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LCC Research Fellow Brad Butler exhibits at Hayward Gallery

Image: Film still from work by Brad Butler and Karen Mirza

Image: Film still from work by Brad Butler and Karen Mirza

Two films by Brad Butler, a London College of Communication (LCC) Research Fellow, feature in Hayward Gallery exhibition MIRRORCITY, open now until Sunday 4 January 2015.

MIRRORCITY explores the effect the digital revolution has had on our experiences. It includes recent work and new commissions by emerging and established London-based artists who seek to address the challenges, conditions and consequences of living in a digital age.

Brad completed a PhD at LCC under supervisor William Raban and has since become a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the College.

Brad and his creative partner Karen Mirza have been shortlisted for the sixth Artes Mundi Prize, the UK’s biggest contemporary art prize, and will exhibit with other shortlisted artists in Cardiff from 24 October 2014 until 22 February 2015.

UAL Research caught up with Brad to find out more about his current projects.

Tell us about the work you are showing in MIRRORCITY.

I am showing a new work, ‘Everything for Everyone and Nothing for Us’, alongside an existing work, ‘Hold your Ground’. Shown side by side, these two films speak to each other, though there’s a slight awkwardness about their conversation. They are both about languages of protest, and the relationship of the body to protest.

‘Everything for Everyone and Nothing for Us’ is set in a TV studio, where a protester-in-training listens to audio extracts from a political speech by Margaret Thatcher. Having absorbed the sounds, the protester uses movement to exorcise Thatcher’s voice, retraining the body to resist capitalism.

In ‘Hold Your Ground’, the same protester struggles to turn utterances into speech. Her efforts are interrupted by archive footage of protests in Egypt, Northern Ireland and London. Eventually, she manages to pronounce four phonetic phrases reconstructed from Arabic, meaning ‘hold your ground’, ‘Egyptians’, ‘homeland’ (of the earth, of the Nile) and ‘strike’.

The title of ‘Hold Your Ground’ is taken from the pamphlet How To Protest Intelligently. ‘Everything for Everyone and Nothing for Us’ echoes the slogan of the Mexican Zapatista liberation movement, which began its struggle against neoliberalism, exploitation and racist oppression in 1994.

Why did you choose LCC for your PhD studies, and how did you find the experience?

I chose LCC based on the supervisors primarily. William Raban and Elizabeth Edwards understood my project and process. It was, for me, a perfect match of expertise and timing, and before I knew it I was in the programme supported by LCC’s Research department to find funding.

From there it was a great experience and formative for my work. While academia may not suit every praxis, it proved to be a chance for me to go deeper in a supported semi-autonomous way.

The links later on to a post-doctorate have felt natural. So far I have been encouraged and I feel I fit. Basically, over the last 19 years of being an artist I have worked out the hard way how important it is to work with the right people. Even great ideas will become exhausting if that is not a priority.

Brad Butler talks about his research at LCC's Graduate School Festival, May 2014. Image © Lewis Bush.

Brad Butler talks about his research at LCC’s Graduate School Festival, May 2014. Image © Lewis Bush.

Read the original interview in full on the UAL Research pages

Read Brad’s Research profile

Read more about Research at LCC

The post LCC Research Fellow Brad Butler exhibits at Hayward Gallery appeared first on London College of Communication Blog.

Making comedy from tragedy // Inspirational story behind LCC alumna’s prize-winning designs

'Desktop Fireworks', Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

‘Desktop Fireworks’, Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

Tomomi Sayuda, an LCC BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design (then Design for Interaction and Moving Image pathway) alumna, has just won first prize in the digital design category at the Ideastap Graduate Awards. Tomomi, who recently graduated from MA Product Design at the Royal College of Art, won for her fun piece ‘Desktop Fireworks’.

'Desktop Fireworks', Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

‘Desktop Fireworks’, Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

‘Desktop Fireworks’ is made up of seemingly plain, practical office stationery. However, beyond providing a place to store your pens, this stationery serves an altogether bigger purpose. On the activation of an extremely tempting big red button your mug becomes a disco ball, your monitor becomes a glitter cannon, and your drawers full of miscellaneous clips, elastic bands and blue-tack become a bubble machine!

