Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sound Afternoon Pt.II - Tuesday 6th April 1.30pm

Hi all, next Tuesday is set for a further session of playing with sound at Black Lab.

The session will be very open but a general focus will be to create live soundtracks for film. Bring along anything you think might work for this - could be still or moving images, or even 3D objects and food... though I imagine that moving image film will be the main focus so don't be too disappointed if your fried peach doesn't have a song written for it.

This will not in any way be a high brow music jam, more a fun and experimental muck around with sound with the aim of collectively producing some kind of coherent din and thinking about how sound and image might relate.

'Instrument' wise, again, bring anything that produces a sound that you fancy using or trying out, but there's no shortage of noise-makers around the space already, including wine glasses, passing traffic and a large shed. There will be a small PA system and i'll make sure we have a couple of vocal mics too.

Any questions please get in touch, preferably on this blog so all can see.

The 22nd and 23rd of April are booked for some more performance-based sound events, which may include among other things a 24 hour improvisation and the construction of at least one sound sculpture. This is all to be discussed!


Black Lab Week Seven

sorry for not getting these done yesterday - had a busy day but hopefully I've not forgotten too much of what happened..please feel free to make additions or contestations!

Present: Michael Burkitt, Jo Clark, James Hill, Dave Ronalds, Martha Jurksaitis, Yvonne Carmichael, Dan Robinson, Richard Ormrod, Stuart Bannister, Lucy Bannister, David Thomas

We now have a microwave so we can eat something other than crisps! Or, better, we can have hot crisps!

The first half of the meeting was spent revising last week's activity. Andy talked about the Badiou evening and tried to give a synopsis of the main points and the discussion that followed. We talked about the 'Western/Capitalist' and 'Eastern/Islamist' paradigms that Badiou outlines (the former being predicated on experience of death within life or 'enjoyment' and the latter being based on life in death i.e sacrifice). Badiou proposes that art (through the event and trace) can help find a third paradigm not wholly consumed by the power of death. Richard suggested that Badiou perhaps overlooks the life in life that already exists as a 'third paradigm'. Andy mentioned the book 'Death' by Todd May. Lucy and Stu both agreed that similar themes were covered in Chris Morris's 'Four Lions' which they had been watching in Bradford whilst we listened to the lecture last week. It was agreed that it was a challenging but enjoyable evening and that a follow-up event would make sense as more people would like to join in the discussion.

Martha discussed the movie marathon and the group talked about how it had been a good experience putting the night together and spending time working on something as well as enjoying the content of the films. We talked about how the Black Lab might provide a different viewing collective environment from a cinema or watching at home. People were comfortable talking during the films and responding immediately. This is something of a faux-pa in contemporary cinema-going. It was agreed that more films should be watched together in the space, even if they are ones we have seen before. Dan initiated a brief discussion about repetition and the value and problematics therein with specific reference to repeating events or performances.

We had a short break before Dave Ronalds showed a short documentary he had bought along about El Bulli restaurant in Spain renowned as the world's best and most experimental place to eat. The head chef Ferran Adria works with a team of collaborators year round in a lab experimenting with new cooking techniques, styles and ingredients.

Following the documentary we had a discussion about food as art and how the sensory aspects of it have been focused on by the Futurists and Fluxus, the social aspects by relational practitioners like Rirkrit Tiravnija and the ethical issues around food production in projects like Feral cafe which Lucy had some experience of. Andy mentioned that he had met an interesting artist called Jayne Bradley at the Placemaking conference who works in food and has organised Flux-feasts. We decide it would be good to have a food event and invite her to the lab.

We also talked about other aspects of the documentary including the collaborative nature of the lab; the commitment and fidelity (in Badiou's language) demonstrated by the team; and the perceptions of experimental cooking as elitist or intellectual but how its ultimately bodily/sensory/material/emotional nature might make it distinct or more accessible than avant-garde art. A quote that stuck out for Andy was Adria saying something along the lines of that in order to experience deeper emotions we need new techniques and technology.

David Thomas showed a short experimental film he had made manipulating found footage and sound. Everyone enjoyed it and made a few suggestions; perhaps it could be shown again to a larger group with more time for discussion?

We then began to put some dates in the diary as there are less than six weeks left in the Green Sands according to our original agreement with Igloo. We got out the big calendars and added the following events:


Tues 6th at 1.30pm - Sound workshop muckabout

Weds 7th at 6pm - Another evening with(out) Alain Badiou

Thurs 15th at 6pm - Watching La Jetee by Chris Marker

Weds 21st at 6pm - Watching Some Kind of Monster Metallica documentary

Thurs 22nd all day (and eve) - Alvin Lucier reconstruction sound event

Fri 23rd all day (and night) - 24 hour durational music jam

Sat 24th all day - Bas Jan Ader documentary and performance event/workshop


Sat 1st 2pm - Watching Art School Confidential

Tues 4th May at 6pm - Food night

Weds 6th May - Anne Curtis film

Tues 11th May - final meeting!

There will also be the general meetings/crit sessions every Tues at 6pm.


All to organise/publicise/attend events as above

All to continue to contribute to fanzine/publication

All to book in extra events, speakers, visitors to the lab

Next Meeting Tues 6th April at 6pm. Check calendar, blog and above for events in the interim

Monday, 29 March 2010

Movie Marathon Pics

Terence the Tiger gives Freya a playful mauling.

It was a really enjoyable night & many congrats should go to Martha for pulling together such an oustanding programme, as well as co-ordinating bringing all the kit in.

I think Martha is completely right to say that, in the morning, we all felt 'closer to the space' & that in some sense we had done something quite special with it. Not just creating a comfortable & workable arthouse cinema, if only a temporary one, & with some goddammed lights which don't appear to have off switches... Without sounding TOO grand, it felt like it changed us all a little bit (not just in the sense that I hadn't seen those films before, & now I have). I had some great conversations & felt closer to several people... Phil, Freya, Lee, Helen, & even some nice new people I had never met before.

I think every time I bump into those people at private views, or around town, we will both share a smile at a fond shared memory. Hopefully some of them will keep coming to the Black Lab, or we will do some work together soon.

I think the first film was my favourite, in a way. It was a good way to bring in some theory in a way which made people laugh out loud, but at the same time wasn't belittling that theory by making comedy out of it.

As for the very trippy one with the big tower in it, well, maybe accusing the director of taking too many psychotropic drugs was a bit unfair, or at least a bit of shorthand for something else that I didn't quite like about it. It was beautiful & I did really enjoy it... but sometimes I think these things ONLY have 'meaning' in the sense of a drug-induced sense of meaning which is in danger, sometimes, of having no meaning at all. Sometimes, of course, that kind of wilful bizareness for bizareness' sake can itself be quite revolutionary, if only in the sense that the film maker is revolting against the percieved need for meaning in everything. It was a riot!

There wasn't a single film on the night which I DISLIKED (although I slept through two of them). I felt more energised by the Badiou Lecture and this night than anything we have done in there thusfar, & it feels like, post the BBC break, we are starting to come up with a really good form, shape, idea for space. Can't wait for more!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Movie Marathon Recollections!

