The Infinite Mix

This show has heavily informed my consideration of how to display audio visual works. Even in a half derelict building, the curators were able to create sleek environments in which to view the works, allowing the audience to be transported from their locations into the unique time and space that each film explores. It was this creation of beautifully considered, dark, intimate spaces with permeating audio that led me to create the blacked out space for my most recent  work ‘WE FEEL’.

Installation view of ‘WE FEEL’

Although the show consisted of 10 brilliant audio/visual works, I have isolated the 4 that I feel are the most important for me to speak about here, starting with Ugo Rondinone’s ‘THANX 4 NOTHING’. Having stumbled across John Giorno’s found poetry work last year I was pleasantly surprised to find him towering over and around me in this multi projection and multi screen installation performing his autobiographical poem written on his 70th birthday. Having recently been working with my own poetry and thinking about its form of display, this performative example gave me many things to consider. When poetry is so personal and comes as a direct reaction to experience, it can be crucial that the writer is able to perform this. The weight of the words used comes mostly from the way that they are presented to a listener, the words them selves will remain quite empty if there is nothing there to ignite them. It was also Rondinone’s technical presentation of this performance that made it so powerful in the space. The tempo of the piece is a roller coaster ride of emotional range, from the peaceful one shot simplicity of Giorno barefoot on a stage, to a state of almost overwhelming tension caused by rapid cutting between shots of Giorno on the black stage and in a white studio. The overwhelming element of this work is also helped by the monitors placed on the floor, which show Giorno’s performance from a variety of angles, giving the viewer a fragmented 360 vision. All of the projections and monitors synced up perfectly in what must be a technical nightmare, but is executed to such a degree of brilliance and seamlessness that the experience of the work is able to evoke a sense of clarity in the audience.

Ugo Rondinone ‘THANX 4 NOTHING’ Installation

In room 6 I came across the work of Rachel Rose for the first time with her work ‘Everything and More’. The screen used here was semi transparent, allowing the exterior backdrop of the London skyline to permeate through the film at points of complete darkness or brightness. This added a very fitting element to the work, which explores the micro and macro through footage of a crowd at a music event contrasted with elegantly shifting imagery of milk, food colouring, oil and water, all accompanied by an interview with Astronaut David Wolf who describes his experience looking at the earth from space. The film also explores a neutral buoyancy lab, where an un-manned space suit stands eerily by the edge of a deep pool of clear water that the camera travels in and out of. The calming sound design along with these epic projections of humanity and the descriptions of earth as told by Wolf collaborate to create a head space that allows viewers to reflect on their own space in human reality, which is exaggerated by the view of the London skyline often seeping through this imagery. These clips flow together through purposely created glitches, which heightens the material understanding of the technology that mediates the work. I think Rose’s choice of footage of an electronic music event is interesting, as it contrasts with the subtle beauty of the other material used. I think Rose may have included this as an example of the only time in which we are connected as a physical body in Western society, and like every trace of anything genuine left in this society, it has been commodified and made grotesque. The sounds are harassing and disruptive, unlike that of the natural environment we have come from. People stand so far away from an event they have paid so much to see and be apart of, is this really what humanity has come so far to create?

‘Everything and more’ Installation shot
‘Everything and more’ Installation shot
‘Everything and more’ still
‘Everything and more’ still

Rose’s work left me with a great deal to consider and after returning to it many times I still cannot completely work it out, but I am complicit in the ways in which I am drawn to it’s seductive charm that I will never completely understand. After reading more into the Voyager Golden Record, a set of two disks carrying a large range of images and sounds that were sent into the solar system on both Voyager spacecraft’s in 1977, I am very interested in finding a way of making work about this. In the style of Rose I am thinking about a way of using interviews of Ann Druyan, the director of the project, whose brainwaves were recorded for an hour where she “thought about the predicament that our civilisation finds itself in and about the violence and poverty that make this planet a hell for so many of its inhabitants. Toward the end I permitted myself a personal statement of what it was like to fall in love.” My only concern about this is that it is very heavy material and I would have to execute my ideas to a very high standard of sophistication.

