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Florence Mine

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.

22 Apr

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Talk at Signal Films, Barrow – 25th April

April 22, 2013 | By | No Comments

This Thursday I’m going to be talking about my recent residency at Florence Mine, Egremont and showing work created by myself and the other artists for the exhibition.

The talk will be at Signal Film and Media in Barrow, from 7 – 8.30 and it’s free!

more info here:

http://www.signalfilms.co.uk/what’s-on/sam-meech-talk/

 

19 Feb

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View From Here – Florence Mine

February 19, 2013 | By | No Comments

A film documenting views achievable from the vantage point of Florence Mine shaft no. 2, overlooking Egremont, Cumbria. Filmed using a traditional manual titling system bought on Ebay and lettraset to create analogue equivalent to motion graphics typography. Created for the ‘Unearthed‘ exhibition, Florence Mine.

08 Feb

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Document: Unearthed exhibition

February 8, 2013 | By | One Comment


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web_unearthed_exhibit-10

Last night was the opening of the Unearthed exhibition at Florence Mine. I went back to the gallery this morning to take some images of the space.

After 4 days of frantic installation, the exhibition looked great. We had a very busy opening night and I talked to many people who all seemed genuinely intrigued and impressed with the show. I was so proud to see the work of the artists on the project, finally complete, and looking fantastic in the space. Some very accomplished pieces, and in fact each artist had achieved a great deal in terms of their own development, whether it be learning new tools, trying a different approach to making work, or using the work to make a personal journey. I was pleased too with my own pieces – the concrete mould had worked well for Deep Repository, with the View From Here film playing from the brick itself, and the video installation about Gillfoot No2 didn’t look bad either. It’s a relief to have got to this point where we can simply enjoy what we’ve created.

 

30 Jan

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View From Here – test 01

January 30, 2013 | By | No Comments

Experiment I’ve been working on this week. Using a traditional manual titling system bought on Ebay and lettraset to create analogue equivalent to motion graphics typography. Filmed at Florence Mine, Egremont in Cumbria as part of a new work for the ‘Unearthed’ exhibition.

27 Jan

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Unearthed: an Exhibition of Digital Media Excavations

January 27, 2013 | By | No Comments

unearthed_slider

My residency at Florence Mine, Egremont comes comes to an end next week with a group exhibition alongside the Cumbrian artists I’ve been mentoring. Fingers crossed I get my works finished! Check out the fantastic flyer designed by William Daw. Press release below:

Exhibition Launch 5.30pm – 8pm Thursday 7th February

Open: 10.30am – 4.30pm daily from Friday 8th– Wednesday 13th September

Florence Mine, Egremont, Cumbria, CA22 2NR

“Unearthed” is an exciting exhibition of new digital artworks by Cumbrian artists. Developed as part of a residency at the mine with artist and ‘videosmith’, Sam Meech, the project is hosted by Signal Films and funded by Arts Council England to provide local artists, photographers and filmmakers new opportunities working in digital art.

The show features several impressive new moving image installations, including a time-lapse film exploring coastal erosion, a digitally painted animation of live sushi, and a hypnotic HD video installation of soil particles suspended in oil.

coastal_screenshot

Film of coastal erosion by Lynne Hallet

The residency took place from October 2012 to Feb 2013, and the participating artists were introduced to production techniques including stop-motion animation, video editing and sound recording. For the exhibition, the artists have been responding to the setting of the mine, creating works that examine the notion of ‘unearthing’, through found footage, animation, video and documentary. The artists involved in the project have also been contributing to a blog with posts on the progress of their works, which can be found at www.viewfromflorencemine.wordpress.com

Florence Mine owner Gilbert Finlayson features in a video installation about a recently collapse mine - 'Gillfoot No. 2'

Florence Mine owner Gilbert Finlayson features in a video installation about a recently collapse mine – ‘Gillfoot No. 2’

Artist in residence Sam Meech uses a wide range of media including digital projection design, analogue video hardware, and interactive media systems. His films have been shown at festivals across the UK, and he continues develop projects with artists and communities in the North West. During his residency Sam has developed new work in response to his time spent at Florence Mine and the surrounding area. As part of the exhibition, Meech is exhibiting an eerie video installation featuring remixed accounts of the recent mine shaft collapse, as well as a concrete ‘gravestone’ for encasing digital media.

still from View From Here film by Sam Meech

still from View From Here film by Sam Meech

Nicola Fitzsimmons, The View From Here Project Manager at Signal Films said:

‘We are really excited about the exhibition and looking forward to promoting this group of talented local artists. Everyone is welcome to join us at the opening. We hope lots of people will come over and see the exhibition during the week that the show is up if they can’t make it for the opening night.

