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 Their film production services serve the same cause as bringing unpublished artists to the limelight does – enriching the general public’s experience of the world through culture.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) :

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Sarah Younan Interview: 3D scanning technology meets ceramics

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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!)

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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

Remix Review: video within video = new narratives

The multitude of audiovisual media around us means that we often engage with more than one screen image at once. Most people are familiar with the situation when a family gathers around the TV but everybody are on their phones, tablets and laptops at the same time, dividing attention between the film or TV show and social media or even a YouTube video. An interesting phenomenon may emerge in the process as two narratives (a Facebook news thread could also be seen as a narrative) get mixed into a new one.

This is similar to what happens in artplayer’s Remix Review films. The multiple videos from different organisations on the site are brought together to generate a new perspective on the individual videos as well as to link them into a thought-provoking narrative.

Many of you have already seen the first Remix Review which brought together music and gaming technology, viewed through the eyes of young people. We are proud to publish the second Remix Review by video artist Anton Hecht, a YouTube phenomenon know best for Bus Station Sonata. This latest remix called Passing BY is an experiment that takes the term “moving image” to the next level. The film consists of various videos by Axisweb and a-n The Artists Information Company played back on a tablet device which is passed on in a circle while the device is also being rotated with random frequency. Sounds confusing? Interestingly the effect is quite the opposite and it is likely that you find yourself listening to the interviews and discussions in the original videos with much greater attention than you would if they were just presented on their own. At the same time the film tells the story of our lives in the present day. What does this effect say about the future of sense perception in the multi-screen era? Is linear communication on a single screen becoming thing of the past? Experience it yourself right here:

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Text by Kati Jagel

Inanimate objects as part of social groups

Exeter-born artist Simon Pope explores Dartmoor’s community’s relationships with… tin. Far from being a random topic, tin is actually one of the most burning issues for Devon right now as reopening a former tin mine is being considered. As mining has mostly been associated with the North, Pope’s project will be a refreshing addition to the existing body of work on the subject.

The current Oxford PhD student’s aim is to transcribe the locals’ stories and relationships with tin into song and dance. Pope makes an important statement in the video below, where he explains that he approaches inanimate objects like documents, songs and tin itself as living members of social groups – an interesting thought and in many ways absolutely true, if we think what constitutes a community. Just like the inhabitants of Dartmoor can tell stories about mining tin, the latter can tell stories about these people – both sides contributing to the local collective memory and defining the present through the past. Watch the video to find out how exactly will this project take shape over the coming months!

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Text by Kati Jägel

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

The importance of knowing the artist

Artist films, that is, films which allow us to see the artist in person not just the art, are invaluable. One might enjoy a painting, a sculpture, a piece of theatre on its own, but getting to know the mind – and face – behind the work enables us to truly connect with the work as a creation of another human being and, therefore, expression of the experience of life itself.

The world of literature has always been fascinated by autobiographies of artists, stars and other public figures. An artist film allows for a more immediate depiction of the persona behind the artwork due to enabling us to see the man or woman the creative mind belongs to in flesh instead of thinking about him/her as an abstract figure.

BALTIC have been doing in it most exemplary – each major exhibition at the BALTIC is preceded by an informative, moving and well-researched artist film of top quality. They should really be on TV. The latest one on artplayer is about Thomas Scheibitz whose work can be seen in Gateshead until 3rd of November. After watching the film you will probably be booking the ticket as soon as possible…

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(Watch by clicking on the image)

One of our newest members, Mark Deverux Projects are specially dedicated to help artists to develop and get exposure – and they have also recognized the greatness of the artist film. You may not know David Ogle yet, but after watching this film that brings you both the man and his very versatile art combining sculpture, drawing and light, the early-career artist might have made a shortcut to a new potential fan’s heart without years of exhibiting while not being known. More artist films please!

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(Watch by clicking on the image)

 

Text by Kati Jägel

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