This video is brilliant to watch because of the journey that you get to see a glimpse of as the background to this guy’s walk across China. But the reason I like this video so much -given that the self portrait timelapse video has been done many times before, the best one by Noah which was even parodied on The Simpsons- is that it uses video and not camera, and so each shot that makes up the timelapse has a little movement in it. Not always, but occasionally. From just a blink of the eye, through hair blowing in the gail force winds, to a brother or lover dancing around in the background.Â It gives the whole concept a new texture which I haven’t seen before, and I love it.
If you are familiar with my sculpture making past you’ll instantly know why this caught my attention, but if not, this piece will give you an idea.
I’m not saying my work matches the level that Daniel Arsham is working on – I am comparing my student work – but I do feel it kind of demonstrates the direction I might have taken my sculpture had I pursued it further. Having given up making art, I do rather love it when I see work like this that makes me think “There. I didn’t need to carry on cos someone else is doing it for me. Good!”
Now that I’ve got my camera back (from being temporarily lost to a friend of a friend’s car… oops!) I can post this photo of Alex’s stunning audio installation in Hackney’s St Augustine’s Tower. This is what you found after walking up the very tiny spiral staircase, accompanied by the sound of a D minor chord which seemed to chase up the staircase beside you and then disappear off, only to return again a little while later. There were speakers installed in the ceiling of the staircase, and in some of the side chambers along the way. The source of the sound was revealed at the very top, alongside the bell (which rang just as I got to the top – wow! that is LOUD), by a customised record player which was not playing a record but consisted of 72 copper plates which were each connected to a speaker somewhere in the tower, and each speaker played the chord as the revolving copper brush made contact with it. All this was hooked up to a synthesiser, with the D minor chord held down by tape. This art installation was not only perfectly suited to the site, but the sculptural/audio creating element was so carefully constructed and considered. What makes Alex Baker’s audio installation and sculpture work stand out, is that he gives the elements which create the sound as much attention as the audio itself, so the work is aesthetically pleasing to both the eye and the ear.
Watch/listen to a video clip of the artwork (mpeg – 40 seconds)
More photos of A Recurring Sequence of Events on my Flickr stream
More about Alex Baker’s art on his website
I just watched this fantastic feature-length film on You Tube called Four Eyed Monsters. It is essentially a true love story made by two artists who met over the internet and then decided to make a film about their lives. The film is partly real-life footage (one of them is a filmmaker and video documents his life) and partly animations of drawings (the other draws/paints and documents her life in this medium) as well as specially shot scenes.
It might sound like a narcissistic endeavour, but I think it captures the way all our lives are saturated with online activity and digital documentation, and so watching the film on You Tube seems to make sense. Although a video sharing website is an appropriate context, this film is not limited by or to the internet – it has been shown at film festivals and at screenings around the world, and I am tempted to buy a DVD of it in order to enjoy a richer, higher definition visual experience.
Shot mainly in New York, the film includes some beautiful shots of the city, time-lapse and also video collage – a few times, they present video clips of other people speaking about their love lives, framed in the little thumbnail profile boxes of a myspace page. It is all very familiar territory, but interestingly, they met in a pre-Myspace time, when online networking/dating wasn’t something you talked about – so the appeal of this film grew as they worked on it and the online social networking phenomena really took off.
I like the way the film ends – at some point it switches into pure documentary mode and you start to get a glimpse of how and where it was fabricated. But at the same time as you are wondering if it was all just a grand fiction, you see the same two characters again, documented ‘behind the scenes’ making the story we’ve just been watching. Turns out the drama of their relationship is no less intense or real, in fact it is intensified (and nearly ruined) by this self-reflexive film making process [no kidding!]. They even edited in scenes of them receiving the acceptance call for the Slamdance film festival, so those first viewers almost saw themselves on the screen.
And so their story continues…
Watch the video above (you’ll have to wait some time while it loads) or find out more here: www.foureyedmonsters.com
Alex Baker has a sculptural sound installation in our local clock tower on Mare Street in Hackney, St Augustine’s Tower. It is absolutely magical, to go into this space and experience it with the sound work. There is a reciprocal relationship where I think both the art and the tower gain a great deal from having the other around it. For the piece, titled A Recurring Sequence of Events, Alex has installed 72 speakers throughout the tower which are playing in a recurring ‘sequence’ of notes, which is controlled by a sculpural-audio-amplifying set up in the top of the tower. If you are in in Hackney you absolutely must take this opportunity to check out the tower, or go back if you have been in before, if you are in London anywhere else, then this is a really good reason to come visit us here in Hackney! You can get in there every weekend afternoon until the 14th October, but check out Alex’s website below for exact times.
