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