There aren’t many opportunities for Cumbrian based artists to have the support and the opportunity to showcase their work. Working alongside an artist in residence has provided a new source of inspiration to cumbrian artists and as a result some really engaging and thought provoking, stimulating work has been created that encourages you to see the familiar in different ways.’

The project has been funded by: Arts Council England, Barrow Borough Council, Cumbria County Council, The Hadfield Charitable Trust and the European Social Fund.

unearthed_600

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

 

06 Jan

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One Comment

Florence Mine residency

January 6, 2013 | By | One Comment


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web_florence_signs-01

I’m currently doing a residency in Cumbria at Florence Mine, Egremont. The site of a former working iron-ore mine, Florence Mine is in the early stages of its new incarnation of a centre for the arts. As part of the residency, set up by Barrow-based Signal Films, I have been mentoring 12 Cumbrians artists with a range of background from sound design, to video, sculpture and even knitting. The final outcomes for myself and the other artists will be presented in a group show from Feb 6th.

Though I’ve been introduced under the title ‘digital artist’, I’ve been careful not to bracket the activities too exclusively (or raise expectations too unrealistically) and spent much of the time focussing on the interests and backgrounds of the artists involved. Rather than lead the whole group on a prescribed course to make something, my aim has been to tease out their own ideas and approaches and offer brief technical introductions based on individual goals. So there have been intros to stop motion animation, sound recording, video production and editing, photoshop masking and even hacking iPhones.

A key tool, and through line for the project, has been the introduction of the group to WordPress. Whilst some of the group were familiar with blogging, it was new to a number of the artists, and has been a great central site for archiving progress and sharing ideas.  I don’t think the importance of blogging can be underestimated. Whilst there many creative digital skills and tools are out there, none of them are perhaps as fundamentally or universally useful for an artist or designer as a blog.  It took a little to get going, but now a few of the group are posting their progress, and its a real pleasure to check the site to find a new blog post. Even better is to see the way people encourage and comment on each others’ posts.

visit the project blog

The setting of the Egremont and the mine is a great starting point, and I’ve proposed to the group to use the word ‘unearthed‘ as a springboard.

The residency also allows me an opportunity to create a couple of new pieces of work, and the setting chimes with a lot of my thematic interests. I’ve been slow in getting going practically, but this has at least given me time to allow initial ideas to ferment, and I am now set upon two approaches. The first idea is a video installation that remixes accounts of mine collapses in the area – there was a recent incident in Egremont in which a digger fell into a mine shaft – with technical and social insights into Egremont and Copeland’s mining heritage. I’m hoping to interview witnesses to the recent collapse, as well as other people who work with mines, to create a database of language samples around the ideas of burial, mining, unearthing, landscape, that can be accessed at random to create a surreal account of mining in the area.

My second idea is a real deviation for me, which is to create a physical object from concrete, capable of housing digital media in a pseudo-gravestone fashion. I have been exploring ways to create custom box moulds for pouring concrete, as well as things like military-grade waterproof sub cables. The idea came from a twitter conversation with animator David O’Reilly around the conundrums of what to do with old digi-beta masters of films. Realising I couldn’t manage an archive in any true sense, I proposed encasing them in carbonite, and the idea of an apocalyptic archive was born. The work is as much about burying artworks as preserving them. The setting of Egremont is perfect for the first iteration of this work, due to it’s proximity to the Sellafield nuclear plant. The mechanism for burying nuclear waste has inspired the title for this work – ‘Deep Repository’.

I am back up to Egremont tomorrow to begin developing the ideas in earnest and supporting the other artists in finishing their works ahead of the exhibition next month.