Notes from the Open Story Symposium, University of Brighton 23/06/14
Apologies to any of the speakers if I mis-heard or misspelled any details from their talks.
Paul Sermon introduced the symposium and explained that it is designed to showcase some of the thinking and contemporary practice in new forms of storytelling for diverse digital platforms as well as to look at the origins of challenging and reframing narrative.
Story Experiences Panel
Robert Pratten, Transmedia Storyteller Ltd: Storytelling beyond the screen
The mission of their company is to bring stories to life and use computing devices to transmit story into everyday living. The platform they have devised is Conducttr (Pervasive Entertainment Platform). He showed examples of work his company has done, including multi reality gaming 19 Reinos for Canal +, Game of Thrones. The game involved role playing on Twitter. In retail stores associated with Canal +, there were physical places where you could download assets, tools etc to aid in the role playing game. The winner was crowned in a ceremony at the end of the TV series. Their company are encouraging people to think broadly about cross media experiences, not just watching TV shows, but creating game worlds with social media and physical devices. They maintain a database of everyone who has played the game enabling them to personalise the experience. They can track the users attributes such as the level of compassion they display or their stealth. Live demo of the Eavesdrop project. AirPi – device sending air quality information from Mumbai and the results would change the mood of a character. Immersive location experiences – Estimote devices – they are soon going to release the code for Estimo to work with their System and Android phones. Tech enabled actors can work with the system enabling immersive environmental gaming or theatre.
Robert Pratten – Robert is CEO and Founder of Transmedia Storyteller Ltd, creators of Conducttr the pervasive entertainment platform. Robert’s experience uniquely places him at the intersection of entertainment and technology: he graduated from Salford University in 1989 with an honors degree in Microcomputing and quit work in 2000 to attend the London Film School. He has written, produced and directed two award-winning, critically acclaimed feature films – London Voodoo (2004) and Mindflesh (2008) as well as producing the transmedia project (which was the proof-of-concept for Conducttr) Lowlifes. Today he is an internationally recognized thought-leader in transmedia storytelling – regularly speaking at conferences including the World Innovation Conference and SXSW Interactive and also to transmedia meetup groups to encourage and inspire a new era of independent multiplatform creative thinking. He plays an active role in the continuing development of Conducttr and advising clients on how best to engage audiences using multiplatform interactive storytelling. Recent clients include CANAL+, Harlequin Mills & Boon and Disney. He is author of the book Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling: A Practical Guide for Beginners. He can be found online as @robpratten.
Mark Dunford / Camilia Carsan, Silver Stories Project, University of Brighton
What is digital storytelling? Storytelling is an essential part of human existence. In his workshops people tell stories through ‘story circles’. Most participants have limited knowledge of using digital technology. They learn this and also to communicate with each others and to produce a PowerPoint / simple film with voiceover and still images. They bring to the workshop their own photos etc. Inspired by Joe Lambert Digital Storytelling Capturing Lives Creating Community (2002). Sharing ideas and insights, the groups assemble and edit a story and then reflect on and discuss what they have produced. Currently working in Romania where the projects are based in local libraries. Librarians are trained to run the workshops and then run them with local older people who have never used computers before. The participants were aged 50+ and regular library users. 270 stories have now come out of these workshops in Romania. Funding came fBill/Melissa Gates Foundation to teach the people IT. A lot of the stories are quite activist based and specific to that group of people. Academics have been analysing the digital stories that have been produced. Nick Couldry, has written about digital storytelling – sees it as full of rich democratic possibility. Giving people who don’t normally have a chance to speak out are given access to media and a voice. Anna Poletti, however, has looked at the form of digital storytelling, The idea of a narrative – the formal expectation of an arch and a catharsis, closure and universality – has limited what a story could be. The form determines the outcome and neutralises individual styles. Creating stories for a public forum may influence the sort of stories that people want to reveal – a fear of being too personal or exposing too much.. The participants themselves reported that they wanted to do something creative, to preserve memories for their grandchildren and share them with others online and to take control of the representation of their own stories / the way that life is portrayed in Romania. They acknowledged a critical, reflective, therapeutic and political dimension to the stories that were told.
