Wednesday, 3 March 2010

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 CĂ©leste 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.


  1. Another good evening - thanks to everyone. I'm shattered today but it was definitely worthwhile! Thanks for these minutes Andy - they're a really good document of the evening. I will add a new post with some links to some of the things I mentioned. A lot of my resources are online so I will use the blog as an extension of the library in the space.

  2. I am really keen on the zine idea. I think looking at Mick's examples we decided that the subject matter could be anything. I think in line with other discussions in the meeting the aim of it could be - to make accessible conversations around art practice and to promote the open (as amelia put it) 'wondering' around art, not having to have fixed substantiated opinions. I think this could still be open and all inclusive but just helps make clear that its perhaps not simply a printed space for people to disseminate their work.

    What does everyone else think? Anyone any ideas of things they would put forward?

  3. Just found this on the Guardian it's the collaboration Andy mentioned between Alan Moore who is behind the Zine's Mick brought and Iain Sinclair who David put on the 'wish list' of invitees.

  4. Well done Lucy. Nice find. I have just started looking at the Iain Sinclair book about John Clare's walk that's mentioned in the video.

    As to the zine... I'd be keen on people using the format to disseminate their own work (whether it be visual or written). Maybe this would just be the starting point for a wider conversation in the same way as the presentations have been.

    Also... it'd be nice to see some visual essays like the one in the paper MONO which was being given away at the art sheffield fringe exhibition.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.