Big thanks to everyone who made it to the movie marathon! Here’s a “synopsis” of the event.
Please add your own recollections and thoughts to this!

Stu and David brilliantly set up the PA on Thursday morning, which allowed us to have great sound quality for all the films, helping recreate a real big screen environment! Speaking of screens... Well, we had a MUTHA of a screen! David and I transported the necessary kit and some beanbags down to the space at about 4.30pm, and James, David, David’s brother (sorry I’ve forgotten your name! Alan?), Sam (David’s wife) all mucked in with transforming the space into a cinema! James had (luckily) put up screens before so could direct us on that, and David’s brother showed me how to use the data projector which was so great! I think we all shared some knowledge with each other during set up, and it was a very nice atmosphere, full of excitement about the coming night. Then David, his brother, and Sam left (to attend a gig and party).

Freya was the first guest on the scene, quickly followed by Michael and Charlotte. The first film screened at 8.30pm. I ceremoniously popped a bottle of rose cava. A riotous celebration of Wilhelm Reich’s work and ideas, mixed with a healthy dose of politics, and some full on nudity and male erections (at which point James said “cue: your boyfriend walking in” and, as if by magic, he did!). There was lots of audience reaction to some political/sexual tenets in the film. Great fun yet profound, it was to become James’ favourite film of the night (though you’d have to ask him how it fared in comparison with “Snakes on a Plane”). There was some talk of maybe playing the film silently as James performs Das Kapital one day soon. Yvonne arrived near the end of the film, and admitted that she was indeed “expecting this sort of thing” (though the film’s ending could not be said to be indicative of what had preceded it I think!) Two people arrived, a couple, the girl was called Jo I think, and I can't remember the guy's name. Helen (who works in the Town Hall with James) and her boyfriend Lee arrived after this first film, accompanied by Terence – the Tiger! A huge stuffed tiger which managed to charm the socks off each and every one of us – particularly Freya, who throughout the night remarked on all the different types of animals present in the films - this included lots of horses, a llama, and a lemur, in various films. Helen and Lee’s bed was complete with duvet, pillows, mattress thing, Terence (who doubled up as an extra pillow for people), and Helen thoughtfully brought some pairs of really comfy socks to share around – “I’m all about the comfort!” – which Michael and James gladly indulged in (for the fourth film).

I have jumped ahead! The second film was Armenian, and full of beautiful extravagance and flamboyancy, a real vision, tableaux vivants, full of mysterious rituals and movements repeated, and is certainly a “very special film” (Michael). Freya and Phill loved it too (it happens to be one of Freya’s favourite films, and she loved seeing it on the big screen for the first time). James enjoyed it too: “It’s amazing, yeah. Quite nightmarish. I’m glad I’m not asleep!” Chris headed home. The table of communal food was looking very good indeed! Lots of bread, cheeses, crisps, cakes, hummous, salad, apples, bananas etc. Kept us going and there was plenty left over.

Andy, Stu, Lucy, David and David’s brother arrived from the British Wildlife gig at the Brudenell. Next up was a great fun animation, re-telling the story of the ancient Indian text The Ramayana, and essentially recasting it as “the greatest break up story ever told”. Much laughter was enjoyed by all, and the great PA really came into its own for the brilliant music. After the end of the film, Andy and Yvonne went home to get some much needed sleep.

The fourth film was a very psychedelic and visionary film full of symbolism and rites of passage and dealing very much with the notion of expanding consciousness – it had a lot of energy. Michael and I sat on the white sofa throughout and had discussions about Catholicism, sexual repression (making links between the current film and the first film, where “fascism is the frenzy of sexual cripples”), and Charlotte woke up just before a really loud scream in the film, which must have been quite a shock! James thought the film was “a bit silly really” and the filmmaker had maybe taken too many drugs. I thought he was being reductive, and lumping psychedelia in with drugs as derogatory, rather than considering them both in the context of consciousness. Michael, James and I also marvelled at how the filmmaker had managed to get so many people involved in the film, and Michael voiced how impressed he was that lots of old people were participating in a visionary and very modern film – “Beautiful”.

The fifth film was an anarchic Czech delight with fabulous avant-garde techniques and a celebrated work of the Czech New Wave. I totally fell asleep.

Then came the sixth film, an original Swiss tale of a man’s eccentric nature and coping strategies, as well as a tender, beautiful and heart-breaking portrait of a family trying to cope with his eccentricity (and maybe breakdown/mental health issues), set against a backdrop of themes like global tourism and the romantics’ notion of the “Sublime”.

James boomed in my ear to wake up and put the next film on, which I did – and stayed awake for! A multi-layered experimental work of great beauty. Phill loved the sound recordings of nature used in the piece, and Freya spotted many animals, and concluded that some found footage must have been used (the close ups of lava flow would have probably been too dangerous to film in person unless you had an exceptionally long lens). This prompted Freya and me to discuss technical film-related stuff for a while, which I loved – cameras, film stocks, chemicals etc. By this point the room was fully light (the sun having risen) and it looked like a bright and beautiful day outside. Those remaining at this point were Freya, Phill, Helen, Lee, me, and James, and Lucy and Stu (who had been sleeping but awoke and went to catch a train). We packed up and tidied everything away, but left the PA and screen in place – the screen to be dismantled on Tuesday. The mood was very jolly, and very friendly, and I think we were all feeling closer to the space and the people we had shared the experience with. We left when it was about 10.10am.

I then went to Bradford to see a film with Chris in the cinema called “The Woman With the 5 Elephants”, a documentary I’d recommend, that’s showing in the Bradford Film Festival. My gorgeous man then took me out for lunch to the Love Apple, we came home, I had a bath, and crawled into bed. Now I am wide awake and it’s about 1am and so I’m getting all this down before I forget it! I’m going to go to bed again and try to sleep – wish me luck!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Movie Marathon on Saturday!

Hey all!

Really looking forward to Saturday! It's an 8pm (ish) start, and will run throughout the night til about 8am or so. There will be 6 feature-length films, and some info on sheets about the films that David and I have put together. We'll be setting up from 4pm on Saturday, so anyone who wants to come and help out would be really welcome! There's not too much to do, but the screen is a whopping 14.5 foot by 10 foot! Should be ok just me, Phill, David and his brother, but the more the merrier.

The general consensus about the night is that anyone can be invited, but I'm not putting it up on bit forums etc. so that it remains a bit intimate and manageable - I'm not concerned as to whether 5 people show up or 50, I just want it to feel good and fun and a nice atmosphere. So please invite whoever you want to invite!

If you're coming, please bring with you something to share - food/drink wise - so that people can keep going throughout the night. This doesn't stop you bringing things for just yourself too, but bring something to add to the "communal table" that Black Lab has lovingly cultivated over the past few weeks! I think we'll turn the shed into a bar/chill place.

James Hill - will you please perform Das Kapital after one of the films? Would be much obliged!

