Sunday, 17 April 2016

Margaret, I Origins and Ghost in the Shell

I’m finally back in London after being away for nearly a month; the experience has been a mixture of excitedly exploring New York contrasted with lying around my house in Suffolk watching film after film, making work after work. I feel a little like an employee in the ‘art factory’ in The Holy Mountain... It’s interesting to think about how this ‘holiday’ has been, compared to the Christmas ‘holiday’ that occurred a few months ago; how much things have progressed since then as well how I’ve used my time differently. It’s a very weird thing to reflect upon, or a very obvious thing to reflect upon. Something to consider anyway; time.

I’m still creating things every day for 30/30, which is going fairly well, a certain pattern has emerged within the majority of the video pieces; cutting multiple videos together to create a work containing lots of windows. This is definitely something that I’ve been being slowly drawn to, be it simply because of the aesthetic style or because of the windows representing the screen and the idea of the voyeur alongside other things. Who knows?

The weeks been a little similar to last week, with aesthetics taking over some days more than it should; but as I’ve continuously said, tomorrow is another day. Mondays piece was vaguely basic; I took a previous video piece from 30/30 and viewed it as a text document on my computer, transforming the video work into a text piece. Something to note is that when you view a video as a document it doesn’t allow you to view the document as a video, it’s an irreversible process that destroys the original product forever. The brief was dismantle an old work, to make a new one. I titled it 1010100 1001001 1010010 1000101 1000100 which is binary code for tired, I think.
On the 12th the brief was do you make work the work you think you should make? Only slightly confusing. At the time I was experimenting with a 3D sculpting software, and just submitted something, an ‘aesthetic’ image made into a gif from that; not really responding to the brief unfortunately; but I think I had a lot going on on that particular day. I called it Ambiguous Totalitarianism and was done with it.
Wednesdays was allow yourself the time to write a list of things that you can remember wanting to make but never got round to making. can you make any today? or start? This was a fun brief which allowed me to dive into my ‘art’ note folder on my phone. I took the opportunity to create a video piece coming back to my fascination with the consumer culture that’s alive within us all. It turned into an amalgamation of appropriated imagery from YouTube, a screen recording of a monologue from the film Network occurring over Facebook as well as another screen recording of the creation of a 3D sculpture using the software that I mentioned earlier. This was all tied together with the song リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー by Macintosh Plus, a classic Vaporwave track which has all the corporate conations embedded within. I played with it a little, reversing several parts to make it my own among other things. I really like the finished piece, it definitely seems to me that it’s lamenting something, whatever that might be. Both the beginning and the ending start with a skeleton dancing meekly, with the intention that the video loops forever, or until the dystopian futures portrayed in any number of classic sci-fi films becomes the inevitable reality. Titled r3p3At afT3r m3.
On the 14th the brief was leave a work unfinished, something that I obviously wasn’t going to do in a literal way as the majority of my work always ends up in a ‘finished’ state. I decided to return to the avatars of people that you program to say ‘welcome to my site’ or ‘buy this thing’, something that I abandoned using during the end of the first term in favour of a different thing at the time. I programmed the avatar of an old women to say ‘fuck you’, editing the short video clip so that it cut off during the ‘you’ part of the short sentence. The video then cuts to the ‘classic’ no signal television screen with the even more memorable ‘beeeeeeeeeeep’ sound, with a text overlay saying ‘insert art here’. Although it was a very simple conceit, I enjoy how quick and easy it is to ‘get’, how simple the idea is, how obvious it is to have an old, white women saying this profanity. It was a fun idea that I’m kind of proud of. Suppressed Profanity seemed like a fair title.
On Friday I created another short video piece in response to the brief make a site specific work. This was going to be my last full day in Suffolk so I decided to make the piece centralised around the activities that I participate in when I’m back at home; primarily sitting around, watching films/tv shows whilst eating various foods that I rarely eat when I’m in London. It also transpired that during the previous evening me and a friend had left my webcam on my computer recording for nearly two hours, so that also went into the video, another layer of activity. I spliced all of these videos together, coming back to the fascination with the windows that I was talking about earlier in terms of the layout of the work. This was mildly enjoyable, not my best piece of the week, but not the worst by far. So I was slightly surprised when this was the piece of mine that got featured on the ‘thirty’ website as part of their daily online exhibition schedule. It’s still good to have been finally featured though. Pest Control.
Yesterday’s piece that I created was lightly mocking the 12ø collective, with the brief being choose a piece of work that you like and make it better – be it yours or someone else’s I decided to attempt to re-make their websites front page, screen recording the entire process. As their website has a very ‘a e s t h e t i c’ look to it I decided to make it even more so, putting the majority of the text through an ‘aesthetic text generator’ as well as making a new icon for the site. I then sped the whole thing up and set it to My Girl by The Temptations, a classic love song, considering my love-hate relationship with the Vaporwave aspects of their website. I enjoyed doing this and think the outcome is generally humorous, if a little segregated to the people who are already aware of the website. is that better?
With today’s work I took a multitude of screen recordings from different films and tv shows, only taking a very small snippet from each one, be it a small cube out of the top right hand corner of the screen or a thick slice from the middle. I then took a sound recording from Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, a renowned cyberpunk film that considers what it means to be human, from a cyborgs perspective. I obviously love this conceit for the film, but I chose to use it within my work as it ties in with the aforementioned windows from your computer screen, and the idea that the screen is becoming a part of you as we as human beings value the screen and spend more time interacting with these things every day. The different video pieces appear on the screen whenever a tinge of music occurs within the video clip, or when a particular robot is exclaiming ‘help me’. I’m happy with the work. Acknowledging The Understated as the title fit quite well, as the piece draw your attention to the details of these different shows, as well as the background soundscape to the film.
Although I am enjoying this process, I do feel like it could become wearing over time, and I definitely couldn’t do it for another month. I do worry that it’ll conflict with my ‘proper’ uni work though. 13 more days to go.