Mark Dunford – Mark is Academic Quality and Partnership Director in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Brighton. He is also one of four founding Directors of the research company Digitales, and has led the delivery of major digital storytelling action research projects as collaborations between community groups and academic institutions, including Digem (2009-2012) and Extending Creative Practice (2010-2012). He is currently the Principal Investigator on Silver Stories (2013-2015), which involves nine partners across six countries making digital stories with older people. Before he moved into academia in 2008, he was Executive Director of Hi8us Projects, a charity specialising in collaborative media work connecting community groups, media professionals and strategic agencies and the lead partner in Inclusion Through Media, a 27 partner research project operating in the UK and Europe with an overall value of £6.5m and was one of the contributing editors to the book of the same name (Open Mute, 2007) which explored questions around inclusion and media practice. He has also worked extensively as a media consultant and has been employed as a member of staff at the BFI, BBC and Arts Council England.
Ben Barker, Experience Designer, PAN Studio: How does digital help us tell stories?
Small studio based in London and set up 3 years ago, all have design backgrounds. Janet Cardiff’s ‘The Missing Voice’ an immersive audio tour of Whitechapel – it was linear but very influential on him. Permission to go to places you wouldn’t normally go. Mixing own stories with the city environment.The companies early work – Resident Evil Immersive Game in London with a grand finale in Shoreditch. The Secret Room, museum installation in Paris. A creepy bundle of glowing wires hidden in a cupboard – by plucking the strings you could change the lighting around the whole museum. Narrative systems – creating the conditions for other to tell good stories. Manifesto for a Ludic Century – Eric Zimmerman – he says we are in the playful century. ‘Hello Lamp Post’ in Bristol (2013) – inspired by idea that a city is a place of shared memories – could a city be a diary? How to create a system that allows to record and share with others what the city is about? The system uses unique codes, for example such that is written on a post box or a lamp post. Users can then send messages to objects via the objects unique code and get messages back left by other people. Almost 4,000 people engaged with it, sending over 25,000 messages. Currently working on ‘Run an Empire’ compete to capture and run your local territory. Alternate reality strategy game. Uses mobiles. Free for all, locative, multi user game. To capture territory you need to run around it. To capture someone else’s territory – run around it. But they could capture yours back. ‘Mudlark’ – data scrapes from Oyster cards / TFL data hints at potential of using open data. Slingshot’s game ‘2.8 Minutes Later’ zombie game using abandoned infrastructure. ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ Jorge Luis Borges – branching narratives, the book is the labyrinth – like a city full full of stories. Digital story exchange – not content creation in the conventional sense. We as the author set the tone of engagement.
Ben Barker – Ben is a designer and co-founder of London based PAN Studio, producing interactive installations and experimental objects designed to find new ways of enriching everyday living. Pan’s recent work has focused on the digital re-appropriation of city space. Their projects include Hello Lamp Post, a city wide platform for play and Run an Empire, a territory control strategy game that you play in the space around you.
What is the role of the designer if the user is creating their own story through participation? The designer is setting up the scenario. Sometimes the client doesn’t fully understand user interaction. The hardest bit of authorship is how much to allow, what limits to set, how much to moderate, how much to allow people to subvert the system – would the system be tough enough to handle this. How much can be shared so that users can make their own stories? One issue is access to the technology and ability to make it work. Transmedia Storyteller Ltd want their platform, which is in BETA, to be ultimately accessible to all forms of users to take advantage of – from personal consumers through to commercial usage. Is immersive gaming a niche interest or in the mainstream? Punchdrunk ‘Drowned Man’ this show has broken immersive theatre through into the mainstream, popularity of Secret Cinema Zombies Run – breakthrough of immersive gaming. Gamers are only just able to utilise the potential of GPS etc on smartphones. If each person brings their own mode of engagement to a story, how can you prevent the misinterpretation of a story? For example could ‘Run an Empire’ actually encourage postcode based gang rivalry? Answer – you have to trust that the game playing audience are capable of making distinctions and have the confidence that people can be responsible. What role do the ubiquitous social networking platforms have? Mark Dunford worked with young people initially and a lot of young people simply made work that looked lie Facebook profiles. Thats why they find it more interesting to work with older people who have never used IT before. For Transmedia – social networking is important to engage friends in the games that they are playing. In schools, younger people are not emotionally developed in terms of compassion, social media can help develop this if used positively, e.g. in ways to counter cyber bullying.
User Performance Panel
Birgitta Hosea, Central Saint Martins: Conversing with Cartoon Characters: At Home with Mr and Mrs Smith (2009) and Lunch with Miss Smith (2010).
