The Grapes of Laugh

I thought I would publish this post in an effort to re-engage with my so called digital sketch book. This piece, titled The Grapes of Laugh was made whilst I was living in New York in 2015 and undertaking a particularly life altering workshop, Functional and Intuitive Art with artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.

I have been attempting to process my experience during this time for the last four years now, and failing! I have a blog post in my drafts on here that I hope to finish at some point but I have no idea when that will happen,

This particular object serves as a reminder to be happy or perhaps more accurately it acts as a conduit for happiness. Due to its interactive ability; the lid can be opened or closed, happiness can be contained or allowed out so you can get a quick dose of it. The glass grapes were bought in China Town and signify prosperity and ov course the air bnb I was living in had a stained glass sticker of grapevines on the window in the bathroom.

I recently had a job interview where I had to bring an object and talk about it. I chose this item and in order to transport it had to close it up. I am NEVER doing that again……. The normally stressful, but manageable journey was absolute hell, even involving a rush hour crush and a spider, and I had to reschedule the interview.

I did actually get the job in the end though, perhaps because the grapes were returned to their rightful open state during it. Needless to say I’m never closing it up again!

Mirko Virius Gallery Visit

In this post I will be talking about The Croatian Association of Naive Artists.

Last summer I had the pleasure of visiting the Mirko Virius Gallery in Zagreb, Croatia. The artist’s exhibited at the gallery are all Naive Artists, in the sense that they have had little or no formal artistic training. They also adopt their own creative style which is normally characterised by its childlike or ‘naive’ quality. Proportion and more importantly, realism is not the focus of these works, yet the simplicity and imagination of these works somehow presents a truer reality.

Sometimes formal training can remove the wonder and true creativity of the practitioner, or it can insert certain ideas and concepts into the artist’s mind and force their hand into a certain discipline or style.Whilst it is great and necessary to learn about what has come before, sometimes creativity needs to come from deep within the artist, without any restraints.

The gallery is named after Mirko Virius, a peasant and self-taught painter who became a forerunner of Croatian Naive Art after participating in the First Exhibition of Peasant Painters. Despite only being an active painter for three years (1936-1939), his paintings captured the politics behind social themes in paintings such as The Beggar, The Plowing and The Overturned Cart. Virius was arrested during World War II due to his political activities and taken to a Nazi concentration camp in Zemun, Serbia, where he died in 1943. His tragic fate was immortalised by his friend Generalić, who painted The Death of Virius, one of his most famous paintings.With these events you can begin to see just how important a role naive art has played in Croatian history.

I feel more of an affinity myself towards Naive Art, or Outsider Art, in the sense that even though I have an arts education background I do not feel that connected to the mainstream art world. I create work purely because I cannot imagine not doing so and I create work primarily for myself.

I am also including a link to a good friend of mine’s blog. Clare Brown is currently living in Split, Croatia (I’m not jealous at all…..) and has written a piece about her visit to the Croatian Museum of Naive Art (which is just up the road from the Mirko Virius Gallery).

Inextinguishable Fire – by Cassils

I haven’t written anything for a while but I felt compelled to do so after bearing witness to the breathtaking performance by Cassils at the National Theatre last night.

Having been a fan of Cassils for a while, initially due to their work Cuts: A Traditional Sculpture, their work using bodybuilding and a passing into a hyper-masculine physique through it. I also had the pleasure of attending a talk by Cassils in New York at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, and hearing about the film Inextinguishable Fire I was so excited to see a live aspect of this piece, not entirely understanding how this would materialise.

The performance began with Cassils topless on the stage with clothing paraphernalia around them, there was a good seven minutes or so before the professional looking men in boiler suits began methodically dressing Cassils in wet clothing which look liked thermal layers, as Cassils began to shake it became clear that these garments must be freezing cold. The soundtrack started to become impossible to ignore around the third layer of these wet items as what began as a low drone, similar to a helicopter flying low overheard, took on an even more bass like rumble, adding even more to the tension and feeling that something awful or wonderful was about to happen.

The preparation for the actual self-immolation took about fifteen minutes but felt like an eternity as our heart rates sky rocketed and you could see audience members clutching at each others hands. The whole theatre was undoubtably nervous, is there a possibility this could get out of hand and go wrong? Do our desensitised minds actually want that to happen, for us to be witnesses to a true self-immolation? As the team of three men finish preparing Cassils, with the last smearing of  a vaseline looking substance to their face (it definitely can’t have been vaseline as that is flammable!) one the technicians lights a torch, like a wooden staff used to burn witches of old at the stake, and shouts ‘You’re on fire’.

And they were.

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The fire itself only lasted about 14 seconds but the act itself was so powerful that these 14 seconds stretched to an eternity as we all realised we were truly spectators to someone setting their-self on fire, no matter how many safety aspects were involved, this was truly happening, to a live human being, and we just sat and watched.

We were then led haphazardly outside, myself and my friend shakily walking at this point, to the other side of the National Theatre where the film of Inextinguishable Fire was projected on an outside wall. One of our key observations, that highlighted even further the importance to Cassils work and left us with a kind of desperate feeling for the human race, was that the passers by took no notice of the film, a few people would look up but no one stopped to see what was going despite the brightness and intensity of the film, the only people not from the original audience that seemed to be transfixed were small children. It was just such a poignant example of our desensitised selfs, the fact that we do see so much violence and pain inflicted on people and really just don’t care because it isn’t happening to us. It was also interesting to think if the film would’ve had the same effect if I hadn’t seen the live action immolation moments before.

I have never had such a strong reaction to anything in my life! And I think this was the purest and most engaging way to remember, on the apt Sunday of Remembrance. When something is ingrained with so much suffering and history, monks setting themselves on fire in protest, women being persecuted because men fear them, children in agony because of another pointless war, it just cannot fail to change your way of thinking, even in the slightest way. I often think that our generation is the least capable of empathy because in the Western World we are in danger of having no idea or connection to what it feels like to truly suffer and any suffering that happens around us is so disconnected from us in that we only engage with it through a screen, which we can ultimately X out of at any point.

‘When we show you pictures of napalm victims, you’ll shut your eyes. You’ll close your eyes to the pictures. Then you’ll close them to the memory. And then you’ll close your eyes to the facts.’  – Harun Farocki

Cassils // Inextinguishable Fire – Trailer from stichting MU on Vimeo.

 

 

Work Programme 69 – Arnold Pollock

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©Huw Bartlett 2014

For the final week I invited Actor/Artist/Bodybuilder/Documentary Filmmaker Arnold Pollock to exhibit. His was a unique situation in that he is from Manchester so would be making work from scratch or using whatever he could bring down with him. But this gave Arnold the chance to truly create something in response to the gallery space as initially the space was all he had.

Using his current interest in acting (he’s been on Corrie don’t you know!) and previous experience in documentary film making Arnold created a film that combines his interaction with Brighton and its inhabitants. He accurately describes the film as ‘… the result of pursuing every meaningful coincidence during my stay.’ Most of these coincidences revolved around, and occurred due, to his incredible charm. This charm made it possible for Arnold to swipe personal text messages off of strangers phones which are then used as scripts, acted out with new strangers.

The film also depicts local scenes which perhaps locals would normally overlook, and all pretence is somehow stripped away from whimsical beach scenes such as in the clip below and replaced with an endearing honesty.

It was the perfect way to end the residency. The film left me with a new love for my hometown and showed the true potential of CAC when someone enters it with a blank slate and only their interests as a starting point.

Also screened during the exhibition was Arnold’s documentary of him and friend James walking the Trans Pennine Trail:

 

Work Programme 68 – NAZARE SOARES

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 © Huw Bartlett 2014

For the second week I invited Spanish photography and moving image artist Nazare Soares to exhibit as I had previously seen examples of her work and loved the experimental realness to her films. I also envisaged that the closeness of the gallery space would compliment moving image work.

Nazare revisited her existing moving image work Hic Non Est, created during a residency in Palestine last year, and reconstructed the work in response to the space. The rooms were set up as a visual diary of her Palestinian memories and experiences and the theme of the tree of life was repeatedly visually present, even in the form of an actual olive tree which transformed the space into an organic part of the show. This is one of the best things about CAC that it has the ability to shape shift with each show, if you brought a tree in to a conventional white cube type gallery it would very much be apparent that it had been deliberately brought in an artwork. At CAC the tree looked as if it could’ve grown out of the ground and perhaps the whole exhibition had come about around the tree.

