This whole Low Residency was a first in more ways than one, it has exhausting and exciting . We now need to reflect, evaluate and get feedback on how it went and how to improve it for the future. However the initial feeling is that it has been the rich, diverse and challenging learning experience that was envisioned, thanks to all the people who have contributed and particular thanks to the students for engaging so energetically!
Computer code can feel like learning Chinese for a European (and I have done both!) However for artists it is often easier when you have something hands one to play with and adapt, even the simplicity of making a circle grow on screen by pressing a sensor, or switching a light on by moving nearer to a distance sensor, can help. Somehow giving the code a physical form seems to help demystify the process, (memories of my Chinese flash cards to learn basic vocabulary!).
So today lots of plugging things in, switching things on, adjusting numbers and watching yourself be tracked as a stick figure!
The film partly documents a re-enactment of one of the most violent clashes between Police and coal miners during the miners’ strike of 1984-5. The screening was followed by a long and fascinating discussion, which at times got quite heated. The discussion looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the film as well as the original live art or performance art event as conceived by Jeremy Deller. Some of the MA Fine Art Digital students are too young to have any memory of this event while for others it was a significant political event with strong visual impact. The discussion ranged from the role, if any, this event played in a healing process, the distortion of the events at the time by the media and in this 2001 film. The strange lack of woman in the film despite their significant role in the miners’ strike and whether today with twitter and crowd funding would a similar re-enactment and/or film have a very different political agenda? The discussion went on way beyond the scheduled finish time, a good sign, but challenging at the end of 9 intensive days.
‘I was very concerned about working collaboratively, I have never found it easy but this has worked really well.’
‘I would never have used a split frame camera, a gimmicky tool like that seemed too much like a crutch, but by the second day I was beginning to get used to its potential’
‘I have been guilty of not considering how my work is presented in a gallery setting, so the emphasis during this project on the installation of work as much as creating it has been eye opening and highly beneficial.’
Some quotes from students as we discussed their work made over the last 2 days. We finished day 2 with an exhibition of the work that was made, in fact the first exhibition in South Kiosk’s new gallery space.
16mm film dyeing, scratching and hand wound
These images show the group working with 16mm film. They used some pre-existing footage of animals in Australia. First they dyed the film then scratched into the surface, isolating the animals, then they choose to present it in the editing viewer with the audience having to manually turn the reels of film.
Digital filming and overlaid projections
Images showing the overlaid effect of 3 projections. Using now traditional high end digital kit, including Canon 5D mk2 and HD projectors, this group overlaid the projections and deliberately distorted the frames and the keystoning
Split frame camera installation
This group used old split screen film cameras to make prints. They gave up control of the prints by using a 1 hour print facility and used the serendipitous moments in the 4 split images and the cropping decisions made my someone else. After taking pictures independently the group that collaborated on the hanging the prints. This was a fascinating process of negotiation, a certain frustration but after several re-hangs a solution that all were happy with.
8mm camera less film
2 groups worked directly onto 8mm film and explored a variety of ways to present these films.
by projecting into a mirror the film could be focused on a small part of the wall high up in the gallery
The 2nd group working with 8mm film labouriously worked on a long length of film adding text, colour and texture.
Using old consumer technology like 8mm projectors from the 1970s can be very challenging as the projectors can be temperamental. After much fiddling we eventually got this longer film working, here is a short extract:
All students were given some reading, specifically 2 articles from Millennium Film Journal (students have free online access to full PDFs of this extensive journal). The 2 articles explored the nature of the screen in exhibition settings.
In the first, ‘On The Search for Ideal Viewing Conditions’, writer David Curtis starts with a quote from the American artist Robert Smithson where he is talking about his experience of the screen in a cinema setting, he is trying to remember films he has seen and concludes, ‘My memory becomes a wilderness of elsewheres.’
In the 2nd article, ‘Shared Viewing, Moving Images in the Cinema and Museum’ writer Maeve Connolly outlined several different examples of how screen based work has been presented drawing on structures often used in theatre, cinema and museum settings, she concludes by describing the final example as it ‘…offered yet another way of conceptualizing moving image consumption as an activity that involves, necessarily and sometimes productively, both the sharing and division of space and time.’
This workshop has 2 aims, the explore:
1. Screen as physical object (going beyond the simple flat projection screen)
2. Screen as thematic device (a method to expose the theme of your work)
The new work made will be shown in a pop-up exhibition at the end of day 2.
Everyone worked together collaboratively choosing between, cameraless 8mm film techniques, chemically adjusting existing film footage, digital filming and split frame cameras.
At the end of day 1, already some fascinating material has been created, on day 2 we will explore these techniques further and the presentation of what has been made with particular focus on its physical presence.
With their high profile, large marketing budgets and dramatic locations it is easy to find and visit galleries like Tate Modern, the National Gallery or the Saatchi Gallery but to search out and visit the more hidden spaces, the spaces where fascinating grassroots activity is emerging is much more difficult.
Today was a real treat as Holly Willats from Art Licks led a tour of 5 very diverse spaces in Hackney, East London. However, visiting the spaces was only half of the experience, the whole day was enhanced by opportunities to speak to owners and curators at each space and the discussions that happened as we walked.
