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.

“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.

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.

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…

To Whom It May Concern – a word from your sponsor

Here is the piece of work I contributed to Bloc Projects’ 10th birthday fundraiser.

Bloc Assembly is an occasional event, each with a common theme or medium. I was involved in Bloc Assembly #1 Live Art and Bloc Assembly #11 Last Requests, and a number of artists who had previously been involved were invited to submit a postcard-sized work for a blind sale, with the proceeds going to support Bloc Projects.

Bloc Assembly #13: Birthday

I like group shows and there are always a few pleasant surprises. All the works were priced at £10 regardless of their intrinsic value. The one I bought is by Hondartza Fraga, and I think I got a bargain, although I was tempted by others too.

Like most small arts organisations these days, Bloc Projects is short of funding and needs everything it can get. I recently signed up to be an Associate Member for £15 per year. I told them that’s not enough. I prefer Access Space’s model where you can sign up for either £1, £3 or £10 per month (or any other amount, actually), but Bloc expressed a concern that membership does not give enough value. I disagree, for some people it’s about getting something but for most its about giving something back. Also, what about the 10 years of free shows? So far.

A few pounds a month, or a year, needs lots of people to contribute to make a difference. You can sign up to be an Associate Member of Bloc Projects here, and a Friend of Access Space here, or a Friend of community radio station Sheffield Live! here.

To hell with Cameron’s “Big Society”. Contrary to Thatcher’s denial, we already have a society, and a society that does not require it be branded or sloganised in order to establish its credibility.

I say put your money where your mouth is, and my mouth says “Happy birthday Bloc (and here’s a tenner).”