Friday, 16 August 2019

Gaia August 2019

Gaia by Luke Jerram
16 - 18 August 2019
Wills Memorial Building

Extinction Voices
5 August—15 December 2019
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Today I visited Luke Jerram's Gaia at Wills Memorial Building, Bristol. A giant hot air balloon like inflatable, 7 meters in diameter, composed of NASA imagery of the Earth's surface.

Spending time gawking at the spectacular glowing globe makes me ponder on our presence in the world. It makes me feel small. But it makes me THINK.



I sit and watch the World go by, reflecting on what we're doing not just right now in this moment, but of humans impact on this environment and other life within.

Next door in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery the timely intervention of the permanent World Wildlife gallery section of the museum: Extinction Voices.



The museum have draped fabric over the existing animal exhibitions that are extinct or endangered species. Extinction Voices is a clever and simple solution - using the existing works which highlighted by the museum themselves, historically pose part of the exact problem of extinction. This is a surprisingly engaging and thought provoking question for visitors.




Back at the World, it's humorous watching reactions to the exhibition. We don't know how to greet the World as we're strangely not used to seeing it. Some people sit, some people stand, some people lie on the ground, or try to get a higher vantage point to see the more familiar landmarks in the northern hemisphere. The surprising presence of the World is puzzling because we live in this world and see it everyday.

Watching these reactions to these inanimate interventions of exiting spaces today made me realise that things don't always have to be complex or physically interactive (as I strive and fail in lots of my work). That the roughly cut fabric drapes don't need to be hemmed at the edges to be perfect. That the images composed to form the world don't have to be 300dpi and seamlessly joined together to create a profound experience.

Our human is something that can be embraced. But to make a change. We need to do a little (lot) less.


Friday, 14 June 2019

Natural Selection June 2019

The amazingly produced 3 panel video installation - an absolute treasure and a must watch

Until 15 September 2019


I'm delighted to see this exhibition visiting Bristol, after being jealous about the Shetland leg of the tour earlier this year. It's a fascinating story, split into two sections across the museum. 





The first part sets out putting to bed my naive understanding of birds nests. I'm reassured when Andy points out there has been very little research into the subject. Along with his father Peter, they give us a captivating 101 course in birds nests. There's many types of structures and materials used. As well as hints at ingenuity in bird building and design. Demonstrated by the case study of the male bowerbird, who builds a nest like structure then decorates with brightly coloured objects to attract a mate.



In the second space we are introduced to a baffling side of life through an exposé about egg collectors. These smugglers go to lengths to collect rare birds eggs. They would stash their eggy treasures out of sight of anyone, in fear of prosecution. The exhibition features beautifully reproduced replica eggs from a major egg bust. I only imagine they refer to the bust as a scramble - which saw the RSPB destroying a huge haul of over 7000 eggs. On one hand you think what a waste, but on the other you realise they can't support such activities. These eggs should never have existed as a prize of human enjoyment. They should have hatched birds to continue life rather than endangering. As our crow narrator points out we must learn to observe nature, rather than feel we need to touch and remove.

Make sure to leave enough time to watch both films which are 30 minutes each.

Until 15 September 2019


Friday, 7 June 2019

London Exhibitions June 2019

Yesterday I was on a work trip to London. After my meetings, I took the opportunity to stay on late and check out a few exhibitions...


It's been about a year since I was last in London. I always enjoy hopping around the museums and galleries when I'm there. In such a big city it's not hard to uncover something relevant to my current work.

Excuse the crappy phone snaps, it's not going to do the work justice. I'll try link out to artists websites.

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition

UNTIL 15 SEPTEMBER 2019
Design Museum

The intro kindly hits you with the things you came to see - giving space to inhale the breath of the contents


I loved the processes on show in this archival exhibition. After the crowd pleasing 'opening titles' - you arrive backstage at the set of Kubrick's World. Exploring his obsessive passion for direction through reams of sketches & notes. A clear link from research to outcome demonstrated by the juxtaposition of storyboards next to an Oscar. 

"When you are editing you want to get rid of everything that isn't essential" Kubrick
With so much material on offer, editing and curating artefacts for this mammoth exhibition must have been challenging. Don't worry they sure as hell don't hold back, this exhibition is a mouth full even for the hungriest of fans. A point particularly prevalent in Kubrick's own editing process. Things may be better off on the floor if they have no place in the final piece - at any cost!

From sketch to final artwork by Phillip Castle.
I was particularly taken with the process between Kubrick and illustrator Phillip Castle. Starting with letters including early sketches, showing development through concepts towards final artwork. Kubrick gets what he wants. He knows the right people to work with and squeeze out the extra juice. This in depth, yet glimpse, at his process is inspiring for any fan.


AI: More than Human

UNTIL 26 AUGUST 2019
Barbican

This exhibition allures with all the flashy, shiny things. Context is welcome via historical artefacts that suck you into the artificial world. Human's attempts at understanding that world in depictions of religions and cultural references. 

In Jewish folklore, Golem is an animated anthropomorphic
From a robotic cat character in the kids cartoon Doraemon, to wild generated worlds that have their own ecosystems in Sunshowers by Marija Avramovic and Sam Twidale. The exhibition continues through the Uncanny Valley, past Blade Runner sci-fi towards real world examples: including early computers and the Enigma Machine which was unfortunately not operational.

If Netflix did exhibitions... oh wait...
Jump to our modern day Netflix era. A self contained section about traditional Chinese board game, "Go". In documentary AlphaGo, programmers show AI the game rules, to understand how the game works. Teaching the machines how to play and how to beat humans, including one of the best players in the world, Lee Sedol. Only, us humans can't accept that sort of defeat. When Sedol eventually wins against the programme it's deemed to be the "Hand of God". Surely, something a computer can't have? I mean... (let's not go too far down that route). Fascinating. Watch the documentary on Netflix.


Generated artwork in Mosaic Virus, by Anna Ridler shows beauty beyond possibilities of human conception. Such beauty can only be likened to plant life. But along with narratives of our consumeristic world, our ever fragile natural world is not forgotten here. Can AI backtrack our destruction of the planet? Self building robots that can morph to different shapes and environments. Could these be an answer to rebuilding any destruction we cause, or the cause of such terror?

What is constant throughout is how boundaries are blended by AI. Where does AI stop and where does other life begin? Do computers know what we see? Or do we see what we know? I begin to wonder, as computer vision depicts a mess of old audio cables as a dramatic sunset beach scene.

As always AI is at odds with our own advances in technology. Exhibits break down. AV technicians dismantle the magic black boxes to reinstall software. Part and parcel with this field of art. Something which I find reassuring on many levels.

Provocative and entertaining. Plenty to keep your measly little brain occupied. Worth a visit on a rainy summer day.

What a Loving, and Beautiful World by teamLab

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Internet Music 2.0


As a teenager I often compiled random mixes of tracks illegally downloaded, called "Internet Music". I decided it was time to resurrect these playlists to share some of the music I'm currently listening to. The plan is to release these every month or so... intermittently.

Give it a listen here: