I am pleased to announce that part 6 of my animation Playing with Plastic (2016) will be exhibited online as part of a new archive UN[dis]CRIMINATE with the Unstitute online gallery.

Located in courtyards of the Unstitute – in between spaces, between other structures, temporary or otherwise – is a network of diverse encampments serving any number of uses; political or otherwise. In these digital encampments you can see the building of a new archive: UN[dis]CRIMINATE.

The outlying buildings of The Unstitute are not guarded by anyone in particular, and often entrances sit wide open for anyone to see. But mainly the nomadic eruptions in disused or otherwise vague areas of The Unstitute appear of their own determination, and deterritorialize as long as they please.


Painting the Town… Update (18/3/18)

I was mad to go into the studio today, with what is looking like freezing snow outside. I was determined to go in if the roads were clear. So they were and I did. My main focus of the day was to reinforce the fourth plinth, which is by far the largest of the set. I’m struggling to find space now in my studio space.

With the gum-tape in place I decided to see how it would look paired up with other model miniature. Looking at the two together I could see a massive difference in height. The larger piece dominates it without doubt, which really concerns me. I was considering how it would look with the viewfinder in place, how that would change the piece, giving more power to the larger one.

I had to see how it looked, and it just took all the attention away from the smaller one which just cowers away in comparison. I need to see how they work with projections, how will that change things. I’m starting to lean towards removing the viewfinder completely as much as it draws the audience in, the envelope like screen that it cut out to reveal the violence is something that could work on it’s own without the other piece.

Painting the Town… Update (17/3/18)

I’ve spent longer than I expected to on this piece in the studio today. Just showing that even with all the material I have to hand. I began by sourcing the longest box (when flattened out) which measured to just over a meter. Thinking that I may have the tallest plinth on my hands here. As the day progressed I was searching for pieces that matched the original box. I couldn’t, settling for two varied sizes, which ultimately took the height down to just under a meter.

With the height fixed I began to get the pieces cut to size, slowly in place and fixed together. There are support strips of card on either side of the with some of the sheets that are forming the plinth. I have to make do and carry on the best I can with some pieces. Once in place I began to reinforce with the standard triangles on the 90 degree angles, it was the those of around 120 degrees that needed a different approach to ensure they did the same job.

As I’ve had with the other plinths, the model miniature slotted in with ease once more, allowing me to see it raised and supported. All I need to do now is add the gum tape for extra strength before pairing it up with the other piece. I’m glad that all four plinths have been constructed, bringing me a step closer to drawing this piece to an end. Moving forward I want to see how this pair looked when projecting together too. Before that happens I need to buy more kit that will streamline what I already have, making further tests and ultimately installations an easier process to set-up. Lastly I need to see how the projections work with both the viewfinder in place and without. I’m also concerned how it will look  alongside the others which have so far not needed one. All these decisions still to make.


78/52 (2017)

It’s been a long week at home and I needed either a comedy that I could lose myself in and not have to do much thinking. Or really treat myself with a dissection of film history, gain an even better understanding an appreciation never go a-miss. I settled for 78/52 (2017) a very obscure title that needs the prior in-depth or nerdy knowledge of Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho (1960) which the second documentary in recent time to explore the director. Previously the taped conversations between Hitchcock and Truffuat in Hitchcock/Truffuat (2015) which were the basis for the bible as it known by famous film directors who have worn and tatty covers that they have in their possession.

The earlier piece was steering us towards the making and the influence of Vertigo and ultimately Psycho a film that has changed the medium of film making. It’s a natural progression to then make a documentary that builds on that discussion, focusing not just on the film, it’s that scene, the scene that has become part of popular culture to the point that you don’t even need to have previously seen the shower scene. A moment in film that has become ingrained into the language of film that it’s essential reading for all students and fans of the medium.

78/52 is very much a labour of love, the aesthetic of the film’s built around the film, there’s no contributor sat in-front of a green-screened image or a hotel room. Instead a faithful recreation of the Psycho motel sets has been built to sit the contributors both famous, obscure and really unknown if you don’t have a love of horror films. Writer/director Alexandre O. Philippe has really done his research in pulling this documentary together. Drawing us into the world of the America that has become cut-off from civilisation to find the motel that Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) found that led to her bloody demise, all filmed in black and white, even our contributors are brought into this world. The only jarring break to colour is for colour film clips which you get used to, once you except that its a back and white world we are in it’s excepted.

