A few years ago something happened that nearly turned my world upside down, and there wasn’t really anything I could do as it wasn’t happening to me, all I felt was some of the effects. One of my best friends had gone through something painful and didn’t manage to deal with it properly and instead tucked it away, out of sight out of mind right? Wrong, things later took a turn for the worst and they broke down mentally and all sorts of things occurred, they thought about taking their life on numerous occasions and even wrote out goodbye messages.
I am still very good friends with this person and fortunately they are in a much better and happier place now, but we recently spoke about this situation as we had never really spoken about it before. I didn’t record what they had said but I listened to their stories and what doctors had said, asked questions I had never been brave enough to ask before and exchange my experience of this situation. It was truly heartbreaking and eye opening at the same time as I listened and was shown intimate material from family members and from others who were going through something similar.
As I went away I thought about how deep and compelling our version of events was and how far we had come, a story that had to be told in some form.
When looking into these themes and doing my research I have had lots of images appear in my mind, but thought these did not amount to anything and having thought I had now ideas I soon realised that these images that had been conjured up in my mind were elements of ideas.
So here’s what I have come up with for each theme;
P O W E R
The power of the sexes in powerful sports which require both physical and mental strength, such as kick boxing, weight lifting, body building taekwondo etc either in form of a documentary or mockumentary.
S P E C T A C L E
A series of photographs of people who are seen as freaks, weird, and whacky. A spectacle of society. People with numerous piercings, tattoos, deformities, different sense of style. The way people scream out to be noticed and stand out vs. those who have no choice.
M E M O R Y
A shocking and memorable short film, about the powers of the mind and how memory can in fact destroy someone, make them crack. Based on a true story.
Unfortunately despite applications to volunteer at various festivals I have not been able to attend one, though I did attend a somewhat community festival where many local business’s promote themselves. Gives me a rough idea of how one might go about promoting their self. However, I have done further research on one of the festivals I applied to volunteer at which was the Raindance Film Festival.
Raindance Film Festival is Europe’s leading independent film festival, and is known for it’s edgy, bold and daring nature being branded as the most ‘controversial in Europe’ and listed by Variety as one of the top 50 unmissable film festivals.. Raindance started in 1993 and this year it is celebrating its 20th anniversary at it’s home in Bloomsbury, Central West London. The main vision of Raindance is to nurture, support and promote independent films and filmmakers not only from the UK but also around the world, as a result of this it is known as the most noted festival of discovery and for launching debut filmmakers in Europe. There has been numerous big screen name guests at the festival such as Christopher Nolan, Shane Meadows, Ken Roach, Quentin Tarantino and many more!
Film makers get a lot out of this festival when looking at promoting themselves and exhibiting their work, as last year there was a pop up festival cafe where events were held and mingling and networking took place. There was also more exhibition chances as there were week day, evening, and weekend matinees were held, but the way I think most film makers get noticed is through interviews and the internet where people that haven’t been able to attend the festival or missed a certain film can watch and rate the film online at filmaster.com, and also through the big name guests. In most cases you are likely to get noticed by the supporters of the festival which tend to be film associated too.
As with almost all festivals you cannot premier or show your film publicly if you want to enter it as a submission, and in this case it can make it hard to promote your work, however this is where most film makers have to get creative in advertising their film with flyers, teasers, campaigns, and to get noticed and get your film a greater audience these elements have to be strong and stand out. Raindance do a lot of this to promote their festival and get noticed take a look;
The best thing about entering this festival and others is that after being screened your film will be eligible for a lot of other awards such as the British Independent Film Awards. Also even if you don’t win any awards but you still enter you are given a free festival pass and attend other screenings and events and therefore network until your hearts content.
The three main themes we will be concerned with this year are spectacle, power, and memory, and so I have done a little research around these words and their meanings.
S P E C T A C L E,
Has four meanings all very similar as the word is derived from old French and Latin words meaning ‘to watch’ and ‘to look at’.
1.A spectacle is something that can be seen or viewed, and is especially something of a remarkable or impressive nature, this can be a public performance or display, especially one that is on a large or lavish scale.
