Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Elmington Estate revisited

Nearly six years ago, in December 2005, I posted this short sketchy video which animates views of council flats undergoing demolition. The photographs were taken in August 2005, the Elmington Estate being demolished is just on the edge of Burgess Park on Edmund Street, Camberwell, South London. I have just reposted it as part of an occasional series for which I plan to post 'archival' Direct Language videos as some of the links to the original videos at the Internet Archive seem to be broken.
Looking back at the video I was curious to see what had become of the site after the credit crunch. I was expecting to find the estate to be replaced by some kind of new development, hopefully retaining some social housing at the very least. I was slightly surprised then to find that, in spite of being demolished, as this view from Google Maps attests to
it has been transformed into a wasteland by Southwark Council, which has since handed it over to Notting Hill Housing for regeneration.

On the face of it Notting Hill Housing seems to be a perfectly responsible, local organisation with an interest in social housing, which is in some contrast with the global developers the council uses elsewhere for more lucrative high profile developments such as the Heygate Estate at Elephant and Castle. But after six years the site remains uninhabited, where the decanted residents are now who knows, or whether they to be part of the new community, and the regeneration plans as outlined by Southwark Council are ambiguous indeed.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Travelling Practice - Directors Lounge special screening

Digital video works 2003—2010
curated by Klaus W. Eisenlohr

21:00, Thursday, 27 Oct. 2011
Bergstraße 2
10115 Berlin-Mitte

Metalogue (26:37, 2003),
Direct Language (10:00, 2005 ­ 2008),
The Ground, the Sky, and the Island (7:45, 2008),
Aboriginal Myths of South London (10:27, 2010),
Personal Electronics (26:00, 2010)

Friday, 21 October 2011

live at Seeing in the Dark

live at Seeing in the Dark by Steven Ball
Soundtracks performed to Vowels & Consonants by Lynn Loo & Guy Sherwin and Autumn Fog by Lynn Loo, recorded live at Seeing in the Dark, CIRCA, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 19 October 2011.

The Vowels & Consonants soundtrack replays and manipulates samples of Bob Cobbing reading with additional live utterances. Autumn Fog is based on a recording of my back yard (the leaves in the film were shot in Lynn's backyard), with spoken quotidian observation.

"...Vowels and Consonants consists of six projected loops in which individual letters appear intermittently crawling up and across the surface of the screen, occasionally intruding into the optical sound area, thus emitting gentle plops of sound which seem to emulate the sound of the letters. As in other optical sound works the relationship between image and sound is integral: while the use of letters suggests a literal ‘reading’ it also resembles ‘concrete’ text such as Bob Cobbing used with Koncrete Kanticle, used as much to prompt vocal sounds in performance as to be read as conventional poetic text. As such the work becomes, like concrete or performance poetry, a score for itself. In fact, Loo and Sherwin have regularly extended the work with the addition of live sound and musical accompaniment, often local to the place of performance and, in this context, the projectors become instruments, part of an ensemble. "
Steven Ball, 'Conditions of Music: Contemporary Audio-Visual Spatial Performance Practice', Expanded Cinema: Art, Performance, Film (Tate Publications, 2011)


Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Seeing in the Dark - A Group Show

curated by Sam Watson, Adam Phillips (CIRCA Projects), Steven Ball

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Glitch vs Scratch

The MisALT Screening Series returns this Sunday, October 16th at a new location and with an exciting program of experimental film and video that explore and celebrate the distortion, destruction, and decomposition of their respective mediums.

MisALT Screening Series Presents: Glitch vs Scratch.

Sunday, October 16th, 2011. 8pm , $6.00
Artist Television Access
992 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA

This screening seeks to create a dialog between artists working in Scratch Cinema (film based practices that make interventions on the celluloid level) and Glitch based video and media practices (which manipulate images by exploiting vulnerabilities on the molecular and electron level of video tape and code), to bridge the gap between work that focuses on the material underpinnings of cinema and work that brings attention to the often invisible foundation that lies beneath the digital moving image.

The bubbling, flickering, abstractions of decaying, damaged, and melting celluloid meet the frantic and ghostly distortions of mangled signals and scripts.