The first 3rd of the film is pure build up, as we learn – again the context behind the film, the behinds the scenes that is even left out of the fun film depiction of the making of the film Hitchcock (2012) that focuses more of the directors psyche rather than the minute detail of what is essentially 78 shots of film and 52 cuts in the editing room that ends all that build up. Exploring that drives that lead Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) to dress as his dead mother and kill what could easily be his latest victim. Looking at the state of films in the late 1950’s all that were begin to bubble over from innocence to a burst of sex of violence in the following decade, breaking free of the Hays code that had restrained them to conform to the strict moral virtues of the country and “Mothers knows best” that Hitchcock exploits to shock his audience who had seen nothing like it in America in mainstream cinemas around the world. We can see this all in Hitchock’s earlier films, the role of the mother, waking up America from it’s nieveity to the war in his native Europe. The drives in his works, the symbolism that was building up his thrillers before delivering his first horror, a film that he would never top. Leaving me wondering how the rest of the classic really can work or live up to all the build up to that scene. Leaving Marion’s sister and lover to workout what happened, the result of the shower scene and that comes after pales in comparison. Yet without that lesser part of the film we wouldn’t have understood the motivations and get the conclusion that we leave with.

What could have been a replay of the shower scene, including the undressing, stepping into the shower to the eventual and famous climatic murder and the disposing of the body. Every frame and cut’s dissected with equal measure. Getting insights from everyone from editors, directors and even Jamie Lee Curtis. Instead of the classic fun of stills we have an in-depth discussion of the scene. At times light whilst at others very insightful, putting Hitch on the couch for some psychoanalysis through various film clips. We can see his had been building up to this film for over thirty years, finally breaking free of the holds of his childhood, expressed through his films.

Lastly we see the cinematic influences of the shower scene of slasher horror and main-stream film, how much of an impact that the scene has had on the medium. Even with the utterly pointless Gus Van Sant remake that I have so far avoided. Just proving that remakes can be completely pointless. Mere exercises in replication in shot for shot films hold no interest for me, there’s no point, however its inclusion in the film makes that very point, without even saying much about it. All part of the relationship between the original and the development of film since it’s release.

Ultimately it’s a very well researched documentary that is at times light whilst at other moments deadly serious. Full of clips that are needed to build up a compelling argument that unpicks the shower scene that forever changed the face of film, without ignoring its own and the directors influences. I know I made the right choice night, enough to make me write this review so it must have been.



Painting the Town… Update (11/3/18)

If I’m honest today was really stressful, nothing went as straight-forward as I thought it would be. With new kit came new issues which now have to be resolved moving forward for a public installation. I won’t go into detail about them but they took up a lot of my time in the studio.

Moving on I did finally get to see the first pair of pieces projecting opposite each other, I had to compromise in places and there’s still things to iron out. The main being the timing of the footage being projected. As I began to see them working together, the volume cranked up for effect there was a lot of overlap. I want to see how they work if I even out the gaps. I’m thinking about a new tests where the videos are timed to bounce off each other, allowing the audience to look at both pieces instead of being conflicted. For example the original Unforgiven (1992) leads with a bit of footage, a break of a few seconds, before a piece from the remakes played, this would allow them both to work together, no overlap before a long/short break at the end before they play together as they go into a continuous loop. I could carry out the edit next time I’m in the studio, also allowing me to source the kit I need to carry out a more streamlined test.  The video documentation naturally wants to look at both at the same time as they are wanting your attention, so why not work with that.

I also looked at the lighting, which I am concerned about. I will have between 2-4 tripods in the installation, I need them to be secure and safe for an audience. Lighting is needed, if only to illuminate minimally. I don’t really want to cast as shadow of the tripods, just the plinths, I can’t help light coming from the media players, unless I work on a concealing method.

It’s all about seeing what’s working now as I move towards a more complete state, making the idea a reality is harder than it looks. I have however been able to see them working and that’s something I want to see again, without the stress of all the problems that arose today. They should iron out by next time.


Western Research

My practice has me in an interesting position, a white guy under the age of 30 who lives in the UK and loves Westerns. I’ve come to a point where I need to take a step back from making work in response to the genre and actually look at where I sit. The genre is essentially an American import to our country which had an impact with people of a certain age, who watched them in the cinema at the time of release. I want to know how I relate to them, how the films have informed them, the characters and the role models that have helped inform their gender. It’s a project, I say project as I don’t know the finished form apart from being a video piece at this stage that I will probably come back to over a long period of time.

One of the first steps is to collect information from those who actually saw the films at the cinemas up and down the UK and see where the research leads me. I’ve written a short survey which I’d like to share with those who grew up and watched Westerns in the 1950’s and 60’s. If that’s yourself or someone you know, please share the survey with them?

I can’t wait to see the results.




Painting the Town… Update (25/2/18)

It’s been a very successful day in the studio. I set aside a full day to look into any possibilities for the plinth I was going to make today. Not sure of what I was going to encounter. My worries were thankfully short-lived. As you can see from the image above, it’s not exactly a straight surface to build on. The tracking is reduced to ensure I’m on a flat enough surface. As per normal the pieces slotted in and began to come together, shaving small amounts off to take into account the other pieces. It wasn’t long though before I decided to see, just what I was working with after lunch. Turning the work the right way up, I was pleasantly surprised to find the plinth  was taking all the weight and continued to for the whole day.

