re:thinking:time

8th April - 31st May 2004
Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery


To accompany the exhibition Curator Ele Carpenter interviewed six artists: Ming Wong, Ellie Harrison, Damien Robinson, Scott Martin, Alistair Gentry & Joe Magee. The interviews cover the development of the artwork, how it relates to notions of time, and the artists experience of the Lab. The full text can be found on www.pva.org.uk and a précis is included in this Exhibition Guide.

You may also download the file here (see below). Ele will be writing an account of her experiences curating the show and posting it on crumb later in the year.

Ming Wong, Monologue, 2002
DV floor projection


How did the idea for your artwork germinate?
Sitting on a deserted Dorset beach, staring at the horizon; flipping through ten volumes of the New Book Of Knowledge; nostalgia and horror at the realisation that that was the way I learnt to look at the world when I was a child growing up in Singapore, (through the eyes of an editor in Edinburgh in the 50's). Hence a work for surfing over waves of information - fragmented, disjointed, uncontrollable, inevitable, unreal, a dream or a nightmare - a process of un-learning for me - tossing pages of the books back into the sea...
How does the work rethink notions of time?
Backwards and forwards through knowledge, time traveling through memories of school, childhood, old books, old knowledge, past teachers, when England was England, before computers crept into our lives, before 'new media' was born....


Joe Magee & Alistair Gentry, Hypnomart Redux, 2002
DV wall projection


How did the idea for your artwork germinate?
Joe: Alistair and I met at LabCulture, and shortly afterwards began exchanging ideas by email. Alistair saw some manipulated video of a school playground I had been working on and suggested we apply something similar to a shopping experience. I had been visually experimenting with how culture spreads itself in a viral nature, and Alistair introduced ideas about the effects of surveillance on public spaces. We developed the notion that there is a surveillance operator charged with the job of deciding who is 'normal', 'dangerous', etc just by studying things like body language on his monitors. We thought maybe this person might like to have some fun with manipulation: and that was the premise of a proposal we put to Channel4 and Arts Council England.
Alistair: Joe and I had both been working with memetic* ideas and concepts for a long time. We both like using intelligent repetition and serial, slight alteration called isomorphism – a transformation that preserves information.

I'm a huge J.G. Ballard fan, like him I'm always shocked and interested by the ways that the environments we create for ourselves, or are created for us, can make us do things we don't really want to do (or really want to do, but shouldn't). I think Ballard calls them psychopathologies. I might have made that up, but I call them psychopathologies.
I'd noticed these weird gestures and mannerisms that people were doing in shopping centres - sometimes to/with each other, sometimes by themselves or for no clearly defined audience (except maybe the surveillance cameras that are all over these places and see everything). Those places stress people in ways they don't even realise, and that stress sometimes comes out in the form of literal tics, spasms and odd behaviour. I'm also fascinated, worried and completely unsurprised that the Panoptic (and totalitarian) idea of universal, indiscriminate surveillance has entered our daily lives so rapidly and with so little effective dissent or discussion.

*A meme is a unit of cultural information, analogous to a gene.

How does the work rethink notions of time?
Joe: Hypnomart synthesizes time in exploratory ways. This is most obvious in our attempted portrayal of 'viral body language'. Very minor body movements have been amplified gigantically. In our synthetic mall behavioral looping and repetition are de rigueur. Some people are stuck in exceedingly small time loops - yet still manage to find their way around to do the shopping. Conversely, others are afforded the luxury of relatively lengthy loops yet remain anchored to a particular spot. Outside the mall, things like time are mundanely normal…
www.periphery.co.uk

Alistair: We've snatched moments of these strangers' lives and magnified them by making loops and patterns out of what were, in reality, fleeting gestures. There must be so much surveillance footage now that it would take decades for any one to watch it all. We've saved some of those gestures that normally flicker by and disappear because we think they're interesting and worth saving.
Scott Martin, Preview Projector, 2004
Wine glasses, digital print on acetate, lamp.
How did the idea for your artwork germinate?
Interactive installation has been my thing for a while. However I have been increasingly aware of the technological impact that has been creeping into my own practice. I love what computers can do, they are fantastic tools but I don’t want to make artwork for computers, I make it for people. More so I don't want to limit where work can be displayed. Wouldn't it be great to come across interactive work in forests or on the street? I have purposely started looking at items that I could reinvent, systems that I could reuse, redundant technologies, cheep toys, self powered objects or just things found in the home. And this project is my first attempt to make a data projector in the Blue Peter style.

How does the work rethink notions of time?
Okay we all love exhibition openings; because there’s free wine and a chance to meet ya friends! and art! So in rethinking time this work looks at the process of making art for a preview. In fact the work will be made over the period of the private view, and look at the ritual of drinking and socialising. The audience (at the preview) will be captured in the process of drinking, and find themselves later as the subject of an animation, projected through the very vessel they had drunk from, (ie the glass). The question is … does the work exist in the drinking of the wine, the glass or the animation? And if no one turned up would there be any artwork? (Arr good old Schrödinger's cat!!)