Spontaneous, immediate, unpredictable, here and now: in Performance Studies improvisation is seen as the apotheosis of ‘liveness’. Created slowly in painstaking detail and then played back in a linear format, could animation ever be made to improvise in response to the stimulus of a live situation? Part of a body of work in which the position of the animator as a performer is examined, this paper presents art projects that question notions of linear temporality in the playback of animation through cartoon characters that can engage in live performance. Inspired by the theatre of the absurd playwright, Ionesco, and the improvisational animation of comedian Howard Read, two synchronous animation projects created in Flash were devised in which audience feedback leads to a direct and unpredictable response from an animated character. The web-based At Home with Mr and Mrs Smith (2009) aimed to elicit feedback from a globally dispersed audience that could immediately be responded to by a cartoon character. It was performed live as part of the 090909 Upstage online festival of cyberformance. The site-specific installation, Lunch with Miss Smith (2010), aimed to create a noumenal world of animation in which one visitor at a time was invited to have lunch with a cartoon character and then questioned about their experience. These projects raise issues around the definition of ‘liveness’, as debated by Peggy Phelan and Philip Auslander. This paper contends that ‘now’ can be achieved in animation through the use of digital techniques.
Birgitta Hosea – Birgitta is a London-based media artist. Her practice ranges from video installation and animated performance art through to commercial motion graphics and is included in the Tate Britain archive. In her work, she seeks to imagine new ways in which animation could be combined with the living body and emerging technologies. Expanding animation out of the screen and into the present through the use of interactive technology, holographic projections onto live performers, database characters and live video feeds, this has taken many forms such as a lunch party where participants are invited to have a conversation with a cartoon character and a séance with a medium who channels digital doubles and emits electronic ectoplasm. Birgitta works as Course Director of MA Character Animation and Research Leader for Performance at Central Saint Martins. She has been awarded an Adobe Impact Award, a MAMA Award for Holographic Arts and an honorary fellowship of the Royal Society of the Arts.
Jeremy Radvan, University of Brighton
“My name is Jeremy and I draw!” He is going to present his research into drawing. One of the problems with drawing the world is that everything moves. Video, gifs, 3D animation, live feeds: movement is becoming default. The depiction of movement in a still image has always been a problem. (Shows Rembrandt drawings) The figure can be traced in a topographical way, the shape of a figure can be defined in a way in which the posture / balance shows the potential for movement. The way in which the drawing is on the surface can say something about the movement. In his own work he started drawing from direct observation using the swimming pool as subject matter, drawing repetitive motion using a computer. Drawing repetitive motions from observation at the Royal College of Music using a mouse and Director. Became interested in the idea of using animation for performance. Avatar project involved projection into the performance space and doing live drawing, looking for points of contact between the drawing and the dancers. This was done using Flash, but he realised he needed to do more programming, learnt coding and created his now digital drawing system using onion skinning, video brushes, pattern brushes and having pressure sensitivity. He investigated the programme by taking it into the life drawing room. Is drawing on a computer a drawing at all? Is drawing an activity or an artefact? Is drawing on a computer closer to printmaking? In the instant of making a mark, a balance is achieved between the precisely placed mark and the expressive stroke, imprecision and inter determinacy. Drawing as an epistemic activity – an activity that extends your cognition. Boiling in animation. Clip from The Mermaid by Alexandr Petrov. He wanted his system to create boil, so that it became part of the medium rather than an artefact of the process. He has used it in performance with dancers and well as for installations and to create quick animations. He sees his work as animated illustrations. Shows landscapes with figures moving through. He is also interested in pre-cinematic forms. Myriorama – shuffle cards to create different landscapes. Using Processing, the code takes an illustration and loops it in a random way but produces a continuously animating landscape moving in parallax.
Jeremy Radvan – I am a teacher and a draughtsman. I studied BA Illustration at Manchester Polytechnic. Drawing movement has always been part of my work and this has lead onto a study and practice of animation. My MPhil (the Use of the Computer as Tool for Observation, RCA, 2000) was primarily concerned with animation and my subsequent research including MSc Creative Systems at Sussex, was born out of a number of collaborative performance projects with dancers and musicians. These included performances at The Royal Opera House, Saddlers Wells and The Tramway in Glasgow. My long-term research project is centered on the relationship between drawing and digital media. It began in 1997 and has involved an investigation into the qualities of digital media as a medium for drawing, encompassing real time drawing as part of dance performances and the development of custom written animation applications. I am currently collaborating with a composer with the aim of creating a series of longer animations. Jeremy is a senior lecturer in Illustration at the University of Brighton, investigating digital media as a real time practice, drawing through custom designed animation software.
