Today I ran the final Small Cinema of 2009, this time in a small school in Everton. Our guide was Tony Keating, who seemed excited to be having the event there. He was keen to help set up, as was Ray the caretaker, who cleared the space in a jiffy and then brought his power tools to help assemble the screen. Tony had prepared film posters for the event, and gladly distributed memory tickets to the staff and children. He also volunteered to be an usher, sporting a bow tie along with Mr Byrne, who fetched torches from the science department.
All in all, staff at the Primary Education Centre couldn’t have been more helpful or more positive about the event. All the staff and the children filled out memory tickets in order to attend the event and a range of memories were discovered, including some kids who had never been to the cinema. All the children attended the event, and most of the school staff, and their was an air of excitement but kids seemed well behaved. During the screening there was some noise and lots of laughter from all ages, but most talking was in reference to events happening in the films (though Charlie Chaplin was mistaken for Hitler). Popcorn was brought out at have time by the staff / ushers and the chldren stayed in their places well behaved to receive it, enjoying the sense of novelty of being served my their teachers in bow ties. I think both sides bought into the theatrics and roles of the cinema, whether they had experienced it before or not.
After the screening, lots of kids said thankyou, and the teachers invited us for a cup of tea in the staffroom , where many stories of cinema experiences were swapped. The staff felt that the afternoon had been a good treat for kids, who had behaved better than expected. Tales of trying to take the kids on cinema trips that had been stressful (“never again”) made it more apparent the possibilities offered by bringing the cinema to the school.
All in all it was a terrific way to close the project for 2009, and another new approach discovered, this time, keeping it small and in some ways a surprise, but built on string support from the community.
My favourite lyric above from the title track from the album from which this event takes its name, ‘Wave If You’re Really There’ has become a kind of rallying call for creatives in Liverpool under the steering of Mercy Corps and their friends the Wave Machines. Their 4 events last year took place in St Brides church and gathered some of the best folk musicians, pop groups, performances artists, installation artists and poets to create a carefully orchestrated themed evening of delights for the audience, dutifully arranged in rows of pews (well, to begin with at least).
Last weekend was the first time the experiment had been exported, and saw a large group of collaborators and familiar faces transported down to London to install the the first of two capitol-based events (themed ‘marriage’) in St Leonards Church in Shoreditch. I went down to document the show, which its fair to say, turned out fantastic. Everyone worked really hard to set it up over 2 days, lending helping hands wherever needed; creativity abounded through the artistic direction of Scott Spencer and the Mercy crew and their collaborators, and all way lit in fantastic reactive colours by lighting guru known only as Guy. The performers (Karen McLeod, John Smith, Nathan Jones, Luke Kennard, Homework, Post War Years, and of course Wave Machines) all gave their best. It really felt very special indeed. Especially when John Smith did his folk cover of ‘Not Over Yet’.
More people than can be mentioned here contributed to the event, so I’ll simply leave these photos by John O’Shea to sum up the beauty of the evening. I’ll post the videos as they go through my patented topntail process.
Sarah had originally asked me to change the atmosphere of the space using multiple screens and projections, but this wasn’t possible due to the numbers in the audience. Being restricted to a more traditional audience layout, eventually my thinking turned to how lights would help to make the experience more immersive. I settled on the image of huge icicles, or stalactites that would add an architectural dimension to the lighting, both channelling colour into physical space and then softly radiating light outwards to change the general atmosphere. The 6 giant tracing paper icicles (tracing paper rolls are very cheap and therefore idea for theatre) were hung from 6 LED Par cans, arranged on the periphery of the performance space so the audience would feel encapsulated, but not distracted.
Sarah’s performance used a mixture of sound cues and MaxMSP midi signals which were fed to me from her laptop, and then I brought them into my Isadora patch, which then sent them out to a LanBox and so on to the lights. It allowed for extremely sharp changes in lighting states to occur in an instant as triggered by the MaxMSP patch, meaning that Sarah’s performance was truly linked to the lighting, triggering changes in the atmosphere. This felt fitting as a lot of Sarah’s work is an investigation into the way technology becomes an extension of the pianist in the context performance. The other two pieces performed that afternoon, a film soundtrack, and a sensor-led piece based on electrical signals in the pianists muscles, further developed the theme
Earlier this year I did some filming for Homotopia (Liverpool’s queer culture festival) and Light Factory (Liverpool’s most prolific documentarians) of an event to mark the death of murdered teenager Michael Causer. Michael was severely beaten in a homophobic attack in August 2008 and died of his injuries eight days later.
This event commemorated the memory of Michael and was part of the Pansy Project, an artwork developed by artist Paul Harfleet. Taking part in the remembereance alongside Michael’s family were representatives from the local council, Homotopia, and the Sigma Team, a specialist division of Merseyside Police setup to deal with Hate Crime.
Michael’s murder was not reported in national press (deemed to be of only ‘regional interest’ by the BBC) until there was an outcry in the gay press. ‘The Invisible Death of Michael Causer’, speaks to leading gay rights activists and media commentators to question why this was the case. The film was shot and edited by Tim Brunsden for Homotopia. Both films were shown last night at the Unity Theatre as part of Homotopia Festival.
The more time has past, the more fond I have grown of this piece, and so finally putting this online. It was amos’ idea, and its power comes from the sincere words and the intense score, but I am pleased with the role of the video in expressing these ideas.
I showed it in Apocalypse at Red Wire in August, and I’ve just submitted it to AV Fest, so fingers crossed. Made as part of ‘The Winter Will Not Last Forever’, a series of soundworks developed by composer Amos on the theme of ‘hope’, and performed at HIVE. This piece is a live stream mix from Isadora and combines video samples from myself and the late great Pete Bamford.
A voice reads out a letter telling of his personal struggle amidst bereavement and addiction. A red glow pulses behind a growing storm of grit and noise. As the storm becomes ever harsher, the glow becomes stronger. The glow and the storm begin to feedback on themselves, becoming enmeshed and amplified towards and inevitable end. Created using simple samples pushed through a state of live video feedback, organically re-incorporated and remixed.
Text by Warwick Ward Images by Pete Bamford and Sam Meech Sounds by Amos
An interview with Angie Hiesl – co-artistic director of ‘TWINS – How do I know I am me?’ – talks about the process of bringing the production to Liverpool.
I spent a day or so watching the rehearsal process in this fantastic space with these surreal symmetries of people and action. It was really great to meet the team and then finally experience the performance, which had a great freedom for the audince to explore and engage and drop out as they pleased.
‘Twins’ was produced by the Bluecoat, and was performed at A-Foundation, Liverpool in July 2009.
Unsilent Night – Thursday 29th October will see the BBC Big Screen play host to classic films from the beginnings of cinema, accompanied by live experimental soundtracks from some of Liverpool’s most creative music collectives. Curated by Big Screen magician Bren O’Callaghan, it’s bound to be a fun event. There is even a saw player for the intervals!
I’ve designed the title cards here based on the back-drops I originally created for A Different Tune.