Historical value of film at its best

The fascination with trains on screen is as old as cinema from the Lumiere brothers to our very own Geoffrey Jones and his work for British Transport Films in the 60s and 70s. This time, however, we are more focused on the experience of travelling than the locomotive itself…

Robert Davies spent 86 days of shooting and who knows how many days in the edit suite to create the spectacular over 2 hours long Of Time and the Railway. He talks about the process and the meaning of the film as he looks through the window onto the very same landscape that is the protagonist of the film.

Of Time and the Railway takes the viewer on a train journey from Birmingham to Aberystwyth. However, it is not the usual journey that we could experience as passengers. Not only because it is shot from the front, from the driver’s point of view – ‘a view that most of us can never have’ as Davies points out – but because during this ‘single’ journey seasons change. Magical and utterly cinematic, using the advantages of the art of film to its fullest, this moving image work will be projected onto a space wider than 7 meters at the premiere in Aberystwyth Arts Centre tomorrow, on 24th of March.

Davies sees the film most of all as ‘a snapshot of now‘, taken over the period of a year and half. In addition to offering a transient audiovisual experience, the camera has documented buildings, cars and of course the landcsape giving the piece considerable historical value. The artist concludes, that Of Time and the Railway is about the passage of time – and the journey reflects his own life experience with geographical relevance. How? Find out in the video by Culture Colony below.


Text by Kati Jägel


What was the ‘last book to be banned in the UK’ and what else could we learn?

Artplayer would like to draw everybody’s attention to a fascinating documentary being made later this year by one of our channel holders. With your help, hopefully.

The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of Books are collaborating with filmmaker Clara Casian to produce an experimental documentary exploring the history of alternative publishing in Manchester. They have launched a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign towards the research and production costs of the film. Please watch the campaign video and join the quest!
This new film will trace a recent history of experimental publishing in Manchester and the UK via the history of Savoy Books. Savoy Books are an independent publishing house based above a locksmith shop in the South Manchester district of Didsbury, founded and run by Michael Butterworth and David Britton. In 1989 they published Lord Horror, the last book to be banned in the UK under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act; in part a response to Britton’s time spent in Strangeways prison, and Savoy’s constant persecution by the corrupt Police force at the time.

An experimental and innovative approach to storytelling will utilise previously unseen footage dating from the 1980’s and 1990’s, featuring visual records from Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, John Coulthart, Michael Butterworth along with found and archival footage sourced from the BBC and Northern film archive.

The film will also necessarily approach censorship debates, considering the cultural and political context of the sensationalism around obscenity trials. There are a range of exciting one-off rewards for donating including original limited run screen-prints, early Corridor publications, Savoy titles and t-shirts. Special rewards packages to arts organizations!


Text by Kati Jägel

The importance of film in the arts sector: Axisweb film services

Artplayer is a video platform for the arts. Our 100+ channel holders upload video content about their activity every day. We watch these videos and films and engage with the content but how often does one stop and think “who made this film?” and “why?”.

Maybe these questions don’t seem important or the answers seem obvious – a video production team made this film because the organisation wants to promote its activity. However, talking about the arts sector, we are dealing with something much more multilayered than promotion. Films and videos about the creation processes allow the much-yearned insight to artists’ minds (already discussed in one of our earlier posts about artist films); films about cultural organisations such as museums remind us the main purpose of museums which is far from making profit – to keep our culture and past alive, because it makes being a human ever so slightly more valuable as opposed to defining ourselves merely against the present.

Let’s talk about Axisweb, a superb organisation known for helping out artists from all career levels. Their film production services serve the same cause as bringing unpublished artists to the limelight does – enriching the general public’s experience of the world through culture. Axisweb films cover artists, museums, galleries, events and much more. These films are, of course, valuable in individual and organisational digital strategies as well – there is no point to hide the fact that all media publicity promotes as well as informs and enriches.

