Before I start this post, I just want to point out that I’m not a particular fan of emojis. I don’t use them that much, but I am curious to see how this strange fragment of culture evolves. Emojis are folded into the Unicode set by a consortium of representatives of largely California-based technology companies, who shape what we can and can’t represent with little symbols on our phones. The emojis are specified by the Unicode Consortium, then the icons we see on our devices are designed by software companies – so that on my iPhone, the emojis are designed by Apple, yet on my PC they’re designed by Microsoft (hence cross-platform changes in appearance).
In 2017 I started making videos with every emoji available on an Apple device. That was 2718 symbols, and the video looked like this:
I recently re-scraped the available emojis – now there are 3962. A good deal of these are variations of the same symbol, but with differing skin tones. The best way to represent this seemed to be as an explosion:
Echoes of Disruption is video entry 11543.1 from the laboratory log-book of time-travelling researchers, with journal notes narrated by an Artificial Intelligence program. Having travelled back to the 21st century the researchers begin decrypting clues by exploring natural history collections, carrying out observational experiments and assembling interviews and content from scientific researchers, social scientists, cultural theorists, writers and poets. Their objective is to gain an insight into the turning point after which a dramatic change in the Earth’s delicate and precarious ecosystem leads to a catastrophic fracture in the future timeline.
In conversation with Deborah Wolton and Ollie Palmer
Voice over Aniruddha Das
Processing ant simulations Ollie Palmer
Soundtrack Dubmorphology and DSPSSSSD
More about the exhibition:
UnNatural History features 26 international artists working in Aotearoa New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Germany, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Singapore, Turkey, UK and USA. It includes four newly commissioned works responding to the Herbert’s Natural Science Collection by Frances Disley, Dubmorphology, Tania Kovats and Gözde İlkin.
The observational skills and techniques of artists, including their speculations, have enabled us to learn about plants and animals in drawings, long before the advancements of technologies such as microscopes and photography. Featuring drawings, paintings, sculpture, installation, lens-based, digital media and new technologies, UnNatural History will connect these valuable collections to the past, present, and future of our relationship to nature through depictions, scientific representations and imagined realities created by artists.
The exhibition is open from 28 May – 22 August 2021. More information here.
A video of footage I took back in 2011 of late-night journeys in Google Earth. This is my attempt to recapture the strange energy of that time: staying up all night, collaborating on projects, building things, spending all too long in subterranean spaces.
I haven’t spent a day in the studio just doing studio-ish meandering things for ages, despite this being part of “the plan.” Today I was able to head in, finish production on three podcast episodes for my students, and then spend some of the afternoon exploring my video archive, making some sound and images work together. Ironically, I’ve been teaching video production recently and the importance of experimentation, yet hardly manage to do it myself.
I shot this video in Iceland in the early 2010s, which seems like a few lifetimes ago. It was the first week of real snow as autumn turned to winter, and my long-suffering friend and I drove over this particular bridge quite a few times holding various tripods and cameras on the roof of our rented jeep in order to capture the video-game-esque single-point perspective, emphasised by the fog in the distance, and bitmap-style textures of what I presume is normally a riverbed below the bridge.
I’ve been wanting to do something with this video clip for a while. This isn’t the thing, but it’s something – sketch to re-acquaint myself with the faders and dials as I ramp up towards more audio / video / game production for the All the Worlds project, among others.
Of course, anyone who came of age and got into making videos at a similar time in the 2000s will recognise this as the inverse technique from Michel Gondry’s video for Star Guitar by the Chemical Brothers:
The Creators Project DVDs, featuring work by Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Jonathan Glazer and Chris Cunningham were cult-like objects whilst I was an undergraduate, and still prove to be strong influences on me today. I obsessively watched and re-watched Gondry’s process for making this video. My favourite bit is with the shoes:
And here is the same Icelandic-shot video as above, with a second layer and infinite loop:
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.
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.