FONBAG (the fear of not being a genius) LOL #TonyBenn #GE2015 #TT84 #Satyagraha

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The looming UK General Election and the just-passed first anniversary of the death of Tony Benn give me a highly rationalised excuse to re-visit this.

In 2013 I helped out with shooting some behind-the-scenes timelapse video of the shooting of a promo for Two Tribes – The Miners’ Strike Musical (TT84). I was not present for the shoot but I have seen the promo and it’s very abstract.

I’ve seen the promo and I think it’s really good, but I got the impression that they were not happy with it. At the time of this blog post, I can’t find it online and the last tweet from their account was 14th March 2014 so I guess the project is on the back-burner at the moment.
http://www.tt84.co.uk/

Although included in the main edit, I said I would do a separate edit of the timelapse alone but really struggled to make anything of it. If you look at what was happening in the temporary studio you can see why. It doesn’t tell any kind of story that can be made sense of. Previously, I had sought permission to remix the track “Network” by DJ and musician Cy Tukay aka Cy Humphries and I thought the two things would go together as there was a strong socialist element to both.
http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj/cytukay

Here is his original:

In the end, though, I couldn’t make an edit of the timelapse work so I just used a single shot as a holder for the audio

I released the video on or just after the death of Tony Benn on 14th March 2014 and as of 17th March 2015 the video had accumulated a whopping global total of 26 views. 21 on Vimeo and a plump 5 on the more populous but less discerning YouTube.

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Here is my remix on Vimeo and YouTube (please play both so that I can double my hits).

Not every musician can be Elvis Costello or Cy Tukay, and not every video editor can be Chris Cunningham or Bill Viola, but I can’t help feeling a little cheated that it was just ignored. I am particularly pleased with the way I shoe-horned a bit of Philip Glass’s “Satyagraha” in there, prompted by the way the Occupy movement had referenced it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyagraha_%28opera%29

Strictly speaking, it’s not actually a remix because I just laid additional audio over the top of Cy’s track, and I am under no illusion that the strength lies in his original mix and the dialogue from the movie. However, coming to listen to it again (after figuratively burying it for a year), my additions sound a lot better than I remember.

I would say that, of course.

Cy never acknowledged it once it was published and I know what that means. It’s a polite way of saying he doesn’t like it, but at least he didn’t hate it enough to ask me to take it down. As I’ve said before, it’s great to be loved, but even being hated is better than being ignored.

I guess FONBAG is my bag, although I can ameliorate the disappointment with a few new acronyms that I will be using from now on.

AOMT (ahead of my time)
IKIGHS (I know it’s gonna happen someday)
FEE (Fuck everyone else)
ITL (It’s their loss)
YJDGI (you just don’t get it)

TTFN

We all wish the magic of Christmas could start earlier. And now it does. #bolamat50 #SheffZineFest

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Brand loyalty: Dan Sumption, one of my most regular customers.

To quote this advert for Disneyland Paris from the end of last year, “We all wish the magic of Christmas could start earlier”.

I am sure many parents would disagree, but Disney are not really talking about magic any more than Marks and Spencer are talking about magic and sparkle. Or any more than Sainsbury’s are talking about sharing or any more than John Lewis are talking about real love.

What they really mean is that they wish the income stream of Christmas could start earlier.

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High Street X. The same stuff I normally sell, but with added Christmas “magic”.

Anyway, I say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and here are a few photos of me, starting the magic of Christmas earlier at the Sheffield Zine Fest on 14th March. I was accompanied by my sister, Catherine, as a Christmas fairy (or Merchandising Operative) and my wife, Stella, as an Elf (or Fulfilment Centre Manager).

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Fulfilment Centre Manager and Merchandising Operative.

Some people were clearly non-plussed by the costumes and would not even make eye contact. However, I did get some customers who took it to the next level by revisiting their traumatised childhoods at the hands of shopping-centre Santas.

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Stuart Faulkner and the crew from Footprints Co-Operative Print getting favours from Santa.

Big thanks go to Chella Quint and Bettie Walker for organising the Sheffield Zine Fest.
https://sheffieldzinefest.wordpress.com/
https://twitter.com/sheffzinefest

Sheffield Zine Fest 2015 at Electric Works, Sheffield, UK, Saturday 14th March – FREE ENTRY

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Please come along to the Sheffield Zine Fest 2015 at Electric Works, Sheffield, UK on 14th March 11am – 6pm and see me, amongst many others.

