“Much Ado About How to Become a Famous Artist” is my first animation movie. I wrote the whole script and produced the animation in collaboration with Nikolaus Cieslinski. The movie was made in cooperation with the VisionLore Group. They are a Polish animation company who designed the visual characters.
It is a humorous view of the modern contemporary art scene in the 21st century. It is based on my experiences as a female fine artist, a painter. I still think that mastery, technique and talent are more important than the contemporary concept that “expressing yourself” is all that counts. Everybody can express their own feelings in their own particular way. You don’t have to be a “fine artist”, you don’t have to have any “technique”, following that principle everyone is an artist as long as they “express themselves”. All that is required in this brave new world is a “concept”. But is that ART? I don’t want art to be elitist, but art should be about truth, beauty and the sacred. And yes, there are some objective criteria for these categories!
Here is my own conception of the modern art world, in moving pictures:
Having bought a pair of tickets to this year’s TEDxExeter the day they went on sale I finally got around to working out what to expect there the day before the event. On opening their web site on April 11th I discovered that the theme for the 2013 event was “Living the Questions“, and the most recent blog post was entitled “If you could ask a stranger any question, what would it be?”, which suggested that:
The English talk about the weather because we find the exchange of personal information too uncomfortable.
which led the TEDxExeter “Storyteller” to ask the question
I wonder whether it would be possible to overcome those inhibitions at TEDxExeter? We could prepare ourselves, have a question ready to ask and be open to the questions others ask in return.
As regular readers of the “Implementing Imagination” blog will know, despite being born and bred in England I have no qualms about approaching total strangers and asking them about contemporary art instead of the weather! I therefore instantly decided to enter into the TED spirit of things. I wandered (virtually) from the TEDxExeter blog over to Twitter in search of some immediate (albeit still virtual) interaction with some English strangers. The #TEDxExeter hashtag revealed the following “tweets” to me:
Since Damo and Boris had been kind enough to start the conversation I replied as follows:
Click the date to discover what happened next in the virtual world of the Twittersphere. To cut a long story short, I decided to ask some English strangers the question “Are you worried about the Arctic Sea Ice“, in part because it is in fact related to the English weather, but mainly because it’s a subject I think everybody should be interested in at the very least, although very few people actually seem to be!
In real life the next day Kasia and I arrived at the Northcott Theatre, and I set about asking people my question, along with trying to find the strangers I’d “met” on Twitter the evening before in order to ask them my question face to face. The people we sat down next to were certainly worried about Arctic sea ice.
At the first coffee break I discovered that I still had a few leaflets left in my backpack after a recent trip to Oslo. I took them to the TEDxExeter “Connections Stand”, where Helen assured me that she was worried about the Arctic Sea Ice too:
Helen Drever helping everyone "get involved" at TEDxExeter 2013
That being the case, it seemed like a good idea to leave a few of my pieces of paper on the connections table:
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side, at TEDxExeter 2013
After that I also managed to put my question to a couple of the speakers from the first session. Both Peter Owen-Jones and Jonathon Porritt were very worried about the Arctic Sea Ice.
After the next session of presentations we were queuing for lunch when Damo unknowingly came up to me to ask me if I’d like to put my business card in his bucket. I discovered that his company Colour Burn was filming the event, and that he too is very worried about the Arctic sea ice.
Although I didn’t get to ask him my question in person it became obvious after lunch that at least one of the other speakers was very worried about the Arctic sea ice too. Stewart Wallis is Executive Director of the New Economics Foundation, and was the final speaker of the day. He actually showed a slide displaying the rapid decline in Arctic sea ice to the assembled crowd, a bit like this one:
The US Environmental Protection Agency map of declining Arctic Sea Ice
Stewart also showed us all a video of the nef’s Impossible Hamster, as a partial explanation for that decline:
The commentary to the video asks another question, on Stewart’s behalf:
Why do most economists, and politicians, think that the economy can grow for ever, and ever, and ever?
