Monthly Archives: March 2008

Mother Strikes Again

My Mum is always giving me funny ideas to work on, little bits of inspiration, just her take on things I think.

I saw her recently and she said she saw this packaging in a shop and “thought of you” kind of thing.

Stoned Apricots

The funny thing is that Stoned Apricots are the ones with stones in, not out. Odd, but sense I suppose. The others would be stoneless.

Hypercondria Movie

While “researching” my Hollyoaks concept I came across a similar idea, but simply supplementing Hollyoaks for Hypercondria.

Again, like the soap operas, I suffer from this terribly. Horrendously in fact. And so do many of my peers. I think it will work well!

I think the Hypercondria, Hollyoaks and Commuters are all good ideas. Maybe the three could become one longer film?

Chinaman

Recently Chinese artist Feng Feng (pictured) made a return visit to our University after some of our tutors visited China last year.

Photo of Feng Feng

It was a really nice change to get a completely different approach to leading a lecture and its delivery. I was the first time I’ve attended a lecture that was conducted in its entirety in a foreign language. I think that added to the lecture in a strange way, it definitely made me concentrate a little more.

The mans charisma flowed like a river, something which I guess helps you achieve anything. Except scaring someone maybe.

I found that Professor Feng certainly spoke about his own work in a different way to what I’m used to; he seemed completely free from worry about how his work was perceived. It seemed like he was of the opinion ‘my work is what it is, and who am I to tell anyone any different’, rather than a more dictatorial approach that I’m used to.

I can’t say how much I appreciate this – even if it is not reflected in my own practice.

Feng Feng also instantiated a collaborative piece of work for our University around concepts to do with the human body and although this sounded great, I’ve ended up not being involved in it. Mainly through being preoccupied with other stuff.

I did come up witha couple of ideas that would have worked though. The first revolved around an incident between me and my girlfriend when we were at the Benicassim festival in Spain. At about 3 o’clock in the morning, after having rammed a falafel and a tortilla down us and still nursing the bottle of cheap Spanish liquor that we’d smuggled past the entry guards (they don’t do it by halves in Spain, they had guns!) I went in for a rather-too-exuberant kiss. The end result of this was that I lost a small section of my front tooth! Despite Caiti’s less-than-perfect dental health I came out the looser, and I suppose I’ll have the reminder all of my life (until dentures are a neccessity at least).

My other concept was to make some observations about how bodys work. What do you need to put in? I thought it would be interesting to account for all of the calories that I consume, and how each of those came into being. I’m really interested in quite how much entery I personally consume, and how much all of us consume. The concept is no more developed than that however.

This is an extract of his statement, from his website.

We have a history once grand but not forgotten. Time washes away the insignificant pieces and also permanently marks the milestones. A pat romance, the memories worshipped with deep passion as the colors of the past fade. The storms and lightening of history leave us their marks of divine madness and violence. Let us stand back and observe it, grasp it and sense it …the magnificence, power and charm, dignity and mystery…

Incidentally I used the word “instantiated”. I’m not sure if its correct, but I liked it. According to thefreedictionary.com it means:

To represent (an abstract concept) by a concrete or tangible example

Just a warning…. :o)

Not Wicked

I’ve charged myself with setting up a Wiki site for Interactive Arts at MMU. For sometime the course has had a forum online but in the last two years its usage has bottomed out and it is rarely used by anybody, which has rendered it basically useless.

Initially – spurred on by my own admiration for Wikipedia in particular, but also the hundreds of other Wikis that I use day-to-day for all manner of things – it seemed that setting up a Wiki for all the Interactive Arts students/staff/graduates to use would be a great idea. I got to the point of having the Wiki up, installed, and running before I actually asked myself the question Why a Wiki?

What does using Wiki software offer that the forum doesn’t? Of course it offers complete flexibility, it puts control of the structure and content of the website into the hands of its users, probably the most valuable single resource of the whole world wide web is the archetypal Wiki (I mean Wikipedia), as far as browser-based content management for the masses goes Wikis are almost “in vogue”. But, apart from being a useful buzz word and fashionable, artists generally don’t want those features unique to Wikis. Sure we like the idea, but when it comes down to it we’re just like other most other end users; we just want it to work. Although by no means impossible to learn, the skills required to effectively setup and use Wiki software probably have a prohibitively steep learning curve for the purposes of Interactive Arts.

But why doesn’t the forum work? I suppose one aspect is that it isn’t very exciting. Also the particular forum that is installed is a fairly dated one, no fancy AJAX programming. Its all a bit clunky. I think the main issue is that there needs to be someone in house looking after any such web system and actively stimulating people to use it, that could either be by adding useful content or providing some kind of other incentive for using it.

I’m extremely challenged by these questions! In my commercial career, systems analysis was something I did, however there was always a clear brief of requirements- something that is lacking here. Maybe the best way forward would be to ask for one to be written and then work from that?

