Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Recorders - Manchester Art Gallery Exhibition

'Recorders' is the current temporary exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer running from 18th September 2010 - 30th January 2011. It's an interactive exhibition that requires the audience to get involved with the pieces for them to work and the pieces in turn react to the participants. For example, one piece, 'Microphones 2008,' is a set of old style microphones placed in a circle so that people can record a message. When the message is recorded, then the previous participants message is replayed to you so the next time someone records a message yours is the played back. The piece can hold up to 600,000 voices and is designed to be playing back echos of the past, capturing people's moments in time, when they recorded the moment.
 Another piece that I liked from the show was 'Pulse Index 2010,' which was a machine where a person places their finger in a hole and their fingerprint is recorded and played back on a screen along with all of the other participants. I liked the interactivity of it and also seeing the intricacy of my own fingerprint, something I have never seen in such detail before, and also the stark contrasts between other people's fingerprints with my own. The idea of exploring everyone's individuality and then having it stored into a uniformed system was an idea that I found really interesting.

The last piece that really interested me was 'Pulse Room 2006' which is a black room filled with lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. A person then hold on to two metal bars, like an electric shock machine, and then keeps their grip for up to a minute. When they release their hands the lightbulbs briefly turn off and when they come back on the lightbulb closest to you begins got flash along to your pulse. Everytime a person records their pulse, yours moves across one, keeping one hundred participants pulsing at a time. I liked this because made something invisible into something real and more solid, moving it form something you feel and sometimes hear (a heartbeat) into something you can see. It's like capturing a heart or even spirit and digitizing it and preserving it, and living with 99 other flashing pulses which when in the room almost resemble stars.

Lozano-Hemmer's work brings audience participation and interactivity into a new digital age and the fact that the artwork doesn't work without an audience makes it even more interesting. Although I would rather work in a more traditional way it has made me think more about how thinks affect an audience, how to involve an audience and how to stage things in the best way for the audience for a performance piece I would like to work on soon.

Video Project - Miseryyyyyyyy

For the second week of the Interactive Arts course, and for our second group project, we were set the challenge of creating a 'sweded' film. A sweded film is a low budget production of a film condensed into around two minutes and usually a funnier version. I was in a group with Kirsty (who was in my party project group), Amy and Yasmine and our film was 'Misery.' I was the only member of the group who had seen the film and couldn't remember much so we began by watching most of it on Youtube picking out the key parts. We then gave each other roles to do as in creating a certain prop or finding objects of use. We decided to go down a comic book style route 1) to make prop creating easier as we they didn't have to be truly realistic; 2) so we didn't have to talk on camera as the audio is often fuzzy (we used speech bubbles on camera); 3) to make it more comedic.
The next day we met again at 10 and used the morning to storyboard and refine our ideas so we could get straight on with filming and in the afternoon we took on the filming at Amy's hall's flat which was the setting for the main bedroom. Originally, I was to play the James Caan role of the writer with Yasmine being Kathy Bates' psycho roel, however, at the last minute Yasmine had to take her boyfriend to hospital so Kirsty had to step in so the performance's are not meant to be great and weren't very prepared.
Editing took place the next day, which took 6 hours to complete as we had a lot of ideas to include, such as a staged car crash with a toy car and fight scenes and we also layered in sound bites from the film, sound effects and background music. We did get confused by the timing on the Final Cut Pro software and thought our footage only hit 1 min 5 secs but when screening it, it turned out to be 6 minutes so it was longer than we would have liked.
Overall, I thought the project went really well. It was fun to take part in, I relearnt editing techniques I had forgotten and the final product makes me laugh so because of that I preferred this project to the party project.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Book Work

As I have said in my first post, I have worked from books before and thought I would put up a few sample from my Wuthering Heights project on the Foundation course last year.

