Circle Line – Installation Research

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The most influential artists who work in sound/film installation to me are Susan Philipsz, John Akomfrah, James Richards, Samson Young, and Janet Cardiff.

I’m keen to have separate speakers, of perhaps headphones sets around the space in order to create an environment the audience have to navigate around. Maybe using spoken word – we didn’t use any in the final film soundtrack, so perhaps this would be a way to include the interviews etc we recorded?


Bruno Sanfilippo – Upon Contact Reworked

I stumbled across this album, ‘Upon Contact Reworked’, by Bruno Sanfilippo in collaboration with 6 electronic composers and artists: Francesco Giannico, Olan Mill, Leonardo Rosado,  Jorge Haro, Quivion, and Hior Chronik. The album begins with Sanfilippo’s original piece for solo piano, ‘Upon Contact’, a minimalist piece of stillness and contemplation. There is quiet inbetween the notes, pause for thought. I don’t know if Sanfilippo wrote this knowing that he was going to hand it over to others for reworking, but it certainly lends itself well to it if not. The next 6 tracks on the album all revolve around ‘Upon Contact’, but each artist recreates it in a wholly different way.

Some use environmental sounds and found recordings, some have employed mainly electronically generated material. The way in which each artist has developed their reworking makes us notice different parts of the original piano piece.

A lot of the ways in which the artists have worked echo what I’ve been doing with the sound for the film. I’ve been using found footage, but editing it to change it beyond recognition. It isn’t ‘music’ in the sense of something you listen to to enjoy, but I’m working with the intention of it adding suspense and giving the images more presence.

I think the way the artists have worked together echoes the way we have been on the project as well. Each artist was given a brief, and then created something of their own of it. The results were then combined to create a collection. I think this album is so successful in that you can’t tell this. Each artist has created something unique with different affects, yet all of their interpretations flow together as a cohesive album.


Circle Line – Independent Research

Thinking of this documentary and how we’re going to make it, I’m more interested in fine artists who work in film rather than film makers. Two of the most influential to me are James Richards and John Akomfrah.

Both artists mainly work with archival footage, but in very different ways. Richards uses footage that may not have had any significance before, but then stitches it into his films to build an argument or atmosphere. In his piece, ‘What weakens the Flesh is the Flesh Itself’, there is a section where he films himself going through old photographs. This itself is a form of archival footage. It shows that just because you’re ‘filming’ that doesn’t mean that you’re restricted to film alone.

John Akomfrah uses archival footage a lot as well, and he said something really interesting about why he likes using it at the Artes Mundi conference but I really can’t remember what he said. A lot of his work is multi-screen, in that you may have 3 screens with 3 different films playing at the same time. This was of displaying film changes the way we experience it entirely – it changes our role as the viewer from a passive one to an active one. We have to choose which screen to look at when. The piece is different every time you experience it.

I think these would be interesting avenues to bare in mind when making our film – I think the finished piece should be something more like an installation than a video you can watch on vimeo.


Circle Line – Group Workshop 1

We had our first group seminar/workshops today. Some interesting discussions were had, was useful to get an idea what the rest of our group was interested in.

Points discussed were:

  • exploring the dialogue between the see-er and the seen.
  • the curation of footage – the parallels between the curator of an exhibition and the editor of footage.
  • anticipation built from editing.
  • asemic – nonsense things, that which appears to hold sense but has none. E.g scribbles on a page that look like writing.
  • observer interference

Films discussed:

  • Dziga Vertov – Man with a Movie Camera

The music for this version was composed by Michael Nyman for a screening of the film in 2002. Aside from all of the groundbreaking techniques Vertov uses to convey his view of the world, I think it’s a valuable example of a composer working to accompany visuals. It makes me think of how it would work the other way around – what if you create a soundtrack and then have to create visuals to accompany that? How would that affect the way you work?

  • Johnny Greenwood – Bodysong

Again, I focus mainly on the sound with this piece. I think the visuals in isolation don’t have that great an impact – I find them quite boring. The soundtrack gifts meaning to them, altering our perception and the context we see through. An example of how important sound is to creating atmosphere.

  • steven woloshen – 1000 Plateaus

<p><a href=”″>1000 Plateaus (2004 – 2014)</a> from <a href=”″>steven Woloshen</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Woloshen uses more physical methods of recording footage. The images seen are creating from a roll of film, a light box, and some pens on left on the passengers seat of a car whilst he drives around. This is like a kinetic record of a journey – it shows a documentary doesn’t have to be literal.

  • feeling my way – jonathan hodgeson

<p><a href=”″>Feeling My Way</a> from <a href=””>Jonathan Hodgson</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I really love this film. The way visuals have been altered by animation techniques, and the way sound has been added really transforms the way we see and creates an unusual yet captivating narrative.

  • Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren – Begone Dull Care

This film was created by Lambart and McLaren painting directly onto film to accompany jazz music played by the Oscar Peterson Trio. The opposite of the Man with the Movie Camera, this is visuals created for sound. It’s a very different experience to sound made for visuals. I feel there are less boundaries – there has been more freedom in the making of it.

  • john smith – blight

I love the way sound is used in blight as well. Repeated speech, ‘kill the spiders’, combined with images of building that look like they could crumble at any second amounts to unbearable tension. It’s like a huge dissonance that desperately needs to be resolved. When speech is repeated to that extent it loses meaning as well. Words are stripped back to the bare sounds, becoming nonsense.

