Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Chatham, 1979

In his review of the recent Storm Bugs's vinyl compilation Supplementary Benefit in the new Sound Projector magazine, Ed Pinsent writes:

they have rendered unique visions of the psychic underside of England, visions as palpable as the monochromatic photograph (by Ball) on the back cover which celebrates the horrors of suburbia with an enquiring eye."

While I think that "horrors" might be overstating it ("quotidian monochromatic melancholia" might be closer), I think that Pinsent has identified a zeitgeist that resonates in the Storm Bugs tracks and the black and white slides I took as a young art student living in a rented bedroom on a grim housing estate on the edge of Chatham. Here is that photograph and others from the same roll, more or less as they came off the slide scanner, with their speckled patina of decay and age.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Lucca Ambulation

The Tuscan medieval city of Lucca is one of few with its wall intact, making it possible to walk a complete circuit around the city on it. Much of daily life takes place on the wall, one might say that the wall is the peripheral centre of Lucca. On a Sunday morning Martin Blažíček and I take a walk on the wall: I walk clockwise, he walks anti-clockwise, we meet back where we started. The walk takes 49 minutes, compressed here into two and a half.
QuickTime Movie 15.7 Mb

Monday, 24 September 2007

Post-Cinema No-Way Street

An installation version of No-Way Street is part of the Post-Cinema exhibition curated by Shaun Wilson, which opened today at RMIT Project Space/Spare Room in Melbourne, Australia.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

near Zlaté Piesky 2

Unlike Martin and I, two of the Kubikov 13 Summer Open Academy collaborative video performance participants Lyllie Sue and Maciej Ostaszewski, actually managed to escape the confines of the Zlaté Piesky area into central Bratislava where they captured images of architecture and people around the city. In performance they fashioned these into an increasingly abstracted study as the lines and structures of highways and office blocks become repeated line and grid systems. Here is documentation video of their performance (QuickTime Movie, 37Mb, 11' 38").

Viktor Fucek and Tomáš Benko, on the other hand, strayed hardly any further than the immediate surrounds of the workshop space but made a little go a long way neatly demonstrating how the everyday, the immediate and local – a chair, a tyre - can become fascinating through changing points of view. They constructed a tripod mount that allowed them to shoot the same moving subject simultaneously from different angles, resulting in some nice surprising overlapping twin screen action. Here is documentation video of their performance (QuickTime Movie, 32Mb, 13' 39").

Both performances were accompanied by specially devised live soundtracks from participants in the collaborative sound performance workshop.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

near Zlaté Piesky

I spent an intensive week last week at the Kubikov 13 Summer Academy in Bratislava with Martin Blažíček facilitating a video performance workshop. After a slightly uncertain start the six participants paired off and threw themselves into their appointed task of making a collaborative performance which was to explore ways of representing space and location. The workshops were located in a former cement factory near Zlaté Piesky lake (which provided us with a fresh supply of rather voracious mosquitoes every sunset), which is an apparently incongruous beach resort given that the surrounding area is a slightly overgrown, somewhat crumbling, rather neglected industrial desert, as well as being the location of the biggest Tesco store I’ve ever seen. Tesco thoughtfully provides a free bus service to and from the city centre 20 – 30 minutes away and most of the participants took the opportunity to visit and to capture video in the city.

Martin and I didn’t visit the city centre as we were as busy making our own performance as we were with keeping an eye on the progress of the others. Instead we explored the rail yard behind our hotel with the notion of locating the source of the plaintive mechanical cries which had disturbed our sleep the previous night. We never did find the source of the sound but it was recorded, sampled and manipulated for the soundtrack to our performance, which also consisted of images of and through the stacks of rail, along and across the tracks in twin split screen loop compositions playing with perspective and temporal shifts.

Here (QuickTime Movie, 42Mb, 19' 12") is video documentation of the performance we gave on the last night.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

collaborative video performance workshop

Serious workshop business with Martin Blažíček at 13 Kubikov Summer Open Academy, Bratislava. More images here.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Storm Bugs - Neither There Nor Here

1st September, Foundry, Shoreditch

Live for the first time in 25 years, Storm Bugs present an all-new show of audio-visual navigational circuit bending and dis-orienteering. All around the roundabout, up and down Shoreditch High Street, in and out the Foundry, where are you going and how did you get there? Eschewing expectations, not to mention glitchy abstraction or the hedonistic thrill of the feedback rush, Storm Bugs turn their attention to the here and the now-ness, the there and the then-ness, collapsing distance, time, direction and location into a question, a riddle, a conundrum.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Suspended Extended

The lecture by Professor Ham and Professor Cheese to the Danish Design School back in February gets voodled
by Patalab over at dvblog.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Last Week at Wilhelmshöhe

Last Week at Wilhelmshöhe
QuickTime Movie 5.1Mb 3' 03"

Friday, 27 July 2007

People looking and moving in the low available light of Colin Powell’s fabrication

In the light
QuickTime Movie, 2.1Mb 1' 14"

Phantom Truck, The Radio.