It's not going to be a really extravagant "do", and we won't massively transform the space aesthetically, but hopefully a really nice thing to be part of. Anyone wanting to contribute their ipods to the "in between films" music is totally welcome to plug it in - bring music! I won't list the films here, you'll find out on the night (remains mostly what I told you all at a meeting weeks ago with a few minor changes). . . some of them are very relevant to some discussions which have been occurring at the lab sessions too. I'm looking forward to spending an epic session with y'all at the Emerald Beach.

See you then,

x Marth

Black Lab Week Six

Present: Mick Welbourn, Martha Jurksaitis, Lucy Bannister, Dan Robinson, Michael Burkitt, Yvonne Carmichael, Liz Murphy, Steve Allbutt, Phill Harding, James Hill, Andy Abbott.

We began with a recap on the previous night’s ‘Morse event’ where we watched an episode of Inspector Morse about the murder of an artist and then had a conversation about stereotypes and clichés of artists (in the media) and how they impact upon our individual and collective practices as well as our willingness to embrace or distance ourselves from the title ‘artist’ or ‘art’.

Liz talked about the motivation and interests behind the event: a parallel she saw between the role of the artist and the detective (both in Morse, other fiction and in life) based on their ‘distance’ or ‘outsider’ position to society which leads to depression, cynicism, boozing and (in the artists case more than the detective’s) reckless behaviour. Those of us that attended the event collectively tried to revisit some of the conversation from the previous night about whether we call what we do art or ‘admit’ or announce ourselves to the world as artists. Phil mentioned that he considers himself an artist but not (all) his work to be art. Lucy and Steve both brought up the complexity in describing what we do as art and how it can be a long or difficult conversation not always worth having. Michael Burkitt suggested the term ‘arter’ as preferable to ‘artist’ reasoning that it places it in a bracket with decorator, actor, runner, and so on rather than sexist, facist, racist or narcissist.

An interesting point for us had been that although the clichéd romantic figure of the artist still exists and is something many of us would like to distance ourselves from that ‘running away’ from identifying ourselves as artists or what we do as art only perpetuates the stereotype as there is no reform. Can we contribute towards a change in the stereotype of artist and art through our actions and by announcing it is art and that we are artists? Steve suggested that it would be a difficult task in the face of the media and commodity-producing artists that rely on a ‘personal brand’ to progress their careers.

This led to a conversation about the ‘outward facing’ potential of the Black Lab. James asked the group how we were thinking about disseminating what happens in the Lab outside of the group. We agreed that the fanzine/publication idea was still the best way of gathering/documenting activity in the Lab. The blog too is acting as an archive and a window into the activities there (Lucy brought up the fact that it has been twittered /tweeted/twatted/ ) and that perhaps we’d consider documenting after the three month period is over and to not let it stall activity in the Lab by becoming an overriding concern. Phill asked if the events that we organise can be open to the public to which the answer was yes, by invitation as we don’t want it to be perceived that we are running a gallery/event space/venue. Dan put forward that sometimes it can be unhelpful to make a too-hard distinction between ‘talking about things’ and ‘doing’. The Lab is for conversation as much as events. Andy suggested that a common project to help anchor the conversations seems to be useful and forming organically. If the ‘experiment’ of the lab is to ‘open up the forms that critical discussion about art can take and who can contribute‘ (or something like that) then the talking is the doing and, in turn, the documenting.

Yvonne showed segments of a DVD documenting the mutlipleCITIES public art festival in Panama 2003 curated by Adrienne Samos and Gerardo Mosquera. The motive behind the festival was to place art in the city (that has an absence of art/cultural history) so that ‘the city could return the ball’. We watched short documentaries of some of the works that all aimed to intervene into public space or provoke response from the audience in various ways including: placing a ton of ice in the street that people then skied down; a billboard project ‘semantically recharging’ an everyday phrase used by Panamanians; a minute of silence (dubiously) carved in public space via a radio show (by Francis Alys); simulating a fire in the city’s museum and finally a work where the artists spent a year ‘as an anthropologist’ working with two rival teenage gangs that resulted in a two-screen projection uniting the gangs in a rap-music video that was projected as a public event onto mid-rise flats in the gang’s neighbourhood.

Yvonne uses the DVD (along with other texts including Dave Beech’s ‘Include me Out!’) to prompt discussion about what constitutes a collaborative practice between students on a module she runs at Leeds College of Art. She said that most students agree that the last example (the gang piece) is the most collaborative. We talked about how on paper it would read as very problematic (almost colonial and patronising as it tries to unite rival gangs in ‘sameness’ and through dazzling technology) but, it seems on the DVD at least, that it was very well received and was genuine. Steve suggested this is because of the commitment shown by the artist and the trust developed.

We talked about how multipleCITIES as a model is less well known than other art biennials or festivals and whether there was anything to be learned from it in relation to Leeds’ events like Situation Leeds or Light Night. It appears that the coherence of the curatorial direction and the addition of artists from outside the area contributed to it being an interesting festival. Michael brought up that we have seen from things like Art Sheffield that this tactic does not guarantee interesting or provocative work. James openly asked what Light Night might look like if it were to include more of the poorer areas of Leeds or move out of the city centre. Lucy commented that the Glasgow International festival seems to be well received by both public and artists in the city.

This led to Steve talking about some research he has been doing on the current state of Detroit. Following a film that was shown on TV and an article in the Guardian Steve attended a seminar at the London School of economics where it was revealed that in the wake of the devastating economic collapse of the original Fordist city (and such the birthplace of a specific form of accelerated capitalism) houses and land are almost worthless. Communities have been drawn to Detroit due to is being perceived as a clean slate and are working with poorer (mostly black) community that have been left behind in the mass exodus from Detroit. Currently there appears to be a ‘rebuilding’ of the city using urban farming methods and radical education. Steve suggested that he will take a trip over in the next 12 months to learn more as it presents a very interesting opportunity to both document and contribute to this process. Andy brought up the fact that the ‘conditioning’ of capitalism and Fordist production methods (those of specialisation) seems to be present in some of the current recovery plans (different areas of Detroit making specialist products like honey, hay or animal produce which they trade with one another) despite their agricultural appearance. Could this just lead to a repeat of the previous disaster scenario or will there be genuine change? Would this require a more critical distance or even education about the inherent failings of capitalism?

Actions for next week

All to book in activity and event in the Lab via Calendar. Liz’s event proved that interesting conversations can arise from the humblest of starting points.

There is also a pot of money for travel for speakers/artists. Don’t wait for permission/approval to book someone in. Just do it!

All to continue to contribute material to the potential publication. Thusfar we have bits of writing and images from Andy Abbott, Amelia Crouch, Martha Jurksaitis and Michael Burkitt.

Next meeting Tues 30th March 6pm. Activity booked in before then includes Andy Abbott’s ‘An evening with(out) Alain Badiou’ on Thursday 25th March and Martha’s all night film night on Saturday 27th March (see blog for details).