Jameson Promo Gig

Urgh. The morning after. I won’t be going near Jameson in a while!

I attended a Jameson Whisky promo event at the new Trof bar yesterday – I think they’re simply calling it “The Deaf Institute”. There’s apparently been some “hoo-har” about the name of the place. Somewhat shamelessly Trof management wanted to call the place “Deaf & Dumb” and have only changed their mind after some considerably pressure.

The venue and bar looks great. Its been decked out in an amazing pattern wallpaper and big friendly furniture and the music area is really cool. I’m not sure if it is permanent or not but there’s quite a cool seating area at the back.

Anyway the reason I wanted to blog it was not to review the bar as such, but to mention one of the support acts, Florence & The Machine. She was really good fun – and actually I have no idea what to write about her, so check out her MySpace :o)

Also I met a photographer, and was going to become flickr-friends with her. I wanted to show her my HDR efforts. Can’t remember her name, Shiarlene or something….. Argh.

Geocaching Manchester

I laid my first ever geocache yesterday in Platt Fields park, Manchester. Hurray!

Geocaching is a kind of game, where “cachers” hide small containers which contain a logbook and a prize of some description. Anyone can go and hunt the cache – and take the prize – by logging onto the geocaching website (http://geocaching.com/) and obtaining the latitude and longitude of any given cache. Using a GPS device you can then (easily) find the cache. You must always replace anything you take from the cache with something else.

I discovered the concept last summer, but haven’t done a great deal of it. I have found 3 or 4 other caches around Manchester.

The one I laid is in Platt Fields Park and contains a disposable camera. The idea is that everyone who finds it take a photograph of themselves. I will then develop the pictures and them here, and also on the cache’s page on the geocaching website.

Hollyoaks Film Idea

I’m quite a sucker for TV soap operas. At the time of writing my only two serious addictions are Neighbours and Hollyoaks. One of the strangest things when dealing with a soap addiction is the oddity that normally the lower the quality the more enjoyment that is derived from it.

I massively relish the abysmal acting, scripting writing and production. Without the poor elements it would be much more unpleasant to watch these programmes.

I’ve spotted various members of the Hollyoaks cast in my lifetime. The first was a sighting of “Sol” (Paul Danan, star of Celebrity Love Island) in Liverpool Airport. I also saw a bloke who played a rapist at the weekly comedy showcase, Mirth on Monday, at Iguana Bar in Chorlton. After some thought I figured that I actually know a lot of people at at some point or other have seen a member of the Hollyoaks cast in-the-flesh.

For sometime I’ve actively been asking people if they’ve had any encounters with the sub-celebrities that make up the Hollyoaks cast, and sure enough, loads of people have seen them. Each report usually comes with some kind of amusing story as an accompaniment.

I’d like to make a movie using Hollyoaks as a starting point. My plan is to interview people (friends and strangers) asking them if they’ve ever seen a Hollyoaker. I’ve never tried anything like that before, but I reckon it could work out great. It also fits within my self-set remit of working with (to use the technology phrase) “user generated content”.

Cosy Cosilli

Whilst writing I’m listening to Happy Snail by an artist called Cosy Cosili, also on Creaked Records (my record label). Its really quite funny, the album is about a snail, also called Cosy Cosilli. Although word-less, the music certainly makes me think of snail-based things. Its great! You can listen to it on last.fm.

Izod Records

I’m currently working with my friend Toby Izod – in fact he is the oldest friend I have! – his aim is to set up some kind of record label. Quite a challenge indeed. It is in its very early stages but I think its a promising concept.

I think the idea comes around Toby’s hardware and recording know-how, he’s a wonder with electronics and especially vintage recording equipment.

Homemade is best

Toby’s mixing desk

Who knows exactly where it will take us, but I’m looking forward to it. Its also nice just to make contact with an old friend.

Video Lines

I made this. It is a prototype for the full 20 minute version, which also has sound (this does not). I showed the 20 minute version at University on a large screen. I was amazed we got through the whole thing without any requests to stop it.

Branka told me that it made her sick for three weeks, with the only cure being hopi ear candles. Shit!

The idea came whist in the bath, like all the best ones do. I was reading an old edition of Artists News magazine,  something that I decided to sign up to this time last year. At the time I was riding high on a wave, having completed the technical work for my Autotalk project. I figured I could use the AN resource to find out about possible out-of-University shows and so on. 12 months later none of my good intentions have come true. Although I did apply for a comission through AN that I think I only narrowly missed out on.

Anyhow, the inspiration for this idea was just a photograph of a painting. I don’t know why but it made my jump to how I could make the video below. I got out of the bath and announced to my girlfriend and her girlfriend “I’m going to make some Art”. And I did.

This is just a prototype, and pretty lame on its own. However, it has definitely lead me somewhere productive.