Many of you subscribed to this because you want to know when I’m doing art-related activities. Here are some of the art-related activities I’m doing soon.
This Sunday 9th June I’m running a camera obscura making workshop in the afternoon, followed by a talk about the history of the camera obscura in the evening. This wraps up a year of working for the Dead Shrines project run by my good friends, the artist duo Dale Hipkiss and Johny Graney, who are up to all manner of things in Stirchley Park this summer. The Dead Shrine in question is a large black wooden cube which I assisted them in making a functional, if simple, camera obscura. Since it’s got permission to be there for 10 years this means it’s a permanent camera obscura, thus accidentally achieving the Bham Obscura’s five year plan for a permanent obscura in Birmingham just ahead of schedule.
The workshop is at 2pm at Artefact, open to all ages, and you can take your camera obscura home with you. It’s one of four Dead Shrines workshops this month.
The talk is at 8pm in Stirchley Park, behind the library / baths, and kicks off a month of talks by people much more qualified in the areas they’re talking about than myself.
All events are free to attend.
Speaking of the camera obscura, I rather rashly offered to bring it to Cocomad, a lovely community-run festival in Cotteridge Park, near Bournville station, where Jenny and I premiered it back in the day, and then realised it would be a good thing to do. Partly because it’s important to get the camera out to the public at least once a year, but also because it’s currently being used by artist (and fellow BOM alumni) Jo Gane as part of her current project responding to work by Victorian painter Frederick Henry Henshaw and early photographer George Shaw along the River Cole which runs though East Birmingham. Today we set up the camera obscura by the river in Stechford so she could trace/draw a bridge there.
Cocomad is on July 6th and Jo will be showing how to sketch in the obscura and talking about her work in progress.
I’ve been offered a slot in the Artefact gallery this Autumn which I intend to take up. I’m writing this here to make it official and to keep the procrastination demons at bay. Its working title is 1972 which is the year of my birth. I got interested in how that number has been with me all my life in official documents and drop-down menus, yet I remember nothing from that year because I was a baby. So what was 1972?
Like most years, a lot of things happen, and as humans we can selectively find auspicious patterns in anything, but ‘72 has a few interesting resonances. For a start it’s often cited as the border between the post-war consensus and neoliberalism, between modernism and postmodernism. Which is all very interesting, but kinda hard to visualise in a fun way.
December 1972 was also the final Apollo mission to the moon. As a child I was obsessed with the Apollo moon missions and the solar system in general, but then ended just as I was born. I lived through the Space Shuttle era which, while still pretty cool, wasn’t going to the moon, or Mars, or anywhere really. In fact, the dreamy exploration of Apollo contrasts nicely with the workmanlike logistics of the Shuttle, each fitting neatly into their epoc. Neoliberalism doesn’t do exploration for the sake of exploration, and certainly not on the taxpayer’s dime.
And now here we are, in the twilight of late-capitaism, and Bezos wants to go to the moon.
So it’s going to be about the 1972 moon landing, the last one, and I’ve been researching the shit out of it, helped by all the Apollo 11 stuff that’s happening this year of course. It’s led to some interesting discoveries, such as the Soviet Lunokhod programme which landed robotic rovers on the moon in 1970 and 1973 and which were remote controlled with the second one functioning for four months, which is quite astonishing. It’s a direct precursor to the Mars rovers and, legacy-wise, is in many ways more impressive than the Apollo programme. (The documentary Tank on the Moon is good.)
Anyway, more on this to come.
Thanks for reading,