain utilitarian beauty. To view the Gilbreths’ work now is to think of the beauty of motion, they were writing movements in light. Their innovative use of the moving image earned them great respect in the field of time and motion studies. But this retroactive beauty shows how scientific technologies seep into the creative spheres, as we subsequently procure its aesthetic value.

 

You could say that Shawcross has ‘freed’ his robot from a life as a welder in a car factory. Its movements are documented in photographs and in music. It has been repurposed, anthropomorphised perhaps, into a performer. Once the robot is anthropomorphised however, it may generate assumptions of a possibly forced performance. It moves tirelessly through its motions, it doesn’t stop when the music stops and you hear it whir sadly until someone presses the next button and it performs the next dance. It is an exhibition of grace and beauty native to the uncanny valley. Shawcross’ robot has an eerie allure that echoes through the space, whilst celebrating the beauty of musical composition and it’s relation to choreography.

Conrad Shawcross – The ADA Project

The way in which Shawcross and the Gilbreths approach the subject of manufacturing is distinctive; the former liberates the machine from its traditional boundaries and commission’s music, whereas the Gilbreths examination attempted to mechanise human labour. Their interest in the mechanical enthrals the viewer with its promise of the future. However, upon this realisation the viewer can discover that the Gilbreths’ pre-empt the negation of human labour, shaping humanity into the innards of an eternal production line. Whilst one hundred years later, Shawcross’ robot dances out the last throes of its industrial life.

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.

Boyhood, A Review

The excitement around the release of a film twelve years in production was palpable as Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, revealed its first trailers. To find that Linklater had filmed the growth of a real boy (Ellar Coltrane) from carefree youth to awkward teens, it was difficult not to see the whole project as a gimmick that would no doubt draw audiences in but would ultimately lack emotional depth. However, the reception of the film was that it would almost certainly change things, a revolution in film production as we know it.

Boyhood A Review

The film begins with what can only be described as an exceptionally basic first few shots. Coltrane at his youngest is seen lying on a grassy verge, gazing into a cloudy sky as Coldplay’s Yellow begins to play, which essentially sets the scene for what is to come. As a writer, there is a constant struggle between the initial ideas that bubble to the surface and yourself as you search for something more original, something with bite. It can be considered that perhaps, for this film at least, Linklater’s writing lacked that first mental piece of editing that filters out the obvious. Boyhood follows the story of Mason, a white, lower middle-class American boy as he grows up. The set of cliches that punctuate the movie is just astounding. The concealed lingerie magazines, the camping trips with the useless, often absent father, the radical musician-turned loveable rogue and the wise, truth-spouting teacher. The two step-fathers who between them make up the catalyst for ‘evil step dad’ as we touch upon (but never fully explore) domestic abuse, alcoholism, right-winged patriotism and harsh conservatism neatly illustrated by anger-inducing black nail varnish.

Boyhood a review

There was often a feeling throughout the film that the main concerns during production were the mechanics of how the ageing process was going to work, which often gave the impression that the storyline was written at the very last minute. The character of the mother, played by Patricia Arquette, had some intriguing light shed upon her, as hers is a story often spoken about but very rarely given much screen time. Throughout the film, we see her experience a series of losses in regards to her relationships, the final one being the loss of her son who leaves for university. Arquette’s was the character I, as a viewer, felt most invested in as we see her attempt to build a successful career and home. However, seeing her in her last scene, broken, crying and voicing her loneliness it became clear for what purpose this character was used. The mother did not get her own arch within the narrative but instead was used as an object at which abuse and anguish were thrown. It shows a warped understanding of domestic abuse when it is used purely as a plot point to give your main character some anguish, only to disregard (and ultimately punish) the woman who was subjected to it in the first place.

Boyhood merely exhibits the anecdotes that we feel we know but are neither based in reality nor even interesting. A set of clichés hidden beneath a gimmick.

Boyhood A Review

In it’s last thirty minutes the movie began to drag as we focused on a now grown Mason, Coltrane having inconsequentially not grown up to be an actor. The reviews of the film have been staggeringly in the positive, almost all written claiming that this was the perfect rendition of growing up. I believe however that the film fails to offer any form of an accurate portrait of youth and instead reels off a series of common tropes, all of which we’ve seen before, but only from the screen. The wonderful thing about real life is that it is full of strange and unexpected things. Real life is dense and complex and very rarely plays out like a movie. Boyhood merely exhibits the anecdotes that we feel we know but are neither based in reality nor even interesting. A set of clichés hidden beneath a gimmick.

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.