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Image © Jennifer Milarski 2014

” Language has unmistakably made plain that memory is not an instrument for exploring the past,

but rather a medium. It is the medium of that which is experienced, just as the earth is the

medium in which ancient cities lie buried. He who seeks to approach his own buried past must

conduct himself like a man digging. Above all, he must not be afraid to return again and again to

the same matter; to scatter it as one scatters earth, to turn it over as one turns over soil. For the

”matter itself” is no more than the strata which yield their long-sought secrets only to the most

meticulous investigation. That is to say, they yield those images that, severed from all earlier

associations, reside as treasures in the sober rooms of our later insights”

Walter Benjamin: Excavation and Memory

The above Walter Benjamin quote which Nazare cites as inspiration for this piece is particularly poignant when seeing Hic Non Est shown in the CAC setting. Specifically the idea of the earth being the medium in which ancient cities lie buried, CAC is the medium in which Nazare’s show, along with each weekly Work Programme is buried and each artist is an excavator of that which already exists within the layers of the gallery.

Hic Non Est from nin.zy on Vimeo.

Work Programme 67 – JENNY MILARSKI

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© Huw Bartlett 2014

I have just finished an intense  3 weeks as Curator in Residence at the Community Arts Centre, Brighton. Despite a few suggestions against it I decided to start off the 3 weeks myself and invited two artists, whose work I admired and felt could benefit from the space and bring something different, to each have their own week. As I may have previously explained, the Work Programmes at CAC begin on the Monday with the ceremonious handing over of the keys to the artist and finish with an exhibition on the following Saturday.

I am particularly in love with the space and the freedom and inspiration that it provides and enjoy the thrill on a Saturday night of wondering just how differently people will interpret it. As I had already done a work programme last year (click here to see images from the previous year) I was quite apprehensive about how I would interact with the space this time, I was concerned that I would end up repeating things from last year and that it would pale in comparison. In actual fact I did end up mirroring (literally) certain things from the previous year as it felt like a progression of ideas in each room.

Whereas last year I had a physique bodybuilder performing, this year I performed myself. Following on from the confidence I had gained during the LADA workshop the previous week I knew that it had to be me and although this proved to be an extremely daunting experience, and in the week leading up to the exhibition and I constantly questioned if I was making massive mistake, but no matter how nervous I got I knew that there was no way that I wasn’t going to do it. Painting my nails pink, getting a spray tan, putting on the wig and then finally the bikini I covered up the ‘me’ aspects so that all that was left was my physical form, which could be any successful white body in terms that it is healthy, physically able, well nourished, not obese etc.

IMG_2185The performance itself took place over two hours and the audience where invited in for a one-on-one experience. My boyfriend was the bouncer on the door making sure that people waited their turn and I quite like the connotations that go alongside him being the one who allows others to look at me, there’s a kind of pimp dynamic and once inside the room has red lighting and a golden throne chair for the viewer to sit on, making it almost a peep show or lap dance type environment. The emphasis wasn’t on the sexual however, with farcical exaggerations of grandeur such as the ‘gold’ jewellery I was wearing, the clearly not my own hair blonde bombshell wig, the idea was more towards the failure of sexiness. I don’t have abs, so I had drawn them on with eyebrow pencil, I don’t have large bicep muscles so the bodybuilding poses that I was mimicking were exactly that, a mimicry, a parody or poor copy. The fake smile (which I almost lost quite near to the start due a twitching cheek muscle!) and everything about the performance was essentially fake.

 

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Images © Alice Tenquist

‘Is it a bird…? Is it a Plane…?’ DIY 11: 2014

After doing a DIY Workshop last year through the Live Art Development Agency I decided to apply for another workshop this year. The one that really caught my eye was run by performance artists The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein and Martin O’Brien.

Along with fellow participants Katy Baird, Sophie Cullinan, Ria Hartley and Emelía Antonsdóttir Crivello, the idea of the superhero as a catalyst for performance making was explored. My boundaries were well and truly pushed from the get go as we learned hip hop dances, frolicked in washing up liquid (not that I could let go enough to do much frolicking!) and recited Hamlet to the tune of twinkle twinkle little star.

I learnt a lot about myself over the three days, particularly about my attitude to success and failure. The tasks were specifically hard for me as I operate under the assumption that there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything, that I need to constantly be in control of myself and my surroundings and on some perverse level enjoy constantly telling myself that I am doing it all wrong and failing. The workshop helped me to see how ridiculous these notions are and that the most interesting situations that open up a dialogue revolve around things going wrong, almost reaching their goal but not quite and just generally failing.

The three days were finished off with a photo shoot in which we show-cased our developed superhero characters. Mine was Kyphosisa (Kyphosis being the medical term for a hunch back which I have a mild case of). She represents the acceptance of flaws and failure, showing that when we finally do this great, powerful things can happen.

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The whole experience was incredibly mind altering and where I had previously been using other bodies in my work I finally realised that my own body signified the same things, generic success in the sense that it’s able, relatively fit and white. I had previously wanted to train myself to the standard of  a bodybuilder and use this point from which to create work and a discourse, however I now realise there is much a more interesting space in which to do this with my body as it is now. This has prompted me to do a performance myself which I will talk about in my next post.

Bring Your Own Beamer

For this years Brighton Digital Festival I took part in Bring Your Own Beamer at The Corn Exchange. I was one of about 20 artists who were selected to have fixed installations at the show whilst in the middle of the venue the usual brining of your own beamer took place.

I exhibited my M E N projection mapped project, initially created for my MA show and shown also at my first solo show at Community Arts Centre. I particularly enjoyed displaying this piece in the Regency surroundings of the corn exchange and opted to display the work under the watchful eye of a giant ornate mirror. Mirroring (ha!) the reflective plinths that I used in my first showing of this piece.

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French Beaded Flowers

I am a member of the Reigate Antique Society, a group that meets up once a month. Each month a different Antiques expert provides us with an exciting talk in their specialism.

For this last July’s talk we did something a little different and members were invited to talk about their own collection or something they were passionate about. I decided to speak about French Beaded Flowers as I have been enamoured with these creations since I first learned of their existence a couple of years ago.

French Beaded Flowers – A history

French beaded flowers are small glass beads strung on to a fine wire and then fashioned in to various blooms. Because they are so pliable it is possible to create pretty much anything within your imagination with the use of a small number of tools and a great deal of patience. In the days before it was possible to purchase any and every type of flower from a florists, these beaded flowers provided a practical and exotic way to decorate your home, use as a wedding bouquet, or like the piece I own, used as funeral wreath or ornament.

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This is my beautiful beaded flower wreath in pride of place in my bathroom! Note perfume bottle for scale, it’s pretty big.

One of the reasons that flowers are associated with churches has to do with beads. In the thirteenth century a form of prayer using a string of beads was instituted by St. Dominic. The string, called a rosary, consisted at that time of 15 units of beads. Each unit contained 10 small beads, preceded by one larger one. A prayer was recited at every bead. The word “bede” (sp) is Middle English for “prayer.” Because of the length of the original rosary, it became customary to pay someone, usually a resident of an almshouse, to recite the prayers. These people were referred to as bede women or men, and it was they who made the first bead flowers. The craft was handed down through the centuries and came to be associated with the church and its decorations.

The art of making flowers out of beads is centuries old however there is very little documentation on the development of this art. Many books can be found of different flower patterns but only from about the 40s onwards.

According to references of beaded decorations, it is thought that the technique began as early as the 1300s in Germany when steel needles and wire were developed, and around the 1500s in Europe, predominantly, Italy and France. The peasants would collect discarded beads from the noble’s clothing and fashion them in to beautiful decorations. At one point there would be women sitting outside every door making these creations. In 16th Century Venice the poorer women would make money creating beaded flowers for churches, parade floats and banquet tables. I quite like the idea that they would be selling back to the upper classes their own discarded beads in banquet bouquets!

Different methods were developed over the years, the Victorian method, also known as the English or Russian method, and the French method. The main difference is that in the Victorian method, which is similar to modern bead jewelry-making techniques, the thread or wire passes through each bead twice or more, and the wire passes from row to row on the sides of the piece; in the French method, the wire passes through each bead only once, and passes from row to row in the center or on the bottom of the individual piece. I believe this makes the French beaded flowers more beautiful as they are more pliant and more life like.

