Thursday, June 26, 2008

Alternative Practice in the 1980s

My first degree was in Fine Art, but not just Fine Art: 'BA (Hons) Fine Art (Alternative Practice)'. The brackets-Alternative-Practice-close-brackets bit meant things that weren't painting or sculpture, though it sounds like 'general weirdness'. Mostly I made video pieces, some of which surfaced recently in the archives of Lux. They kindly put them on a disc for me, corrupted and damaged as they (like myself) are after a quarter of a century in a vault. Here's one I still quite like. It starts blank and lasts 7'41"

The good and bad qualities of this piece probably result from its having been conceived and made in the space of a couple of hours. I remember being in a presentation by a visiting artist, whose work seemed to me to be entirely referential to other work, though technically very accomplished. I fancied making something that wasn't just about art itself, that was lo-tech and in fact about the contrast between flawed bodies and pristine technology. Based on a conversation I had had (on the bus back from a night out in Brighton) with a guy I was at primary school with who had become a fireman, plus some other stuff, I did the above, basically by walking into the studio and making it. Elb Hall was the cameraman - cheers Elb.

Meanwhile, 25 years later, I'm still doing the same kind of thing. Check out my improv roleplay in this one, filmed when a camera was thrust at me as I emerged from the Guardian HE Summit. I (and sometimes my mutant thumbs) am in various segments starting at 00:01:56

Sunday, June 1, 2008

LX just leave it then...

Big disappointment today - we got our hotel allocations for the LX 2009 Eastercon. Having booked back in March we (us and our friends) were hoping to be in the actual con hotel (in one of the '131 en-suite bedrooms provide a high spec retreat for the weary traveller, enthusiastic conference delegate, excited holidaymaker or party-goer') but no dice. Instead, we've been offered different hotels in Bradford itself, around three miles away.

In the spectrum of life events this is pretty small beer. But I was really looking forward to being part of a residential con - immersed in the atmosphere - able to have a drink, participate in a session or whatever, at will. Losing this is a blow. As the hotel is relatively small, the rooms (and therefore the opportunities to participate fully in the con) have of necessity gone to a lucky few. I personally would find it to galling to be bused in for a temporary con experience, then return to a cheerless corporate hellhole - glimpsing what could have been then having it snatched away. So we'll leave it for 2009, sadly.