Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Published in these days the art book “Submerged landscapes: a pinhole photographic tale” by Martino Nicoletti of UWS


Inspired by an ancient pagan myth, the art book, through a selection of analogical pinhole photographs, narrates the tragic love story between the fascinating aquatic nymph Agilla and Prince Trasimenus, son of the powerful Etruscan King Tyrrhenus.

Background of the oneiric work is Trasimenus, the gorgeous and vast lake of Italy’s Umbria region as well as the original abode of Agilla.

The book, printed in Bangkok by Pharbim Ldt. Part., has been published in a limited edition of 99 numbered copies.


“Seen from the depths of the water, sunbeams appear just as shining reflections. Water is not only matter: it is a fluid kingdom, to which one may or may not belong. Earth is not only an element: it is a pulsating territory, to which one may or may not belong. Fire is not only a substance: it is a living realm of which one may be part, or not. The same is true of the air, if one knows anything about it. Penetrating elements or merging with them is a rare ability. Love can help. In some circumstances, premature death can also help. Sometimes. Penetrating, merging; even crossing. Bring lightning into your breast. Be blind. Keep a flame in the exact centre of your heart and follow it. A blissful blazing blindness”.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Intercultural dialogue: arts policy and practice in Europe

Graham Jeffery, Reader in Music and Performance, is a participant in Platform for Intercultural Europe's Practice Exchange at Rose Bruford College in London on the 15th and 16th December. His presentation on Thursday afternoon will explore whether the transformational claims that are often made for arts practice can be shown to be more than convenient rhetorics. Are there circumstances in which artistic interventions can be regarded as substantial social actions, which might be genuinely participatory and inclusive, and catalyze meaningful social change? Or are all such claims to be treated with justified suspicion as the 'instrumentalization of culture', and terms like 'social inclusion' or 'neighbourhood renewal', associated under the UK's previous government with significant public investment in cultural activities, simply to be treated as discredited slogans?

The arts are often celebrated as addressing and catalysing issues of cultural difference, providing grounds for transmitting and expressing cultural identity, developing conversations between strangers, or publicly provoking difficult questions which are ignored elsewhere in society. But in a febrile atmosphere of shrinking public funding, with policy now more ambivalent towards claims that the arts might contribute to intercultural understanding, what spaces, places and approaches are there that might offer some hopeful pointers?



Other presenters include Jatinder Verma, Dan Rebellato, Eugene Skeef, Hardish Virk, and Helen Burrows.


The full programme is available here

Friday, 10 December 2010

"STENOPEICA": in Bangkok a multimedia exhibition by Seubsakun Sarunputi, Martino Nicoletti, Toeingam Guptabutra and Alessandra Campoli




Friday 17 December 2010, the School of Media Arts of Silpakorn University, will present a multimedia exhibition by the artists Seubsakun Sarunputi, Martino Nicoletti, Toeingam Guptabutra and Alessandra Campoli.
In the suggestive framework of an abandoned traditional Thai house, the exhibition will display the results of an original combination of photography, visual poetry, writing, music, installation and performance.
Common denominator of the collective event is the idea of “stenopeica”, meaning “pinhole”: a sharp gaze through narrow possibilities for sight.


Silpakorn University, Sanamchandra Campus, Nakhonpratom
Reun Prakumsakkee House, 6 pm.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Performance Art workshop at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, held by Alessandra Campoli, PhD candidate at UWS

Alessandra Campoli, PhD candidate at UWS, is currently holding a one-month theoretical and practical workshop on Performace Art at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

The workshop aims to explore the creative praxis of performance art, in term of historical and aesthetic notions, as well as performance as a specific and autonomous art practice.

This is the first workshop on Performance Art held at Silpakorn University and it represents an opportunity for students to understand and experiment the possibilities of body expression and living performance as a part of their own artistic language and curriculum of studies.

Visit the blog of the workshop at:
www.performanceartsilpakorn.wordpress.com

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Tensions of Art-Based Practice in Educational Settings: Research and Learning in the Visual Arts

Clubroom, CCA Glasgow, 26th November 2010, 6.30pm


Dr Richard Siegesmund is Associate Professor of Art Education at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia, Athens.