We started at X marks the bökship a a bookshop and project space for independent publishers where owner and manager Eleanor Vonne Brown introduced the current artist postcard exhibition.
Next was Acme Project Space, the unusually double triangular shaped space of the huge studio provider Acme. Lea O’Loughlin the manager of Acme’s International Residencies Programme introduced the current exhibition by Canadian artist Sophie Jodoin. She explained the purpose of the project space as somewhere artists, particularly those on the international residency programme, can test ideas in a public setting but outside of what may be somewhat restrictive systems around their own gallery representation.
We then visited Space In Between in the Regent Studios building and an exhibition by Brazilian artist Adriano Amaral. Hannah Hooks and Laura McFarlane who run the space talked about the work and some of their own experiences in running a variety of spaces and the challenges of sustaining curatorial practice over the long term.
On the top floor of the Regent Studios building we visited Five Years a collaborative artists’ project with an unusual structure. There are 12 members who can present 2 exhibitions every 18 months, 1 exhibition can include their own work but the other must by an invitational show. The current show was showing some early films by Ian Bourn.
On the way down an amazing sky was presented above us!
Finally we visited space studios where curator Paul Pieroni gave a tour round the 4 different exhibitions currently on show.
These included a show of early video work by Paul McCarthy, presented in a field of old monitors,
and a video installation in the original graffiti covered stairwell showing an intriguing play with a 1960s tv interview with Situationist International co-founder Michèle Bernstein, often with comic effect.
‘We strongly believe in the need to create a dedicated platform for art from across all corners of the globe, in dialogue with each other and the visitor, to ensure an experience of the very best of modern and contemporary art for a broad audience.’ Grand beliefs from the opening paragraph of the Art14 London catalogue.
It seems that many artists have a love hate relationship with art fairs and often gallerists view them as a necessary evil. Art14 is like any other art fair, temporary wooden booths create the illusion of white cube gallery spaces, just don’t look to closely at the construction standard. However this art fair does have a very wide range of countries represented and with half our students based online it was fascinating to see galleries from most of the countries MA Fine Art Digital students come from, including Athr Gallery in Saudi Arabia.
Black Ship from New York were showing Cristina de Middel’s project ‘Party’ where she adapted an English translation of Mao ZeDong’s Little Red Book. This project stirred significant debate amongst the students with some questioning the outsider’s critical view and whether it is possible to take an objective position.
We finished the day at Jerwood Visual Arts space for a South London Art Map last Friday late opening. They were screening ‘Surfaces of Exchange’ a film by Emma Charles which explored the hidden structures of a city and the vast networks that gives physical form to the internet. At one point, after several minutes of panning shots of vast bundles of cables a computer came into view and despite the film being made in 2013, it was an ancient machine sporting the latest in storage technology, a floppy drive!
A remarkable element of the digital environment is the open source movement, most commonly associated with software, where everyone is free to use, copy or change the software in any way, with the source code openly shared. Open source hardware is also increasingly available and they arduino is a perfect example. A relatively inexpensive piece of hardware that creates an interface to a computer allowing the exploration of interaction. Today we had a workshop exploring this interface using pressure and infra red sensors.
The evening saw the opening of an interim exhibition for all the MA students at Camberwell. More than 130 students filled the Brixton East Gallery. MA Fine Art Digital students included paintings, photography, film, animation, and installations. The interim show has been a huge learning experience particularly for those involved heavily in the organising of the show.
1 to 1 tutorials with visiting artists can be a scary experience. You have a short time to present some of your ideas and then engage is a deep discussion about your work. Today the students had tutorials with people they did not know and who knew nothing of their work. This creates a challenging but fascinating experience. The fresh perspective on your work can open up rich veins of investigation.
In the afternoon there was the latest in the current MA lecture series at Camberwell, this talk given by Helen Douglas who has been making artists’ books since the 1970s, check out weproductions for more details, images and a their digital productions including a book called The Pond and Deuchar.
Finally a visit to Peckham Platform a small gallery with a big impact. Situated in the centre of Peckham (very close to Camberwell College of Arts) this gallery is all about connecting art, people and place. It’s engagement with socially engaged art practice has seen it work with many different groups within the local community and under the leadership of Emily Druff it is a beacon of what is possible when you attempt to make these connections. An example, today the gallery staff acted as expected in being friendly, helpful and willing to have a dialogue about the work and the gallery’s vision. Thank you.
First day and lots of introductions as people who have only met online meet face to face for the first time. The London based students have been working on curating the Lumen Art Prize exhibition later in March so that took some of our initial focus. This project has helped raised some great issues for the students from the practical considerations of presenting work that uses a range of technology alongside more traditional work. As hoped there has also been a wider debate around important concerns including curatorial narrative for a show, is this a show simply to showcase winners or something to help explore questions, alongside issues like immateriality or time and space and do any themes emerge for a selection like this.
In the afternoon many students presented recent work which lead to much discussion, debate a funny one liner. One student was talking about their struggle with oil paint in a particular painting and another student who uses oil a lot instantly responded, ‘oil is a bitch’!
We concluded a long first day with a meal together at Course Leader Jonathan’s home.