The Reading Room : 8th visit


Before the events in my last post this had happened  Nepalese earthquake on 25th April and there was lots of astounding video footage on YouTube and  from the  Avalanche in Everest which was worse than the one the previous year.

8th Visit : 30th April 2015

I wanted to bring world events back to the Reading Room as it is now isolated through its lack of Broadband connection, lack of mobile connection except on a couple of networks and poor analogue radio signal.

I brought in some of the papers I had received from donors and some that I had bought on trips to Oxford and London.

You can only get China Today in Sainsburys, Banbury.

When I asked at WHS for a Washington Post they looked at me as if i was crazy…

So I made some video of Jane and myself just looking through the international newspapers in the Reading Room.

The papers were mainly American but UK Press, Arabic and the same, China today and some European, French, Spanish and German but all bought in the UK.

The tables were all set up for the Coffee Morning.

I’m not sure. I will have to look but I think that by this time the Earthquake was old news and not headlining the papers any more.

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The Reading Room : Developments after 7th Visit

28th April 2015:

These are a series of images as screen shots I took from news websites I found on line.

I’d been looking at lots of stuff related to RAF Croughton,  it’s expansion over the next few years and its possible involvement in drone attacks.

Apart from my natural inclination to be really angry about this and want to stop it, I wanted to take a step back and observe it differently. I saved these images and started to think about how to work on mixing video and stills, what to keep and what to throw away and what to make evident, what to ‘hide’.

I am considering the two audiences of the community who have welcomed me in to work with them and how I have described what I am doing, and a wider audience who are less concerned about the domestic impact of poor broadband in the village and more concerned about the communications at USAF Croughton and the actions these may or may not be connected with….

I feel an element of deceit, despite the fact that I am interested in the situation of communication and lack of it, as a whole.

I feel occasionally like a ‘spy’ rather than an observer.

The village community and base are so separate but so interconnected that it is difficult to negotiate whilst remaining open to interpretations.

The Reading Room : 7th Visit: Whist Drive again

News from 23rd April.

This bit about David Cameron and Countryside Alliance here  and lots of pre Election bluster.

It seems harder than I expected to get ‘back -news’ on-line….I’ll have to look at all the newspapers I’d started to collect.

I’d started to ask people for newspapers from other countries that they either lived in or visited on holiday for some event at the Reading Room…..

Theres a lot going at the time about immigration,  the problem is growing. Britain was could up in the Election and so no references to anywhere other than the UK seemed to surface….or that’s the way it seemed to me. Very insular.

Maybe I’m noticing it because I am more aware of ‘other’ than I was.

I did find this, though, about migration and immigration.

The movement of people is growing, flowing out of Libya and Syria, across the Mediterranean.

All desperate.

7th Visit : 23rd April 2015

This time I went to the whist drive as a player! Just for the craic and also, of course, to see how the Reading Room operates when I change my position from observer/recorder….

These are stills from video and photos from my iPhone so some are ‘material’ and some documentation.

On the video where I am buying a coffee at the hatch you can here a little conversation about where I’ve been in the village and what I have seen.

It’s hard as I would really like to look at the village and wall paintings in the church and so on, but that isn’t what I need to focus on…

There’s a raffle and time moves slowly inside The Reading Room.

I love the cling film over the windows to keep the heat in… and the dead flies that collect there…

This feels a comfortable place to be but I am aware of the world outside.

Unfortunately the cable to the mic came loose so there is no sound for some of the videos…Mistake….

Into Unknown Territory!

I’ve been making lots of video and sound bits and pieces and have come up against all sorts of technical problems and other phenomena as I am not really a film maker.

I have been using my bridge camera Panasonic FZ 200, which is fine for the job — lots of options to play with and simple to use but I forgot that, because I am filming quiet scenes there is lots of camera noise…..

Also I ordered an external Rode mic which is great but directional as most people with this sort of camera are filming for Youtube vids and stuff I guess. Anyhow it was OK but there is a stereo available so I have returned it and got a new one… Vast expense for Postage mainly to get the thing here in time to use.

