Thursday, November 19, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thanks to the ILOVE LIMERICK gang for posting this interview on their blog.
For the moment our main plan is to tie up all the loose ends of this phase of the project, we are hoping to publish a book on the whole process and are considering the options for another run. First we're giving a little time for evaluation and reflection. And a little rest!! We'll keep you posted..!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
A Fantastic day, bookclub meeting, Stitch&Bitch.
In the evening we invited the 'regulars' who drank in the bar when it was under the care of Sean Hickey, the original owner of the bar, to come visit on the last night. Mary (Meme) La Touche, regular at the Sarsfield bar for seventeen years, had very fond memories of Sean Hickey , 'Sean loved us and we loved him' the respect people had for his opinion, his bar and his character was enormous. Sadly quiet a few of the original 'regulars' have passed on and Mary spoke of them and the warm community of people that had known each other because of that place.
Later, John Hickey (son of Sean Hickey) brought photo albums and stories of his father were told and memories celebrated. Coincidently, we discovered from John's old photos that we have returned the Sarsfield Bar / SpiritStore to the colour it had been before it was painted green.
...it was a lovely last day.
Images by Neville Gawley (watermarked)
Sunday 27th Sept Breda Lynch - Visual Artists Talk - Breda talks about her new solo exhibition 'Song to the Siren' .............
The exhibition 'Song to the Siren' is comprised of a body of new drawings and photographic works by Breda currently showing at the Galway Arts Centre. This solo show explores and draws inspiration from areas of the Gothic that examine gender identity within art, literature, film and more contemporary influences such as Goth street style, music and subculture. It also includes a specially made for Galway Arts Centre video/sound installation titled 'The Kiss', which is a collaborative piece by Breda Lynch and Cork based artists Not Abel.
Other art works presented in ‘Song to the Siren’ are a series of drawings that celebrate the appearance and strength of image of 70's Punk/Goth music icon Siouxsie Sioux to the street savvy girls in typical Goth, Post-Goth attire, which in turn describes a type of 'freakish' beauty or the display of physical appearance that assumes the position of 'outsider'. Indeed the Goth sub-culture has been based on making the badge outsiderdom a proud rejection of conventional society. This series of drawings amalgamate these current dialogues with more historical areas of Gothic literature referring to descriptions of young women caught up in stituations about unrequited love, forbidden love, or doomed love scenarios for example 'Carmilla' by La Fanu or 'Christabel' by ColeridgeLynch’s video/sound installation ‘The Kiss’ appropriates clips from the 1931 German b/w film 'Madchen in Uniform', which was deemed controversial at the time and was censored for various reasons. This inspired film based on a true story describes love that was considered dark or ill-advised - the 'love that dares not speak its name'
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
For a look at the Tweak cinema listing see...
Image by Neville Gawley
I still dig out those videos of pre internet Big Apple visuals for use in backdropping Cheebah music Nights in Limerick. Vhs copies of seminal films such as Wildstyle and Black Ceasar get chopped up and looped as their saturated grainy feel is intended to add some visual spice to the post punk funk flavored sounds we and our similar guests like to Dj with. In this process we channel pre comodified classic urban imagery as an ongoing tribute to an inventive era. Well that,s what i like to think anyway, mostly it just looks properly funky.
My favorite example of the video collage / scratch aesthetic pioneered in the 80s was an example i saw only once on the Uks Channel 4 around 1986. The band Talking Heads (an essential modern reference to us art schoolled individuals) were at the height of their fusion of funk and electro afro sounds and the channel were dedicating a night to them. Watching it in a bar in Mayo that friday night it was indeed a big deal and great fun, absorbing New York at its coolest in emigration saturated Mayo.
Rather than showing concert or promo footage and interviews with the band, C4 instead presented a night of rhythmic visuals with the bands music pulsing underneath. The format of this art piece intercut distressed film of 30s African dance with 80s New York breakdance battles which were then combined with stock footage of ranting of Deep South Baptist preachers. All of this of course perfectly suited the Heads urgent psycho rhythms. It was a distinctive presentation and far removed from the compromised 3 minute clip one was accustomed to on Top of the Pops.