One focus of his scholarly inquiry is arts-based research in the social sciences. He also writes on assessment of learning in visual arts practice. He co-edited Arts-Based Research in Education: Foundations for Practice (Routledge). His most recent publication is the book chapter, "Aesthetics as a curriculum of care and responsible choice", in Essays on aesthetic education for the 21st century (Sense). He also serves as president of Integrative Teaching International (integrativeteaching.org), a non-profit that critically reexamines the first year training of art+design college/university students as visual and social practices increasingly intersect. He completed his doctoral studies at Stanford University under the direction of Elliot Eisner. In 2003, his published research on arts-based assessment of student learning received the Manuel Barkan Memorial Award from the National Art Education Association. He currently is a visiting Fulbright Scholar to the Education Faculty of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland.


This event is free. Please contact Diarmuid McAuliffe if you wish to attend, email diarmuid.mcauliffe@uws.ac.uk
The MEd Artist Teacher programme at the Faculty of Education, Health and Social Sciences, Creative Practice/Research group and the MSc Research Methods programme at the Faculty of Business and Creative Industries at UWS are grateful for the support of the CCA for hosting this event.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Gentle Actions: Art Ecology Action, Oslo

Samantha Clark is participating in 'Gentle Actions: Art Ecology Action' at the Kunsternes Hus Oslo which opens with a symposium event this weekend, 23rd October and will run until 14th November.

For more information about the exhibition, seminar programme, film screenings and events, go to http://gentleactions.wordpress.com/about/.

S.P.I.L.L./S.T.I.L.L. is the result of a three-way collaboration between Sam, the US-based artist Anne Katrin Spiess and Norwegian ecophilosopher Per Ingvar Haukeland (University College of Telemark).

Sam's contribution project S.T.I.L.L. is documented here and will be updated over the duration of the exhibition.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

MashingUp: Art+Labour, 9th November, CCA Glasgow

Art+Labour is a public conversation exploring the conditions and experiences of creative labour in the cultural industries - working conditions, pay, working hours; freedom and autonomy, pleasure and obligation; insecurity and uncertainty; social reproduction, networking and isolation - and artists' organising within it - unions, artists' associations, or self-organised studio/exhibition spaces. What diverse forms of employment do artists undertake? Who are their employees? How secure and how flexible are these forms of employment? What are the conditions of employment and how are these changing? What can we say of artists' autonomy in relation to contemporary labour practices? How do cultural workers effectively organise around labour issues? What would it mean for artists to withdraw their labour in defence of conditions in one's primary or secondary employment? With successive governments' emphasis on arts' social function, how does communality express itself in competitive Creative Industries? What is industrial about the Creative Industries; where do 'Cultural' producers sit within the policy frame of the 'Creative' Industries? How do we as cultural producers recognise our own positions and dependency on/within/alongside the public sector? With the entrepreneurial restructuring of the arts in Scotland and in the face of selective public sector cuts throughout the UK, how constructive are artists' isolated appeals for a state of exception? What is so unique about artists in the social factory? These are some of the questions to be addressed during this public conversation. 

The discussion is open to anyone - cultural workers, artists, students, interns, precarious and self-organised labour affiliated to academia - concerned with issues of art, labour and economics. The event will begin with a series of short position statements from invited speakers followed by discussion among panelists and audience. 

Panelists include: 

Angela McRobbie Professor of Communications, Dept. of Media & Communications, Goldsmiths 

Scottish Artists Union The representative voice for artists in Scotland

Graham Jeffery Reader: Music and Performance, rhe School of Creative and Cultural Industries, UWS

Katarzyna Kosmala Reader, Centre for Contemporary European Studies, UWS 

Gesa Helms Researcher and artist


Brett Bloom Member of Chicago-based art collective Temporary Services who recently produced 'Art Work : A national conversation about art, labour, and economics' 

Owen Logan Researcher, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen

Facilitated by Gordon Asher Effective Learning Tutor, UWS Centre for Academic & Professional Development

Event is free but ticketed, tickets available from CCA Box Office: CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD tel : +44 (0)141 352 4900 http://www.cca-glasgow.com 

"MASHING UP" : Art+Labour is organised by Leigh French, co-editor of Variant, and Sophie Hope, member of Making A Living, in co-operation with Graham Jeffery of the School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of the West of Scotland, and supported by CCA, Glasgow. 