Inigo Manglano-Ovalle’s installation is a full-scale replica of what is alleged to be a mobile biological weapons lab. The work is collated from descriptions presented to the United Nations in 2003 by US Secretary of State Colin Powell and images of trucks taken after the subsequent invasion of Iraq. This object of speculation was used to justify the US preemptive strike. It proved not to be capable of weapons’ production. The evidence “discovered” after the fact, turned out to be pure fabrication. - documenta catalogue

We enter sculptural space, watching and looking shades into movement and spatial negotiation, moving through rooms marked by darkness, red filtered daylight and the relative blue of ‘natural’ light in the distance, animated in real time by the low light setting on the video camera.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

People Watching

People Watching
QuickTime Movie
7.1Mb 4' 17"

At Documenta Harun Farocki’s Deep Play shows us various perspectives on the final of the 2006 World Cup. We see the ‘clean feed’, the television networks’ raw material, we see individual players on both teams, we see computer generated representations of the game, we see maps of the flow of play. Across four groups of three screens the action proceeds in simultaneous ‘real time’, action and simulation, abstraction and manipulation. This is an intelligent and integral multiplicity, a spectacle that interrogates the processes and technology that produces it. Further to this the spectator to the installation actively engages in producing their own experience, watching is creative, we are reminded how much activity in these exhibitions consists of people looking and watching and how active is that looking and watching.

Saturday, 30 June 2007

No-way Street

No-Way Street
1:00, 2007 click on title for 6Mb QuickTime
Cordoned areas and blocked streets have become an increasingly common occurrence in urban centres. The strategy of producing public spaces of exception disrupts the pedestrian’s everyday practice of writing the city. As regular pathways are rerouted along side streets and down unfamiliar alleys, the city starts to become a strange place, a more abstracted experience. No-way Street enacts the discombobulating effect of such orientation realignment through a series of multiple short video and audio loop sequences of blocked streets, diverted pedestrians and police cordons, constructed as a spatial and temporal matrix.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

direct language 2.6

Direct Language 2.6
QuickTime Movie 1Mb 0' 59"

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Outside and Unknown

On Saturday 9th June Direct Language 3.2 screened in the Outside and Unknown: from the fringes of the vlogosphere programme in the Pixelodeon festival at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, USA. The programme was curated by Jennifer Proctor. Happily for those of us unable to make the trip to LA, Jennifer sent me the programme details with links to the online versions of the videos which, now the programme has screened, I am able to post so that you can also enjoy it from the comfort of your own computer.

This screening is a celebration of international vloggers who push the limits of what the moving image can mean, especially in an online context. They treat video as poetry, painting, theater, soapbox, and laboratory. They fly under the radar, create for small audiences, and use the web as a venue for experimentation. You may not recognize all of their names, but they're producing some of the most groundbreaking work on the web, fusing videoblogging, filmmaking, and artistic practice.
- Jennifer Proctor

Chris Black
Praise and Sensation 1:10

Direct Language
Steven Ball
Direct Language 3.2 :45

en video
Juan Luis Casañas Ballester
Luz 1:10
Tacto 1:05

Seth Diehl
eyes open :50

Video Haiku
Kevin O
Pigeon Mob 1:30
Hot Dog Rollers 2:00
Train Bridge 2 1:55

the wave
Jimi Bogdanov
Film # 55 2:25
Film # 57 2:00

Rasmus Jørgensen
Just that moment 1 :30

the fever 5k
Jason Talbot
VII :50

The DIY Animation Workshop
Andrew Lynn
sundance 1:25
Global Good War :45
Paper Dream 1:25
A Frog is a Frog 1:00

David Howell Studios
David Howell
Morning Walk 1:00

Matt Black's Video Sketchbook
Matt Black
Phở Lunch 1:16

R, S, T, & V
Violet Lucca
victoria's secret 3:10

Zach Kmiec
Wikitchen 2:50

El Gringo Loco
Jeremy Smith
Technical Difficulties :40
Guitar Mix Up :40
The hand that feeds you :40
Closer Train 1:00

Dean Wolf
kaleidobirds :30
tree stencil 090606

Scenes of Provincial Life
Michael Szpakowski
Woodland Oratory :35 (silent)
The Garden, May 20th :28
Home Movie :30 (silent)

SpaceTwo: Patalab
Sam Renseiw
On motion analysis and treadmills 1:26
The snow queen's psychogeography 1:49
The lapse of time between two instances 1:48

The Film of Tomorrow
Trine Bjørkmann Berry
Stretching Before and After 1:20

Mack McFarland
watch to alleviate aesthetic static 1:00
to watch after the White House Press Briefing or with the apathetic 1:25
to watch in preparation of deep fall 1:25

This Side of the Cave
Juan Carlos Gonzalez
video: inspector is coming 2:25

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Car Situations

Car Situations (Steven Ball/Philip Sanderson), 3:20, 1981
by Storm Bugs

7.7Mb QuickTime movie
From the new compilation LP 'Supplementary Benefit' on Vinyl on Demand Records. View the entire record and get more information at www.stormbugs.co.uk

Saturday, 12 May 2007

The No Show - Riccardo Iacono

Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, 20th April - 27th May
(click image for larger view)

Friday, 4 May 2007

direct language 4.5

Direct Language 4.5
QuickTime Movie 7.5Mb 1' 21"

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Sunday, 22 April 2007

direct language 4.3

Direct Language 4.3
QuickTime Movie 22.5Mb 3' 37"
An installation by Petr Nikl
and a performance by Eric La Casa, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Philip Samartzis, Orbis Pictus - interactive exhibition of musical instruments, Czech Museum of Music, Prague, 21st April 2007.