Unlike most video production companies that do all kinds of work, Axisweb services specialize on the aforementioned content so they can be called the arts video experts. Here at artplayer we also offer video production services to the arts sector but the approaches of the two organisations differ sharply as Axisweb focus on the individual and artplayer on the performative. Axisweb offer full service including developing the concept together with the artist/organisation. It is useful to note that members of Axisweb get 50% off the price of filmmaking! More information here: http://www.axisweb.org/axisweb-developments/our-services/

To demonstrate the style and approach and purpose I have been talking about, here are two great Axisweb films (and find more on their artplayer channel) :


Sarah Younan Interview: 3D scanning technology meets ceramics


A New Reality for Tetley: former brewery turned into an arts space


Text by Kati Jägel


Common Practice Video Network: arts, environment, community

Common Practice Video Network (or CPVN) is a bit like a feature film. A lot of effort and hard work has been put into it by many people over time and only now can we see the brilliant results that the guys involved with the project have been anticipating for over a year.

For those who do not know yet – Common Practice is an advocacy group working for the recognition and fostering of the small-scale contemporary visual arts sector in London. Its founding members are Afterall, Chisenhale Gallery, Electra, Gasworks, LUX, Matt’s Gallery, Mute Publishing, The Showroom, and Studio Voltaire. Now, imagine what it would be like if all those organisations joined hands and created a video production network… and they have. There are currently 16 videos on the Common Practice channel, all high in quality due to training scheme conducted together with FACT. More importantly, the content is so rich as the members are well-established and all slightly different from each other. From the six founding organisations/galleries the viewers are led on to the commissioned artists and to collaborations with other organisations so the reach of CPVN is greater than just the sum of its members.

I cannot really recommend where to start. Here are two randomly selected videos from the channel – but all of them are brilliant!

The Matt’s Gallery Archive Project (don’t be disheartened by the dusty word “archive” – this one is alive!)


And here is a great discussion on bio-aesthetics and eco-futurism in the White Building. It is much appreciated when talks like this are recorded in full for those who cannot make it to the event!

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Text by Kati Jagel

Is value of art explained in school?

One of this week’s uploads on artplayer gives ample food for thought – “Young people talk about Dance” by Culture Street reveals the primary school students’ perspective on dance and potentially on other arts. As part of making the video, they took part in dance classes in Newcastle. Reflecting on his new experiences at Dance City, one young participant is convinced that dance is not for him and not just because “it is girly” but because he thinks he cannot help people with dance whereas he could be much more beneficial to the society as a farmer – which is his dream profession in the future. The two cannot really be compared, but in terms of choosing between ‘practical’ and ‘creative’ paths this is a good place to quote the vice chancellor of Cambridge university: “Medical science can make us live to 90. If you haven’t got the arts and humanities what’s the point of living until 90?” (The Guardian, Wednesday 19 October 2011).

The dance teacher get asked how much she gets paid – “Very, very little”. We all know that the arts is for those with passion and not for making money, but maybe the low pay has something to do with the distorted understanding of the function of arts in human life compared to other fields and maybe this understanding starts at school?

The children definitely feel the sense of freedom and the ability to express themselves better that dance can provide as they describe their emotions. Let’s hope that these feelings will not be crushed by thoughts about ‘secure jobs’. One can do both, really.

Watch video here:

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Text by Kati Jagel

Digital media brings immediate access: Venice Biennale and Summit of Ideas and Digital Invention

Over last couple of weeks artplayer has seen the best of digital distribution of the arts. Reports from the 55th Venice Biennale straight from location to our homes by Axisweb, Anton Hecht’s useful tips on using video for the arts on the a-n channel and Future Everything’s lectures for the Summit of Ideas and Digital Invention delivered in their full length all contribute to one of the Arts Council’s main aims: great art for everyone. To be honest there is just so much going on every day and one could not possibly visit all events due to financial and logistic reasons. Artplayer and our channel holders build a bridge between all or nothing – so our online guests can still be part of all great things and thus grow interest in and passion for the arts!

