Future Now


I decided to attend this two day symposium led by Aesthetica Magazine for several reasons; it had a diverse panel of speakers from the contemporary art world, they were presenting 1-1 sessions with both Arts Council England and Portfolio Reviews with a panel member, and an artists who I’d just sent the work of (Jasmina Cillic / Baltic) was also speaking. It presented talks and sessions which were directly relevant to consideration of professional life in practice post MA Creative Practice. My thinking had already turned to the sustainability of practice beyond LAU. The two years I had dedicated to delving deeper into my practice and extending its boundaries, learning new skills was a big investment of time alongside juggling two other jobs and being a parent of a primary aged child. I intended to work toward the investment paying off both on a mental/emotional level and a work/life level where I could follow professional opportunities as an artist which became fully embedded in my working life.

So the Future Now Symposium ticked a lot of boxes in relation to Continuing Professional Development.

1-1 Session

This session I had had a lot of synchronicity to it. I was paired with Griselda Goldsbrough. She is on the panel of the Aesthetica Art Prize, heads up the arts development programme for York Health Service and York Museums and Galleries. I talked through my most recent sound installations and projects and the final project I was currently working on. We talked a lot about life post MA and how that could be sustained particularly in an arts practice (sound) which is often on the periphery of contemporary arts. Yet she had both had examples of commissioning sound artists to work on hospital related projects within the NHS and talked of how that worked. She also gave me some pointers in relation to other sound artists working in community settings as a reference point as to how sound could be used. We talked a lot about funding and about criteria’s funders such as the Arts Council & Welcome Trust are looking for when assessing applications. We have since swapped various emails regarding projects and I do feel we will keep in contact professionally.

Artists Film – The Evolution of Moving Image Talk

This was an interesting talk which for me highlighted the pathway from artist to gallery show and who is involved along the way. On the panel was Head of Film at Manchester Met University, Gideon Koppel, Jasmina Cillic, Naomi Varga, RCA graduate and winner of Aesthetica Film Prize, Stuart Brisley, artist working with moving image, Alessandro Vincentelli, Curator of Exhibitions and Research at the Baltic and Phoebe Roberts, curator at Art Angel.

The talk was touched on many aspects of artists engaged with moving image. It was particularly relevant at this time for me as I had begun making my own very small films of moving image and had begun thinking where they would sit, in which context. The talk spoke of how much time visitors spent watching and being engaged with film show in a gallery context as opposed to the commitment of viewing in a cinema setting. Naomi Varga spoke of her pathway to winning the Aesethica Film Prize and subsequently being approached by Art Angels for future funded projects. Art Angel are one of the biggest commissioning bodies in the UK and extensively research their work and their artists work before funding a project.

The network of how artists can begin to work on larger projects suddenly began to unfold. The in-between areas of how to work, not in a commercial selling of products but of being able to work on project/exhibition basis on a larger scale.

How to Get Ahead as an Emerging Artist

Speakers: Griselda Goldsbrough, Javier Pes (Artnet), Carla Rapoport (Lumen Art Prize), Jacqelyn Jobert (Anise Gallery), Rachel Ara (Artist), Rebekka Kill (York St James).

This discussion centred around how Art Prizes can really catapult an artist onto the next elevation of their career. That winning one prize puts you in the mind of other prize givers and/or funders, even showing you have entered a competition shows potential funders where you are aiming for in your career. As part of this discussion, all panelists talked of the importance of a relevant, newly written and work focussed artists statement.  It was very interesting to hear from Rachel Ara, currently in residence at the V&A on a digital residency. Her work uses and explores data specifically and she creates both installations and print based work. Her background is in technical coding. Interestingly it was the fact that she had won the Lumen Digital Prize the previous year which had propelled her forward at the age of 54! She’d been working away on her practice for years until that point yet it was the art prize which made her name and work known in the contemporary arts culture. However she did highlight the often not discussed subject of finances and how artists are paid (or not more commonly). Her V&A residency gave her a 12,000 a year salary for want of a better word – I guess fee would be used yet interestingly this ‘fee’ is no where near what a current market salary would be for that level of professional working. So even at that level there is a discordance between how one can support oneself, a family, life etc against having a career as a professional artist.