Charlotte Gould, University of Brighton: All the World’s a Screen Large urban screens installed by the BBC for the Cultural Olympiad have been handed over to local authorities because of cutbacks. Large temporary screen have been used for over a century. Freud reports taking his family to see large scale urban projections in 1907. Nam June Paik ‘Good Morning Mr Orweell’ 1984 Wanted to use video as an empowering force. Walter Benjamin – the audience as producer. Allan Kaprow’s Happenings – art as experience. Audience engagement, audience becoming part of the artwork. Browning (1964) definition of agency as ‘possibility for freedom, communication, comprehension and mystery. Roy Ascott – audience part of whole system. ‘Picnic on the Screen’ (2009) project with Paul Sermon for Glastonbury Festival. Telematic project in festival goers sit on a blue mat, see themselves composited via realtime chroma key into a picnic with people from another remote location and can move around animated items. Also made for Liverpool Biennale with augmented reality tags and interacting with audiences in China. ‘Seven Stages of Man’ project. A set with seven rooms, each room representing a different age, inspired by Hitchcock. MACBA Study Centre Residency. Standing a blue screen cloths, people could bring their own props, experiment and play with the environments they were in and could create their own mini dramas. 2011 audiences between Manchester and Barcelona connected by high definition video link. Participants in Barcelona could use an iPhone app to chose one of 7 different animated sets or webcam feeds to place the other users in. Users could play with their counterparts in Manchester to create their own films. Participants included poets and performers, they could be seen recreating recognisable elements of films, ‘topoi’ they had previously seen.
Charlotte Gould – Charlotte is Academic Programme Leader for Visual Communication at the University of Brighton and has developed a number of interactive environments for large urban screens that explore user identity and the notion of a floating narrative. Through this work she encourages creative urban play and looks at the way the audience can experience the urban space through telepresent technology. Through her research she explores the creative and cultural potential that urban screens have to offer in the digital media age and how these emerging technologies and the digital infrastructure impact on the way that the public interacts within the urban environment. She has developed a series of projects, which allow the public to co- author the work through the creation of their unique narrative and she has undertaken a number of interactive installations and projects with key industrial partners, which include an interactive installation for Moves09 at the BBC Big Screen in Liverpool and for the BBC Big Screen at the Glastonbury Festival. She also produced an interactive installation for ISEA09 at the Waterfront Hall Belfast and for Moves10 at the Bluecoat Gallery Liverpool. “Shangpool Picnic” was a collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Shanghai, linking Liverpool and Shanghai together as part of the Liverpool Biennial.
Roderick Mills, University of Brighton: Looking Towards Illustration as a Hybrid Practice
Illustrators have branched out into graphic novels, animated film, exhibition design, clothes, posters, books etc. William Blake – necessity to make own work to provoke it. The smartphone changes how we communicate, make work, are commissioned. We are in the time of the iPhone, it is no longer a telephone. Within Illustration it is important that you make the work you want to, regardless of the form. No longer relevant to talk about whether work is analogue or digital. New technology has led to time becoming compressed. Identities have become more complex. How to become a ‘master’ not a ‘slave’ of technology? Future challenges and dangers. To face them we need to realise various things. Context. Writing is an important skill for illustrators and designers. T-shaped people – who have a depth of knowledge in one area but can comfortably move across disciplines / media. Visual storytelling – narrating a project to a client or across a brand. Interactive inks that react to heat. Examples of projects from Moving Brands, Hugo & Marie, Quentin Jones – 2-3 min films for fashion., Tara Dougans. Life span of an illustrator is 5-7 years because of the rapid consumption of images.
