Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Following on from Mr Keen is an example of rapid fire, information saturated film making from experimental 'art' group fluxus.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

condensed stories via moving image

Jeff Keen's exaggerated and riotous use of pace through rapid cuts and stop frame animation cram visuals and ideas into short timespans. Here he uses a hand-made/lo-fi mixed media approach to moving image, and a dreamlike non-linear narrative. See more about him here, here and here.

In Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind (which we will show you soon) he uses lo-fi means again to create abridged versions of famous films in short timespans. He calls these sweded versions. They contain key points in the narrative cut together quickly to give a precis of the storyline. This has become a bit of a cult process now with YouTube full of sweded versions of famous films. Gondry has also written a book called "You'll Like This Film Because You're In It: The Be Kind Rewind Protocol" which he hopes will enable anyone who reads it to make imaginative films with limited means.

See Michel Gondry's sweding of his own Be Kind Rewind trailer here!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Mythologies exhibition at Haunch of Venison

Just back from another excellent exhibition at the Haunch of Venison which I urge you to see before it closes on 25th April. See all about it here but don't place too much judgement on the images on the website, they have to be seen in the flesh. Also prepare for the ground floor not to grab you so much as further floors and rooms upstairs.

Here are some of the most relevant pictures (for your current stage of the project) I could get from the website, but go and see the whole range in person. It's free to get in!

If you enjoy eccentric and curiosity-laden archaeological and anthropological museums like the Petrie, Sir John Soane's, Pitt Rivers, Hunterian, Horniman , then this exhibition (which is inspired by the previous occupier of the venue, the ethnographic Museum of Mankind), will be of great interest. I personally spent many an hour sketching in that museum which, along with the others above, inspired my thesis on the objectification of the unknown, the urge that discoverers and the resultant hegemonic powers had to categorise and study unfamiliar cultures, sometimes with innocent wonder, and sometimes with much more troubling consequences. This exhibition is a reappraisal of our current world through the eyes of the past. As the exhibition guide says, in "exploring museological strategies such as archiving, display and taxonomy, whilst blurring the boundaries between the parallel universes of art, natural history, ethnography and anthropology, the exhibition aims to re-awaken a sense of wonder. In the last 50 years ethnography has struggled to rid itself of its focus on the strange and mysterious but these are qualities that inspire many contemporary artists. Artists are perhaps today's field researchers, ethnographers and storytellers, offering us ways to explore and interpret the strange phenomena that is contemporary life around the world". 

It uses, as its inspiration, themes which were the titles of exhibitions at the Museum of Mankind, 'Beginnings and Endings', 'Rites and Ritual', 'Religion', 'Magic' and 'Material Culture'. It might relate quite strongly to the work you have been doing in your societies- creating beings, cultures, rituals and behaviours, and artifacts of your societies' cultures.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A scary Happy Easter! Greetings Cards pt 1

Recurring themes of eggs, rabbits and chicks are used in these vintage greetings cards (as in many Easter cards) to symbolise new and abundant life, referring to the rising of Jesus from the tomb in the christian public holiday of Easter. Somehow these cards manage to make it seem like a creepy celebration, and not the innocent and joyful one it is intended to be!!! Chosen for comedic effect!

And here a perversely friendly halloween card! This uses some of the traditional Halloween symbols of Pumpkin Heads, black cats, moons and bats, to represent death and evil spirits and the warding off thereof!

See more vintage public holiday cards here

Flags and heraldry

Going back to the Mardi Gras theme, the sense of a cathartic state of mind, an ephemeral "State" of freedom, and turning upside down of social and power hierarchies for the period of carnival, there are kings and queens of the carnival, but also there is a Mardi Gras flag with traditional heraldic colour representations as follows, purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power (chosen by the visiting Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia in 1872) ...

Mail Art

Shameless second plug of the Raven Row exhibition of Ray Johnson's collages and mail art work. Excellent gallery (amazing building in itself), excellent and extensive exhibition featuring previously unseen collages and mail art of his. He was often described as being affiliated to the fluxus movement and a forefather of the Pop Art and Mail Art movements. These images here are just a small example, but the works in the exhibition are spectacular. It's free to get in and you get a great free brochure of many of the best images to take away with you.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


The Festival of Britain. A monument to Britain's achievements and a reinforcement of its strengths, traditions, manufacturing, craft, design and progressive innovations after the war. A chance to celebrate and remember who we were and what we were good at, after taking a battering. This film was sponsored by the Central Office of Information of the government and endorsed by the Crown. The above brochure cover for the festival is by Abram Games, a noted Graphic Designer of the times. He produced strikingly iconic work for such things as London Underground walls, book covers, propaganda and public information posters, and stamps. He was the Official War Artist during the second world war and produced around 100 posters during that time. Therefore the perfect designer for the task of the festival brochure. See more of his work here, and here.


See another documentary retrospective of the festival here. More honest, not such a propagandist film like the above, more a fascinating and evocative visual essay, produced by The Observer newspaper group (but also sponsored by the Central Office of Information of the government), on the dynamic designs and ethos of the festival, and the state of the nation at the time.

The legacy of the festival is of course abundantly clear on the South Bank now with the original Royal Festival Hall building from the time still there, and the creative and innovative ethos still perpetuated in the exhibitions, performances, architecture and environmental designs and visuals. This demonstrates the lasting power of bold statements.

Then there was the Dome...

Widely considered to be a poor imitation of the aims of the Festival of Britain with less substance and clarity, but perhaps hampered by the somewhat less tangible industries that Britain was then known for in more abundance than the manufacturing and craft based industries of the 1950s, and the less distinct identity of the nation as a whole. Its legacy is less determinate as a result.