The Studios

For me, the concept of a studio is very different from the reality. You see photos of the great artists in their studios, and it sets an archetype in your mind of what a studio should be. Because of this, from my GCSEs to A levels, the studio wasn’t something I knowingly had. I would work downstairs at the table, or in my room at my desk. When I got to Art Foundation we were suddenly given this space to call our studio, and even though it was a small desk in a studio that constantly smelt like bird poo, I was rather chuffed.

I wasn’t really sure how to use it, however. And when I think back on it I would occasionally work in my studio space then, but mainly in the workshops and in my room at home. I didn’t really ‘get’ what the studio was until I came to Uni. Now, I see the studio as a designated space to make art in. When you are in that space you make art, and then you go home. A day’s work.

I find this very strange. Surely this means your practice is limited to the studios? Creativity doesn’t work like that. Just because I enter into this creative environment, doesn’t mean I’ll make work. And when I go home I don’t stop making work and thinking about art.

Perhaps the studio is more of a designated creation zone. Your practice is constant, but it transforms from potentiality to actuality in the studio.

I feel like my studio at home is more of a studio space to me than the studios at Uni.


I have an unnecessarily large desk with ample space to work. A constant supply of tea and food. Every book I own, plus my library books, available to me. My laptop. But most importantly, my speakers, recording devices, instruments, and above all somewhere quiet.

The studios at Uni are lovely in that they are very social, very creative, and a generally pleasant environment to be in. This year compared to last, my practice has evolved to one that is embedded in the manipulation and exploration of sound, words, and reading. All of these things are quite difficult to work with in an open plan, distracting environment.

I enjoy the solitude that my home studio provides. I can crack on with my work and delve into different bits and pieces without having to plan in advance. Taking breaks is crucial to keeping my attention occupied as well: a valuable way of working for me (which I did a lot during A levels) was to take a break in the middle of the day from my arts practice to practice my violin instead.

My artistic practice is very thought through. My line of philosophical enquiry is constant in my own work and how I understand others, so to play the violin for a bit is a much needed break. When I play the violin, I’m thinking about how to play a passage cleanly, how to perfect a scale, how to change my technique to create a better tone. The things I’m thinking about are embedded in practicality and musicality, not philosophy. Especially now that my violin is more involved in my artistic practice, I really need this space at home to utilise this time.

If I only used the studio at home, my work would really suffer. The studios at uni provide a change of scene, conversations and critiques (of my own and my peers’ work) and an insight into other courses’ ways of working. I love coming in to see what my friends on ceramics are working on, or how things are going in graphic design, and so on. The community across courses that the uni provides is something I appreciate a lot, especially when I’m still exploring what my own practice is and how it related to other peoples.

Michael Dean

In my tutorial Sean told me about Michael Dean’s work and recommended I look into him. I realised I had watched a video about his work before: one of the Tateshots from last year’s Turner Prize. The video really doesn’t do the the extent of his practice justice, though.


Michael Dean uses writing as the starting point of his practice, and in itself as a way of ‘capturing moments’. In the roots and shoots interview (above) he speaks about how he wanted to explore how you facilitate sharing writing with people. He says he felt that at school when studying texts you have to negotiate the presence of the author which detracted from the experience. By placing his writing in a moment, the viewer can take possession of the work.

The way he sources text stood out to me as well. In the roots and shoots interview he speaks about the main phrase of the exhibition: ‘lost true leaves’, describing cacti. He said he found the phrase on Wikipedia and it just worked. Finding poetry in unexpected places has a wonderful air of fate around it, like it was just quietly waiting to be unveiled. It reminds me of my project last year on words and images:

I was imposing text over images of places, but also taking text from these environments and using them with images of where they came from. I think this is worth revisiting, maybe by constantly searching for text in places I go and recording phrases that resonate with me.

The book ‘Selected Writings’ about Dean’s work was extremely illuminating as well.

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Tactility, multi-sensory, audience agency in the work: all things that I’ve felt were necessary to include in my own practice. The decisions made in exhibiting, Dean has not only created work but an experience throughout the whole space. The use of carpet especially is one simple decision that affects the entire way the audience engage with the work.

The sculptures demand your physical engagement: the handles on the doors are replaced with sculptures, books are sat under sculptures you have to move to access the text, or as pictured below, you can stand on the sculpture. The re-engagement with our sense of touch that Dean’s work demands is crucial in a visually dominated world

The way the photos of the work have been set out seems very deliberate – why are some images very small on the page? It would be worth looking into the book as an exhibition itself, thinking of it as a curated object and not a piece of literature.

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Dean’s written pieces at the back of the book echo the tactility of his sculptures. The language itself is very tactile, and the way the sentences sound when said is more of a physical thing.

I want to try working with and against the meaning of words. How does a word feel? Look? Sound? And how can I represent that?

Pekka Kuusisto – Improvisation

I’ve been really into Pekka Kuusisto’s work since I watched him perform, and this improvisation has been on repeat. Like I was trying to achieve in my recordings, he explores the whole instrument and really pushes the constraints of musical conventions. I want to try working like this more – editing and layering sounds in present time rather than editing them after recording. I think the results could be more organic and the element of other thinking would be removed, leaving me with some unusual results.