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14 Nov

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Artists and Archive Film Screening – THE GREAT FLOOD – plus NOAH’S ARK

November 14, 2014 | By | No Comments

Thursday 11th December 7pm – 9pm
in the Living World Gallery at Manchester Museum

Artists and Archive Film Screening
featuring
THE GREAT FLOOD
and
NOAH’S ARK
with live poetic narration from Nathan Jones (Mercy)

tickets £5

Manchester Museum in association with Bigger Picture Film Festival present a programme of artist films using archive footage and live performance.

THE GREAT FLOOD (Bill Morrison, 2013, 78 minutes)

The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in American history. In the spring of 1927, the river broke out of its banks in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles to a depth of up to 30 feet. Part of it enduring legacy was the mass exodus of displaced sharecroppers. Musically, the “Great Migration” of rural southern blacks to Northern cities saw the Delta Blues electrified and reinterpreted as the Chicago Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and Rock and Roll. Filmmaker Bill Morrison and composer / guitarist Bill Frisell have created a powerful portrait of a seminal moment in American history through a collection of silent images matched to a searing original soundtrack.

great flood

NOAH’S ARK (Sam Meech, 2010, 23 mins)

Commissioned as part of a residency at the North West Film Archive for AND Festival, Noah’s Ark uses only films from the archive collection to retell this classic tale of preservation. The film relocates the story to the North West – with Noah and his congregation based in a church in Hulme, the animals in Belle Vue Zoo, and Mount Ararat now a seaside town near Blackpool. The film will be presented in the Living Worlds gallery (which also features in the piece) with a live performance from poet Nathan Jones of Mercy.

7_noahsarchivescreenshot08boatweb

09 Apr

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Noah’s Ark lands online

April 9, 2014 | By | 2 Comments

7_noahsarchivescreenshot02birdweb

My film Noah’s Ark is finally online. It’s taken 3 years, but you can now see the film, kindly hosted by North West Film Archive, and shared both on this site, and on the project website. The film was made as part of a residency at NWFA in 2010 set up by Abandon Normal Devices, and features the contributions of Nathan Jones (text) and Carl Brown (music)

Why has it taken so long?

The film is made up of over 70 separate sources which each had to be cleared for use. All were cleared completely fine, apart from one clip (90 seconds) of the Manchester Museum, the rights of which were held by Granada, who had conditions on its use. This section appears before the main film. but it is one of my favourite parts. It features a poem about the Dodo by TS Elliot, as well as shots of the animal exhibits in the museum, and a Museum staff member who provides a cautionary tale about preservation.

I managed to negotiate an exhibition license for screening the clip, at a cost of £350. Sadly the cost of extending that license to dvd and web was prohibitive (£1400). Because of this I have not been able since to share the film as a whole online. Prompted by the release of Aronofsky’s blockbuster version,  I’ve finally bit the bullet and edited Noah’s Ark – cutting that fantastic prologue out of the film in order to share the work. It’s a sad thing, but necessary. When a knot can’t be untied you must cut it off. Hopefully it doesnt impact too much on the enjoyment of the film – the images, text and sound are all extremely rich, and of course, you already know the story.

If there is one overriding message from my film, it is that often in order to preserve something we are forced to make choices about what must be lost. It is difficult, but hopefully those choices force us to reassess what is important, and those things we save will form the foundations of our future stories.

Hopefully the full version, reinstated with dodos, will be screened again properly at a later date (please contact me if you would be interested to do so!).

24 Apr

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Deep Repository

April 24, 2013 | By | No Comments


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Deep Repository is an attempt to design a solution for a final resting place for digital media. An archive for the post-apocalyptic. The concrete module may contain master formats (eg dv tapes, hard drives) securely insulated and encased, whilst associated documents other formats are stored on a read only SD card, accessible via the waterproof usb adaptor. The work was developed as part of a residency at Florence Mine, Egremont. The title is a reference to a proposed method of storing nuclear waste at nearby Sellafield in Cumbria.

19 Jan

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new materials: concrete

January 19, 2013 | By | No Comments


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web_deepRep_mould2-16

Over the last few weeks I’ve been researching and testing ways to create concrete blocks from my own custom moulds for a new piece of work entitled ‘Deep Repository’, as part of my residency at Florence Mine. The aim is to develop a simple system for creating marked ‘gravestones’ for digital media – an absurd apocalyptic archive, allowing someone to encase a master copy of a work (eg dv tape), knowing that it should in theory survive armageddon, even if the technology to play it back doesn’t.

The work was inspired by a twitter conversation with animator David OReilly, who was wondering what to do with old digibeta copies of his films that he no longer needed. Suggesting that rather than throw them away he should pass them to a proper film archive, I also offered to encase a tape in carbonite – a reference to Han Solo’s fate in Empire Strikes Back. Whilst my current approach to creating an ‘archival tomb’ has been to ditch the fictional metal alloy in favour of the more readily available concrete, my unfamiliarity with the material itself has been a key obstacle.

Working with digital media, its not so often I actually get my hands dirty, although the recent Moston Small Cinema build was an exception that perhaps gave me some confidence to attempt more physical projects. I have never worked with concrete though, and I was unsure how to mix it, and whether it would allow me to mould text. My first mistake was to trust an expert, who convinced me to buy mortar as it had a finer aggregate. I felt excited as I poured my mixture into the two moulds -one milled mdf, one lasercut ply – both featuring text cutaways. However, the result was a grainy crumbly brick that failed to render any text effectively enough from my moulds.

