For the festival part of the summer research i went to the Bestival music festival in the Isle of Wight. As well as a vast range of musical acts across various genres such as The Flaming Lips, Roxy Music and even Rolf Harris-as well as a certain Mr Motivator making an appearance! Bestival also features many diverse elements such as an inflatable church where you can get married and an eco-house as well as many other attractions to draw the festival-goers to the event every year. This part of the research is to look at how media practitioneers (such as myself) use festivals to present their work to the public. I mainly go to music festivals such as Download and Sonisphere, which don’t particularly have a range of media practitioneers through which to promote bands or themselves. Bestival on the other hand, has a wide range of different aspects to it rather than just burger vans and beer tents. It actually has an experimental side to it with which media practitioneers can present their work and gain an audience through bands such as through the following media practitioneer that had one of his pieces of work on display.
One of the attractions at the festival was a light, sound and visual exhibition by Saam Farahands (a video extraordinaire who has worked in documentary, commericals and also music videos). The musical experience entitled Xx: A Sculpture Of The Album (A band called The Xx in case you were wondering…) that is a 3D film, light and sound sculpture of the band’s latest album. The piece was being showcased inside the festival’s very own cinema in which gives an enclosed and other worldly experience without any outside interference from the rest of the festival site.
(I was unable to take pictures of this piece unfortunately so have had to rely on Google to give a visual image of the exhibition i went to)
Farahands describes the piece as a ‘physical music video’ in which he also states “shares a sensibility with art installations.” When i first read about this piece i was apprehensive as to what extent it would give the 3D experience with which i have only ever experienced through the scope of cinema (…and Toy Story 3 for that matter!) The concept is a new one which i have never heard of being done in the form of a music video and i wish i thought of that idea first! (damn!)
The piece is made up of three upright slim screens (of sorts..) which features each of the three band members of the Xx and has light and surround sound positioned around the screens to give an all-round music video experience as if you are actually within it.
From just exploring around this exhibition and thinking back to how i discovered that this exhibition would be at the festival, i have realised that a vast majority of publicity is through the internet and sites such as Facebook, Myspace and Youtube-as this is how i found out about Saam Farahands in the first place! Its from a repertoire of work mostly based around music videos that has perhaps given the media practitioneer a following of an audience-especially with regards to this festival in particular and the actual bands he has produced visual pieces of work for. The internet has definately become a powerful tool through which presenting your work such as video and photography has become the most useful resource to reach an audience of potentially millions.
Its also through this that festivals such as Bestival, find the most creative and current work through which to promote bands such as The Xx. The potential to gain more freelance (or paid!) work through festivals such as a music festival like Bestival is very high as the range of bands looking for ways of promoting themselves more to an audience is mainly through advertising and using the media in particular, whether this is through the mediums of music video or photography or even a new original idea such as Farahands 3D music video experience-the possibilities are really endless with ways to promote yourself as a media practitioneer. And gaining exposure at a major arts festival just like Bestival is one of the key ways of getting your work out there for the world to see and take enjoyment from.
And going off on a differently similar tangent altogether…
Over the summer i recently undertook a photography project of taking professional (ish!) shots of a local band that i know, who are looking to gain a vast audience through which to progress further afield to gaining gigs around the local area. I spent the evening taking shots of the band in an outdoor location (which i have never done before-usually using studio shots), i then edited the pictures to give them a professional look through which to upload onto Facebook and gain feedback from both band and friends.
Even though this was only a photoshoot i am hoping to work with the band again, perhaps with creating a music video through which to advance my skills with creating a musical video piece and also enhancing the bands fanbase.
Another festival which is more towards the arts side of things was the Artsfest in Birmingham which is a weekend event which features comedians, dance, music, performing arts and also photography and short film.
To be truthful i was unaware of this festival taking place in Birmingham City Centre until a couple of days before it all started. This free event featured short films (which i particularly wanted to look at), these were screened at the Crescent Theatre where a range of different genres and styles of short film were being screened. This free event is a great way to gain exposure and with any free event there will always be a vast amount of people who like free things (like me!) and this can gain a larger audience than perhaps a paid event would get.
I went to go and watch some animation films that were being screened on the sunday of the festival. I have managed to find a couple of the short films i watched at the event on youtube. One of the animation films i most enjoyed was a piece by Ben Falk and Josiah Newbolt called ‘This Is Where We Live.’ It is a stop motion piece that was created over a span of 3 weeks.
And another piece i greatly enjoyed…
This last piece is entitled ‘She Farted & Created The World’ and was created by a graphic design teacher called Scott Coello, using bits of paper such as pieces found on the floor and such. It definately made me feel very amateur in my skills of producing video and stop motion animation.