Roderick Mills – Roderick is Senior Lecturer & Year Coordinator for BA(Hons) Illustration level 6 at the University of Brighton. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art, Roderick has worked across most areas of illustration including editorial, publishing, corporate literature, web design, advertising, exhibition design & animation. Working with international clients including The BBC, Royal Mail, The Design Museum, The National Theatre, Opéra National de Paris, Penguin Books, The New York Times, Yale University, Pentagram Design, New York Magazine, Die Zeit Germany, Le Monde France. Awards have included: Print Certificate of Excellence USA, Society of Publication Design SPOTS, Sciart Research Award The Wellcome Trust, AOI Images 24 Pentagram Prize, The Quentin Blake Award for Narrative Illustration RCA, The Folio Society Awards RCA, The ED&F Man Portfolio Prize RCA. Recent exhibitions have included Super Contemporary at The Design Museum, participation at LISTE 09 The Young Art Fair in Basel, & 4. Kunstsalon Berlin is represented in both London & New York by Heart Artists’ Agent. In 2011 Roderick joined the Board of Directors of the Association of Illustrators and since March 2012 has been Deputy Chairman of the AOI, presiding over various committees including the Illustration Awards Steering Group & VaroomLab Editorial board. Is also the co-founder of the Illustration Forum MOKITA, which has stage two symposiums at Somerset House.
Generative Storytelling Panel
Fiddian Warman, SoDA: Open Story – Generative Storytelling Enabling Non Linear Community Driven Narratives
Since SoDAs inception, crossing over physical and digital – culture, learning and social change. He also founded Makers Guild. People who had mixed physical and digital – wearable technology, internet of things and the Awesome Foundation – Dragons Den type initiative for projects about social change. LEDs for Olympic Park, ‘Energy Ring’ for the Science Museum, blocks of light moved around it using Newtonian physics and visitor comments can be displayed on it. ‘Neurotic’ – software using neural networks, which was trained to love punk music and linked to pogoing punk robots in the ICA. ‘Viral Corpse’ to create forking narratives. ‘Sodaconstructer’ online physics simulator – used in schools for creating physics, models Hooks laws, can play with gravity and springiness, travelling the world still in science fairs, ‘Sodarace’ in conjunction with QMU. Community driven development, funded by EPRSC. ‘Moovl’ using springy physics for young children. New HTML5 version of SodaConstructor. MASH – takes still images / text and mixes for creative effect, a version made for Pfizer in which imagery from biologists and physicists and combined them, displayed in communal areas of the building to enable conversations between the two disciplines in the building. Version for the British Council exhibited at the Tate. Imagery taken from Damascus and London and montaged together. Another version in which Flickr users in UK and China could upload and tag images, their software allowed people to write haikus that pulled in imagery from Flickr and projected onto 360 degree screen in Shanghai. Boeing wanted work for people to interface with in a broad way. Users could upload imagery and text on a website about what travel meant to them that was then shown on large media wall at Shanghai Expo. Social innovation irrepressible.info – campaign for Amnesty International. Web app compared search apps between different countries e.g. UK and China, allowed them to measure what was being censored. ‘RGB’ project for school, kids ask questions which kids can vote on, results are logged in real time. ‘Play Your Place’ a web based game building app, allows kids to produce games about their social environment and what kind of world they’d like to live in. Allows kids to bring own drawing into games. ‘Datastore’ – asks people to give up their data and put results into punch cards.
Mark Prendergast, animator, artist, filmmaker
Wants to create projects without beginning or end, in two states at one time. Moire dot effect animation created by zooming into and manipulating a print with heads on the dots. Two people facing each other, each taking a picture of the other, pixelation animation so each character appears to be drifting and floating through the space. Animation workshop for kids as part of the Kurt Schwitters exhibition. Resulting film combines pixelation of participants, stop motion and rapidly changing collage. Then he did a workshop at the Bauhaus institute at Weimar, which involved refilming / distorting screen media / projected film and slides. Deconstructing of digital and analogue.
Mark Prendergast – Mark graduated in 2012 from the University of Brighton with a first class honours in BA Illustration. Mark is a Designer, animator and experimental filmmaker. He primarily works with images, sound and motion. Mark tries to search for existing materials and systems that can be exploited to produce new types of movement and say new things. For him his work is a series of ongoing explorations and investigations. Mark currently lives and works in Berlin. He is part of the HORT-collective.