Production of beaded flowers was no doubt advanced by the Industrial Revolution, which increased availability of glass beads of regular size and color. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, beaded flowers were sometimes used in ornate funerary arrangements, where wired beads made up flowers and could also be wrapped around a metal framework. These were perfect for use during winter months when fresh flowers were not readily available, and they were long lasting without the need to be watered or replaced. The Victorians are most likely responsible for the introduction of the French beaded flower funeral wreaths as they fit perfectly in to the elaborate mourning rituals inspired by Queen Victoria’s grief over the death of her beloved Prince Albert. This type of artistic expression of mourning would have been popular along with the jewelry items holding a lock of the deceased’s hair which we have heard about in previous talks. The mourning wreaths would be in muted purples and blues, like the one I have brought along today.

After the Second World War beadwork of this kind gained its greatest popularity, with instruction kits being sold complete with materials and patterns, and department stores such as Marshall Fields and Bloomingdale’s sold beaded flowers imported from France. Famous French beaded flower owners include Marie Antoinette and Princess Grace.

Virginia Nathanson helped introduce this craft to a new audience and codified the technique in 1967 with the publication of her book The Art of Making Bead Flowers and Bouquets. She herself had purchased a bouquet of beaded flowers in a department store and took it aprt in order to understand how it was put together and began making them herself. Nathanson advocated beaded flowers for sale through mail order because of their “indestructible” nature. Testament to this is my own piece which was brought back from the South of France and has travelled around with me with no trouble. If it ever looks like the petals are drooping you can just rearrange them.

More recently French Beaded flowers were used to make wreaths commemorating 9/11. With the help of the internet many beaded flowers makers contacted each other and all worked towards creating these large scale pieces, sending a flower or section of wreath from all over the world. These are currently on display in the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York which earlier this year.

Another exciting contemporary project which used french beaded flowers was commissioned by the Swarovski Crystal company. In order to showcase their line of crystal beads they had a collection of beaded flowers made.

Value wise I am not sure monetary value of these pieces, obviously the Swarovski ones would be worth a fair bit but as Jean rescued the piece I own from a skip! I am not entirely sure of pricing.

It seems as though the craft is gaining a lot of popularity recently with people making their own bouquets and even this Hawaiian Garland. Each flower is hand-stitched, one tiny seed bead at a time, taking over 100 hours and almost 35,000 beads to complete.

Having recently purchased a book on the techniques to arrive so watch this space for my creations! I want to create something typically ‘masculine’ out of these beautiful, delicate flowers and am currently working on a wrestling championship belt!!

Christian Jankowski at Lisson Gallery

 

Bloody fantastic exhibition! Heavy Weight History consists of Polish power lifters attempting, and sometimes succeeding, to lift politically rife monuments around Warsaw. Documented in the form of a reality TV show, much like World’s Strongest Man (one of my favourite TV programmes!) the work questions the continuing relevance of public statues, and uses the rich historical backdrop of Poland as the stage to do so. Being of Polish heritage myself I have often visited Warsaw and have specifically visited a lot of the statues in the work.

It is interesting to think about these large symbols of  communist oppression, such as statues and buildings that are left behind and forced on the locals and the meaning that they now signify. I’m thinking specifically about The Palace of Culture in Warsaw, the so called ‘gift of the Soviet nations to the Polish people’, which is still widely despised by the Polish and yet is a massive tourist attraction and landmark to outsiders.

 

 

Inspiration at Towner Gallery, Eastbourne

From the 2nd of February until the 14th of April, the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne was host to the magical film works of Kelly Richardson.

Each room on the top floor of the gallery was dedicated to a different mythical landscape, with the large initial room showing Leviathon, 2011 introduced a sci-fi like lagoon scene, looking like something out of Avatar and Predator combined.

The epic scale of the works provided an intensely immersive experience and films became portals to these unknown lands. This cinematic transportation of the viewer perfectly captured the feeling I get when standing on a mountain top or when exploring a dense forest, the feeling that no one else exists.  The double sided hanging forest projections, The Great Destroyer,  and The Erudtition, shown below were my favourite pieces.

On a separate, later trip to the Towner I had the good fortune of seeing film-maker John Skoog’s first UK solo show. I was particularly struck by his film Reduit (Redoubt) which takes the form of dark, brooding slow shots of the home of Swedish farmer Karl Goran Persson. Persson built the house by hand and fuelled by his intense fear of impending Soviet invasion continuously fortified his home with junk and found objects. The voice over provides an insight into the character of this farmer, who was so mightily strong he would carry large girders back from town on his bike to add to his fortress like home.

I have always been drawn to film as a medium for my own work due to its ability to take you outside of yourself, and convince you of its reality. Both the exhibitions I saw a the Towner showed a different type of world. The first a mythical landscape, digitally created and the second a mythical landscape created by hand.

Brighton ArtsFORUM – Feedback Circle Workshop

Brighton Arts Forum provides feedback for photography and lens based projects. I attended one of these feedback circle workshops as part of Brighton Photo Fringe and took along some film stills of a recent bodybuilding competition.

It is great that events like this exist as for artists like myself, freshly out of academia without the support and advice of your peers, there are not as many opportunities to present unfinished projects in a critique situation.

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The series of film stills, which I have titled Store Menn for a number of reasons, capture distorted moments from the initial judging of the mens physique category. The title comes from my own impressions of the men being on display, almost as if for sale, being judged and paraded around akin to a cattle market. Also store menn in Norwegian means big men and there is no doubt that these hyper-masculine forms are larger than life.

Fighting for Words

For three days in August I got up close and personal with a group of fellow artists in a DIY workshop organised by performance artist Kira O’Reilly . Part of the Live Art Development Agency’s DIY 10:2013 initiative to enable ‘unusual professional development projects conceived and run BY artists FOR artists’, Kira’s particular workshop was titled ‘Thinking Through the Body. Combative Manifestos’. This appealed to my continuing investigation in to what the body is capable of and specifically I was drawn to the idea of working with my own body. The workshop proved to be physically and mentally challenging.  For the duration of the workshop we wrestled, grappled and circuit trained with the idea of manifestos and words of intention in mind whilst exhausted. The parallel between the urgency of a manifesto and the urgency of trying to think and formulate words whilst exhausted was interesting, in both cases you are left with the pure and necessary. What needed to be said at that moment.

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Me getting my arse kicked by fellow artist Tom.

Towards the end of the workshop we began to think about how the skills we had learnt could be used in a performance. These ideas recently spawned in to an exhibition organised and curated by Anais Lalange at the Resistance Gallery in London. This chance to develop ideas and present them to an audience enabled me to hone in on my feelings around the workshop, namely my attitude towards sweat and not constantly upholding a perfected visage. Traveling from the workshops each day on the tube whilst still sweaty and with no make up on was, at first, an uncomfortable experience for me. It quickly became liberating and highlighted just how ingrained and ridiculous societal pressures for the way we look are, these ideas are reflected in the film, Wordout below.

The exhibition included performances by:

Joseph Mercier and Jordan Lennie – How I remember it, a recounting of  their recent performance piece Rite of Spring, a fight lasting the duration of the 100 year old, controversial piece of music by Stravinsky. They spoke of the oddness of how quickly the audience became accustomed to the violence and took sides, cheering for the men to tear each other a part. They also explained that due to the intensity of the fight they would not be repeating the performance.

Hellen Burrough and Philip Bedwell – Hellen reads The futurist manifesto of lust by Valentine De Saint-Point whilst Philip increases the intensity of a choke hold on her until she can longer breath or speak. The piece is very moving as the words are reflected in the tenderness of the embrace, which although violent is akin to lust in it’s intensity and intimacy. The fulfilment of lust is in itself a violent act ‘We must stop despising Desire, this attraction at once delicate and brutal between two bodies, of whatever sex, two bodies that want each other, striving for unity.’

A group performance combining a minute of repeated excercise with a minute of manifesto creating (completing sentences from a given few words)  dictated by MMA coach James Duncalf (who was our teacher of all things fight-y during the workshop) and carried out by the following artist – Hamish MacPherson, Laura Burns, Anais Lalange, Hellen Burrough, Philip Bedwell and Jungmin Son.

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MMA coach James Duncalf giving an example of one of the exercises, Photo courtesy of Alistair Veryard

Anais and Laura – Anais reads  as Laura restrains her. The exertion of constantly trying to battle and resist is heard in her voice and a further urgency is given to the words.

Finally Hamish and Laura fought out their thoughts around the idea of a manifesto.

