Since the day Quentin Tarantino entered the film industry, evoking emotion and (un)conscious associations through visual and aural reference to other works of cinema and pop culture has become kind of a norm. One could, of course, expect nothing else but references to The Wizard of Oz (1939) in the animated film “Dawn of the Rainbow 1939″ which is specifically made from the film leader of the mentioned classic, but one should try to watch it with speakers turned off. The glimpses of Dorothy and the house rising up in the air are so brief and far in between that they can hardly be noticed while most of the film consists of colourful moving shapes and numbers from the film leader which could connote anything. It is the music, the soundtrack of The Wizard of Oz that makes the animation by Katie Goodwin so meaningful, full of history, nostalgia and greatness. It also reminds us, that film is not merely the art of juxtaposition in time, like suggested by Sergei Eisenstein, but also that of juxtaposition in space where simultaneously occurring visual and aural elements can instantly mean something more than either of them could communicate on their own. If the history of cinema, or at least The Wizard of Oz, is part of the Western collective cultural memory that you share, the animation may even make you sad for no obvious reason. Let the composition have its effect on you….
Text by Kati Jägel
There is a fair chance that anybody who has read or watched Harry Potter – or other stories of wizards – has at least once in his life secretly tried out whether he has magic powers in his hands. Most likely the result was dissatisfying. Well… have you heard of Soundbeam? It is an award-winning ‘touch free’ device which uses sensor technology to translate body movement into music and sound. Making music in such a way certainly looks magical – have a look at yourself in the Pyramid of Arts video about their Beam Team!
Beam Team is made up of six trainees, three learning disabled people under 25, and three young arts professionals. The team work alongside experienced Pyramid of Arts groups to design and build stimulating, interactive environments and games based on Soundbeam for touring to community groups and inclusive learning centres. The trainees are challenged to reach creative excellence, technical control and personal and social competence, while being supported individually to overcome any difficulties.
The video shows the group in different stages of the learning and practicing process which demonstrates the carefully planned and synchronized work of the Beam Team. Just like with magic, where a shaky hand movement can make the spell go horribly wrong, creating music with Soundbeam is more than just waving hands to the microphone. There seems to be a true art to it, but the kind of art everyone would be able to learn! The greatest moments of the video are the comments from the non-professional participants who are oozing with feelings of achievement and excitement.
Music is, of course, only one of the many ways to use sound. What about rolling out the whole continent of Africa on the floor, setting up some lions, elephants and gorillas, and attaching sound devices behind them to produce loud roars in response to visitors’ hand movements? ‘Beamentary’ is well worth watching to discover how creative we can really be!
Text by Kati Jägel
Long gone are the days when Walter Benjamin expressed his deep concern over what constitutes the work of art in the age mechanical reproduction. We have now embraced reproduction so thoroughly that we get involved in it every other minute through taking pictures and posting them on social media to preserve and reproduce every moment of out lives. However, It is nothing new: as Andre Bazin pointed out in his writings on the ontology of the film form, mankind have tried to reproduce and duplicate all real things since ancient civilizations where death masks were carefully shaped by the contours of the real faces of the dead, so the former would resemble the latter.
Benjamin’s question about the blurred concept of art caused by the nature of mechanically reproduced works remains relevant in the digital era. Arnolfini bring us a fascinating video that explores their exhibition ‘Version Control’ – note the useful clue in the title. Versions of events, of objects, versions of the original: are they just versions, are they all truthful representations of the same or are they autonomous works of art? The exhibition taps into performance, visual art and screen media. Here is a version of what happened between the walls of Arnolfini between January and April…
The Film and Video Umbrella video about the making of Londonion is yet another observation of the production of versions through technology. However, the sound mix does not really alter the original, but merely brings Kurt Schwitters’ poem “London Onion” to life and makes it audible rather than readable – which is something that the author must have had in mind during writing lines such as these:
Ell Ou enn De Ou enn.
Ell ou enn
Ell ou enn enn
In a way, Iain Forsyth’s and Jane Pollard’s work of sound art is an extension of Schwitters’ poem, rather than a version of it. In the same vain, the video coverage of the making of the sound mix is an extension of the latter. The video certainly adds some beautiful layers to the whole onion business, have a look at it here:
Do you agree with the distinction between versions and extensions?