Facebook community page: http://www.facebook.com/SheffieldZineFest
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/875306059157462/, invite everyone you know!
Twitter: @sheffzinefest
Website: sheffieldzinefest.wordpress.com

100 reams of A4 paper needed for an artwork commemorating the 16 million dead of the First World War #Casualty1418 #WW1 #EndlessWar

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Photo: Sage Ross (Creative Commons).

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke (1729 – 1726).

Casualty 14-18” is an artwork that commemorates the 16 million people of all nationalities killed in the First World War. It is an unfunded project and currently only exists online.
http://casualty1418.net

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Each day, from 28th June 2014 to 11th November 2018, a series of 30 A4-sized images are published online, representing the average number of 10,200 deaths per day for the duration of the war. Each sheet is unique and represents 340 humanoid figures, created by a generative computer program.

Access Space, Sheffield, UK has sponsored the work in-kind by hosting a physical installation from 17th April to 14th May 2015 (dates tbc). For this version of the work, I need 100 reams of A4 paper to create a temporary monument:- 94 for the 16 million of the First World War and the remaining six for the approximately one million killed in the recent “War on Terror” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and other countries as a symbol of the principal of Endless War.

“Casualty 14-18” is an unapologetically anti-political, anti-war work of art. I thought it up in 2001 and in 2014 I decided to make it happen because of the 100-year anniversary of the First World War, regardless of funding. However, a physical installation involves at least some cost. The paper does not need to be unused, it can be recycled or unused printed matter, but it does need to be A4 in size and uncreased.

If you know of a printer, office or any other organization that has 50,000 sheets of uncreased A4 paper surplus to requirements, either free or at a small cost, please get in touch.

What becomes of the broken-hearted? – or – The Ballad of Richard Bolam – Valentine’s Day 2015

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What becomes of the broken-hearted? They go shopping, get drunk and have unprotected, meaningless sex. I have done all of those things at one time or another, and many other acts of lust, self-loathing and despair. But, like, whatever.

I believe it to be a common thing that bitterness, loneliness and hate are far more effective motivators of artistic expression than contentment, love and tolerance. Perverse but true.

Years ago I went with a friend to see a theatrical performance which was little more than a ball of fluff. Afterwards my friend said “Well, that was not written by an unhappy man” and I know what she meant. We met the cast afterwards and one of their friends immediately said to us “Wasn’t that just the loveliest thing, ever?”.

Although I was polite, I declined to agree, and he took me to task on what I thought was wrong with it. There was nothing wrong with it, I guess, but I just do not find smug, self-satisfaction to be a moving artistic experience in the least. I talked to the director later and he looked down his nose at me, in both senses, and I recognized that quality in him that Willard observes about Kilgore in “Apocalypse Now” (1979 Francis Ford Coppola).

“He was just one of those guys with that weird light around him. He just knew he wasn’t gonna get so much as a scratch here.”

I’ve met people like that before and since: young, good-looking, talented people who just know they are going to succeed. But why? Because they always have done. They make comfortable middle-class art that is enjoyed by comfortable, middle-class people and, most importantly, selected for funding by other comfortable, middle-class people.

But I’m not bitter.

In 2003, after being in a relationship for 15 years, 10 of which were mostly happy, one thing led to another, and I betrayed my partner with another woman. At first emotionally, and then sexually. Those are the facts, but it took several years to pass before I realised that I had been the unfaithful one. It felt like the relationship was over years before, and so it took almost no effort for me to cross what seemed to be an inevitable bridge. And so I guess it wasn’t my fault?

The next few years were very chaotic, emotionally, and I went out with more women in two years than I had in the previous twenty. However, despite all the problems, there is only one woman that I got involved with that I wish I had never met, although several of those liaisons were unhappy and inevitably doomed.

But what I have come to realise is that some people do not invest what people like me invest in a relationship, because for them it’s just a transaction, or maybe they have that weird light around them.

I remember that time as very productive, creatively, if not emotionally.

Anyway (getting back to the misery and self-loathing), I had one of my “brilliant” ideas; I would collect the poetry I have written into a small volume and call it “That bitch broke my heart (and other stories)” and self-publish it. I know I have a small collection of poems about relationships that were written at a very particular time in my life (the that bitch bit) and, although it is not going to amount to a collected works, it might make a slim volume worth publishing, along with the other stories.