Carla Rapoport spoke so eloquently about her reasons for setting up the Lumen Art Prize – she spoke with a great deal of honesty and humanity about her need to create a platform for artists who were emerging, at the beginning of their careers and wanted to start a prize for this section of artists who hadn’t got gallery representation. She spoke of how to write an application, not to use ‘art speak’ or too much theory, to remember that you are writing for another human to read and therefore all the wording needs to be clearly communicated, as if spoken verbally, to make it personal and not use gallery text. All of which is interesting in the light of writing for academia. I have found specifically trying to tailor my ‘voice’ in written work the last two years to to somewhat ‘stiff’ and not specific to how I ordinarily communicate. It’s a paradox that an art institution teaches in a particular way, that perhaps a gallery adopts this, and yet the contemporary arts culture does not fully require this level, they are looking for the human, for the personal. Perhaps this is an area which can be explored further in practice led Masters and Phd practices. Carla’s final words of advice really came down to this; why does the artwork exist?, What reason occurred to bring it into existence?


Jez Riley French Talk

With a little bit of polite asking and with the okay of both Jez Riley French, sound recordist and Paul Ratcliff, Head of Film and Music at Leeds Beckett University I went to hear Jez speak to the undergrad students at Leeds Beckett. So that was an interesting experience – me and a lot of 20 year old boys…didn’t feel out of place at all. It’s 2017 and sound/film is still so gender specific.

I digress. The talk was fascinating. He talked of the main kit he uses which consists of good omni mic’s, contact mic’s, Hydraphones and a two channel Sound Devices recorder. Then we listened to many projects on which he has worked which are listed below:

Humber Bridge (Opera North commission for Hull City of Culture 2017) – haunting sounds using contact mice inside the tunnel of the Humber Bridge and some pick up of the wind and traffic ambience.

Howard Assembly Rooms (Leeds) – he placed microphones on the roof of the building whilst the orchestra played inside and what a lovely sound. Although the projector in the room was buzzing and their was a slight hum from the speakers, what was heard was a drifting sound of an orchestra in an architectural space. He also used a Geophone to hear ‘through’ the building.

Teleferrica’s Italy – used microphones on the tension wires. Really supersonic sounds came through. Very Star Wars  – turns out this is originally how George Lucas’s team recording light sabres and other flying sound effects back in the 70’s. The ‘zooming’ sound effects came from insects colliding with the tension of the wires.

Antenna cables (Iceland) – contact mic on cable – sounded very ‘primordial’ to me, low sounds with some high pitch frequency overlaid.

Score for a Print Rack – he recorded 8 hours of playing two bows against a traditional metal print drying rack. Interesting!

Fence in Iceland for the Acoustic Cameras Project – the project is recording soundtracks from around the world.

Johann Johannsson – he is working with him and some of Jez’s recordings have been used in Bladerunner. Recording again through a building lovely sounds of strings came through over a low pulsating hum.

Fire  – of the more unusual sound experiments was the hazelnut. He stuck a fine needle in a contact mic, added a hazelnut on the end and set fire to it. It was really interesting, especially towards the end when the sound of the nut creaking and groaning came out.

Hydraphones- he played the sound of water beetles and tadpoles in a pond near where he lives.

Glacial Lake – Fjallsarlong, Iceland – beautiful location – recorded the sound of millions of ice bubbles – sounded high pitched like a tweet of a bird and water running sounds.

Lava Beach (Iceland) – hydra phone stuck deep in the sand of a lava beach with the sound of the waves crashing overhead. Nearly came out and hit the audience – we all jumped back…super powerful.

Electromagnetic/Infra/Ultra Sound – he used an ultrasonic detector in geothermal pools in Iceland – this wasn’t quite the sound I was expecting. It was higher in pitch and sounded a little like rain. I had expected a lower frequency deeper resonant sound for some reason. Perception…?

Lightbulb – with ultrasonic detector and a coil pick up on a florescent lightbulb strip. Pitch changed when the lightbulb heated and cooled down.

Audible Silence (Tate Modern) – he had 7 days on his own recording areas of the turbine hall at Tate Modern. Sounded like a low eerie hum with some high pitched sounds in there also.

VLF Dectector – this was one of my favourite sounds – recorded in Japan. The VLF detector picks up radio fallout in the universe (i.e.: from stars exploding). The sound was immense. Crackly sounds but then a really strange movement sound which was the sound of a shooting star trail. How cool is that…?

He talked of other aspects like playback volume and recording volume for field recordings which was useful as I’d put my input recording volume high but he said that isn’t needed on his Sound Devices recorder as the pre amp is such good quality. I may need to higher mine through on my minute Zoom.

So glad I went and listened. Learnt a lot which I can now input into my own sound recording experiments.