Nicholas Marechal, LCC: Open Work, from Potential to critical: three case studies
His work floats between installation and filmmaking. He prefers the term ‘open work’ to ‘open stories’, putting interaction and moving image together. He is a founding member of community of practice High Tech Low Tech. ‘A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems’ by Raymond Queneau (1961) – a book that is sliced into thin slivers of text that can be flipped to create many different pods. Cyberbetic Tower in Paris, Nicolas Schoffer (1963), a project to capture information about the city – how many children born etc – and the information then displayed as colour and light. ‘Silent City Taipei’ (2005) He was commissioned to do a work with a writer – Shengfang Chou – storytelling was an important element, as a filmmaker he wanted to challenged conventional narrative structure, he was able to do this through using programming. DVD player picks up random number and played different DVD chapters. He is inspired by the Cybernetic movement – Joel de Rasnay, ‘The Macroscope’ (1974). Gregory Bateson – ‘The Language of Communication’ . ‘Intrusion(s) (2008) – walls, a piece of work in reaction to his neighbours, using Max MSP. Student project using scenes from Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ put into space. To engage students to learn coding, he is getting them to engage with cinema.
Nicolas Marechal – Nicolas is an interactive designer, installation artist and filmmaker, he teaches on the BA design for interaction and moving image and the MA interactive design communication at the London College of Communication (University of the Arts London). Nicolas gained an MSc in Electronic Imaging from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (University of Dundee) and a BA in Film Practice at the Institute of Broadcasting Studies (Belgium). He started his career by directing, editing documentaries and video art. His work has been either broadcasted or exhibited internationally. For the last ten years, he has worked as an interactive artist and designer. His latest exhibited work, ‘+soundscape’, is an audio interface for a soundscape in collaboration with sound artist and LCC senior lecturer, Peter Cusack. Recent works include: IMI Max patches – a learning tool to program Max in the visual arts (2010-present), +Soundscape – interactive soundscape installation (2009), Intrusion(s) – interactive audio and video installation (2008), CITYroom – interactive video installation (2006) and SILENTcity – Taipei, interactive video art (2005).
All this work that is being generated that is not quite fine art, but not quite commercial. There used to be a festival called Tranmediale. Students are no longer so interested in the digital. Has is stopped being cool? What future employment patterns are there? What used to be cutting edge and take a team of progammers to do can now be done simply, so it is not so easy to make money for doing it. Open data, internet of things, using digital to control physical objects in the real world – all emerging trends. What is the breakthrough from this work into the popularly acclaimed mainstream? Julian Assange? Instagram? Its important to come back to the non-digital and be refreshed by other forms. We give too much respect to technology. The right software depends on the student themselves. Approachability to technology – how to treat digital techniques in the same way that analogue tools used to be used, subvert them. How worried are you about your ideas being stolen by big companies? It is inevitable, you have to stay ahead of the game, keep innovating and get known for it. Amnesia – projects get made by a new generation without realising they have been done before by a previous generation. Argument in teaching – should we train students to be critical or how to make things / craft / be technically adept? How to combine both of them? Digital artisans – a return to a hand-on deep relationship to what you are making rather than just a superficial approach. There has to be an economic context, we do not have anywhere near the sort of funding to keep projects going – they cost a lot of money. Are new discourses around storytelling necessarily about the digital / the forms used? Is also about the political, economic, social context. All recent research says what used to be thought of as hype is not the case, fusion of digital innovation / liberal arts / creative technology is actually driving the economy. Where are we going and how can the creative sector get its fair share in order to be able to reinvest in the future? How has your work changed over time? What does the new work have in common with the earliest? A desire to unpick technology and show the workings still carries on, but no longer time to be as experimental as before. Will there be a backlash against technology? But is there a hierarchy between old and new technology? Java is now insecure and projects needed to migrate to HTML5. People shouldn’t get hung up on one particular tool or approach, but be flexible enough to use different methods. There was a time when artists could use all their tools, but now the idea that you and your computer can make anything work is no longer true, you need a team of skilled coders behind you – back to the times of only certain tools being able to work with certain exclusive tools.
