Blog Archive

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Lip-Sync Video Art

I've been working with the rather loveley Caitlin Griffiths (artist) recently who is delving into the realms of Cuckooing once again. She is obviously quite mental as she's the practice coach for Birmingham Blitz Dames Roller Derby Team and doing a Masters and PhD at the same time. We've been working with George, who has Foreign Accent Syndrome. George is from East London. One day he had a stroke, and now he speaks a little like he's from Italy.

We've also had the pleasure of an old friend of Caitlin's, Martin Gooch, who has worked on loadsa good stuff. And directed Hollyoaks. He makes dodgy B-movies by the looks of things, and has made a selection of dirty films which apparently Christian Slater is resisting. He has a little site here which I like very much.

The project revolves around a lip-sync video based on 2 into 1 by artist Gillian Wearing. As seen below. I won't give much more away, as Caitlin may smash me into a barrier, but keep your eyes peeled for an exhibition around Birmingham in the not-too-distant-future showing the piece. I'm tipped it may be a Trove show curated by Charlie Levine.

In the meantime enjoy the original 2 into 1, which I do believe I still have on VHS myself somewhere, probably from when it was on TV as this version must have been. It's strangely troubling...

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Twitter

Twitter - I mean, really... They got the name right: it includes the word 'Twit'; inspires the word 'Twat'; and gives the impression - it's what timewasting old biddies do to comprise their day.

I get the impression that Twitterers are of the same ilk (but a differn't brand) of the folk who would watch Big Brother's 24hr footage while everyone is sleeping... with one major difference - they're not interested in others sleeping, just themselves.

Why I would want to know this???
  • "Just woke up from a bomb ass nap...lol.."
  • "Just woke up, still sleepy. "
  • "Jus woke up from a good nap on my gramas couch."
  • "im tired! i woke up"
  • "I feel so proud of myself, woke up late by 30mins. Yet i can get ready in 10mins and leave home as scheduled."
  • "woke up from a terrible nap ... how lovely. "
  • "Did a very crazy thing yesterday. Woke up happy but scred this morning."
  • "iono ugh.i woke up this way doe"
  • "Just woke up from a nap. Yes, a nap. "
  • "just woke up from an all day nap, lol."
  • "It was good, I just woke up. "
  • "Dreamt that I woke up with a gap between my front teeth. I was wk"
And yes, they are all real 'Tweets'.

I know! I know!! Stephen Fry uses Twitter - so let's see what he has to say then:

"No. Yes. Mm. Agree completely. That fellow in the M&S advert does look amazingly like me. Astonishingly really."
- Stephen Fry on Twitter


Well fuck me.

Let's face it: if you can say it in 140 characters or less 14 times a day, it really can't be worth saying now can it?


http://twitter.com/misskatieprice - a twat (recommended Twitterer)


Jordan recently mentioned me in her Tweets here

Saturday, 31 October 2009

15 best free software downloads

Mostly it's for web design or audio/video so excuse my if it's all a little techy.

DONT WORRY! : I'll add in a few cheap jokes to keep the non-techy amongst you entertained.


General stuff:

OpenOffice
Better than Microsoft Office! You can create Office Docs with it, works with docx files (I've had to convert them online recently with docx-converter.com), it's crossplatform and more stable than the juddering old granny that is Word. Apart from a small confusion I had over where the hell the Page Setup bit was in the Word Processor (format>page which actually makes more sense) I've found it to be great!

Dropbox
Free 2GB of online datastorage (a virtual USB stick) - and works just like a folder on your machine, where you can copy stuff to - you can make it accessible to anyone online too (share photos, files etc). Charming little site, easy install, really useful!

Nero 9 - free version
I'm sick of vista fullstop and the annoying default dialogue wastes my CDROMs. Not actually used this Nero freeware, but Nero is always good. Statistically... 9 out of 10 people enjoy gang rape.


Creative stuff:

Pixlr
Online Image Editing - works just like Photoshop and it a bit more comfy than the other free Photoshop-but-not-actually-Photoshop freebie Gimp.

Blender
Full on 3D studio!!! Free!! Scary! Albino... You can't say fairer than that.