Ellie Harrison, Tic Typing Peanut Typing, 2002 Computers, max msp programme

How did the idea for your artwork germinate?
Six months before taking part in LabCulture I’d finished a year long project called Eat22, where I digitally photographed everything that I ate for my 22nd year. Alongside this, I had also been developing work inspired by the energy content of various foods.

I wanted the work that I made on the LabCulture residency to be a development of these ideas. The difference was that I wanted the concepts for the new piece to relate specifically to its inevitable presentation through digital media.

On the residency, I racked my brains about how to unite my ongoing themes with the computer as an object. The solution was found when I started to think about how a human actually physically interacts with the machine and how energy is transferred from one to the other. The most basic way this is done is through typing. The two pieces on show Peanut Typing and Tictac Typing calculate how much typing the average human could do with the energy supplied by either a peanut or a tictac.

How does the work rethink notions of time?
Peanut Typing and Tictac Typing confront and consider the time we spend sitting in front of a computer in our day-to-day lives, by bombarding us with facts and figures about how this time is and could be spent. The slow motion of the video clips reflects on the brief amount of time required to replenish our spent energy compared with the time it takes to use it. See www.ellieharrison.com

Damien Robinson, Songbird, 2004
Director, park benches, projection, audio


How did the idea for your artwork germinate?
Prior to the Lab, I worked on a commission for inIVA, which sliced voice clips according to their frequency. From that work I realised that I was able to distinguish low frequency sounds by touch. Research in America has demonstrated that deaf people sense vibrations in their auditory cortex, the area of the brain active in hearing people when they listen to sounds; if you are deaf you use the auditory cortex to ‘listen’ to vibration. There is also an interesting contradiction to standard sensory conventions, in that the less you can hear of the mid and low frequency sounds, the more easily you ‘listen’ to vibrations. At the same time I read an article about declining numbers of skylarks; in their preferred farmland habitat, skylarks declined by 75% between 1972 and 1996 .


The anthropologist Paddy Ladd, has written of the Deaf community as ‘people whose lives were not motivated by a sadness in not being able to hear birds singing’ and it seemed to me that whilst people focus on the concept of hearing ‘loss’, their sonic environment – particularly natural soundscapes – are disappearing. ‘Songbird’ unwraps the structures of a natural sound source and presents them in a number of different ways.


How does the work rethink notions of time?
Although human hearing is thought to be sensitive to the same frequency range as birds, theirs has finer resolution in time. So a single 3 second verse of bird song might be perceived by birds as we would follow a 20 second piece of music. Each of the original sounds in the work is dropped by pitch (two and four octaves) and by pitch and speed. Pitch and speed are inter-related – if you drop a sound’s pitch its duration expands (like playing a 45rpm vinyl record at 33rpm). A five second clip becomes 40 seconds.


Although the work loops, therandom elements mean it never repeats itself exactly (so you think ‘Oh I’ve heard this bit’, then you realise you haven’t) but the work still constitutes a sound memory, not a ‘live’ experience.

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Press Release

Rethinking Time is an exhibition of works which rethink notions of time, technology and the senses. The show brings together work by 40+ artists that have taken part in the innovative LabCulture residencies run by PVA Media Lab, Bridport, a project which unites emerging and established practicing artists for intensive week long residencies.

The Rethinking Time Exhibition has been selected by Curator Ele Carpenter, and combines a mix of experimental short audio and video works with larger more developed video, sonic and interactive installations. Most of the short works were produced during a one-week LabCulture residency or Lab. This limited time scale results in a clarity and lack of preciousness in the completed projects. Their strength comes from the development of raw ideas in a critically rigorous, highly resourced digital environment.


Artists use Labs to develop new work which may be completed back in the studio or through an individual residency at PVA in Bridport. The exhibition includes five of these major works by Ming Wong, Damien Robinson, Alistair Gentry & Joe Magee, Ellie Harrison and Scott Martin.

Damien Robinson is an artist based in the eastern region who is profoundly deaf. Her sonic-acoustic work 'Songbird' alters the sound frequency of birdsong so that people with a range of hearing ability will experience the work on different levels. She lowers the frequency of the sound by several octaves. The audience literally feel these sounds as vibrations when sitting on a park bench within Damien's installation. Alistair Gentry & Joe Magee's 'Hypnomart' animates the rituals of shoppers as observed by cctv cameras in a shopping mall. Ming Wong's projected 'Monologue' encyclopaedia questions historical specificity. Scott Martin has invented a quirky low-tech wine glass projector and will be creating a new work for the opening night of the exhibition.

curation

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