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

Eye and the sky graphics v1.001

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?

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BolamTV XmsX Midwinter Special 2013+1 Director’s Cut & Special Making of Feature #BolamTV #BolamOD #XmsX

XmsX v7 2013+1

Still from BolamTV XmsX Midwinter Special 2013+1 Director’s Cut (video at the end of this post)

As is traditional at this time of year, BolamTV is featuring a little bit of comfort viewing, comprising some familiar family programming and a few festive extras.

Seeing as it was so popular last year, here is a special “Director’s Cut” of the BolamTV XmsX Midwinter Special 2013, a shorter version with a little extra seasonal branding.

This blog post is the equivalent of the DVD extras or a “Making of” documentary.

Last year I wanted to do something that was not exactly anti-Christmas but un-Christmas, something that acknowledged what the celebration at this time of year was originally about, and something that was a satire without being an attack on the Christian festival. Whilst I am not a Christian (because I do not believe that Jesus of Nazareth was divine) I am more than happy to take part in a celebration that has become a time to see family and friends.

Feel free to correct me if you know better, but I believe that the birth of Christ is celebrated at this time to coincide with the pagan ritual of celebrating Midwinter on the shortest day of the year. I do not know just how consciously planned it was, but several of the pre-Christian festivals have been subsumed in this way. Easter was a celebration of fertility, hence the bunnies and eggs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_Paganism

XmasX graphics.001

XmsX logo evolution.

I love and hate branding in equal measures. I love satirising it and making pastiches, but I despise the insane world that I have grown up in. I wonder what the world must look like to people 20 years younger than me who do not remember a time without dickheads walking down the street with “Bench” across their arses or “YSL” printed on cheap t-shirts. I remember a time before ubiquitous branding and, although I don’t object to a discreet logo on my clothing, it still appalls me when I see how people are willing to be walking advertising billboards for companies that have just ripped them off.

Anyway, if you can’t beat them, join them. Here is the incarnation of Stalky Ringbits I imagined for XmsX.

Screen shot 2014-12-21 at 08.48.20

The final logo design.

It’s a memento mori (natch) who is a bit worse for wear. The ‘x” is a kiss on the right cheek and the hole in the head is symbolic of damage that can be about self-destructive “self-medication” or the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The eye-patch is an occlusion over the left eye and the right eye has a red glint. In tradition, the left is the passive side and in palmistry symbolises what you are born with, and the right side is the active and what you make of your life. The red symbolises passion, blood and sex, and the left eye is hidden as a contradictory symbol of either loss or introversion. The two bones are there to reference piracy and they are different lengths and informally arranged, again to reference the randomness of life. The halo is a provocative symbol of universal divinity and the lettering is red and green to symbolise the active (red) and the hopeful (green) and double up as bit of Christmassy garnish. The nose and mouth are just a bit lopsided due to possibly a few too many mulled wines at a crashed office party. The contraction of “XmsX” is a subtle dig at Marks and Spencer and the other traditional cost centres for middle-class people at Christmas. The bracketing “X” is both as in “ex” and the indeterminate value x and, of course, a play on the word “xmas”.

It is intended to be mildly provocative and tick boxes in the pagan, Christian and secular worlds.

I might deconstruct this a bit more later, but the video uses a single shot in a derelict building, now gone, and it was actually snowing through the roof onto the tree that was growing there. I wanted to do something that was possibly religious and possibly not. The music used is three different versions of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, all sourced from archive.org and used (as far as I can tell) within the terms of their licenses.

The video was shot in a hurry at 720p and was actually out-of-focus. It’s a great shot, or should have been, and I still wanted to use it so I decided to move the emphasis away from the image by giving it designed sound rather than just music.

Once I had sourced the music, the idea for the sound design was from a distantly recalled track by Mark Stewart and the Mafia of a version of the traditional hymn “Jerusalem”. Before I recalled it as an influence, I had only heard it once before, sometime in the 1980s, on the John Peel radio show.

I would be the first to agree that my own work is a rather subtle pleasure, and watching it a year later it felt too long so I’ve attenuated it a bit. If you can bear to watch it, please make sure you watch the credits. It’s only a small thing but I am quite pleased with the animation.

Whether you’re a believer or not, Emmanuel may still come, o come. FYI Emmanuel is the name used in the Old Testament of The Bible of the prophesied messiah that turned out to be Jesus of Nazareth in the Christian faith. He is prophesied to return, and just because he hasn’t turned up yet doesn’t mean he (or she) never will.

My own view on religion and divinity is a little more complex, nuanced and contradictory than the all-or-nothing atheistic sledgehammer, but I think I might leave that to another post. Or maybe a PhD. Or maybe my own church. Now there’s an idea…

In the meantime, I will leave you to pick the bones out of BolamTV XmsX Midwinter Special 2013+1 Director’s Cut.
http://bolam.tv

The first 40 years in the wilderness are the hardest – Bolam Retrospective T-90

Bolam Retrospective postcard front

The next 40 years will be a piece of cake.

Today marks the beginning of my press campaign and it’s only 90 days to go until the beginning of my year-long Bolam Retrospective.

The launch event will be held at Access Space and The Rutland Arms, Sheffield UK on 24th April 2014.