Aviary
Online audio editing! Really! Import, export, trim, fade, reverse. All your basic audio editing features online.

Virtual Dub
Digital video editor (AVI's no Quicktime though). Magic little toolkit for trimming and batch converting video files.

vvvv
Mindbendingly-powerful and totally intuitive AV programming environment. Once you learn it's little quirks you'll fall in love with it's beautiful interface and be building samplers, 3D worlds and videofx in no time.


Web designer stuff, noone else will be interested in:

Mozilla's - web developer plugin
Great little Add-on for Mozilla that does nifty jobs you'll use every day as a web designer to test pages. A man goes into a library and asks for a book on suicide. The librarian says; "Fuck off, you won't bring it back."

Xampp
Free install for servers - installs PHP, MySQL and Apache server in a click. Perfect! Saves all the hassle, easy to install and use - even comes with an Apache-ON/OFF control panel. I'm using it for testing out PHP parsing offline.

FileMenuTools
Little context menu tool for pc that gives you new options like quick advanced find and replace and folder syncronisation. Simple, but I find myself using it a lot.

Crimson Editor
Nice lil Notepad replacement source code editor for windows. Includes FTP. Why doesn't Viagra work on chavs? Cos they only get hard when they've got ten mates behind them.

Browsershots
Handy cross-platform browser compatibilty screenshot creator for Web Designers to check their pages dont go AWOL on the iPhone or OSX.

Filezilla
Great FTP client does the job well, no fuss. Connect to mutiple servers at once. My sister talks about sex online with people she doesn't know. She thinks ;)

Digital Picasso

Just made this little fella at Mr Picasso Head. (www.mrpicassohead.com).

Or you could go all Jackson Pollock at www.jacksonpollock.org

Enjoy

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Social networking for Creative People : Good? or Bad?

Thanks to Elizabeth Short (of Crowd 6, Birmingham Blitz Derby Dames and, at the inspired Tea Stained) here's a few questions I answered for her on social networking for creative people... I'm also wondering if MySpace will threaten me, so it's a bit of an experiment... ;)

1. Please tell me a little about yourself. What you do (artistic practice or/and job) and where you do it.

I like to think of myself as an artist, although I spend most of my time helping others as a freelance multimedia specialist and teacher. Officially I’m a sole trader trading as Psicon Lab (www.PsiconLab.co.uk) and have been since 2004, although I’ve worked freelance since 2001 and been active in the midlands arts and music scene since 1998.

Commercially I supply services in art and design, multimedia and web, software and interactivity, education and events; usually for the arts, music industry, education and business. As an artist I work in a range of media (mostly digital) with a preference for live performance and draw a lot. I used to VJ (mix video clips live at clubs/events) and would love to be more involved in audio-visual performance.


2. Do you use social networking sites? If so which ones and why? (if not why?)

Recently I use them a lot. I have accounts on many, but mainly use Facebook. MySpace sends me into an intolerable rage at the log-in screen, as I dodge adverts, and it is a disaster of design and user-friendliness. It fails miserably to do the most basic task efficiently. Furthermore I am convinced that they sweep the Internet for any bad press said about them and try to destroy it – there MUST be a million complaints – but can you find any online?? I’ve looked for answers to a selection of problems and found nothing but cheery chit-chat. It is good for discovering great music though and contacting bands, labels and organisers. Given the choice I would remove myself from MySpace altogether if it wasn’t so popular and useful for music – it is THE worst website I have ever had to use, and I wish I never had to use it ever again.

Facebook on the other hand I have found to be an invaluable tool and have recently bought advertising on (ironically!) which is actually looking to pay off quickly – mainly due to a good system of targeted adverts and non-invasive display. What really sets Facebook apart though is the way you can manage the content – It has a selection of filters/lists/hiding options and privacy settings that you can use to set who sees what, and what I want to read, and when – essential tools which are vital for avoiding information overload, which MySpace lacks: contributing to the failing and pointless spam-fest it has become.


