Rules of the Game

This weekend I took part in the annual Sci Fi London 48 hour film challenge, in which participants have to write, shoot, and edit a sci-fi film in 48 hours.

My film had to include the following elements:

Title: Rules of the Game
A prop and action: A character opens a sealed padded envelope and pulls out a card.
A line of dialogue: The count for this stuff is off the chart, probably best you don’t get it on your skin.

Here is the outcome. It’s a 5-minute film about an ambitious inventor named Larry Hammer in the midst of an experiment. The film-making had all of the constraints you’d imagine (no budget, limited time, one person) but it was great fun to make. I hope you enjoy it!

I did the writing, shooting, directing, editing, starring, and soundtrack (à la Tommy Wiseau?). I also had some generous script advice from Amy Butt and Pippa Palmer, for which I’d like to express thanks.

Scripted performances: digital and absurd machines

I’m very excited to be giving a lecture as part of the Bartlett’s Constructing Realities lecture series next week. If you are in London, please do pop in on the 15th February. It will also be the first chance I’ve had to see the Bartlett’s shiny new campus.

Constructing Realities Lecture Series, Spring 2018

Scripted performances: digital and absurd machines

‘Scripts’ in architecture are usually associated with computer-based design programming. However, this narrow usage belies a rich vein of concepts intrinsic to architecture and authorship. This lecture poses the script as a useful critical and methodological tool within architectural design, absorbing and reinterpreting ideas from behavioural psychology, computation, dance, immersive theatre, the Absurd, and the Oulipo. The lecture is illustrated through a series of projects completed during Palmer’s residency at the Palais de Tokyo and PhD by Design at the Bartlett spanning dance, film, installation, and data manipulation.

Biography

Ollie Palmer is an artist and designer based in the Netherlands. He holds an AHRC-funded PhD by design from the Bartlett and was artist in residence at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris from 2015-16. His work has been exhibited around the world, including at the V&A Museum, Opera Garnier de Paris, Seoul Museum of Art, and the Royal Institute of British Architects. He co-authored the winning proposal for the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018, and sits on the project’s curatorial advisory committee. He formerly taught within the Bartlett’s Interactive Design Lab and at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. He currently teaches at TU Delft.

www.olliepalmer.com

More information: Bartlett event website / Facebook event page

Architectural Film Festival London

I am excited to have two films screening at the inaugrural Architectural Film Festival in London from June 7-11 this year. Both were produced during my residency at the Palais de Tokyo.

Network / Intersect

A film about propaganda and the production of fake news, created entirely using the techniques of the Internet Research Agency propaganda factory in St Petersberg.

Room 11, Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf – free entry
Wed 7 Jun 11:00-13:00 (ArchFilmFest Selection A, 120m total)
Thu 8 Jun 11:00-13:00 (ArchFilmFest Selection A, 120m total)

Scriptych

From the live performance at Opera Garnier de Paris on 18 June 2016, featuring choreography by Simon Valastro. Two dancers attempt to communicate via a new technology which converts their movements to words, using vector space translation.

Bargehouse | free entry
Room 11, Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf
Sun 11 Jun 11:00-11:46 (ArchFilmFest Competition Shortlisted)
Sun 11 Jun 13:40-14:26 (ArchFilmFest Competition Shortlisted)

Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) | ticket required
Sun 11 Jun 16:30-18:30 ("From Above" category, with introduction by Competition Director Anna Ulrikke Andersen)
More information

Complete festival programme

Directions

Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf

ICA

Synchronised cinema

The first known use of multiple cameras and multiple screes, Thompson said, was in 1896 in a process called “Cineorama.” Ten cameras were mounted . in a balloon. As the camera ascended the Paris rooftops, the cameras photographed a 360-degree image simultaneously. Synchronization was accomplished by a shaft running vertically upward from a platform where two men stood. The chaft had an eccentric in it so that each man could hold the section as he turned it manually. A huge cogwheel at the top operated the cameras in unison. Needless to say, the speed of the cameras was not constant. An attempt was made (the film was shown, I believe) to show this film at the Paris Exposiiton of 1896. To give the maximum illusion of reality, the audience was asked to stand in a basket similar to the gondola of the balloon. An alarmed and aroused fire department terminated the performance. Like all motion-picture film of that time, the stock had a nitrate base. When heated, it could have blown up and literally dispatched the entire audience.

  • Kranz, Stewart. Science & Technology in the Arts: A Tour through the Realm of Science/Art. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co, 1974. 181.

Posted: 2017-02-23

Categories: Blog

Logic by Machine

We don’t talk about computers like we used to. Whilst writing up my PhD thesis, I came across this teaser video for my Nybble project. It was designed to elicit the interest of potential dancers and the public who may come to view the work. The dialogue is taken from a 1962 film called Logic By Machine, commissioned by IBM and put out on the equivalent of KQED-TV / National Educational Television (which I believe became PBS?).

There is a poetic, dreamy discussion of the potential that computers have to change the way we see ourselves in the world:

The computer is then given the problem in the form of numbers or instructions pertinent to arithmetic. It is the arithmetic logical task that the computer is organised to do. Once instructed, it can do as much arithmetic in a minute as a man in a lifetime.

