Monday, 26 April 2010

Free Cinema School


in lab's email newsletter they include info on a Free Cinema School. It appears they'll be at No Soul For Sale too. Here's their newsletter:

[1]FREE CINEMA: THEN AND NOW WED 5 May 7-9PM Free "One of the most thrilling films to be created in Britain this year" James Norton, Vertigo Magazine, 2009 A grass roots filmmaking collective residing on the Edgware road invites you to an informal meeting at 'The Free Cinema School'. The evening is an inclusive and collaborative invitation for local residents, film s ocieties, and filmmakers to come together to screen and discuss the film that was shot on the street last summer. Alongside the film screening(s) is an open call to present new ideas, stories, texts, photographs, and personal memories of the Edgware Road with readings from the Free Cinema movements first published journal 'Sequence'. What is it to revisit the practices of Free Cinema from the complexity of individual desires, public mandates and private interests that currently shape the making of culture today? Or at a moment in which individuals produce and circulate their own media constantly? And where does freedom lie in relation to ongoing initiatives to regulate movement between countries and monitor behaviours within neighbourhoods? As the first proposition of the Centre for Possible Studies, the Free Cinema School takes its cue from the original movement, proceeding with the idea of understanding ci nema as a way of both reflecting contemporary life and inserting the poetic into its daily negotiations. This evening will take place in a relaxed atmosphere in Donya cafe. 5th May 7-9pm Donya Restaurant, 436 Edgware Road, London W2 1EG FREE but please rsvp is advised as places are limited: amalk[at] For further Free Cinema school events in May an June please visit: ----------------

[2]FILM WITHOUT FILM: May 14.15.16 Turbine Hall. Tate Modern. Free To celebrate The Tate Modern?s 10th anniversary, the gallery will host "No Soul For Sale ? A Festival of Independents". For this free arts festival, Tate Modern is inviting over 60 of the world?s most innovative independent art spaces, not-for-profit organizations and artists? collectives, from Shanghai to Rio de Janeiro, to take over the Turbine Hall. We would like to invite you to come and support at No Soul for Sale as we launch FILM WITHOUT FILM. This context will include the launch of's new artists film and video quarterly including articles by Maxa Zoller, Simon Payne, Rob Muellender and Nicky Hamlyn, an exhibition of the original Instructions For Films series with work by over 40 artists including Michael Snow, Yoko Ono and Maurice Lema?tre and performed works in the Starr Auditorium (programmed for Sunday 16th)

No Soul for Sale participants will include: 2nd Cannons Publications 98weeks Alternative Space LOOP Arrow Factory Arthub Asia Artis Artists Space Artspeak Auto Italia South East Ballroom Marfa Barbur Black Dogs Capacete Entertainment Casa Tres Patios cneai= Collective Parasol Dispatch e-flux journal 
 Elodie Royer and Yoann Gourmel-220 jours Embassy gallery Filipa Oliveira + Miguel Amado FLUXspace FormContent Galerie im Regierungsviertel / Forgotten Bar Project Green Papaya Art Projects Hell Gallery Hermes und der Pfau i-cabin Intoart K48 Kling & Bang Latitudes L?appartement 22 Le commissariat Le Dictateur Light Industry Lucie Fontaine Lugar a dudas Mousse New Jerseyy Next Visit Not An Alternative Or Gallery Oregon Painting Society Para/Site Art Space Peep-Hole PiST/// Interdisciplinary Project Space Post-Museum PSL [Project Space Leeds] Rhizome Sala-Manca + Mamuta S?n Art Scrawl Collective studio1.1 Swiss Institute The Mountain School of Arts The Museum of Everything The Royal Standard The Suburban The Western Front Society Thisisnotashop Torpedo Viafarini DOCVA Vox Populi Western Bridge White Columns Y3K

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sun Burgers for Black Lab (written before the food event)

