People Like Us

People Like Us, video still from The Sound Of The End Of Music, 2010

I always enjoy discovering new things and often feel a kind of comfort when I find that someone has trod a similar path before me. One does not always follow a solitary road. Recently I had been thinking about how Bill Viola did his extreme slow motion videos, and realised that it was a relatively simple effect within the software. (Sorry Bill, I don't want to denigrate the obvious technical expertise that goes into what you do). I also discovered that Brian Eno had also been doing extreme slow motion stuff back in the 70's. And I made and posted a video earlier on this month with my own clunky low-res effort in slow mo.

Which brings me to Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us. Here's the blurb: Since 1991 Vicki has been an influential figure in the field of audio visual collage, through her innovative sampling and appropriating of found footage and archives. Using collage as her main form of expression, she creates audio recordings, A/V performances, films and radio shows that communicate a humorous, dark and often surreal view on life. These collages mix, manipulate and rework original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film and radio. People Like Us believe in open access to archives for creative use. In 2006 she was the first artist to be given unrestricted access to the entire BBC Archive. People Like Us have previously shown work at Tate Modern, The Barbican, Sydney Opera House, Pompidou Centre, Maxxi in Rome and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. Her back catalogue is available for free download and hosted by UbuWeb.

Having written a few posts back about working in the public domain, and the reaction I get from people, it is great to come across Vicki's work and successes. She is a total inspiration, and reminds me of the quote from Max Ernst about the excitement of discovering collage and photomontage back in the early dada days. "It is something like the alchemy of the visual image. The miracle of total transfiguration of beings and objects with or without modification of their physical or anatomical appearance".

Father, when will my dress be ready?

Bob Georgeson, Father, when will my dress be ready?, 2010, Photomontage

This one from 'The Brides of Christ' series references the famous quote favoured by the surrealists, "beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella" from Les Chants de Maldoror by the Comte de Lautreamont. Apologies to Helmut Newton for the appropriation of the nude but I think he and June would appreciate the humour.

Imaginary Landscape

Bob Georgeson, Imaginary Landscape, 2012, Acrylic on Panel

in the spirit of...

public domain art...

More of Griet Menschaert

I had featured Griet's work a few posts back, but for those of you that didn't bookmark her site, she has just produced a brief portfolio stretching back over the last 3 years. A nice production using Scribd. If you click on the rectangle at the lower right hand corner you will get the full screen view.

Griet's work intrigues because of the contrast between her graphic works and her self portraits. While the former seem to have a life of their own and grow from the spaces they inhabit, the latter reflect a closed world of the privacy of the imagination. Perhaps the old dichotomy of the artist: introverted personalities that choose a public career in the most extroverted of worlds?

Suzanne's right hand

Bob Georgeson, Suzanne's right hand, 2012, Digital photography

Did you know that shunga literally means "spring drawings"? I didn't until the other day when I found this volume in a second hand bookshop for $10. Nice little addition to the collection. Now, if only Suzanne could turn the page...


critical engagement

least obviously
intricate web
geometric poem
insistently intervenes

a demarcation
stake out
sacred discourses
strings plucked
within the fabric

texture may
virtually any shape

deepest recesses
whose claustrophobic
is something of an unquiet soul

it will always find ways to return

Bob Georgeson
November 2012

Art in the digital domain

Every now and then I feel the need to remind my son, who is 29 years old and knows everything, that it was old farts like me that invented and developed the Internet and WWW, and that the sophistication (and I dare say usefulness) of things like HTML, cascading style sheets, online relational databases etc, are far more interesting and likely to be remembered than the ability to be able to Tweet from your smartphone. Of course pronouncements such as this fall on deaf ears to the Me++ generation who, in an attempt to find relevance in a world where everything of interest has already been done, have formed the spatial ability to arrive at the conclusion that the universe began in 1980, and that anything prior to that is therefore irrelevant.

I mention this in relation to art. When people ask me what kind of art I do, and I respond that I work in photomedia, photomontage, video and predominantly online in the public domain, their eyes glaze over, the bottom lip starts twitching, and the ensuing silence seems interminable. Young artists just stare with incredulity that someone of my age can even mouth these words, while my peers mumble stuff about the tactile nature of art. Unless it hangs in a frame on the wall of a gallery then it can't be taken seriously. I understand their point, for many of them computers are things to be feared and used only under sufferance, and when it's a sunny day in paradise who wants to be inside anyway? And, there is always the question of money...

So, what is it and why do it? Just about every major gallery in the world has an online presence, in some case their entire collections are available, as well as research or commentary. Past criticism of online galleries has been image resolution. The Google Art Project aims to bring together high res pics from major collections. Wikipedia's Arts Portal is worth bookmarking, particularly for more detailed information about creative culture across the ages. In an earlier post I have featured UbuWeb, and I cannot reiterate enough how good this site is for anyone interested in 20th and 21st Century contemporary culture and the avant-garde. It continues to amaze and inspire with every visit...

For the artist two sites deserve mention. First Wikimedia Commons is a vast repository of public domain images, sound files and videos made available through the GNU and Creative Commons licences. And there is The Internet Archives, an equally if not more outstanding resource in the public domain that contains video,  live music, audio and texts. Many artists are now drawing on these resources, and some, like myself choose to work almost entirely within the public domain. Why? Exposure is  the answer. While it is nice to be  a legend in one's own backyard, ultimately not many people get to see your work, let alone participate in thoughts or discussion. Starting this blog and a new way of working this year I had no expectations of what might happen. Now, over 7000 page views, 800 looks at my profile, discussions with artists and organisations around the world later, to go back to the white cube with 20 visitors a day seems a little, well, quiet.

For me working in the public domain is exciting and challenging. I am always learning, or having to learn something new. This is rewarding because, unlike my son, I know very little.

la mariée mise à nu

This film is a mashup of a talk given by Marcel Duchamp in 1957 entitled 'The Creative Act', and footage of 60's glamour model Candy Earle. The visuals owe a lot to Brian Eno's 'Thursday Afternoon'. All of this can be sourced through The Internet Archives and UbuWeb...