Assembly Birmingham

The second a-n Assembly event for 2018 will take place at Eastside Projects in Birmingham, an artist-led gallery space established in 2008. Working in collaboration with artist and curator Antonio Roberts, Assembly Birmingham will address the increasing amount of development taking place across the city and the Midlands as a whole, exploring both the opportunities and the challenges this presents for the visual arts community in the region.

In 2017 Arts Council England invested £90 million in Birmingham-based National Portfolio Organisations, while the government’s multi-billion-pound investment in high-speed railway HS2, which is due to open in December 2026, will reshape the city’s landscape. Numerous artist-led galleries and commercial creative industries, including Eastside Projects, have established a presence in the Digbeth area of Birmingham in recent years, taking advantage of low rents, large spaces and close proximity to the city centre. While an ongoing redevelopment scheme for Digbeth and the wider city reflects the city’s ambition to grow and regenerate, what impact will these changes have for artist residents?

Through a mix of presentations, discussions, artist film and a specially commissioned soundwalk through Digbeth, Assembly Birmingham will explore these competing tensions, reflecting on the opportunities artists have already built for themselves, and consider what investment and change could mean in the future.

Assembly Birmingham, 15th June

Over the last few months I’ve been working with a-n to organise Assembly Birmingham, which will be taking place on 15th June at the newly reopened Eastside Projects.

The second a-n Assembly event for 2018 will take place at Eastside Projects in Birmingham, an artist-led gallery space established in 2008. Working in collaboration with artist and curator Antonio Roberts, Assembly Birmingham will address the increasing amount of development taking place across the city and the Midlands as a whole, exploring both the opportunities and the challenges this presents for the visual arts community in the region.

In 2017 Arts Council England invested £90 million in Birmingham-based National Portfolio Organisations, while the government’s multi-billion-pound investment in high-speed railway HS2, which is due to open in December 2026, will reshape the city’s landscape. Numerous artist-led galleries and commercial creative industries, including Eastside Projects, have established a presence in the Digbeth area of Birmingham in recent years, taking advantage of low rents, large spaces and close proximity to the city centre. While an ongoing redevelopment scheme for Digbeth and the wider city reflects the city’s ambition to grow and regenerate, what impact will these changes have for artist residents?

Through a mix of presentations, discussions, artist film and a specially commissioned soundwalk through Digbeth, Assembly Birmingham will explore these competing tensions, reflecting on the opportunities artists have already built for themselves, and consider what investment and change could mean in the future.

The event will feature artists and galleries from across the West Midlands discussing how +why they made the West Midlands their home and what they think of the challenges ahead. Get your tickets now!

There is No Script for This, 28th July

On 28th July I’ll be at Eastside Projects talking about how my career developed after my studies for There is No Script for This.

thereisnoscript

What do people do when they leave art school? How do you begin to develop a career in the visual arts? How long does it take to build momentum? And then how do you maintain it? ‘There is no Script for This’ brings together a broad range of arts professionals to share their experiences of developing their practices, from leaving art school to a point of feeling successful – however they want to define this. This fast-paced survey includes speakers who are artists, curators, project managers, writers and more, and is an ideal opportunity for students, recent graduates and emerging practitioners to hear how others have navigated the early years of their careers.

Speakers include Vanessa Boni, Ruth Claxton, Anneka French, Andrew Gillespie, Ben Neal, Antonio Roberts, Emily Warner, Stuart Whipps and more to be announced.

The event is free and open to the public to attend

Birmingham Show – 31st January – 11th April

From 31st January to 11th April Glass will be screened at the Birmingham Show at Eastside Projects alongside work by 34 artists working/that have worked in Birmingham.

birminghamshow_esp

Birmingham Show is an exhibition as history and not history, connecting gaps, distances and potentials of artists who have lived, worked or studied within the city. Three key questions underpin the exhibition making – ‘What is the art of Birmingham?’ ‘Is there an accent to Birmingham’s art making?’ and ‘How is Birmingham useful for the production of art?’

Eastside Projects’ intention is not to create an authoritive survey, but to initiate conversations and to think again about our city as a place that produces and supports artists in many different ways. By displaying a set of works that wouldn’t otherwise be experienced together, we hope to make visible co-existing and overlapping objects, processes, politics, relationships and scenes emanating from Birmingham.

‘Birmingham Show’ continues a series of group exhibitions and productions within Eastside Projects that examine functions and modes of art and the construction of a public sphere. The series started with ‘This is the Gallery and the Gallery is Many Things’ in 2008, followed by ‘Sculpture Show’ and ‘Abstract Cabinet Show’ in 2009, ‘Curtain Show’ and ‘Book Show’ in 2010, ‘Narrative Show’ in 2011, ‘Painting Show’ in 2012, ‘Puppet Show’ in 2013, and ‘Trade Show’ in 2014. Each project invites new curatorial and artistic voices to effect change upon the existing conditions of Eastside Projects and aims to impact on artist practice further afield.

Changing Rooms talk and workshop

On Thursday 21st January I’ll be doing a short bit about my involvement with the Changing Rooms exhibition that’s happening at Eastside Projects.