My recipe is sun burgers. These are raw, vegan burgers, with all their living enzymes intact. A good choice for a Sun Day, and for the vibration of the Gold (or Sun) Energy which many associate with Jesus.
Perhaps Jesus was raw love, and his ideas have become “cooked” and poisonous – often not on purpose, but as a result of processing with heat which is too fervent.
The Black Lab has been good. I have had some really good times, and met/got to know better people whose company I’ve really enjoyed.
Maybe the limited food we have at the lab (and have the potential to make) has meant limited ideas – ideas have been pretty heavily theoretically “processed” or “cooked”. Andy’s jokey assertion that we could make “hot crisps” was an interesting variant – trying to cook something again which is already heavily cooked. This is in part due to having limited kitchen equipment, of course! But even if we did have it, I think mostly what was sought was a gas stove right? Illustrating that it’s often not really the equipment that’s lacking, it’s the idea. Or perhaps we have the idea, but because it’s uncommon to our social ideas of eating, we think we should opt for the great leveller – the bag of fucking crisps! We know everyone can stomach these – right? Right?
When I say ideas have been theoretically processed or cooked, what I mean is that there has been a lot of high theory (or at least heavy reference to it). I enjoy this sometimes, but I always appreciate it better when it is grounded in my experience and not too far abstracted. This is not the fault of theory, or of my experience. It’s just that I find theory offers highly concentrated thoughts which have relevance for me when they are touchable. I can “grasp” thoughts and abstraction well, and this comes naturally as well as being a skill I’ve been trained in, but I don’t feel the relevance of doing it anymore. I don’t want to grasp, I want to caress – to be able to engage in mutual embrace and discover complexity and depth in understanding something simple, and allow it to become part of me, and me of it. This is where I’m at. A personal sense of communion. A phenomenological “sense” of communion. Of course you can relate this feeling to theory too! But my view right now is that you can explain or explore absolutely ANYTHING with theory. Anything at all. And yet if it isn’t meaningful to you, if you don’t feel it, if you’re not drawn to it, it’s just an exercise. Yes, it can become more than that in the process, but why not begin with a connection that is felt, or, more precisely, known? It’s an indication.
After reading this last bit over, I imagine there will be some laughter at the terms “caress” and “embrace”. I’m not using these terms to try to be “risqué” (do the burgers need sauce? Ah, perhaps they do!). I think our bodies are often considered with embarrassment, tied up with cultural shame about sex, and almost always considered in relation to sex. And this is maybe why if we begin to release hang-ups about food, the body will become a little more free to be expressive and enjoyed.
It often seems that imagination runs out when dealing with food on a day to day level, and we tend to forget about the materiality of our bodies, the way they ground our ethical stances, the way they are responsible often for a lot of the activity of our minds and consciousness. To look to food to help take communion to a new level is, I believe, imperative. Not only is it the way we can commune with and help heal the earth (and thereby each other), not only is it how we can sustain life and nourish growth, not only is it how we can help ourselves to access higher consciousness, not only is it a way to experience pleasure, it is also how we can make politically active choices which can make massive differences to the capitalism we live with (and have, to a degree, chosen) and move towards a less wasteful (less packaged, less separated) and more unified and holistic (whole-y) way of life.
Cooking is only a relatively recent discovery/invention in the scale of mankind’s existence, and many people consider it a big player in the game of cancer.
But choosing raw can also be tricky – you eschew social traditions which revolve around eating together, you can be heavily mocked, and criticised more than usual.
Referring to Caravaggio’s painting, it’s meaningful that they haven’t started eating yet! Maybe the implication is that they’re eating with their souls, listening to Jesus, and have no need for physical sustenance. Anyhow, the food, while more vividly and centrally presented than in Da Vinci’s depiction, is being pretty much ignored by Jesus and friends. Perhaps they’ll eat it to appease the tensions from the discussion they’re having or perhaps they consider it an unimportant use of time faced with the preciousness of (Jesus’ last) words. It seems as if nobody wants to eat because it’ll hinder their capacity to talk (or maybe they’re waiting for Jesus to take the first bite). So, really, does Caravaggio place importance on food as communion, or on talking? It is the words that are being shared, the concept of the Eucharist, not “the body”, the realisation. “The Last Supper” painting isn’t really about material food, implying that “supper” isn’t really just about food. This we clearly know. But maybe it’s not really enough about food! “Supper” has become (apart from an antiquated term that’s often now associated with the class system in Britain) too symbolic, automatic, and not embodied enough – we think and we talk (maybe some of us don’t even do that at “supper”), but do we think about what we are eating, and how we eat it? It is matter, and it does matter.
You know how when people have that conversation about "what would you have for your last meal, if condemned to death?", rather than going home and making that a reality for themselves (and surprisingly the answer is often quite a simple meal – not generally gourmet or out of reach), and eating it as if it were their last, they probably don’t bother, losing the potential to really enjoy the moment, and replacing it instead with talking about it, describing it. Words become a (disembodied) substitute – essentially, a fetish (consider the problems caused by taking the Bible too literally).
So, I give to you all these nourishing raw sun burgers, made without loss of animal life, made from ingredients which have directly used the sun’s energy, in the knowledge that they will give you something which cooked burgers can’t. I want you to have eaten them prior to reading this, or during, so that when you do read or hear these words, you have something to embody them in.

Music on a Long Thin Wire Photos

24 Hour Music Jam Photos

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Dave Beech Questions

Hey guys,

As promised Dave Beech has agreed to chat to us and answer our questions. Sadly he cannot be here in person but will communicate through the power of skype. This will happen on Monday 3rd May @ 18.30.

We has asked him to think about talk about his views on pedagogy within and without the institution and its cause for radicalism. He will be talking on similar themes for the Deschooling Society seminar that will be happening the preceeding weekend.

We introduced the Black Lab as being set up to 'test' autonomous self-organised ways of producing knowledge and how this can be qualified. We also informed him of the intention of the meetings to look the a geneology of Free Schools and suggested that his position on the border of radical and institutionalised cultural/educational production would provide an interesting perspective on all this.

If we can get you guys to produce a list of questions for Dave to have a look at, perhaps around the theme of what constitutes an autonomous artistic learning experience and the pros and cons of this, then we can compile these and email them to him and also ask him them on the night. Does this sound like a good way to go about it?

Here's some links to his work and writing.


Rob and terry.

Last Supper Brief

Hi all,

for those that have confirmed attendance at the Sunday Food Event please see below for Jayne's 'brief' for what food to bring. Things will start at 2pm and finish around 5 or 6pm.

Black Lab’s - Last Supper

Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus

Taking the multiple meanings in Jesus' final meal with his disciples (the feast that arguably sealed food's central role in religious art and symbolism), we could explore the multiple meanings of the Last Supper in a light-hearted way!

The Last Supper was a goodbye of course, but was also, symbolically, Christ offering himself so others could atone their sin. It was the first Eucharist – the bread and wine offered as atonement for sin, a central philosophy in Christian belief.

For Black Lab’s last supper, you can atone for your artistic sins or guilt and look forward to the future! I would like you to make a dish of food as part of a large feast that helps to reflect on your experiences in Black Lab; positive, negative, guilty, indulgent, confused or pleasurable.

