Camberwell College of Arts provides a range or resource centres all staffed by amazing artists and designers in their own right. The digital media resource centre was the focus of todays workshop. The students were given only 6 hours to create a collaborative film using as many of the resources as possible.
The workshop was co-ordinated by Matt Edwards, one of the technicians and also a former student on MA Fine Art Digital. Initially he gave the students 30 minutes to come up with an idea for a film, he suggested they split their focus into 3 areas, film, animation and sound but other than that it was completely up to them what and how they created.
The digital media resource centre includes a large suite of computers, some camera kit, animation facilities, sound recording, mixing and editing, a range of scanners, drawing tablets and some amazing technicians. Students were introduced to hyper lapse, live trace and 3D camera tracking, all potentially fascinating creative tools.
Within 20 minutes an idea had emerged and the rest of the morning was spent gathering material to create the film. In the afternoon everything was edited together and finally an impressive film was produced. Not bad for 6 hours work with 21 people contributing various elements. Some of the animation was taking too long to render so couldn’t be included but could appear in a later edit.
Today was a full day of experimenting with arduino boards and a wide variety of input sensors, including light, pressure, movement, temperature etc. The morning was a step by step introduction with some challenges like trying to remember stuff about electrical circuits at school! The workshop was expertly led by Romain Meunier and the afternoon included lots of experiments with each group of students managing to produce some effective interaction.
For most students this was simply about exposure, exploring something outside of their normal experience. For other students these lessons will feed directly into their practice as their MA course develops.
The morning and afternoon saw more 1–to–1 tutorials. Organising 30 tutorials – delivered by 4 different tutors, across 2 days, fitted around the letterpress workshops, mostly in London but with some online for those unable to attend in person – proved to be a planning challenge (admittedly not much of a challenge for a skilled administrator but certainly one for an artist, as in the course leader!) This picture reveals a little of the process!
Friday evening was a talk organised by Isaac Julien, University of the Arts London, Chair of Global Art. It was billed as ‘Isaac Julien presents: Jean Fisher in conversation with Mark Nash’ looking at issues of ‘indigeneity’ and global post-colonial art. However, despite the presentation of some fascinating material and the promise of an indepth debate the event never lived up to that promise and seemed to drift with some abstruse language and unrealised potential. Nevertheless the event generated significant discussion afterwards amongst the students and continued on to the following day…
‘If you are willing to do something that might not work you’re closer to being an artist’
Whether this is true or not day 3 and 4 gave the opportunity to work in the letterpress room at Camberwell College of Arts, something none of the students had done before. James Edgar runs the letterpress workshop but instead of a structured typography workshop everyone was encouraged to play and explore textures.
Alongside the letterpress workshop everyone also had a 1 to 1 tutorial mostly with someone they had never met before, challenging but useful.
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.