Later i found that this piece was a definitive representation of the New York craft of using video artists to compliment the underground sounds of the New York clubs of that era. The tentitive ‘out of the gallery’ practice by certain Artists who facilitated the clubs was an unintentional extension of the Psychedelic slide shows used in the early supperclubs / discos of the late 60s early 70s. Artists in this now expanded zone used the affordable video cameras and recorders new on the market to sync and pause edit their own footage combined with foraged stock imagery.
Video Artists like Dara Birnbaum for example pioneered a lot of the tropes associated with the practice. She used the space of both gallery and night club believing that her work could be inserted into different contexts and enviorments.
So downtown weekend dancers would design their moves on the floor while checking the wall for a manipulated visual of say Tvs top detective Kojak (as in her piece ‘Pop-Pop Video; Kojak / Wang’) and alternativley uptown Gallery patrons would regard the same piece in front of a Tv monitor. Birnbaum and her peers were against the idea of Art existing in limited editions speculated that with video the possibility existed for one to be able to buy or rent Artwork from a Video store. Pre Internet times indeed.
I never forgot that Talking Heads night but i also never met anyone else who saw it, nor can i find any trace of it on the net . I do remember all the sequences vividly and a couple of months ago while sorting through some tapes i wondered for old times sake, would it be possible to recreate the experiance of that night with a basic edit on I Movie.
Eventually i found some of the footage used on the C4 show and began to revisit my memory of that night. Bits were buried halfway through tapes and dvds and as i began to view them i thought it may be worthwhile to see what would happen if i constructed a stand alone Art piece rather than just a personal audio visual reference on material that i had an emotional attachment to.
I seemed to have collected a lot of tapes about about Ufo sightings - paranoia allways generates great clips - and as i balanced this footage against snipits of the 80s New York landscape, a digitised theme emerged.
i thought of the clash of technology and tribal rhythms that circled the then bankrupt city and the music and movies that were created in that timespace. John Carpenters ‘Escape from New York’ and Walter Hills ‘The Warriors’ suggested themselves and the beat up ex rental copy of Slava Tsukermans 1983 NY Space /drug film ‘Liquid Sky’ that i picked up in Moviedrome in Henry St became a major reference.
I didnt consider using any internet footage as the project was allways about about the act of physically locating old formats and working around the fixed parameters of the content within ‘An imagined New York’ brief ’.
Cutting and pasting I seemed to seek out grimy street shots more than any thing else at the start, piecing for a while different street scenes as seen from the Cadillacs of Superfly and Gene Hackman. Then for tone, I fast forwarded to find any loose stock footage that may have been popular for the scratch video artists in the 80s. These would crop up in 60s 70s shows or in the BBC 2 arts programes that covered Warhols active legacy. Eventually I developed an electronic palette for a timeline.
Recently in Wallpaper Magazine Jay McInerney, the author of ‘Bright Lights Big City’, remarked of a pre cleaned up Times Square. ‘There was a sense that the crazy people and criminals were more entitled to the streets than we were. There was an athmosphere of menace and that Talking Heads song ‘Life During Wartime’ was a perfect discription of the danger and paranoia.. .’ I could feel McInerney there alright but i was also aware that i had to be carefull not to fetishise and just replicate the content while still undertaking a straight edit as one would have done with two vcr machines on record and pause . A decision to play grimey street stuff against clips of the visionary jazz musician Sun Ra seem to take care of that concern which in turn led to calling the piece ‘Dialled in from the future’.
Still thinking about the technology clash i responded to the zone Douglas copeland decribed as ‘acellerated’ in the late 80s, the begining of the pre internet overload. He mentioned this in The Guardian lately describing the change to button phones instead of the rotary dial and the then amazement in realising that there were now 50 Tv stations demanding attention instead of 10. ‘Quaint observations now’ he remarked, but at the time there was a real sense of feeling the change directly through technology.
