Really nice to be in the studio early this morning. A great time for a bit of clear thinking. Also, a chance to put my latest video online for you to see. So, if you weren’t able to make it to the b-side festival on Portland back in September, then here is an online version of ‘Ricochet’, made for my residency in The Verne.
The video was shown in this
cavernous space, the sound ricocheting off the walls and ceiling and passing down the spiral staircase (the top of which you can see in the picture). The sound is the key to this work, and sorry to say that much of the nuance and depth in the soundtrack doesn’t transfer to the online version, especially if you listen to it through desk/leptop speakers. But don’t worry, you will get the idea.
The last few days of ‘Passage’ became so hectic I wasn’t able to keep up with my promise of a picture a day: hence #8–#10 all rolled into one. Apologies. The b-side festival seemed to reach another level this year: there was a buzz around the whole island, and I kept meeting people who were ‘just on the way to see…’ or who had ‘just come from seeing…’ Up at the The Verne, as we had to count everyone in and our for security reasons, we recorded more than 3,200 visitors in the 10 days! Queues across the bridge into the south gate. It would be nice to think that they were all coming to see the artwork…but even working on our impression that one third came for the art and two-thirds for the place (and then encountered the artwork as an extra) that still puts the figure at more than 1,000. That number of visitors has thrown up lots of questions as to how best to introduce visitors to the place and work when the sheer volume of people started to get in the way. I am working on the idea of tour guides. I gave a few tours and they seemed to be very successful, but that could be extended. So we finally closed ‘Passage’ at 4.30pm on the Sunday and we had extracted the whole exhibition and the prison doors had clanged shut for one last time behind us by 6.30pm. I still can’t quite believe that I had the opportunity to show at The Verne: it will resonate within me for quite some time to come. And a massive ‘thank you’ to Graham (pictured here) who handled the security for the show, dealing with more visitors than anyone had predicted. Graham quite literally ‘held the fort’ in the face of this mass invasion. Last one out…
When making ‘Passager’, a short animation based on a modified falconry hood, I had many images in mind. Each one giving me a different motivation to complete the work. What is always surprising, but also encouraging, is when someone adds their own, in this case that of a drone. Describing how it appeared to her, she talked first about dragonflies and then moved to drones, and now that it has been said it is obvious the insect-like qualities of some drones. When the show is over (last day Sunday) I can start working on printing the hood out in 3D.
For security reasons, we are logging everyone in and out of the exhibition using a stamp. You get a ‘VR’ stamp on your way in, and another on exit. Yes, I too thought that ‘VR’, which is found above the south entrance to the prison, must have something to do with Verne, but not so: Victoria Regina. As for the reference to Brian Hanrahan’s report from the Falklands “I counted them all out and I counted them all back”, it is not so far fetched. Graham, who is in charge of security for ‘Passage’ served in the Falklands and his accommodation was a floating container ship which ended up in Portland harbour as a floating prison many years later. Just one of the many unexpected connections that the Verne has provided during my residency.
A couple of firsts for me today. The first 1,000 visitors have seen ‘Passage’, which is quite unbelievable (congratulations to b-side for setting this up!) and really exciting. What is especially encouraging is the wide range of the audience coming to the Verne; some for the architecture and they stumble across the art, some for the art and they are bowled over by the architecture, and plenty somewhere in-between. The second first is being interviewed via Twitter which you can see here. You sometimes need to hear yourself speak (or tweet) before you realise what you think. Well, Ricochet (15 min video projection at the top of the spiral staircase) is all about play, and the vibrations you feel in your rib cage as the sound penetrates you and then is funnelled down the staircase to the rest of the installation and on out into the moat below. You just have to be there to experience it!
I don’t usually do bling in my work, but this time the first thing that you encounter are mirrored letters that sparkle in the sun and reflect the sky. The title ‘Passage’ arrived very late in the project and suddenly, once it was there, everything slotted into place. I’ve no idea why I didn’t think of it before, but now it is pivotal to the work. Graham, do text me immediately if any of the letters fall off. Fingers crossed!
For the third day, the shadow from ‘A Good Year for Migration’ (photo: © Brendan Buesnal)