Category: Blog

Time Frames exhibition at Natlab

Exciting news – I have a solo show opening soon at Natlab in Eindhoven. It’s called Time Frames, and is based on my 2023 live video essay of the same name. It’s about time.

The show features three video works in some specially-made cinematic rooms:

Time Frames (2024)

Yes, this video lends its name to the exhibition – and it’s a newly updated version of the film, in a specially-created cinema room. It’s a film essay made using my Reflexive Scripted Design process, about the way that the times we live in shape what we perceive as possible. It’s thirty-something minutes long and features footage I’ve shot from around the world.

86400 (2016)

A special version of 86400 – a 24-hour film that features a new Google Images search for every second of the day – constructed inside a modified viewer. This work hasn’t been shown since 2017 – previously it was projected on a huge screen at the Palais de Tokyo, and in the hallway of the School of The Art Institute in Chicago. (Do you want to know more about this project? There is a write-up in my PhD here.)

Warm Impermanence (2024)

A new 5-screen video work, inspired by a line from David Bowie’s song Changes. It features footage of ripples and waves and moving water that I’ve taken over the past 12 years from around the world, alongside a six-hour-long version of Changes.

All the details

Time Frames

A solo show by Ollie Palmer.
Natlab, Kastanjelaan 500, 5616 LZ Eindhoven
Exhibition open 23 June until 3 October 2024.

Produced by Baltan Labs, supported by CBK R’DAM.

On the 22 June at 17h there will be an opening party, featuring a live performance by Amy Thomas and myself. Bring your best timepiece.

Thank you to Baltan Labs – Marlou, Sarie, Ishani, and Lorenzo – for making this happen!

More information at Baltan Laboratories’ website

Trees of Rotterdam at Boijmans Museum

When I first moved to Rotterdam 7 years ago, I was excited to have the Boijmans Museum so close. So many paintings I’d seen in books – so many Jheronymous Bosches! iki/The_Tower_of_Babel_(Bruegel)” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>The Tower of Babel! – there in real life, in front of my eyes. Then, in 2019 it closed for major renovation…initially, for 7 years, but now it looks like it will be 10.

So imagine my delight when I was asked recently if we could screen Trees of Rotterdam at Boijmans as part of the Rotterdam Architecture Month!

If you’d like to see the film in a pretty rare setting, please come on down on the 8 June at 20h. More information and tickets available at the Rotterdam Architecture Month website. I think there will be a Q&A too.

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IFFR 2024

I am terrible at keeping news up to date. This is a retrospective post…

Trees of Rotterdam, the short film I made with Alice Ladenburg, premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January. It was paired with Carel van Hees’ beautiful documentary Berichten uit de Hunkerbunker, a moving portrait of a city through the eyes of an elderly woman living in the RVS apartments on the Beukelsdijk in Rotterdam. I absolutely loved Carel’s film, and it was a pleasure sharing the stage for the many Q&A sessions.

Overall, there were six sold-out screenings of the programme. The film will also be shown at a few more venues later in the year, to be confirmed.

Here are some photos. As ever, I’m not great at documenting things as they happen.

Artists Alice Ladenurg and Ollie Palmer pointing in disbelief at their own poster at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2024 Art x IFFR The cast and crew of Trees of Rotterdam: Jens van der Zee, Alice Ladenburg, Ollie Palmer, Kees Moeliker, Adriaan Wormgoor First scene of Trees of Rotterdam as seen in Cinerama cinema The audience at Lantarenvenster Alice Ladenburg anwering a question at a cinema Q&A session Carel van Hees anwering a question at a cinema Q&A session Still from Trees of Rotterdam on the screen in Lantarenvenster cinema, Rottedam

Baltan Labs podcast

Over the past few months, I’ve been participating in Baltan LabsRaise Your Voice programme, a “learning trajectory developed by Baltan for designers and artists who focus their practice around social, economic, political and environmental issues, so that they can grow their own voice and position themselves in these topics.”