At Access Space I will be showing a new version of some old work that was never exhibited fully. It will be a screen-based, generative work entitled “HyperScape X”, and there will also be a display of documentary material. The show will be on from 24th April to 5th of June 2014. Free entry during opening hours, Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 7pm.

At The Rutland Arms, I will be showing a series of collages made from old work and spoiled prints, remixed into new work for sale. The exhibition will be called “Stained by Dead Inkjets” and will be open during pub hours from 24th April to 5th June 2014.

The launch event will be at Access Space 5.30pm – 7.30pm and then across the road to the Rutland Arms 7.30pm – 11pm.

Other exhibitions and events are planned but no dates confirmed. Later in the year, I will be showing some work at The Closed Shop pub in Walkley and also some moving image work along with an education project at Red Tape Central.

Also, look out for the High Street X Roadshow which will be appearing at art, craft and book fairs throughout the year, and BolamTV.

The project has no external funding but is sponsored in-kind by various organisations and individuals. If you would like to sponsor, contribute or host an event, please get in touch. As I keep saying:

“Flaunt it now, because you can’t take it with you.”

Contact details
Website https://richardbolamat50.wordpress.com
Email richard@richardbolam.net
Twitter http://twitter.com/RBDigiMedia
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RichardBolamArtist
#bolamat50

Sponsors (so far)
Access Space is an open-access media & arts lab in Sheffield, UK.
http://access-space.org/
The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown Street S1 2BS.
http://rutlandarmspeople.co.uk/
The Closed Shop, 52-54 Commonside S10 1GG.
http://www.theclosedshopsheffield.co.uk/
Red Tape Central is training centre for music technology, information technology and business administration at 50 Shoreham Street S1 4SP.
http://www.redtapecentral.org/

BolamTV XmsX Midwinter Special 2013

XmsX v6_H264

Here is the BolamTV XmsX Midwinter Special 2013. Seeing as every media company and supermarket in the world is trying to take ownership of Christmas, here is my alternative. It’s a very subtle pleasure but pays to stay with it.

Photography, graphics, animation & editing by yours truly and sound design by Hard Shoulder

Plus a special guest appearance by Stalky Ringbits.

The mysteries of the pyramids revealed! (What elephant?)

New Bank of X Get Rich Rich Pyramid Networking Scheme Poster 01 V1 small

From 29th October to 1st November, I will be spending four days in Access Space, Sheffield, UK as a kind of mini-residency, building a pyramid in their foyer.

The main body of it will be constructed from unwanted stuff, with a laser-cut, perspex donation box forming the top section. You can follow my progress on the New Bank of X’s website here. Also, here will be timelapse video at some point.

If you have any unwanted items, please bring them along for me to include in the construction, and I will transform your worthless junk into priceless art.

Below is a miniature prototype of the top section, designed and made by John Moseley (@_jo_mo), and fabricated in Access Space’s Refab Space.
http://refab-space.org/

2013-10-25 small

I am also working on the next New Bank of X bank note, the 3x, and this one will be accompanied by a series of short “making of” videos (see below).

BolamTV – What Gandhi did for the future of television

BolamTV Graphics v1

Actually, it’s not so much the future of television as the current state of television. It’s more about the branding than the content, although it is the future of MY television.

It’s a strange world that has changed so rapidly that I can barely keep up. Whereas I was positively starved of moving image input when I was a child, I am now so overloaded that I hardly watch anything at all. Partly because I spend a lot of my time creating my own stuff, but the tyranny of choice, combined with more storage than I can ever fill, means that I can record far more video than I have hours left in my life to watch.

Hence the ironic “More is better” slogan. This started with that strange bastardisation of the English language by Sky TV “Believe in better”. You what? Followed by O2 More (eh?) and others that seem to think that including the word “more” in everything has some actual value.
http://believeinbetter.sky.com/
http://www.o2more.co.uk/

“More is better” is just my little joke about the vacuous aspirational bullshit language of branding culture. It seems to promise something whilst guaranteeing nothing. Just like the real thing. As you see, the production values of my own segments are not particularly high (in order to keep it under control) but it’s fully branded. All I need now is some jazzy motion graphics and on-screen ticker-tape news feed, and it will be indistinguishable from the real thing.

I got the idea after talking to community media activist Steve Buckley of the Community Media Solutions who was telling me about how they were looking for content for the newly licensed Sheffield Live! Television. I asked about the practicalities of programming enough content and he said they were looking for series rather than single programmes, even if each segment was very short.
http://www.cmso.co.uk/
http://www.sheffieldlocaltv.co.uk/
http://www.commedia.org.uk/

This conversation made me wonder if I could gather a series of short BolamTV programmes, made up from existing short videos I have already made. This led me to thinking about branding and then there was no stopping me.

Anyway, here is a nascent holding site for BolamTV, with a couple of segments already and more content to follow throughout the Bolam Retrospective.
http://bolam.tv

This announcement is just a soft launch until such time as I’ve gathered more content, but in the meantime I can think of no footsteps that I would rather follow than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s, who said; first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

I am proud to have ticked off at least the first one of these stages.

Welcome to BolamTV. There will be more…