Oh and I finally got around to cutting all of my Snapchats together to 'complete' the piece of work which finished a little while ago. You can see the updated version on my main website here:  http://www.bobbicknell-knight.com/#/retrospective-obsolescence/
Other things that I’ve done this week include beginning my essay, with a new and improved title, one that actually focuses in on something that I have looked into deeply and am interested by; as opposed to the earlier title which was a little too broad. The new title is How have the Edward Snowden revelations influenced artists and the artwork that they create? I feel that after watching so many documentaries about this topic, as well as going to the Laura Poitras show over the holidays, I’m in a good position to write a well-researched and well thought out essay.

I also heard back from a group exhibition that I applied to called The Listening Booth and have gotten in. I submitted the soundscape that I created for Utopian Realism as it was a purely audio based exhibition only. Hopefully I’ll be hearing back from a couple of others soon too.

I’m not sure if I’ve done anything else this week apart from watching a variety of films. One of the most distressing movies of the week was Margaret, a film focusing on a 17-year-old teenager living in New York who witness’ a terrible bus accident. The film then proceeds to document the repercussions of the crash. It’s all incredibly depressing and over three hours long with some beautiful extended shots of the city, managing to capture the majesty of the place. I would definitely recommend, although the main character did thoroughly annoy me; but I’m sure that was intended.
I’ve been catching up on a couple of sci-fi greats as well, including Soylent Green and Rollerball, both classic films focused on corporate greed and the idea of a dystopian world ruled by fear. I also watched Fahrenheit 451 for the second time. It’s definitely up there with some of the better book adaptations. Dark City was kind of weird, a little bit too much like fantasy with an overly produced Terry Gilliam-esque plotline. The Quiet Earth was a weird one, weird in a good way, I think mostly because of its New Zealand origins. It’s the classic ‘man wakes up all alone in the world and has to figure out what happened’ plotline that we all know and love. I’m a particular fan of when it’s used in the first ever episode of The Twilight Zone; with a beautiful revelatory moment. It also made me think about the parallels between ‘modern day’ considerations, for example The Last Man On Earth. I feel like the majority are carbon copies, with a distinct difference being that there’s rarely any twist, all of these new films/tv shows are solely focusing on the character development, rather than any big mystery that has to be solved. I also watched The Man Who Fell to Earth, which was actually surprisingly good but overly long. We all love Bowie.

I watched I Origins too which was a lovingly crafted film by the director behind Another Earth. I feel like these films have some big similarities between the two movies that I was discussing last week; Primer and Upstream Color. Both focusing on the human problems of a sci-fi esque situation. I thoroughly look forward to the next films created by the directors.
Another film that I’ve always wanted to watch but never got around to seeing; Requiem for a Dream. It was a very well-crafted observation of the dangers of drug abuse; I still favour Trainspotting for ‘best film to put you off drugs’ though and Midnight Express for ‘best film to put you off buying/transporting drugs in a foreign country’. Also in this category of ‘I can’t believe I haven’t seen it before’; Donnie Darko. A great film with a very painful ending that’s a little too close to the ‘it was all a dream’ scenario that we all kind of hate.
On top of this I had the pleasure of watching both Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. They were really good, full of ideas centralised around the post human condition with an incredible art style. Definitely up there with other animations like Akira and Spirited Away.
I finally managed to watch all of David Fincher’s films, topping off the list with Zodiac and Panic Room. Both great films, although I still feel that Fight Club is the obvious best.
For the final film of the week I watched American Graffiti, a definite ‘feel good’ film capturing that segment of time in the world perfectly. It really reminded me of Dazed and Confused, although the latter film is a lot better for obvious reasons. Although there is a severe lack of cruising around in Dazed.
Oh and I watched the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It was okay, if a little too much, compared to the first season. A clever comedy masquerading as a dumb one is always tricky I feel. Alongside this I watched all of Silicon Valley, which was actually consistently fairly (ish).
So, the week ahead looks to be interesting; offsite show planning, a meeting with John, more one day projects and the rest of an essay to write. Oh and obviously many of the new exhibitions that I haven’t been to yet. I am very excited to be back as well as to experience the final term of my first year at uni.

Enjoi.

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