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Apologies in advance that I won't be able to come tonight, but I will be along on Thursday and of course on Saturday for the filmic fun. I thought by way of apology I'd post a link for a short film by Arthur Lipsett which I had intended to bring a dvd of:

It follows a discussion I had last week with Martha and is something I'm a fan of both for its 'soundtrack' and methodology. ttfn David Thomas

Thursday, 18 March 2010

NAN grant

We have the £500 NAN grant! Got the confirmation email and so that should kick start things for next week!

From: Emilia Telese
To: yvonne carmichael
Sent: Fri, 12 March, 2010 15:05:51
Subject: RE: Black Dogs NAN application

Dear Yvonne

Just a quick email to let you know your group have been awarded a NAN bursary. Congratulations!

I am putting together a small profile of your group and the other winners. If you have any comments following your arwarding, let me know and I could put it in the news item I am putting together today.

All the best

Name and address of your group including contact email and/or website, postal address and postcode:

Group Name: Black Dogs
Contact Names: Yvonne Carmichael, Andy Abbott
44 Whitlam Street, Shipley, West Yorkshire BD18 4PE

Number of members in your group: 8

Contact names of a-n subscribers within your group:

Yvonne Carmichael, Andy Abbott

Please describe your group’s history (limit 150 words)
Black Dogs is an artist collective based in Leeds and established in 2003. Members include artists, musicians, academics, cultural workers, curators and general doers, additional members vary on a project-to-project basis. We have produced various exhibitions, events, multiples, publications, public interventions and community projects since our inception (CV attached).

The collective has of late been researching and testing methods of skill and knowledge exchange through specifically designed user-completed publications as well as an independent /‘free’ art school or peer-learning model and is actively seeking out other individuals, organisations and collectives that may operate in complimentary (and divergent) ways to Black Dogs.

In the past year Black Dogs worked through some of these concerns in the context of a public art project commissioned by Yorkshire Forward at Tower Works in South Leeds, that also demanded an understanding and negotiation of the sensitivities of regeneration and gentrification in communities.

Please describe your group’s aims:
Black Dogs operates in a self-organised manner and practices a DIY-ethos of openness, inclusion, non-profit making and thrifty use of resources. The underlying ethic of the collective is the free sharing of knowledge, skills and experience that might lead us from a passive-consumer ‘society of extras’ towards a more egalitarian, participative and engaged social set-up.

Please describe your group’s future projects (limit 150 words)
Black Dogs have secured a space in Holbeck Urban Village in South Leeds, the Green Sands Foundry, for three months (until 23rd June 2010). Black Dogs hope to use this space as a ‘Lab’ to help garner a new body of research about alternative (that is, a-market, a-capitalist, self-organised and militantly not-for-profit) methods of artistic production and organisation.

Black Dogs is also involved in the production of artist sound recordings and has been invited to represent themselves at 'No Soul for Sale' at Tate Modern in May 2010.

Please describe your NAN Go and See project in 150 words:
As part of the project in Green Sands Foundry space Black Dogs will host a of free presentations, seminars and critique sessions in which artists from across Leeds and beyond will share practice and ideas. This ‘space for debate’ fills a gap in provision in the city which has been identified by various forums, meetings, consultations, and within Black Dogs’ own experience over recent years. It is hoped that the ‘Lab’ would bring a wide and varied range of creative people from Leeds and beyond into Holbeck Urban Village and the Foundry space itself.

We would like to use the bursary to cover travel expenses for visiting artists, writers, academics and curators to the Black Dogs Lab at Green Sand Foundry, Holbeck, Leeds. The Black Dogs Lab will hold a series of invite-only lectures and intensive critiques and workshops with these invitees who have been selected because of their relationship with members of the project and their appropriate knowledge and experience to the aims of the 'Lab' as a whole.

What are the aims of your NAN Go and See bursary project? (limit 150 words)

The money will allow us to invite individuals and organisations that we would not normally be able to afford to offer a visit to Leeds. As such it will raise the quality and impact of the research project. It will allow Black Dogs as a collective to become more outward looking and to learn about different models of collaboration and collective working. It will help facilitate and contribute to critical debate in Leeds. Finally, it will help raise the profile of Black Dogs through acting as hosts for international artists who we hope to continue a relationship with.

We aim to document the project as whole (through a blog and potentially a publication) and if this application is successful we will ensure we acknowledge NAN's support of the project.

(Who you want to visit and why? (limit 150 words))
People we would like to invite to the Green Sands Foundry space include...

Dave Beech (Freee Art Collective) Dave has written numerous articles for Art Monthly which are very relevant to Black Dogs practice and it would also be of interest to the group to hear about Free Art Collective.

Manchester Based Art collective Contents May Vary suggested that we contact Intercity Mainline and The Royal Standard as we could learn from understanding both as ways of working,

Intercity Mainline a bi-monthly publication, reflecting on and collaborating with different artist-led initiatives across the UK.)
The Royal Standard is an artist-led gallery, studios and social workspace in Liverpool. (Eva and Franco Mattes) are an artist duo that have created unpredictable mass-scale performances staged outside the traditional art venues and involving an unaware audience, where truth and falsehood mix to the point of being indistinguishable.
Black Dogs feel have an interest in their projects and feel it would be worth while to invite international artists to join the debate / critique.

Eleanor Barrett formerly involved with Shunt (London) now Director at the newly established Bradford Playhouse. Black Dogs would be interested to hear about Eleanors visions for the Playhouse as well as previous projects she has been involved with.

Encounters is a Sheffield based interdisciplinary artist collective who have devised a programme of arts projects using disused shop spaces and street based interventions, that involve participation with local residents and the collecting of urban histories.

(Other people we would invite if the above is not possible: Lombard Method, Empty Shop, Temporary Services, What, How and for Whom, Tim Etchells)

(Which members of your group will be making the visit?)
Which members of your group will be present for the above artists visit to Leeds...

As many Black dogs will be present as possible. We will also invite members of the artistic community who may find the critique/talk/seminar/debate of interest and who will actively contribute to the discourse.

An initial meeting was held for the Black Dogs Lab project on Tuesday 16th February. A broad range of indivuals from organisations, groups and collectives attended (including Lumen, PSL, Pavilion, Leeds College of Art, Leeds International Film Festival, Olsen, No Fixed Abode, Theartmarket, Nous Vous, Contents May Vary, Islington Art Academy, Woolgather). Mention NAN

Please give an Indication of the timescale for your visit

The project is proposed to span over the next three months. The time that Black Dogs has in the Green Sands Foundry Space may be extended beyond this period if there is no interest from other paying tenants to utilise the space. Talks and Seminars will occur weekly.

Please provide a budget for your project showing how the NAN bursary will be used

How the NAN money will be spent:
Dave Beech (Travel from London) - £65
The Royal Standard (return Travel from Liverpool) - £40
Intercity Mainline (return from Bristol) - £70 (return Travel from Vienna) - £300
Eleanor Barrett (Return from Bradford) - £3
Ruth Ben-Tovim (Encounters, Return travel from Sheffield) - £25

Total - £503

In kind support will be sought for places for artists to stay in Leeds.
There is a more extensive budget for the project which can be sent to you on request.