In answer to that question here’s a video from another TED event. This one shows Tim Jackson in 2010 explaining that:
This is a strange rather perverse story. Let me put it this way in very simple terms. It’s a story about us people, being persuaded to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need to create impressions that won’t last on people we don’t care about.
By the time Stewart Wallis left the stage at the Northcott I had discovered that Clare was in fact the TEDxExeter Storyteller, and that she was sat with her laptop at the back of the Northcott Theatre. I caught up with her there after the show was over, to discover that whilst she was aware of the declining sea ice in the Arctic, she didn’t seem at first sight to be as worried about it as Damo or Stewart or I.
At the end of the day on April 12th 2013 I never did get to meet Boris in person, but at least we now have a date for TEDxExeter 2014. Perhaps then I’ll be able to ask him this question too:
A few months ago Jim enlightened me about TED. Since then I have watched every now and then TED talks – videos about our planet, our lives, our future, our possibilities etc. etc. They are stories from “ordinary” people with passions, vocations and courage to be different, to be unconventional.
Yesterday I attended for the first time a TED event. It was close to home, in Exeter, TEDxExeter 2013. It was an unforgettable experience. It began with an inspired fragment from the Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I studied R.M.R. poetry and letters when I was in high school, and I did it thoroughly. As a young girl I was very romantic, and Rainer Maria was very dramatically an exalted and romantic poet. Here is the English translation from the Letters to a Young Poet:
I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Mad as I am I spent a few hours today reading the letters in the original versions, but I couldn’t find the fragment. Probably the English translation is very licencia poetica. Nevertheless it is wonderful to read Rilke in his own language again.
From the first till the last TED speakers, all of them, were fascinating and inspiring. The day was divided into four sections:
THE BIG PICTURE
THE POWER OF CONNECTION
The speakers were from different backgrounds and different disciplines: scientists, farmers, artists, public services, activists, pirates, entrepreneurs etc.
I was very touched by Jo Berry’s story. I found her story very moving and honest. When her father was killed in the IRA Brighton Bombing during the 1984 Tory Party Conference, Jo was thrown into a conflict she knew very little about. Since then she has visited Ireland many times and worked with victims and former combatants from all sides. In November 2000 she met Pat Magee, the man responsible for her father’s death and after that they created together The Forgiveness Project; and they become good friends.
When listening to her words :
I’m beginning to realise that no matter which side of the conflict you’re on, had we all lived each other’s lives, we could all have done what the other did
I thought to myself, maybe there is some hope for human kind.
I loved the talk by the American violinist Robert Gupta ( video only). He tells a moving story of society’s marginalized and the power of music therapy, which can succeed where conventional medicine fails. He mentioned a beautiful quote from Schumann:
Licht senden in die Tiefe des menschlichen Herzens – des Künstlers Beruf.
the English translation:
To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.
Here is one of his videos
One of my favourite talks was unfortunately also only a video, but a very strong one by Allan Savory. His presentation was about how to fight desertification and reverse climate change. When he mentions this
Burning one hectare of grassland gives off more, and more damaging, pollutants than 6,000 cars. And we are burning in Africa, every single year, more than one billion hectares
it forces you to think about us humans.
After Kester Brewin’s speech entitled “Mutiny! What Our Love of Pirates Tells Us About Renewing the Commons” I just got my own dream back again which was to become a pirate. A piglet pirate…..and here I am:
Two times during that day, yesterday, I had this wonderful opportunity to hear poems by Matt Harvey. I loved them. Such brilliant and funny poems; great sense of humour …
Matt Harvey you have got a new fan! Me.
In my professional capacity I attended the renewable energy conference which took place alongside the Renewable Energy Marketplace exhibition organised by Regen SW last month. The venue was the Westpoint exhibition centre just outside Exeter. I was delighted to discover that in between the presentations on how to finance and deliver energy efficiency and renewable energy and the panel debate on how all the theory might actually pan out in practice, space had been made for some performance poetry!