Other films that were being screened over the weekend included documentaries such as a piece about the vast decline of red squirrels in Britain (‘Red Native’ by Lucy Naden) and a short documentary about a King Kong statue and the arrival of the Spaghetti Junction in 1972 (‘Spaghetti Kong’ by Philip Leach). The range of pieces being screened were very diverse and each piece was different to one another. And they definately weren’t the typical student short films, but were actual video productions by professional media practitioneers.
On the Saturday of the Artfest they were having an evening of thriller shorts called ‘Saturday Night Shocks.’ One of pieces that i greatly enjoyed was by a guy called Jack Tew who’s short thriller called ‘Flowers’ was a particular highlight of the evening. Check out his work at http://jacktew.bigredbongo.com. The great thing about a diverse festival such as Artsfest, is that the range of ‘art’ on offer; such as the short films and photography, realy puts the artists and creators out there in the public view and can make a lasting impression on the viewers of the work and ultimately gain a fanbase of an audience who would perhaps consider looking out for other pieces of work by the same artist.
Another form of media that the Artsfest has is photohgraphy. There were several stalls set up that had photos onsale which i had a look around at. Some of the pieces on-sale were of Birmingham City Centre itself and took me back to my HND Media days when we were given the task of taking pictures of the City Centre’s architecture. If i knew back then that there was an event where you could display your own pieces of work for free (!!) then i would of done that without a doubt!
Looking on the events website afterwards i have taken note of the contact information about exhibiting my own short film or photography at next years Artsfest (and means its free as well!) it would be a missed opportunity if i didn’t submit any work to be shown at the festival and receive public feedback on the whole and continue to improve on my visual work and the production of it.
For my next piece of research i am going back towards art and am going to look at the pieces of two well-renowned artists with which i have never ever really looked into.
Dali is a Spanish surrealist painter who is considered the most famous artist of all time even after his death in 1989. He has worked in many forms of subject matter such as with cubism, realism and surrealism, and also in different forms through photography, video and sculpture.
One of Dali’s sculpture pieces (As seen on the head of Lady Gaga…maybe)
I was first drawn to look at Salvador Dali through a long sustained intrigue to actually look at the artist with which i had never really knew much about except for his wild moustache! One of his pieces that i looked at relates to one of the themes with which we have been given-Memory. The painting below is entitled ‘The Persistance of Memory’ and is the most famous out of all his other famous masterpieces.
‘The Persistance of Memory’
There are many interpretations as to what this particular piece symbolizes and it seems everyone has a different view as to what it means. I personally don’t look ‘deep’ into meanings or a full dissection into a piece of work as i find it ruins the mystery of the piece if you give it a full dead meaning and not allowing yourself to see or feel something different each time you look at a piece. From first viewing of this piece i saw the aspect of time being irrelative to the surrounding of which it is a part of. Dali often used basic locations such as beaches and other landscapes with which he would use for the base of his eccentric pieces.
I researched into other people’s interpretations of this piece and to be honest some of the comments seem really bizarre such as Dali himself describing this particular piece as – “Perhaps the images of the melting clocks are nothing more than ideas influenced by the Camembert cheese left for too long of a period of time on the table on a warm sunny day” (quote courtesy of authenticsociety.com) Dali himself never revealed any meanings behind any of his pieces and when he did, it was often to mislead people into thinking it was what it was-which was often nothing but a trick on his part.
‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony’
I looked Salvador Dali up on youtube and managed to find this interesting documentary which is in 7 parts (with which i won’t post all 7 videos up) and looks at Dali himself and the bizarre life that he led as well as what inspired him. Most of his inspiration came from his own personal memories and reflections, such as his childhood.
The inspiration that i can definately take from looking at Dali’s pieces is to not limit myself creatively when thinking of an idea for a project. If you give yourself limits to what you can do then you can’t fully explore and experiment with the idea and make it into something brand new.
The next artist i am going to look at can be without a doubt considered to be in the totally opposite direction to that of Dali.
Hopper is an American realist painter whos pieces mostly revolve around a kind of voyeur view of people in certain places such as the picture below entitled ‘Night Hawks.’ This style of realism really gives a sense of catching subjects alone and in particular a certain environment with which we can interpret why they are there and what they are thinking by their body language alone. He was always meticulous with how he placed his human figures in ‘proper balance’ with the environment. Hopper uses the scenary of 1930’s and 40’s America as the background for the figures with which we know nothing about but can make up our own assumptions as to what they are doing within the scene.