Please attach ONE image which you consider representative of your group or project, with caption. The image must not be larger than 1Mb in size as it will not be received by our email box and will delay receipt of your application.
You can refer to additional visual material by providing weblinks below:

Black Dogs Website

Black Dogs Flickr account

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

How To Make a Website

Hi all,

Whilst we haven't got our lovely cavern to share info in I thought I'd try and use the blog a bit more as we would the Green Sands. As some of you know I've been learning how to muck about with the Black Dogs website of late and spent a lot of time familiarising myself with Indexhibit which is the application Dan had used to get the BDs site set up. It's dead easy to use and (in my opinion) produces nice results so I have attempted to learn how to build some new sites from scratch. I've done one for Yvonne, and turned my two into Indexhibit ones ( and

The reason I'm writing about them on here is that, whilst it was a reasonably simple process to make a website in the end, there does seem to be a lack of full step-by-step guides available online. This leaves us at the mercy of various techie-geeks (which I have now fully become) who want to charge over the odds for what is essentially being sat down and bashing away at a few keys for a couple of hours. Anyway, I've attempted to write a 'how-to guide' by way of documenting the processes I went through in building mine which you can find in the 'website' section of Let me know if you manage to put it into practise or if you think there's bits that could do with expanding!

Jon Jordan?

Hi all,

Andy and me went to a good event at the school of geography yesterday called 'Activist Geographies'.

The whole day was great but there were two particularly interesting speakers. The first was Lindis Percy 'peace campaigner, founding member of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases, and long-standing activist'
(though information here is pretty scant), and

....... Not 'art', but pretty inspirational stuff (though this might not translate through the above pages). She has managed to spend most of her life causing not insignificant problems to the UK and US governments, the police and the legal system whilst holding down a job and having a family at the same time. She seemed very nice too.

More relevant....

The second was John Jordan - 'art-activist / insurrectionary art etc etc' - One of the creative strategists behind much of the recent anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation protests and actions. Some really impressive stuff and really well and entertainingly presented. He has formed clown armies and constructed giant walking dolls with big dresses that hide people with pneumatic drills so that they can destroy motorways unseen.... etc etc.

Some links....

The quote that stuck with me...... 'The left are crap at having fun and guilty about pleasure.' Food for thought.


We spoke to him briefly about the lab on the basis of him maybe coming to talk / meet us. Would this be something that would interest people? If so we'll follow it up and check his availability.

He's also had some run-ins with the Tate (apologies for bringing in BD''s business)- so may well be worth talking to more about that.

Nice one.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

DV Camera

Hi all, I know this isn't strictly a black lab posting, hope that's ok this once! Basically, I need to borrow a DV camera (a small one that will fit well on a tripod) which has the capacity for manual or variable shutter speed. The reason for this is to avoid the "strobing" when I copy from Super 8 to DV. It's really doing my eyes in! Makes films really hard to watch. If anyone has one like this, could you possibly loan it to me, and bring it to the next meeting? I would be really grateful. I'd only need it for a day or two. My number is 07935916560 xm

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Date Confusion

sorry guys, looks like we might not be able to have the meeting on Tues this week as the space needs to be cleared out for the BBC event sooner than we thought. I'm just in the process of trying to sort it out but I reckon we'll be shifting things out on Monday eve and then bringing them back on Thurs afternoon. Stu, if you want to do your sound session this week then perhaps Thurs/Fri pm will be best or whenever you're free? Also I was thinking we should try and shift the larger meet to Thurs eve. Or we could keep it on Tues eve but have it in upstairs of Midnight bell or Cross Keys or something? I'll confirm by email when I know for definite but thought I'd let people know in the meantime,



Tuesday sound afternoon

Hi all,

Thinking about next Tuesday and the proposed sound session pt.II, i am unsure how to approach it. I am thinking it might be best not to 'run' a workshop-type session (not that the last one particularly was!) but to try out a few more focussed ideas such as creating a live soundtrack to the water-damaged/enhanced film that Martha showed at the last meeting, or any visual material that people want to work with.

What does everyone reckon? I'd be more than happy to run a further 'sandpit'/workshop/jam on the following Tuesday (23rd) but have an inkling it'd be good to use next Tuesday to pull a few ideas together. This would in no way exclude folk who weren't there last week, anyone who likes the 'sound' of this kind of activity please come along!

Any thoughts or suggestions welcome - maybe I'm just keen not to be in charge this week!


Friday, 12 March 2010

An Evening With(out) Alain Badiou. Thurs 25th March.

Hi all,

I'm going to organise an evening on Thurs 25th March where we listen to a lecture by philosopher Alain Badiou which is called 'The Subject of Art'. It introduces some of his ideas about art, the event, trace and the production of subjectivity. It's about an hour long (without listening to the Q and A that follows) and can be found online at if you want to listen in advance. It's quite tricky in parts but I think worthy of persistence and I hope it will provide the base for an interesting conversation between those who want to come along.

I would also like to use the evening to 'test' a short presentation that I will be giving at a symposium on Placemaking which is ten minutes long and is about how socially-engaged artists might sustain the 'encounters' common to such practice (drawing on Badiou and Hardt and Negri for theoretical context). Perhaps I'll deliver this after we have talked about the Badiou.

I hope it sounds like something people would like to attend. If we start at 6pm then hopefully we won't go on too late. Bring food, booze and we'll make sure there's some coffee too!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Inspector Morse...

Hi Everyone,

Thanks again for the invite for last night, it was really good to see how the space developed, sorry if it didn’t seem that I was outwardly contributing, sometimes speaking out isnt my strong point, and I think some of what Andy and Yvonne were saying later on in the session was very relevant especially in a new situation… about speaking out and been abit worried that everything you say might be deconstructed and assessed, especially when its art related…then I suppose you go through the next stage which is why would anyone bother to do that…what I say isnt that important!!! But I really got a lot out of the session and as it developed quickly saw it wasn’t like that, so I thought I would explain as I didn’t want to seem like an ignorant mancashire and as the motto seems to be ‘learn through doing’ you might not be able to shut me up next week!...Though I maintain my right not to be held to account for anything I have just said!

Anyway to important matters of art business, I have been working on a project which seems to be relevant to last nights discussion (I probably should have mentioned it at the time…see above!). I have been looking at commercial TV detective series as a format or tool to dissect/dicuss elemnets of art theory, looking particually at the role/myth of the artist, the social production of art, the slippage of roles for certain objects etc etc. Anyway I have proposed an event on 22nd (Monday) called the artist as detective, during which I propose to watch one of my favorite episodes of Inspector Morse called ‘Who killed Harry Field?’ where they deconstruct the artists studio and practise to try and find his killer….

Episode Guide (

“An artist, fun-loving drinker and raconteur, Harry Field seems like a man after Morse's own heart. But when Morse and Lewis investigate his mysterious death, they discover that he was not such a lovable character. He had few original ideas, and was a copious imitator of the style of other artists, but all his paintings seem to be of the same woman, and it is not his wife. He did a good trade in made-up family coats-of-arms with joke latin mottos, but was he involved in more serious fakery?”