On winning the first prize for her fun piece Tomomi states, “I am very proud to win such an honourable prize.”

'Desktop Fireworks', Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

‘Desktop Fireworks’, Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

Whilst the purpose of this piece and indeed all of Tomomi’s work is to make people smile, there is a personal tragedy that motivates her practice. When she was only eleven, Tomomi’s father, Kenichi Sayuda, committed suicide aged thirty-seven, due to extreme stress at work.

She explains “Since my father’s death I have become obsessed with finding solutions to stress, especially in the work-place. I have found that the most effective stress relief often comes from laughter. My work uses comedy, and creates a positive and surprising solution to a serious problem.”

'The Mask of Soul', Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

‘The Mask of Soul’, Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

Tomomi’s work has recently garnered press attention from the likes of Creative Review and The Sunday Times, and this week the BBC did a feature on her recent project ‘The Mask of Soul’.

Tomomi explains, “The mask gives its wearer the strength to be able to express themselves in public. It hides the speakers’ identity and the microphone picks up the speaker’s voice and in turn projects it loudly through the speaker on the top of the head-piece. Part of the project is a game in which people are invited to compete in shouting the loudest insults at each other. I was inspired to create ‘The Mask of Soul’ after having experienced a ‘karaoke box’. This unusual space allows its occupant to reduce stress through the almost primal release of energy!”

'The Mask of Soul', Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

‘The Mask of Soul’, Tomomi Sayuda, 2014.

Read more about BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design.

Read more about BA (Hons) Design for Interaction and Moving Image.

Visit Tomomi’s website.

Watch the BBC’s coverage of ‘The Mask of Soul’.

The post Making comedy from tragedy // Inspirational story behind LCC alumna’s prize-winning designs appeared first on London College of Communication Blog.

LCC MA Photography alumni collaborate for Bethnal Green show

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Pablo Antolí, ‘Fractures’, 2014.

Twenty-four graduates from LCC’s MA Photography course are currently preparing to exhibit new works and writings in an exhibition titled ‘Photography as Installation’ at Oxford House, Bethnal Green.

The MA Photography Alumni Group is designed to consolidate the relationship between MA Photography graduating students and its alumni, providing a network and a space to develop projects and exchange ideas.

The show features work by Peter Ainsworth, Pablo Antoli, Magali Avezou, Diane Bielik, Ella Bryant, Teresa Eng, Kate Elliott, Maria Gafarova, Jo Gane, Lydia Goldblatt, Jochen Klein, Richard Kolker, Kevin Newark, Elisa Noguera Lopez, Francesca Marcaccio Hitzeman & Federica Landi, Katja Mayer, Minna Pöllänen, Michael Rodgers, Ian Rudgewick-Brown, Marcello Simeone, Sayako Sugawara, Sara Wellenkamp and Adrian Wood.

Over the last 16 years, the MA Photography course has seen a significant shift towards installations and performativity in 2D, 3D and 4D. This development, in addition to a focus on the materiality of surface, will throw new light on what photography is today.

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Marcello Simeone, ‘The Unity of Perceptual Sensations’, 2014.

Marcello Simeone’s work explores the middle ground between intimate self-questioning and the ordinary, everyday experience. In ‘The Unity of Perceptual Sensations’, Marcello – in a quest for empathy – engages in a series of ‘sychronised’ walks with strangers on a busy street.

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Kate Elliott, ‘The Study of Peter Pan’, 2014

‘The Study of Peter Pan’ by Kate Elliott is part of an ongoing project that aims to capture a person at the point in adolescence between childhood and adulthood, freezing that moment.

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Minna Pöllänen, ‘Wood on trees’, 2014.

Minna Pöllänen’s ‘Wood on trees’ is both a site-specific work and a series of photographs depicting an attempt to restore two dead birch trees in a forest in eastern Finland. By using scraps taken from wooden planks, the decaying tree trunks are covered with a new shell.

The trees’ progress is regularly checked and further additions made, and, due to weathering and occasional vandalism, the restoration never completes.

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Pablo Antolí, ‘Fractures’, 2014.

‘Fractures’ by Pablo Antolí is a project inspired by the geological processes that form mountains, valleys and gorges. By mirroring the sliding forces of the tectonic plates, the photographic prints are pushed, pinched and folded, enhancing the perception of space while disrupting the clarity of photographic representation.

