If at first you don’t succeed, extend the deadline. #bolamat50+1

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I have very mixed feelings after the end of my 50th retrospective year. As I have already said, some aspects were highly successful and some were dismal failures, and I left a lot of things that I planned to do unfinished.

So, if you don’t achieve everything that you wanted to achieve in only one year, what do you do? Easy, take ten years and claim that’s what you intended to do all along.

With hindsight (and brutal honesty) I never really expected to achieve everything I wanted within the one year when I was 50 years old. Counter-intuitively, the anti-climax was not at the end, but at the beginning. Having already spent nearly two years preparing, I suffered an energy dip after the launch event and didn’t attack the project as I had intended during the year itself.

A few months after the end of the project, it seems obvious what to do next. Instead of finishing the project after the 50th year, I will just continue. After all, I am still “at 50”. Or more accurately, “at 50s”.

There has been so much spin off from the project I have decided to just continue the project until I am 60 (if I make it) as there is more than enough existing material and new stuff to fill the next nine-and-a-half years.

I knew I would not do everything I had planned but the only thing I consider to be a real failure is not making the 12 issues of “Catalogue,” which was the most important publication of the entire project. It’s too late for me to get that done on time so I am still going to publish the whole 12 issues (plus one) over the next year (or so).

Stand by, there is much more to come…

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Last Exit to Bolam – Retrospective Grand Finale exhibitions and closing event

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The end of my Bolam at 50 year approaches. I will be 51 on the 24th of April 2015 and, as a celebratory finale, I am showing some art at Access Space and the Rutland Arms, across the road from each other in Sheffield, like I did for the launch.

At Access Space, I am showing an exhibit entitled “Casualty”, which is a small collection of war-themed work, including an installation version of Casualty 14-18 which a commemoration of the approximately 16 million people killed in the First World War. The exhibition is open from 21st April to 22nd May.

Confirmed opening times so far:
Tuesday 21st April 3pm – 7pm
Wednesday 22nd April 4pm – 6pm
Thursday 23rd April 4pm – 8pm
Friday 24th April – closed
Saturday 25th April – closed
Sunday 26th April – closed
Monday 27th April – closed
More times to be confirmed.

There is also an online version:
http://casualty1418.net

At the Rutland Arms, there is a wall-based exhibition of the covers from my monthly HYPE! Bolam Celebrity Magazine. The Exhibition is running from 15th April to at least the 22nd May. Free entry during normal pub opening times.

There will also be a closing event on 23rd of April, starting at Access Space from 17.30 to 20.00, and then moving over to the Rutland Arms for the rest of the evening. There will be goodie bags for the first 50 lucky guests.

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

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?

Bolam Retrospective launch – 24th April 2014 #bolamat50

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24th April 2014 is my 50th birthday and marks the beginning of a year-long schedule of exhibitions and events to mark my first 40 years in the wilderness. Seeing as Tate Modern has failed to discover me, and the Turner Prize is only for artists under under the age of 50, I guess I’m going to have to just do it for myself.

The launch weekend starts on Thursday 24th April at Access Space, Sheffield, UK, 5-7pm and then onto the Rutland Arms (across the road) 7-11pm.

Access Space is a free, open-access media, arts and technology centre, and I will be showing a new screen-based generative artwork, displayed on three 40-inch screens. It’s called “HyperScape X” and will be accompanied by a small documentary exhibition about the previous four HyperScape works I made Between 2003 and 2006.

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The launch is also a fundraiser for Access Space and The Rutland Arms & Blue Bee Brewery have kindly donated a firkin on Stalky Ringbits Pale Ale.

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The Rutland Arms is an exceptional independent pub with its own micro-brewery. There will be a wall-based exhibition called “Stained by Dead Inkjets”, of new collages made from old work and spoiled prints. These works will be for sale and there will also be a competition to enter.

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Both events are informal and free entry.Please come along at any time that evening.

On Friday 25th April I will be at Cupola Contemporary Art, Middlewood Road, Hillsborough, Sheffield S6 1TD. Part of the “Stained by Dead Inkjets” show will be included as part their “Process” show.

On Saturday 26th April I will be back at the Rutland Arms (upstairs) as Black Daffodil Press, selling my merch at a SPRING BOOK, CD AND DVD SALE, organised by Jude Calvert-Toulmin.

After that, if I survive, there will be much more. There is a regularly updated What’s On guide here.

HyperScape X – coming soon at Access Space #Sheffield 24 April – 5 June 2014

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I am primarily a visual artist and I made a lot of graphic imagery using various software and techniques. One of my all time favourite painting / drawing programs is the now defunkt SuperPaint by Silicon Beach. Adobe bought them up and killed off all their interesting software but I still have version 3.5 and several Macs old enough to run it.

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Back in the late 90s, I made several long series of hand-drawn images based on a grid. I spent many hours printing minimalist images on an Apple StyleWriter 2500 inkjet printer. I ended up with hundreds of images but no idea how to get them shown. However, one day I managed to pluck up courage to meet the then curator of the Rotherham Arts Centre, David Gilbert. He gave me my first break and in 2000 I showed a selection of images from the series “Colony”, as well as a large composite-printed image entitled “Metro Propane West”. David has moved on to greater things and I really owe him a debt for having the confidence to show my work. I guess I knew I was onto something but really didn’t know what I was doing.

Nowadays I know exactly what I am doing. Not really, but maybe I will when I grow up.

Surprisingly, I don’t have any documentation of the show. It was in my pre-digital days. At least, my pre-digital photography, video and social media.

In 2000/2001 I was working for the Lovebytes digital arts festival, running their media lab. Before that I had been working in corporate IT and, although never a really hardcore programmer, had been programming computers from way back in the 1980s. It was pretty inevitable that I would get into generative / algorithmic art.

It seemed kind of obvious that I could make a generative work out of the still images. Anyone remember Adobe Director? In the days before Flash and later HTML5, Director was the only game in town when it came to multi-media software. I couldn’t afford a licence but Lovebytes had the software and in their media lab I made a “projector” standalone program that faded gradually from on image to another. It worked well and I might still be able to recover the program.

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BUT, back in 2001 I really had no prospect of showing this work on anything more than a 15-inch CRT monitor. Never mind, I have only had to wait 13 years to show it on three 40-inch LED flat screens in 32 bit colour at Full HD resolution.

HyperScape X will be on show at Access Space, Sheffield UK from 24th April to 5th June 2014. Open 11am – 7pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, free entry.

Stand by for more technical info…