The lunch will be a one-course feast that we all share. It could be a salad, a pie, a roast, a dish of fruit, a loaf of bread, sandwiches, lasagna, pasta, stew, fish, anything that is easy to bring to the Lab. We will create a long table for the food and will all sit around together and eat!

Please bring with your food, a knife and fork, serving spoon, plate for you and a spare, bring a table decoration if you have one and use the Caravaggio painting for inspiration. The typical biblical meal would have been simple meats, fruits, bread and wine. I suggest that we too try to think about the ingredients in some way – the simplicity and honesty of the meal.

At the feast I would like you to explain the dish and how it represents you. I see three (holy trinity!) categories:

1. Dishes that represent your experience Black Lab
2. Dishes that represent your ‘arts-sins’
3. Dishes that represents your artistic desire

How do we interpret this? As with most work, it’s all in the meaning and the context, so I think we can easily find ways to represent ourselves in food.
If I were to bring something that represents me, it would be a meat and potato pie – a good hearty northern girl – who likes to have her fingers in many pies! If I represented my work it would be a sensory feast lots of textures, and smells and strong flavours – maybe freshly baked home made bread with rare beef, onions and mustard, representing my interest in sensory place making, or maybe a cornucopia of fruits – colourful and zingy – I love market places. My sin would be my food snobbery – so it would have to be a complicated dish where I could show off my good palate and skills – probably a risotto primavera, which requires a perfect balance of flavours, good stock and perfectly executed timings (sinful food is so good!). My creative desire is to be a food curator and planner– so today’s feast represents this – thanks!
I would like you all to be able to explain your dish in this way, you can be playful with us – or seriously confess your deepest secret through the dark art of food….
In terms of a complete feast – I think we need to agree that some will bring meat dish, some a vegetarian and some will bring dessert….I would like the dishes to be revealed on the day– so don’t tell us your dish but indicate if it is meat, vegetarian or sweet. Andy can keep a check ?? Finally make enough for about 10 people then if there are about 20 we can all have a taste, better to have too much than not enough is my dinner policy….
If you want recipes, tips or advice please call me. See you all on Sunday - Good luck!
(email Andy for number)

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Some Kind of Monster

Hello All,

As promised Some Kind of Monster (the latest Metallica documentary) will be screened in Green Sands tonight at 7pm. I will probably be there from 6.30pm onwards.

Thought this could partly add to the discussion (that Liz M started by showing the Inspector Morse episode) about what it is to be an artist / how artists are portrayed in the media. But that it might be a nice precursor to the two music events that are happening Thurs / Fri.

All are welcome! Hope to see you there.

Kind Regards,


Black Lab Week Ten

Present: Steven Allbutt, Dan Robinson, Dave Ronalds, Andy Abbott, Yvonne Carmichael, Mick Welbourn, Tether, Alice Bradshaw, Slice Arts, Stuart Bannister, Lucy Bannister, Michael Burkitt, James Hill, Rob Quirk, Terry Slater.

As we were joined by five people who had not visited the Lab before (Tether and Slice Arts) we began with a quick overview of what the intentions behind the use of the space had been and some of the activity that had occurred there. Although we started out with the idea of it being a ‘Free Art School’ the project seems to have floated somewhere between a learning project and how an art collective might operate, with workshops and collective works emerging. The horizon of opening up critical discourse on art was mentioned and we described some of the events that had happened over the last ten weeks including collective watching of Inspector Morse, group listening and analyses of Simon Critchley and Alain Badiou lectures and sound workshops.

We quickly reviewed the past week’s activity which included a group-watching of Chris Marker’s La Jetee. Stu mentioned that he hadn’t seen it before and enjoyed watching it despite having just come out of another quite demanding film screening. The conversations that had occurred after the screening had touched upon Marker’s use of still photographs to mimic the way we remember things; reducing a film down to this seems both cost-efficient, effective and manipulative. Yvonne mentioned that the film had been more like a side project of Chris Marker’s – something he had done as a break from another film he was working on – and so it is interesting that it has become his most well known work.

Andy, Stu, and Yvonne then described the gig at Bradford Playhouse on Saturday at which ‘The Black Lab Ensemble’ had played. This was a performance of improvised sounds by Mick, Andy, Stu and David Thomas with responsive Super 8 projections by Martha. The sounds had been ‘bred’ in the Black Lab during one of Stu’s sound muckabout days and the video projections were of shorts by Martha and David Thomas that we’d seen in Black Lab. Yvonne described the performance as very nice and not too long. They had played in the dark and the films and video worked well. We realised it was probably one of the first public disseminations of our activity in Green Sands.

Afterwards, Tether introduced them selves and showed a DVD of a work in progress. Tether are based in Nottingham and are an artist-led group whose activity includes running artist studios, a gallery and most recently the Tethervision project which is a series of podcasts that gather together artist films, documentaries and info about artists and specially commissioned work. They showed the group a series of four interviews made on a tour of UK they undertook visiting artist-led organisations and spaces. The groups were then interviewed and the footage will be edited and uploaded to create a database or archive of artist-led activity in the UK on the Tethervision site (in progress).
The groups interviewed ranged from established long-running organisations to much more newly emerging groups made of recent graduates or students.

We watched the interviews and talked about the specific quality of the filming and the editing. It was generally felt there was something humorous about them but not in a satirical way. Tether explained that they had imagined creating a series of very high quality, professional documentaries but as it was their first attempt it probably hadn’t worked out that way. The general consensus was that that might have been a good outcome as it made the groups seem less self-important. Perhaps the artist-led community needs to laugh at itself?