 “MASHING-UP...” A Public Lecture Series presented by UWS and CCA This ongoing lecture series stimulates critical, transdisciplinary research communities to discuss advanced knowledge and to build networks of excellence among producer communities. ‘Mashing up’ [definition] "a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service. The term mashup implies easy, fast integration...to produce results that were not the original reason for producing the raw source data" (Wikipedia, 2009). The lecture series exhibits the values of new media culture to explore synergies between institutions, ideas and disciplines. This aspiration originates with the UWS and CCA partnership, which extends to the specific areas of inquiry that we pursue. It advances the core mission of each organization to initiate applied, international research opportunities through experimental, local dialogue to foster collaborative, bottom-up, sustainable practices of development. #mashingup We want attendees to blog, photograph, film, tweet and do all they can to share the content of these talks to democratize access to knowledge.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

"The visual imagination: across boundaries". UWS @ ACSA Conference, Bangkok.

Alessandra Campoli and Martino Nicoletti, both PhD candidates at UWS, will present a paper at the international conference organized by Asian Cultural Studies Association, at Assumption University in Bangkok (1-3 November 2010)
The 2010 conference theme is "The visual imagination: across boundaries"


Imagination has more than often been conceived of as an art of forming mental images, particularly in relation to objects and phenomena not completely perceived in reality. But if imagination resorts to images then does not the notion of the visual imagination imply a sense of redundancy? If, on the other hand, the word “visual” refers us to the sphere of sensory perception then how can we utilize the sense of sight to arrive at a realistic representation of illusion? In what sense then are images visual and in what sense are they imaginary?


These and similar questions, concerning the concept of imagination, the role of visual representation, or the use of images, have been addressed by artists and art theorists throughout the world. As a creative force, imagination has been integral in understanding individual artistic endeavours, seen as a key concept in aesthetics and art theory. And since art is a form of cultural expression, it is only natural to expect the visual imagination to abound in cultural connotations. This conference seeks to explore the connections between the visual forms of artistic expression and the concept of creative imagination across cultures.


Alessandra will present a paper devoted to the concept of ephemeral in Thai contemporary media arts. Martino will explore visual imagination in Nepalese shamanic rituals.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Document 8 International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival @ CCA Glasgow 26 -31 October

Document International Film Festival raises awareness of social justice issues at local and international levels.

On Wednesday 27th October 2010, 12-6pm students, filmmakers, artists,activists and academics will explore human rights issues addressing the questions of witnessing and representation.
Katarzyna Kosmala and Kirsten Mcleod will deliver workshop based sessions.
Katarzyna (3.40pm) will lead the session on representation of sex as labour in the context of New Europe: Making commodification more visible? and Kirsten (2.30pm) will deliver a workshop on community film and human rights locally.

We have a number of allocated tickets available. Please contact us if you would like to take part in the Student Forum.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Samantha Clark in Stromness: ecology/art/landscape

Last week Samantha Clark gave a presentation to the second forum meeting of
CORE (Creative Research into the Natural Environment) which was held
at the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney 23rd September. The CORE
network, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, brings together
artists, writers, landscape architects, anthropologists and
scientists to explore creative responses to environmental change,
with a view to forging interdisiciplinary collaborative research
projects on the theme of 'Measuring the Environment: Morphology/
Mythology'. Also presenting in Stromness were Dr Jo Lee Vergunst,
anthroplogist based at the University of Aberdeen, Dr Richard Irvine,
anthropologist from the University of Cambridge, and (via Skype) David
Storch Leed, a young Inuit from the remote community of Rodebay,
North West Greenland.

Sam gave a presentation on her recent project 'A Year of Breathing'
which is leading onto a new project 'STILL' for Gentle Actions, a
series of art and ecology events at Kunsternes Hus, Oslo which will
take place next month. These interconnected projects explore our
personal and bodily relationship with global atmospheric carbon,
raise the issue of what we choose not to do, and explicitly value
stillness as a counterpoint to urgent calls for 'action' on
environmental concerns.

