It’s been a really busy year for us and it seems we’ve slightly neglected our blog. But fear not! Here’s a round up of some of the things we got up to:
March 2013, Northampton: Electrickal Seances 2 at the Legendary Labour Club
We worked with Bret Battey a few years ago, when we commissioned him to make Lacus Temporis through the Critical Mass Moving Image Artists programme. A couple of years ago we brought him in briefly to take a look at the 3D immersive cave here at our base within University of Northampton’s N-Vision lab – we did some tests that sort of worked but that thing is an expensive beast to play with so we had to hold off on doing any more development work with it until we could raise some more money to get stuck into it properly. As we hadn’t seen Bret for a while we thought, why don’t we get him to do a Collider at Northampton’s Legendary Labour Club? – that would give us a chance to get him over for a bit of a catch up and give the Northampton arts community a chance to see what he’s doing and talk to him about it.
So in May, Electrickal Seance had Dr Bret Battey demonstrating generative audio visual compositions his created through bespoke software that was designed to leave significant room within it’s design for the artist to truly take authorship – that’s certainly one of the aspects that originally drew us to Bret’s work as so much work created by generative software reduces the artist to the role of spectator or editor at best. This new work was a progression of his practice as a composer, also reflecting his meditative practice as a Buddhist. His recent time in India studying the gestures of classical Indian singers is also informing the development of his work.
Bret screened two HD short films, Lacus Temporis (commissioned by Threshold), which has now been screened all over the world, and Clonal Colonies (Commissioned by the New York Avian Orchestra) – a mesmeric journey into abstraction created using his computer-controlled map networks technique.
Despite the raging summer sun we managed to pull in a crowd so thanks to all for turning out and Bret was really happy with how the session went. Now we know that it works, we might do that again – bring over artists we haven’t worked with in a while for a catch-up session we can share with other Northants artists.
June/July 2013: Soy Cubanista! : Filmmaking in the Mountains of the Wise Woman
We spent June working deep in the rural and provincial communities of Cuba, on a British Council film-making residency with Chris Kemp from our friends Suited and Booted in Bath. We took cameras and edit suites to 6 communities, from Guantanamo in the East to Pinar Del Rio in the west, taking in the mountain heartlands at Granma, the working class suburbs of Havana, plus Santa Clara and Ciego de Avila along the way. We ran a short course in working with young people for film students from La Facultad Arte de los Medios de Comunicación Audiovisual de la Universidad de las Artes (FAMCA) and taught community leaders how to use the filmmaking equipment. Now they have the skills and the equipment, we expect to receive a whole DVD of films from the people there in the next few months, which we aim to show here in Northampton and at Frequency Festival in Lincoln. I’m sure there will also be British Council plans to tour the work through other festivals. Next step is to get Northampton’s young people to respond to the Cuban films and make some movies to send back to our new friends.
While we were there we met with artists and film-makers from all over Cuba, including the inspirational El Tanque Community Arts facility in Lawton, Havana, and made great friends with the guys from Televisión Serrana in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.
Cuba is a country on the cusp of change – there are basically three interweaving Cuban cultural identities, all of which are passionate to maintain their traditions as the country opens up to the West;
- Pre-revolutionary Cuba, represented by the Campesinos (Peasant Farmers) in the mountains who want to preserve their way of life and the old Santeria religion,
- Revolutionary Cuba; the urban socialist atheists who fiercely uphold the social change brought about by revolution in the face of 60 years of US blockades,
- and Contemporary Cuba; young people who are ready to embrace western culture but only on their own terms. They aren’t interested in the junk food, the organised crime and the drug culture, the consumerism or the other hollow promises of capitalism.
Cuba has a lot to teach us about coping with austerity and about being less materialistic too. We’re planning an installation work for exhibiton next year that explores these themes, using some of the 6,000 photos, five hours of video and hours of audio recordings we’ve made.
So apart from being interviewed by the police for being in the mountains without official military permission – a sensitive area for national security; everything went fine!
We want to bring what we’ve learned from staging Lincoln Festival and use our growing artists network do something here in town. We’re in early conversations about what that might look like so this is an open invitation to arts organisations to meet with us and chat through the possibilities – all very informal and blue sky at this stage – no pressure!
– Barry Hale, October 2013
ALSO THIS SUMMER:
Northampton film maker Matt Humphreys completed his MA in Fine Art at Central St Martin’s – Matt was one of the Founder members of Don’t Look Now/Threshold and Pedestrian. In July he had a moving image piece screening at Friday Film Night at the MK Gallery, Milton Keynes
Following performances in London, Northampton writer and Don’t Look Now/Threshold founder member Steve Loveless’ play Asena has been nominated for the 2013 Human Trafficking Foundation Media Award!