We talked also about Tether’s experiences as researchers – had they found any generic characteristics or commonalities between the various artist-led groups? Tether picked up on a generally felt anxiety about funding (or the relationship between practice and funding) and questions about exactly why these groups are doing what they do when sometimes audience numbers are incredibly small and there can be a general lack of public engagement. We talked about whether any of the groups saw what they do as ‘artist-led’ groups as a stepping-stone towards the more institutional or commercial art world and, conversely, whether any groups they spoke to had a more politicised position. Tether said that few of the groups articulated there activity as directly antagonistic towards the more institutional art world and that there was a lack of politicised standpoints; most just do it because it’s how they are comfortable operating.

We talked a little about what the actual Tethervision project might achieve when it draws together all these interviews into one virtual space. Might it help create a sense of ‘collective consciousness’ in the artist-led network/community (if such a thing exists)? Could it become more self-aware and confident through such projects? We talked about how people might respond to the videos; would there be room for comments like youtube or Facebook provides? Lucy mentioned that it seems difficult to get anyone to comment on material unless it is on Facebook. Also, might there be possibility for groups to upload their own interviews without the need for Tether to have met them? It could be a really vital and exciting project.

Slice Arts then talked a little about what they have done and their experiences in Leeds. They are an open-collective of individuals who are studying on art courses at various institutions in the city. They started by having lectures and meetings at one another’s houses and this has led on to their facilitation of a network that aims to build connections between the three educational institutions in Leeds (University of Leeds, Leeds Met Uni and Leeds College of Art). They recently held an exhibition at the old TK Maxx space in Leeds Shopping Plaza as part of the Art in Unusual Spaces scheme which is where Yvonne and James first worked with them. We talked about the parallels between Slice and Tether’s projects, how they both reflect a desire to know that we as artists or as people in art education are not alone. Do such projects help create a sense of belonging? Might they help reduce anxiety and insecurities surrounding artist-led activity and the kinds of competitive and sometimes frustrated actions that emerge from that?

We talked about the pressure that might be felt to be inclusive and to allow room for as many people to be involved as possible. This is common to Slice as it is to the Black Lab project and to some of the groups that Tether interviewed (in relation to audience numbers and public engagement). Does more people necessarily mean better dialogue, or more democratic or representative conversation? In our experience we have found that with larger numbers comes the pressure to look for sameness rather than to try and unpick and unearth the specific differences (and points of agreement) within a small group. Smaller groups can allow for better reflection and as such better ‘representation’ of views. Perhaps the drive towards quantitative over qualitative inclusivity is something we should be wary of.

Tether, Slice, James, Mick, Steve, Rob, Terry and Michael then had to leave for trains etc. After a short break we got back together to plan the forthcoming week’s activity. Yvonne will be showing ‘Some Kind of Monster’ at 7pm on Wednesday. Stu has advertised the Alvin Lucier and 24-hour jam on Cops and Robbers website and Leeds Music Forum and put something out on LVAF. We talked about how to split the shifts for the 24-hour music jam to make sure there was always a responsible ‘code-keeper’ in place. We got numbers for the Sunday Feast and talked about who would be coming; could we make it more open (i.e bring a guest) so that perhaps it begins to introduce the Black Lab project to people that might be interested in being involved in any future developments?

Lucy then recapped on her conversation with Eleanor at the Bradford Playhouse and that it might be good to visit as Black lab to watch the Detroit film. We finished by discussing Lucy’s offer to write something about Black Lab for the Culture Vulture blog. After discussing the pros and cons (it would be great to have something about the activity in Black Lab on the blog but it will be difficult to reflect what it is in 500 words) it was left open as to how the events might be documented. Perhaps a photo-diary or sound-bites might be a possible approach? Dan raised the question; at what point will we feel like we have something that reflects the activity or the Black lab project as a whole? Is now as good a time as ever? Is it ever likely to become more coherent than it is presently? Perhaps when our time in Green Sands is over we can make efforts to address these questions.

Then we went to the pub.


All to attend/organise activities for the coming week (including registering a place at the Sunday Feast) and advertise on Blog. See blog for details.

Next general meeting Tues 27th April at 6pm. Activity until then includes Metallica docu (Weds), Alvin Lucier and 24-hour Jam (Thurs/Fri), Performance Workshop (Sat), Last Supper (Sunday)

Friday, 16 April 2010

Of Time and the City

Wouldn't normally think of advertising this kind of thing but it seems like some those of us who are interested in Iain Sinclair, Detroit & so on, might be interested in this, 'an angry lament about the brutality of post-war urban redevelopment in British Cities'...

'Of Time & the City', Thu 13th May at the Howard Assembly Rooms, tickets £4.50, dir Terence Davies, uk, 2008, 74 mins.

I'm gonna go! There'd be time for a pint & discussion at the Wrens after.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

La Jette this eve.

Hi all,

Sorry if this is a little short notice and you miss it but as there are a couple of things going off in Leeds this eve and it's quite light in the space I'm going to say we meet at 7pm at Green Sands tonight instead of 6pm. Hope to see some of you there then,


Dan Simpkins and Penny Whitehead

just to keep people up to date with the communication I've had with Dan about Penny and his visit to the Lab on 19th May please see below. What do people think about the ida of trying to use the H block for this particular meet?...

From: Daniel Simpkins
To: andy abbott
Sent: Mon, 5 April, 2010 21:46:14

Subject: Re: Black Lab Leeds

Hey Andy,

Thanks for being so flexible on the dates, Tue 18th would be good for us at the moment.