A Year of Breathing Blog site is here: http://
www.yearofbreathing.blogspot.com/

The blog site for Gentle Actions is here: http://
gentleactions.wordpress.com/about/
Watch this space as the project unfolds.

and more info here: http://weadartists.org/oct-23-nov-14-gentle-
actions-conference

While in Stromness, Sam also was a participating lecturer in a week
long international workshop for Landscape Architects. EMILA (European
Masters in Landscape Architecture) brought together students and
academics from five European institutions (in Spain, Germany,
Holland, France and Scotland) to explore and consider future
scenarios for the predicted rapid social and environmental change
facing the Orkney Islands as they develop new renewable energy
infrastructures.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Kirsten McLeod: screenings and events

Doctoral researcher Kirsten McLeod is presenting work at two events in October and November. As part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, a short film Kirsten produced is being shown at GMAC/Streetlevel Gallery at Tron 103 on Thursday 7th October between 7-10pm. It's titled "Playtime" and is about  remembering and rediscovering the joys of childhood fun. The film is also part of the touring exhibition, Time Out: Arts Showcase and will also be screened at Cardonald Library on  14th October 1-7pm and Pollok Civil Realm: 21st,  1-7pm. There is also a photography exhibition, Mutter Shutter associated with the project. 

As part of the Viewpoints Community Film Festival, Kirsten is organising a Community Media Networking Day at CCA Glasgow on Thursday 18th November for practitioners and participants of community media to network, show their work and discuss issues surrounding community based media. It is a free event, between 12-6pm, with a showcase of young people's films in the evening produced by SWAMP and Plantation Productions. More details to follow, but if you are a community based filmmaker, or know of anyone who would like to take part or come along, do contact Kirsten at kirstenmac [at] clara.co.uk.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Ayr Alternative Arts Day, 25th September


We are working with our friends at Ayrtime and South Ayrshire Council to support Ayr Alternative Arts Day on Saturday 25th September. It features a number of UWS connections:  curated by doctoral researcher Chris Dooks, part of the day includes performances by Boy Angel Productions, a company set up by UWS graduates Lindalouise Martin and Dougie Grieg.  UWS Reader in Music and Performance Graham Jeffery will also be performing From the River to the Sea, an audio piece put together with sounds from the walk from the campus to the harbour in Ayr.
The day also includes readings from acclaimed authors Eleanor Thom, author of The Tin-Kin, Jason Donald, author of Choke Chain and Karen Campbell, author of The Twilight TimeAfter The Fire and Shadowplay.And artist Alex Norris will present his work on The Art of the Diary. Full information on the Ayrtime website.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

OLD/NEW NEW/OLD


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Art practice and co-creation


This international collaborative project,
co-organized, co-curated and co-convened by Katarzyna Kosmala explores the themes of

Boundless Creativity/Urban Subversion
The events related to these themes take place
at Bilgi University, Santral in Istanbul on the 1st and 2nd September:
the workshop with presentations/performances, the roundtable and the group exhibition
Old/New New/Old
Altermodern context is based on a series of departures and arrivals. Drawing on Paul Virilo’s aesthetics of disappearance and Marc AugĂ©’s idea of non-place, we have collated a series of the interactive initiatives to co-reflect upon the processes of knowledge exchange. A chaotic universe of communication, travel and migration affects and reflects the multiple genre of representing. A place can be viewed as a relational zone, a geographical landmark, or an area still–to–be–filled with signification and meaning.

Embracing the instability and movement, the project explores a domain of practice/research at the peripheries of dominant knowledge production. At the cross-roads of our academic, social and artistic expression we map the examples of creative practice at boundaries in order to reflect on alternative forms of organizing and processes of transient knowledge production, including:

Umbilical viators and exiles (Miguel Imas /Alia Weston)
Art installation and resisting dominant (Katarzyna Kosmala)
Market Estate Project: A triptych (Maria Daskalaki)
I love deadlines! Performing time (Jean-Luc Moriceau)
Music: Breathing out as organizing beyond controlling (Nick Wilson/ Howard Milner)

By intertwining a complex structure of more or less obvious connections that frame art practice today, the included and the excluded territories, localities as well as their organizational forms, we experiment with the field of potentiality for boundary-less creativity. An altermodernity becomes a method of engagement, opening up ideas for cultural production. The hybrid ways we live and work are acknowledged as the consequences of intersectionality of global markets and dominant ideologies that are continuously mediated by translation, multiculturalism and fragmentation.

