Weightless overseeing of your living and sleeping

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3, 2011 by antigravitychamber

Welcome back, dear beam dreamers!

We return with glistening wounds fresh from doing battle until sunrise, last Saturday 28th May at They Live We Sleep – Underdog Gallery’s big launch party next door to their new premises on London’s Crucifix Lane.

There we beamed our retina tickling lights at a throng of party-goers in the upstairs “chill-out” room (a room which, conversely, was quickly transformed into the dancing and partying room!) while stoner noise rock bands freaked out on a makeshift stage in the main hall – a vast cavernous underground industrial space underneath the London Bridge railway arches.

Phasers set to stun

How transcendently pleasing it was to see the slides we’d spent every spare moment of the prior 2 weeks creating and hand-painting (with black masks so that the central figure of the image would appear to float in the midst of the pulsating lava) floating above the melee like benevolent yet weightless overseers of the proceedings.

Benevolent overseers

Despite combining our exhausting heavy light work with a crowd-pleasing DJ set of ’60s and early ’70s psychedelia that successfully populated the dancefloor with a frenzy of balloon-fueled revelry…

Balloon-fuelled revelry

…we managed to catch the transcendent yet shadowy and industrial Gum Takes Tooth out in the main cavern. A fantastic ritualistic performance (main man Eugene sported a replica Lucifer jacket, as worn by Leslie Huggins in Kenneth Anger’s film Lucifer Rising) that encouraged the feeling of being part of some portentous underground cult.

Rising...

By 8am we had widdershinned back to our crypt in a taxi,  our kit loaded into its guts – and with a heavy but satisfied feeling were drifting into dreams of luminescent fantasies yet to be realised.

Until our vectors next converge, friends – stay switched on until we next tune in…

Stroboscopic bon-bons

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2011 by antigravitychamber

Greetings once more, dear beam dreamers,

I trust our gentle silence these past couple of months has not left you with a bitter taste in your ears, nor a dark scent on your vision. Deep down you know we both needed space to think things over – but I’ve been a busy little buzzer beehind thee scenes and I sense that the tidings I bring will not disappoint you…

There have indeed been several plots points of concentrated activity these past months:

Firstly, a great synergetic weekend was spent absorbing the energies of the first ever academic conference on psychedelic consciousness in the UK at the University of Kent’s Breaking Convention, under the auspices of the UKC Psychedelics Society, Dr. David Luke, Amanda Fielding and a host of other adventurers in liminal realms.

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Skype link up with Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert) at Breaking Convention. Image (c) Jonathan Greet 2011

Beyond the extraordinary discussion on the Saturday evening was a performance of Raagnagrok, the oceanic emanations of a drone duo featuring Mark Pilkington of Strange Attractor (electronics) and the mysterious Zali Krishna (processed electric sitar and clarinet). That evening they were joined by the author of Shroom (and of psych-folkers Telling the Bees), Andy Letcher , on Breton Pipes.

Raagnagrok as they appear when not performing

On the Sunday we experienced the privilege of trying out Hypnagogia, an experimental strobing light pulse machine developed by Austrian scientists that is designed to stimulate hallucinatory perception in the same way as Gysin’s Dreamachine – only far more effectively!

Following on from this propitiatory Spring-time happening, we have been busy making arrangements for several events – the first of which will be a warehouse party held by the Underdog Art Company, called ‘They Live, We Sleep’ on Saturday 28th May somewhere underground beneath London Bridge. We will be providing visuals plus DJ sets in support of stoner/noise rock bands, Mollusc, Part Chimp and Gum Takes Tooth. Prices will be £5 before 11, £10 after. Message us if you’re interested in being there and we’ll put you in touch with a ticket source…

Further, we shall soon announce another 2 very exciting events (and much more!) coming up later this year, details are being confirmed as we speak – keep your ear to the ground and watch the skies!

Until our vectors once more converge, stay switched on until we next tune in.

In defence of an endangered species (short version)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2011 by antigravitychamber

Surprise greetings, fellow beam dreamers,

This post is an impromptu response to a recent tumult in the world of creative film (and by film I mean photographic, rather than digital film) production in England. Click here to go to the long version of this posting.

Many among you who are involved in the small scene surrounding artists’ film making will be aware of the event to which I refer: the take-over of Soho Film Labs by the Deluxe Entertainment Services Group Inc. and their subsequent shutting down of 16mm film printing services with immediate effect, the last surviving affordable service of its kind in this country.