Jodie Mack, “Unsubscribe #3: Glitch Envy”
Tsen-Chu Hsu (Taiwan), “Cotton Sugar”
Florian Cramper (Netherlands), “How to picturize two Kafka short
stories within one hour in a hotel room”
Charlotte Taylor, “Secrets”
Péter Lichter (Hungary), “Light Sleep”
Alberto Cabrera Bernal (Spain), “12 Erased Trailers”
Christine Lucy Latimer (Canada), “MOSAIC”
Anna Geyer, “Good Bye Pig”
Nick Briz, “Binary Quotes”
Adam R. Levine, “Koh”
Michael Betancourt w/ FsLux, “One”
Steven Ball(UK/Australia) “The War on Television”
Lili White, “Got ‘Cha”
Drone Dungeon “Phantom Wegman I-III”
Channel TWO “In a []”
Ted Davis “What make up a Surprising Image”
Lennon Batchelor “Focus on the Family”

Curated by Tessa Siddle

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Station to Station

A 21st century phantom ride on Docklands Light Railway. Some of the earliest films made in the late 19th century were shot with heavy cameras mounted on trains, one of the only ways by which smooth movement could be achieved. Called 'phantom rides' because they appeared to present the point of view of a disembodied floating entity, they were a novelty and popular with audiences. In the early 21st century we carry devices in our pockets capable of recording, editing and mass distributing such images without even getting off the train.
Made for the BabelFiche project

action at a distance

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

blogging, about blogging 2

I’ve just posted my latest contribution to the or-bits.com blog.  This has taken somewhat longer than planned as real-world events intervened.

This post was originally part of the first draft for my first post but, as that was getting lengthy and mindful of the necessity of keeping texts written for reading on the web at a relatively short readable length, it became split in two parts. This latest is an attempt to bring the rather subjective ‘historical’ overview of my first post up to date, with a focus on specific activities in the world of glitch.

So the first structural issue that has arisen has been to do with the length of the posts, how much one can reasonably expect to include in a single post and how this will effect the serial nature of the writing. As I mentioned before, serial posting around themes is something quite new to me and the development of ideas from one post to the next would seem to be contingent and evolving. Where this will go will be determined as much by the process of actually writing the post, as by what I’ve provisionally mapped out for future posts as these are the germs of ideas, theories I'm not yet sure, even convinced about, so I can’t certain about their efficacy until I come to write them.  Sometimes I'm holding things back, avoiding the temptation to give too much away in post in advance is proving difficult, other times planting clues that won't be recognised as such until.

Thinking through writing is what most writers do but there is a small irony about this as one of the ideas I’m planning to pursue is that of medium-specificity as attending to media objects. This would be objects in a ‘post-correlationist’ formulation, beyond a correlation between thinking and being that privileges the human; thinking media works, media, and so on as ontological objects (and megaobjects) in their own right, and in that sense a counter to a post-structuralist hermeneutic approach that would privilege textual analysis, the world as text. While I’m suggesting that I will develop the ideas through writing, the production of text. Text as an inscription technology among others may well also play a role in future or-bits.com blog posts, but I’ll write no more here for fear of writing those posts before I write them.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Urban(e) Environments

ACMI Gallery in Metalogue
This Wednesday 23 March Melbourne Cinémathèque will show a programme of my recent video as part of an evening of three programmes called Urban(e) Visions. My programme is sandwiched between John Smith’s War Diaries and Of Time and the City by Terence Davies, elevated company indeed and it's interesting  to me for my work to be in the context of, on one hand Smith’s situated reflections on the war on terror, and on the other Davies’s documentary revisiting of his Liverpudlian childhood. Interesting partly because this collection of my work is hardly as thematically, and perhaps formally, focussed as its neighbours'. However Cinémathèque has thoughtfully titled my programme FORMAL ENVIRONMENTALISM and describes it as work that “explores the geography and topography of physical landscapes and technological environments”.  In an attempt to flesh this out a little, I have provided some programme notes with an introduction suggesting that the programme  “…covers a range of territory, as digital materialist experimentation meets spatial exploration to become urban landscape study and hyperlocal excursion. Concretist formal processes explore and exhaust species of spaces and media, producing variously eccentric musically rhythmic structured works, and abstracted, essayistic studies."

Reflecting on these digital video works, I think that there is a sense in which many of them do strike a tricky balance between the specificity of place and formal process and techniques, but that specificity is often less to do with the qualities of the place -  an essence that might once have been called the genius loci - but more the way that my construction of place is an abstraction. In short I’m not so sure how ‘successfully’ these works do actively ‘explore’, ‘interrogate’, ‘construct’ (unsatisfactorily metaphorical words in themselves) the specificity of place.  Some, such as The Defenestrascope and Metalogue, are constructed from images captured in diverse places: in the former Lucca in Italy, Berlin, and London, while its ‘musical’ structure draws on English folk song and samples as diverse as Music Hall and Chinese traditional song, the neologism of its title suggests throwing views out of the window; while the latter ranges from London, Pisa, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne... the neologism of its title signals it as a travelogue in which metadata has risen to the surface.

