I stopped counting after about 15000 kilometres on the road. The car was still going...I think I was driving, home or away was getting increasingly hard to tell.You go through good towns, and you go through those that don't feel so good, but wherever I went I always felt at home. It is only in the cities that I start to feel alienated. There is always a romanticism about driving down a country road exploring new territory. At the same time one can only marvel, and at times, cringe at land use and our desire and capacity to alter the landscape. The above pic is in Yeoval, a small settlement on the road between Wellington and Parkes. Someone somewhere along the way had decided to create a sculpture park and a 'benefactor' had kindly donated this bronze split 'portrait' of Henry Moore. Considering Moore's oeuvre all one could do was wonder why?
Needless to say with all the travelling this year time in the studio has been infrequent and disjointed at the best of times. The blog has been sadly neglected, collaborations come and go, being focused on particular projects has remained elusive, and yet on occasion I think I have managed to produce my best work, certainly in video anyway, and my photomedia work has seen a gradual shift from the theme of sex and death (no doubt disappointing some of my audience) to architectural decay, disorder and disintegration.
So, a year of contrast in a land of contrasts. The tunnel below is on the freeway heading east from Adelaide, town of my birth but a long way from where I live today. And below that is Bunjil, creation spirit depicted in aboriginal rock art from near the Grampians in south western Victoria. The two pics kinda summed up the situation. Massive engineering works so I can get home faster, and a timeless painting from a race who no longer have their home. I sit somewhere in between scratching me head...
Performance proposal: Griet Menschaert - sound; Denitsa Dicova - dance; Bob Georgeson - video
An earlier post Across a troubled world referred to a collaborative project I have been working on this year. We have decided to go public with some of the material, and below are the 5 video experiments in descending order from most recent to the earliest, plus the above performance proposal.
Much excitement and anticipation about the first new release by emptywhale in over a year. Whether it be a cautious return to the studio or heralding a change in direction, or the smashed light an accident or momentary act of frustration we will never know. Enigma is emptywhale's modus operandi and that ain't gonna change, nor is his capacity to pick you up on the sonic bus and transport you to a destination far from where you had intended to go...Let's hope there is more to follow soon.
This track is part of touched two, the staggering collection of 255 tracks of contemporary sounds compiled in aid of cancer research and support. Available on Bandcamp here...
LES MAMELLES DE TIRESIAS is a French website run by the charming Patrick Vincent that focuses on dada, surrealism, constructivism and other avant-garde movements. Superbly researched and up-to-date with current events and exhibitions it is a wonderful resource for all who are passionate about art. Produced with an enthusiasm that only a devotee can understand I recommend it highly and encourage you to add it to your bookmarks.
I am honoured to be included in the list of artists on the homepage, many of them being seminal influences on my own humble creative efforts. I was also pleased to see Dusan Marek on the list, and I have shared some of my memories of him with Patrick. Thank you Mr. Vincent! It is indeed a privilege...
As an artist racked by self doubt and perfection paralysis where every production is akin to the breech birth of an antiquarian mutant it is delightfully refreshing when one comes across an ascribed artwork that I have no recollection of ever making! Well, it's that sort of world now, especially in the creative commons...
I have no idea who Telegraph are. The only blurb I can find is from their release 'Cookies': "And another, and another... And another one big and really strong
release by our super-residents Telegraph duo! Meet six underground
minimalistic deep-house tunes by excellent music-makers from Minsk!"
It's not the sort of music I would normally listen to, but it's not unpleasant. The video footage originally came from my experiment mixing up Marcel Duchamp with Candy Earle calledla mariée mise à nu (the bride stripped bare)although in my film the tones are red rather than blue. Thanks to Telegraph for the credit...and for the same on another of their videos called Next Room which is heavily filtered and for the life of me I cannot work out what the source was, but who cares, transmutation is the new paradigm!
"Mention video to some people and watch their faces fall. If the cliché
of "modern sculpture" used to be a piece of stone chewing gum
with a hole in it, and that of "modern painting" was a canvasful of drips,
then the cliché of "video art" is a grainy
closeup of some U.C.L.A. graduate rubbing a cockroach to pulp on his
left nipple for 16 minutes while the sound track plays amplified tape
From the review of the retrospective for Nam June Paik at the Whitney published in Time magazine on May 17th 1982.
This quote popped up in Part 2 of Howard Jacobson's documentary 'Brilliant Creatures', a study of the careers of Barry Humphries, Clive James, Germaine Greer and Robert Hughes. The quote is not only a timely reminder to myself about what I am trying to achieve in video art (visual poetry perhaps?), but classic Hughes cutting to the chase with acerbic wit underpinned by a profundity that most art commentators could only hope for at best. At a time when Australia sadly accelerates backward politically at an alarming rate towards totalitarianism, there is a slight optimism in feeling proud of our cultural heritage and larrikin attitude and honouring those pathfinders who espoused a 'cause' because they believed in it more than their own self-aggrandizement...
