June 21, 2012

BEAM 2012

BEAM is a high-tech music weekender, a playground of homemade instruments and sonic installations, where you can listen to, watch and learn how to create your own physically living electronic music. BEAM was devised by Artistic Director Sarah Nicolls to explore the potential physicality of electronic music. The focus on electronic music being created LIVE is explored through a programme of performances, demonstrations, installations and workshops. BEAM brings together a global audience of artists, researchers, DiY electronics builders and enthusiasts, from beginners to veterans.

Some highlights:

Marco Donnarumma will be teaching how to build and use his performance driven bio-sensing contact mic apparatus, which you get to keep it at the end of the workshop.

In the visual tradition of Len Lye (see previous post) yet harnessing the aural aggression of live noise performance (just as compatriot Justice Yeldham does), artist Sally Golding employs in her practice "torchlight printed sound film, hacked sonic devices, motorised colour filters, stroboscopic light, refracting lenses and physical interference... warping the output of the projector’s light and sound into a hypnotic and frantic field of colour, form and noise fuzz."

Without the aid of the usual sound software, and commencing with only a blank TextEdit document and JITLib, four piece laptop group Benoît & the Mandelbrots "harness the process of writing software in real-time, expressing sonic structures as live source code."

BEAM takes place 22 - 24 June 2012 at Brunel University, Uxbridge.



In 1935 Len Lye was the first person to make a film without a camera, not in an effort to be innovative or particularly different, but simply because he couldn't afford to pay for a camera as well as the film. So he painted directly on the film, in full colour, treating it like a moving painting. He even scored the films with his own jazz compositions, improvising both elements as he worked, one influencing the other in equal measures. In time he became friends with Hans Richter, Georgia O’Keefe and Le Corbusier, they supported his experimentation in virtually every art discipline that occurred to him, perpetually furthering his obsession with ‘pure figures in motion.’ He made some of the earliest and significant kinetic sculptures in the early 60's. He wrote poetry and philosophy throughout his entire life. Later on he continued to push the boundaries of film, with ‘scratch’ films such as the incredible Free Radicals (1958).



June 03, 2012


To judge from popular-press reviews that greeted its release, Jennie Livingston's film Paris Is Burning (Off-White Productions, 1991) has left a significant number of its viewers pleasantly surprised. What surprises them is not only what was widely registered as Livingston's intrepidness in venturing among the black and Latino habitués of Harlem's drag-ball scene, which the film portrays, but also—and more significantly—the actvities of the film's subjects themselves, particularly their precise replication (in the context of the ball's regimented competitions) of the styles and behaviors of a range of social types recognizable from daily life, from mass-media productions, or from both. John Howell, commenting in 1989 on rough-cut footage from what was then Livingston's work-in-progress, gives a fairly typical account of contestants' achievement of such "Realness," as it is called in the ball context:

"In costume and poise, these artificial Yalies and businessmen would be utterly indistinguishable from the "real thing" on the campus or in the office. Similarly, any general would salute troops who paraded with the spit-and-polish panache of the voguers who impersonate marines. Every detail is duplicated to the minutest degree, from body language to personality, from clothing to accessories (briefcases, American Express cards, plane tickets, and Wall Street Journals for the businessmen, letter sweaters and textbooks for the students)."

from Private Affairs: Critical Ventures in the Culture of Social Relations
 By Phillip Brian Harper