3. Do you use them for personal or as a creative practitioner for promotional use? (if not why?)

I use the sites to contact with friends and family and keep in touch with what’s going on – almost as an email replacement these days. I also have my bands on there, and groups and pages for my business. It is great for keeping in contact with people in an easy and social, and more personal way. People can also subscribe to RSS news feeds and keep up with what I’m doing/what my business is offering. I can also embed parts of it into other sites and people can help promote you with cute little tools like ‘liking’ it, tagging it, sharing it and other open communications.

I used to use Facebook exclusively for close friends and deny anyone else, but it’s become so widespread I see no point in fighting it. I also trust it to deal with changes and introduce new tools to deal with them – again as MySpace failed to do.

I do feel it is very important to treat yourself and your business as separate things though – this is a traditional business model which is actually challenged by modern thinking that ‘personal’ business blogs and networking are great for business – which they can be. The key thing I feel is choice – you may just want to buy a sandwich from the shop and not speak to the woman behind the counter, or you may want to chat and eventually become friends, but business and personal life should be 2 distinct roles, even if they do over-lap and cross-filter. Some people care about you being a person, and others just want a job done. Some people want to know what Beyonce had for breakfast, others just want to hear the song. But either way I feel creative people should communicate with each other and find new audiences, and this type of networking encourages relevant people to discover you.


4. How do you feel that they help promote you as a creative practitioner? (If at all).

They make you accessible in terms of seeing what you do, but also in terms of being to communicate with you directly – it used to be the case that people used managers and agents as middle men, now you don’t need to. Also everyone is into it and online networking sites are like an interactive directory - and you’ve got a better chance of getting business in and meeting people if your on there. Another gripe with MySpace here – the search was always completely useless – imagine if you got the Yellow Pages and it didn’t actually tell you page the plumbers were on, so you just had to stumble through it trying to find one..!


5. How do you feel about social networking sites and the use of them to promote creative practitioners?

I think MySpace did wonders for musicians and has been the source of many of my contacts on there in the industry. My music videos get plenty of play on YouTube too and have had viewers reaching into the hundred thousands, which would never have happened without major TV coverage any other way. I think artists should definitely be using them – everyone else is, why exclude yourself? I do feel that artists are cautious though – because they care about how their work is displayed and to who – but Facebook’s privacy settings actually give you control over this – person by person – you can even preview your own profile from someone else’s view just to check what’s being seen. Comments and criticisms are much more likely to be problematic but can open up debate which surely is what it’s all about anyway? Again, I think control is needed – my YouTube videos get occasional idiots leaving non-sensical or stupid comments – I delete them.


6. Do you feel that online social networking sites have community focus?

Yes, of course! That’s what it’s all about.


7. Do you think that online social networking sites will replace the use of flyers for events?

No. Online is one thing and real world another. But, I do think that ‘perishable media’ (ie, stuff that’s only needed or relevant to a specific time, or that goes out of date quickly) is better suited to the web. Better for the environment too! Flyers – as little card leaflets - may die out I suppose, but there will be some other offline promotional stuff instead.


8. As you are based in the West Midlands how do you feel that artist-led groups within the Midlands promote themselves to those within and outside the region?

Not sure quite what your getting at here, but I hope they are keeping up with things and doing everything that they can to make themselves known and progress – in fact, with networking sites they should be actively seeking to bring-in people from outside the region – it’s just too easy to reach the right people now. One of the best things about networking online is that I get fed a massive amount of events that I’m interested in attending – I’m almost spoilt for choice, I even have them fed straight into my online calendar, so am never out of touch.

Again Facebook, blogs and RSS feeds keeps me in touch. It’s actually been very valuable - as I’ve missed shows before - they just forgot to tell me about it, or I never saw a flyer or listing, if I'd have known I would have turned up.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

A Feast of Meat

Screamed my balls off at the debut gig of the newly born musical beast that is Meat Feast at The Gifford Arms in Wolverhampton, which turned out to be a cute little rock venue complete with gothic red curtains, satanic insignia and even The Chair of Doom. We played alongside Faith No More tribute (The weirdly titled) Faith No Man.