I carried on after lunch, applying the gum tape to further strengthen the plinth. My only guess that even with all the weight at the top, I think that the inclusion of the beams, the balcony wrapping around the interior must be working in my favor.

Now that I have three plinths constructed I had two see how the two responding to Unforgiven (1992 & 2013) work together. There’s definitely a height difference, which was determined by the boxes I used. I won’t be going any smaller for the last one. I really want to see them working in the dark to know whats going on. I can then start to look at timings of the work, how audio effects the opposite piece and just how far they need to be apart for them to project. Hopefully I can see that next time I’m in the studio, thanks to a delivery I received tonight, allowing me to play once more.



Painting the Town… Update (24/2/18)

I’m now at the half-way mark of having all my plinths in place. I began t he day by working with the cardboard I had pre-cut to work on today. Bringing everything together with only a few pieces needed trimming as the pieces went in. I then moved onto strengthening the two pieces with gum tape which has ensure they last.

With the second one now in place I have been left with a challenge to tackle, the Japanese model miniature which is by far the heaviest. The plinth tracking its set up for a narrow piece, which I’m not sure will take the weight, I may have to make some adaptations to allow it to hold. First lets see how it looks and holds, if I need to I will work on support in the rear and work off observations.


Painting the Town… Update (18/2/17)

Even though it feels like I’m spending less time in the studio – a change in my routine to fit the gym in I’m still finding my time there really rewarding. As I plan out a rough idea of what I want to achieve I’m able to go home satisfied knowing I’ve accomplished all I wanted to do that day. Making me feeling content in my making. I never thought I’d be taking the idea of making plinths possible. I took an idea and ran with it.

Laying the track down for cardboard to slot into and hold up the model miniatures. Beginning today I found two boxes that I had been storing in my space, they have never been folded into box form, they never served their function, making them fresh piece of cardboard – something I rarely do. In my work nothing serves its intended function, instead recycling them into something far mote exciting. I took the boxes – unfolded and pulled it apart to lay flat, able to measure out the pieces before cutting them to size.

With the first two pieces ready and a set of pre-cut strips I began to bring the piece to life, sitting in the slots so it would be made exactly to fit. I noticed as soon as they were complete that an internal strip was on show, I was thinking about undoing the work, before realising this was a happy accident. I had already showed the strips around the corner, it was a natural extension of the language, why hide that part of the illusion. I carried on to bring the piece to be a complete plinth ready to test out. It didn’t take long to see the result, holding up the model miniature, all I had to do was properly secure it to stand long term in a space.

I cut 8 triangles of similar size, 4 at both ends which instantly made a real difference to the structure. I now have a method which allowed me to make a start on another plinth, using a similar size box. I have also let the height be determined by the box, not altering it, partly to keep things loose and also to not affect the fit. If I were to trim any off the top I may make it uneven, leaving them smooth I’m allowing for a better fit. I’m really happy with the progress of just one plinth, I could even using this method with future works.


Painting the Town… Update (17/2/17)

Another quick but essential day in the studio, adding what I have called Plinth tracking. On the sides where a plinth – made of cardboard of course, I have laid two tracks of cardboard with a gap to safely allow a two-ply thick plinth to be added to the bases. This can be easily slotted into place at any time and when in place, it should not move as it’s trapped between two lines of tracking, locking it without gluing it in place. It would allow me to more easily transport the work.

As I look back at the work which is now covered for it’s own protection, I can see just over a year of dedication has gone into making these four pieces. I’ve learned how to make furniture, expanded my gestures from external to internal pieces. The level of detail has definitely increased, making the process a lot longer. My making skills have also increased, whilst still keeping detail lose I have grown in confidence in what I make. I’m really proud of what I’ve made and really want to see them with projections simultaneously now. I know that’s only a matter of time and patience.

In the meantime I have seen some complete (folded) boxes in my studio space. I’m very tempted to expanded them and experiment to see what the possibilities are. I will obviously have to reinforced them with strips and triangle pieces for structural reasons before I even consider placing one of the pieces on top. I think I just like finding work for myself sometimes.


The Abyss (1989)

I’ve been patiently waiting for The Abyss (1989) to make itself available to me. I’ve known very little about it beyond the ground-break special effects that are mentioned in dozens of articles, it’s hard not to know of it’s milestone. Part of the long development that sees the special effects heavy films today. Bringing us to the point of the uncanny valley in more recent films. Audiences are beginning to question more and more what they are seeing. I was questioning just what was real and carefully constructed yet quite simplistic effects shots in tonight’s film. They may have dated slightly but still have the power to leave you in complete awe. It’s not all about the special effects, or even the build up to the water mimicking scene that made little sense out of context of the whole film. They do play a pivotal role in bringing the world alive but we see very little of the special effects wizardry until the final act. The pay off is more than worth it, even when the film is close to 30 years old.