Described in the conference programme as “the enemy of all that’s difficult and upsetting” and “Regen’s poet in residence”, Matt Harvey was a revelation, making us all laugh at his poetic explanation of the thoughts that ran through his mind(s) upon his first ever encounter with a large scale solar PV farm in “The Shock of the New“. Not content with that, Matt went on to invite us all to contribute to a crowd sourced poem about wind turbines! Those of us in the room were invited to write a line of the poem on a strip of blank white paper. Those further afield were invited to contribute a line by “Tweeting” using the #REMPoem hashtag. My own line required no thought at all, since it was already on my own mind before Matt’s invitation, and I believe I was the first to hand in my no longer plain white strip of paper to him. Matt assured me that “partial plagiarism” was perfectly acceptable in all the circumstances.
By mid afternoon Matt had assembled all the contributions (some from as far afield as Canada) into the following performance, hastily recorded on his smartphone by yours truly:
See if you can work out which line was mine? If it’s not immediately obvious to you, here’s a big clue!
I subsequently discovered that another recording had been made of Matt’s performance, so here’s take 2. Amongst other things a not so hasty video recording of me making a hasty video recording of Matt Harvey’s #REMPoem!
Which video do you prefer, and have you worked out by now which line of the poem was mine?
Our report on the opening of the Neoreplicants exhibition which took place on November 16th 2012 at the Exeter Phoenix gallery:
Neoreplicants brings together the results of a partnership between Exeter Phoenix’s annual Digital Art Commission and the University of Exeter’s Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing (CALM). This opportunity gave thirty South West based visual artists the chance to explore the possibilities offered by the emerging technologies of 3D printing to their art making practice.
Kasia was one of the chosen 30! More words to come in due course, but here are some images of Kasia and her “art making practice”, especially for Shirley :
Kasia B. T. and I performed together as “Contemporary Art in the Community” at the first “Live Art Meets” event at the Exeter Phoenix art centre two months ago. We put our “performance” together with 1 1/2 days notice and were pleased to receive an enthusiastic response on the night followed by glowing reviews in our guest book.
Kasia, Jim and Chris perform "The Cutting Edge of Modern Art" at the first "Live Art Meets"
What with one thing and another we were far too busy to attend the second event last month. A few days ago however, we received the following invitation from Claire Burke via Facebook:
Fluxus was a art movement which started in 50s/60s, pioneered by folks such as John Cage and Yoko Ono
For me Fluxus has been one of the most influential art forms. It is sometimes called an attitude rather than a movement and I feel that this attitude has enriched my every day life and outlook within it.
At Art Meets we’ll be looking at some of the Fluxus scores in the Fluxus workbook and I hope you will join me in interpreting and performing some.
Intrigued, we couldn’t resist the temptation. Having done our bit 8 1/2 weeks ago we left our tripods at home and turned up at the Phoenix shortly before 9 PM last Tuesday, anticipating nothing more than admiring events from the depths of the audience whilst slowly sipping something cool and refreshing. Our most fervent hopes were dashed when with no notice whatsoever Claire coolly informed us that we were expected to pull small pieces of crumpled paper from her Fluxus filled hat and act on the instructions thereon! We fervently gulped from our cold glasses whilst simultaneously girding our loins as Claire kindly played us the following Yoko Ono/Fluxus video to allow us to get our act together:
By this time we had been joined in the “audience” of performers by three other brave souls, and the lottery began. The crumpled pieces of paper that we pulled out of the hat had been chopped out of her Fluxus Performance Workbook by Claire, and these were our instructions:
JLH #1 by Takehisa Kosugi, Micro 1 “Wrap a live microphone with a very large sheet of paper. Make a tight bundle. Keep the microphone alive for another five minutes”.
KBT #1 by Emmett Williams, The Gift of Tongues “Sing meaningfully in a language made up on the spot”.
JLH #2 by Tomas Schmit, Sanitas No.35 ”Blank sheets are handed to the audience without any explanation. 5 minutes waiting”.
