Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A little bird

Le voilà, Birds est maintenant installé. Cette oeuvre est une étude de l'expérience d'essayer de vivre avec une langue qui n'est pas la vôtre, grâce à l'effet que nous appelons "Chinese Whispers» en anglais ou «Le téléphone arabe» en français. Merci à Abdeljebar, Alain, Alice, Amel, Kader, Mourad, Tong et Valentine pour les traductions qui sont au coeur du travail. Et merci à tout ceux qui sont venus fêter l'install au vernissage. Pour ceux qui l'ont raté, Birds sera au 40 Rue du Panier jusqu'à la fin janvier 2012.

Friday, 16 December 2011


Nous vous invitons à notre premier vernissage a Marseille – pour l'oeuvre Birds, que nous avons créé avec Abdeldjebar, Alain, Alice, Amel, Kader, Mourad, Tong, Valentine et Dr Adam Dennet.
Le vernissage aura lieu le mardi 20 décembre, à 19h, Galerie Esperluette, 40 Rue du Panier.
A bientôt!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Home for Christmas?

So, those of you who pass by there on a regular basis may have noticed that Home is currently being installed at the Fabrik building on Coldharbour Lane. It's still a building site, and obviously with such a big project there are a whole lot of things going on, so we can't be certain of a completion date but we're expecting it to be finished early in the new year - maybe even in time for Christmas...
We've also been working on the final edit of 116 Coldharbour, the 3D film that we've made about the project. We showed a 2D preview version of it at the NEOutopia conference at the Centre for Creative Collaboration and got some great feedback, so we're looking forward to a proper 3D screening of it in the spring – we'll let you know as soon as we know exactly when and where that's going to be.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for yourself as everyone's words go up – we know some people have already searched out their own contributions, and if you're not up there yet it's only a matter of time!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Pop heart

So, a very last-minute heads-up to say that just in case we didn't have enough going on with Home, Gethan is performing I, Heart, a spoken word piece, at Green Man this weekend.
Part love story, part biology lesson, part call to arms, I, Heart is about the thing inside your chest – whether yours is sick or stony, faint or fierce, attacked or irregular, most of the time we struggle to follow it, let alone understand it. Gethan's been working with cardiologists and medical researchers at Kings College Hospital, as well as anatomical manuscripts, ancient myths, villanelles and sonnets in a bid to help you know yours.
Find her on the Solar Stage in Einstein's Garden at 2.45 on Friday. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Now see the movie

Latest news on the Home front: as well as the huge, 100m artwork, the 1,000+ participants and the one-off Coldharbour font we've also been making a 3D film to share the project with the world!
A cross-section of the many people who gave us beautiful answers to our Home question were invited to be part of a 3D documentary. Over two days we interviewed over 40 people. As with the artwork, the focus was on their prize possessions and the stories that make them so special: Louisa's phial of 35-year-old baby teeth (above), Adedayo's pictures of his mum, Elin's fennel plant, Michael's dominoes, purple-obsessed Saurell's violet chandelier, Amun-Ra's Lambeth Tigers kit, Cejay's Mum's spring rolls...
Next comes the edit – and trust us, that extra D adds a whole other dimension of trouble in the edit suite – and then the grand premiere. More details to follow, but for now we're looking at a screening (or three) this autumn in a local cinema. Huge thanks to Craig, Andy and James for their three-dimensional genius.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Font of all (local) knowledge

Here's a quick preview of Coldharbour: the font we've been developing for Home (see below). Essentially, it's a homage to the chaotic, uninhibited, Helvetica-free signage that helps makes Coldharbour Lane like no place on earth. For those who don't know Coldharbour, it's one of the major arteries in Brixton and South London, a place where the character and individuality of the area is unescapable - Oxford Street it certainly isn't... It's also the site of the fabrik development where Home will be unveiled later this summer.
Each character is drawn from a letter on a shopfront somewhere along the mile-long street - in this sense, Coldharbour is a 'meta-font', sourced from the vernacular styles that enliven the whole area. As well as celebrating the independent, non-corporate nature of all the shops (and their graphic identities), the font acts as a typographic treasure hunt - encouraging local people to look harder at the signage that surrounds them, to appreciate its eccentricities, and to try to work out what comes from where.
We're now in the final stages of making it a fully-functioning font. When that's done, we can start using it in all our final designs for Home.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Home is where the work is