Anyways enough of all that and onto the film itself. We are still in the midst of the cold war. The Berlin Wall is still very much in tact, but as history tells us, cracks are beginning to show. A nuclear submarine in an undisclosed ocean is tracking an unknown large mass that is closing in on them. The audience knows it’s not a Russian sub closing in on range, the fact we can’t see what is coming we know it’s far bigger than has ever been imagined. Our expectations are being set up for the unimaginable. The explained mass does enough damage that it brings the sub to its demise, giving us a reason to explore, wonder and be drawn into something we have never even imagined.

The team that are dragged it to mount a search and rescue mission remind me of the working crew on board the space merchant vessel in Alien (1979). Working class men and women who just want to do their job and get paid without any hidden surprises. Could this be James Cameron ‘s take on the sci-fi horror he made a sequel to which blows the other out of the water. The mining crew maybe still on earth, however surrounded by water, space in liquid form, just as cold and deadly. The first act borrows heavily from Ridley Scott’s Alien as the crew leave to investigate (after dragging the under-water drilling base with them. Led by a small team of navy seals who bring them the “iron b****” Lindsey Brigman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) who we learn is the estranged wife (in the process of divorcing) base leader Virgil (Ed Harris) who would rather she not be anywhere near him. She brings with tension, not sexual but friction that a warring couple who despise each other. You can see why they need to separate. Add to that she’s not the girl to fall in love, instead she bring power in the form of knowledge, she designed this monstrosity where men and women live and work away from the rest of the world. It’s refreshing to see a strong woman in a lead role, even if she starts off as being feared, she gels with the team.

The underwater world that’s created (as Cameron explains) is a brave move, filmed in water tanks, a very complex and brave move for any filmmaker. You really believe that are hundreds of metres below the water making the whole world more believable. He’s an accomplished world builder (even if he’s now got major tunnel vision) he creates and deliver’s big, there are no half measures with this guy. The structure that the crew live and work on, you never fully see it on-screen, always from an angle to suggest it’s far larger than the design department could have ever achieved. You have to remember this is nearly a decade before Titanic (1997) where a full-scale replica was built, just to play with in his film and sink again. Combined with special effects, far more advanced than The Abyss we can see the lengths he really goes to, if only his budget would allow.

I have to return to the special effects that are slowly dangled in front of us when we first glimpse the alien life form, even just as light, there’s something else going on. We’re being teased all the time. Even the guy who first witnesses them is brought back in a seizure induced coma just to keep us wanting more. It’s only when Lindsey herself discovers the jellyfish like creature who acts like a probe for the larger vessel that’s related those found in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Perfectly suited aliens in the watery depths, the design engineer reaches out in innocent friendship and wonder, wanting to connect peacefully to the unknown presence before her. Whilst Navy seal leader Lt Coffey (Michael Biehn) has no intentions of meeting with the outer-space jellyfish, wanting to using a trident missile to destroy the wreck. Not caring for the implications. Even after we are all given a lesson in these nuclear deterrents that to this day circle the British Isles – apparently 5 times as powerful as the bomb dropped in Hiroshima. The image of potential danger is too dangerous to even imagine.

Beginning not a cold but civil war between the teams that joined up in hopes of retrieving and investigating, start not to trust one another. As the Seals – Coffey doesn’t want to accept the evidence of something being out there. He’s to carry out his one man mission of destruction. A seal that’s gone AWOL that has to be stopped at all costs, leading to a tense underwater chase in subversive’s, easily replacing cars or even space shuttles. He’s the rogue element in what was supposed to be a domestic search and rescue.  We get close to this potential only to be rewarded with great spectacle that heavily references 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969) what director can’t help but indulge in a homage, all be it underwater, relying more on a computer that for Kubrick never even existed. Only to think that this was the height of the spectacle we are blown literally out of the water, wondering again, just how does Cameron do it, by the end he’s just showing off saying, this is what we can do now, or this is what I can do, I’ll let you decide that.

The Abyss really blew me out of the water (pardon the pun), whatever expectations I had for the special effects – which do make this film work. Without them it couldn’t happen. As much as the director is clearly showing off, he speculates and dreams all the time. From the aliens that looks like gentle jellyfish to the amniotic fluid that allows you to dive deeper than was humanly possible. All set against a Cold War world that’s beginning to thaw. The infighting doesn’t pull them apart, instead it brings them closer together. All I want to know now it how the hell he achieved all this.