And then just talk about it, nothing too forced or pressured, if people bring there favoraiite inspector morse watching brew…ovaltine perhaps, I will bring the quality street! I will prepare some readers which people can read on the night or before hand, and also there are 3 episodes of midsommer murders which are relevent which I can show clips from though this might be abit over kill (pardon the pun!...that just made me laugh for ages), I have copies of all these so am happy for them to be in the library along with all the supporting texts.

I hope this isnt too vague, it would be good if people could just drop me a quick email ( if your interested in coming so I can plan to get over etc etc, I am going to start a research blog for this project anyway sometime this week (fingers crossed) so I will link it on here, in case you want to have a more in depth look before you commit to coming….


Liz x

Black Lab Week Four

Present: Mick Welbourn, Liz Murphy, Amelia Crouch, Yvonne Carmichael, Will Rose, David Ronalds, Martha Jurksaitis, Terry Slater, Rob Eastwood, Zoe Sawyer, Jay Cover, Steve Allbutt, James Hill, Michael Burkitt, Dick and Jamie (?) from Play Theatre company, David Thomas, Lucy Bannister, Stu Bannister, Andy Abbott.

In the afternoon Stu had initiated a noise workshop/jam/muckabout/sandpit that was attended by Dave Ronalds, Dave Thomas, Martha, Rob and Stu. We began the evening's discussions with a quick overview by Stu of how the afternoon had gone. It sounded like it had bee a lot of fun for those involved – 'like art school should have been' Dave R said – and Stu will attempt to put some of the recordings from the afternoon on the blog or we can listen to them later. It was agreed that it could be a regular thing, or that at least it should happen again so other people within the group get a chance to attend. The idea of opening up the workshops to an audience outside of participants in the Black Lab was floated but it was agreed to be probably unnecessary and potentially obstructive in that having to articulate it to people outside of the group would put pressure on the session to find a premature 'form' (as a 'workshop', 'jam session' etc when actually it is none of these). There was also a discussion about whether similar sessions could take place in different disciplines/media. Martha keen to do a film 'workshop', Michael keen to do a Performance 'workshop'. Lucy contribute the word 'sandpit' as a potential phrase for describing these sessions. General consensus seemed to be that it was a silly word but one we didn't mind using.

We then recommenced last week's 'introductions'. Dick and Jamie from Play introduced who they were and gave a brief overview of the type of work they do. It was agreed that they would be welcome to return and demonstrate or test work in the Lab.

Andy showed a few books that he'd brought for the Black Lab Reading Corner including Wochenklausur's book, and The Interventionists exhibition catalogue. These were a way to introduce his interests in political, critical, activist and socially-transformative art. Andy showed a picture of (a recreation of) the work of Saltaire's dogshit circler (an unknown individual who draws circles in pastel-coloured chalk around dog turds on the street and leaves passive-aggressive messages to the perpetrator's imagined owner) as a means by which to talk about a tension he sees between descriptive or representational critical art that aims to unmask, highlight and bring to public attention certain political issues and those more pragmatic (and potentially reformist) artistic strategies that favour direct action (ala Wochenklausur). There followed a brief discussion about the differences and relative merits of those strategies but it was agreed it might be better not to try and 'solve' the questions they posed immediately.

Rob introduced No Fixed Abode's interests through two books; one of which was Superflex's 'Self-Organisation; counter-economic strategies' and the other which I can't remember. Rob and Terry both commented on how it was surprising given the importance of architecture in lived experience that it would appear there is less critical or radical discourse on the subject and in practice (or that at least this harder to unearth) than in other artistic fields. Rob and Terry in their own practice try to explore this and as a result are also interested in the role structures and physical spaces play in 'relational' or discursive practices which tend to favour immateriality and the ephemeral. Andy commented that this was also a concern for Black Dogs and that we perhaps see the Black Lab as a foray into that territory. Will mentioned Vito Acconci's architecture practice and Lucy also gave examples of a Dutch architecture duo's work.

Will Rose described a performance he had enacted in collaboration with an American filmmaker based on a set of instructions sent to Will as a letter. The performance took place at PSL and involved Will following spoken directives that were broadcast as audio in the space specific to operating two projectors. Stu and Amelia described their interpretation and emotive response to the performance (as they were present). They agreed there was a sense of shared anticipation as it was revealed Will didn't know what was coming next and as such was quite 'dangerous' feeling. There was a discussion about improvisation and instructional works and how these have been of interest in past Black Dogs work. We also talked about how the performance might be different if Will were to do it again and that maybe that could happen in the Black Lab.

We then had a break and on return Martha showed a film she had made by burying and editing some ruined film stock. A discussion followed about the revelation of the processes involved in making what can potentially be seen as non-narrative or wholly formalist work, which we related back to the discussion about Stu's field recordings. Is it more interesting for an audience to know where such work 'comes from'. Does it add a narrative layer? What is gained and lost in making the process transparent?

We then talked about more collective projects for the group as a whole and revisited last week's suggestion that we produce a collective fanzine as part of the Lab's activity. Stu had mentioned Aspen as an example of an expanded magazine format that might be appropriate to the Lab seeing as not all our work might be suited to A4 paper. We talked about the 'principle' or 'horizon' of the publication; that being one of 'opening up' that which constitutes valid artistic discussion and critique. There was some discussion about the problematic nature of these parameters – would it lead us to a simple 'dumbing down' of discourse on art? Who is the publication for? What does it mean to be 'inclusive' or to use 'inclusive language'? Another problem highlighted is the thin line between the inclusion of samples of work as a method by which to 'expose'/'educate' audiences to potentially unfamiliar work (which was agreed to be desirable) and the publication being used as a way to 'showcase' individual's work (less desirable). It was agreed that the best way to address this was by making and contributing pieces and pages and worrying about the editing later.

Finally we talked about the visiting lecture/artist programme. There have been great suggestions on the blog and it was agreed that if people want to bring someone over to talk then they should go ahead and organise it. Stu has shown that the Wayne's World ethos of 'book them and they will come' is an effective tactic in the Black Lab. The google calendar can be used to see if there is a free date and assuming that the artist/speaker's fee's are not extraordinary then it was agreed that we can assume the group as a whole will be happy to all chip in or that we will find the funds somehow. We also talked about the 'ghost lectures' (playing of pre-recorded lectures and presentations as audio or video in the space with a group discussion following) and agreed that this should begin in the same spirit; if anyone has a lecture or video they'd like to share with the group then put a date on the calendar and something on the blog and assume that people will turn up!

As we were wrapping up Lucy brought up a few practical issues. Who is supplying necessaries in the space like loo roll, tea and coffee etc, should we start a kitty? Do we want a computer/printer in the space? Can we get wi-fi? Andy suggested that we use March 18th as a watermark for occupying the space as the BBC are holding an event on that date and the space will need clearing out. Following that we can begin to use the space knowing it won't be interrupted until the end of the 3 month term (which will be mid-May).


All to begin to book in events, 'sandpits'/'workshops' etc on the calendar and organise them.