I really enjoyed the trajectory – getting to know a group of interesting designers and artists, participating in workshops outside my usual mode of practice, having conversations and exchanges that pushed what I know, and how I position myself.

Baltan made a podcast series featuring the particpants – Camilla Carmack, Lieke Mangindaan, Asja Keeman, Rosalie Bak, Sarah Kaushik, Talisa Harjono, and Agat Sharma. Each person was asked to make a 5-minute sound piece, which they listen to with a partner (or two) and then discuss.

I had a lovely conversation with Baltan Lab’s co-director Lorenzo Gerbi and Marleen van Bergeijk, in which we touch upon quite a few subjects – the idea of control, the position of an artist in the current economic model, the masks you have to wear, and a lot more – all of which can be found here:

I also really enjoyed the conversation between Talisa and Agat. Not just because they’re now friends of mine, but also because they invoke two things I love – Georges Perec, and David Attenborough.

I’m looking forward to listening to the whole series over the coming weeks!

The entire series can be found on Soundcloud and Spotify.

2022.09.29 Quick video: wide journeys

I made three quick experimental videos the other day with footage from train journeys in three different countries. Note, they are all extremely wide, so it might be hard to make them play on a phone. On a computer, you can make them fullscreen by double-clicking somewhere in the video.

France

The first video I made was from France, taken sometime in 2016. I think it’s just outside Paris:

Link to the video

Stills from the video:

Sunsine on the French countryside Sunsine on the French countryside Sunsine on the French countryside

England

The second video is from an old video of a train journey across England, about 2013:

Link to the video

Stills from the video:

British countryside, as seen from a train window British countryside, as seen from a train window British countryside, as seen from a train window British countryside, as seen from a train window British countryside, as seen from a train window

USA

And finally – and perhaps most successfully, a longer form train journey across Chicago, from 2015. Note this is the only version with sound:

 

Link to the video

Stills from the video:

Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos Compilation image of Chicago skyline from 10 videos

Why?

I make short experimental videos quite regularly (see here, here, here, here, here, etc), as a way to sketch an idea, and keep developing my video editing skills. For years, I’ve been taking videos of places I’ve been, looking out of various vehicular windows. I’ve got scores of them (and other footage) stored away on various hard drives. And whilst I enjoy the process of taking films, quite often I find the videos themselves are a reduction of the experience of being somewhere, as if you have to perceive the environment you’re in through a very thin rectangular cardboard tube. There is so much in a journey that doesn’t come across in a film; a wider field of vision than a smartphone camera can capture, the sounds all around you, the lingering smell of a stranger’s fried dinner further up the carriage.

I’ve been reading Ed Yong’s book An Immense World lately, and thinking about the myriad ways in which animals perceive the world, and how our umwelt is so specific to our physiology. I’m on the part about vision at the moment, and it is so much stranger than you might think. Jumping spiders have multiple types of eyes with different functions; scallops distribute their vision throughout their body; there are so many ways to see. Yong argues that the mode of vision we take as ‘normal’, i.e. two eyes in the front of the head, is anything but. Take, for example, birds of prey:

Many birds of prey, like, eagles, falcons, and vultures, actually have two acute zones in each eye – one that looks forward, and another that looks out at a 45-degree angle.

– Ed Yong, An Immense World

 

All of which caused me to think about vision, and memory, and how the films that I take regularly always fail to capture the entirety of an experience; that cameras are made not to capture reality, but to frame an aspect of it for a screen. I wanted to make films which capture the texture of experience, so that you experience the texture of a place on a journey; rather than focusing on individual things in the journey, my intention is to show textures and patterns in movement. I think they’re getting towards what I’m trying to do – there is too much to focus on any one thing, and so instead of watching a video, you can see similarities between them, how parallax movements shift into and out of logical sync, and so on.

This is not an articulate definition of this stuff – it’s hurriedly written, and these are sketches, rather than exhibition-ready things, posted here in the spirit of sharing my experiments in progress.