Disappointed, and unsure whether it was material or the mould design, I decided I needed to have a crack with the real thing, and nipped off to B&Q for a bag of quickset concrete. I also did some research into alternative methods of marking concrete, placing wooden offcuts and plywood letters in the base of my plastic tub moulds, and making plates for stamping impressions into the surface. The results were much more positive. The concrete set much faster than I anticipated (making stamping tricky), but it formed around the mould well, even taking the shiny sheen of the plastic tub on some surfaces. Removing the wooden text pieces was tricky, but I was pleased with the impressions they had left. I felt more confident I could develop my mould, and that concrete would work as the medium.

web_deepRep_mould2-23

Another materials test experimented with text sizes and material thicknesses, using lasercut birch plywood moulds that I made at Fab Lab Manchester. I also decided to test the feasibility of incorporating QR codes into the design, in order to explore the possibilities of interfacing with the marker through a smartphone, as with ‘digital gravestones‘.

cutting notes:

  • 3mm ply – speed 19 / power 100 / freq 500   (adjust speed to 17/ 18?)
  • 4mm ply – speed 12 / power 100 / freq 500

I created both relief and impression moulds testing different font sizes. The results were mixed. The QR code also looked nice, but wasn’t functional, either to a camera or as a rubbing. Text was defined in some parts, broken in others, and this perhaps had something to do with the concrete mixture itself. It seems that in order to use text, I need to be working with larger font sizes, better spaced.

The final Deep Repository Module will hopefully use these techniques to render *some* information on the surface, whilst entombing the digital media within. In addition, the design will house an accessible usb drive via a waterproof connector, enabling a copy of the media (though not the master) to be viewed, either via laptop or digital screen.

web_deepRep_mould3-36

 

30 Dec

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‘Archive’ – video installation

December 30, 2012 | By | No Comments

archive02web

‘Archive’ is a single screen database video installation about the preservation and cataloguing of memory. Made of 16 reinforced file boxes, all backed with architectural tracing paper to form a simple back projection screen. Into these boxes are projected various films from the NWFA collection, footage of the NWFA itself, plus other bits and bobs exploring my own personal experiences in relation to preservation.

Shown as part of the Co-operative exhibition, Liverpool Biennial 2010 – http://thecooperative.info/

Like much of my work this is built using isadora to trigger and arrange a database of over 100 video clips. The patch arranges the videos in compositions to fit the grid created by the boxes. As a result, some lovely combinations occur of archive footage amongst the filming cabinets of the NWFA.

I don’t usually think of myself doing ’sculpture’ or ‘installation’, but as soon as you project anything the piece takes on a spatial dimension that has to be negotiated and in that sense becomes architectural (I have become very fond of the screen I have constructed from ‘R-Kive’ boxes). This piece was a way for me to document my experience within the North West Film Archive and explore the idea of selection and preservation in a much looser, more formal way than I could in Noah’s Ark.

It also let me bring in some other stuff taking place in my life whilst working on Noah’s Ark – namely the deterioration and death of my grandma, which I documented along the way. It is perhaps strange and morbid to do this, but it gave me some ownership of her memory, and infact some of the images are fascinating.

Photos of the ‘Archive’ used courtesy of Alex Wolkowicz

19 Aug

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‘Time back way back – Babel Fiche and the post-apocalytic archive’

August 19, 2012 | By | No Comments

“O what we ben! And what we come to …How cud any 1 not want to get that shining Power back from time back way back? How cud any 1 not want to be like them what had boats in the air and picters on the wind? How cud any 1 not want to see them shining weals terning?” – excerpt from Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

The above lament is taken from Russell Hoban”s post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel, Riddley Walker – a story set in a future England, in which society is living through a new iron age. Fragments of the previous world are dug up from the dirt, or passed down the generations in broken english, to form the myths that underpin there current ”civilisation”. The main character, Riddley, is haunted by the evidence of a previous society that was far more technologically advanced, and yet sewed the seeds of its own destruction in the “1Big1”. A similar kind of post-apocalytic shamanism forms the basis for Dave Griffith”s Babel Fiche film, currently showing at the Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.

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31 Jan

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Blended Works 2005 – 2009

January 31, 2010 | By |

A visual mix of selected video works over the last five years. I decided to take stock of my work as part of an application for a residency at the North West Film Archive as part of AND. Fingers crossed.

Featured works:

0. Intro
1. Insane Mind
2. Human Grace
3. Electronica / Experiments in the revival of organisms
4. Angry boy
5. Noise Clouds
6. A Long Journey
7. LOVE
8. Symphony of Bells
9. The Model City
10. The Huge Entity

All material used is either produced by myself or taken from archive.org and used under the Creative Commons license.

‘Kinetic Fallacy – Audiovision’ – music by Kinetic Fallacy (Hannah Peel and Emma Welsby)

tracks:

‘Insane Mind’ – footage from ‘Nosferatu’
‘Human Grace’ – Footage from ‘Olympia’.
‘Electronica / Experiments in the revival of organisms’ footage from ‘Experiments in the revival of organisms’
‘AngryBoy’ – footage from ‘Emotions of Everyday Living’ and ‘Angry Boy’
‘Noise Clouds’ – video by Steve Clarkson.



A Long Journey – Sounds by Amos. Videos by Sam Meech / Pete Bamford. Mix by Sam Meech

‘Love’ – recordings and colours by Sam Meech, sounds by Amos.

‘Symphony of Bells’ – filmed by Tim Brunsden, Steve Clarkson, Markus Soukup, Sam Meech. Edited by steve Clarkson.

‘The Model City’ – sounds by Amos.

‘The Huge Entity’ – sounds by Amos.