In comparison to the other works on show I felt a little underwhelmed by Elizabeth Price’s work ‘K’. The strange industrial footage of the production of tights left me feeling a little confused and the format of the two screens made it easy to get distracted by the text and not focus on the imagery. But within this there was a certain element that did have me captivated, the animation of the sun. This is compromised of ‘thousands of glass plate slides taken between 1870 and 1948’ in the film the narrator explains that ‘we use an animation of the sun composed of images taken of it during the 20th century, so we are dancing under the same sun that shone on recent historical events.’ It is this idea of using modern technologies, that are made in ways that exploit the environment and workers rights in countries that cannot afford such technologies commercially, and are used mainly for ego and advertisement, as a means of connecting spiritually to our experience of historical time and our life giver, the sun that I have realised I am interested in exploring in my own work. In short, this work made me consider the ways in which we can use modern technologies, that dis embody us from our natural surroundings, in a way to connect hyper spiritually with the natural phenomena which have given us life that we have ignored for so long. Of course in Price’s work this is explored fictitiously, whereas I would like to make this kind of monumental gesture a reality.

Installation view of Elizabeth Price’s ‘K’

The final work in the show, located in the unusual setting of an underground car park was ‘Nightlife’ created by Cyprien Gaillard. Here Gaillard uses a range of impressive techniques including 3D and drone film technologies to create a visually stunning exploration of a landscapes relationship to its history. For me the most unbelievable sequence of the whole film was the drone footage of fireworks above the Berlin Olympia stadium. Like the rest of the film this segment was in slow motion and the sounds of the fireworks and drone have been muted and replaced by a re-imagined sample from Alton Ellis’s song ‘Black Man’s World.’ This creates an illusion of disembodiment, as we float through the obscure sight of firework explosions, the 3D technology creates a uniquely absorbing experience that both calms and invigorates the senses. I also think it is of importance that Gaillard chose this well developed technology rather than using the more advanced but under developed technology of Virtual Reality. This is a mistake Björk made in her recent show at Somerset house. This stands as a testament that it is much more effective to use older but well developed technologies than attempt to use technologies that have not yet been completely refined, as the latter creates a messy and undignified viewing experience that repels rather than absorbs the viewer. Similarly with Rachel Rose’s work I feel like I cannot completely comprehend this work enough to analyse it, but I am ultimately in awe of it’s technical achievements and the effects of this on the psyche and temperament of the works audience. I left in a trance, the lyrics ‘I was born a loooser’ ricocheted through my thoughts as I stepped out onto the cold London streets that suddenly seemed so much duller after the artificial 3 dimensional reality of colour, light and slow motion that I had just experienced.

Cyprien Gaillard ‘Nightlife’ Installation

Having this free admission show right on my front door step has been irrevocably beneficial to my practice as I have been able to visit multiple times to re visit works. Although each work has separately influenced me in a variety of ways, currently it is the curation of these works, in their separately blacked out spaces that allow the viewers to be swallowed up by their allures that has solved the problem I have often thought about; how would you curate a video/audio only exhibition? The answer is; just like this.

Recent work – Happy songs

Over the months of December, January and February I found myself in a bit of a rut. A trend defined by weeks of unmotivated downtime for me is watching a lot of teen films and rom coms. In this period I began analysing the strict structure that these films follow, especially I was concerned by the portrayal of the ‘happy ending’ and the sugary sweet manipulation of the sound tracks.

I started filming different aspects of my life on a new hand held ‘flip’ camera, including moments on my own, with my family and with friends. Its discrepancy and the fact it cannot immediately connect to the Internet meant that many people did not act as self-consciously in front of it as they would do with a phone recording. At parties I started asking other people to film with it, one of the most successful out comes of this is footage from a new years party. Watching this footage back, I started thinking about the ‘state’ of my generation, as shown in the video it seems that many young people are depressed and anxious, which reflects what I have read in Franco ‘Bifo’ Beradi’s ‘After the Future’. Thinking about the teen films I had been watching really began to concern me in this regard as I realised that many young people, myself included, have grown up with the expectation of significant resolution to everyday banality. This short video set within the transient moment of change that is the new years party, depicts a specific western view of ‘millennial adolescents. Asked whether they are looking forward to the coming year the youths, fuelled by intoxication, speak somewhat bleakly about their future and past despite living and studying comfortably and some merely shrug.

