Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Warriors, Condo Complex and a magazine

A few notes of progression this week, almost finishing a work or two alongside new plans for isthisit? and my curatorial practice. I was interviewed for a podcast and watched some films whilst engaging in conversations with some individuals concerning new things coming up, guest curators and future exhibitions. Some galleries were also visited, which is always fun.

In my own work I kind of finished with the install of how the VR piece is going to be, with the fake rocks being cut into and attached to a long piece of wood, securing the whole sculpture together. I had thoughts of using a selfie stick to attach the rocks too, with a video piece being shown on a phone on the selfie stick, but I didn’t want to complicate the piece too much. After creating the structure, I then attached the formation to the wall, protruding outwards in order to hang the headset. I decided to move away from this being a floor sculpture due to the rocks being kind of small, and not very mountain like. Having the work on the wall turns it into an intimidating object, breaking up the flow of the space. It was also mentioned that it looked like a sword, stuck in the wall, kind of making me think of Excalibur, the legendary weapon that could not be removed from stone. I don’t know if this has any relevance, or maybe in this instance the VR device becomes the sword, the weapon, with the rocks being simulated rocks and the VR being a simulated world to explore, inner depths running however deep.
The actual headset looks really good, covered with false grass. The gluing process was incredibly messy, but paid off, as the grass is quite stable, making it hard for a viewer to remove pieces, or for pieces to fall off whilst being used by a participant. The headset is placed on the rocks, balancing there until a viewer comes along and puts them on. As the video is about an hour long, going in a loop, people seeing the work don’t necessarily need to watch the whole thing, or need any assistance when putting on the goggles. I think this is important, as who wants to be standing by a work whenever it’s displayed? Not me. I also bought a 5-metre-long cable for the phone which the video is going to be displayed on, so I’ll be able to plug in the headset whilst allowing the viewer to wander around a little whilst engaging with the VR. Hopefully the cable’s aesthetic can be brought into the work, going through the rocks, highlighting further that these are artificial objects. I still need to cover a pair of headphones in grass, but that is easily done.

The final aspect of this piece that I’m yet to do is create the actual VR piece. I keep attempting to slow walk in GTA5, but it’s incredibly hard to do as you need to keep your thumb at a certain angle for about an hour, which is actually proving to be quite difficult. I had a few other thoughts, whether to change the piece into a full 360 video, with the work being simply your figure stood on top of a mountain in GTA, watching the time pass. This could be vaguely easily done, but would lose ideas of progression and the endless nature of the walk, the quiet bliss of your virtual surroundings. Here’s a taste of what the walking looks like, although I’m still unsure whether I want to do something with it, or just keep it as is…
I’ve also made some progress with my aluminium print/dash button piece(s). The print came, I attached it to the wall, along with the dash button. It looks nice… I don’t know if I can say any more about it though, as that is where the work ends it seems. I could make more, but what would I gain from that? Spending more money on aluminium prints? For now, I might just take a photograph of the real one and Photoshop it with other print ideas, making it look like I have a range, and if they’re wanted in any upcoming exhibitions I can simply buy some more, as I don’t really know why I’d simply keep buying more expensive stuff, what would be the point with no end goal?
What else? That might be it for my own work, a few new ideas are ‘in the pipeline’. I definitely want to make a new video piece, as that, weirdly enough, feels a lot more tangible than the other stuff I’ve been making recently. A video that feels like work has gone into it, whatever that means. After watching various Star Wars films, and then watching Spaceballs, which I’ll talk about later, I think it might be interesting to utilise the text crawl from the beginning of these films, originally used in Flash Gordon serials. As the text is always used to look back at previous events that occurred before the film, the text could be considering what is happening now by a future figure, considering what’s been happening in the current climate, etc. Or I could utilise an essay and simply input that into the animation, but that feels kind of boring to me, and a little basic…
I also thought about putting together a book, created from screengrabs from the GTA walk alongside images being made for the amazon dash prints. These would be put together with quotes from books about Utopias and our hyper connected world, like Thomas Moore’s original book Utopia and The Circle by Dave Eggers. I started to do this, but then kind of got bored, it felt a little clich├ęd… Maybe I’ll return to it, but maybe not. Hmm.
Alongside this I heard back from an open call that I got into. My piece Colleen and Joshua is going to be exhibited again, which is easily exhibited/put together. I’m glad I’m getting my money’s worth out of that piece, as it wasn’t cheap to create. The exhibition is on the 3rd of next month I think, more details coming soon.
