Archive for August, 2011

Things to be learnt from remix memes

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

One thing to think about with the Splatterbound project is the current Remix culture. The whole project is rooted in that. One of the most obvious examples of this is the meme for remixing Hitler’s rant as he realises his bunker is surrounded in the film Downfall. This was a relatively little known but nonetheless culturally significant film when it was released in (I think) 2004. It was beautifully filmed and performed, which is part of the reason why it lends itself so well to being remixed. Somehow this gives a strong basis for people to add their own pet hates. Suddenly Hitler is talking about the iPad, Rebecca Black, Comic Sans, Windows Vista. And what’s more, we can often feel his pain. At least I can.

Crucial to the success of this meme is the fact that there are key points in the excerpt. The bit where he sends most of his officers out of the room. The weeping of the two women outside the door. The part where he sits silently, brooding for some thirty seconds. When the remix is a good one I find myself anticipating these parts of the film, wondering what way this version will treat those parts of the clip. I love that anticipation and it’s only possible because I’ve watched so many of these remixes before. The first time I watched it, I laughed. But subsequently, the meme has become more and more of a familiar friend. When I laugh, it has a well worn texture. How great is that? I think it’s pretty great.

So how is this relevant to Splatterbound? One thing both Annie and I have thought is that it could be quite difficult to add to something someone else has already done. I sent her a collection of pages to draw on and she’s been having a hard time thinking of what to draw on them. I’d looked at the scans of what I sent her a few months after I sent them and had had a similar thought. ‘What would I draw on those?’, I’d thought. When I sent them to her I commented that she should feel free to cover them in tar and feathers if she wanted. There was no need to stand on ceremony or be overly respectful of what I had done. The problem is that tar and feathers don’t really progress the existing drawing, they destroy it. Here’s the rub. A really good Splatterbound drawing or page will have something in it that makes it easy to expand upon and/or rework a familiar theme.

The question then is one of how to make the site’s proposed mission familiar, or immediately digestible. This is tricky because part of the idea of the site is a lack of familiarity. It’s about making something new. Thinking about it, most really good contemporary art tends to have a certain clarity of intention about it. Formally, good work is often very simple but has an element that draws in a second look somehow. That’s the simplicity that Splatterbound needs.

Hmm… I think the key here might be suggesting five or six approaches and then alpha testing them, shifting the focus each time. It could also do with a strap line that tells people what it’s for very quickly.

Goo portraits

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Okay, so I have this ludicrous idea for some photographs. I want to cover people in goo and then make portraits of them. An image of someone covered in blood fell into my head a few weeks ago. From there I had the idea of getting pictures of people covered in all sorts of different things. Obviously real blood is a bit of a no go area but apparently corn syrup makes for good fake blood. I’ll use that then. I’ve asked a few people if they’d be willing to model and some people have said they’d be up for it but most people have looked at me as if I’m mad. Comme ci comme ca, huh? I guess I’ll have to to do the modelling myself. This means I can’t take the photographs myself. This isn’t such a bad thing as my housemate is a lighting cameraman with ten years’ experience. I’ll probably learn a thing or two by watching how he sets shots up.

The different things I plan on covering myself in are as follows:

tar and feathers (marmite and feathers)
different colours of paint mixed up
blood (corn syrup)
mud and sticks and the occasional stone
peanut butter
powder paint
sequins and glitter
hair (I have a bag of my own hair available)

Possibly try all of them in one messy mixture.
I like the idea of glitter and sequins in the mud.

I’m not really sure what the point of all of this is but I want to see the final images. I want to see them and think about how I can move them further. Largely because I think they’ll be strog images. One thing I’m tempted to do is make a project inviting people to send me their own mess self portraits and then exhibit those. I think it could be a fantastic series of photographs and I like the participatory aspect.

Another thing I have been thinking is that I want to present the photographs as a film of sorts, where at some points different photographs are layered on top of each other. Different images can fade in and out of view. I like the idea that each one of these images represents something of a person and that that person can be more than one of these things at any given time. Maybe the ones of mud and clay and blood will be ugly. But hopefully the ones of paint and glitter will be quite lovely. I am especially hoping the one of paint will be glorious. I think it could be.

Thinking of artistic precursors, the only person I can think of immediately is Gottfried Helnwein. Though I’m not so committed to being bloody miserable as Helnwein. Not that Helnwein’s intentions are necessarily making dark work. I’d e pleased if these photos could attain anything like that level of focus though. There’s a sense of intimacy with the viewer in some of his pictures, especially the ones of children. They look back at you and seem to contain more than they do. This gives them a peculiar power. That’s a good thing.

This is really one of those things I want to do for the sake of seeing how it works and then building on it.