One night, two countries, three shows

Friday 29th May seemed like another ordinary working day, most of it was spent assessing undergraduate Illustration & Animation portfolios at the Cambridge School of Art. Life has been so busy lately there hasn’t been any time for reflection, so any current activity tends to erase those that have gone before. it was only when I was walking to the train, in the last of the evening sunshine, after the work was done and I’d enjoyed a gin and tonic at the Six Bells, it occurred to me that it was in fact a quietly momentous evening. I had three art works performing and screening across the world in one night. Andrée Greenwell’s Gothic performed in the Sydney Vivid Festival, Orbit No.1 screened at the Zeiss Planetarium FullDome Festival in Jena and Circa’s Carnival of the Animals performed at the Come Out Children’s Festival in Adelaide. And I was walking quietly home without any of the excitement of being there, but with a deeply satisfying sense of achievement.

gothic_08 Gothic performs at the Seymour Centre in Sydney.

orbit-no2 Still frame from fulldome animation Orbit No.2.

cota_16 Shark attack in Circa’s Carnival of the Animals.

Running Away with the Circus

After six months of intensive animation, I have had the satisfaction of seeing the live performance of Circa’s Carnival of the Animals. This circus spectacular combines extraordinary live performance with animated moving image in a 40 minute show for children. The work premiered this week at the Out of the Box Festival at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane. The set designs work beautifully, the projection is balanced perfectly with Jason Organ’s lighting design and the performers are genuinely astounding.

Thanks to the Circa team for inviting me to join them on this adventure. And thanks also to Charlie Taylor, Jean-louis Pêcheur and James Baker for their inventive and idiosyncratic contributions to the work. Director Yaron Lifschitz declared this project never promised any sanity and there were definitely moments of madness along the way but ultimately Carnival of the Animals is a beautiful piece of work which deserves a long and prosperous life.

See a full portfolio of images from the performance here.

Making a Collected History of Light

A Collected History of Light is currently on show in the Nostalgias Exhibition at the Pie Factory Gallery in Margate from Nov 1 -12. It is a beautiful and engaging exhibition, curated by Monica Takvam and Sam Vale to coincide with the Nostalgias Conference which will take place at the Winter Gardens in Margate Nov 9-10.

It has been a very busy few weeks in the lead up to the exhibition, but the work is now successfully installed. I have carried the idea of A Collected History of Light around with me for a long time and it is very satisfying to see the work come to life at last.

I had made a prototype of the light drawers earlier in year using optic fibre and a range of display technologies but none of them worked particularly well. I needed to resolve the light source in the drawers to make the piece work as I had imagined.

To achieve this I undertook a number of experiments, starting by hacking existing lcd screens and adding led arrays. This was interesting but did not bring enough focused light into the archive. Next, I explored the possibility of using barco led tiles (used I believe on the last U2 and Pink Floyd tours). They were great and intensely powerful and I would love to work with them in future but there was just too much kit for the scale of this installation. Finally, I decided to use a collection of pico projectors. I have been waiting my whole life for projectors to shrink to this tiny size. The luminance levels are beautiful in the drawers and they work very well when focused through the optic fibre.

I also did my first laser cutting, which makes so many future ideas a possibility. I modified the retro archive cabinet, loomed cables, cut optic fibre bundles with a hot blade, folded and shaped black wrap, built custom projector housings and visualised light data into viewable looping sequences.

The resulting art work is poetic, ephemeral and lyrical which rather belies the very matter of fact and persistent problem solving that was required throughout its creation. It was hard work and stressful at times but so very satisfying to see the completed piece being enjoyed by its audience.

A very big thank you to everyone who has supported me in my somewhat mad process. Sending a shout out to Richard Godbold, David Tree, Allie Gazzard, Sam Vale, Peter Brownhill, Justin Rhyme, Paul Wood, Victor Crew, Yaron Lifschitz and Peter Barwick.

Back to Basics

I am working on a project this month in a local high school, helping their film club to complete their first animation projects. I spent yesterday setting up the process and was reminded once again of the sheer joy of animation. As we tested production pathways we did the most simple of animations a twirling pencil, a paper cut out, and some hand painted frames. So very simple and so very satisfying. I am looking forward to working with the students next week.

The Universal Drift

This weekend just gone saw my first gallery exhibition for some time. It took place at Gravelly Barn in Braughing, a group show of local artists with proceeds going to a number of cancer charities. It was a beautiful show and a pleasure to be involved. Photographs of the work produced can be seen on the gallery page. It feels like the beginning of a larger series, I am excited to see what happens next.