KBT #2 by Eric Andersen; Opus 46 “This sentence should be not read by more than one person at the same time”
KBT #3 by Larry Miller, Chewed Drawing ”Chew a nice piece of notebook or drawing paper”.
More from us on the events of that most enlightening evening in due course. In particular we’re waiting with bated breath to discover what Claire’s video camera managed to record for posterity
A friend of ours is studying art at the Plymouth College of Art. Recently she has been involved in making a film by Erika Tan, “Sensing Obscurity”, which was filmed at the National Trust’s Saltram House near Plymouth. This project is part of the SINOPTICON exhibition, which is in turn part of the “Trust New Art” Programme. The official opening took place yesterday, also at Saltram House. We were invited there to celebrate this event.
The title of the exhibition “Sinopticon” is a compound construction of two words‘ Sino’ meaning China and ‘ optics’, meaning ways of seeing.
Taking chinoiserie as a starting point this exhibition explores the relationship of Western Europe with China both historically and through contemporary eyes.‘Chinoiserie’, a French term meaning ‘Chinese-esque’, derived from the Seventeenth Century as an entirely European style that was influenced wholly from China and the East. The China that was being emulated was in fact fictitious and very few real images of life in China had reached the west. Instead a Utopian land was described and repeated through the use of decorative motifs and styles. The influence and desire for China, it’s trade and culture, ramified in to the 19th century, opium wars, trade and colonialism.
More about the historical background can be found on the Sinopticon website.
Thanks to their high level escalation team I’ve now received an official explanation from British Telecom about the events that led up to our broadband outage on October 3rd. Here it is in full:
Loss of BT Retail Business Broadband Service on 3rd October 2011
Like any major national organisation we experience power outages on occasions. In order to protect our systems and therefore customers’ services, we have warning systems and emergency generators that ensure customers are rarely aware of any power outage affecting our facilities.
On Monday 3rd October 2011 there was a loss of the external power supply to Birmingham Telephone House at 11:41 am. Internal backup maintained power until 12:29 pm at which point a total loss of power occurred. External power supply was restored ten minutes later at 12:39pm. The external power outage was caused by a main circuit breaker tripping, followed by a failure of the backup power supply after 48 minutes.
The total loss of power at 12:29 pm caused a loss of Broadband service for a total of 1.3 million BT Retail Consumer & Business broadband customers.
1.2 million BT Retail Consumer & Business Broadband customers had service restored in under one hour. 0.1 million Business Broadband customers who use a static IP address required more complex resolution and service was restored within 3 hours to more than 80% of these customers. 18 thousand Business Broadband customers took longer than 3 hours to restore service because of a static IP traffic routing error. Service was restored to all these customers within 24 hours and this routing error has been identified and fixed.
We provide priority repair options for businesses that apply to the vast majority of faults. Major incidents like this are an exception and we worked to restore systems as quickly as we could, whether Business or Consumer. A power management team was deployed instantly to Birmingham Telephone House and have implemented changes to prevent this incident from happening again. Whilst we do not guarantee that Broadband service will be uninterrupted we recognise how important it is for businesses to have a stable and reliable internet connection. We have 99.9% network reliability and incidents of this nature are extremely rare. We take every precaution to prevent incidents happening and to learn from incidents to prevent them happening in the future. Should anything go wrong we provide 24×7 technical support from business dedicated UK based teams.
That all goes some way towards explaining how an 8 minute power cut in the middle of Birmingham at 11:41 eventually caused our broadband connection to fail here in the middle of nowhere in South West England at 12:32 or thereabouts. However that explanation raises at least as many questions as it answers. For starters, here’s the one uppermost in my mind at the moment:
Who was responsible for the “main circuit breaker” that seems to be at the heart of the matter? Western Power Distribution say it wasn’t them, and BT Retail say it wasn’t them.
The BT high level escalation team have suggested to me that the answer to that question might possibly be BT Operate, and that I call the BT Corporate Press Office to see if they can help. I think I’ll give that a try next.