More information on Alex Baker’s A Recurring Sequence of Events site-specific sound installation.
It is the start of a new season in the art world and I canâ€™t remember the last time I saw so many good shows in one go. Vyner Street is rocking! Starting off at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, is a group show called Effigies â€“ which in this case refers mostly to busts as opposed to full-length figures, but not always known figures as you might expect from the title. There are, however, lots of known names in this show, like Henry Darger, Kiki Smith and Louise Bourgeois, but 2 of the highlights for me were lesser-known artists Klara Kristalova and Terence Koh.
Swedish artist Kristalova has two beautiful painted and glazed stoneware pieces in the show, The Rights of Spring (2007) (pictured) is my favourite. It is a striking but somehow tender image of a girl, head bowed, the tendrils of a waxy plant growing out of her eyes. The ceramic around the eye sockets is cracked, as if to indicate the plant forcing its way out of the sculpture, in fact, these tendrils have been fired out of the very same clay.
Terence Kohâ€™s sculpture, The Golden Balls of My Youth (2007), is a gold plated double faced cast of his head, hung upside-down from a cable coming out of the neck. The mouths are open and you can see right through one mouth and out the other â€“ but the surface of the lips and the inside of the mouth is distressed, it is not a continuation of the straight representation of the body inside.
Both these pieces seemed to refer to interiority, both human and sculptural. Interiority as in what we see in Kristalovaâ€™s piece, and through what we say in Kohâ€™s work. And then both the interiors of the human form were rendered as a ruptured sculptural surface â€“ which breaks the narrative of the figure but somehow resonates with it too.
Round the corner at Nettie Horn is another group show, The Joy, curated by participating artist Kate Street. This show has a few nice pieces, Debbie Lawsonâ€™s Collar and Cuffs (2007) being one â€“ this is a sculpture of a little side table with plant on top, both of which have been covered in a rich patterned carpet, as if it crept up from underneath and smothered these pieces of household furniture.
There are also some interesting paintings on at Fred and sculpture at David Risley gallery – both worth a look. You’ll also want to leave time for the new Wilkinson Gallery which has just moved from round the corner to an enormous warehouse like space, which also has a project room currently showing film/video works.
I am really glad that I managed to get to the Anthony Gormley exhibition at the Hayward Gallery this summer. The Blind Light cloud installation was quite an experience – it was hot and damp and completely disorienting. You really couldn’t see further than the end of your arm, so at the same time as being isolated, you were really close to complete strangers, as they loomed out of the cloud right in front of you or as you listened to them call out to lost friends.
Click on the photo to see more photos of the exhibition on my Flickr stream.
Alex Baker has crafted another beautiful sculpture for his new show just opened at Art@42 gallery in Notting Hill Gate. This gallery, bizarrely, two-times as the waiting room to a dental surgery, but don’t be put off by the sound of drilling and smell of mouthwash – its a great space and really worth checking out for this show.
The main piece is called “Wind-Powered Record Player” and consists of a record (Herbie Hancock’s Future Shock) sitting on a sideways windmill being played by a needle amplified by a small trumpet. It is rather lovely! Also in the show is a site-specific video installation involving a live video stream, and some sound-prints (you have to go and see for yourself to figure out how that works!).
Ear Trumpet runs until 22nd September at 42 Pembridge Road – call 0790 4522 103 to book an appointment to see the show – no purchase of dentistry services necessary!
If you aren’t going to see the exhibition then check out a detailed photo of Alex Baker’s Wind-Powered Record Player on my Flickr page.
A Sports Day was held on Hackney Marshes over the bank holiday weeked in order to help artists retrain as sportspersons’, since that’s where all the Arts Council funding is being syphoned off to now (see my previous post on this). Considering it was pissing down all weekend they were a pretty determined bunch and we should congratulate them, and Grunts for the Arts for organising it. We can also laugh at them in more of the photos of on their website: www.sports-day.net/events.html