Sp now I have to decide whether to use the footage with the camera sound on…. and the clips with me setting up the camera and so on to show that it is indeed being filmed…. ( like using the iPhone and iMac evidence to show a human presence and so the mediation a… reducing the sense of immediacy…)

Or whether to try to made a ‘good’ movie!

Will that do what I want or will I just possibly produce something rather sentimental and nice to look at…

I am in unknown territory here and have been looking at the clips I have made and having to consider not just the ‘ quality’ of the audio and video and how I want the final product to look, and not just the content… but also other things like my use of

‘Mise en Scene’, long takes and low angles.

Standard Cinematography stuff I guess, but all new to me.

The book Cinematic Storytelling by Jennifer van Sijll has been really useful and simple to use.

I want to avoid a linear narrative but am already finding that iMovie does not give me the options I need. I need access to Final Cut and hope that it will do what I want… maybe time to invest if I am going down this route…Trouble is I want to do other things with performance and participation and not get hung up on just the film… I’ll have to be very careful not to get too involved in all the options and so distracted.

I’ve also been looking at other bits of video on Youtube and so on relating to the area.

I found some footage made by other people and have contacted them to ask if I can use clips from their videos.

One has replied and said’ Yes’ so that’s good!

Anyway, I’ve been looking at the work of the following artists, some of whom I have looked at before but have been thinking again about what they do and how it fits with my aims now.

This is sort of taken from Wikipedia and other places but cobbled together as I think it is quite important.

Stan Douglas is based in Vancouver, British Columbia. HIs film and video installations, photography( fact and fiction), frequently touch on the history of literature, cinema and music, and examine the “failed utopia” of modernism and obsolete technologies.  He often references Samuel Beckett and Marcel Proust, E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Brothers Grimm, blues and free jazz, television and Hollywood, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. He uses time and in particular, slowed-down time or stillness. Der Sandmann,an installation from 1995 is  based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s original 1816 short story and Sigmund Freud’s 1919 essay “The Uncanny”. He uses a double projection where the film is literally split down the middle and reassembled so the two sides are slightly out of sync. There is a feeling of heterochrony which is intensified further by his techniques.This creates this feeling of a “temporal gap” and so disrupts the sense of unity which is crucial to modernism, so that “everything is deferred and delayed. He also uses Over projection.

Here are some videos to show how his work relates to my ideas… especially the over projection thing…

I’ve also had a look at Duncan Campbell: It for Others

Re Constructed Histories and emendation of imagery…

Duncan Campbell Wins Turner Prize 2014 With IRA Film
wochit News
Published on Dec 1, 2014
Irish-born Glasgow artist Duncan Campbell won Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize on Monday for an essay film using a famous image of an Irish Republican Army guerrilla to explore how histories can be constructed. His winning entry, “It For Others”, uses the 1971 image of Joe McCann, sometimes called “the Che Guevara of the IRA”, to show how images can be turned into commodities of mass culture. The famous picture of McCann, who was shot dead by British soldiers less than a year after the photo was taken, became part of pop culture to the point where the image of McCann and his M1 rifle was emblazoned on T-shirts and Christmas stockings.

This is interesting!

Using Letterpress to make posters.

I looked at Tris Vonna Michell because of his use of analogue slides re: his tUrner prize work but then realised that his previous work is performance based

“Using the precarious analogue technology of slide projectors, paired with his own recorded voice, Tris Vonna-Michell creates poignantly fractured travelogues that have won him a Turner prize nomination. Here he explains his work in more detail”
Source: Tate
Friday 3 October 2014 12.50 BST

Published on Sep 30, 2014
Multilayered narratives delivered as audio recordings and slide projections feature in the work of Turner Prize 2014 nominee Tris Vonna-Michell.