EXTRA SPECIAL PEOPLE SALON

Please join us between 6.30-8pm at Eastside Projects for an introduction to ‘Changing Room’ a project by the Visual Realisation Unit at EP. With an outline of the project concept by lead artist Michael Magruder and EP director Gavin Wade, individual presentations by those developing work and a workshop exploring the technology that makes it happen.

Changing Room is an evolving mixed-reality installation that considers the inherent mutability and reusability of artefacts, concepts and situations in the Digital Age. Lead artist Michael Takeo Magruder will collaborate with Extra Special People artists Ana Benlloch, Iona Makiola, Antonio Roberts,Lee Scott, Zhao Wei and Selma Wong to develop a new collaborative space.

Blending the shared virtual environment of Second Life with the shared physical environment of Eastside Projects, the artwork will facilitate the realisation, curation and documentation of seven distinct – yet interrelated – art projects arising from a common pool of virtual and physical resources.

Changing Room is an experimental prototype for EP:VV (Eastside Projects:Virtualised and Visualised) – a new space for imagining ideas about Art. EP:VV will develop online, multi-user virtual worlds that afford new models for participation and representation of the gallery’s artworks and initiatives.

This’ll then be followed up with a short workshop on Second Life. If you’re one of the ESPers and have ever wondered about using virtual worlds in your work come on down!

Changing Room at Eastside Projects

My part in the Changing Room exhibition ended on 6th December. For the benefit of those wishing to build in Second Life here’s my experiences working in such an environment.

Monday

I was feeling ill so didn’t do any building in world but I did discover the joys of working collaboratively using Skype.

Tuesday

I was working in Eastside Projects as usual so decided to look around to see what inspiration I could draw from it. Although there’s less barriers when creating work in Second Life I wanted to create something that worked with the space or at least reflected the current show in some way. I began by documenting recurring themes throughout the current exhibition. I noticed that there were a lot of vertical lines and this could also be seen in initial work in the virtual space.

My current body of work is gearing towards visual projections and manipulation of images and data/databending so I wanted to do something that reflected this. At the same time, I wanted to move away from the viewer simply looking at the work and more towards them experiencing and being immersed in it. To that extent I wanted to see what could be done with a VJ set, but within Second Life. There are already art exhibitions within Second Life, but I have found very few examples of performances, with the following being the best example:Drawing inspiration from this video I wanted to see if I could take it further and create something more interactive.

Wednesday

I had a vague idea of what I was going to build. I wanted to create pod-like changing rooms that the view would climb into and then be treated to a visual experience.

Ideas

Ideas

I’m not that familiar with advanced functions of the building tools available in Second Life, so this was very much a day of trial and error. I discovered that maths plays a big part in plotting out shapes as there are, as far as I’m aware, no tools for snapping objects. Also, stacking objects sometimes proved difficult. One possible trick, which involved changing the object type to Physical occasionally resulted in my shapes falling through the ground!

Objects disappearing through the floor

Objects disappearing through the floor

Thursday

Some people had been trying to get into the exhibition but soon discovered that their avatars were too big This seems to be a problem with the way Second Life allows you to specify the size of your avatar. The Eastside Projects in-world building is (apparently) built to scale. Looking at the size and shape of some avatars it’s not hard to see why the door size could be a problem!

As part of trying to link the two pieces together I also went to perform in Two Short Plays by Liam Gillick at Eastside Projects.

Two Short Plays (by hellocatfood)

My idea was to film the performances, modify them and then project them into these pods. In that way, climbing into them was like climbing into a changing room where they would transform themselves. There would also be animated objects in the changing rooms, which I could control either via a set of controls within the space or by modifying the script on the objects

Friday

I also wanted objects to bounce around in the environment, but that would require making them Physical objects, which had already caused problems. I also was finding that I had far too many unused shapes in the space and not enough time to find a use for them.

The build was otherwise progressing rather well.

progress

Saturday

This time I had trouble with video encoding. Using Ubuntu has it’s benefit but I definitely had trouble encoding this video into a suitable format for Second Life to be able to stream it. Originally I had intended to reproduce the ogg export glitch that I had discovered but, as I feared, this glitch has been fixed in a recent update to Kdenlive. In the end Openshot was able to render my movie into a suitable format, but didn’t have the desired effect

Stills (by hellocatfood)

Screenshots from the video

There were also difficulties in adding this video as a texture in Second Life. Within the space only Michael and Drew had the option to add media, but then I had to have access to the texture that would be used for the video. In the end I had to create a new blank texture (which required buying Linden Dollars) and then upload it. An easy fix but just not an ideal situation, especially with 20 mins before the deadline!

Summary

Although my work was not completely finished I do not think that was the aim of the Changing Room exhibition. I think this is something that will evolve and I would very much like to revisit this work and add to it and explore new areas.

View of finished work

View of finished work

View of finished work

View of finished work

In many ways this exhibition does mirror real life exhibitions. Although there are obvious complexities in learning how to use a computer or a new program, this is mirrored in real life when presented with any new tools with which to work with. My liaising with Michael to see what was possible to build is very similar to liaising with the gallery directors to see what is possible in the space.