Song rememberer bot

I made a bot a while ago called Song Rememberer, which asks if you remember a song. It’s continually remembering songs but can’t quite name them – really just an extension of the sound system in my own head. It asks questions like:

and:

and:

I am one of the only people who follows it, but every day I get to remember an imagined song or two. Occasionally someone replies with an attempt to name the song. You can follow it too at @songrememberer.

The code was made with Kate Compton’s amazing Tracery, and hosted via Cheap Bots Done Quick!. The source code is available here, if you want to make something similar.

2022.03.08 Quick video: Seoul loop

Today’s quick video – a looping clip of driving along a highway in Seoul. My PhD supervisor Stephen Gage calls this type of thing a ‘finger exercise’, I assume because it’s like practicing scales on a piano – it’s one of many playful, small things that helps you work out ideas for larger projects.

I took this video on the way from the airport to my accommodation in Seoul in 2016. I was messing around with a camera I’d loaned (A Canon C100, if I recall). The footage isn’t remarkable, but you do get to see part of the city looming in the distance and the huge river. I just wanted to make it loop, nothing special – just to play with video a little, and make a quick accompanying sound bed.

The original shot looks like this:


link to original

The longest loop I could make is just short of the original clips’ length, 33 seconds and 9 frames, with the looping part coming from the van that overtakes. The hue of the video shifts throughout, from pinks and reds through to purples and blues and back. It also has a 12-bar sound bed I made quickly:


link to original

The 12-bar bed meant that I could cleanly cut the video in thirds. Here’s a version that’s 22 seconds and 6 frames, in blue, pink and purple:


link to original

And finally a version in 11 seconds and 3 frames, one third of the original length, in a yellow palette reminiscent of the Blade Runner 2049 desert scenes:


link to original

Scam

I finally received the art scam email! I know a few people who’ve received this in the past, but it looks like “Grayson Benjamin from Washington DC” contacted me with exactly the same message that “Vincent Harris from Hoboken, New Jersey” contacted someone else I know at about the same time. The scammer sent their emails to the addresses on our website. I guess they’re just scraping artist websites.

I’m only sharing the message because I think the more times it comes up on search engines that this is a scam, the better protected we as artists will be.

The contents of the emails received reads:

Subject: ART product enquiry

My name is {Grayson Benjamin/Vincent Harris} from {Washington DC/Hoboken, New Jersey}. I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to I and my wife’s anniversary which is just around the corner. I stormed on some of your works which i found quite impressive and intriguing. I must admit your doing quite an impressive job. You are undoubtedly good at what you do.

With that being said, I would like to purchase some of your works as a surprise gift to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary. It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of works, with their respective prices and sizes, which are ready for immediate (or close to immediate) sales. My budget for this is within the price range of $1000 to $6000.

I look forward to reading from you in a view to knowing more about your pieces of inventory. As a matter of importance, I would also like to know if you accept check as a means of payment.

Best regards,

Benjamin.

If you get the email, delete it. There are several signs that this is fake (wanting to pay by cheque, no specifics about my work, a price range that’s tempting for an artist but not ludicrous).

2022.02.22 Quick video: Walking to Delftse Poort

This is my quick video for the day, shot whilst walking from Rotterdam Centraal station to Delftsepoort (an office building). The subject is fairly mundane, but there are a few layers of square video on top of each other, and another clapping soundtrack made quickly.

I actually made two versions of this video, one with a regular offset:

And one that uses a 2-frame offset per layer to recreate a ‘wavy’ special effect from the 70s. I remember seeing this sort of effect in old music videos as a kid, back when I was glued to music television:

One thing I like about the original video is the way that it’s abstracted a completely mundane journey, yet maintains the rhythm of my walking. The stills of the escalator are perhaps my favourite part:

abstract image of an escalator abstract image of an escalator abstract image of an escalator

But then again, the flooring, which seems to be particular to Dutch train stations, also looks more dramatic than usual:

abstract image of pavement abstract image of pavement abstract image of pavement

As does the utterly mundane pavement found on all streets near here:

abstract image of pavement abstract image of pavement abstract image of pavement abstract image of pavement