Too often new technology is about itself, so I was pleased to see this virtual orchestra providing not only entertainment and education but challenging the historical conservatism of the classical music field. While remixing and electronic experimentation has become commonplace in contemporary music, the classics have largely remained 'untouchable'. Purists may be horrified, Mendelssohn may roll over in his grave, but I say pump up the volume!
The story of how this was created can be found here...
Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Aqsara'i al-Tabrizi (d. ca 743/1342)
Commentory to al-Qazwini's (d. 739/1338) work in the field of Rhetorics
Since beginning work earlier this year on a project with contemporary dancer and photographer Deniza Dikova I have become interested in all things Bulgarian. Whether it being watching a documentary on the Theory of Cogitality on Bulgarian National TV, taking a virtual tour of the streets near theCathedral Saint Alexandar Nevski in Sofia or watching a video of my colleagues improvisation performance in the summer hills, a country that was previously a mystery to me is starting to come to life.
I came across this publication while visiting the Internet Archive and thought it fascinating, not only historically but aesthetically...
Arguably my most ambitious project to date I return to my surrealist roots homaging Joseph Cornell and Luis Bunuel. Eroticism, religion, sex and death interspersed with industrial decay and wastelands combine in a mashup that underpins the futility of decadent desire, religious ecstasy and the conflict with the reality of our mundane lives.
I am (again) indebted (and indeed honoured) to be working with the soundscape Ayesha (She Who Must Be Obeyed) (the muse perhaps?) from the album Rosa de lobo by Hyaena Fierling Reich (aka Ana Cordeiro Reis). Her website can be found here...
The album Rosa de lobo can be downloaded from Bandcamp here...
The video files can be downloaded from the Internet Archive here..
Keeping me busy the past week or so has been the Love & Desire show at Spiral Gallery in Bega. A first for this gallery on this theme, and a testament to the renewed energy and outlook of this artist run initiative in a town known more for its cheese than its culture! It is interesting to see how different artists have approached the subject, and how they have interpreted the 'brief', if indeed there was one. Without going into a polemic about what constitutes 'erotic art' (perhaps for a later post?) here are a few of the works that I thought hit the mark and had something to say. Apologies for seeming too egotistical by including my own humble offering among these...
Liam Ryan, Three Graces, 2014, Oil on canvas
Luiza Urbanik, C'mon, 2014, Acrylic on paper
Luiza Urbanik, Kiss Me, 2014, Acrylic on paper
Victoria Nelson, Love Letters 2, 2014, Mixed media
Michael Adams, Mantasy, 2014, Photography
Michael Adams, Penis, 2014, Photography
Rick Andersen, Mouth, 2014, Photomedia
Suzanne Oakman, The Old Couple, 2014, Ceramic and wire
anonymous waves, Return to Reason, 2014, video still
The exhibition runs until 20th August at Spiral Gallery, 47 Church Street, Bega, NSW. Mon-Frid 10-4 and Sat 10-1.
"But in any case why do you regard it as so important to be talked about by people who have not yet been born? After all, you were never spoken of by all the multitudes who lived before you - and they were every bit as numerous, and were better men." Cicero The Dream of Scipio.
This mashup (like the title suggests) is a return to some of my
favourite themes, and working again with the soundscapes of one of my
favourite musicians (emptywhale), who I blame entirely for the development of my cinematic 'style'. The themes of eroticism, passion, death, decay,
disintegration, decline and disorder combine in a (humble) homage to Man
The delightfully dulcet soundscape is From A Clear Sky taken from emptywhale's third album Some Hollow Lullabies. You can download it here...
The HD MPEG movie file on the Internet Archive can be downloaded here...
With the recent collaboration between Griet, Denitsa and myself and the new multidimensional art space in Bega fresh in my mind it has been timely to be able to experiment for a few hours with a borrowed data projector. The experiments revolved around departing from the static single projection on to a screen to exploring uneven surfaces, back projection and transparent 'curtains'. A long way to go yet, but it's a start...
Seeing how long one can hold one arm up before collapsing in pain!
Giving the neighbours a show. They all think we are strange anyway...
The star in these three pics is Pinot, the cat. Singularly unimpressed with the human's feeble attempt at creativity...
The Hay Plain is one of the largest flat areas on earth. When you stop the car and get out to have a look you realise that your head is the highest point around for as far as you can see. Spatially it is challenging. Distances and the size of objects become immeasurable, there is a stillness where you can hear your own heartbeat. A place where you realise how insignificant you are whether you like it or not...
And people have an awful down
Upon the district and the town -
Which worse than hell itself they call;
In fact, the saying far and wide
Along the Riverina side
Is ‘Hay and Hell and Booligal.’ Banjo Patterson
Special thanks to Joy Georgeson for the footage shot between Hay and West Wyalong. Joy's website can be found here...