Focusing on the Bronx I mentally began to pay tribute to one larger than life figure, the Gang leader, community activist, Dj and producer Africa Bambaataa who developed his own futuristic agenda in the late 70s Bronx.
Bam was the visionary who discovered that Kraftwerk and James brown had transferable similarities for the late 70s Bronx and introduced the concept of a specific soundtrack to dance parties in the projects.
As crazy as it sounds now the music of classically trained European musicians with state of the art instruments was appropriated onto the record decks of The Leader of the Black Spades for change in a deprived urban environment. His motto was ‘This is an organization. We are not a gang. We are a family. Do not start trouble. Let trouble come to you, then fight like hell’. To soundtrack this defiant agenda he mixed the music of kraftwerks ‘Trans Europe Express’ with English psyche rock to deliver a template that promoted ‘ peace unity and havin fun’. Then in the studio he replayed and re-edited the above journey and in 1983 launched Electro hiphop with the record ‘Planet Rock’. This simultaniously impacted on both Manhattan and Mayo. Bambaataas intellectual music souces and community actions became an uncompromising social document and one whos lessons are still taught in the worldwide Hiphop community to this day under his Zulu Nation banner.
Once i had a rough edit, title and concept i discused the idea of soundtracking the short piece with Dj Johnny Doobs. Versed in Hip Hop and Electro acoustic disiplines- not to mention community work- he proposed an interpretation that pitted looped rhythms and manipulated sounds from thematic records interspersed with a few spoken word fragments associated with the subject.
The Audio Visual result would empasise the ‘Spaciness’ inherent in the sequencing and by preforming these manipulations live - instead of just recording it as a final edit on Dvd- the finished work would echo Bambaataas musical intentions if not mirror his own and his Dj Jazzy jay,s techniques. As the intro to one of Bams favorite songs by the Jimmy Castor bunch said ‘ what we gonna do is go back... way back.. back into time’
With the brief and research done and the link to The Tweak electronic festival established it was then down to fine tuning for a performance. I reconfigured my images and Doobs drafted in Dj Deviant from Galways Vince Mc Mahon Turntabilist crew to assist on scratch duties. Doobs requested that images of subway trains and space footage be placed at certain points for a type of chapter headings seperating the alternating images of a crumbling 80s Bronx and interstellar abstractions. He also flagged the images of Egyptian icons that had found their way into the mix as transitions that could position the piece as ‘A Trip’ in the classic cinematic sense. This storyboarding process allowed the Djs to formulate the timbre of the loops and concider their weight and position.
There were concerns on my part that for all the fun involved in getting this far the finished piece might not transend the familiar stance of ‘funky visuals with cool music in the background’ but this was not the case once the musicians began to translate the concept into sound. ‘Anyway we need raw stuff these days’ said Doobs
The final piece was timed at 16mins 55 seconds as we agreed that this would be the limit of a performance of intrest before it strayed into club teritory. Doobs and Deviant practiced with tone and textures using laptop triggered Serato combined with Vinyl and footpeddled loops vibing of the projected edit and mindfull of the time line.
The Audience on the day in the Spiritstore was nicely top heavy with Djs and electo acoustic practitioners. As i pressed the pause button to release the picture i heard Dj Code, using his serious voice, say ‘This better be good’.
And it was. Breaking down the video into about five sections Doobs and Deviant confidently presented an Aural trip teasing disembodied ‘out of head and body’ speeches with runs of scratch patterns. A quirky swing type section near the end was unexpected and unintentionaly well sinister as it led out of a sequence of projects being demolished. Glorious dark passages bookended images of a spaceman at the begining and a rocket at the end as the screen went dark. (The same footage i then realised afterwards opened Pink Floyds 70s film ‘Live in pompei’... theres that zone again).