Hopper is quoted as saying with regard to how he comes up with ideas: “It takes a long time for an idea to strike. Then I have to think about it for a long time. I don’t start painting until I have it all worked out in my mind. I’m all right when I get to the easel”. (Sheena Wagstaff, Ed., Edward Hopper, Tate Publishing, London, 2004, p. 98, ISBN 1-85437-533-4)
Most of the themes and subject matter within Hopper’s pieces are a lot less crpytic than that of Dali’s. Hopper uses human emotions such as loneliness, boredom and desire for a majority of his pieces and this is reflected upon many of his pieces.
‘Office at Night’ (1940)
Apart from his paintings with lonely figures such as the Nighthawk piece, Hopper uses couples to give the viewer a voyeuristic view into the interaction between the two figures. The piece above entitled ‘Office At Night’ is a particularly intriguing piece as we do not know whether the man and woman in the piece are an actual couple or whether this is a piece that is along the themes of desire and sexual tension between a secretary and her boss.
I looked up Edward Hopper on Youtube and mostly found tribute videos, but the video below gives a good insight into the inner workings of what Hopper produced.
For my next part of research i am going to take a step away from art (but not for long!) and take a look at some independant film pieces which i have never really been a conaseur of, but have decided to look at ‘indie’ film as a step away from the usual big budget films that i watch on a daily basis.
I am going to start off with Gus Van Sant’s ‘Elephant’. The film follows the events of Watt High School, and the students which become a part of a horrendous shooting, based upon the Columbine High School Shootings in 1999, we are taken on a social journey of sorts, with us as the viewer seeing the students on a typical school day and the events which eventually unfold into a mass shooting throughout the school. Van Sant didn’t use any actual professional actors but instead used local high school students from around Portland, Oregon.
The majority of camera shots within the film are behind the characters and almost as if we are following them in a secret manner. This gives a sense of being a voyeur of each student without being right up in front of their faces as if in an intrusive manner. These same actions are then repeated, as seen through the eyes of other students. I found this a very clever use of weaving the characters and their friendships into the scenes, to almost give a reason that we are seeing these scenes repeated from a different angle and view. I like how these simplistic shots are used throughout the film and there is no cutting between any of the characters journey from A to B within the school.
Each character has an interesting part to play within the story, more to do with their social standing within the school such as Michelle, who is a lonely nerdy girl who doesn’t want to wear shorts for PE and also works within the schools library as an escape. The characters each have their own position within the school and is a good representation of the types of students (and teenagers..) which you would find within a high school.
Gus Van Sant doesn’t use any special or complicated camera work but just leaves the camera to follow the high school inhabitants. The only use of effects is within the last part of the movie when the shooting is taking place across the school and the use of guns and blood, but that is used to great effect and isn’t overly used for gores sake. The story within the film is simple and doesn’t have anything within that is hard to follow, and i feel it makes it a great film which leaves you feeling uneasy. The influence that Van Sant’s ‘Elephant’ has had on me as a film-maker is to not overstep my creative boundary’s in a complicated way such as with storyline and how this is put together with camera work and complicated angles if its just going to detract from what it wants to show and just being fancy for fancy’s sake!
The next film i am looking at is more in the opposite direction with its fantasy and dream orientated aspects compared to that of the simplistic style of Gus Van Sant.
The next film which i am going to look at for ideas is Michael Gondry’s French film ‘The Science Of Sleep’, or ‘La Science des reves’ which translates to ‘The Science of Dreams’. The film follows a man named Stephane who confuses reality with his own dreams and imagination and often leads him to his inability to interact with other people and situations normally.
Gondry often uses stop motion animation to depict Stephane’s different and vivid dreams such as with Golden The Pony Boy which is just one in the many ways in which stop motion is used. This definately gives a sense of a ‘dream world’, in which anything and everything has a life of its own and the possibilities of randomness can happen. In comparison to Van Sants piece it can be seen as a complicated film with setting and with the general use of objects with stop motion.
Having done a stop motion piece of my own for my Lens Based Media final piece last year, i am perhaps thinking about going inbetween the same lines of that of Michael Gondry’s stop motion pieces. I really like watching the way inanimate objects can be illusioned to give the effect of being able to move. The video below is the first stop motion video i have ever done and consisted of around 825 pictures!!
Afterwards i was in no hurry to undertake creating another stop motion piece until i watched Gondry’s ‘The Science of Sleep.’ The possibilities of what you can do is really endless and it has inspired me to think of an idea using stop motion possibly for the themes which we have been given to experiment and build ideas around.