A thought just popped in to my head when reading your email... we gave a talk at Leeds Met recently and became intrigued by the disused art school building - great for a dystopian degree show and it would seem ideal for Black Dog's Free Art School, could be worth a look for a temporary venue, maybe just a one-off...

We know a few members of staff at Leeds met who might be able to help us get access to Cell Block H. Aiden Winterburn who lectures on the graphic arts course told us that he's been helping students to infiltrate the building, also I'm sure it's something that Conway and Young would be interested in, and Alan Dunn seems pretty game for a bit of subversive action... so there may be a few options for getting permission from the inside to squat the old art school.

Best wishes,

Jayne Bradley

Hi all,

as I mentioned at the last couple of meetings I've been in communication with artist Jayne Bradley who is happy to come and facilitate a food workshop/event on April 25th. She's up for us deciding on the activity together as a group so wanted some feedback on a few suggestions. Please see below for the communication so far. Any thoughts or preferences from the group that I can feedback to her?

excerpts from email from 6th April..

As there isn't a budget for a feast I could suggest dishes that each of you could bring for us to share based on the fluxus piece - I could show slides of the fluxfeast event I did at Vivid (we didn't film it just took stills) whilst we eat? Or I could write a menu and ask you to interpret it, this is more playful and in the style of fluxus, but could be inedible! Fluxus also held a blue banquet - all food served was blue - we could do something like this? let me know how instructive you want me to be and what we could achieve - can you heat food at the studio? - I could offer recipes for the less able amongst you? Of course we don't have to follow Fluxus, if you give me a theme I could interpret a feast menu from it...

Before or after we eat I could talk about my work and aspects of food and art - I am more interested and knowledgeable on place making and food, but I can talk broadly on food and art and cover the different approaches from Adria at El Bulli to community food projects and participatory art. I also commissioned Paris based artists Lucy and Jorge Orta to work in Birmingham back in 2004, I could talk about this project too and their more socially responsible work feeding homeless people in Paris.

email from 14th April...

HI Andy

I did turn my mind to it today and looked up the Futurist Cookbook for recipes - I am a bit tied up today but will try and speak to you tonight. I don't think I have time to write recipes for this but I was thinking about setting a menu and asking you all to respond? Ideas....

1. I could do a fluxus menu
2. you give me a theme I could develop a menu
3. We could follow the futurist cookbook - my friend has the cookbook I could borrow it.
4. We could consider something along the lines of more communal ideas - Lucy Orta developed the 7 x 7 concept where a dinner was held and 7 people brought 7 people and it grew until a whole town was invited....we could do 1 x 1 - each inviting one guest - and if everyone brings some food that reminds them of their favourite artist/place/memory/journey - you know something like that.
5. Just be silly and have a Blue Banquet?

I will be staying in a hotel over that weekend so I cant cook anything but it means I will be free to help set up early in the morning.

I attach some images from Fluxfeast - yes real pigs heads, we wanted to shock!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Free School event in London - CFP

I've just been sent the below link.... Looks potentially interesting.

Islington Arts Mill had something to do with it last time by the looks of things. If any of you are checking in.... What was it like? Worth bothering with?

Black Lab Week Nine

Present: Andy Abbott, Yvonne Carmichael, Dave Ronalds, Bryony Pritchard, Martha Jurksaitis, Mick Welbourn, Rob Quirk, Terry Slater, David Thomas, Stuart Bannister.

We began by discussing the time we have left in the space and some of the activity planned. It looks like we’ll be in there until our original agreement ends which would be 2 weeks into May but the space could be altered in that time with partitions so better to bring any events forward into the last week of April. The calendar is looking that way anyhow.

We wondered how strongly the Green Sands building had affected the activity that happened there? We haven’t used the walls but we have been able to have open access and leave stuff set up. Has the short time-scale and the nature of the room instilled a sense of responsibility to do something there? We began to talk about how we might continue afterwards – in other spaces or perhaps just as we were previously in pubs and people’s houses.

Also, it has taken a while to get responses from some of the artists and speakers we originally had in mind to visit the Lab, many of which have been positive. This might partly be to do with the fact that as the blog has developed it articulates the project a little better to those not directly involved. We need to continue to meet, then, and find appropriate places for these talks and activities to happen. To date we have planned visits from Dan Simpkins and Penny Whitehead, a Skype appearance by Dave Beech, and interest from Simon Critchley and Ganghut, that would all fall outside of our time in Green Sands. We discussed a few alternatives in the Holbeck area.

Yvonne showed a collection of artist and self-produced publications she had brought along so we might begin to talk about the idea of a collectively produced magazine/publication again. Andy asked whether the ‘horizon’ of the Black Lab project – to engage in, open up and demystify that which constitutes critical debate on art – is still relevant to the group and, if it were, is it still a useful frame for the publication? It was agreed that it would be and that it might mean that the publication do more than simply document the discussions, presentations and activity in Black Lab – although this would also be a useful function of the publication.

We talked again about how the Black Lab project is documented, archived and disseminated – how people find out about it and how we reflect on it. Are we in a position to make a collective statement about how we have done things? Would it be against our ethos to come across as telling others how they ought to do a similar project? Although we want to share our experiences, and what we might consider knowledge, this will have to be tackled with tact. Bryony also reminded us that it would be unfortunate for discussions about the legacy of the project to undermine the project itself.

