Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Monday, 5 November 2018

Local Time

Local Time 13:50, 2001

Today I stumbled across an almost forgotten video I made in 2001 when I was interested in the material properties and qualities of digital video. It was shot on miniDV and then time stretched with a progressively granulated music track. It would then have been 'printed to tape', mastered back to miniDV, as was my practice at the time. 

That period in the late 1990s, through to the mid 2000s or so, before High Definition, before the necessity to distinguish digital video as Standard Definition, when we were still in the glow of the idea that digital video offered a superior quality to analogue video; when digital video as represented by the various DV formats, and available as a domestic format in the form of miniDV, seemed to offer the possibility of the same resolution and quality as broadcast; when briefly in a golden egalitarian moment everyone was able to achieve the holy grail that had eluded many in the bad old analogue days, that of 'broadcast quality' image, with the consumer level miniDV camcorder format, and the early days of video editing software being made available for free on entry level Apple Macs; the means of video production without compromising technical quality, indeed digital video production, no less, was finally in the hands of the artists, the amateurs, the masses; surely the revolution, whereby we would throw off the shackles, revolt against the repression of the hegemony of the professional classes was just around the corner... but I digress.

I don't recall how I produced the sound and the treatments, I may have some notes about this, most possibly buried in a box somewhere. 

The video documents the first day clearing the house of a recently deceased friend of the family, and seems now redolent with a kind of melancholy, perhaps that was the intention.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Public Water

Public Water 55:12, 2016

Public Water is concerned with exploring the nature and status of water as urban public space in London, UK, and Melbourne, Australia, with a brief stop in Istanbul. To qualify, ‘public space’ is defined broadly as space to which the public is freely admitted and while ‘urban public space’ is usually considered in social, physical and architectural terms, most large cities also contain large bodies of water such as bays, rivers, canals, and so on. The idea of these as public space, is much more ambiguous.

In recent years, with the escalation in official concern about the threat of terrorist attack, there is perceived to have been an increase in the enforcement of restrictions on the rights of the individual and their activities in public space. However what is assumed to be public space is often privately owned with its own independent rules above and beyond those in common law governing its use. Typically such places are also policed by security agents engaged by or on behalf of the owners.

Among the activities under scrutiny has been the capture of still and moving images. While there is no legally enforceable restriction on photography in most genuinely public spaces in the UK outside of the provisions of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, in private places to which the public has access, such activities can be, and often are forbidden. One place where this is the case is the Canary Wharf estate in London’s former Docklands, where I was on one occasion requested to refrain from shooting video.

London’s Docklands have been a model for global urban development and Melbourne in Australia has followed suit, regenerating and repurposing its own Docklands as spaces of business, retail and leisure, using local government, planning and corporate agendas in ways that parallel and echo those of London.

The conceptual and aesthetic strategic conceit that I have arrived at for this project as a result of these and other observations, has been to capture moving images of place reflected in water. The simple speculative formulation is that if there are restrictions in capturing the image of the place, what is the status of the image of that place as reflected in water?

Water as public space, water as medium: when reflections on water are photographed what and where is the image? Water becomes a medium reflecting and reproducing (albeit distorting) an image. By then rotating this image through 180°, I am attempting an optical illusion that further problematises the image as an image ‘of’ something in perhaps a gently subversive way. Most of this activity has been located broadly in urban and suburban landscapes, increasingly concentrated in and around the private/public space of the Docklands in both cities.

Reflections on Public Water (pdf)

Monday, 30 July 2018

poem collage 1995

poem collage 1995

I’ve been scanning some of the collages which I’ve made over the decades, some dating back to the late 1980s. Most of these are primarily visual constructions, usually collaging together images from magazines, sometimes with added washes of water colour and PVA. They are things that I made haphazardly and occasionally, they don’t follow any particular considered process or plan, they are casual, intuitive, opportunist, although occasionally relate to other work, mostly film or video, that I might have been making at the time. I seem to have stopped making them when I started using digital media; some of my earlier digital-based works took collage form, so it’s probably reasonable to assume that digital media more or less took over from physical material in my work generally. As a result I’ve found it interesting to return to these works, digitising simply as a way to preserve and archive them, also as a way to ‘exhibit’ them online, although in the case of this particular collection, in doing so can introduce new problems.

These particular collages were made in an A5 size cartridge paper sketch book in 1995. I had already started using digital media at that point so these represent a different impulse. They were made while I was back in London for six months, after having lived in, and before returning to Melbourne. As such I didn’t have access to computers. The collages were made from lines cut out of Wordsworth’s 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798', and the use of that text was certainly a reaction to being back in England; thinking about Romanticism, and the internalisation of landscape, perhaps as a response to coming from the Australian context, perhaps as a way of turning around the way that the Australian landscape was, in the earliest days of European settlement, often depicted as a colonial extension of the English pastoral. ‘Turning around’ literally as I cut out and placed the text in such a way as it was unclear as to how it should be read, in the sense of which way up to turn the page, whether to read across, or down, or both, and how... and in some cases using the very physical materiality of the sketch book to construct text that would be obscured, so obscure, vignetted by masks cut in the page so that the next page’s text would be revealed on turning the page. These are very much works of physical media that can never fully appreciated in digital form, for here, in scanning them, their orientation becomes fatally fixed.

The Storm Bugs play Contrapop, Ramsgate Beach, Sunday 5 August, 2018


Saturday, 21 July 2018

Alights on a Cloud

I was invited to make a soundtrack piece for the Super 8 film Alights on a Cloud by Lee Smith, a friend and well-respected filmmaker who died in Melbourne in 2008. This is the instrumental sound bed, consisting of three layered guitar improvisations recorded while watching the film. The final sound piece will also have a voice narration which consists of texts relating to the location of the film, its history, and Lee's interest in it. A number of other people have been invited to contribute sound and music to accompany Lee's films, the project has been instigated by Marcus Bergner.
When I moved to St. Leonards Ave., St.Kilda, I was fascinated by the timeless, placeless quality of the building next door - it could be anywhere in the world, and I wanted to capture the meditative quality of this realisation. So for three days and three nights I filmed through rain, sunshine and nightfall the ominous quality of a building that was home for a number of different people. 
The title comes from my interest in Native American spirituality which was very influential on me at the time. 'Alights on a cloud' is the name of a peaceful and tranquil person completely at one with his relationship to himself, the world around him, and the universe. 
- Lee Smith, Cantrills Filmnotes #87/88 December 1997

Friday, 6 July 2018

Pattern Accumulation Dub

A 'dub' version of a song recording work in progress, with shortwave interference, drum and bass.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Linear Obsessional Live 1 July 2018

There's a rare glimpse of The Storm Bugs in action towards the end of this video.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Ed Pinsent reviews subsongs in The Sound Projector

"Steven Ball continues his mission to reinvent the song form on his own terms..." he says, it's a bold claim! Read all about ithttp://www.thesoundprojector.com/2018/06/02/underground-map/

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Public Water at Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival

Public Water is installed in the Peter Scott Factory for the Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival in Hawick, Scotland 2 - 6 May 2018