The news came as a particular blow to the Anti-Gravity Chamber – plans were afoot to strike several colour prints this year, prints intended to be part of a live multiple projection experience in which the physical materials would be manipulated live, mixed in with a variety of projected media, including heated coloured oils, handmade slides and possibly even digital images, should digital projection prove to be an affordable reality. Yet, despite all the talk of digital technologies being democratic, high enough standard data projectors remain highly expensive (average domestic HD data projectors put out about 2500 lumens, but the 250w lamp of a 16mm projector is the equivalent of about 15,000 lumens) and not nearly versatile enough – you can’t just set them up anywhere, using multiple projectors, they tend to be installed in a fixed position as part of a venue’s technical set-up, they’re also nowhere near as robust and portable as the simple precision engineering in an Elf 16mm projector, which costs a fraction of the price of a viable digital projector.

The news first came to my attention in a notice on the artist filmmaker’s discussion group, Frameworks, by Nicky Hamlyn. A response by the artist Tacita Dean had been published in an article on the Guardian website the day before, but being busy the day before (coincidentally with a digital video project), it had not come to my attention until later. The piece was a pretty reasonable plea for the right for film and digital media to co-exist and for the artist to have the right to choose.

Of course, film production everywhere today is becoming increasingly dominated by a few corporations who own most of the studios, film theatres, distribution networks and post-production facilities – not only this but there seems to be an inexorable force propelling us all into the realm of digital media, so it came as no great surprise that Deluxe, an international conglomerate who specialise in Digital workflow solutions and theatrical 35mm print processing for major Hollywood producers, would shut down the small-fry 16mm facility that was a very popular resource (with work reportedly backed-up) almost exclusively among artist filmmakers.

Interestingly, Deluxe was originally set up in 1915 by William Fox as an extension of the Fox Film Corporation, which merged with Twentieth Century Pictures in 1935 to become Twentieth Century Fox, so it is clear to whom Deluxe pledges allegiance. I mention this not to dismiss out of hand Deluxe’s business model, which makes perfect sense in their world, but to illustrate the disconnect between the cultural and commercial sectors.

Tacita Dean’s Guardian piece was by no means based on the absurd and erroneous prejudice that film is somehow superior to digital – I myself have recently seen some highly impressive results, both from Digital HD cameras and in digital theatrical projection (a recently attended special screening at BFI Southbank of Barbet Schroeder’s The Valley (Obscured by Clouds) (1972), beautifully restored from the original 2 strip Technicolour and digitally projected in its original Cinemascope format, being a notable example). I myself work equally fruitfully with digital video as with film, but I use the different media for different outcomes and experiences. Dean argued that working with film – and screening it – is different to the way we experience digital media. Anyone who has used both media knows this to be a simple fact.

Scrolling down below the piece, however, I was disturbed (although perhaps I really should not have been) by the vitriolic comments posted beneath it, much of which was grossly and depressingly misinformed. It was clear that many, having not read the piece fully or paid much attention to the thrust of its heartfelt plea, brayed at the deluded “luddites” they imagined they addressed, correcting the errant ways of a marginal bunch of pretentious hippies (this seemed to be the thrust of their prejudice).  Adapt to survive or die, was the pseudo-Darwinian shibboleth, all too eager to extinguish an endangered species. But nobody is AGAINST digital, we just want the right to choose.

It is clearly perceived by the majority of mainstream society that those who want to keep 16mm film projection alive are an insignificant, minuscule bunch of elitists, yet 16mm has been growing in popularity as a medium of choice for those working outside conventional image production in the past few years. In some ways it is a form of cultural resistance – resistance to the conquest of the monoculture. I’ve been to many packed events at which cutting edge music is performed alongside both 16mm film and digital projections. A punk DIY attitude is prevalent and the feeling is vibrant and inclusive.

Besides, surely being in a minority doesn’t mean being insignificant. The Sex Pistols, who were then little known, played a now legendary concert at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester to about 40 people, most of whom became highly influential purveyors of music – Howard Devoto formed the Buzzcocks and started Britain’s first independent record label; Tony Wilson founded Factory Records and the legendary Hacienda nightclub; Morrissey formed the Smiths; Mick Hucknall… well, OK it wasn’t all good! The point is that modest cultures can make seismic waves.

In a petition appealing to Deluxe to reverse it’s decision, its petitioners had this to say: “There is a cultural separation between art and the cinema industry that runs the labs. Cinema sees only digital as the future, but within art, both are important.” Therein, I believe lies the misunderstanding.