“This work relates to personal trajectories. Some are fictive, I never really knew the difference”, says Tris Vonna-Michell on the solo exhibition held at Jan Mot galley in Brussels that won him the nomination. Titled Postscript (Berlin) IV, the work features a recorded monologue and two slide projections that take the viewer back and forth in time, as Vonna-Michell meshes together circuitous narratives related to his family’s experiences in Berlin with images that may or may not be connected. In this film, the artist talks of the freedom and immediacy his method of working allows and tells the story of this artwork via the recorded speech his practice employs, saying: “by making this work the voice belongs but the body’s gone”

The Guardian
‘The voice belongs but the body is gone’:

Turner prize 2014 nominee Tris Vonna-Michell explains his work

A performance cycle – Tris Vonna-Michell, 2010
from Nomas Foundation 4 years ago NOT YET RATED

Archiving, gathering, exhibiting, recounting, remembering, loving, desiring, ordering, mapping. A performance cycle.

Tris Vonna-Michell au Jeu de Paume
Tris Vonna-Michell : “Finding Chopin: Endnotes 20052009” DU 20 OCTOBRE 2009 AU 17 JANVIER 2010

I am really excited by finding this work. It brings me back somehow to what I want to do, by involving some performative element, hopefully without getting too involved in making ‘good video’!

I must keep track of how I want to use the material I’ve been collecting… so its not an end in itself…

It’s not about the video really or the audio…. they are just material to work with.

I’m going to a public performance symposium at Modern Art Oxford next Saturday so hopefully that will help a little to inspire and get me out of a video loop hole!

I also went yesterday to the VIDEOVADA workshop using PraxisLive for interactive video installations

I looked again at Shona IllingworthBalnakeil and The Watchmaker and watched this interview from MAOxford when there was a symposium to go with a Kerry Tribe exhibitiion

She describes how the original was an immersive  installation

How she felt about the ‘folding in of time…rather than linear flashback. How the past is very much in the present.

She also describes how”societies need to create a coherent narrative for the past’ and the notion of latency ‘ The time interval between initiating a query, transmission, or process, and receiving or detecting the results,…’ Definition by The Free Dictionary.

She also talks about Geopolitics and how these exist in this time framework.

Previously I had looked at Balnakeil and thought it was a too romantic piece of work for me to reference directly although he accompanying material in my earlier blog is interesting and useful;…drawings, mappings… etc.

Now I think this is very relevant and will read the catalogue.

My next step is to make a list of things I want to do,

How I want to do them and

Do Them!…

I really need to be doing things with the material and recognising the limitations of my software and skills…

And re- write my Draft Proposal.!!!

What am I doing?

I wrote this sometime last week..Wednesday I think.

I have carried on with the analysis but it is very piecemeal and interrupted by work and so on.

Very frustrating….so this is what I was thinking some days ago!

So today I have set myself the task of trying to work out what I am really doing now, why and where it will lead….?

I’ve decided to try and work through it on here .

This in itself is quite a challenge as if I were writing in a notebook it would not be visible to anyone else. Working through things publicly is strange.

There has been so much on R4 lately with The Digital Human on Secrets and divulging things on line…

I am still in that state where things are so tentative I don’t really want people to be aware of what I am doing as I don’t really know myself…. I don’t want Comments at this stage or opinions…I just want to be with the idea and work through it at this stage alone…

I seem to have been diverted quite substantially from my proposal and I can sort of bring it back or carry on somewhere else.I know I often am a compromiser which in this case may be a bad thing… falling between stools and not making anything clear..

So, I’ve been collecting stills, video and sound recordings for the next stage and getting involved in the community, making connections and so on.

I have an idea of where I need to go next but if this is a blind alley I am nervous.

It seems too big a thing to be doing at this stage really and I fear I may just produce same old same old which is not why I am doing the MA.

Am I just going to make similar work but understand it more deeply and refine it..

This isn’t what I really want I don’t think.

There is this dichotomy in me between rural and city, traditional and future…

Is this what I want to highlight.

The trouble is i enjoy the mixing in a community, becoming a transient part of it, but then there is the risk that what I produce may not be liked by the majority and some may feel upset when it is not what they expected.

