Sunday, 29 October 2017

Reverend Billy, Hito Steyerl, clay and installation ideas

Moving forwards this week, towards some sort of end goal, whatever that may be. Probably getting a job? I’ve also nearly finished putting together the next issue of the magazine as well as made a few more sculptures. Oh I’m also moving forward with the video and haven’t done that much of my dissertation. What’s more important?

So far there’s about 120 pages in total for issue 3 of the isthisit? magazine, although I’m expecting there to be more once I finish putting together everything, add in the contents page with the websites to artists and credits to all the galleries for the use of their imagery. So yeah, probably around 130/140 or so which isn’t bad! Issue 2 was under 100 but had about half the amount of artists for this issue. I’m excited to see it in print, which should hopefully be sent off in the next few weeks!

I’ve been in talks with a number of galleries for the launch/exhibition, but I think I’m going to go with a new space called The Take Courage Gallery that’s being managed by two artists who just graduated from their BAs at Chelsea and CSM. It’s fairly small but I get it for free and they’re just in the process of putting in new lights and walls, which is exciting. Hopefully all the artists I have on board are good with the change! This process has also taught me to plan more next time, actually contact galleries before beginning to put the issue together. I think I have enough of a portfolio to ask for a space before getting artists involved. So yeah, issue 4 planning begins now I guess…

The next online resident on the site was announced, Claire Davies, who’ll be investigating ideas surrounding virtual reality among other things. I’ve seen her work in the past and it’s always been quite interesting, mostly digital video work. Take a further look here -
Other than that pretty slow week for isthisit?, just getting on with everything. Oh I was contacted by a guy called Wade Wallerstein, a curator/writer from New York who’s now in London working as Annka Kultys intern. He wanted to interview me about the Life 2. pavilion as part of a review he was planning on writing. Last week he pitched it to a number of magazine spaces and Felt Zine got back to him, which is great. They have a big following and do great things. So yeah, that’ll be a bit of nice press for the pavilion at some point -

Doing isthisit? I do get contacted a lot for things, so if you do want to be aware of regular updates do follow me on my Instagram and isthisit?’s, that’s where everything is actually posted, and where I usually go to when I need to remember what happened this week - &

In my own work I’ve been making these little figures from shop bought clay, the type that you would have played with as a kid. At least I did, although that’s what you get for being middle class I guess. These quickly became there own piece of work, rather than being a part of the tank work. That’s still being worked on, but loyalty cards take about ten days to arrive! Anyway, these figures are badly sculpted gender ambiguous beings, made from white clay with a SIM card embedded in their stomachs as a sort of heart/soul experience. Then they have various head pieces, one has a WIFI pole, another half a USB and a broken apple earphone. These function as hats or pieces that give each figure a unique trait. I guess these figures are supposed to be future ‘people’, casting away a lot of the parts of us that are perceived to be ‘human’. They become sad looking souls ‘activated’ by dead tech picked up along the road that they’re travelling down. These objects are badly made, maybe taking into account the idea of a ‘creator’ or overarching God-like figure who manipulates these figures, similar to Golem’s who are made from clay. Hmm, I guess they’re like mini ambiguous Golems, utopian ideals of the perfect ‘human’, similar to Greendale’s human being mascot in Community? Anyway, these are work-in-progress, and may be sanded down to look a little more ‘professional’. I dunno, I think they work?