In February of this year I began a collaboration with Griet Menschaert and Denitsa Dicova. Griet is a Belgian born fine artist, linguist, writer and performer who resides in the Netherlands and Denitsa is a contemporary dancer and photographer from Bulgaria. The story begins back in 2012 when I first started blogging and looked around at other people who shared similar interests. I came across Griet's work, liked what she did, followed her progress and did the odd blog post promoting her efforts.
Late in 2013 we exchanged a few emails mentioning possible collaboration. It all got caught up in the end of year madness, and early in 2014 Griet wrote asking for a 'starting point'. I did not have a specific project in mind but wrote back with some general thoughts about the direction I was heading in. From there she mentioned that she had just embarked on a project with Denitsa and would I be interested in joining in on a possible video component.
The project was loosely defined around the words "A performance in which (mother)
language, the body, manipulation, time, organic / rational,
concentration, aesthetics, purity and exchange are central." The idea, or at least my part in it, was to incorporate some kind of video element into a future performance in their respective homelands. We decided fairly early on in the piece that three way communication across the continents could be difficult, and for this project to work I would take on the role of a 'silent' partner rather than an active participant. Griet and Denitsa began by sending me some footage they had shot of themselves, a series of short clips with a strong, hands, feet and graphics theme. And so began a series of five video experiments. This was the first time I had worked with 'supplied' footage as opposed to stuff I have selected myself, and that in itself was quite a challenge in terms of process. There were also technical issues to resolve with file transfers and types as well as video resolution differences.
Kitimas Akys, video still, 2014
The first experiment was
Kitimas Akys (named after the soundtrack) and was a merge of Griet drawing on a
window with Denitsa's hands 'dancing' in the background. I used some
short footage of my own of storm clouds at the beginning and end and a
slightly ominous public domain soundscape by Jaras Ramunas which gives
the clip quite a melancholy mood.
Broken, video still, 2014
The second clip Broken was a bit of a throwaway experiment where I was trying some technical trickery using a grid of Denitsa's hand merged with footage of a woman 'riding' a man/woman? and having an orgasm. I was curious to see how my colleagues would react to an element of eroticism. The soundtrack was by VJ Memes and called 'I am Broken' and sourced from ccMixter.
Cogitality, video still, 2014
In Cogitality I returned to a more 'pure' approach with merging the original footage on three levels, which gave the clip a more monotone look, with varying focal points occurring (I will admit somewhat randomly!). The soundtrack was my own mix of Brazilian jazz with spoken word from a Bulgarian National TV documentary.
Across a troubled world, Griet's hands blue, video still, 2014
Across a troubled world, Denitsa's hands orange, video still, 2014
In Across a troubled world I reverted to the original footage, edited into short snippets, giving each individual alternating clip (first Denitsa, then Griet and so on) a strong contrasting colour. I was thinking about projection in a performance sense and how this approach might complement theatrical lighting. The soundtrack was 'Juno' by Harold Budd from his Pavilion of Dreams album and sourced through UbuWeb.
Hands, feet, breath, video still, 2014
In the fifth experiment I used a soundscape built around a recording that Griet had sent me of her making 'noises'. I played around with a few effects and duplicated the track, reversed it and mixed the two together. The video was another 'random' merge but has some nice passages in it that warrant further exploration.
Thoughts on the process: Collaboration implies a certain suppression of one's ego. It is not just about me, and while musicians, actors, dancers etc. are used to working together as a matter of course it is not so common among visual artists. I find that collaboration takes me places creatively that I would not have considered going (or perhaps been courageous enough!) to if I just stayed working alone in the ivory tower of my mind living here in one of the most isolated parts of the planet.
Embracing different cultures, disciplines, language, experiences, personalities has (and continues to be) a great learning experience. However life can get in the way of the best laid plans and I have found that to maintain enthusiasm, momentum, continuity let alone concentration over a long period of time challenging. Reaching agreement/approval on output is also an interesting point. We could NOT agree on (my) choice of music for the clips, and it was only in the fifth experiment with Griet's manipulated 'noise' that we found common ground. This project has also taken place over a time in the world of great conflict. Griet has worked in the Ukraine and has friends and colleagues there. Bulgaria sits at the opposite side of the Black Sea. It has been impossible to divorce oneself from the politics of the situation and our underlying concerns for humanity...hence the title of this post. And I have made friends out of two artists that I have a great deal of respect for.
Where this project goes from here is unknown. Whether it reaches a final performance or continues as an experiment, or not at all, is not the point. What is relevant is that it becomes a point of departure for future activities, and one that stretches the boundaries of countries as well as the imagination... Griet Menschaert can be found here... Denitsa Dicova here...