The film that I created for the event was a reflection on the words that had gone through my head during the workshop, my attitude to sweat and the idea of words as motivator and catalyst. I used a mixture of words I had written during the workshop and those which had stood out to me since. I particularly liked the idea of words associated with battle, and was drawn to quotes from films such as Conan the Barbarian and 300. These films depicting hyper-masculinty and violent strength bring to mind the feeling of working out, and reflected the feelings conjured up in myself when I was wrestling with the other artists. The film also dealt with my feelings around body image and I feel the quest to achieve ‘the perfect body’ is really an inner voice calling out for warrior days, when humans could hunt and bodily contact was a way to communicate the entire spectrum emotions.

Glitch Art extravaganza at Furtherfield Gallery

As part of the exhibition Glitch moment/ums at Furtherfield Gallery an online exhibition 0P3NR3P0, is asking for glitchy submissions.

I submitted the film below. It was originally made to be projected in to a book (this project is still under construction and will be in an exhibition in September so more info to follow) and consists of male bodybuilders trapped in their little boxes, forced to consistently perform their poses for the viewer.

My tutor Alex May (whose software Painting with Light I used for my film above) is also exhibiting:

Another favourite of mine from the online submissions was the one below by Lisa Cianci:

I hope to visit the full exhibition before it finishes on the 28th of July, but lets get this MA show out the way first!

The work of Robert Seidel

As the days scarily pass by, with now only  two weeks to go till my MA show, Sequenced (Private View on the 28th of June at Brighton University) I am naturally procrastinating (I call it research) by means of the internet.

My project consists of projection mapping on to 3 plaster torsos and as nothing is original anymore I wanted to see if there were any examples of this sort of thing already out there.

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Robert Seidel is a Berlin based artist who works with experimental film and is bloody brilliant! The work pictured above is entitled folds and uses projections to highlight the history of plaster casts and to bring them alive. The piece was created for the Lindenau Museum in Altenburg, Germany. The continuous replication of these Grecian statues lends to the fact that even when they are missing limbs and broken, they are still completely recognisable. Seidel talks about the way in which moving image can make a static object come alive. These are all things I am working towards in my own practice.

Kinetica Art Fair, London 2013

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This was a couple of months back now but due to the stress and commitments involved with writing a thesis I haven’t had a chance to write about the Kinetica Art Fair yet.

I attended the fair in 2012 as a volunteer and really enjoyed the atmosphere and talking to the various makers and creators of the different kinetic and digital artworks. However this year there was a distinct change to the feel of the event, which I feel had something to do with the presence of prices alongside all the works and the introduction of an auction.

As an artist myself I understand the importance of being able to sell and market your artwork, and yet this consumer element did take away the approachability of some of the exhibitors and seemed to turn the fair from a showcase of great works and ideas to a market place.

My favourite work of the fair was by Krzysztof Jagieło. The piece, called Destrukt, demonstrates the breakdown of social constructs via the destruction of an object being burnt. An animation of a table and chairs interacts with the burning object, with the levels of light and dark as the object disintegrates affecting the formation of the table and chairs. The table and chairs set up represents the formations of society and in my opinion domesticity and order. The process depends on the way in which the initial object is burning, so each time the destruction of this social formation will be different. As the destruction of the burning object escalates, the chaos is represented by the increase in the movement of the domestic scene. This work seems particularly poignant currently as large majority of the world is in a state of flux and upheaval, with literal manifestations of this piece of work taking the form of events such as the London riots.

The film below shows the work in action and gives a better description of the technology behind the work:

Highlights also included:

angel

Angel by Chris Levine consisted of a horizontal line of small green lights, which when you moved your head quickly to the left or the right, the above image could be seen. The work deals with ideas of visual perception.

rose

Roseline de Thelin’s light sculpture Columba, created out of cut fibreglass strands, reminds me of some kind of portal or science fiction tele porter, or perhaps even a tube in which the being has been trapped and frozen.

run

Using a zoetrope technique and strobe lighting this work (not sure who it was by!) played with the way in which our mind perceives movement and fills in gaps to see things in sequence. There was also an even larger version of this type of work by the artist Gregory Barsmian. There is a brilliant visual of the work in action on his website so do check it out.flower

Alistair Burleigh’s Versus, deals with the connection between natural and virtual worlds. The work uses 360 projection mapping, glass resin sculptures and LEDs.

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Work by Jonty Hurwitz, is described as modern day trompe l’oeil, playing with the boundaries between illusion and reality.

The fair was very inspirational, regardless of the shift in atmosphere this year and I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who will be in London in March next year to check the new batch of kinetic artists and art works.

Images courtesy of Gary Slackjaw.

The Sketchbook Project 2013

At the beginning of this year I sent my little sketchbook off to New York as part of the sketchbook project.

The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project and interactive, traveling exhibition of handmade books. Basically you send off for a book and can fill it however you so wish, then return it to The Brooklyn Art Library and they take the books completed each year on a tour around America in their mobile library van!

I started using the sketchbook as an ideas base for the Cubicle Creations project, and really enjoyed playing with collage and my theme of hyper-masculinity without the pressure of it being marked for academic purposes or anything like that. It is also nice to receive emails from different cities along the tour saying someone has viewed your sketchbook. I really like the fact the my little book is travelling to places that I have never been before!

I had also wanted to attach sound modules to the book, like the ones you get in cards that play you a tune, in order to have the pages grunting as you opened them. However I was a bit concerned about the book getting through customs, so that’s another idea to approach at a later date!

The Sketchbook Project 2013 from Jennifer Milarski on Vimeo.

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Charles Atlas: Glacier at Bloomberg SPACE, London

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Located on Finsbury Square, Central London, Bloomberg SPACE’s current exhibition is a collaboration between the video artist and director Charles Atlas, the South London Gallery and Bloomberg SPACE.

Within this busy district of London the space is a welcome retreat and offers a portal like experience as you enter through layers of curtain and are thrust in to Atlas’ 360 degree multi channel video installation. The height of the ceilings and therefore the projected films are impressive and lend to a completely immersive feel.

 

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For Glacier, 2013, Atlas has used footage from the Bloomberg digital archives and stock and found footage from other sources. The clear division of these different visuals is made all the more disorientating by the constant movement of them around the room. Using striking visuals such as underwater scenes, giant faces that look like they are from a commercial, a frantic looking eye and larger than life cows the space is transformed in to a cage which traps the shrunken audience members within its continuous loop. There is a brief respite from the moving images when the entire space fades to black, this is preceded by the whole room being enveloped with a projection of what it looks like outside the gallery when the windows are not blacked out. It is a if the viewer has been placed within a box which allows them to see it out but others to be unable to see in. The repetition of passers by walking around the walls of the room gives a groundhog day, claustrophobic feel. The use of sound within the space is also eerie as a continuous droning noise scores the visuals.

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The exhibition is on until the 30th of March and I would encourage anyone who visits to go at a less busy time, I attended roughly an hour before closing and there was no one else in the space. This added to the immersive, other worldly sensation of the work.

In the lead up to our final show for the Digital Media Arts Masters that I am currently undertaking, this immersive and engrossing feel is exactly the sort of thing I want to achieve in my own work. I will update my progress over the next two months!

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Glitch Art – Bodybuilders

A couple of weeks ago we had a day at uni with Alex May working with Glitch Art.  To explain I’ll use wikipedia’s definition: Glitch art is the aestheticization of digital or analog errors, such as artifacts and other “bugs”, by either corrupting digital code/data or by physically manipulating electronic devices (for example by circuit bending).

Starting with taking .jpg images we opened them in text editors and then messed around with the content, for examples adding random letters or symbols or deleting large chunks of the existing text.

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Laurent Segretier

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Artist Laurent Segretier, who was recently interviewed by Dazed & Confused Magazine, uses digital media to distort photographs and film footage.

I am particularly interested in the films he made that seem to be using found pornographic footage. I like the idea of showing something provocative but taking away the obviousness of it and the fact that certain things are always recognisable.

He also describes himself as being part of the ‘new media generation‘ in France and as an artist this is a description that perhaps myself and many others will start to adopt.

LUST from segretier laurent on Vimeo.

Collect. Convert. Converge.

Extremely belated video of an exhibition myself and Jo Knell put on as part of the Brighton Digital Festival http://2012.brightondigitalfestival.co.uk/ at The Globe in Brighton.

Here’s a link to Jo’s blog, which she wrote a lot nearer to the event than me doing it 5 months later! It also has links to all of the artists and performers that took part (big thanks to them all).

http://www.jojogingerhead.co.uk/collect-convert-converge-audio-visual-event-for-brighton-digital-festival/

It was great fun putting on an exhibition in a non-conventional ‘white space’ and created a more accessible and relaxed atmosphere within which to experience art.