This was a corset I began as a strand of my project looking at the idea of dresses representing the ghost of a person. I was looking at the paper dresses of Isabella de Borchgrave and wanted to create a grand paper dress that was mangled and worn to represent the Wuthering Heights character of Cathy, the wild and passionate main female role. The corset was made by image transferring a photocopy of a flower paper cutting I had done on to white fabric. I then padded the fabric and stitched around the black lines to create texture to the piece. I then burnt the chest area to show her intense passion and decorated the rim with paper roses, thorns and leaves. In the end it was deemed to complicated and I was encouraged to focus on a more simple method, however, I still like this piece and it is an avenue I would like to further explore in the future.
I also looked at, in the same project, paper flowers. I chose flowers as they were the best symbol of life (folloing the life of Cathy), and romance as well as wild abandon. SPOILERS... Because Cathy dies in the book after going slightly mad I looked at the decaying of flowers and this paper rose had its petals cut up and suspended from wires to look like they are rotting away. This is partly inspired by the Su Blackwell piece 'While You Were Sleeping' which was also an inspiration for the above paper dress idea....
While You Were
Sleeping - Su Blackwell

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Party Project

For the first week of the Interactive Arts course we were put into mixed 1st and 2nd year groups and our theme was to do a party on 'Something We All Dislike.' Our initial idea was to do a darkness, as this is generally a dislike of people and with this idea we would hold our party in the darkroom and focus on the senses with things hanging from the ceiling and blindfolding people, however, the darkroom was already taken so we had to rethink.
While discussing our dislikes, the Pope came up as a topic as he had recently been ion the media for his controversial visit to Britain, amid reports of security costs and sexual abuse claims. We all agreed we were not fans of the Pope, some to varying degrees and the ideas came thick and fast such as having a female Pope and bringing them in on a trolley as they flick holy water at people. The idea was that the party would poke fun at the position of Pope and the rumours of indecency surrounding him so one idea was to have the Pope run away with the collection plate of money at the end of the party. At the end of the first meeting we were all designated a part, I was to sort the music out which we decided would mix Gregorian chanting with modern hip hop to keep up the satirical theme.
The party was on Thursday 30th September and we came in at 10 to set it up with an altar as the centrepiece which we decorated with red candles, tealights a Bible and various other religious icons. The food and drink of the party were crackers, rice paper and red wine to resemble a holy communion.
We knew that the subject matter of our party was controversial and because of this a complaint was made on the day of the party. Our intention was never to offend anyone or cause controversy for the sake of controversy and we wanted to make it clear it was simply problems we had with the Pope and not an attack on Cathlocism or religion as a whole.
Because of the complaint we did tone down our party and kept it to simply the Pope and Cardinals walking in to the chanting and then 'Ridin'' by Chamillionaire.
Despite the mixed reaction to the party I personally wouldn't have changed it as it is our own expression and I don't think any part of it was or would have been extreme and I personally would not have complained about a party in favour of the Pope. As for our team, I think we all worked well together as we all had the opportunity to have our own input and we all brought our own parts in for the party, rather than some people coasting through it.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

My First Post - Summer Project

This is my first ever blog post so please bear with me.

Over the summer we were set a project to start the Interactive Arts course at MMU, to create a game that could be played by 6 players and had to reflect our interests and show an element of creativity. I struggled. So instead of thinking of a game I thought of what interested me so, having done worked based on books before, I decided to base my game on 'The Wizard of Oz' as the theme of a quest or challenge ran through lots of games I researched.
                                                                        Front Cover Carving
Because of this I could then base the game on events that happen through the book. I chose the key moments:
  • The Twister in Kansas (anagrams);
  • Landing in Munchkinland (pairs);
  • The Yellow Brick Road (tiddly winks);
  • The Emerald City (trivia);
  • The Wicked Witch of the West (throwing).
The games are all quick and simple so that it is easy to get through the whole game as I was conscious that it would need 6 people playing and so couldn't drag on. It also meant I could do a fair amount of painting which is something I have been wanting to do again for a while (as well as trying carving, as I did). Each page was illustrated with the relevant characters and I used bright and bold colours to keep it interesting to look at.

Pages from the game and counters
For the players to win, because it wasn't like a board game I made Oz Balls (green salt dough balls) that the players would collect through each game and also made pouches from brown felt to keep the balls in.
When we played the game I thought it went quite well but more thought could have been put into the games to make them more stimulating to play but admittedly I thought more about the look of the game than the game itself.