However, when I came to look at what I have from that period (the stuff that is worth publishing), there is nowhere near as much good material as I thought.

It turns out I’m not really a poet, but I did have a few moments.

The upshot of all this navel-gazing is that the emotional upheaval was highly motivational, creatively, and I miss it in that sense. However, I do not miss the loneliness, frustration and years of low self-esteem. I met my wife in 2008 and I haven’t written a poem since.

I will be publishing “That bitch broke my heart (and other stories)” in some form. Online initially, with a low production value printed version available soon after.

Via Black Daffodil Press.

Why I will not be walking out of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” – The Aesthetics of Boredom

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The reason is simple, I will not be walking in. I have been bored on many occasions and boredom has a particular aesthetic, a sort of endless falling but without the adrenalin rush of potential sudden death, and it’s an experience that I value as part of my extensive canon.

However, I’ve ticked that box more than once and life is only getting shorter.

I skimmed an article in The Guardian which suggests that people are walking out in droves, not necessarily out of boredom, possibly confusion and frustration. Again, these are experiences with which I am already truly blessed.

I had arranged to see it tonight with my wife and a friend, in order to pop our Sheffield Curzon cherries, but I have decided to meet them afterwards.

Many years ago, my girlfriend of the time was really into theatre and went to see most productions in nearby Sheffield and Rotherham. I like theatre but not to the same degree and was much more choosy about what I wanted to see. However, she used to work on me and try to persuade me to see things that I really didn’t want to. After a particularly tedious production of “A Winter’s Tale” at the Sheffield Lyceum in 2000-and-something, I said “No more fucking Shakespeare!”.

I am not a fan, although I have seen a few good productions, including an excellent “Richard III” with Kenneth Branagh at The Crucible in Sheffield. I also saw “The Tempest” with Derek Jacobi which has a fantastic opening, but the play (not the production) is a dud.

I have also seen contemporary theatre companies who use boredom as an effect, but it only works once, and after that first fall down the well of despair, boredom is just boring.

Back in the world of film, I have cut Paul Thomas Anderson a lot of slack because I liked “Magnolia” (1999) so much, but “The Master” (2012) was very long and boring, and it is not rescued by either the immense screen presence of Philip Seymour Hoffman or the startling transformation from over-fed pretty boy to lean Icarus that was Joaquin Phoenix.

I am afraid I have lost patience with sitting through boring films no matter how critically acclaimed, worthy or artistic they might be. I have stopped watching plenty of films at home, but the last film I actually walked out of was an art film by Yinka Shonibare. As I get older, I value my time more and more and I would rather be in The Rutland Arms drinking Duff.

However, I think it is time to put PTA on the naughty step with Woody Allen (for “Crimes and Misdemeanors”(1989)) and Jane Campion (for “Holy Smoke” (1999)) until he has learned his lesson.

Beyond the naughty step, there is also a ditch of pooh, but that is reserved for Lars Von Trier and Gaspar Noé.

Less is more, but more is better – The Eye and the Sky (Retrospective Redux) on #BolamTV #bolamat50 #timelapse #video

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Who needs Minions when you have Bolams?

Here is a body of work from 2008 that I made with one of my very rare commissions. It was funded by the (now defunct) Seagate Creative Fund which was a funding scheme aimed at digital media producers that use Seagate products as a promotional activity for the company.
http://seagate.com

I was and am one of those and I proposed to make a single two-minute, timelapse video of multiple shots of the sun moving through a space. However, the process was very stimulating and I ended up making six experimental videos from the material I captured.

I would be the first to admit that they are all quite subtle pleasures and, if you are prepared to watch them all, they require a degree of patience in order to get the pay-off. But I was, and still am, pleased with the results.

The first one, which was the subject of the commission, is “The Eye and the Sky” and was an attempt at capturing three synchronised views of a space with the sun moving through it. At the time, the first floor of the HUBS (Hallam Union Building of Sheffield) was called “The Eye” and I had noticed the striking shadow created by the skylight.
http://www.hallamstudentsunion.com/

The equipment used included some obsolete Macintosh blue-and-white G3s, donated by Lovebytes digital arts organization.
http://lovebytes.org.uk/

The other five videos were experiments that I made using some of the same a material that was leftover from the main shoot. They are all appealing in a minimalist way, and we all know that less is more, but why do less when more is better?