In conclusion – sign the petition and support the perpetuation of 16mm film in the UK – and by extension the Anti-Gravity Chamber!

http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43288.html

Go to the long version by clicking here.

Until our vectors next converge – stay switched on until we next tune in!

Progress and transcendence (short version)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2011 by antigravitychamber

Salutations and felicitations my dear beam dreamers and a happy new year!

This is the short version of first post of 2011, click here for the long version.

What an excellent opportunity for experimentation, learning, discovery, contemplation and equipment acquisition the seasonal holidays have proved to be.

Just prior to the break I took time out to spend 2 days immersing myself in making tests using the JK optical printer and Debrie contact printer at No.w.here artist filmmaker’s lab.

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Welcome to No.w.here

The first day was spent on the optical printer. Test blow-ups were made from colour positive Super 8 to 16mm B&W negative. The results were hand-processed and dried.

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JK optical printer

Then on the 2nd day the contact printer was used to make positive test prints using the optically printed negatives made the previous day. These were again hand-processed and dried.

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The formidable Debrie contact printer

The end goal is to produce multiple prints for looping from a single negative master. Endlessly different varied prints can be made from the same master and worn out, warped, melted and ultimately destroyed without harming the original master.

By some serendipitous chance a previous visit to No.w.here intended as a practice run for these 2 days put me in touch with a work colleague selling an Elf 16mm film projector and a looper, which enables film of up to 11 minutes in length to be run on a continuous loop through a conventional 16mm film projector – just the addition to our arsenal that I had been searching for, at exactly the right moment! This presented the perfect opportunity to test run the resulting print on a continuous loop and simultaneously practice using these newly acquired devices at home during the midwinter break.

As the new year was born and we passed into January and milder weather, we paid a visit to the Wellcome Collection on London’s Euston Road to see the highly stimulating High Society exhibition which explores the utilisation and influence of mind-altering drugs in human society and culture. The exhibition explores drug cultures throughout world history and their manifestation in artistic endeavours. Two particular exhibits piqued our interest.

In a booth shrouded by black curtains in a corner of the exhibition space visitors could sit with eyes closed before Bryon Gysin’s legendary  Dreamachine (a replica made in 1998). With some patience it induces a state of hypnogogic vision.

Very close to the Dreamachine an entire wall pulsed with constantly shifting coloured light patterns, this could only mean an installation by the Joshua Light Show was in town! Most exciting of all to the aspiring purveyors of live visuals that we are was the exhibit behind the projection screen: the automated projectors, colour wheels, transparencies, various bottles of coloured oils and hand painted glass slides that comprise Joshua White’s legendary light shows of the late 196os happenings at New York’s Fillmore East, here reconstructed.

On that note we’ll leave you with a video clip of John Whitney’s 1966 film experiment with early computer generated imagery – Permutations (seen recently at the BFI’s Essential Experiments series), a wonderful example of the kind of ‘expanded cinema’ that inspires us:

Until once more our vectors intersect, we bid you adieu dear beam dreamers – stay switched on until we next tune in!

With the rebirth of the sun we shall return

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 by antigravitychamber

Greetings, perhaps for the last time this year, dear beam dreamers…

As the midwinter festival quickens its inexorable step like an unshakeable hoary ancient stalker shrouded in misty breath on a lonely frosty evening, our last lightshow of 2010 blew the fading year a neon kiss. For the final time this year we illuminated the mighty stoner rockers OBIAT on Sunday 19th December at the Islington “02” Academy.

A hoary ancient satyr oozes out of the lava to blow 2010 a kiss goodbye

A simple but effective set-up enabled a swift set-up and pack-down. While the approach was admittedly more workmanlike than previous shows, it also demonstrated to us and the band what can be achieved with fewer projectors  – and with a 15 minute change over between acts that was a blessing.

Some stills of the performance:

Laz, vox

Raf, flying axe

All hail

Alex squares up to do battle with the projector rig

In addition to this last show of the year,  the hard work of the past few months, planning & scheming, learning how to use new equipment and acquiring new hardware is continuing unabated behind the scenes, slowly, steadily into the new year. Tests are being carried out and when the time is right the images will be fully integrated into the set-up and unleashed on the unsuspecting public.

Tomorrow I will be back at No.w.here lab experimenting with tests on the JK optical printer to make blow-ups to 16mm from Super 8mm; create freeze frames; skip printing and other effects on 16mm negative stock. The following day multiple prints will be made from the negatives using the Debrie contact printer. A beast of a machine.