Jeff Keen Artist’s Sketchbook

Jeff Keen Dreams of The Archduke Sketchbook from Jennifer Milarski on Vimeo.

A film made for the Jeff Keen retrospective, Shoot The Wrx, Artists and Film Maker Jeff Keen, at Brighton Museum.
The film being shown in the gallery is closer to 20 minutes long but this version has been sped up to give a taste of what is inside.
Copyright belongs to The Jeff Keen Estate and Brighton & Hove Museum and Art Gallery.
The film was produced by Jennifer Milarski, with the help of Anne Nielsen.

Cubicle Creations at Wahoo West Beach Brighton

Cubicle-Creations

To explain: below is what was written about the Cubicle Creations project in SQ Magazine  http://sqmagazine.co.uk/

”Wahoo Brighton have scoured the region for 15 local artists to create artistic concepts for each of their toilet cubicles with £500 going to the best one. Want to know more?

Well, for the past few months, a swathe of local artists have applied and been whittled down to just 15 lucky entrants, who have been hand-picked to work throughout November and get their chance to showcase their talents to Brighton’s nightlife.

The project deadline has now hit – and the unveiling and judging will take place at Brighton’s First “Burn Your Dregs”, a night designed for Writers and Artists to get together and make something good.

All this and a live DJ thrown in too, Jakub Machal Mancal. West Street is getting cultured!”

So I saw the flyer for this in Clarkes Stationers in Brighton and decided to apply, and I was lucky enough to be accepted! Wahey/Wahoo!

As I am a digital artist and have a background in fine art, I was excited at the prospect of creating some work which got me away from the computer screen and coding! I was also really looking forward to having the free reign to do what I ever I wanted in that amount of space and without constrictions.

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Here is the first wall done!

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The tiles were made up of two designs I made then photocopied and mirrored to connect to each other.

The themes I am normally drawn to in my work are issues around gender and gender representation. With Polish heritage I often also incorporate folk art traditions, motifs and patterns, this also relates to my experiences of the clear gender roles in Eastern Europe and the folk art motifs are a nod toward this in my work.

For cubicle creations I wanted to create something that addressed the way in which women are used for advertising and on posters in toilets, the fact that these are always visually appealing or model like women. To counter act this bombarding of female ‘perfectionist’ imagery I wanted to give balance to this by having a cubicle with visually appealing, hyper masculine men in. I disembodied the images of the men to de humanize them and make them purely into representations of fleshy supposed attractiveness. The folk art flowers represent the female form and contrast against the harshness of the headless figures.

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I have included the large figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the back of the door in a typical body builder pose, I use his form in much of my work as a sort of muse character. To incorporate a digital aspect I projected his form onto the door in order to paint it. I had also planned to have a small projection on the ceiling of my cubicle, a film which fit in with the style and themes of my cubicle, but disappointingly it didn’t come to fruition.

The front of the door is like a book cover hinting at what is inside.

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I found the work space very calming and due to the size of the cubicle felt like I was in my own little world, stepping out to have a chat and enter another cubicle and world!

The comments of The Mayor of Brighton summed up the experience for me as he said that the project represented the diversity and ‘rock n roll’ persona of Brighton, especially as Wahoo is not necessarily the first place one would think of as hosting art, it symbolized the  open mindedness of the city. I am always interested in changing peoples perception of art, and dislike the idea of people having to walk around a white space, silently contemplating the work. I love it when art is out there in the world for people to experience, with none of the elitist notions attached to it.

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Here is a link to photos of all the toilets and the artists in them!

 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.543750652320673.133998.130487940313615&type=1

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Me in my completed toilet!

Reasons to be Creative Conference

At the beginning of this week, Mon, Tues, Weds, I attended a conference held at Brighton Dome as part of Brighton Digital Festival. The reason I was able to attend was due to a friend winning a ticket but then being unable to go. In return for the ticket I sent her sum up emails of the days speakers and I will attach that below in case it is useful to anyone else and it is definately useful for me to have all the relevant links and comments together and not in my appalling primary school child handwriting!

Day 1

Kevin Warwick:
Really interesting cyborg guy who looks very normal but was a pioneer in getting technology implanted into himself, such a copper implant that would act as a keycard when he entered his work building and it opened the doors and lights for him!

He asked at the beginning of the talk if anyone would like to have an implant of some technological extension of their body and asked for a show of hands, I thought I wouldn’t want something, thinking of some kind of Terminator situation but then he mentioned that most of us have our pets micro chipped and that these class II implants are becoming increasingly common with nightclubs even using them so customers don’t have to pay for drinks, just scan their implanted chip, say in their arm, at the bar and their account is charged automatically.

He also spoke about some research he and some of his students are undertaking into sensory substitution, e.g having magnets implanted in the fingertips which vibrate as you get near to objects and having electrodes in the shape of letters placed on the tongue and the shape of the letter gets transmitted to the brain, both would be beneficial to blind people for instance.


http://www.kevinwarwick.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzqssQqUvj4

Relly Annet Barker:
She did a presentation about giving presentations and metioned some interesting things like ‘barcamp’ where first time speakers can go to talk about a chosen subject. This talk was particularly helpful for me as I am, like quite a few people out there, shit scared of public speaking!

She also runs Supernice Studio, which I gather is about helping people to get stuff done and to have the confidence to it, the link below is to a project to help give people a kick up the back side over the next 30 days with regards to web content and there are still a few days left to sign up:

http://supernicestudio.com/30days/

Memo Akten:
Epic visual artist, links will do more justice than words – epic!!!! (This is what I wrote in the email to my friend and it still applies here)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv1lrjA9UvA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcQJAlft1b0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cseTX_rW3uM&feature=list_other&playnext=1&list=SPDC836AFF792C013A

The above video is of the process of making Forms, 2012 and Akten worked with my previously mentioned favourites, Quayola.

http://www.quayola.com/

Stefanie Posavec:
Data Illustrator working with extracting data by hand, e.g. she goes through a book and counts the number of words and sentences and then represents it by hand or using illustrator. She was very apologetic about not knowing how to code and wanting to learn, I also often suffer from this feeling but really I think she has great way of doing things and I agree with her low tech approach. This is something that I will come back to in a separate, future post.

http://www.itsbeenreal.co.uk/

Day 2
Jake Archibald:

He did a talk about the Application Cache for html5, I dutifully sat through the whole talk but had no idea what the hell happened in that hour.
I managed to understand that it was something about making sites useable offline and obviously need to look into this!
Although he is part of the team that set up this site for tracking going to events:
http://lanyrd.com/
Bjarke Myrthu:
He brake danced onto the stage!
He was talking about the fact that people don’t use the internet to mix up genres of use, such as having a film playing with images over the top, he gave some examples:
http://moodstream.gettyimages.com/
http://stormingjuno.com/
He didn’t use this as an example but it’s that same sort of thing, a linkin park video that uses your facebook photo, it’s quite hilarious!
http://lostintheecho.com/
He also is making a website to help people be able to interact all of these mediums, youtube, still photos, sound files, etc together
www.storyplanet.com
Day 3
Gimme 5:
Which is loads of speakers coming on within the hour to talk about what they do or an idea for 5 mins
Will just list the most interesting ones
Luke Whittaker
http://www.stateofplaygames.com/blog/
Adam Onishi
http://www.onishiweb.co.uk/
Pete Hochkin
http://www.headloose.com/
Maikel Sibbald
http://www.yellowbirdsdonthavewingsbuttheyflytomakeyouexperiencea3dreality.com/
Then there was Simon Collison for the whole hour
Talking about less being more when putting out web content
He has a music website which the background images are inspired by found records in the street but then he set up these photos to get the ones he wanted
urgh can’t find the music site but thought it was called ‘rushmore’
here is his personal site:
http://www.colly.com/
He also mentioned that he loves art using found objects and said he likes the idea of ‘using what’s around and making more of what is little’
His twitter is @colly so maybe tweet him a link to foundism?

Foundism is the site of the friend I was emailing, it asks for submissions for found objects:

www.foundism.co.uk
Joel Baumann:
The best speaker of all!
Really funny and so enthusiastic about his work
Used to be part of:
http://www.tomato.co.uk/
Now doing random shit that he wants to do:
http://nnfenren.com/
http://noog.nnfenren.com/
noogs being the worlds first digital collectables!

NOOG #2 from Nnfenren on Vimeo.

