Sunday, 28 February 2010


I was just reading Drowned in Sound in the hope of finding something new to listen to and came across this article about ambient/drone music (here me out..) This led me to discover Yellow Swans, a band hailing from the creative hotbed that is Portland, Oregon and that started playing together in 2001 but have been defunct since 2008. Despite this it appears the duo worked together to see out the final touches on their last album Going Places, which is available now, and can be heard here. It's really blissful and ethereal and although not the kind of music you'd want to hear if you want something catchy to dance or hum along to it is really nice to listen to in the late hours of the night when the internet is sucking you of all your life. I think what's good about it is that hidden away beneath the layers of ambient distortion it has a sense of melody, which is so important for me. It also kind of reminds me of the instrumental tracks and codas from No Age's Nouns - I guess they were influenced somewhat.

Be my valentine..

Better late than never..

Friday, 26 February 2010

Down by the river

(Image Roni Horn)

Today we found out that for the majority of our final term we are being kicked out of our studios - which are to be used for furniture storage to make space for the degree shows - and relocated to Trinity Buoy Wharf, an artist development space across the river from the 02. The purpose will be be to make work in response to our temporary home, which sounds a little School of Saatchi but I guess could be quite interesting. I happened to have visited the place before, albeit unintentionally - when house hunting in the summer my flatmates and I stumbled across it after downloading some suspect directions from google maps... It's a rather strange place, with multicoloured shipping containers stacked on top of each other to provide studio space and apparently residential living accommodation, as well as the Grade II listed Chainstore, which features London's only lighthouse. It's even got its very own authentic American Diner. All this is tucked away in the midst of warehouses, marinas and riverside apartment complexes. How this fits into our artist development I'm not sure - it kinds of feels like another way to get rid of us for a bit until we come back in September as mature second years, and while we are sent there on the premise of making work I imagine the reality will be a lot of sunbathing and picnics by the river.

Despite the prospect of possibly the longest daily commute that could be possible living in Central London I'm being optimistic, it's certainly a pretty amazing location and although the slightest whiff of a brief is the last thing most artists want to hear the challenge could be quite exciting. In the meantime we're working towards our end of term exhibition, open for only a day it seems, but with our very own private view with booze and balloons. It's only a week and a half away, and although I feel as if I'll have something I'm happy showing, I keep thinking how scarily quickly this year is going..

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Summertime clothes

I processed these prints in the dark room today, my first attempt at self-processing my own photographs after successfully developing my second roll of film (the first got ruined). The pictures were taken in the Hilton Hotel in Manchester, an enormous tower of glass so thin it looks like it could blow over in the wind. We thought we'd treat ourselves to a night, and although our view from the floor to ceiling glass window wasn't quite as impressive as we'd hoped it was still a rather spectacular getaway. Particularly nice was the breakfast room, which, like Tom Ford's recent film "A Single Man", showed that the smooth curves and dark wood of sixties modernism can be stylish when it wants to be. As if all this wasn't enough we awoke to glaring sunshine pouring in through the window, giving us a rather freak day of blue skies and a shimmer of possibility that spring is actually on its way.. Though judging by the overbearing amounts of rain that has been drowning London over the past week it seems unlikely.

Since getting back to London I have managed to edit the footage I filmed the other week and have come up with a possible finished piece to show at the end of term. I also have to note that I finally finished reading Kerouac's beat odyssey "On The Road", which after two and a half years of going back and forth to feels like quite an achievement, almost as if I've been on the road with him for all that time and I've finally come to the end of the journey. Although the beats may not have been the most eloquent of writers they did know how to capture the spirit of the America of their time, and its hard to deny their influence on subsequent American culture, from Ed Ruscha's gasoline stations to Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, or Stephen Shore's Uncommon Places to pretty much every single road movie that's ever been made.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

No more self-pity..

I think that lately I've forgotten the pleasure that taking a photograph can contain, the capturing of an intimate or memorable moment in time to treasure forever. It should not be a laborious task, an agonising over composition and light and all the factors that it takes to make a photograph, but an instinctive reaction, a glance through the lens and pressing of the shutter and then treasuring whatever comes back from the processors, whether or not its perfectly sharp or nicely white balanced. Over the past few weeks I've felt my enjoyment waning, taking it all too seriously and beating myself up when I don't like what I see, trying to force the moment rather than let it happen. From today I will turn over a new leaf and remember the joys of taking a photograph, and hopefully, possibly, take a few shots that I can cherish until my dying day...

(Sorry if this is a little over sentimental/outright cheesy, I think I just had to come out and say it... This post was in some way inspired by this person, whose photography I'd forgotten I liked so much.)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A film I made today

Lately I've been exploring the relationship between photography and film, and I've become increasingly interested in the gaze, or glance, and its cinematic as well as photographic effect. Last week I made a book that took one second of footage from David Lynch's Mullholland Drive and presented it as twenty-four still images, or frames. I chose the scene at first because of the way the film is deals with classic Hollywood cliches, the tragic Hollywood dream, so to speak. As I've been reading more around the subject I've been finding more and more significance within the short clip I used, which I have now remade into a film using the stills I took from the original. Edward Branigan writes that "glances are so important to narrating a story world that the only glance that is generally avoided is a glance into the lens of the camera. A look into the camera breaks the diegesis because it makes the conventional reverse shot or eyeline match impossible". What I took from this is that a glance directly into the lens of the camera breaks the suspension of reality that the audience undergoes when watching a film (specifically in a cinema, the context of the gallery space is different). This suspension of reality is important, it is the forgetting of ourself and our surroundings that allow us to be truly absorbed into the world of the film, and so a direct glance from someone on screen would remind us of the fact that we are in fact watching the film. One particular scene sprung to mind when I was thinking about this, specifically for the way it does exactly what cinematic convention says not to - the actress on screen confronts the lens directly, thus breaking the illusion the film has set up. The scene in question is from the end of Jean-Luc Godard's "A bout de Souffle":

The effect of this shot employed by Godard is quite startling, there is a sense of the absorptive experience being broken, of being addressed directly as Jean Seberg's gaze bores into the lens, before she turns her head and the film draws to a close. It is as if Godard is addressing cinematic convention, reminding us just before we leave the cinema that we are in fact in the cinema watching actors and actresses on screen. It's an aside, in the same way Shakespearean soliloquies would often address the audience directly, engaging with them so as to let them know they have an awareness of their presence. Whatever his intentions it succeeds in raising questions about the cinema and the act of viewing - the role of spectator and the sense of forgetting one submits to when watching a film.