The question remains and haunts us: Can creative borderline processes of a more nomadic nature carve a legitimate space for itself in a dominant culture of global markets, digital technologies and shifting social and political forces?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Contemporary Art and Environmental Aesthetics

UWS Lecturer in Digital Art Samantha Clark has just published this article in the journal Environmental Values. Abstract follows: 


Aesthetic debates within contemporary art have been tangential to the debates in environmental aesthetics since the 1960s. I argue that these disciplines, having evolved separately in response to the limitations of traditional aesthetics, may now usefully inform each other. Firstly, the dematerialisation of art as the focus of aesthetic experience may have environmentally useful consequences. Secondly, Gablik's 'connective aesthetics', like Berleant's 'aesthetics of engagement', folds aesthetic experience into the social as a kind of environmental aesthetics. Thirdly, contemporary art's flexible readings of 'framing' can respond to 'frameless' natural environments, and finally, Kester's 'dialogical aesthetics' may be enriched by Berleant's systematic account of 'contextual aesthetics'.

Spaces of encounter: Artists, conversations, and meaning-making

Several members of the UWS research community have just been at RGU in Aberdeen for the North East Scotland Visual Arts Research Network's doctoral summer school. Alongside presentations of some fascinating practice-led doctoral projects, including UWS' Kirsten Mcleod's work on participatory film making and community media, there were keynote presentations and seminars from Ray Langenbach, Jay Koh, Kathleen Coessens, Chu Chu Yuan, and Graham Jeffery. 

The slides from Graham's presentation are reproduced below.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Call for papers: Practice-led research in the arts

Special Issue on Practice-Led Research in the Arts


Creative Industries Journal (Intellect)
http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Journal,id=145/


The Creative Industries Journal is planning a Special Issue on Practice-Led Research in the Arts/Creative Industries.


Ideas for papers looking at any aspect of Practice-Led Research in the Arts are greatly welcomed, as are "work-in-progress" suggestions. Approaches to Practice-Led Research  in the Arts/Creative Industries - from all disciplines that work in the area - are greatly encouraged.


Suggested topics/foci might be as "blue skies" as entirely speculative individual investigations of creative or critical knowledge in a particular arts practice (eg. Creative Writing, Film-making, Drama, Fine Art, Art and Design, Music, Architecture). Or topics might focus on "sector specific/knowledge transfer" type investigations, linked to the needs/aims of particular Creative Industries sub-sectors. All welcome.


This Special Issue will be an opportunity to explore the many aspects of Practice-Led Research in the Arts, and to consider both the development of knowledge through arts practice research and the investigation of modes of engagement, actions and activities, and critical understandings.


While undoubtedly it will be impossible to cover every possible area of this considerable set of human practices, it would be pleasing to show a great cross-section.


Initial enquiries - preferably by 1st September - can be made to:


Professor Graeme Harper FRSA, Special Issue Editor, at:


graeme@graemeharper.com


Deadline for drafts will be: 31 October 2010


Final Drafts: 1 December 2010

Thursday, 1 July 2010

MA: Music: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

‘There’s something happening in here.
What it is ain’t exactly clear…’

(For What It’s Worth/Buffalo Springfield)


Although Stephen Stills wrote those lyrics about a riot on the Sunset Strip back in the revolutionary 60’s, that sentiment could just as easily apply to the current state of the music industry.

A new music initiative from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) is addressing this situation by offering a ground-breaking new course that aims  to be as creative, energetic and innovative as the best of '6os thinking and create its own educational revolution.
                           
The worlds of academia and business have been radically brought together in UWS’ MA Music: Innovation & Entrepreneurship which commences in Glasgow this September.

It is a one-year course aimed at anyone who is passionate about music and wants to set up their own music-related business.

 The MA is the first course of its kind in the UK and has the backing of major iconic figures from the music industry including Geoff Travis of Rough Trade whose forward thinking attitude resulted in what we now know as the independent sector.

Programme Leader Alan McCusker-Thompson says:

‘The traditional music industry is a ghost that’s sitting at the table. Everybody keeps talking to it as if it’s still there but it’s dead. This course is about learning to ‘think different’. It’s not about working in the music industry. It’s about working with music’.

To show how much the times are changing, in the first semester students ‘homework’ will include organising  a one day music conference at the CCA during which an entire album featuring a variety of Scottish acts will be recorded, mixed and mastered from scratch, the packaging designed and the whole thing physically manufactured  and given to delegates  as they leave the conference. It will also be made  available, digitally, around the world on the same day.


While the programme is ideally suited to artist entrepreneurs who wish to set up their own record labels, management or publishing companies, it seeks to go beyond this and develop music-related business ideas that may span everything from apps to fashion to hotels and beyond.