I think that might be everything in terms of my own art practice. Things with isthisit? are still moving forwards, contacting more curators among other things. This week was Jake Moore’s curated exhibition called Body Preservation, which I feel is one of the best exhibitions we’ve had on the website. Well done Jake. I’m enjoying how the curatorial notes function for the guests too, like an informal version of a press release. A future guest curator asked me if the notes could be poetic in form, which is obviously a definite yes. It’s all definitely going to influence my own exhibitions on the website, which is really a great thing. Another thing that was mentioned to me is that isthisit? hasn’t hosted any solo shows, which I feel could definitely be explored, very easily too.
The residency has garnered a few submissions, not as many as I would have liked, but enough to sustain itself for a good few months if I don’t get anymore, although I assume I definitely will, especially when potential artists see what the chosen artists undertake with the website. I’m really excited for it to begin, see what work is made and how the whole thing goes. You still have until the 25th to submit if you’re interested in doing so.
I also undertook an interview/conversation with artists Sid and Jim for their podcast ‘Artists and Friends’ about my artwork and my curatorial roles. This was fun, although I didn’t really know it was going to be all about me until the last minute, I had just assumed I would be the guest, talking about current exhibitions, etc. Along for the ride but certainly not the main attraction. I think it went well, although it was slightly intimidating. Towards the end it got better though and I relaxed slightly, I definitely want to do more of this type of thing, as it puts your literal voice out there, rather than something like this, which is fairly carefully considered and checked over at least once.
After this interview I thought more about isthisit? and what else I could do for the platform, and then landed on creating a magazine, another strand of the isthisit? ‘brand’. This will function both online and offline in print form, and I’ve found a website where you can do this for free, so I won’t have to do any actual making of the thing. For the moment the theme for the first issue is very open, with the open call stating that the theme will be refined based on the applications. I’ve also put a £10 fee for submissions, only for ones who are selected. This will account for the time that goes into the magazine and any other things along the way, I also may post one to each of the artists involved, but maybe not, as you’ll be able to see it online for free too. So yeah, that’s another thing to be excited about. The open call ends on the 15th of February, giving various people ample time to submit, with the creation taking however long and then it being published maybe on the 1st of March, but maybe sooner than that. Who can say right now. Here’s the Facebook event and the CuratorSpace submission page:
What else? I picked up my work from The Sacred Screen show, which obviously didn’t sell. After exhibiting there though, I was contacted by a guy called Jonny Tanner, an artist/curator with some really great links. We’ve been talking for a little while now about putting on an exhibition together, which is going to happen in early February, fitting in with the massive Condo event happening in London right now, joining up a bunch of galleries with different international galleries too. We’ve been talking to the founder of The Square Gallery, where the sacred show was held, and we’re planning on putting on the show there, creating a mashup of the sacred show and the show that Jonny previously put together at the Muse gallery called Hotel 419. Some really amazing artists are going to be involved, like Ed Fornieles and David Blandy, which is actually really exciting. My work will also be in the show, so I’ll now be able to say I was in an exhibition with Ed Fornieles, which is really fucking cool. Like, really cool. I’m really excited for this to happen and Jonny is going to be curating this week’s exhibition on isthisit? too. We’ve also been talking about doing some other projects together too in the future, so that’s also really exciting.
I think that’s everything maybe? If it is, then it’s time to delve into galleries. I went to the Zabludowicz Collection for the opening of One and Other, a frankly terribly curated exhibition by a bunch of MA students studying curation at Chelsea and Sir John Cass College of Art. It’s a real shame, as all the work there was obviously really great, as it’s all chosen from their collection, it just didn’t feel right. An example of this is having a bunch of Jon Rafman’s post-human busts on mirror plinths on the stairs upstairs. This would have been fine, but alongside the sculptural works, there was a large scale print of one of the busts randomly inserted into the array of sculptures. It was just really weird, and kind of illustrated the importance of good curation. Although the alcohol was free, which is a surprise as I’ve never been there when it’s actually been free, you weren’t allowed to actually go into the exhibition with your drink. That’s the whole point of a private view! Having a beer and enjoying great art is what makes a PV.
Sadie Coles had an exhibition on looking at rooms and spaces that female artists have created, featuring a bunch of famous people, including Sarah Lucas’s incredibly off putting installation Chuffing Away to Oblivion, a small cabin created form discarded newspapers, which smells as if someone has been smoking there for a few weeks, discarding their cigarettes on the floor. It was kind of a fun show, with lots of doors to open and objects to peek in to. The more interesting part of the space was the aspect given over to Condo, the exhibition occurring over 15 galleries in London. It featured Martine Syms, a few of her prints and a very quick gif/endlessly looping video of a woman having milk poured over her. I’m definitely a fan of her work, the subtleties and the meaning being employed.
