Monday, November 08, 2010

EVP Ectoplasm Experiment

in the Raudive Breakthrough experiments one of the ways of recording paranormal voices (Known as Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)) was to use the white noise from a radio as a type of carrier frequency. In this ectoplasm experiment rather than a radio an algorithm is used to digitally create a constantly changing nebulous visual form. The image is scanned by and oscillator to produce sound which tracks the form and morphs from white to pink noise. This is a short two-minute extract, which may need repeated viewings and studied listening before EVP may be recognised.
Watch Flash 

Thursday, November 04, 2010

University Tuition Fees Triple - Daily Mail readers needed for protest

Those who work in the HE sector naturally have their ear to the ground on matters directly concerning its future in a way the mass media and general public cannot be expected to share. However yesterday’s announcement by David Willets of a 2 to 3 fold increase in tuition fees brought the subject of student finance to the head of the media queue and, rightly so.

Students from next year on are no longer being asked to contribute towards the cost of their degrees or “top-up” the contribution made by government but in most cases cover the entire cost of their teaching. Fees will rise from the current approximately £3,000 to at least £6,000 and probably more like £9,000. What extra will the student get for this 100-200% increase? Precisely nothing as the government withdraws all funding for teaching except for some limited support for STEM subjects. Some ‘top’ universities have already signalled that they will seek to charge the full £9,000 and there is an expectation that post 92 universities (or the former polys) will charge closer to £6,000 or £7,000 though, none have signalled that this is what they intend to do. In either case universities will find that with the teaching grant gone they will actually be no better off and in the case of those who feel they can’t or shouldn’t charge the full £9,000 many colleges will actually have less money. Unless of course they increase student numbers and class sizes and lower the quality of the learning experience. In short some students might pay and extra £3-6,000 a year for less. Staff will be expected to deliver more, again for less, especially as salaries are frozen and may well actually decrease in the universities charging less.

Under the proposed changes most students will leave university with a debt for tuition fees alone of somewhere between £18,000 and £27,000, factor in living costs, add on interest and you are looking at a bill in the region of £50,000 per degree. The notion that this won’t be a deterrent to going to university or a life term burden for most young people who do is simply not sustainable.

To start quantifying degrees in financial terms is to arguably play the politician’s game but can a fee of £50,000 be justified on any grounds? The higher than average life term earnings of graduates is often cited but ask anyone working in the arts or the public sector about these supposedly high earnings and they will simply smile. When only 10% of the population went to university a degree may have been a passport to (if not even then a guarantee of) higher earnings but no longer. A degree is simply seen as a prerequisite in many walks of life. 30 years ago in a whole range of professions  A-Levels would have been sufficient to start and there was an expectation that the employer would provide on the job training or time off for day release study. The modern neo-liberal employer in Britain though wants it both ways; they seek ever more qualified staff but expect to pay no part of the cost for the training needed. In an entirely regressive move to a Victorian model people are now expected to pay for the privilege of learning skills need by employers.

In terms of protest at these increases there will be marches, sit-ins, possibly strikes. One imagines much of this to be water off a duck’s back to a government that is fast showing a callous disregard for the public sector that makes Thatcher look like a caring socialist. What may well turn the tide is the rising consciousness in the middle classes, those Daily Mail readers whose instincts are often conservative with a small c and who often vote for the Tories (forget the LibDems they will disappear as any kind of meaningful political party).

The middle class group are waking up to the idea that their sons and daughters may well not now be able to attend university at these prices or that every asset they have will need to be sold to cover the cost (or equity realised to use the neo liberal parlance). This group for whom a free liberal education has never perhaps been a priority may now begin to voice their disquiet and seek to overturn these proposals. The government has no fear of lecturers and students but it needs the middle class vote.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Make Art History

As the Make Poverty History campaign falters and with the prospect of 25-40% cuts in the arts it seems far more likely that we can Make Art History

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Battle of the Pixels

In the future perfect, conflict will be conducted by pixel as much as by bullet - in memory of a previous Battle of Britain a photograph of a field in Kent is subject to digital attack.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Connect by Ken Garland for Galt

Go down the aisle of a Toys R Us shop today and your senses are assaulted by sequence of brightly coloured and somewhat garish plastic toys competing for your attention. Many have a quirky charm displaying something of a mutoid imagination at work but few would be seen as works of modern design. Yet for a period in the 60s two of Britain leading toy makers Galt and Abbatt produced games, puzzles and jigsaws, which, in ways are perfect examples of high modernism. The best of these modernist toys is Connect designed by Ken Garland for Galt in 1969. Garland and Associates is a firm of graphic designers and they were originally asked to redesign Galt packaging and brochures. This Garland did with aplomb using what by today’s standards would be considered very muted tones and fonts. 