2.Spectacle can be a regrettable public display, in general this could be a fight, disorderly behaviour or bad behaviour over all.
3. Another way spectacle can be described, is if a strange or interesting object or phenomenon occurs.
4. Finally we have the obvious meaning we all think of, which is spectacle as a lens (spectacles).
To sum up a spectacle is a visual impact, something that has to be seen there and then and not recreated, which is why is breathes life into the word Spectacular.
P O W E R,
When looking at the word power it comes under all sorts of meanings and definitions, the biggest and most common ones we think of are;
1. Power as a strength or force exerted, electrical, physical or mechanical.
2. An authoritative figure, group or nation who have influence over others, good or bad.
We don’t often think of our minds or our abilities and capabilities as power do we?
But when compared to someone or something that is less able or capable they are powers and we ourselves as humans are powerful. Power exists everywhere and in everything.
M E M O R Y,
Memory is an ultimate storage unit that retains information from the past and relevant information for future use, and comes in two forms;
1. The mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience, the act or an instance of remembering and recollection from the brain. This can be broken down further into short term and long term memory, and furthermore into how you store certain information i.e words but more likely visually.
2. Memory is also concerned with computer data in which a unit preserves and retains data for retrieval. Memory can also be a small chip which holds data and can be transferred. Both can be updated, revised, or erased as desired.
A memory bank is created over time, but it can take just one thing to make or spark a memory. The brain is the most dangerous memory bank as just as it holds amazing memories it can hold just as many bad ones, and unlike data memory it can not be destroyed so easily.
Having looked more closely into these words it has become clear that to each there is more than meets the eye and has taught me more than ever to think outside the box.
Also whilst visiting the Tate in London I found myself drawn to the Poetry and Dream exhibition due to the name, as it sounded as though the art could be very interesting and imaginative in a non classical way. When looking at the art in this exhibition, and thinking about the themes it was clear to me that the pieces that stood out to me had a real connection with at least one of the themes if not two.
The displays in Poetry and Dream show how contemporary art grows from, reconnects with, and can provide fresh insights into the art of the past. The large room at the heart of the wing is devoted to Surrealism, while the surrounding displays look at other artists who, in different ways, have responded to or diverged from Surrealism, or explored related themes such as the world of dreams, the unconscious and archetypal myth. These displays also show how characteristically Surrealist techniques such as free association, the use of chance, biomorphic form and bizarre symbolism have been reinvigorated in new contexts and through new media, often at far remove from the intentions of their pioneers.
Here a few of the artists that caught my eye:
Marcel Mariën – Star Dancer 1991
Born in 1920 – Deceased in 1993
Marcel was a Belgian surrealist and later became a Situationist, and put his hand to many things as he was, a poet, essayist, photographer, collagist, filmmaker, and maker of objects. However, Marcel was not only an artist, but also a publisher, a bookseller, a sailor, a journalist in China and an elaborate Surrealist prankster. Being a surrealist he followed the tradition of making unexpected combinations of objects to reveal hidden or poetic meanings. In Star Dancer (above), the addition of a toy shoe creates a visual rhyme between a starfish and the leg of a dancer. I found this picture compelling as you can picture the starfish as a ballet dancer leaping from side to side of a stage, and when bringing in the themes you can see the spectacle of the piece as something strange, as the shoe looks as if it should be on a Barbie doll. I think it is a memorable piece of art but for me it’s more powerful in the memories it brings back to me as a little girl playing in big shoes, pretending to dance and playing with dolls and putting there shoes on other objects to make them come alive.
Man Ray – The Lovers 1933
Born in 1890 – Deceased in 1976
Man Ray was an American modernist artist and spent most of his career in Paris. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. Man also produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. The Lovers, 1933, editioned replica 1973, consists of a rolled lead sheet with the outline of lips painted onto it. A loop of rope extends from one end, suggesting a head, while two other sections of rope, linking the two ends of the lead sheet, complete the suggestion of a body. Love was central to surrealism, and this work is an expression of the group’s fascination with, and devotion to, a concept of love that embraced desires, dreams and philosophical meditations on the nature of reality. I was drawn to this piece also in the same display as Star Dancer, as I thought it had a very powerful message in that love represented by the lips, something so soft can in fact be hard. Also that love can be strong either in the sense that it is a strong bond that cannot be broken, or strong in the sense that it is so powerful it can be dangerous and deadly, as when I see the thick almost noosed rope I see suicides and broken hearts. This piece is powerful due to the hard materials used and the signals it send out.