I have to get over that especially in this case as there is so much personal investment by so many people in the location.

Its also very odd blogging about this.

Anyway it is 10 am now so I will have a cup of coffee and start looking back over material and ‘ analysing’ what I am actually doing….


Yesterday I went to the Videovada event : Re-purposing Analogue Video Workshop Oxford artist AD Pawley introduced the workshop and the aim was to create an installation from redundant Video equipment.      Make sculptures from VHS Tapes, build a low-powered TV transmitter and explore reflections and feedback with old TV screens and video cameras.

Looking at the video feedback experiments he had done was relevant to the re-mediation re-projection work I’ve been doing but is using VHS and analogue recording and TV’s.

In the end we had a screen woven from VHS tape. Some hanging stuff near the bar.. my failed attempt to make the space  sort of ‘tapey’, and several cameras filming and then transmitting to each other in a continuous loop of feedback which was fun and interesting and interactive too.

It provoked interesting discussion though especially at the evening screening. From 8-10pm there was a  Participatory screening – where people brought their own projectors. There was a Super8 and not super 8… and  splicer. The image quality from the Super8 was wonderfully nostalgic  and the colour so rich. Hugh Pryor  brought in home videos and animations.

A screening with no rules! and all projections were projected onto the walls of the OVADA Warehouse. Basically we just all found space and showed our stuff.

I took the Pico and projected from my iPhone. The original Salt Way just to see how big I could project without losing quality ..and also the final ( I think ) of the remediation projections on the Salt Way.

I had some discussion with Neil C Smith about the work and we discussed quality of the projection and size of projection and his interpretation of the ‘galaxy’ element of the work. We also discussed the rotation of the video and how this affected image quality when projected as it was filmed on the iPhone.

I’m still thinking about whether to keep the iPhone as my primary filming device… hand held etc or using a better quality camera and therefore image. Hard to decide for future work. I still like the idea of using the iPhone and agree with Dave Charlesworth that it is ‘lazy’ but that is surely the point…. the common practice and the subsequent ‘ cheapening ‘ of image…. disintegration and degradation….

Talking to Neil helped me think throughout these things some more but I am undecided which to pursue… He has done lots of work on interactive projection ( with Digital Prisoners ) including apparently some work local to Banbury with Banbury Museum in 2006  Sound Pool ( I missed this! How!) and projection onto natural materials like wood  Trees of the Cherwell Valley and so on so I will look more at his work and it was good to make contact with him.

The event was good from lots of points of view,… mixing with other local artists who were interested in what I do gave me confidence and contacts but also i still feel like I’m just learning to write the alphabet. Also these events are invaluable at acquiring new skills especially as I can’t access the things at Camberwell but there is so little time to focus on what I want to do in the next project.

He will be running a workshop next Saturday that is about coding for interactive video using PraxisLive  an open source software,so that should be good.

I’ve just got to focus a little on how I want to move forwards……I’ve been collecting material but not sure what to do with it now!!!

Anyway here are a selection of images and videos of the day.

Godswell Park Art Exhibition

Also during the ‘ Easter Break’ I curated and hung this exhibition at Godswell Park Care Home.

None of the members of the Art Group had, to my knowledge, ever exhibited before and derived a lot of pleasure and confidence from showing.

The Private View was well attended by family and friends and several other visited over the 2 weeks it was open.

Here are some images of the exhibition.

Most of the members of the group are over 90 …although most are under 100  ( at the moment).

Expectations are high and I hope I apply a gentle rigour to tuition/ facilitation during the sessions.

There are ethical considerations when working with vulnerable clients in this situation and confidentiality (esp. regarding people being identified in images) is a permanent consideration.

The venue and mode of presentation has to suit the audience of mainly family members and carers, and the venue but the level of professionalism is the same as for any curatorial task.

The presentation of the work in this case highlights the level of skill of the artists as any display of work does.

Paula ( Arts Development Officer Cherwell) visited and commented on the skill of execution and strong observational skills of the artists.