Drummer uITgs Thetroll in 'The Chair of Doom' - Gifford Arms

If you were unaware, before I did a disappearing act, I was playing bass in Brummy experimental metal band Jazz Thrash Assassin (newly renamed Meat Feast) and to cut a long story short, while I was away they fired screamer Splakoph (now in Contorted Hazel) and shortly after, screaming keyboard player Anna Krusis left. So guess who's filling in?? Yep... dickhead here.

Not only am I spitting blood and grunting, I'm trying to sort out some keyboard parts by sequencing them using a laptop. The screaming is going well, but the keyboard and samples etc are not, as of yet. We've tried click tracks, but as of yet have not found a good way to get the parts back in...

We're playing some of the old stuff with a few new twists, and some new. We have also been joined by The Baron (also in Viking Metal band Haerken) on 2nd guitar and of course Adam (my replacement bass player) is still with us. We have a dirty new website here and are looking to play some serious gigs in the Midlands between now and Christmas. Next on the calendar is what has been dubbed A Secret Backroom Butchery on our MySpace - it's actually a triple 30th Birthday party at which we intend to go a little mental. Also DJing at the event will be ex-JB's (Dudley) DJ (and ex-Wasted Race drummer) Jimmy Darko and Paul from TeeT Shirts who it turns out has incredible taste in hilariously cheesy electro - such as Chromeo. Apparently they do all their interviews through a vocoder! Magic... Enjoy.




Haerken play the Black Horse in Aston, Birmingham on the 16th of October.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Licking the floor - Kira O'Reilly - performance excerpt

A while back I went to VIVID to see performance art by William Hunt and Kira O’Reilly.

Just found this little bit of video from Kira's performance on the VIVID YouTube channel.


Read my original post here.

VIVID also have some great stuff ogin on at present the next of which is a focus on The Act of Drawing containing works by Stuart Brisley and Valie Export, among others.

The Act of Drawing runs Thurs 01 Oct - Sat 31 Oct 2009, open Thu-Sat, 12-5 PM, admission FREE, Launch event Wed 30 Sep from 6-8 PM.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Drawings (9)

Some lovable chaps and chapesses from the sketchbook...




Thursday, 3 September 2009

Blah (The Redux of Redux)

Hmmm.... I'm finding it hard to blog right now (full stop), as my wireless router doesn't seem to want to know my computer... but that's enough of excuses... and poetry...

On Phones...
After a row with phone company 3 (who assured me that I could 'freeze' my account (and pay nothing) while I was abroad until I came back - I found out (when I called them at Heathrow airport) that their staff lied to me (and that I would be paying line rental until I returned) and that 'freezing an account is impossible'. I cancelled my account and switched to 02 (pay as you go) who have since given me 50 free digital photos courtesy of Snapfish and some other goodies... Fuck 3, I say, whose staff are obviously incompetent lying idiots.

Receive random automated phone calls for crap you don't want? My house is attacked every day by an immense number of stupid calls by random recorded messages. Opt out of them here, at the Telephone Preference Service.

On Music...
I am loving Sigur Ros at the moment with occasional bouts of Radiohead, The Cardigans, Carcass, Type O Negative, System of a Down (who I recently discovered) and P.J. Harvey.

The Cardigans are curious. A lot of people don't 'get' them. The Cardigans entertain me endlessly because their songs seem so sickly sweet and still manage to contain the occassional subversive lyric that undermines the whole meaning - swiftly changing what is so painfully nice to... eek.. an abusive relationship. I am having difficultly finding a good example, but can't help the feeling that they are intrinsically cynical and their lyrics are sly, clever, little pins under your skin. What I like more is the disgust with which most people puke at them!



Type O Negative
are genius! I had always suspected that their second album "Origin of the Feces" was never really a live album - but I found out yesterday, when Roadrunner gave them the cash to make it, they went out and spent it all on cheap vodka, then recorded it in the drummers basement and added in crowd noises after, including a fake police bombscare in the middle of the set. Genius... and completely hilarious. Here's some negativity for you:


Friday, 7 August 2009

Recent Drawings (8)






Saturday, 1 August 2009

Drawings (7)

These are pretty old now, possibly 10 years in fact, but I just found them on my computer. I'm desparate to actually get some of my drawings shown soon, as I seem to have half a forests-worth of them spread across the house. If you can help me out in exhibiting them, want to use them or want to own any please get in touch!