Karel Appel – Questioning Children 1949
Born in 1921 – Deceased in 2006
Christiaan Karel Appel was a Dutch painter, sculptor, and poet, he started painting at the age of 14 and was one of the founders of the avant-garde movement Cobra in 1948. Appel prepared the surface of Questioning Children by nailing discarded pieces of wood to an old window shutter. The vibrant colours and roughly-painted figures recall the spontaneity of children’s art. CoBrAartists believed that such unconventional sources could re-invigorate post-war culture. In the same year Appel also used the title Questioning Children for a controversial mural at the Town Hall in Amsterdam, which was condemned as incomprehensible, and covered over with wallpaper. There is a note of tragedy in these works as the Dutch title also means ‘begging children’ and evokes scenes of poverty that Appel had witnessed in post-war Germany. At first I was drawn to this piece as again like Star Dancer it evoked my inner child, with all the bright colours and child like paintings, but after reading the above which was displayed next to the piece I was overcome with sadness, as I then saw the powerfulness of the picture. Having looked at it a second time after reading the description I could see and almost hear deprived children with innocent and confused faces asking why they are in this position, this piece quickly turned from happiness to sadness with just a second glance, this is what I call powerful.
In this exhibition there were some other displays that caught my eye as they were big and bold, either making a spectacle of the room or portraying a powerful message.
Jannis Kounellis – Untitled 1979
Mike Kelley – Channel One, Channel Two, and Channel Three 1994
This is what each channel looked like inside, there was a intriguing build up waiting in a queue wondering what it was you could see, and then almost a disappointment once you did look, this is one of Kelley’s traits ‘ Kelley’s work confronts the viewer with unexpected associations and sabotages expectations, often to tragicomic effect.’
Joseph Beuys’ installtion Artist Rooms this is one of them I saw. this was breath taking as it was almost the whole height of the room, it had all to itself making me feel very small and insignificant, what a spectacle!
I recently experienced some live art when visiting the Tate Modern, it was a very new experience to say the least but was most intriguing. The exhibitions ranged from sound and light to innovative and freely moving art contributed voluntarily by the public who wished to get involved.
These are the two particular pieces of live art that drew me in.
Lis Rhodes: Light Music – lis-rhodes-light-music
‘A major figure in the history of artists’ filmmaking in Britain and was a leading member of the influential London Filmmakers’ Co-op.’
This is the exhibition I wanted to see the most, and in my eyes it didn’t disappoint. The room was beautifully smoky with a projector set up either side and seats around the edge to sit and watch. The projectors projected bars of different sizes either side and the space between them allowed for people to walk, admire, dance, or play with the shadows they created on the wall projection. The projections that are shown are synced with music made for the projection, it’s quite high pitched and invites you to play. This more than any other brought the theme of spectacle to mind as I watched people play with their shadows projected and others who looked on watch and listening in perfect peace, I myself would have played around and probably pretended to be a ballerina had I been in that room alone. Art can be simple and fantastic at the same time so long as it has the power to invite people and intrigue them at the same time, capturing their minds just for a moment.
Haegue Yang: Dress Vehicles – haegue-yang-dress-vehicles
‘Works with everyday materials, often domestic ones, to create colourful installations that frequently combine industrial materials with sensory effects using light and scent. ‘
Dress Vehicles drew me in straight away as it had visitors participating left right and centre. The two people operating these magnificent structures move them freely according to how they respond to the drums and noise created through the microphone, in which visitors can play, sing, talk etc. When I came to the exhibition there was a group of school children some playing on the drums and others around the microphone, and the great thing was, was that it wasn’t any old messing around, they were actually taking the time to be creative. The boy on the drums playing an actual beat and those around the microphone wrapping and beat boxing, these children may not know it but they were compelled to do so by the art, as it is powerful for any human to see something happening as a result of them. Having an exhibition that allows you to contribute and join in empowers you, and the more you are involved or the greater the spectacle the more likely it is that it will leave create a long lasting memory!