Having designed the packaging Garland and Associates moved on to designing the some of the Galt toys themselves bringing contemporary 1960s graphic design values to the toys and a particular emphasis upon spatialization and sequencing and repetition.
Connect best embodies this; comprised of 140 cards each with red, blue and black lines the game involves linking up the cards in style that owes something to dominos to create extended patterns that look for all the world like some minimalist artwork by Sol Lewitt or even in some ways Mondrian.  
The game was designed to be played on the floor and to weave around household furniture and other objects.  With its stark simplicity a whole generation of children where unbeknownst to them engaging in an early course in graphic design principles.
The rights to Connect were later licensed by the German toymaker Ravensburger and renamed Rivers, Roads & Rails. Unfortunately whilst the game still employs the same underlying principle the simple colored lines have been replaced by representational drawings and so loose its graphic simplicity and abstract edge.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Here then some Standard 8 footage shot circa 1990 mixed with a soundtrack by Storm Bugs from 1980. Both involved blind overlaying. In the case of the film passing the same footage through the camera two or three times and with the sound using a loop cassette to record on and then disconnecting the erase head and letting it pass round and round; overdubbing on more sounds.

Watch: Quicktime (Mac) or Streaming Flash  (PC Or Mac)

A funny thing...

When I woke up this morning at 5AM these lines popped into me head...

I have know you and loved you so long that
I no longer know where I end and you begin
said the romantic poet to his wife of many a year
She smiled sweetly both at his presumption
and for a moment seeing herself in the arms of Clarice Duff
the landlord’s daughter

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Particular Place to Go (Ring Mod Remix)

Today a ring modulation remix of the video No Particular Place to Go made using photographs of fly-tips from the Geograph British Isles website. Each photo was scanned to produce a musical note; putting the images together a musical sequence emerged; a pastoral accompaniment to the images. Geograph British Isles is a project that aims to collect photographs of every grid square of the British Isles. The photos which were originally uploaded by numerous different people from all over the UK were produced under a under a creative commons licence as is the video. No Particular Place to Go was originally shown as an installation at the Memorial Gallery in Hastings in 2009.

Watch: Quicktime  (Mac) or Streaming Flash (PC Or Mac)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

To all our loyal customers

So as the keener readers amongst you will have noticed there is new link on the right. Yes Lumiere et Son now have their own blog and as of today all new Lumiere et Son pieces will be posted there.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Now Close your Eyes

Lumiere et Son wonder if dance really is a pathway to cosmic consciousness particularly if you must close your eyes .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


A repost of a piece to mark a sad day for chocolate and the proud Bournville tradition - expect sweeter chocolate and less jobs.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friday, January 08, 2010

Lo Fi - Screwing a ribbon between two circles

What with Radio 4's PM programme having a feature on the return of the cassette as art object it seems Lo-Fi is to be one of the themes for 2010. In which vein I was contacted late last year by a South American (Colombian to be precise) music magazine called Shock and interviewed on my opinions about analogue and Lo-Fi, Here follows a few short extracts from a transcript translation by Google.

Low-fidelity sounds you return the heat and dirt on the music scene that recalls, among cassettes and vinyl, an earlier time still has stories to tell. The analogue resurrected and promiscuous flirts with the mainstream, the underground and the new generations.

Philip Sanderson, who produced the record label independent Snatch Tapes, a label in the UK has been willing to resurrect the old formats of music, told Shock version of his own nostalgia. "The object, be it vinyl or cassette, has been too important in the history of music. They provide, together with the cover and liner notes, a visual dimension. An aesthetic and noise condition is lost with the downloads.

Sanderson, who in addition to producing music with his band makes Storm Bugs, one of the most legendary of DIY (Do It Yourself) in London, remembers well the little asepsis and the warmth of the old formats. "With an Mp3 file and you have nothing to what you can have fun a good time. The digital can be so clean and yet so cold I think we need to bring back some dirt and heat with similar productions and objects.

The method of producing a tape is much more complex than screwing a ribbon between two circles and is even harder if you want to make one carried by the spirit, power and the rawness of a production lo-fi. "That's not as silly specks," said Philip Sanderson, who really knows what he means to give life to a low-fidelity production pressed on this analog format. "In Snatch Tapes use many things and nowhere at the same time. We break speakers to create interesting distortions they propose other sounds to the melodies, voices and instruments; overprint tapes, we use the cacophony and noise from the environment to strengthen sound sequences. All of these techniques for very lo-fi twist and transform the sounds that eventually will rotate tangled cassette loops, "he says.

While manufacturing of one of these rectangles sound is an arduous process, its sale is a hell of work and underpaid. If hardly a music lover spends an average $ 1.29 to buy the latest hit from the iTunes Store worldwide, imagine how much would pay for the same song "bad settings" in a cassette.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, a system that collects data on sales of albums and singles in the United States in the first five months of 2009 vinyl sales rose 50 percent from those that took place in the same period last year . While for the vinyl everything is 'in crescendo', from sell 700 thousand in 2008 to 1 million in 2009 for CDs and digital albums will ruin everything, reducing its sales between this year and last in 30 million and 6 million respectively.

Juan Pablo Gallon |