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Katja Mayer, ‘Lusus Naturae’, 2014.

In ‘Lusus Naturae’, Katja Mayer plays with the artist’s recurring preoccupation with mythical creatures, mushroom-like growths and themes of repulsion and desire.

Within drawings, sculptures and photographs, abstract sculptural objects resembling protruding growths are juxtaposed with organic material, found objects and painted surfaces. Shapes that recall a body, the insides of a body, cancerous growths or sexual organs evoke a visceral reaction, demanding a physical response.

The exhibition opens on Monday 6 October and runs until Tuesday 14 October.

Private View
Tuesday 7 October
6.30-8.30pm

Meet the Artists
Saturday 11 October
2-4pm

Read more about MA Photography

Visit the ‘Photography as Installation’ Tumblr

Visit the Oxford House website

The post LCC MA Photography alumni collaborate for Bethnal Green show appeared first on London College of Communication Blog.

“Every kind of cultural and creative history is here” // A chat with Elefest founder Rob Wray

Elefest banner

Elephant & Castle festival Elefest is just days away, celebrating the artistic life of the area for the 12th year running with a packed and eclectic programme of events from Thursday 2 – Sunday 5 October 2014.

We caught up with Elefest director and founder – and LCC alumnus – Rob Wray shortly before this year’s preparations went into overdrive to hear about psychogeography, challenging preconceptions, and saying “Let’s just do something!”

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LCC alumnus Rob Wray established Elefest 12 years ago

Can you tell us a bit about why and how Elefest was launched?

“The origin of it was way back before the turn of the millennium. There was a lot of talk about regeneration and arts and culture within the Elephant & Castle area, and a voluntary organisation called Neon was trying to influence the regeneration process and make art and culture part of that.

“I first got in touch with Neon while I was studying here [at LCC] in 2000. And because of my background – I was studying Enterprise & Management in the Creative Arts here, doing a diploma course – and because I was running events and festivals, mainly film-based, when I got involved in Neon there was all this talk about creativity and regeneration.

“But I come from the school of thought that says, “Let’s just do something”, create something, otherwise the regeneration process could take 15 years, 20 years, 30 years, and in the meantime your life is over, and nothing’s happened!

“Elefest was established primarily as a film and video festival to showcase local filmmakers, and to show films that were relevant to the local community. But the idea always was to go further than film.

“It was probably my naivety that took me to setting the festival up. And I’m from the area – I’m originally from Walworth, just round the back of East Street. I live in Bermondsey now, so I’ve moved about a mile in 41 years!

“Also, the events and festivals stuff I was doing up until then I was having to do over in east London – in Brick Lane and Shoreditch and Hoxton back in ’98, ’99, because there was no real infrastructure round here to do it.

“So it was a combination of wanting to do something to get involved locally, but also some element of frustration that I was able to do creative work outside of The Elephant, but I couldn’t do anything here where I grew up.”

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Artist David Bratby is leading a farewell tour of his subway murals on Thursday 2 October

What do you like about working in the area?

“I don’t think there’s anything I like or dislike, it is what it is. I think there was always an issue with people being negative about Walworth and Elephant & Castle. Most people, if I said I was from Walworth, thought I either said Woolwich or I was making a joke about the department store.

“So then you’d say Elephant & Castle to try and give them something to link onto, but obviously back then all they would have heard about was the Ministry of Sound, or the Shopping Centre, or the two roundabouts.

“Elephant & Castle is what it is, but I think it’s probably special because it is on the ancient road down to Kent – The Old Kent Road – so there’s probably been this psychogeography in this area where people have been going somewhere else, to and from this place, for a long while. Which I find fascinating.”

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The venues for this year’s Elefest

What have been the particular challenges involved with organising Elefest over 12 years?

“The challenges would have been getting people to take it seriously that we were having a festival in Elephant & Castle during the first few years, because it was film- and cinema-related and we didn’t have a functioning cinema in the area. Still don’t. So you said, “We’re having an Elephant & Castle film festival” and most people would laugh.

“So then you could turn that to your advantage and get some publicity out of it because you were challenging people’s perceptions. It is effectively my home so I’ve never felt negative about it. So in that sense you go, “Well, why shouldn’t we?”