Narrative Reframed Panel Matthew Noel-Tod, University of Brighton
Clips from his work Bang (2012), made as part of residency at the Chisenhale Gallery to reflect regeneration of Victoria Park (co-comissioned by Tower Hamlets council), looking at users of park – primarily children or animals – through their perspective and not that of adults. Riots – display of dissatisfaction with consumer society, partly started through Blackberry text messaging. Appropriation and recuperation of previous radical imagery like the smiley. Short version played in underground (Canary Wharf and Hackney Downs). Text revolving is a palindrome that means ‘we go in circles into the night. We are consumed by fire’. Guy Debord used in his final film to reflect on the work of the Situationists. 1973 film ‘Can Dialectics Break Bricks’ in which a popular kung fu film was cut up and re-voiced, a marxist appropriation and detournement of popular culture. Inspired by this, he did a re-mix of Gravity with writer Benedict Seymour. Their project Can Dialects Break Gravity? Redubbed sections with Sandra Bullock voicing elements from SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanus, other text Conquest of Space replaces George Clooney’s voice. They are voiced by speech synthesis engines. Both pieces of work shown were public commissions.
Matthew Noel-Tod – Matthew is Course Leader for BA(Hons) Moving Image at the University of Brighton. His work as an artist and filmmaker has been exhibited internationally and is represented in major international collections of moving image work. Matthew studied Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art, Norwich School of Art and Design and Fachhochschule Aachen and holds and MA in Feature Film from Goldsmiths, University of London. He participated in the Collegium Sacilense of the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Italy, 2000-2001 and completed the LUX Associate Artists’ Programme, London in 2008. He was artist-in-residence at The Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw in 2005 with an Arts Council England International Fellowship and in 2008 he was selected for the Film London Bristol Mean Time Residency at Picture This, Bristol. He received a Film London Artists’ Film and Video Award for his film Nausea (2005). From 2011-2012 Noel-Tod was artist-in-residence in Victoria Park, London with Chisenhale Gallery and he is a current recipient of the ACME Studios Firestation Work/Live residency 2010-2015. Matthew’s work is held in the collection of the Pompidou Centre, Paris; the British Film Institute National Film and Television Archive and is distributed by LUX, UK.
Louise Colbourne, Artist and Curator / Instigator / Aggregator
Originally coming from sculpture. Clip from her film ‘Dot’, she is interested in the push / pull between materiality of actual things and the immateriality of digital processes. In the manner of ‘Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son’ or George Barbour’s scratch video, her film resamples a clip from a classic film (looks like a sequence for the Wizard of Oz’. For her curation is about bringing things together and creating a picture. She is interested in artist-led projects, working on an equal level with artists on independent projects. She likes to work intuitively and impulsively as well as to be open and inclusive. Accessibility is important and she wants to build wider audiences with festivals or open spaces. Having a community is important, to share knowledge – technical and intellectual. ‘Just Like That’ a group show she put together after graduating from the Slade. ‘From Slapstick to Horro’ – an exhibitions revealing a physicality in film and video from slapstick through to demanding projects in horror – at Guest Projects in London. ‘Nature is the Church of Satan’ – group show of artists working with the dark side of nature. ‘Solo’ – seven different artists films shown together at the same time, hard to manage conflicting sound tracks. ‘Motion in Form’ a series of six solo shows – artists working with film. ‘The Big Screen’ at the Latitutde Festival. She programmes all the artists and has free reign. Also shows live film performances. Lots of interactions between artists and musicians has resulted. Interesting woodland venue. Don Letts often plays – DJing and scratch video. She puts out student call for work as well as for more established artists. ‘One Hundred Foot’ project working with 100foot of film. ‘Flood’ at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings.
Louise Colbourne – Louise is an artist and curator with a keen interest in interdisciplinary film practices, which focus around issues of the body, expanded cinema, and modes of production and presentation within the digital age. Coming form a background in both dance and sculpture Louise’s work is concerned with movement of the body in space, rhythm structures and placement. More recently an interest in 16mm films has developed due to the material qualities of the film surface and the performative possibilities of techniques using the projectors themselves. Louise also appropriates audio-visual material gathered from a range of sources to include you-tube clips and found educational films as well as her own hand developed 16mm films. Louise curates a programme of video art, film and music for the Big Screen at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk each year and co-runs the Electro Studios Project Space in St Leonards. She has curated screenings for the Loop video art festival in Barcelona, the Liverpool Biennale, the Whitstable Biennale, the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings and the No.w.here film collective in London amongst many others.