If you haven’t seen it yet, then Axisweb have done a brilliant job with communicating the highlights of the Venice Biennale in a non-auhtoritative way as they let the various guests of the festival speak about their experience and give tips about how to get about in Venice during the festival and what to see – and yes, you can see the discussed works of art in the videos as well, which is the most exiting part… animal lovers may be especially interested in Jane Sillis’ and Penny Sexton’s interview where a visually shocking piece consisting of multiple furry creatures from Macedonia is under spotlight for a moment.

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If you are in the mood for some longer intellectual discussion then Future Everything’s full length lectures are worth to watch, not least because the subjects are exiting and current and not art form-specific but relevant to everybody living in some kind of urban or other structured enviroments. The speakers bring visual examples to illustrate their points which becomes crucial in the videos as the difference between live environments where we are more accustomed to sit and listen, on screen we usually expect to see something. Well, here we have both and let’s start with Natalie Jeremienko’s Exploring Urban Ecologies –

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These and other videos which bring the viewers the experience of actual events are at the heart of increasing public access to arts and media and make great use of digital environments with the immediacy they often offer. For developing practical ideas about online video sharing have a listen to Anton Hecht below 🙂

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Text by Kati Jägel

Opportunity for media artists – create a multisensory arts programme!

Some of you may be very interested in the artplayer multimedia arts competition – feel free to share!

Review Remix – competition for media artists

Opportunity for filmmakers, sound artists, graphic designers and other emerging creative talent: become part of creating an experimental multi-sensory arts programme!

FACT and artplayer.tv are looking for a variety of media artists to propose ideas for long and short form arts programme and, more importantly, bring them to life in collaboration with our team. The programme is aimed at Local TV stations as well as internet distribution. Artists taking this opportunity get to work with top arts and media organisations and get a sense of what it is to like to work for the broadcast industry. Interested? Read on to get an overview of the project!

Artplayer.tv is an online video sharing platform for the arts. With over 100 channels by UK arts and media organisations, we have video content that covers all art forms from fine arts to newest creative media and technology. We are looking to produce a regular arts programme that deploys the existing video content from these organisations and develops current and intellectual discussions by linking the videos into themed episodes. The latter requires producing extra content specifically for the programme and it is the way everything is put together that lies at the heart of the challenge we invite you to take on!

This is not just call for filmmakers as our aim is to offer a multi-sensory experience through all aspects of audivosual media. Sound, music, graphics, colour schemes, and lighting are just as important as structure, camerawork, editing and narrative. Your skills may, of course, cover all of these aspects…

We are looking for innovative, novel approaches to using artplayer.tv content and will help broker permissions with the relevant organisations who own the content. We are expecting proposals to take the form of a short form programme treatment in line with your art/specialism(s). The theme for proposals is:

Towards to Edges of Perception

Proposals can focus upon work which:

* challenges or subverts sensory perceptions

* explores the edges of perception in ultrasound/infrasound

* questions how language shapes perception and understanding

* explores how the body can respond or adapt to stimulus

* crosses multiple media/senses (ie, ekphrasis, synesthesia)

* explores optic/auditory illusions, hallucinations, physical tactile illusions affecting the body

To offer you an example how you might treat the programme, artplayer.tv has commissioned a pilot episode of Artplayer Review which aims to demonstrate some of our ideas for a short form arts programme for LocalTV license holders. This is an independent production made for artplayer.tv and, alongside original material, features video content from FACT, artplayer video services, Band on the Wall, Aldeburgh Music, Opera North and Manchester Camerata.

See the video here:



This is an example only and we do not expect you to copy the video, but come up with your own original ideas!

Work on the programme needs to begin by 30th June 2013 and be completed by 30th September 2013. The artist(s) will receive up to £600 funding and 3 days of video production support from the FACT services team. The final outcome will be published on FACT website, artplayer.tv, and on Tacit – a new online research journal that forms part of the Manchester Metropolitan University’s research programme MIRIAD.

To compete for this opportunity you need to become familiar with the video content on www.artplayer.tv and send your proposal/treatment in a text document to hello@artplayer.tv with a brief description of your background in the relevant art form included at the beginning. Deadline for proposals is 15th June 2013

Text by Kati Jägel