The event was in the end all about the music. A truly original interpretation that highlighted the psychedelic qualities inherent in all of the clips. Doobs control of the audio eliminated any hint of nostalgia from the sequenced visuals and what began as a memory and a rummage in a box of video tapes ended as a contempoary psyche suite. The visuals became the conductors batton not the orchestra.
While it was a great moment in the environs of The SpiritStore it made me wish to experiance the 17 mins in a very dark room with big speakers. Any questions ? ‘Do it again’ says Code. We shall. The recording will not be put up on the net because that would compress and finish the adventure. It will remain as a grainy glitchy live thing with add ons for some other time.
Many, many, thanks to Doobs and Deviant, The Spiritstore, Tweak, all the djs and noise crews, Shane and Peter Cheebah, Phill Bannister for the gear and Adrian Byrne for the out of this world poster.
Doobs precise ending was thrown by the incoming static of the phone in his pocket. This unwaranted transmission cut the clock on his computer screen and left him to inpovise a minutely different ending for the video. In one of Kraftwerks earliest Parisian concerts - when they were still regarded as avant garde performers - the power surge from the change over to night time electricty used by the car plants that ringed the city interfered with the groups keyboard programming. ‘it was’, Ralf Hutter said ‘as if the machines were playing us’. I wonder,who dialled doobs and from what dimension?
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Impact Theatre Company’s Niamh Bowen directed the rehearsed reading with a cast including Norma Lowney, Darren Maher and Aidan Crowe.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Over the past few months we've been chatting with curator Annette Molloney about the phenomenon of 'Slack Spaces', we asked her to come and give an overview of this phenomenon that we are very much a part off...
Also contributing to the dialogue was Jessamyn Fiore, Director of thisisnotashop – who gave a presentation on an alternative, not for profit gallery, which she founded in Dublin in January 2006. This space is dedicated to supporting the work of emerging artists from both Ireland and abroad. (http://www.thisisnotashop.com/)
Thanks a million Kerry for dropping in a CD of your compositions today (Thurs 24th), we love them.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
''In his student flat in Colchester, Jack Howe is staring intently into his computer screen. He is picking the team for Ebbsfleet United's FA Trophy Semi-Final match against Aldershot . Around the world 35,000 other fans are doing the same thing, because together, they own and manage the football club. If distributed networks of people can run complex organisations such as football clubs, what else can they do?
Us Now takes a look at how this type of participation could transform the way that countries are governed. It tells the stories of the online networks whose radical self-organising structures threaten to change the fabric of government forever.'' http://banyak.co.uk/doc-usnow.php
see the video on Vimeo http://vimeo.com/4489849 it's been blocked on youtube...
Cheebahs Shane was wearing his historians Hat for a talk on his chosen subject of Ellen St this evening. This is the street that bookends the SpiritStore with the neglected hulk of the Opera Centre, (so called) development in the Middle. Its a contemporary path in the City currently balancing a Garden centre, Sex Shop, kebab shop, Head Shop, and an Antique Shop yet it maintains an aura of backwardness about it, a resigned air, biding its time as it cowers under the crumbling shadow of ‘progress’.
Shane carefully outlined a series of events that had Ellen st in common. Quinns bar was one of Irelands first Gay friendly spaces. It also held a Market in its courtyard space on Saturdays that was the prime alternative / hang out spot for The citys Artists and Hipsters. The clothes Label HOBO started out here, and a Coffee area hosted an Art Gallery that gave many Limerick Artists a platform in the 80s including the Photographer Brian Cross.
The arrival of The adult shop Utopia in the 90s instigated a god fearing protest that read like a lost episode of Father Ted with the Owner eventually supporting the indignant local woman s run in the Local elections as she had given his Shop so much publicity.
There was a fix it space place held together with wires and dust that you could leave your radio and TV into be be repaired or rather transformed as Shane's description brought to mind something scripted by Terry Gilliam here.