I wanted a way of comparing these experiences of modern adolescence that I have experienced to those I have seen depicted in films. Having been inspired by Lenka Clayton previously with alphabetising Zoella’s vlog ‘what’s in my handbag? 2016’ I decided to do the same to songs that have been used in teen film. I was especially interested in lyrics that expressed the resolution of ‘dreams’ in some way, as I think that this is one of the most interesting yet concerning things that teen films do. A good example of this is Hilary Duff’s performance of ‘This is what dreams are made of’ at the end of the Lizzie McGuire movie. Hilary/Lizzie performs this in the Colosseum Amphitheatre in Rome after being mistaken for a famous pop singer on a school trip. In the 4 minute duration of the song Lizzie manages to conquer the ‘bad guy’, return credit to the ‘good girl’ and perform to tens of thousands of people including all of her fellow students and parents. The reason that this concerns me so much is that I used to perform similar scenarios in my bedroom mirror as a child, and watching this scene now will still reward me with a sense of awe and goose bumps.

Alphabetising these lyrics meant writing them out repeatedly and after doing several different songs, including work by the Jonas Brothers, High school musical cast and Britney Spears, I began noticing that just before the words were totally alphabetised they made strangely poetic stanzas. For example;


‘Do dreams make different

Make dreams

Make make dreams

Make do

Make dreams do’


Which was found within High school musicals extraordinarily positive final song from the first film of the trilogy; ‘We’re all in this together’.

It was at this time I began looking at Mishka Henner’s work and was particularly struck by his series ‘Bliss’ that consists of awkwardly realistic stills taken of news reporters. I began taking stills of my own videos as I found that their low resolution quality often turned the banal pieces of footage into something much more visually engaging.

I felt that this reflected what is happening a lot on the Internet already where social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook encourage us to present our lives fictitiously with photos that tend to reflect how we wish our lives were rather than how they actually are. I then got an opportunity to have a zine published by Black Wave Press and felt that this would be the best way to experiment with the comparison of my own experience of adolescence and the teen film depictions of this. Here I displayed some of my John Giorno inspired found poems next to stills taken from my own videos amongst glitter and kitsch in a zine titled ‘Happy Song.’ The zine begins and ends with poems that specifically deal with dreams, starting with an adolescent covered in glitter holding the camera towards her face and ending with a newly formed family having their photo taken on a smart phone in front of a Christmas tree.

After some feedback in tutorials on this zine I decided to make a video counterpart, I first experimented with using my own voice to read out the poems but eventually decided it was much more effective to use a robotic voice. I made as many experiments with this technique as I had carefully selected poems, after showing them back to back in a crit, I quickly realised that these were all separate sketches and need to be displayed that way, if at all.

My most recent piece of work with this footage was ‘could cos dreams – a happy song’ which consists of layered footage zooming towards the screen in the way in which film classifications were announced on VHS tapes. After tutorials with Matthew Weir, Andy Parsons and Lilah Fowler, I realised it was really important to get these works into a more physical state (beyond Youtube) and so I showed this particular piece in the Linear Gallery. I turned the volume up to maximum and made it so that the footage would only appear once a minute. It was this silence contrasted with the loud repetition of ‘dreams’ and the happy family which meant this experimental work often confronted passers-by with confusion.

I have been working a lot with this particular piece of footage of the newly formed family. I believe this is because I am really interested in the education of children and the way in which institutions support this learning at such a crucial age. Being staged in front of a Christmas tree, I think this footage also explores the conventional dreams of the happy family and happily ever after often expressed in teen films. The smart phone in the foreground also highlights our current place in technological history where everything we do is documented and momentarily distributed, creating a tension in the ‘here and now’.

I realise that my work over the course of this year has become a lot less ambitious in terms of its scale but I feel that this has been necessary in order for me to spend time working on the breadth of my ideas and influences. I don’t quite feel that this is in any way a finished or resolved piece of work as it is still very quiet and ambiguous but I believe it is a starting point for something much more ambitious.