Monday, 9 April 2007

direct language 4.2

Direct Language 4.2
QuickTime Movie 11.4Mb 2' 00"

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Daydream Voodle 01

Daydream Voodle 01 QuickTime Movie 2.4Mb 1' 03"
Two days before the word had been invented we had all made our first voodle at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen on Friday 23rd February 2007. Professor Ham develops a good description and working definition of the voodle over on Brut Smog.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Daydream Workshop

Snow Factory Quicktime Movie 53 secs, 6.4Mb
Copenhagen, 25th February 2007

Saturday, 10 February 2007


During the 1970s in this little known eastern European state, extreme suppression of freedom of speech took an unusual turn, but the way protesters overcame it was even more unusual. Protest was allowed but there were extreme restrictions on what words and form of words could be used in protests. Gradually the restrictions became so comprehensive that protest became all but meaningless. Protesters took matters into their own hands however and started to create banners with apparently obscure pictograms made up of typographic text. They effectively invented a new language which, while having its roots in underground resistance quickly became widely understood among mainstream society. In the letter of the law the authorities could do nothing as the protesters weren’t actually doing anything illegal. The images on the placards refer to particular issues, above for example you can see anti-nuclear weapon and anti death penalty placards. If the images look uncannily like concrete or visual poetry such as the work of Peter Finch, John Furnival or Bob Cobbing.

(images from the Sackner Archives of Concrete and Visual Poetry)

This is no surprise as the use of this form of placard was developed by a number of young artists with strong links to the Fluxus movement.
Concrete and visual poetry invited us to question and redefine and renegotiate the relationship of the word, punctuation, the letter and as a consequence language, to meaning, foregrounding punning and visuality, in the politics of poetry and visual language. Now this strategy was being employed in the in the street in the politics of protest and free speech...

Or at least that’s what I’d rather hoped was the case, but these are not documentary photographs but the work of Jens Ullrich whose doctored newspaper photos of protests are part of the Media Burn show on for another week or so at Tate Modern. The Tate website tells us that “...there is a sense of futility in the bearing of placards emblazoned with meaningless signs. However, some fundamental message survives, conveyed in the protesters’ facial expressions. For Ullrich, there are parallels between the protesters in these images and the role of the artist, a struggle to be understood and to make sense of the world around them.” Hmmm, really? While Media Burn makes a fairish stab at exploring “the boundaries between art, politics, protest and the media” Tate’s record of dealing with ‘political’ art has been less than distinguished, remember that this is the same institution that censored John Latham.

Sunday, 28 January 2007


In 1999 I had an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. The work consisted of 20 small light boxes (10 x 15 x 15cm) arranged on the wall over an area of approximately 400cm wide by 55cm high. A photographic image was set 10cm back in each light box with a mask on the front of the box forming an angled aperture that allowed the viewer a restricted view of the image and, by getting close and peering inside the box, they might, more or less see the entire image. So this was partly about establishing a spatial relationship between the viewer and the work. Another spatial dynamic was also at work. The photographs montaged in the images came from two sources. One set of photos was taken in London in 1995 when I returned to London for six months after having lived in Australia for seven years. The rest were taken a while after my return to Australia around the west of the city of Melbourne in 1998. The common factor in these two sets of images is that they were all shot at night with long exposures. Some of the Melbourne photos were shot in almost complete darkness, something that might not be quite so possible in London with its high levels of nocturnal ambient light.

The London photos were shot around the City of London, London Bridge and Borough. As I was walking home from Borough Market today through the Weston Street tunnel, under the Victorian viaduct that carries trains as far as New Cross or Deptford or thereabouts, recognising the brickwork of the tunnel from some of the photos I took 12 or so years ago. 12 years later I am living close to where some of the photos were taken, I thought of them as a link both backwards and forwards through space and time.

Night-light was exhibited at Westspace, Footscray, Melbourne, Australia, 13 March – 17 April 1999

Thursday, 25 January 2007


I'm on the Number One…

...at the Elephant...

...no at the traffic lights...

...by the station....

...no I'm still at the bus stop... he's letting more people on...

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

direct language 4.1

Direct Language 4.1
QuickTime Movie 984kb 00' 28"

Sunday, 21 January 2007

direct language 4.0

Direct Language 4.0
QuickTime Movie 2.9Mb 01'17"

Saturday, 20 January 2007

sublime transport

London Bridge Station 16:08