‘In one sense, the course is a blank page. We don’t know where it’s going to go but we want to create the environment where talented, energised individuals can push the envelope in generating new income streams’.

In effect, the course, which is delivered right in the heart of Glasgow at the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) will function as a business incubation unit for cutting-edge, music products, processes and services.

Each student will have their own ‘digital board’ drawn from academia and the creative industries who will support them throughout their year of development and the programme  will ultimately connect students  with potential backers for their ideas.

‘Music has a phenomenal reach and cachet within the creative industries and enhances all media platforms both aesthetically and commercially. That’s why we’re involving practitioners from business, the internet, the film, TV, games, publishing and fashion industries…oh yes, and the music industry’.

The course will suit those who have an undergraduate qualification or prior experience in music, the performing arts, art and graphic design, media, film, business or any of the creative industries; however it is not confined to these backgrounds.

The programme is delivered mainly at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in the centre of Glasgow, where the University’s School of Creative & Cultural Industries has a hub and also at Film City, Govan. Delivery of some programme options will also be offered at the University’s Ayr and Paisley campuses.


Applications can be made through www.uws.ac.uk

Contact Programme Leader, Alan McCusker-Thompson on 07977 224258 or alan.mccusker-thompson@uws.ac.uk for further information.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Mashing Up: Practice+Research: Graham Jeffery

Graham Jeffery's introductory presentation for the MashingUp:Practice+Research symposium.
Practice/Research: debates and dialogues

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Mashing Up: Practice+Research: Nic Jeune

Videos from Artswork Media at Bath Spa University, where Nic Jeune, one of our guest speakers yesterday, is the director. 

Mashing Up: Practice+Research: Chris Dooks

The first in a series of posts from our MashingUp: Practice and Research symposium at the CCA on 19th May.


Here's the text of the talk by artist Chris Dooks. Links to his work can be found at www.dooks.org.




My name is Chris Dooks and I am a Polymash. I’ll be speaking about my
perception of mash‐ups and musing on interdisciplinary art and trying to work
out if I have any role in this. I guess my talk is related to, as opposed to being
about the wikipedia definition of the web mashup ‐ where two sources of
content are merged to form a new fusion.

I’m not a Polymath, though, oh no, even though I liked being called one by a
High Falltuin’ newspaper. My definition of a Polymash, as opposed to a true
Polymath is someone whose output is a little more bastard‐like, in the Heinz
57 sense. A little shambolic, not always creating patterns of logic and order –
hence Polymash, unlike someone who is the living embodiment of “Having
Learned Much” – the Greek definition of a true polymath the practitioner of
which, is an exemplar of this “Having Learned Much”.

Not me. I’ve learned maybe six or seven things and hundreds of short cuts,
plus I’m terrible with numbers. I’m probably fairly low‐IQ. I’m aesthetically
driven, so I would fail a Mensa test. A Polymash – the word I invented, is more
a make‐do mashup noun – a bit Health Robinson. If you’ve ever seen TVs
Scrapheap Challenge I am the bodger, welding different parts of my practice
together to fit, and if the measurements are wrong, I’ll just say it’s part of the
charm of the piece. I am in constant dispute with someone in the USA who
claims he invented the word polymash, but I believe it’s me, five years before
him. He owns the dot com, I am the dot org.

My registered business name is Polymash Digital Art Services. And my brief talk
and screening explain why I became my own sort of mash‐up and what my
awareness and definition of a mash‐up is, so lets start there. Some people
define a mash‐up in musical pop terms when you graft Kylie’s chorus onto
Missy Elliot’s verbage. Or as the Pet Shop Boys said : “Che Guevara and Debussy
to a Disco Beat

But mash ups or genre‐clashes have always been around. In fact you might say
that any new cultural artifact is a mash‐up because it presents say, 50%
original creative thought in the 50% context of it’s precursers. This is like true
traditional music, that keeps some of the old with some of the new, to survive.
We live in showy times, so I think one of the reasons we are discussing this
idea today is because the mash up has risen very high in the cultural radar, and
musical or video mashups are easy to share on your facebook page.

When someone emails you a video of five cats singing Independent Woman by
Destiny’s Child in North of England flat caps, smoking fags and playing the
double bass and banjo, it is likely to go viral very quickly. In internet mash up
terms that’s an oldie but goodie now.