Johanna Kollman:

She talked about collaborating and ways of re thinking the way you work.
http://www.slideshare.net/johannakollmann

Carrieres de Lumieres, Les Baux, France aka The most amazing exhibition I have EVER been to!!!

I have just got back from Provence and have to say the highlight, apart from the exquisite wine (I will now only drink clairette de die darling!), was by far a visit to the Carrieres de Lumieres in Les Baux. Luckily my mum had spotted an article in The Observer about the caves and so after convincing my partner to drive the two hours from where we were staying, wiggling up and down mountains, we arrived in, or I should probably say on, Les Baux. The video below shows the location and the stunning projections inside: Carrières de Lumières – Spectacle “Gauguin, Van… by culturespaces

As you will see it is a combination of Van Gogh and Gauguin’s work shown in the context of ‘Painters of Colour’. The soundtrack on the video is also the same as was played within the caves and had been perfectly mixed to convey the emotions through each era of the artist’s work.

The only thing the video doesn’t do justice to is the sheer scale and awe that you get from being in the space, it is literally gigantic and even before you enter the setting and the quarried cliff face is an artwork in itself! The fact that the floor and walls were being used and the way in which the paintings came to life nearly made me have a little cry! It was one of those situations where you wish you had thought of this, had been part of it, but also sheer joy that people in the world are out there creating these sorts of events. As I tend to mention a lot, I am interested in the ways in which digital media can enhance and compliment history and tradition and this was literally the most perfect example I have ever seen of this in action. You could see kids and adults alike with their interest sparked, perhaps much more so than would be the case with a static painting in a formal museum environment.

I should also mention that Jon Cocteau’s Le Testament d’Orphee, which was filmed in the caves in 1959 was also displayed within the caves, projected onto a stone wall, which provided an amazing viewing experience as the texture of the wall made the caves in the film almost 3d! And it was amazing to walk around and imagine the scenes being played out.

I shot quite a lot of film whilst I was out there so expect more from Provence to follow!

‘AND NO BIRDS SING’

As a bird, she haunted him….

This weekend (this was actually in May and I clearly forgot to press publish and have been away for a while!) Strange Beast took over The Booth Museum and created an interactive performance  which provided the oppurtunity to encounter The Booth Museum in an exciting and different way.

With laudenum induced women moaning and quoting Keats around you, the stuffed birds were brought to life with a simple torch which was shone onto the cages in the darkened museum.

In the butterfly room you were invited to choose your favourite butterfly or moth as a soundtrack of a female voice whispering the latin names of the various butterflies played.

Based around the tragic life of Pre-Raphaelite model, painter and writer, Elizabeth Sidal

I was slightly apprehensive about going back the Booth Museum, as the last time I was there was about 15 years ago on a school trip, and as with most childhood memories the reality when older is never as good and everything seems to be so much smaller than you remember!

Here is a link to a radio interview with Strange Beast about ‘And No Birds Sing’.

http://www.mixcloud.com/RadioZero/tuesday-live-in-brighton-on-radioreverb-15512/

© Patrick Dodds

QR Codes in the Modern British Paintings Gallery

How can the old and the new enhance and compliment each other?

Is there a place for technology at traditional sites such as museums?

Does technology help people to engage with artworks?

These are some of the questions that artist and volunteer Jennifer Milarski has been asking.

Come and help her get closer to the answers in the Modern British Paintings Gallery, on the first floor of the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery from 29 May – 1 June.

‘I have introduced the idea of QR codes into the gallery, as I want to find out how people really feel about the use of technology in traditional spaces such as museums or heritage sites.

The idea is to use the QR codes as a way to bring a new perspective to the artists and their work, to make the artists more accessible by having an image of them and to show their work in the context of other works by them in the museum’s Fine Art collection.

I was drawn to the Modern British Paintings Gallery by the fact that a lot of the artists in this gallery were connected somehow, and not only by painting. The narratives between the artists and between their works is what appealed to me. The little unknown or seemingly insignificant details about people can actually add an interesting dimension to the work .’

It is advisable to download a QR reader onto your smartphone prior to visiting the gallery. Suggested for iphone is Scan which is downloadable from the app store for free or QR Droid for Android, also free of charge.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a smartphone or a QR reader as Jennifer will be present in the gallery with her own mobile device to help with any technical issues and demonstrate the project.

LUNA

I recently volunteered at the box office of The Nightingale Theatre (above the Grand Central Pub) and am ashamed to say that I never been there before! Part of volunteering meant that you were able to get into the shows on that day for free.

Showing this particular night was Luna, performed by Pretty Good Girl Dance Theatre. Luna is based on the book by the same name by American author Julie Anne Peters, and tells the story of Liam, a transsexual teenager, but from the often overlooked view of someone who loves him, his younger sister Regan.

It seemed as if is this story was made to be danced as the movement added an emotional edge to the tale, and the sparce props and the way in which the dancers interacted with them was very poignant for me. The props consisted of a clothes rail with various flamboyant costumes hanging on it and two large strands of masking tape streched on either side of the clothes rail to the floor.

When Liam encountered a particularly important period of realisation about who he was he danced into the masking tape and got stuck in it as it wound around him due to his frantic movment. His younger sister Regan then helped to untangle him, thus shifting the role of older and younger sibling as she took over care of him.

Later, Regan had a sleepover with her friends and Liam didn’t react with disgust when her friends asked to paint his nails and her friends then began to question what was wrong with Liam, at this moment Regan broke her masking tape and became entangled, however Liam did not help her remove the tape and she had to do it herself.

As an older sibling this reminded me of when I was a teenager, and brought back memories of perhaps not being the one who was looking after, but being the one who was being looked after.

The storytelling aspect of the piece consisted of both dialogue between the two siblings and a narration by mainly Regan. At one point the two discuss what Liam/Luna is in relation to drag queens, are drag queens gay? are they transsexual? and Liam replies with, ‘Well, there’s shades of gray to every gender’. And then went onto to say how their father saw him as a masculine macho boy who played football, or at least this was how the father wanted him to be. This was something that really struck a chord with me as everybody feels these kinds of pressures to be what is expected of them, and what is expected of their gender.

The themes of ‘personal freedom, acceptance and unconditional love’, that ran through the performance felt relevant not only in the context of transsexuality, but in the wider context of gender/race/sexuality.

The Hole in Mount Hakone by David Miles

I have been helping out with various stages of the exhibition The Hole in Mount Hakone by David Miles at Brighton Museum, and have just produced a short film to promote the opening of the exhibition in the Prints & Drawings Gallery.

There will also be a second film coming out around the 12th of May, which I also produced, combining a David Miles image and a verse from 1847 called Digging in the Glade, so I will post that up here when it has been released.

I have been particularly excited about this project as it seems to me to be the most true to life way of how an artists creates work. Miles has selected works in the collection at Brighton Museum and created a narrative around them and his own work in response. In my own studio I have a wall of inspirational images, as do the majority of artists, and often my work incapsulates different aspects of them and I always draw upon them for inspiration. Whether you have a pinterest board or collaged wall, a lot of artists will relate to this process, especially as it is important to recognise the old in order to create something new.

A link to info on the exhibition:

http://www.brighton-hove-rpml.org.uk/WhatsOn/Pages/holeinmounthakone1mayto21oct12.aspx

Milan/Robert Mapplethorpe

On a recent trip to Milan I was lucky enough to visit the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano, quite literally a Cemetery of monumental proportions!

I have always had an obsession with Cemeteries, as Brandon Lee’s character in The Crow says that they are ‘the safest place in the world to be’ due to all the people being dead. And I do find something quite calming about being in a cemetery. This was particularly true when we visited this one in Milan, as we only saw 4 other people whilst we were there, 3 of which were praying at an extravagant family tomb.

To be honest there weren’t any tombs of gravestones that weren’t extravagant, with possibly the most extreme grave having a life size sculpture of The Last Supper atop it.

Below are a few images, more on my flickr account on the right.

Another great day in Milan was spent at the Robert Mapplethorpe Gallery, where the exhibition Perfection in Form was on.

The subject matter immediately caught my attention with slick, muscular male forms and then by the images of Lisa Lyon, a pioneer of female bodybuilding. The thing that struck me about her form was that she was very feminine looking whilst also being very muscular.

Mapplethorpe said of Lisa Lyon ‘I’m looking for the unexpected. I’m looking for things that I have never seen before.’ A feeling that I also got when looking at these images.