Marian Goodman was okay, with an exhibition by John Baldessari of large scale prints, featuring text and old movie stills, attempting to be evocative but kind of failing. I don’t know, you can’t really knock Baldessari, I’d have them in my house, but not in my gallery.
Carroll Fletcher’s third exhibition in the series of shows titled Looking at one thing and thinking of something else: An Exhibition in Four Parts was pretty good, featuring some great works like Constant Dullarrt’s Terms of Services, which is just so clever; the classic Google website, with the search bar acting like a mouth, recounting Google’s terms and conditions of use. Another high quality work was Eva and Franco Mattes United We Stand, a huge banner for a fictitious movie featuring famed actors from all over Europe like Penelope Cruz and Ewan McGregor, saving Europe from invaders. Very clever and topical. As usual, a solid and worthwhile exhibition.
I was kind of surprised by Pillar Corrias, a bunch of drawings/sculptures from an imagined island that the artist Charles Avery has been fabricating for over 10 years. I found myself enjoying the incredibly intricate architectural-like watercolour paintings, finding the small details, propaganda posters and small distortions in this new island space, similar but different to our own. Yeah, really nice.
Pi Artworks was okay, I didn’t really find myself being drawn to any of the work though, I don’t know. It’s sometimes good and sometimes bad there, this time it was just ‘shrug’.
Back to Condo, The Sunday Painter was hosting a few good artists, some nice paintings that I’d seen before from Justin Fitzpatrick and an interesting wall based text piece by Daniel de Paula looking at how an electricity blackout would harm the UK, turning the piece into an economic calculator. It was fun, and I hadn’t been before, maybe because the gallery is called the fucking Sunday Painter?
Herald St had another Condo exhibition on with some nice work, a favourite being a pair of really nice custom made earphones by Sam Anderson. This is definitely something that I want to create, such a simple and lovely idea. Another piece of work involved a mirror, which is always so fucking bait, just asking for people to photograph themselves in. Anyone who makes work involving a mirror knows this is going to happen, and makes the piece anyway.
Vilma Gold, another Condo show, was okay, a few paintings and pots. The more interesting part of the gallery was in the back, with a solo show from Eric Schmid, who’d created these canvas assemblages made up of record sleeves, broken records, pizza slices and stamps. These were kind of nice, along with the accompanying press release which was akin to a small story from his past.
The Approach had two shows on, one solo and one with Condo. Both were okay, assemblage work alongside painted carpets. Kind of nice, and the idea of having a gallery on top of a pub is interesting, if a little annoying/intimidating to get to at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Carlos/Ishikawa had another show with Condo that was quite incredible, featuring a work made up of over 30 life size human effigies, seated on arena type seating, watching you navigate through the space. I went alone, so it was deadly silent in the gallery, which made it even more creepy and fucked up. When I entered I was very worried that someone was going to be sitting down with them, ready to jump out at me. It’s not like these look like ‘real’ people, but there’s just so many that you could miss a real person if they were sitting beside one of them. I sat with one for about five minutes, breathing in the silence and awkward air. Fucked up but great. Well worth it just for how odd it was to walk into a room full of these things. Definitely go alone, as I feel like going with someone would turn it into a photography extravaganza.
Arcadia Missa was fine, another Condo show, nothing to shout about, very cramped.
Kate Macgarry had a really nice exhibition on featuring work from Peter Liversidge all operating under the psychological phenomena of Pareidolia, the condition where the sufferer tries to make sense of the world around them by looking for a pattern, visual structure or, more commonly, a face. Basically, Liversidge has taken a variety of materials, from magazine cut outs to a piece of discarded cardboard, and turned each object into gaunt looking faces. The result is surprisingly quite nice, simple wall based works, filling the gallery spaces high walls. Really nice subtle work, would definitely have one of those on a wall.
Limoncello had an okay solo show on by Matt Golden, life size turtles made from concrete are never bad, but everything else was kind of dull, photographs and basic paintings.
Emalin, another Condo exhibiting gallery, was showing a bunch of works coming under the loose theme of ‘the face’. It was okay, with a few very weird works utilising mannequins, with videos projecting onto their bums. A nice idea, but aesthetically it didn’t really do anything for me. The main high point was how they had their press releases, attached to the wall using two holes in the paper and two circular poles. It’s always nice to see people displaying press releases creatively…
I think the final exhibition was from Annka Kultys called Cacotopia, a five-week program, with one exhibition per week. It’s a really impressive idea that I’m a fan of, Kultys flashing her curatorial knowledge and competence in setting up a show so quickly. For this week there was work from Andrea Williamson on show, all revolving around this mechanical butterfly chair which was reacting to the pollution in London. I’ll definitely be heading back for next week’s show.