Text by Kati Jägel
For four days every quarter, Arnolfini opens up its gallery spaces for performance art. While the surrounding space affects the perception of all art forms, it has usually been most integral to making meaning in performance as the performer can incorporate each inch of the performance space into the act by moving through it. So what implications does the art gallery space have on the various performances? The answer is, as always, for you to find out in the video coverage on artplayer, but let me just ponder on couple of things first.
It seems to be the trend these days to push the boundaries and take certain art form to places where they are not usually seen. Remember the Contemporary Art Society North experiment where visual art was taken away from galleries and put up in people’s homes? Maybe that is where Arnolfini sent their artworks for the duration of the 4 days to make room for the performers… The general effect is, no doubt, liberating – as suggested by a gallery guest in the video, who thinks that seeing performance in this purpose-built space for the visual arts brings about questions why do we normally exhibit only visual art in such a way.
The other realisation that emanates from this event is that everything that is brought between the traditional white walls of art galleries, immediately becomes important. If we saw the same performances on the street, we might think that the artist running around with toilet paper is just someone trying to be funny. In an art gallery it becomes serious and the audience becomes attentive. Not that this is a new discovery - that is, after all, exactly how first works of avant-garde art such as plain toilet seats became to be taken seriously.
Text by Kati Jägel
Printfest hit the nail on the head by bringing the artworks out and about to be discovered on special trails throughout Ulverston during Printfest 2012. The prints by 26 artists were exhibited for two weeks in shops and other venues in town, ascribing new meaning to the works as well as to the spaces used.
Creating the trail meant that the dedicated visitors of Printfest also visited the independent shops and galleries in the town, while passers-by became involved in Printfest; a win-win situation for everybody and certainly something to learn from if you are planning your next event or exhibition.
Most importantly, perhaps, the trail map tied Printfest and its artworks to the physical space and place of Ulverston, making the event more meaningful by recalling the sense of local in the ever-globalizing world.
Hear from the director of Printfest, the trail coordinator and the printmakers or get a glimpse of some prints and lovely shops in the video -
Text by Kati Jägel
The work of one of the arguably most versatile contemporary American artists Jim Shaw could be seen at the BALTIC in Gateshead until February this year. If you missed this opportunity then don’t worry – artplayer is delighted to host two brilliant videos which, when put together, give an excellent overview of both the artist and the exhibition.
Jim Shaw: The Rinse Cycle on BALTIC’s channel should be your first point of call as it uncovers some of the processes behind how the artworks came into being. Jim Shaw talks about his college years, how he wanted to be both a scientist and an artist, how he worked in Hollywood, and that doing just one thing is never enough for him. The latter shines through Shaw’s work which consists of so many components that each work looks like hundreds combined. Splashes of colour together with black-and white graphics, detailed faces and surreal landscapes – the video brings us a great selection of paintings, sculptures and even film and is a real treat as these works are related to periods of Shaw’s life and places he has lived in.
Now, to the actual exhibition at the BALTIC Culture Street sent a group of young people who take the viewer through the galleries guided by Vicky Sturrs who recalls some of the things discussed in the first video and relates them to the actual exhibition pieces. Most fascinating must be the fact that Shaw has created his own religion and that his dream worlds are so vivid and detailed on canvas unlike the abstract qualities we usually associate dreams with that it is almost spooky. It is nearly impossible not to admire Shaw, enjoy!
Text by Kati Jagel
artplayer.tv is delighted to host an extensive video collection by Whalley Range All Stars, especially because their positivity-oozing projects make it so explicit what is great about art. Look at PIG – a snoring, cuddly, unusual performance space that lights up the streets wherever it goes (and it has been around the world already) which becomes a performance itself while the actual show takes place in its stomach. Imagine walking on your usual street and discovering PIG around the corner – a whole new world opens there, as the same-old-same-old pavement becomes occupied by dreams, children’s fiction, cartoons – only it is real and you can touch it.
Even more imaginative, in the very literary sense, are the Imaginary Friends – larger than life, certainly not made of flesh and yet so uncannily human when operated by the ten-member ensemble. But who are these friends? What do they represent? Something deeper emerges from below the surface of this seemingly just-for-fun performance full of dance and song. At times it is almost sad, or at least nostalgic – perhaps because it recalls the days of childhood when we did believe in imaginary friends.
text by Kati Jagel