The Gallery label went on to say:

Unexpected describes the figure of Lisa Lyon, one of the first women bodybuilders and champion weightlifter. Mappletorpe met her in 1980 and over the next few years he worked with her on a series of portraits and figure studies that led to the publication of the book Lady Lisa Lyon in 1983. These images recall the work of Michelangelo, his vigorous backs and those feminine bodies endowed with handsome masculine musculature. (What a wonderful description!) The physicality of Lisa Lyon is profoundly binary; she embodies both masculine and feminine, force and fragility, which gives the photographer the opportunity to visually subvert our stereotypes.

‘I’m looking for perfection of form. I do it with portraits. I do it with cocks. I do it with flowers. It’s no different from one subject to the next. I am trying to capture what could be a sculpture.’ Robert Mapplethorpe

I think that when I die, I want a life size sculpture of Lisa Lyon on my grave!

Arnie!

A few weeks ago I answered a painting call for submissions, with the image below:

Arnie, 2012

(Apologies for poor quality, I really need to invest in a proper camera!)

It was an interesting experience as I crated the piece for the exhibition, continuing my fixation on bodybuilding and hyper-masculinity. Considering that I had done the exhibition at the Phoenix Gallery a couple of weeks prior to this, it was a bizarre opposite in terms of curatorial input and say. At Phoenix I had been involved from start to finish in everything from curatorial decisions to locking up the gallery. In this instance, at Grey Area, I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what the set up would be.

The freeing feeling of letting your work go out into the world was coupled with a slight fear, mainly in terms of how work could be read when put into a certain context, and weather or not that would represent the work and the artists ideas correctly. But ultimately it was exciting to see the way in which the work had been curated and the way in which the works interacted with each other and the connections that appeared from this situation.

For example in the image below you can see how my work interacts with those around it and conjures up ideas of strength, masculinity and perhaps even political themes.

Eric Knowles talk on Rene Lalique

On Tuesday I attended a talk for the Reigate Antiques Society, given by Eric Knowles (Antiques Roadshow and also Director of Bonham’s Auctioneers) about Rene Lalique, a French Glass Designer and was an innovator of Art Nouveau jewellery and glassware. In the 1920s, he became noted for his work in the Art Deco style. For example the stunning crystal fountain, which had been a feature at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris during 1925.

I had very little previous knowledge of Rene Lalique and was quite annoyed at myself that this was the case! My love of Pre-Raphaelite, mythological and romantic imagery instantly attracted me to pieces such as the ones below:

A nymph like woman with opium poppies surrounding her head.

Swallow comb made from African buffalo horn.

Brooch Le Baiser (The Kiss)

MADMA at Phoenix Gallery Brighton

Us members of the MA in Digital Media Arts and Brighton uni had our first joint show last weekend at Phoenix Gallery http://www.phoenixarts.org/

Poster by Ståvros Siåmptånis

http://stavross.com/

Carlos Del Salto made this video which excellently captures the set up and event.

I have also added some images to my flickr page. It was a great experience and a great way to see all of our work in action together. It was also very interesting to see the types of themes and connections that we were able to make between our work by exhibiting together.

Thanks to Phoenix for such a chilled out atmosphere. Although Phoenix is a gallery I was very happy to find that it was not stale in the way ‘white cube’ style galleries are and I feel that exhibiting in a room that you have to work around adds something to the works on show.

Processing stained glass window

We just had another lesson on processing and I was intrigued once again by the possibilties!

Now I am not even purporting to know what I’m doing in processing but here are a few experiments below, I was particularly drawn to the colours and how they made me think of stained glass windows, again drawing on my ideas around how the old and the new can work together or enhance each other.

Kinetica Art Fair 2012

To explain:

‘Kinetica Art Fair is a yearly event produced by Kinetica Museum. It brings together galleries, art organisations and curatorial groups from around the world who focus on universal concepts and evolutionary processes though the convergence of kinetic, electronic, robotic, sound, light, time-based and multi-disciplinary new media art, science and technology.’

http://www.kinetica-artfair.com/?about_us/art-fair.html

I attended this years Art fair as a volunteer on the Intuition and Ingenuity exhibition stand, which consisted of art inspired by computer pioneer Alan Turing, celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. The exhibition will shortly be at Lighthouse in Brighton, so I will save mentioning this further until a later date.

There was a vast array of works on display from Tim Lewis’ animatronic works (below), which consisted of freakishly concocted creatures that jolted and strutted around, to moving images, such as Sandra Crisp’s (http://sandracrispart.com/) film Oceanic, which explored 3D layers of the environment (2nd below).

Some of my particular favourites were:

Andras Mengyan http://www.andrasmengyan.com/ who is a Hungarian artist working with concerns around simultaneous perception. He was using lasers and animation, combined with a special liquid that he had developed with chemist to create his desired effect.

Sophie Cullinan’s installation was both provocative and yet innocent. Her sock paintings consisted of used socks that could be pumped up by various pumps, such as bike pumps or balloon pumps that had been painted an pink, udder type colour, to eventually inflate and look rather nipple like. Her blow up doll piece, Worn, again conjures up ideas of blow up sexual aids for me, even though there is something quite frumpy and childish about her patchwork exterior. Cullinan describes Worn as a ‘domestic machine’ on her website, I also agree that the idea of a woman made out of worn fabric who is continuously at work, work which is dictated by the viewer who has to press a button to make her inflate, is deeply symbolic of a woman’s struggle and of having to work under the ‘gaze’ of others. there is also something unnerving about the industrial hoover sound for the inflation.
Another film that enjoyed was a short film by Laura Jean Healey called The Siren described as:
The Siren is an exploration of the notion of the Other.  It explores the nature of the feminine mystic within the screen and the seemingly active male gaze. The Siren, both alluring and terrifying, embodies the duel nature of all women throughout time and confronts the audience, asking if  ‘I do not exist in my own right. If I am merely a symptom of male desire, then ‘what am I?’’
Lastly Nichola Rae (http://www.a2arts.co.uk/) had a projection of sonic frequencies that would interact and change pattern when a guitar was strummed or a mic sung into that were connected to it:

                                       

All in all it was a very inspiring day and I would strongly recommend next years fair to anyone interested in art/science/electronics/computing/pretty things etc…….

Amazing light projections!!!

I have always loved the idea of projecting onto buildings or surfaces that wouldn’t normally be considered conventional. That you can use the surfaces already existing contours to enhance a projection or vis versa is something that I definitely want to explore further.

In a project a few years ago I projected a looped film, Work Out, partially onto a fellow artists piece of work and partially onto a rough brick wall, above a corrugated staircase.

I found that the refections given off by the metal below and the texture of the wall added an extra dimension to both works. Some beautiful examples of this type of projection, such as Tower of Dreams BN2 by Shared Space and Light as part of Brighton’s White Night last year (2011), show how magical it really can be.

An absolutely stunning combination of dance, animation, projections and music that I have recently come across is WIFE:

From their artist statement:
[WIFE] is the creation of Nina McNeely, Kristen Leahy, and Jasmine Albuquerque. Her three members are dancers, choreographers, teachers, editors, animators, and performers thriving in the underbelly of L.A subculture. She finds inspiration from myth, folklore, archetypes, and the subtleties of everyday human behavior. Influences include Jim Henson, Chris Cunningham, Akira Kurosawa, Kathy Rose, Wendy Carlos, Yayoi Kusama, Planningtorock, Aleister Crowley, her friends, and you.

The video below absolutely blew me away!

She will only be seen in the dark.
She is a magician of picture and light.
She exists in many dimensions.
She is visceral contemporary dance.
She is studying the subtleties of your behavior.
She is eternally bound to archetype, myth, lore, alchemy, and dreams.

Also whilst on the subject of amazing light installations, here is a cathedral made of 55,000 LED lights by Luminarie De Cagna. The piece was commissioned for the Ghent Light Festival, there are also some other amazing pieces so do check them out at  http://www.lichtfestivalgent.be/en/parcours/de-cagna 

‘Make your type pop with Layer Styles’.

Whilst designing my portfolio website I came across a tutorial in Computer Arts magazine which ‘shows you how to turn flat typography into rich and vibrant lettering’.

As I am a relative new comer to Photoshop, this tutorial which had a suggested completion time of 1-2 hours actually ended up taking me a few days as I became enraged and had to keep walking away from it…….. Also it did have a tendency to look like clip art!