When two genres clash for the first time though it’s a real thrill. Twin Peaks
was a mash up and David Lynch is a Polymash par excellence; He distills
several cultural elements like an alchemist ‐ the combination of nostalgic
midwestern film drama augmented by manipulating Jungian psychology, bits
of Bunuel and peppered with primal performance art under the marquee of
trust by a broadcaster. The Twin Peaks mash up really sealed the term
Lynchian – which is almost mash‐up shorthand now. If we hear it now, we
know it’s going to be a heady mix. And mix is the key word.

But maybe we are reading too much into mash‐ups, maybe the mash up is just
an early form of wholistic idea‐integration, like those of the Rennaisance
artists. Initial mashups, and in fact early works by artists, musicians and
filmmakers can often simply wear their techniques on their sleeves, so you are
more likely to witness a culture clash, a bastard pop and so on, early on in
someone’s career. Maybe that’s all a mashup is.

Perhaps as artists get more confident they want to be seen to grow and
develop, so the mash up becomes subtle, a little more refined. And then when
it is really grown up it becomes it’s own thing in it’s own right. It just becomes
good work, like Lynch, just a good mix of elements. It maybe doesn’t need a
name anymore. Maybe there’s something playful or Juvenille in the mash‐up,
maybe the mash‐up is like the first few seconds of the early universe where
everything is hot and molten and potential systems are not yet fully formed,
anything could happen, it’s exciting! One thing is grafted onto another. And
then a few billion years later it all cools down a bit, systems form, patterns
emerge, planets are bourn, arts council grants are signed and then you get
your own show at the CCA.

Anyway, I’ll stop here on mash ups, because I’m not a mash‐up, but I think it’s
useful to see, to what extent that different creative worlds stay or stray from
their own boxes even if the same person made these apparently disparate
forms. This is the daily mesh of the Polymash’s practice. It is very common
now in new media artists, to see writing, directing, composing, wordsmithing,
singing, speaking, performing by the same artist ‐ for example the same
shambolic Northerner in my case.

The following vaguely chronological list sounds a bit Me Me Me. In fact, I was
talking to a manager of an arts centre in Ireland and she said she always knew
when she had an email or letter from an artist immediately as it had a lot of I, I,
I in it.

So… I have worked as…
Malt Whisky Salesman. New Media Artist. Photographer. TV Director. Film
Maker. Sound Recordist. Artist in Residence. Musician in Residence. Storyteller
in Residence. Course Tutor. Course Leader. Curator. Psychogeographer. Sound
Artist in Residence. Festival Director. Web Designer. Book Cover Designer.
Podcaster. Course Governer. Body Double in a Sex Scene for the less popular
Irvine Welsh film The Acid House. Irvine Welsh’s Driver. Technician at FE
College. Gofer. Anthropological Researcher. Archivist. And finally Malt Whisky
Drinker.

I knew what I wanted to do when I was 8 though.

I wanted to direct Raiders of The Lost Ark. I was a religious little kid and would
constantly get these epiphanies in church, but curiously more so in cinema. I
think what had really happened is that I had discovered culture; orchestral
music and the photographic image. I would be a famous film director. Or a
priest.

Cinema seemed to be the place where everything overlapped. The writer, the
photography, the score, performance – a team effort of different disciplines
honed by a director. I wanted to be close to God and the director was a kind of
god. I made little super 8 films, used cassette recorders together to edit
soundtracks. I was a lonely wee kid at times, and mainly did everything myself.
In my head, I was on course for big stuff and I was barely at the big school.
Fast forward to 1991 and I am sneering at some layabout pot‐head on my film,
tv and radio course in Cleveland. I failed to get into a grown‐up university or
film school because I was obsessed by a girl at school who looked like Kate
Bush. That was then, now in 1991 I am the hardest working kid in
showbusiness. Or student BTEC film.

Anyway this pot‐head was having a chat with one of the course leaders, typical
of his type who didn’t really want to be teaching, so the lazy buggers got on
perfectly well. Why was I sneering at this lazy, dopey pseudo‐goth? Because he
hadn’t decided what he wanted to do. He wanted to do a bit‐of‐everything. A
master of nothing, I thought. Little did I know I would be doing a little bit of
everything for art and for a living.

Fast forward to 2010. Everything has changed. Everything. My TV directing
career was over by 1999. I am in the eleventh year of a highly inconvenient
sickness. I have had to change every aspect of my life. Everything.
My body betrayed my ambition. It’s not quite Diving Bell and The Butterfly, but
to coin a frankly useful clichĂ© – I had to undergo a paradigm shift. I became a
Polymash.