The description of the Ellen st Pirate Radio Station was the main topic in this talk and it was delivered with Passion. Its Shane's personal interest and in setting the scene he outlined the duality of the broadcasting laws that operated in the 80s. How the Stations made money (Fianna Fail operating their own in election times while simultaneously campaigning to close them down). The Community service they served and the characters such as John the Man that live in the Cities consciousness to this day. Some amazing vernacular graphics were used to advertise the stations services and there were also photos of the mobile DJ vans that were the bread and butter of the scene.
Why Ellen St? Why not any of the other streets that also had Pirates and Gay friendly spots. Exactly, why not. That was the rhetorical conclusion that finished the presentation. There is History lodged in the streets of Limerick and its representation needs to be fought for. Even the act of investigation needs reminding.
Developers will not fund Historical studies and display the results in their generic Malls paying tribute to areas that have represent decades of social activity. And as the participants fade their stories and progressive achievements are erased under an anonymous unrealistic retail holding space.
'Games in the Information Society' a talk by Anders Sigfridsson, from the Interaction Design Centre, University of Limerick presented a history of games design, with focus on a move from games designed by games companies to gamer led design - 'modding' and user generated content.
Vertigo Smyth performing at The ARTiculate-Sessions in 2008.
The brilliant Vertigo Smyth came back!!!! And this time brought a double bass accompaniment. http://www.vertigosmyth.com/
Nancy Serrano brought representatives from The Galway Social Space http://www.myspace.com/galwayspace and from Seomra Spraoi the autonomous social centre in Dublin http://www.seomraspraoi.org:8080/Plone to the SpiritStore to open a discussion on Art and Activism. The conversation turned to comparisons in the structures and models used to set-up, run, manage, fund, and provide social spaces.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Improvisation is always a muckier affair than your average polished, rehearsed event. Gone are the structured ideas and practised frameworks, replaced with Sun Ra's simple yet ingenious mantra of “make a mistake and do something right”. Perhaps one of the more intriguing aspects of improvised performances is the fact that the future is unwritten – any chord, squeal, pop or static can send the proceedings in a completely new trajectory. Its also a movement without sonic expectations or limitations, where sounds are explored equally for their consonance and dissonance.
Watching the performance by Brigadier JC and EndFinDead in the Spiritstore, one key theme that is evident in the way both musicians interact with the sound is the idea of reaction. Harnessing existing equipment but challenging it work in new ways, the two begin to construct their cacophony of bedlam, using everything from a standard guitar, a mobile phone, a rewired circuit board and a voluminous amount of effects peddles. Noisecore.
Both musicians are respectful towards the sounds the other person is creating, like the hesitancy between two strangers when they first begin a conversation. The process of watching them find a sonic common ground in real time is of course one of the most engaging aspects of this type of noise experimentation, and soon both artists are pushing and driving their conversing sounds to create a dense wall of piercing feedback and throbbing low end frequencies. Its refreshing to see how something so instantaneous and unplanned can be moulded and tweaked into a definite noise sculpture, but also that the noisicians involved understand the importance of momentum – allowing it all to melt away to nothing when the suitable time arrives.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
This blog extract is about the favourite bits of my time in the space. I love hanging out in the SpiritStore, there is good tea and coffee and great conversation. I enjoy meeting the drop-in people and the characters of limerick city;
I have had conversation on diverse topics such as architecture, dreams, astronomy, limerick history, mathematics and art. I get a lot out of an honest conversation; one that happens naturally and I’ve had many of such conversation in the SpiritStore.
This space is relaxing, I feel that both the volunteers and punters alike feel like this place is a home of sorts. I would describe this project as a petridis where ideas mix and breed to curate a new beast, a hybrid.
The events have being wide ranging and interesting, from the Whitehouse Poets to developing Indian museums, from setting up Artists Collectives to the Alexander technique. I’ve been here when there was a packed house and small crowds but people have always engaged.
2 Talks - Six Architectural Policies for Limerick and Portrait of a City