Here is the finished result of my attempt:

I was relatively pleased with this finished version, however when I had completed it, I realised the absurdity of having my name as the front page for my site when nobody knows who I am! The Keith Tyson site works because he is a well known artist (and obviously because it is very well done!) but although I will now not be using this for my site, it was a good experience getting to grips with aspects of Photoshop that I was previously unfamiliar with. I also can’t deny that it was fun to sort of see my name in lights!

You can find the online tutorial here:

http://www.computerarts.co.uk/tutorials/make-your-type-pop-layer-styles

The Speaking Picture Book

The Speaking Picture Book: A New Picture Book with Characteristic Voices.

I really like the idea of using technology within an object, in this case a book, which wouldn’t normally have these capabilities.

As I mentioned in a previous post I have been thinking of using a motion sensor to change projected images onto a book when the pages are turned. This musical version is something that will have to look into.

Exhibitionism A Symposium on Queer Curatorial Practices

I attended the above titled symposium yesterday at The Old Courthouse, Brighton.

‘This symposium will explore the cultural, political, art historical and artistic implications of queer curatorial practices. The international art scene has witnessed an increase in queer exhibitions That have shed new light on LGBTQ art and on the sexual and social dimensions of innovative curating. This symposium gathers together curators, theorists, film programmers, journalists and artists working in queer exhibition practices across a variety of institutions and contexts. We intend to investigate and debate the diversity of curatorial perspectives on historical and contemporary queer art and film and to examine a wide range of issues, among them: the role of the curator as authorial force; the queering of visual fields; the discovery and recovery of repressed queer histories and desires in museum, galleries and cinemas; the political work of curatorial practice.

Speakers:

Sam Ashby, Michael Blyth, Niranjan Kamatkar, Pawel Leszkowicz, Richard Parkinson, Lara Perry, Michael Petry, Michael Pierce, Kate Smith, Matt Smith, Simon Watney  

The event is organised by Pawel Leszkowicz and John David Rhodes, and sponsored by the Centre for Visual Fields and the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence and Cultural Change (University of Sussex), and the Brighton Museum.’

I was most intrigued with what Pawel Leszkowicz had to say about queer art being accepted now, and that it’s ‘been done’, so in the UK it ends up shrinking out of view again. And that in Eastern Europe for example it is still too dangerous and that they should wait to exhibit works dealing with themes. He then went on to say that we are either in a state of thinking that it is ‘too late, too boring, or too early and too risky.’

http://www.mnw.art.pl/index.php/en/temporary_exhibitions/exhibitions/art55.html

Michael Petry spoke about the fact that prejudice has not gone away, and that at the exhibition Hidden Histories – The 20th Century Male, they were asked to remove a piece of work which was made up of sweets as it would be seen as a pedophilic way of luring children in. Even when it was explained that the sculpture was made up the artist’s dead lover’s weight in sweets the piece was still banned.

Petry also had an interesting point about how the artist has the right to be stupid but the institution does not. His example was of The Art Guys who married a plant as a perhaps homophobic response to gay marriage, which was then purchased and added to the permanent collection of The Menil Collection.

This reminded me of a very recent article in The Guardian about two t’shirts that Topshop was forced to remove from their shelves after complaints of sexism. I completely agree with Petry in this example as these sorts of slogans on t shirts are common, but by putting them into a large establishment it then allows a wider audience to purchase them without even thinking.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2011/sep/14/topman-sexist-t-shirts

What do you think of the shirts or about prejudice in general? Any thoughts welcome!

Processing

Just had our first Processing workshop, would love to be able to use it for something like this:

Strata by Quayola, http://www.quayola.com/selectedartworks/strata3/

My first attempt at Processing:

There were two versions, both eventually using the colours of each area of the picture to make up the whole picture. One version let you make the the picture by moving the mouse and the other quickly made the shapes appear and created the picture for you.

The picture that I used was A Sweet Lullaby (c.1915) by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale (no copyright infringement intended, was testing out an idea!) Which looks like this:

White Night

http://web.mac.com/annadumitriu/WhiteNight/Home.html

For White Night in Brighton I was invigilating Alex May’s work at the Phoenix Gallery. The exhibition, titled Like Shadows: A Celebration of Shyness, was exploring ideas of participant interactivity and the different levels of participation people are willing to get involved in.

Interestingly enough I agreed to invigilating when slightly tipsy, and when I actually thought about it, I was nervous that I would be expected to force people to interact and generally be a pushy invigilator. Luckily this was not the case. Alex’s work, was a kinect sensor which sensed the persons shape and projected it as a colour onto the wall, with a dripping paint effect, the shape became more solid the longer that the person stood there.

It was a contemplative piece of work, which gave the viewer a chance to stop and and see the work take shape right in front of their eyes. It was quite a romantic piece of work with sad, solo silhouettes being joined by others as time went on, only to drip away and leave a smudge as the only trace that anyone had been there.

As the night went on, and the drinks flowed, it was amusing to see people come in and run in front of the sensor expecting an immediate result. At one point we also spelt out YMCA……..

  

 

I have been thinking of using PIR (Passive Infrared) sensors for a future project, where I plan to project images onto a photo album and have the images change when the pages are turned, this is the photo album:

John Martin – Apocalypse – Tate Britain

Went to the John Martin exhibition this weekend and loved the way in which they presented The Last Judgement Triptych:

The works were presented so that you sat in front of them on benches. The lights went out and there were voices speaking as though they were from the 1800’s voicing the reactions of people when they first saw the paintings back then.

The lights then went up to reveal the paintings in all their glory. Next they digitally manipulated the paintings, so that they looked like flaming ash was falling from the rocks, or that the water was rippling.

I found the whole experience really brought the paintings alive and was a pleasant difference to quietly viewing the paintings alone.

Purely for how beautiful this painting was, it was my favourite of the show:

Arthur and Aegle in the Happy Valley, 1849

The cinematic quality of the paintings is stunning and I will be looking further into film that has taken inspiration from Martin’s work.

For example Intolerance, 1916, which used the scenery from Belshazzar’s Feast, 1826 needs to be looked into as I imagined all the fantastical works coming to life as films whilst going round the exhibition.

Amiens – Blanche Nuit

I recently visited Amiens, France to help these guys out http://www.themetahub.com/

As part of a group of about 20 people, we filmed events by camera phone or hand held camera, that were happening around the city and then sent the videos, about 30 seconds in length, back to the ‘meta hub’.

The films were then edited by their team and projected onto a many sided cube sculpture, therefore providing a mash up of the night in one place.

By day:

  

And by night:

Here are some examples of other works around the city:

    

  

My favourite piece was the one above on the right.

You had to queue up for about 10 minutes to see the work, which in itself added some atmosphere to the event as all the other pieces you could just stumble across.

Firstly you entered a room which was completely black and then strobe lights began at the opposite end of the room, so people began to walk towards them. You then entered into a second room and the strobes stopped for a few seconds. The lights fully came on and you could see you were in a room, surrounded by life size sculptures of naked men, from the knees up on plinths. Their faces were dripping.

The strobes then started up again at a fast pace and it was hard to walk around without walking into a sculpture or an actual person.

I thought that the whole experience was so immersive for the audience. It was quite a simple idea but it seemed to me to be the most interesting use of digital media of Blanche Nuit. Personally I was terrified by the flashes of the sculptures and it reminded me of Doctor Who, however a lot of the children found it exciting and were peering through the door to see peoples reactions as they were in there.

Recent trip to Warsaw

The Generation in Transition exhibition presents the artworks of a young generation of artists of Indian origin, living and working in India, as well as in America and Europe. It is the first extensive showcase of contemporary art from this region presented in Central Europe in recent years. For about twenty years now, India has been experiencing an enormous economic and technological development, which has had a substantial impact on social structures. This change, with its positive and negative aspects, is frequently reflected in the works of contemporary artists, especially in those of the youngest ones who have grown up in these interesting times of transition.

03.09 – 06.11

I recently attended this exhibition at Zacheta. Particular favourites were this film by Bharat Sikka – The Ceremony.

http://www.mattershow.com/video01.html

On a purely fun level, I enjoyed this piece which was a small house, like a wendy house, but when entered had mirrored walls, floor and ceiling making it seem infinitely large. It was also a great excuse to take some photos.

Also another thing worth mentioning is the epic sculpture/architecture at the back of this building in Old Town.

The Bet

Some stills from my recent short film ‘The Bet’, which was based on an Angela Carter short story ‘The Tiger’s Bride’. Which in turn is based on the age old fairytale ‘Beauty and The Beast’.

More images on my flickr page. I hope to upload the film here soon.