A brief update to let you know why things have been a bit quiet from us. We're currently right in the middle of Home, a huge project – as far as we know, the biggest participatory art project in the country this year (over 1000 community members involved, over 100m long and with a proper fabrication budget that means it will live on for the next 20-30 years).
As many of you will know, we've spent the past few months talking to hundreds of people from the neighborhood around the new Skanska / Notting Hill development on Coldharbour Lane. We've asked them all one question: What object in your house makes it feel like home? This question – and a bit of judicious prompting here and there – has already elicited a beautiful, complex, multi-layered representation of a community through the things they hold dear. Bikes that can never be ridden, letters from the dead, lucky spoons, 40-year-old baby teeth, worm menageries and symbolic toasters... The objects and the stories behind them have left us smiling, given us lumps in our throats and made us marvel at the hundreds of different ways in which people have made their homes here.
We're going to be collecting answers until the end of May, so don't expect to hear much more from us until then – seven hundred and ninety one responses so far, still a good few to go (the image above is just one of the many response-sheet-towers now gracing our studio).

Monday, 14 March 2011

Then that

A big thank you to everyone who turned up to Chelsea Arts School for If Not, Then What?... last Saturday. Our Random Slogan Generator was in full flow, creating absurd yet apposite slogans for the politically active and the politically confused alike. Below are some pics to show what went where...

The Blindfold of Goodfaith (top), worn by all voters as they make their choice on the indecipherable ballot sheet (above, left) with the Pin of Cynicism (the coloured flags hiding above VOTE HERE). All voters were subjected to at least 10 seconds of (physical) spin before making their choice.

The generation game: a selection of the RSG's stencil elements used to create each voter's hand-crafted slogan poster... Et voila! Some of the finished posters hung out to dry.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

If not, then this?

If you're affected by government cuts or frustrated with the current political situation (ie if you have a pulse), then If Not, Then What? is for you. It's curated by Cecilia Wee and is a week-long art installation and creative-think-tank exploring possible alternatives to this mess we're in.
For their closing event (Saturday March 12) we've created the Random Slogan Generator. Maybe you've got your convictions, but you’re not a bona fide political entity until you’ve got your own slogan. But how do you decide what to say and which issue to focus on? The Random Slogan Generator does all the work for you, colliding existing slogans to create absurd, oddly perceptive new ones. Simply cast your vote on the special ballot sheet (don’t try to understand what you’re voting for, you’ll never get what you expect) and the RSG will generate your slogan and paint it onto a one-off poster for you to take away, so that you can go forth and spread the word.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Trying and trying and (hopefully) succeeding

What do you get if you cross a neuroscientist and a beatboxer? How about an evolutionary mathematician and an electro-pop duo? An art-rock band and a medical physicist? A classical music ensemble and an epidemiologist? A cellist and a cellular biologist? You get Trying and trying and trying – a sci-art-music album that we hope will make you laugh and cry, think and dance.
This project was funded by the Wellcome Trust and involved working with six different UCL bio-medical scientists (Dr Alex Dedman, Dr Sam Tazzyman, Dr Zarinah Agnew, Kara Cerveny PhD, Dr Nandi Simpson and Dr Martin Austwick) to write truthful but poetic explorations of their research, then taking the lyrics to six exciting, innovative and award-winning musicians (birdengine, The 9000, Reeps One, Hannah Marshall, Workers Union Ensemble and The Overdrive Orchestra) and working with them to record six unique new songs. In each, the science feeds directly into the music: one song uses electric guitars to copy an optical frequency graph with their noise levels; in another song about genetic codes, A and D notes are inverted ; and in another, a beatboxer channels an MRI scanner.
This project has been ticking along for about a year (ticking along means trying to arrange the lives of twenty musicians and six scientists so that they coincide at the same time and place every now and then) and now you can listen to the results here:

The launch was at Jamm on February 23, and at it all six acts performed their track (and a couple of bonus ones) live. The whole thing was brilliantly presided over by Wes White who managed to make sense of the project and hold it all together. Huge thanks to everyone who came along - anyone who couldn't make it, we still have some CDs so get in touch and we'll lob one in your direction, and to show you what you missed here's some tasty pics that Myles did make.

Steve from The Overdrive Orchestra on full (charm?) offensive. 

Gethan with megaphone, Hannah with her more refined instrument

No instruments necessary for champion beatboxer Reeps One

birdengine busy breaking hearts - all in a night's work

The 9000 busy breaking beats - see what we did there?

Of sex and yeast - Gethan's grand finale