These are the others I saw but didn’t engage with so much, however, I think had I seen the ‘crystal quilt’ evolve it would have been a different story, as for Sung Hwan Kim’s exhibition I only made it to where the video was being watched but not into the actual room where it was all about space. I think this would have been a lot more powerful for me had I been to that room.
Suzanne Lacy: The Crystal Quilt – suzanne-lacy-crystal-quilt
Sung Hwan Kim – sung-hwan-kim
There was also some kind of live performance going on downstairs when I walked in, and as I looked over the balcony at the performers I was drawn to have a closer look and so ventured down to sit amongst what was going on. I think this had the biggest impact on me thinking about all three themes, as there was a spectacle created, as these people moved around in some sort of pattern ranging from slow and spaced to fast and intimated, then to the point where it looked as if they where playing a game. It conjured up an image of a moth drawn to light or birds flying in a flock, the power of this was too much to bare as there was nothing to explain what was going on, and you had no control over anything or how close they came to you which for most was amazing to be amongst but for me was rather scary as I had no clue to what was going on. This strange experience is very memorable!
LIVE ART – SPECTACLE, POWER, MEMORY
I think that if live art creates something captivating and is powerful enough to draw and hold the attention of someone and even get them involved it is true art, and it is true art that lives on in the memory of those who have been lucky enough to experience it.
On the 14th September I went to be a part of an audience for a studio shot television show called ‘My Man Can’ hosted by Melanie Sykes and Mark Wright, which will be released in January.
This a format game show where couples compete for the grand prize of £50,000 and to do this the men must take on some weird and manly challenges to do will strength, skill and stamina. To get to do these challenges their ladies must out bid others on how well she thinks her man can do the challenge, without any consultation or eye contact from her parter.
Just from being in the audience you can tell and see that from start to finish the studio process is very tiring, but the way the crew work is amazing as they have to have relentless energy, whether to do their job or to keep us (the audience) lively. I was really excited to go and see this as I had never set foot in a real life television studio let alone be able to see first hand how it all works, and as television is my primary chosen career path, this experience would all be worth while.
While the recording process was waiting to commence I sat looked at the set and discussed with a fellow media student what we thought, this being that it was an easily built set and looked like something we could put together ourselves at no high expense, however, once recording started and more of the set was revealed we soon realised where the money went. There were high tech gadgets and revolving walls which dismantled at a touch of a button and more money spent on bringing in both extravagant and less extravagant but more imaginative props. Also I’m guessing a lot of their budget went on hiring someone to look after the audience and keeping them entertained whilst there are set changes going on and for us this was Ian Royce, and also merchandise to give away.
As the process went on I tried to focus on other details such as the contestants. In doing so it was obvious that they had researches really pick out the stereotypical people/couples, the ditsy annoying girl who just wants to be on T.V with the boyfriend who goes along with everything to keep her happy, the older comfortable couple, the well groomed couple, and finally the normal down to earth couple. I saw the power theme come in here as the normal couple I saw as the power couple, the all rounders. Power also came into play when it was placed in the hands of the women, who had to make the decisions this wasn’t much of a surprise as this is the general consensus, that women hold the power in the relationship which I think is the main theme/message of the show.
Also looking at how the crew work was like seeing the light as they were efficient and each knew their role and what they had to do there was no spectacle or big drama, and each and every one of them supported one another through the process.
The only ways I could think of changing the show or making it better would be to have more on screen chemistry and contact between co hosts, having the show’s logo displayed on set somewhere, however, they do say the line ‘my man can’ and they may also add it later in post production, we shall see in January. I also think the challenges could have been a bit more daring and whacky as I don’t see it as a programme that will be commissioned for very long, as there is no long lasting effect, no big twist. Memory and Spectacle at their least effective. Though I do look forward to seeing how it’s all put together and how it looks on screen.