Also, Rob suggested we think about a publication as a punctuation mark, not a finality. This brought us to talk about how we might produce something with less preciousness than most critical art debate or, as Amelia crouch has written, art writing as the right to wonder. It seems that the perceived elitism or closedness of most critical writing/debate on art is that it pertains to well-informed truth. How might we exercise the right to opinioned and, potentially, contradictory reflection on art? Dave asked how might we do this without making a series of throwaway statements. Stu also reminded us that we had talked about the publication being more than just writing, or even paper based. Will including samples of work help ‘educate’ people in previously impenetrable art forms just as writing about them would achieve? It would also be a nice way of documenting and sharing some of the ‘produce’ of the lab. We discussed multimedia elements like DVDs with videos and web-links to material we have come across in the lab. It would be good to include these but without losing the tactile and immersive qualities of a ‘proper’ publication. Aspen came up again as a good example of a multimedia magazine/archive/object.

Andy and Stu talked about the Badiou/Critchley lecture from last week. Stu said that it was a good experience and that he got a lot more from the Critchley section of the lecture than the Badiou; to do with the quality of the recording, the differeing styles of delivery and the material. Stu was most interested in the ‘passive nihilism’ and ‘active nihilism’ categories that Critchley outlines; where passive nihilism is a retreat from the world as it is (through yoga, intentional communities, alternative cultural activity etc) and active nihilism is the desire to destroy the present world in order to start a new one (a la avant-garde art tactics like Situtaionist International and terrorist networks like Al Qaeda). The ‘third way’ outside of these two nihilist tactics is a ‘within and against’ strategy of finding critical distance or cracks within the world as it is to bring about change. This is an unending and infinite process. Andy also added that Critchley sees political action as born of a disappointment or lack in the world and also sees an important role for critical distance through laughing at oneself. This tactic might seem a little too close to postmodern life through an ‘ironic’ lens however, and also the ‘within and against’ tactic always sounds easier than it is (see Black Dogs Tower Works projects and upcoming activity at the Tate). It was agreed that it’d be great to get chance to talk more about these issues with critchley if he were able to make a visit in Autumn.

The whole idea of ‘critically distanced’ activity as art is also something we have been discussing within the Lab and outside of it. Andy mentioned a conversation he’d had the night previous with Harry Meadley and David Steans about what implications this definition of art might have for any activity that wholly identifies with the market-led Artworld. Can we call such activity art under this definition? Similarly what implications does it have for any productive or creative activity that doesn’t involve critical reflection? How can this critical distance be incorporated into activity without it dictating or consuming the activity?

Last we talked about some of the activity booked in for the end of April and how we would make this open. We are wary of advertising the events as something for people to come and be spectators of (for some of this activity that would be problematic) but we would like to let people come and see the space and get a sense of what has been going on there. We agreed that we could advertise the Alvin Lucier, 24-hour music jam and performance workshops (if Michael Burkitt wants to) as something people are welcome to drop in and see – almost as works in progress or open studio / open lab. How we will phrase this will have to be decided fairly quick as the activity is fast approaching.

Stu also mentioned that Lucy had been asked by Culture Vulture to cover stuff about the Bradford Playhouse (we should make a visit to The Playhouse to watch a film on Detroit) and that she might write about next week’s Lab activity. We wondered whether there might be a more collective way of documenting or reflecting on the events next week and agreed to talk to Lucy about it.

Then we went to the pub.


All to contribute something to the publication; text, image, DVD, CD etc that might document or reflect on individual or collective activity in the Lab or go someway towards ‘opening up debate on critical art’.

All to carry on inviting artists and visitors to the Black Lab.

Stu, David Thomas and Michael Burkitt to think about how to phrase public announcements of next weeks activity.

Next general meeting Tues 20th April at 6pm. Activity in lab until then includes La Jette screening at 6pm on Thursday (although we might play the film later as it might not be dark enough).

Thursday, 8 April 2010


Hi all,

Got a response from John Jordan.....

Hey dave
the email you sent was the right address but the guy who is meant to forward them from the site is ill and so has not been doing it - which is a bit of a nightmare ! must get my hands on it and sort it out ..
anyway this is best email for me ...

It would be a pleasure to come to leeds... end half of may is best for me ? suggest some dates that work for you and ill see - I cant do tuesdays in may however...

How is your own tate project going ?? what have you decided to do ?

yours JJ


Which is great I think! What about dates though? What do we think? It would be good to have as many people as pos as he's making the effort.

Simon Critchley

The listening session was really interesting last night. The podcast turned out to be a two person presentation with Simon Critchley and Alain Badiou. Due to Simon being a really clear and engaging speaker I got a lot more from his presentation. I could only understand one word out of four that Alain said! However we talked about some interesting stuff in relation to it. I now have a cold and the snot has replaced intelligence and memory so I can't tell you all what we talked about!

But Andy did say Simon Critchley would be a good person to get along to the lab and I just spotted this lecture in Glasgow as part of the Glasgow International festival - might be a good time to contact him Andy? Seems like he lives in New York. Also perhaps answers our question as to whether contemporary philosophers engage with contemporary art.

Simon Critchley : The Infinite Demand of Art

Mon 26 April, 11am-1pm, £5/4
Venue: Glasgow School of Art

‘The Infinite Demand of Art’ will be a Studio55 GI Symposium with philosopher Simon Critchley (Chair and Professor of Philosophy, New School, New York). This unique event will be chaired by Christopher Fynsk (Head of the School of Language and Literature at the University of Aberdeen and Director of the Centre for Modern Thought). The symposium has been co-organised by The Glasgow School of Art and the Centre for Modern Thought, Aberdeen. Supported by GI Festival.
Tickets are £5/4 and will be available beginning Monday 12 April at Glasgow School of Art Reception (0141 353 4500, cash only) and the Glasgow Film Theatre Box Office (0141 332 6535).