All to work up some contributions for the 'publication'.

Next meeting 6pm Tuesday 16th March. Check calendar and blog for any activities in the interim.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Thing in Bristol

Hi all,

Saw this call for papers and wondered if anyone might be interested.... Also made me wonder if it shouldn't be one of our intended outcomes to talk about our stuff on this sort of platform - if not here then I'm sure another suitable conference / symposium / etc will come up.



‘Beauty will save the world’: An Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Workshop on Art and Social Change, University of Bristol, 7-8 September 2010

Hosted by the Department of Politics and sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Studies and the Global Insecurities Centre, University of Bristol

How does art construct, resist and contest dominant identities and social practices? How does art open up possibilities for (re)creating the world? What are the relationships between art, aesthetics, and politics? What are the power relations involved in art? Whose art, and whose values are best placed to change the world? Can engaging with art help us develop new epistemologies and research methodologies? Can beauty ‘save’ the world?

This two-day interdisciplinary postgraduate workshop is premised on the assumption that art actively constructs social ‘reality’, as opposed to merely reflecting it. Against dominant pronouncements privileging the centrality of rationalism and science as the legitimate avenues towards knowledge and social change, this workshop poses the question: what does
the ‘serious’ pursuit of ‘progress’ miss out on when it disqualifies the artist’s imaginary as superfluous, lacking impact, unimportant?

The workshop aims to bring together postgraduate students working in and across various disciplines to share research which looks at the contested meanings of art and aesthetics, explores art in different cultural and historical settings, and examines the ways in which art and its constructions of beauty, society, politics can help in understanding, and changing, the social world. The workshop will also enable postgraduate students to engage and network with more established scholars, who will be present at the workshop as keynote speakers, panel chairs and roundtable discussants.

We welcome paper and panel proposals (2-3 presenters per panel) which engage specifically with the theme of art and social change, from various disciplines, including but not limited to: Archaeology, Anthropology, Classics, English, Modern Languages, History, History of Art, Visual and Performing Arts, Cultural Studies, Geography, Philosophy, Sociology and Politics.

Papers can include think pieces or works in progress. We encourage a diversity of presentation styles, from ‘traditional’ papers to interactive sessions, involving short film screenings, musical and dramatic performances, and the display of paintings, sculpture, photographs, and installation art. Presenters will be assigned a 30-minute slot for their presentation, which can be used by the presenter as they wish, but must include at least 5 minutes for audience questions.


Please email abstracts (maximum 300 words) of proposed presentations to
both Cerelia Athanasiou ( and Shaira
Kadir ( by 31 May 2010.
Cerelia Athanasiou
Department of Politics
University of Bristol
10 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU

Field trip to Cornwall?

Are field trips of interest to anyone? This convention sounds great to me, on the basis that it is in Cornwall and Lucy Lippard is the keynote speaker. Black Lab minibus???

Post-Soviet art world lecture

Heard about this and thought it might interest some of you, not sure why but just thought I'd share it:

You are warmly invited to a Research Seminar hosted by the School of Modern
Languages and Linguistics on the Post-Soviet art world by international art
critic and curator Viktor Misiano, chief editor of Moscow Art Journal,
curator of Venice Biennale. The talk will take place on

Thursday 11 March at 5.00,
Jessop Building, Seminar room 215.
Wine will be served after the seminar.
All are welcome.

Enquiries: Susan E Reid
Russian and Slavonic Studies

Opportunity for exhibition about documentation

Not sure when the exhibition is happening but perhaps Black Lab could submit our 'thing in a box' or whatever as a documentation of the Black Lab process.

Call for submissions artists / writers
Global Studio – The Bluecoat

As part of Global Studio, The Royal Standard is curating an exhibition at the Bluecoat, Liverpool’s creative hub.

This part of the show will question the meaning of documentation in today’s art practice, where networks are extending globally, forcing artists to give access to their work beyond its local and punctual presentation. The documentation of the work (photography, sound, text, etc) travels through the channels of word of mouth, websites, catalogues, limited editions, often as a representative of the work, sometimes as the work itself, or even as an evidence for a work that never happened…

We would like to hear from artists and writers whose work is directly concerned with the idea of documentation or blurs the line between work and documentation. Finished work, documentation of work, texts, and ideas in progress will be considered for entry in the exhibition.

For more information, please visit

To apply, please send:

- a CV

- a website / web blink to previous works or up to 5 examples of previous works

- Information about the proposed work (no more than 1 side of A4 + images or other documents if appropriate)

Send your application to Laurence Payot at before midnight on Sunday 21th March.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss any ideas.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

E-flux education issue

I imagine most of us are already subscribers to e-flux but just in case I thought I'd post on here that the new issue is all about education with articles about setting up alternative academy's and the like. It would seem we are dead fashionable.


Saturday, 6 March 2010


Sorry to post something so banal - but does anyone else get a flashing eye / op-art / migraine type thing from this white text on black? I'm only able to read it for five minutes at a time. Would anyone object if we changed the look to something a bit easier on the eye? If I'm alone on this then just ignore my grumbling - I just thought I'd mention it.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Another journal

I came across the website for the magazine ‘Printed Project’ which the group might be interested in.

Specifically they have a back issue ‘Artistic Freedom – Anxiety and Aspiration’ which might be of interest bearing in mind some of the discussion on Tuesday.

It can be accessed online here:

Other thoughts from the meeting.
- Following the video Martha showed I wondered about doing a kind of 'call and response' video, a bit like the activity cards black dogs have done before I guess. As I said, I noticed that the video mostly involved individuals doing actions rather than working together, then edited into a collective project - which is one form of collaboration but not necessarily a very developed one. It was more like a portrait of individuals making up a group. One step further might be everyone deciding an action that someone else then has to interpret and carry out. Now I'm noticing this is rather like the structure of the fanzine format that has been proposed anyway...

- An idea for documenting the 3 months worth of meetings: At the end of the 3 months we could stage and video a meeting that depicts and sums up the key issues that have been discussed over all of the meetings. An uber meeting!

- I really enjoyed listening to people presenting their objects/interests. I wonder if there could be some physical forum in the venue for people to further get to know each other and shared interests and practices. Maybe a wall where anyone can post up questions - "top ten favourite artworks seen this year"etc. They could be sensible or dumb questions, also in response to the thought that people are happy to post all sorts of dross on leedsmusicscene but there's a resistance to doing this about art.

Ghost Lectures

Hi all,

I bumped into Will Rose on my way to Green Sand yesterday and we had a small chat that generated an idea to share with the group. Seeing as the PA is set up in the space now, and we have a projector and video also, perhaps we can begin the 'visiting speaker' series very cheaply by playing pre-recorded lectures from the internet and talking afterwards.

I have a couple of Alain Badiou lectures that I think are really good, Will has a Simon Critchley one. There's also lectures on youtube by Sophie Calle, Slavov Zizek, Judith Butler, Badiou, Baudrillard etc at which we could watch together? I also have a Zizek documentary that's reasonable interesting and I'm sure everyone else has things. It'll be like a reading group I suppose but more about listening and watching - futuristic like.