There are no pics to show as yet – as you can appreciate, the images of which I speak are all being originated in optical, analogue media and have yet to be digitized. Pics will become available once the work has been integrated into the show and performed. But perhaps if you’re lucky I may even feel like offering a teaser glimpse of the work in progress by photographing some of the projected tests, or off a Steenbeck (flatbed film viewing machine)…

Discussions are underway for bookings and collaborations in the new year so keep your ears to the ground and your eyes to the skies!

With festive felicitations we shall return with the rebirth of the sun.

Until we next tune in, stay switched on…

hiatus terminatus

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23, 2010 by antigravitychamber

Greetings after some time spent apart dear fellow beam dreamers…

I must apologise for my reprehensible silence these past 3 months. Bookings have gone quiet but discussions are underway and we shall make a glorious return victory parade in the new year. more of that to be announced later, probably in December.

Since we last made a public appearance – and hence a blog posting – we have been beavering away behind the scenes, but admittedly at a somewhat more relaxed pace than the frenzied activity of the first half of 2010. It seems evident that there was a need to recharge batteries in the wake of that storm (all of us having day time commitments earning a living) and a refreshing road trip around Cornwall and Devon certainly brought home how badly we were in need of a break.

And so I’ll keep this brief, but suffice to say projects involving Super 8 and a digital video edit are underway (although not due to be unveiled for some time), as are plans to expand equipment (although due to the current recessional funding climate all equipment acquisitions have been postponed until the long delayed news comes through, which is also a highly salient factor contributing to the recent silence), so keep your ears to the ground dear friends – we SHALL be back with a vengeance!

… furthermore, we’ll follow up before the year is out with some teaser pics of our experiments, promise…

And so, my fellow beam-dreamers, we once more bid you adieu – until our vectors once more converge. Stay switched on until the next time we tune in.

Early evening bedlam

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14, 2010 by antigravitychamber

Salutations once more, dear old long lost beam-dreaming friends.

The Anti-Gravity Chamber returns once more to public view, but there has been much going on behind the scenes these past 2 months (more about that later).

After a hiatus, owing to some cancellations over double bookings, our first public event since early June happened on Wednesday night, 11th August. The evening was a welcome return to illuminating the epic interstellar stoner rock experience of the mighty OBIAT. The gig was a support slot for the legendary Canadian progressive thrash metal band Voivod at the Relentless Garage, Highbury & Islington, London.

Voivod flyer

The event was also a return to the Relentless Garage, albeit this time in the main venue, rather than the smaller upstairs club, where the last Acid Gallery was held, also the last AGC lightshow.

As it transpired, the chance to do the projections for an act in the main venue was a mixed blessing. While it was an exciting opportunity to see the images we worked so hard to prepare enhancing a great performance in such a large capacity venue, the stringent health & safety security restrictions prevented the lightshow manifesting as it had been originally intended, thus necessitating the omission of special handmade slides, which will instead make an appearance at a future show (no pics for now, you’ll have to wait until they debut in public).

In the event, we found solutions to the problems with which we were presented (as always) and OBIAT took the early crowd to another dimension for their 30 minute set; just enough time to give the audience a strong taste of their universe. On this occasion they were back-projected by the usual centrepiece op-art spiral used at a previous show with OBIAT at the Gaff, further up Holloway Road (see posting on 11th May), flanked by 2 oil blob projections – but this time with a key difference: the oils were augmented by custom-made silhouette image masks derived from the cover design of OBIAT’s latest album, Eye Tree π (see pictures, below). The design work for these transparencies was produced, with a great deal of hard work, by my lovely, talented wife Mariko, to whom this post is dedicated – and whose dedicated work made the performance something special.

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Laz, vox

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Alex, bass

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Raf, guitar; Neil, drums

With only 15 minutes to pack down and get off the stage before Voivod’s touring support act took the stage (the strangely inappropriate AC/DC facsimile Nashville Pussy – if you can imagine cock-rock molested by vaginas, you’ll get the idea) a mad rush ensued necessitating probably the swiftest pack-down we’ve done yet.

We stayed to watch the other bands and felt proud that only OBIAT were visually enhanced by our projections. As the evening drew to a close, in an exuberant conversation backstage during Voivod’s encore, which we sadly missed (although we loved their main set), we talked excitedly with the band about the possibilities of expanding on the live visual experience of OBIAT. Future meetings are due to take place, so watch this space because we will be back very soon with a further enhanced and even more out there live experience!

And so, my fellow beam-dreamers, we once more bid you adieu until our vectors once more converge. Stay switched on until the next time we tune in.

For more on this blog posting click here to read the full story.

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