Interview: A Drink with Wintersleep

March 31, 2009 at 12:51 pm (Interview, music) (, , , )

Canadian rockers Wintersleep have just completed a tour to celebrate the release of their latest album, Welcome to the Night Sky in Europe.

I caught up with them in London to talk about first records, winning the Juno award and stealing polar bears…


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Odd Art

March 26, 2009 at 5:40 pm (art) (, , , , , , )

What do sheep, burger grease, the London tube have in common? Why, they’re all art of course – wonderfully odd, odd art.

Here is a round-up of five contemporary artists who are pushing artistic conventions and, frankly, taste.

5. The Mona Greasa 

You already know that fast-food is bad for you, but now you can literally see just how bad. American artist Phil Hansen has used both burger and fry grease to make his art. He used 14 burgers to make a 12 ft Mona Lisa.

4. Ruislip Rhythmns

Ben Langham is a London based engineer-cum-DJ who likes to record the sounds of the Underground. He takes a digital recorder with him into London’s tube system, capturing anything from escalators to passing trains, and then mixes them into dance tracks.

“I liked the idea of having this concept, noises from behind the scenes on the tube which the general public don’t get to listen to.” said Ben.

Picture: little pollo

Picture: little pollo

3. Spanish artist Juan Francisco Casas creates 6ft portraits (left) out of the humble biro. In an interview in Metro, Casas said he ventured away from oil painting for a bit of fun but then ended up coming second in a national art competition. “It was an academic competition and I knew they would think my entry was a joke. It was a real shock it was so successful.”

2. Heads and Tales by Heide Hatry

New York based Hatry creates her portraits out of untreated pigskin which covers sculpted  clay, raw flesh for the lips and fresh pig eyes, “in order that the resulting portrait would appear as if it were looking at the viewer with a vital expression which the photographer had just captured at that moment.

“In fact, a photographer taking a picture of a model does more or less what I’ve done with my sculptures: the model will be made up, its hair will be done, appropriate lighting and pose will be chosen, etc.”

1. Extreme shepherding.

The Baaa-Studs – a troupe of men from Wales – took to the hills armed with sheep, sheep-dogs and special LED sheep-sized “jackets”. And then there was art. Among the creations: a fireworks display, a giant sheep, a game of Pong and the Mona Lisa.

In using sheep as a medium, The Baaa-Studs challenge our perception of what constitues art. By blurring the boundary between art and farming, they make a profound comment on the taut relationship between culture and Nature. Or something.

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If you could inflict a film on your worst enemy, what would it be?

March 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm (film, Interview) (, , )

Picture from j-fin

Picture: j-fin

Everybody has a film they’ve watched so many times they can speak along with the characters. It works much the same as a wooly blanket and mug of soup when you’re ill – comforting and delicious. For me it’s Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice, mainly for the striding at the end.

Then there’s those films that you can’t belive you wasted 107 minutes of your life watching, such as Gurinder Chadher’s Bride and Prejudice. I wouldn’t inflict it on my worst enemy.

Or would I? I was curious to find out what films people would inflict on their enemies. So I asked the good people of London town:

Picture: shadowtech

Picture: shadowtech

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Life is Short and so is Film – 5 Second Films et al

March 17, 2009 at 3:24 pm (film)

If life is short then modern technology is doing nothing to help it slow down. You can end a relationship at the click of a mouse, find out your whereabouts on your mobile and keep the world constantlyupdated in 140 characters.

Now film is shorter – really, really short. Five seconds kind of short.

5 Second Films was co-created by Eric Forrest and Brian Firenzi, who you may know from such off-Hollywood hits as “” and “Ninja Roomates”. As you may have gathered fromt the name, these bitesize chunks of genius are (not including two seconds of title at the beginning and a one second tag at the end) five seconds long. And it is surprising how much you can say in 5 seconds.

Signs, the 12-minute New Zealand film that won the Scweppes Short Film Festival is one of the top ten most viewed viral videos this week.

The Guardian recently ran a YouTube competition for people to submit 5 minute films based on a short story written by Mark Ravenhill. While most of the people who entered were professionals working within film the winner, Dominic Currie, was a fringe actor with no contacts in the industry. His film “Machine Time” is below.

Three very different types of short film which illustrate the benefits of the mediun nicely – whether professional or citizen moviemaker, short film provides a creative outlet outside the strictures of conventional filmmaking. And the results can be quite fun, don’t you think?

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Can you sculpt the public into art? One and Other by Antony Gormley

March 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm (art, performance, sculpture) (, , , , )

Antony Gormley's Angel of the North

Antony Gormley's Angel of the North

One and Other is the newest project from sculpter Antony Gormley (of Angel of the North fame). Instead of using steel or marble his new sculpture will be made out of people. Lots of people.

From July 2,400 individuals from around the UK will have the chance to stand on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square, and take part in living artwork. The plinth is usually reserved for kings, queens or generals. But this summer it will be home to various people for one hour each over a period of one hundred days. That’s 2,400 hours of standing in total.

The idea behind the project is the democratisation of art, a chance for normal people to look at the world from the “elevated frame” of a work of art itself. Gormley hopes it will produce a portrait of the UK: “Using this little plinth as the lens through which we see what the UK is like now.” The applicants will be screened to make sure all ethnic minorities are represented.

People can take anything they like up with them, as long as they can carry it without help. In an interview with in the Telegraph, Gormley said: “It will be an experiment. I imagine that there will be extroverts who will see this as an opportunity to do the biggest party trick ever. But I have no expectations. I would be absolutely happy if somebody got up there with an umbrella and just stood still for an hour.”

Gormley’s idea beat big competition from conetmporay artists Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor. It embraces many elements of contemporary society – reality televison, vodcasting, the idea of celebrity – all on one little plinth. It is making art interactive and accessible. Genius really.

“There is a danger in which this thing is seen as a spectacle in the manner of David Blaine, or I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, or Big Brother,” Gormley says. “I think it uses all of those idioms, but to a very different purpose. I’m interested in how people’s view of the world changes by being that exposed in such a public place.”

“This is also me testing myself, calling into question everything that I’ve done. Is this sculpture or isn’t it? Can you use time as a medium? Can you use real life as a subject?”

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