Alvin Lucier 'Music on a long thin wire' re-construction

Hi all,

I'm looking at getting the construction of this piece started next Wednesday night (14th April) and finished in time for the evening of the 22nd April for a performance.

In basic terms, the piece consists of a long wire (about 20-30feet in this case) stretched tautly across a room with an electronic drone note driving it, causing visual waves on the wire and a "complexity of evocative, ethereal chords".

Anyone interested is welcome to get involved with this. The first session will probably involve more of the construction and set-up side of things. Once this is done, we can start playing with different frequencies and volume levels, and observing the effects visually on the wire and audibly in the space, which should be really interesting.

The piece consists of:
  • A long piece of piano wire (generously donated by Paul at The Piano Shop in Holbeck)
  • Piano tuning pegs (also donated by Paul)
  • A large magnet (to be contributed by Daniel)
  • *Two wooden sound boxes - wood to be sourced, each about 60x30x10 cm, thin plywood top and bottom, hard wood sides and ends (anyone have any sheets and strips of wood knocking around?)
  • Two tables (Festival of passtimes tables?)
  • *Four G-clamps (anyone?)
  • A power amp (Stu)
  • An oscillator (Stu)
  • Two contact microphones (Stu)
  • A small PA system (Stu)
And to reiterate, we've been granted Alvin Lucier's permission to construct and perform this piece:

"Dear Stuart, Yes by all means go ahead an install WIRE. And good luck!

Cordially, Alvin Lucier"

Here's a good interview where Lucier talks about his experience of the piece:

And a more technical overview:


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Black Lab Week Eight

Present: Stuart Bannister, Mick Welbourn, David Thomas, Michael Burkitt, Yvonne Carmichael, Richard Ormrod, Dan Robinson, Dave Ronalds, Andy Abbott, Steven Allbutt.

We began by discussing the afternoon’s sound workshop thing that had mostly been participated in by Stu, David Thomas and Mick. They had been experimenting with close miking and contact miking found objects such as stools adorned with rubber bands and scrapyard chimes, bicycles and wine glasses. David Thomas had brought part of his analogue synth set up. Andy joined in for the last hour and a half using loop pedals, singing bowl, effects pedals and binaural microphones. The quartet repeatedly improvised a soundtrack to a video Andy had made from footage shot in Shipley Swimming pool which helped refine some of the sounds made that day. Samples and snippets were played back to the group. We discussed why the Lab was a good place for such activity; all four participants agreed they hadn’t done anything similar before and that the space was a comfortable one in which to experiment. Perhaps we should try and get another session in at some point?

Within the frame of it being likely that our time in Green sands will end in mid-May we talked about some of the other planned activity in the Lab – the music week in particular. Are we going to make these public access? It sounds like the right thing to do for the Alvin Lucier, 24 hour jam and performance day. We also reviewed the invites that had gone to visiting speakers. Andy has heard back from Jayne Bradley who is happy to do the Flux-feast/food event either Sunday 25th April or May 4th and Dan Simpkins and Penny Whitehead who would like to join us on May 18th.

Dan suggested that we should perhaps reflect on the apparently organic structure that the Lab has taken (general meetings on Tuesdays which are chaired by the same person – Andy – and include a time for the discussion of individual’s interests via 10 minute presentations with events and activity happening on other days). Are there other mechanisms that we could try – as examples; having the general meetings less structured or more open, inviting other people, putting some of the events together or, on the other hand, allowing them to splinter off more. Perhaps it is time to get some distance from what the project has become and think about its original intentions as a ‘free art school’? Is that what it is or has it become something else? Dave agreed and suggested that it is difficult to attend all the elements/events/meetings that one would like to and that as such it might be hard to pick up on the narrative of the project. Richard asked about how people were invited along. Are we seeing this as a ‘pilot’ for how a free art school might work? If so how do we ‘disseminate our ‘findings’’ without sounding like we think we know what is the right way for others to do it? It was agreed that the publication we have discussed working on would be a good space for this and individual reflections at the end of the period in Green Sands foundry which is fast approaching.

After a break Yvonne showed a couple of clips from Ghost World that portray the conventional art school crit in an uncompromising light and that everyone found funny. The ridiculousness of the situation is that the tutor is the final arbiter of taste who shapes the opinions of all the students through her (lack of) valorisation by means of seemingly whimsical decisions. Andy was reminded of a text that Derek Horton had written and sent him about similar hierarchies and unquestioned conventions in art school education.

Steve then talked about Spurn point via a slideshow of old and new photographs and postcards. Spurn Point is (according to Wikipedia) ‘a narrow sand spit on the tip of the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England that reaches into the North Sea and forms the north bank of the mouth of the Humber estuary. It is over 3 miles (4.8 km) long, almost half the width of the estuary at that point, and as little as 50 yards (46 m) wide in places. The southernmost tip is known as Spurn Head or Spurn Point and is the home to an RNLI lifeboat station and disused lighthouse.’ Steve has been going there for the last 15 years and has seen how the residents have to respond to the changes in the sea and the landscape. He recommended that everyone visit there as the local community welcome creatives. Steve is in the final stages of completing a residency there.