Anyone up for this and if so, do you have anything you'd like to contribute to the programme? I suggest we have it regularly on a Wednesday and have two lectures (by different people per night).

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Aspen and noise afternoon

Hi all,

I enjoyed the gathering again last night. I thought the 'presenting things' section was going to be really difficult but it was a lot of fun and led to good discussions. I didn't feel at all uncomfortable about contributing or presenting work to the group, there seems to be a very open and interested atmosphere developing that's a pleasure to be a part of.

On the publication side of things i wanted to flag this up, "Aspen", digitised on Ubu Web. I was trying to remember what it was called last night. I'm interested in it as a model because it features sound recordings and film as well as print, covers many kinds of work and comes in a box.

That said, I think the idea of each bringing an A4 sheet of 'something' next week will be a good start, i agree with Martha that sometimes you just need deadlines!

At the end, there was talk of having a 'sound session' next tuesday afternoon (the 9th) in the afternoon from 1ish. Anyone's welcome, i think the intention is to have a bit of a play, make some recordings, generally listen to sound in the space and try things out. I'm planning to bring some microphones, electronics and recording devices along. Anyone interested?


Links to things

I thought I would share some links to things that I mentioned last night:

The Rant in Dialogue on Axis is a rich source of opinionated comment- I specifically mentioned:
Being Critical in a regional art scene by Fern Thomas and Owen Griffiths

The forum (not a Rant) on the Northern Art Prize The Value of Art Prizes

Some others that might be of interest:
Jargon and Drivel: what's the point in writing about art? by Josie Faure Walker

Is an MA worth 5 grand? by Fern Thomas and Owen Griffiths - which specifically looks at self-organising groups and independent art schools

And the current Rant - Alice and the Curious Curatoriat by Shaun Belcher

As Andy notes I showed work by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot at Barbican Centre, London - there is a you-tube video of the work (but I think in a previous set-up):

Finally in relation to David's work Cluster was mentioned and their gig in Sunderland next week. They are playing at Sunderland Aquatic Centre as part of the AV Festival on Wednesday 10 March Tickets are going fast - swimming tickets have gone but seated are still available. The AV Festival is well worth a look as there are some really interesting things happening - more here: AV Festival Preview

Black Lab Week Three

Present: Mick Welbourn, Dave Ronalds, Stu Bannister, David Thomas, Lucy Bannister, Alice Bradshaw, Michael Burkitt, Yvonne Carmichael, Martha Jurksaitis, Giuseppe Lambertino, Phill Harding, James Hill, Dan Robinson, Andy Abbott.

People brought food and drink and the library is growing into a fairly impressive collection. Stu has brought a PA for the space. There are now big calendars on the wall ready for filling.

Following Dan's suggestion (later retracted but now acted upon) from last week to begin to introduce ourselves to each other through the discussion of work, the meeting was mostly given to hearing and responding to short informal presentations by Martha, Michael, Mick, Dan, Lucy, Stu and David.

Martha presented a film by Sector Sixteen (a self-organised film collective based in Hannover) which they made as a collective. The film was made over the course of their meetings, shooting small bits of footage and then edited together by one of the members. The film acts as a portrait of the group and shows and reflects their influences and concerns but also is a (loose) document of the groups activity. The film provoked a discussion about how we should/could document the activity in the Lab; being aware that discussion and action can be affected by the awareness that things are being documented.

Michael talked about a toy shark that he had brought along and how it relates to some of his own personal history (he wanted to be a shark as a child) and his artistic interests in that they concern the gift, socially constructed narratives, attempting the impossible, the tragic and the comic. Michael also talked about Bas Jan Ader's 'In Search of the Miraculous' and some other works by the same artist as he feels an affinity with them. The discussion that was had afterwards came back to documentation (Michael only 'documents' his work through appropriated images rather than images of the events themselves) and also the idea of learning through attempting the impossible. That is, in some of Michael's work although the goal is practically unachievable (sourcing a beached whale on a given morning) what is arrived at in that attempt can be of value itself (finding out that it is raining in Cardiff for example). It was agreed that this could be an interesting thing for the lab to bear in mind.

There was a short break before Mick presented a couple of magazines by Alan Moore. Mick brought them along because they contain content that is proudly non-academic, amateurish or at least non-professional and is open to contributions from others. The discussion around the table was about the perceived 'rigour' of art writing (or even conversation around art) and how this can make art seem like a field only to be discussed by experts. Lucy related some experiences with the Dialogue magazine, Andy the LVAF-talk forum and Alice with CMV magazine. It was agreed that it would be good to address this in someway. Maybe we should make our own fanzine? Can we begin to produce something about art that gathers more open and mixed styles of reflection on art not just limited to academic or expertly-informed writing?

Dan showed a work in progress made on powerpoint. It will be used as an instrument at a gig in Paris as part of MudOrchestra (a collaboration between Dan and a Parisian artist) soon. Dan was happy to have people see it and maybe discuss it next week.

Lucy presented some footage from the recent show at the Barbican by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot in which amplified and effected guitars and cymbals are turned into the only available furniture and feeding mechanisms for a roomful of small birds.

Stu played us a recording he made as part of the contact busking project he did for Expo last year. The recording was made by two contact microphones on the weird pissing-women statue next to the rusting outdoor escalators in between the Merrion Centre and Fab Cafe. The group discussed how the revelation of the source and the recording process creates access points for people not familiar or 'trained' in listening to noise. Parallels were drawn with similar experiences with experimental film. Lucy commented that sometimes the only way to learn about something is to immerse yourself in it. Maybe the Lab can provide this experience as a form of learning as well as through explanation and reflection of those forms? A place for doing and learning through exposure?

Finally David Thomas played some music pieces created by processing sounds extracted from Barkston House which he manages. They include recordings of radiators being banged, doors shutting and filing cabinets played with screwdrivers manipulated to create ambient soundscapes ala Cluster, Oval, Autechre etc. David is interested in making a similar 'document' of the Green Sand space in which the lab takes place.

We quickly wrapped up by asking if anyone had had extra thoughts about visiting speakers. David mentioned Ian Sinclair, Agnes Denis (sp?), Tacita Dean and Douglas Gordon.

It was agreed that next week we should continue the same process so that other's not covered tonight can present. There might be some benefit to pulling out some kind of action points from this though to unearth some direction to the project.

Actions arising from this evening

We will have a sound day and night with performances and also workshops (SB and PH to decide on a date for this)

We will have a screening of more of Sector Sixteen's work (MJ to decide date) and also the Bas Jan Ader feature film (MB to source and find cost of buying as a group and decide on screening date)

We will begin to make a collective publication. Each participant in Black Lab to donate a page of A4, can be about anything and take any form (illustration, writing, etc etc).

We need to have a more focused discussion about inviting people to speak. Who, when and how are we to fund it? Let's put some dates on the calendar.

Next meeting Tues 9th March at 6pm. Everyone to use blog and check google calendar to sustain conversation and activity in the meantime.