Tori Amos suckling a pig from the Boys for Pele album inlay.


Played a live Gabba Techno set at Kidderminster College years ago with Adam 'Funkagenda' Walder
and used some great samples from Roald Dahl audio books, one which said "And Now for the Monkeys!".


Madonna just got home apparently..


Artwork for a comic made with Dexstah of
Dexstah & Babs fame, back in collage.

Many moons ago I ran a night in Stourbridge called
Breadfan with Ad Walder. This is an illustration for the flyer. Can't remember if we used it - I don't think we did, but I kinda like the fork stabbing anyway. Oh - we toasted bread behind the DJ booth by the way and threw it into the crowd... fun times.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Journeys by Swarming Pattern


Kim Rugg - a solitary red balloon drifting skywards

I recently got to quickly visit The City Gallery in Leicester for the Pattern Recognition show, which turned out to be a good oportunity to see works by Bridget Riley, Victor Vasarely and Roy Lichtenstein, among other more contemporary works. I've never been there before and was pleased to have found the place - the gallery is extremely well curated with a well balanced selection of work. I would have left a little note in their comments box saying how much I'd liked it but couldn't find a pen...

Among the posters and prints there was a nice interactive piece, by Boredomresearch called Ornamental Bug Garden, made up of small elements with different behaviours, such as jumping and spinning. It was kind of like an animated painting. Another inspiring piece was by Kim Rugg in which she'd cut out every letter from a Newspaper cover and placed it back, but with each letter now in alphabetical order, and even cut the images into 'pixels' and re-arranged them piece by piece. It made me consider the automation and sorting done by computer programs or the garbled info you get when they crash. What I liked was the fact that it made evident the 'components' of the text - the number of e's used, which letters were bold, etc. and that it was a task usually done by computers but meticulously done by hand. Strangely the essence of what was written was somehow carried through the other design elements despite the disruption of the text.. Genius.



I'm sad I can't go to this years Supersonic Festival, but I can't really afford it right now. Damn all you lucky people who will be spending 3 days listening to some of the world's best new music! But...

As part of the festival Capsule have collaborated with Germination and Fierce! to produce a treat for travellers at Birmingham's Moor Street Station. There Are No Others, There Is Only Us is a video installation of "an aerial dance of half a million swarming birds" by Marc Silver, with music by Ben Frost (who's worked with Bjork among others).

It opens this friday and I'm off to lend a hand tomorrow with it's installation - it may be as close as I get to the action :( Still, it's better to be a tiny part, than nothing at all, and I'm eager to hear some of the alternative soundtracks to the video - submitted through Capsule's website. These days I seem to spend a lot of time at Moor Street and it will be good to have something to muse over next time I'm there.


Pattern Recognition at The City Gallery, Leicester, runs until 24 October.

"There Are No Others, There Is Only Us", is at Moor Street Station, Birmingham : Friday 24th – Sunday 26th July. 10 am – 6pm daily. Free Entry.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Killing Birmingham : Birmingham City Council

I've been following this for a while and am disgraced by the threat to - in my humble opinion - Birmingham's best clubs and pubs and festivals by The City Council.

Just thought I'd share this video (found thanks to Created in Birmingham) and hope that this whole series of events will go away with minimal loss to some of the places that made Digbeth great in the first place.




Coming up is the 'Raise the Roof' event on August 1st - designed to raise money to sound proof The Rainbow Warehouse and save The Rainbow. Join the Facebook Group to campaign against it's closure and the 'Friends of The Rainbow' group here.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Honey! I'm Home!!

After spending 7 months drifting around the world. I am back! If you were wondering why it had all gone quiet, then now you know!

If you'd like to see what I've been upto, you can read all about my adventures through Japan, New Zealand and South America here. I aim to add some more pictures some time and tidy up a bit, but you can read the basics!

Since I'm back in Blighty expect a few more posts soon, possibly along the lines of exactly why England is so strange once you've been away for a bit...