I nearly changed my name to Polymash by deed poll. I also nearly became a
Buddhist Monk. Here’s how it happened.

I realised over the years I hadn’t been single minded, I’d been a control freak
but had picked up some useful skills along the way. Although back on my BTEC
I was very focussed, I didn’t work well in a team, so unconsciously I’d been
picking up all these weird little skills. I stayed back late to learn how to edit
radio programmes with a chinagraph pencil and razor blade – this was the
beginning of the music side of my career, I’d master the edit suite – this
enhanced my music technology whilst video‐editing, I learned how to word
process and design sleeves for VHS covers – this was the beginning of my web
design practice, I mastered blue‐screen video – this became photography and
photoshop, street vox pops – this became podcasting and sound recording.
Back then, I thought all this meant I was going to be a filmmaker. What it
actually meant after my diagnosis in 1999, was that I had a digital artist’s
skillset and to a small extent the world was to turn in my favour.

This is where Polymash comes from. Where collision of situation and skillset
have to plot or carve a niche in the world. And that’s what I do. I ended up
having a reasonable portfolio across the board. And it means I don’t just
subscribe to the visual arts newsletter of the SAC, it might be for an electroacoustic
residency, or like in Brighton where I was songwriter in residence for
Terence Conran’s Embassy Court – a modernist building.

Before some clips I want to recount a wee tale from a few years ago where I
did actually turn into a bona fide mash‐up. I was talking to a friend about a
writer I think. We are both M.E. sufferers, so there’s often a bit of cognitive fog
to say the least. Low oxygen in the brain and the odd silly synapse.
I was trying to say how the trouble with this writer was that they “over‐egg the
pudding” and complicate things. What I actually said was “The trouble with her
is that she overcomplicates the egg” which was actually a better sentence than
my rational mind, had in mind. This sums up my approach to making art,
where malfunctions of my mind and body result in combinations and leaps
that would not take place otherwise. Probably more mashed potato than
mashup in the traditional sense.

I will now present some clips of work. I am just going to say literally a few
words about each piece and then if there are any Q and A – that would be ideal.
The first piece of work I will show is a 5 minute video made in 2005 by myself
and furtherfield.org about my Psychogeographic Tour of Edinburgh – The
Erica Tetralix Polyfaith Tour of Edinburgh. I have handed out some maps of
the tour you can take away with you.


What you have just seen is a lie. A kind lie. And I am going to spoil the ending
of the project. This is a project about shrubs. It has nothing to do with religion.
It is aimed at people searching for something. I worked for many years with
the middle east festival in Edinburgh and I was a fairly devout Buddhist. I still
hold many of the teachings dear. One of the teachings I like, is that there’s a
focus on proximity in Buddhism, that you’ve to pay attention to this moment,
or this breath, or this object and so on. But in practice people look elsewhere
for enlightenment. And not just enlightenment – holidays. People go for
hundreds of miles to go on holiday, yet don’t know how many varieties of bird
sing in their back garden, where they come from and where they go. So
Polyfaith.com takes you on a story around ten stations in Edinburgh. And
there’s something to see in each station. But there’s something hinted at all the
way through. And that is shrubs. So there’s two ways to read the tour. And I’m
interested in that moment when the penny drops, because when that penny
drops there might be a minor epiphany and for (me) ‐ the Athiest who lost
faith due to reason, that’s a nice place to be. Death underpins all my projects.
Polyfaith.com is now defunct, but I have a mirror site up if anyone wants to do
the tour. Come ask me with a pen and paper. I also have another tour of
Edinburgh available which is very popular, which takes place in Advocates
Close.

OK. Keeping it eclectic, I am now going to play you some music from various
projects over the years. This is a two minute reel. The visuals are not so
important.

Music Reel Screening.

Lastly, I am going to end with a 7 minute film that was made in 1997 just
before I became unwell. It was part of Scottish Screen’s Prime Cuts series. This
cost £30,000 to make, which I would have rather have had for a deposit for a
flat because I tended to do everything myself. The idea of this project was that
it trains everyone with union rates, so I was obliged to have help. It didn’t stop
me from doing everything else. At the time, it was the only non‐narrative
(although I don’t like that term) film Scottish Screen had funded.


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