One reason I am interested in screening Metalogue in this programme is because a section of it was captured somewhere several storeys below where the screening will take place, in what is now the gallery at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), the images taken from a private tour of the space I was given while the building was still under construction.

The final work in the show Aboriginal Myths of South London, might carry a slightly provocative title in an Australian context. It is in part an attempt to speculate what might happen if I articulate what I understand of certain Australian Aboriginal attitudes to the relationship between the history of a place and its specificity, in relation to the history of the now deceased people who once inhabited that place. It has occurred to me that the indigenous Australian attitude to the dead affords a level of respect entirely lacking from a European belief system, which plays itself out in terms of ethical protocols and legality.  The video is a first attempt to bring such a philosophy close to where I live, to New Kent Road in south London, as a way to pay closer attention to the specificity of that place and apply a pragmatic materialism in the face of what I think might mistakenly be considered to be the mystical notion of the genius loci.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


The Defenestrascope screening at:
InCounter sound______video_____performance 
Friday 4th March
7pm- 3am @ the Bussey Building, opposite Peckham Rye Rail
Tickets: £7 on the door, £5 in advance from http://incounter.eventbrite.com
Doors open 6.30pm

A programme of work exploring structure and process through sound, performance, and videos. With a special screening (World premiere) of James Benning’s new work YouTube Trilogy at 7pm

performances by: Anne Bean + Chris Gladwin + Richard Wilson, Stephen Cornford, Melanie Clifford, Howard Jacques, Kalendar + Clutter, Kaya King, J Milo Taylor, Rachel Moore, Ring Mod Orkestra + Marlon Random, Thomas Pigache + Yann Leguay (ARTKILLART)
with InCounter DJ Matt Brown
videos by: Holly Antrum, Steven Ball, Katy Connor, Riccardo Iacono, sue.k., Erica Scourti, Maria Theodoraki
live link with Resonance 104.4FM 8 - 9pm. Bring FM radio / mobile phone to take part.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

blogging, about blogging

I have been asked to be a guest blogger for or-bits.com, which is a terrific project curated by Marialaura Ghidini consisting of online group shows of works made specifically for presentation on the web, many specifically for the site, organized around broad and imaginatively interpreted themes.   

The latest edition is Acceleration.

My contributions will be a series of posts speculating around a number of ideas that have been percolating recently, prompted by the reemergence of ideas around digital materialism, extrapolating about and beyond media specificity, its contemporary resonances and implications. These have developed out of the convergence of a number of recent factors, which I won’t detail here for fear of spoiling the posts, but has been prompted in this context by the presence of work by Rosa Menkman on or-bits.com.  Menkman has over the past few years revived ideas around glitch.  My first post, posted today, is Accelerating accidents.

The serial nature of my posts on or-bits.com will probably distinguish them from posts here on my ‘regular’ blog, which have tended to be one-off topics - pursuing and developing ideas and themes over a number of posts is something I’ve never really done. In fact my blogging activity here has become rather sparodic lately, probably because this sort of activity has been taken over by 'micro-blogging' habits, specifically in my case via status updates and posting links on Facebook (and less so Twitter), which directly reaches peers and friends - like a form of soft 'push publishing', rather than the 'pull publishing' of regular blogging - and as such possibly reaches a larger and more regular readership. It also changes the nature of what’s ‘published’ as it’s a much more casual, immediate, spontaneous and sometimes personal form, one-liners both flippant and serious on any number of different types of topics, conversations in comments boxes, links to things that I happen to be interested in and think that others may (or not) find interesting, which in themselves become catalysts for comment and conversation, and so on.

As such this ‘return’ to blogging, at or-bits.com is an interesting prospect for me and, as evinced here, has also led to another ‘return’ to blogging, about blogging.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Arbitrary Object

A compilation of five abstracted improvised experimental objects,
indifferent distracted viewing objects.
Made from television images,
analogue vision mixer 'effects',
and primitive circuit bending and hacking 

- inputs through outputs, feedback loops and so on -
from a single improvised session's visual source material.
Forms and techniques used are limited,
sound is sequenced and manipulated samples.