Now, onto films. Beginning with 28 Days Later, the classic zombie film created by Danny Boyle. Solid, worthwhile, all those things.
A weird one was Tatsumi, a film made up of a bunch of short stories that all connected to a man called Yoshihiro Tatsumi who was fairly famous for his Japanese Manga. It was very odd, filled with off putting moments and awkward sex/rape scenes. I think I liked it, but it was fairly harrowing for an animation.
Beginners was nice, Ewan McGregor being his usual, sweet and kind self. Simple and lovely.
Paprika was quite the head fuck, going inside people’s minds for therapeutic reasons alongside some beautiful animation. It’s complicated and wonderful and has been on my list for quite some time.
Fantastic Planet is another one that’s been on my list, a portrayal of a far off world where alien creatures keep humans as play things and are looked at like rats, barbaric and stupid. It’s a classic animation that I’m annoyed I hadn’t seen sooner. Really good.
Another fucker was Happiness, which is, surprisingly, ironically titled. Paedophiles and sex addicts all linked up somehow. Very good but very dark, and kind of sad actually.
Frances Ha was nice, although it was Greta Gerwig acting like Greta Gerwig again, which was especially hammered home after seeing her in Mistress America a while back. She’s good, but definitely has a character that she comes back to on screen. The film was slightly depressing, a lost woman, moving from home to home with an unfulfilling job. It’s kind of what you don’t want for your own life in years to come…
Another film ticked off my ever expanding list was Jerry Maguire, the film that made Tom Cruise who he is today. Epic, really good, emotional and clever. You’ve probably seen it so you know how good it is.
Yet again, one off the list, The Warriors, another incredibly satisfying film to watch. I was literally excited for the duration of the film, just waiting to see which gang would turn up next. The loose plot sees various street gangs from New York brought to one location for a meeting, the leader of all the gangs is killed, which is blamed on The Warriors, a vaguely well known gang, so then they have to find their way back to their part of the city whilst every other gang is hunting them. Like, really good stuff.
Spaceballs was actually quite funny, mocking Star Wars throughout with the characters and the plot. I thoroughly enjoyed whenever the fourth wall was broken to show the audience the merchandise for the film that was currently playing in front of them. Really good, quite funny, but clever above all else.
Tale of Tales was really solid, some beautiful camera work alongside some great plot lines. Basically three stories inspired by the fairytales created by Giambattista Basile. So they all have an element of magic involved, alongside tragedy, based in a ‘sword fighting’ era. Definitely recommended.
My final film was ARQ, a clever Netflix original, where one day is continuously looped over and over (classic) and a couple have to work out how to stop it from happening. Lots of twists as you find out more about the situation that they’re trapped in alongside an interesting ‘sci-fi’ plot. It’s all filmed in one house too, so that’s fairly impressive and probably fairly cheap to create. Recommended viewing.
I also watched Ascension, a mini-series about a spaceship that’s been sent into space for 100 years to populate a new world. They’re 50 years into their trip when a murder occurs. It’s actually really good and would highly recommend watching, lots of twists, lots of interest, alongside being transported into this sci-fi world trapped in the 60s/70s. Really good, definitely watch if you’re a fan of intelligent sci-fi.
That’s it for films and TV. I’ve been reading a book by Kenneth Goldsmith called Wasting Time on the Internet, which is actually really interesting, taking a different stance on the whole screen time thing, seeing it as a positive thing rather than a negative one. It’s easy to read and enjoyable to read whilst being filled with facts, which is fairly rare.
I also read The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present, a book co-written by some interesting people; Douglas Coupland, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Shumon Basar. It’s mostly a book about ideas, about what’s going to happen in the next however long, to the planet and the people living on it. It’s very dark, very depressing actually, painting a digital future that I don’t know whether I want to be a part of or not. I dunno… It’s a really nicely made book though, full of artwork from various contributing artists and short text pieces. Really nice.
I think that’s my week, full of art and films alongside some new opportunities presenting themselves. This coming week I want to finish the VR work, finish thinking about whether or not the book is going to be created from the possible prints, photograph the prints and edit in other versions and think about some new projects. Oh and things with A217 are going to kick off this week, with the first exhibition being put together, hopefully beginning in early February. Anyway… Let the new week begin.

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