“The hardy perennial is usually money, because you’re always trying to do more than you can with the money you have. You can’t create something without having the resources to do it, so you either have to become self-financing  and self-sufficient, or you need to find sponsorship – but as with any money, there are certain associations with that.

“You’re constantly trying to square that circle; how do you keep it reasonably cheap, and how do you get the resources to do it?”

And what’s been the answer to that this year?

“I think the answer’s always the same, we need to become self-financing and self-sufficient, in order to give it longevity, because the developers aren’t going to be here forever.

“Currently we get some money from them, we get some money from the council, some money from Film London this year, but the developers and the council aren’t going to be funding it forever, and I think strategically you have to go “Right, where do we go with this?”

“There’s also sometimes a bizarre psychology with things that are free, in that people think because it’s free it must be crap. To some sections of the community it’s a free festival, so it should always be that way, but for other people they think if it’s free it’s not worth anything.

“And there’s politics involved in trying to coordinate 10 or 12 different venues that all have different artistic or creative bents. A lot of people think there’s a lot more money in it than there is, and a lot of people think there’s a bigger team than there is.

“There isn’t really a full-time team all year. We have myself and three or four people, but most of the time that’s condensed within the last month/six weeks, because we don’t have the resources to have people sitting around, and we all have to go and do other work that makes a living.

“Anyway, we’re still going, older and wiser!”

Can you tell us which events you’re most excited about in the festival line-up this year?

“We’ve got the Maccabees playing a DJ set for the launch night at the Coronet, which is good. It’s quite exciting because they’re making an album in a studio locally, and a filmmaker’s making a film to accompany it about the Elephant & Castle. So because of that kind of connection, it was quite useful to get them to open it.

“So they’re playing and we’ve got a few bands playing that night; we’ve got a Cuban band Friday night, we’ve got a load of stuff at the Cinema Museum, we’ve got the StockMKT – the opening night’s probably the most exciting thing.”

WARA

Latin ensemble WARA play at Hotel Elephant on Friday 3 October

And finally, is there anything that Elefest hasn’t yet achieved that you would like it to in the future?

“I don’t want it to become any longer – I think four days is perfect. At one stage it was running for two weeks and that was crazy – on even less money than we have now. But that was before I got a bit older and had a mortgage and kids! So I don’t think I would want it to get any bigger in that sense.

“I do honestly think it can become or should become self-financing, self-reliant. And it should become the festival that is associated with Elephant & Castle in the truest sense of the word. So that when people think of Elephant & Castle, they think of Elefest.

“It’s got a long, rich history of theatre, music hall, circus; every kind of cultural and creative history is here. Then the Second World War came and the redevelopment came after the war, and all that infrastructure was gone.

“So it’s not like it isn’t possible for that to be reimagined or recreated.”

Absolutely! Many thanks for your time, Rob, and here’s to another fantastic Elefest weekend.

Visit the Elefest website

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LCC Alumna wins Best Short Documentary at London Independent Film Festival

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‘Portrait of Billie’ Image by Jane Mingay.

Jane Mingay, a multi-award winning photojournalist and a recent LCC MA Documentary Film graduate, has just won the Best Short Documentary award for her film ‘Portrait of Billie’at the London Independent Film Festival.

Jane’s iconic photographs range from portraits of Naomi Campbell and British Royalty to images of poverty in rural Africa and the aftermath of the London 7/7 terrorist attacks.

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Image by Jane Mingay.

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Image by Jane Mingay.

Her latest project ‘Portrait of Billie’ follows Billie Bickley, someone famous for being ‘a homeless heroin addict since the age of 14′. Her chaotic and harrowing life story has been followed by the media since she was 18 when she caught the eye of Princess Diana as she visited Centrepoint.

Jane explains that “Since then, Billie’s life story has been played out in front of her. With this role to play as well as the role she inhabits to survive life on the streets, who is the real Billie and where do the lines between fact and fiction blur? With an unsentimental approach, this film allows Billie to act out her creations and shocking revelations on centre stage.”

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Image by Jane Mingay.

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Image by Jane Mingay.

Read more about MA Documentary Film.

Read more about Jane.

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