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Wednesday, 10 December 2008


I always find the process of learning new working methods an exciting one and after many bouts of second-year-at-art-school-existential-angst it finally seems like many of the ideas I’ve had during my first term in the second year have started to pull together. I’ve been wanting to incorporate sound into my studio practice for a while but its only now that I’ve really committed to learning as much as I can in terms of the technology and media skills involved in using this medium. This is something that has made me very enthused about almost all the work I’ve been doing these last few weeks. The process of attempting to learn things that sit outside what you’re comfortable with however is always a challenge and I often find this nagging little voice at the back of my mind warning of possible failure that I have to suppress at all costs. I found an article about a man that was writing a book on his quest to track down all 43 people formerly in the band The Fall. I was fascinated by Mark E Smith’s reasoning for changing his line-up so regularly; that having a regular turnover of band members promoted ‘creative tensions’ that prevented against the group’s sound becoming stale and set. In a similar sort of way I feel it important to reassess your working methods to ensure these don’t fall into the comfortable and to stop you relying on formulas that may make your work routine and predictable.

I’ve also made the learning that when at University if there’s an area you’re interested in that’s not covered by your course but can be found elsewhere on campus then start going to those lectures instead. I know it sounds obvious but I suppose I think it’s worth mentioning.

Speaking of which, I met Vicky Bennett yesterday, during a lecture for the Sonic Arts degree at university. It was very exciting. I was lucky since I'd only heard by word of mouth that she was speaking about ten minutes beforehand. I had a vague idea of the work she produces from a number of tracks I'd downloaded from The Wire magazine website some months ago but strangely enough I'd heard more of her work than I’d previously thought and had no idea these were her creations. I'd first heard 'On the Rooftops of London' on the former Radio Three show 'Mixing it' (since being removed from the Radio Three schedule this amazing show can now be found every Wednesday evening on Resonance FM under the name 'Where's the Skill in That?') and immediately I liked it. The piece is a montage of numerous waltzes from various films and musicals such as Oliver Twist and Mary Poppins and what was really attractive for me was the emotional connection I had with the memories of these films through their being referenced in the piece of music. Funnily enough I didn't know it was Vicky Bennett (normally under the name of 'People Like Us') who was responsible for this until I recognised some sort of an aesthetic in the pieces she played us during the talk. Her sound and video work is largely constructed from samples, (some of which you can have a look at on her website) cultural artefacts re-appropriated, cut-up, rearranged and reformed in order to create new narratives from recycled media. What caught my attention most of all was the comparison she made between the re-appropriation of narratives and musical arrangements within folk traditions and her methods of making work, as though this could almost be described as a digitised, globalised form of folk art. I was lucky enough to talk to her after the lecture and we found common ground in discussing the sad demise of 'Mixing It'.

Well, I guess the point I’m making with all this rambling is possibly the importance in taking risks and exploring new working methods since the experience can be such a valuable one…and it can often be a great antidote when you’re creatively ‘stuck’.

1 comment:

Sam Trotman said...

Alot of instituation, artists and organisations describe themselves as risk taking but I wonder how much risk they actually take?
I think the wonder of really taking risks with work comes from both our failures and our successes I think that alot of the time we learn more from our artistic failures then or successes.If we aren't scared to fail then we have the opportunity to make the most risk taking, thought provoking work!
I think it is great that you are venturing outside the confines of your course and am excited to see/ hear the results!