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

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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?

The 20 days of 20×20 Day 11 – 11th September 2014 @AccessSpace #20×202014

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Here is another seminal influence of mine, “Le Mystere Picasso” (1956, director Henri-Georges Clouzot). I saw this film for the first time on the TV in the mid-1980s but it was already considered a classic. I haven’t had time to go through all the clips in this playlist, but I recommend watching the whole film if possible.

In 1956, it would have taken some significant resources to capture live of timelapse film. These days it’s almost too easy to capture everything, and therein lies a problem. I have made life difficult for myself on many occasions, not necessarily because I missed something, but because I captured far too much media and then either didn’t know what to do with it, or else just didn’t have time to deal with it all.

In the embedded clip you can see some sort of confrontation going on as the director is about to run out of film in the current magazine. I have had quite the opposite problem, and last year managed to capture great long sequences of pretty much nothing. Watching paint dry is only novel once, and having made something of it in 2012, it just wasn’t funny the second time around.

Many years later, I have all these tools at my disposal; more cameras than I can use, a digital paintbox (see previous post) and my own film production facilities. And what do I do with it?

Paint.

#bolamat50 Phew! I made it.

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HyperScape I – single screen version (2003)

I have been saying “when I’m 50” for so long, it seemed like it was never going to happen. And then suddenly it’s been and gone.

I made it. #bolamis50

I have two shows running until 5th June 2014, “HyperScape X” at Access Space and “Stained by Dead Inkjets” at the Rutland Arms, conveniently located opposite each other on Brown Street, Sheffield, UK.

HyperScape X is a three-screen generative work that imperceptibly changes from one state to another. The images are made of composites from images I hand-drew in the late 1990s using the Macintosh software Aldus SuperPaint 3.5.

You can see it running in the background in this timelapse video of the opening evening.

There is also a small museum exhibit in the foyer made up of earlier HyperScape works and other work and artefacts contemporary with it.

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Artefacts from the 1990s.

“Stained by Dead Inkjets” is a series of 33 new paper collages made from old work and spoiled prints. Prints of some of the images used in HyperScape X also appear in these collages. 14 of them are on display at the Rutland Arms, and two of the collages are part of the “Process” show on at Cupola Contemporary Art in Hillsborough, Sheffield, UK until 24th May. All the collages are for sale at £49.99 each (including frame, carriage extra).

Stained- visualisations with prices.028

Stained by Dead Inkjets – collage #28 (title tbc)

Free events this week at 35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield – organised by Access Space

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Taking down the 20×20 show at Access Space ready to show at 35 Chapel Walk.

This week, Access Space is taking last year’s 20×20 Exhibition to the gallery at 35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield. It will be open 10.30am – 5.30pm from Wed 5th though to Sat 8th Feb. Also, there will be free events each day.

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The relaxation station at 35 Chapel Walk

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#CHDK-enabled timelapse camera ready to shoot the installation of 20×20 at 35 Chapel Walk.

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35 Chapel Walk, already equipped with picture hangers.

On Wednesday between 1pm and 3pm they will be showing how to build computers and install ethical open source software.

Thursday sees a demonstration of 3D printing and a presentation about Refab Space, our DIY FabLab and hack space, by our resident technology guru and hardware hacker, John Moseley, 1pm-3pm

On Friday James Wallbank will talk about crowd-funding and the possibilities of successfully raising money for your project or enterprise through Kickstarter, 1pm-2pm.

Saturday sees our Grand Tea Party between 2pm and 4pm, and performer Paul Newman (not the pasta sauce person!) will be in the the gallery all day engaging people with what he calls “life gamification”.

All events are free and there is no need to book.

Stained by Dead Inkjets / Tabula Rasa

Trailer 1 still 10

What’s it going to be then, eh? The tyranny of the blank canvas.

Some people never learn. After a partial failure with the New Bank of X Get Rich Rich Quick Scheme (see here), and the enforced postponement of No Glove Lost, I immediately decided to initiate two new projects for the Retrospective.

Well, they are new and old at the same time, and both are remixes of old work into new work.

From 24 April to 5 June, I will be showing some collages made from test prints and spoiled inkjet prints. So the work is not made, but it being made.

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Old, semi-generative printed work.

I am also programming a new generative work to show at Access Space over the same period. This will be using a library of existing images, some of which will appear in the collages. It’s a complementary double-header art clash.

As I go along, I have decided to timelapse capture the making of the collages. See below for the first four segments, showing me reviewing the old stuff and experimenting, in an attempt to establish what Paolozzi would have called a “vocabulary” for the work so that it has a coherence as a show.

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A “vocabulary” begins to appear.

The work is explicitly influenced by the work of Paolozzi, Robert Rauschenberg and Peter Schmidt.

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“Art Without Boundaries 1950 – 1970” (The World of Art Library) Gerald Woods, Philip Thompson & John Williams (Editors)

Showing artwork in pubs is notoriously difficult for a number of reasons. The Rutland Arms is a great pub, but there is hardly a square foot of wall that is not interrupted by a window, a wall-light or screw holes.

My strategy for dealing with such an informal space is to make all the work the same size, mounted in identical frames and mounted at the same height throughout. Hopefully, this will give the work a visual coherence.

All the works will be A3 in size although I haven’t decided on the mounting and framing yet. Stay tuned to BolamTV for regular updates…

Richard Bolam: Renaissance Pleb

Sketchbook pages, 2005

Although I don’t consider myself to be a figurative or representational artist, I do consider drawing to be a fundamentally important skill. Not necessarily the technical draughtsmanship of it, but the executed discipline of observation. Arguably, artists are trained observers, and if you don’t draw (not can’t draw) then you are not an artist (discuss). In my opinion, all artists should keep a notebook / sketchbook. However, technical mastery of the medium is not the same as the engagement with the practice of observation.

In 1980 I went on a family holiday to Norway, and I was introduced to one of their national treasures, Gustav Vigeland (1869 – 1943). I have never heard him mentioned by anyone since, but in Norway his work is everywhere, including the amazing and monumental Frogner Park in Oslo.

Below is a scan of a couple of pages from a book I bought in Norway, and some background detail of Vigeland’s creative process, specifically related to his statue of the Norwegian poet, Henrik Vergeland.

Spread from “Gustav Vigeland – The Sculptor And His Works”, 1965 Ragna Stang

Although I haven’t done it strictly, I copied Vigeland’s practice of dating all his drawings, and I have found it particularly helpful in retrospect. Even though I never wanted to emulate his medium or style, I found him and his work inspiring. He often depicted his subjects accompanied by “genii”, the spirits of ideas or inspiration.

I discovered art randomly, bit by bit, and have had a very patchy art education. However, I have lived through radically changing times, and various revolutions, such as cheap travel, remainder bookshops and, of course, the internet, have allowed me to be socially and artistically  mobile in a way not experienced by previous generations. Also, the very recent affordability of technology has allowed me to achieve things that were either not possible, or at least not financially feasible, only a few years previously.

When I was a child, I had no access to cameras and no prospect of being able to make movies, now I have several computers and more cameras than I can use. I have the resources to make a digital film in Full HD every day if I wanted to, but the ideas cannot be ordered so easily on Amazon.

My own genii are popular culture, classical art and chaos. I actually work quite randomly, despite the fact that my work often appears to be very ordered. That order is merely an editing of “happy accidents” and is heavily influenced by existing traditions in art.

Below is a video I shot and edited in one day, although it took four attempts over two weeks. It was made possible by cheap technology, dogged observation, sheer will and blind luck.