A man in a lifetime…the lifetime of all mankind is but a brief moment in the long history of this earth of ours. And only yesterday in the history of mankind has man made any significant advance in his control over his earthly environment.

Dialogue written by Richard Moore. The rest of the film is also worth watching for the speech by the incredible Richard Hamming‘s explanation of exponentiality within computing.

Rock music

Whilst in Korea last year, I came across this incredible rock playing an instrumental version of Celine Dion’s Oscar-winning My Heart Will Go On.

Hold me, Jack.

A cybernetic argument against post-truth

As far as I see it, the Trump team’s rejection of facts, and the idea that we live in a post-truth world is nothing more than a refusal to engage in conversation with any other entity. It is a lazy and dangerous argument, and a threat to democracy. I will explain why.

In the 1970s Gordon Pask proposed a cybernetic theory of communication. It is called Conversation Theory, and it relates to the way in which we communicate with other individuals. 

It begins from the basic premise that our minds are machines which have the purpose of learning. Each mind forms concepts — that is, understandings of topics — which are in some way malleable. If you could only define the term tree within your own mind once, for example, you would not be able to see any new types of tree as trees. Instead, your definition of tree changes each time you experience, discuss, or think about a tree. The redefinition of concepts, the reaching of new understandings, is an essential part of learning.

One way we reach new understandings is via conversation. A conversation is an interaction between two individuals, in which both state and re-state their understanding of a concept, until they can both agree upon a mutually satisfying definition. A conversation requires the individuals involved to define and redefine their understandings.

Political opinions vary wildly, and largely depend on different definitions of terms like freedom and rights. In a democracy, every individual can form and hold their own definition of such terms. My freedom probably looks different to your freedom. We may not agree on the exact definition of the word, we may disagree wildly on where freedom starts and stops, but we will both agree that there is such a thing as freedom. Indeed, by talking to each other, we will probably learn something about the others’ opinions, we may modify our own ideas, and at the very least we may learn something.

Conversation in politics requires a basic premise: that there are definitions of certain concepts that both parties can agree upon. These are known as facts / truth. A fact may be that WWII was from 1939–45. An opinion might state that it could have ended sooner, had x been done by y. We can all agree on the fact — but we are able to disagree about the opinion.

If we cannot agree on facts, or the fact that there are facts, then our entire conversation will be spent simply restating these premises, rather than discussing potential problems and solutions. It is dangerous to believe that we live in a post-fact world, because it denies the possibility of ever engaging in meaningful conversation. Stating that there is no truth is the same as stating that we will never understand each other. Without meaningful conversation, you have no voice, and there is no democracy.

This is not a new idea. It has been tried and tested in Russia by the Putin regime, whom Trump has repeatedly stated he admires

Reject the idea that we live in a post-truth world. It is toxic, poisonous, and threatens democracy. It is an idea that exists merely to silence all of our voices, and shut us all out of conversation. Whether you are on the left or the right, this affects us all.


Notes and articles

Post-truth

Conversation theory

Posted: 2016-12-02

Categories: Blog

Scriptych collaboration

The French Audiovisual Archives (INA) made a lovely short film about the collaborative process Simon Valastro and myself used to make Scriptych, a performance at the Opéra National de Paris earlier this year, as part of my residency at the Palais de Tokyo.

Pavillon Neuflize OBC / INA #9 Scriptych / Ollie Palmer – Simon Valastro – VA from Institut national audiovisuel on Vimeo.

Thank you Franck Podguszer and the INA team!

Lundi du Pavillon

Parisian friends! I will be presenting 24fps Psycho and the wider project that it is part of at the Palais de Tokyo’s Lundi du Pavillon on 18 April 2016.

24fps Psycho is a project that replaces every single frame of the film Psycho with a “similar” frame from historical archival footage. The frames are chosen by an algorithm which studies pixel colour values. The audience then construct their own narrative atop the film’s soundtrack.

This is part of a wider project looking at the technology of cinema. I will present some footage from the next stage of the project, whereby a film-wanderer makes its way through an archive, analysing films and continually making new connections between them.

Also at Lundi du Pavillon will be cellist Gaspar Claus and a screening of Olivier Dollinger‘s film Climate Control and the Summer of Love.

The Facebook-inclined can find more information and RSVP here.

Do Disturb

I will be showing my film 86400 and performing 24fps Psycho at the Do Disturb Festival at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in a couple of weeks. This is very exciting, as both works have never been shown before.

86400

86400 is a real-time film made from Google Image searches for the time right now. It will be running throughout the festival.

24fps Psycho

24fps Psycho is an experimental performance remixing the film Psycho (1960) with footage from the French National Audiovisual Institute. It will be chaotic and confusing, but also highly enjoyable. I will be performing twice, once on the Saturday and once on the Sunday (9 + 10 April).

There are over 50 artists and performers participating this year, so it looks like a great way to spend a weekend – if I wasn’t performing, I would be in the crowd!

Tickets are avaialble through the Digitick website or at the Palais de Tokyo ticket office.