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Bestival festival research…

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.

Categories: Summer research
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