I’ve been thinking more about the samurai sword piece this week, and after the object arrived I began thinking about how it was probably wrong to use this kind of weaponry in this context, especially as I hadn’t really thought about it too much and just enjoyed the idea of making this piece of work. It’s probably not my place. I still want to make a piece of work like this, but with something closer to home, or more ‘current’ I guess. An idea that literally just came to me would be using the handle of one of the weapons used to over power the pilots in the 9/11 attacks; plastic knives and box cutters. I think this piece could simply be a replica of the weapons, not even having to embed the USB sticks. A yellow box cutter presented in a simple frame? Hmm…
Ah and I’ve been slowly adding to the video, although I haven’t even started writing the mini text to be spoken over it yet. I have decided that I’m going to pay someone to read it, probably through Fiverr, a great website where you can pay people to say/do various things. After going to an interesting panel discussion earlier in the week focusing on the Blockchain and various crypto currencies, I think It’ll be interesting to include ideas surrounding that within the piece of writing. I’ve also added a few things to the video, extending it to a full 3 minutes rather than only a minute and a half that I had last week. It now includes footage of a chameleon changing into different colours, a tsunami simulation in a swimming pool, an animation of a school shooter being taken down by a teacher, a snippet of footage from Donald Trump’s public gardens based within Trump Tower and an animated man jogging on the spot. The video then loops back to the drone looking through the screen at you. Now I just need a script and figure out how to install it. This will most probably be the piece I show for the upcoming show at uni, some time next month I think? I need to get back into Sketchup, maybe make something out of wood? I’m beginning to feel that to put it in a VR device would be slightly strangling the work. Anyway, maybe something like this? Thinking cyclical structures looping, public bench like space. Maybe I’ll actually use the workshop for once?
I think that’s everything I’ve been working on. Putting off the dissertation, which is stupid, but I just feel like this is more important I guess. I don’t know. Free time, or uni time feels like it’s slipping away from me at this point. Hmm…

In terms of art I haven’t seen a lot either. That’s two weeks with not a lot of art seen. It’s sometimes nice to have breaks, splitting up the mass art days, allowing exhibitions to open and things to occur in between. Yeah, I literally haven’t been to any exhibitions this week. Wow. I did however go to a talk or two. The main one being the aforementioned panel focusing on the Blockchain featuring some amazing people like Hito Steyerl and Julian Oliver, alongside Helen Kaplinsky, Ruth Catlow and Ben Vickers. All very cool people who know a lot about the internet. Oliver was by far my favourite, with his latest artwork involving a crypto currency mining rig that was powered by a small, pack up and go, wind turbine. The big issue with mining crypto currency is the electricity bills that these expensive computers rack up, so connecting one to a wind powered device is literally like earning free money. I was slightly astounded, and there were moments like that throughout the talk. Really quite incredible.
I think that might literally be it on the art front then? I actually tried to go to a few others, but got mislaid by late trains and other things along the way. A vaguely art influenced thing was seeing Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping at Toynbee Studios. It’s as mental as that sounds, and annoyingly a completely new thing for me, even though they’ve been preaching for so many years now. It’s basically an activist choir group. It was an intensely exciting few hours which definitely deserves a Google.
As for films and TV, I’ve become slightly obsessed with watching Gordon Ramsay shouting at inadequate restaurant owners. An incredibly stupid, destructive, addiction it seems. Not even watching the full program, just endless 5 minute YouTube clips. What am I doing with my life?
Other than that, continuing on with Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I’m now looking at it as research, for who knows what, but definitely something in the future. Especially after seeing reverend billy screaming into the mic. But yeah, very entertaining and just full of drama. As they become more famous the drama just gets better, or worse?
Season 2 of Stranger Things came out, which has been fun so far. Kind of more of the same I guess. It’s interesting to think about where I was this time last summer. It’s been quite a year…
I continue to watch The Good Place, a TV show about what happens when you die. I’m on season 2, it’s quite a funny, light TV show that continues to be an easy watch.
Star Trek Discovery is coming out too, which is a nice call back to the originals. It’s still quite early on to make any real judgements, but I’m enjoying it. Obviously it’s not quite the same as the originals, it’s very much like a long film rather than isolated episodes. It’s getting there.
It feels like there’s just way too much good TV coming out on a weekly basis. How do I keep up with Nathan For You, Electric Dreams, The Good Place, Star Trek, Mr Robot (new season is very good of course), Broad City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Walking Dead, all the cartoons and everything else? TV, it’s very overwhelming.
So, I’m going to say that’s it. A very short post this week, but it’s good to feel somewhat on track. I think this week will be focused on writing. Writing the dissertation and writing the script for the film, and maybe thinking a little more about how to install it. And doing more isthisit? stuff, emails. Just lots of writing. How exciting.

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