Mick showed a slideshow of images of empty houses in Detroit (the subject of Steve’s presentation a fortnight ago). We talked as a group about what we each understood and had heard about the situation there. It is an interesting case study because it seems to represent the finality of the ‘cycles’ of recession and migration of capitalism. David Thomas pointed out that such huge shifts have occurred before but perhaps not in our lifetime. We talked about economics and how art can be used as a tool to facilitate the shift in subjectivity and the redefinitions of wealth and value that would constitute a ‘new paradigm’ needed in the face of the ‘triple crunch’ of peak-oil, financial collapse and environmental crisis. There were differing opinions in the room but it was agreed that it would be an interesting conversation or thread to explore in more detail. Perhaps through James Hill’s redux of Das Kapital or David Harvey’s online reading group of the same book?

We spent the remainder of the evening talking about two interlinked forthcoming projects for Black Dogs; their invite to participate in No Soul For Sale and another offer to organise a party for local residents who are friends of the Tate on the Sunday of that weekend. We talked about the ideas to date and our worries and anxieties about the contradictions within those. Stu, David Thomas and Dan commented that it seems like a difficult project for Black Dogs as there are lots of uncertainties about how it will reflect on the group. However, our main concern was that we will do something for No Soul For Sale that isn’t enjoyable for us. It was agreed that our own response to the problem we have posed ‘How Not to Sell Your Soul at No Soul for Sale’ would be ‘to make sure we have a good time’. Therefore we discussed transforming the space into a pub-like installation in which we could display the cards provided by people but also play games, chat, eat and drink. We talked about the invite to organise the resident’s party and how that seemed like a much more suitable and appropriate scenario for Black Dogs both from inside and outside the group.


All to book in additional activity in the Lab.

All to continue to invite artists/speakers/visitors to the Lab with knowledge of NAN bursary and confidence that even if it falls outside our time in Green Sands we will find a space to hold a meeting in.

All to think about the joint publication and make some contributions to this.

Next general meeting Tues 13th April at 6pm. Check calendar and blog for activity in the Lab in the interim. Next event is the second Alain Badiou listening group tonight at 6pm.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Hi all,

I haven't had a reply from John Jordan as yet about coming to talk - but I'm still working on it.

Just thought it might be handy for anyone who wants to invite speakers to see what I wrote to him... I'm sure you're all more capable than me of writing a decent letter and this isn't a particularly good or correct way of doing it.... But I know we're all busy and if anybody wanted to copy and paste this (with appropriate amendments) as a way of saving time and thought then thats fine. As I say, I'm not suggesting that anyone SHOULD put this - just that this can be used as a template if you are busy and want to be quick about it.



Dear John,

It was great to hear what you had to say at the Activist Geographies event in Leeds on the 16th and to chat briefly afterwards.

Perhaps you recall the brief conversation with myself and Andy regarding our 'Tate problem' and the current Black Dogs project in which we are testing modes of knowledge sharing (or as we tentatively put it, a 'free art school') in Leeds. As we said at the time, we would be really interested in having you come and talk with us and perhaps to present as part of our 'program' and I would like to take this opportunity to see if you might be interested and to formally invite you. The initial stage of the project is continuing for another two months - if you could find time in your busy schedule to come and see us at any point during this period it would be really great I think. As we said at the time, we cannot unfortunately offer a fee - but we can pay any travel expenses and offer you our hospitality in the form of some friendly chat, a meal and a few drinks and a place to stay if you would like to.

If you like, you can gain some insight into the kind of things that have been happening and the conversations we've been having in the 'Black Lab' at - Hopefully you will be able to see that it is very much a discursive environment rather than a place for passive 'send and receive' learning - We have found that those who choose to 'present' or share elements of their practice find the experience both thought provoking and challenging (in the most positive sense). We hope that if you were to choose to come and visit us it would be both a pleasurable, fun and fulfilling experience.

If you are unable to make it at this time or feel that it's not for you then we quite understand. In the former case there may well be other opportunities in the future and it would be great to keep that option open. In the latter - keep up the great work and thanks again for the inspiring presentation. Your refreshing observation that the left are crap at having fun has certainly stuck with me - its been a great thing to remember when I'm up to my ears in dry academia!

Thanks again John.

I'll hope to hear from you in the near future.

Very best regards,

Dave Ronalds

(on behalf of Black Dogs)

Free film online - fascinating linguistic theory about bible

Hey folks,

Here's a link to a free film online (the filmmaker sent me this as I programmed it a few years ago in the festival). It's really interesting for its linguistic interrogation, and proposes a theory that the biblical story of Jesus is actually all about Caesar! I found it fascinating, and perhaps it fits with some people's interests in linguistics and other theories too (for example authorship, religion, the copy etc.).


Dear Martha,

My documentary is at the moment in the holy week for free online. You were the first who selected this film. You may forward it to friends if you like.



Greetings from Holland
Jan van Friesland

Saturday, 3 April 2010

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

Due to popular demand Alain Badiou will be making another absent appearance at the Black Lab on Weds 7th April. Not appearing alongside him will be Simon Critchley. We will be listening to a join-lecture/conversation between the two philosophers that lasts about 1hr and 50mins and is available on-line at

Listening will start at 6pm. We might put a break in this one.

Don't feel like you have to have listened to the lecture in advance (I won't be) but, equally, feel free to listen to it 20 times beforehand. Different levels of familiarity with this and Badiou and Critchley's other writings in the room will help prompt an interesting post-listening discussion which is the aim of the evening. Therefore if you plan on coming expect to be there until 9pm - that way we won't simply be theory-consumers.

There is now a microwave in the space and coffee so feel free to bring food and drink to share. Hope to see some/all of you there.