Mark Thomas, Filmmaker / Soup Collective, Manchester
He used to do visuals for Elbow and go on tour with them. Founded Soup collective – core of 6 filmmakers / artists – arts group / production company. Music video. Dennis and Lois – couple they have been filming in New York over a number of years (since 2005) who collect music memorabilia and have been around the music industry for years since CBGBs / early punk. He is a cab driver in Greenwich Village. Between them they have a wealth of memories and a museum’s worth of artefacts. His only regret – that he never picked up Andy Warhol. They have over 60 hours of footage of this fascinating couple. In recent years, the collective have started to do more work with museums. Has given them the chance to develop other methods of working. Imperial War Museum North – immersive theatre space, Theatre Exchange, Football Museum. Experimentation with Kinnect and dancer triggering content. ‘Personal Museums’ is a recent project. Responding to a call about people who create own museums from their own memorabilia. They had made their own 3d scanner from Kinnect. Could they scan peoples personal collections and then print them? The project brought together the multiple skills of the collective. Residency at the football museum. Green screen technology. Build up a collection of objects and then trigger objects of different types. Final output – what kind of device could show the objects? Ended up with 12 miniature objects. Interested in early technology / peepshows. Each object had a RFID tag, which can link to different stories / images of objects plus audio interviews from the people who had brought in the object and the memories that their object had triggered. Actually, the technology is secondary. It is the story being told that is of most interest. Down sides to interaction and film working together, but its an exciting time. Is the technology informing what we do? Peter Greenaway is about to do a film for Nokia. Are we leading the technology or is it leading us?
Mark Thomas – Mark holds and an MA in Creative Technology from the University of Salford and has been actively involved with all aspects of moving image since graduating with a BA Hons in Interactive Arts from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2000, working both independently and collaboratively with film, video and interactive media. Since founding Soup Collective in 1999 Mark has developed his role as both an independent Film-maker, directing promos and documentaries for acts such as Elbow, Doves and Editors – and is a Creative Director within Soup Collective and SoupCo, developing large-scale AV projects and installations for clients such as the Imperial War Museum North, the National Football Museum and the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Mark currently divides his time between his work with Soup Collective and teaching animation in the School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford.
Martin Andersen, University of Brighton / Andersen M Studio
His studio works with photography / graphic design / moving image. Early experiments with paper animation in collaboration with his sister. He has also been doing a lot of photography – 10 years travelling around the world documenting dog shows. Main income comes from graphic design / publication design / TV stations / ad agencies. ‘Going West’ promo to advertise reading books for New Zealand Book Council, chose a passage from book, Visual research for the scenery. Concept was to make the animation come alive out of the paper from the book, ‘Going West’. Strap line ‘Where Books Come to Life’. Latest paper animation is for Shackelton, Discovery Channel – made an animation out of maps of the Antarctica. Boat created out of maps made from before Antarctica was found. Lots of visual research for boat and landscape. every time they get a job, they like to try out new techniques. Crumpled maps with black sprayed on made the seas. Mood boards for lighting. For a personal project he wanted to document group behaviour at football matches. Wearing a football scarf to blend in he is like a participant observer, getting to know the fans, able to get closer and witness out of control unruly behaviour at matches, having access to photograph scenes that would not be permitted to outsiders by hardcore fans. Examining emotions – like losing / winning / getting caught up in group emotion / anti-fascism. His photography has quite an ethnographic dimension.
Martin Andersen – Martin is a senior lecturer in Graphic Design at the University of Brighton. Founder and creative director of Andersen M Studio, an independent multi-disciplinary art and design studio that produce graphic design, photography, animations, films and music for a wide range of different clients (Cartier, Southbank Centre, American Express, Channel 4, Magnum, Reuters, Martini, Unilever, Accenture). Martin’s work has been exhibited internationally in the UK, Spain and France and published in books and magazines worldwide.
Panel Discussion / Wrap up
Does ‘new’ technology have more of an immediacy for storytelling? Facebook / Twitter can be used to get in touch with groups of people who may become subjects or users. Accessibility to found and borrowed footage / montage. Context – what role does context have in the practice, in positioning the work and its message? All of the artists on the panel are using appropriation in some form.
Another thing that all the artists on the panel had in common is that they all used collaboration in some way. Does film have to be a collaborative process? Is this the case for artists film, although it was the case for industrial filmmaking, technology enables artists to make films on their own. The audience experience is communal. Matthew Fullers book ‘AntiMedia’ he talks about grey media – spreadsheets, Gantt charts etc, the grey media underpins all these projects, media that seems inherently uncreative, Is this the next frontier for critique / deconstruction? The Open Story blog will feature documentation and opportunities for feedback.