Ben's work from the artist residency will be screened at no.w.here, 316-318 Bethnal Green Road, on Wednesday 26th October.
Sound and Music have teamed up with no.w.here to offer an artist residency and bursary towards the creation of a new work for film which explores sound as a key element. From a huge number of high-quality applications, we're pleased to announce that Ben Gwilliam has been selected as the resident artist. Ben will have access to no.w.here’s facilities, otherwise unavailable in the UK outside of commercial labs, along with mentoring in sound and image from established and experienced artists. The residency will run for approximately eight weeks, ending with a screening of Ben's finished work at no.w.here's project space in Bethnal Green.
About the artist
Ben Gwilliam is a sound artist and musician based near Halifax, West Yorkshire. His work straddles the areas where sound meets fine art, film, performance and music, adopting specific approaches that are framed by the situation for looking and listening. He has exhibited and performed widely throughout Europe over the last ten years as well as releasing works on several imprints.
Ben on his residency
Amidst the pitchblack darkroom, located just to the right of a beast of a contact printer with its roaring fan you'll often find me, carefully crafting away onto film, always with a bag of hand grinded iron filings! When out in the light, hand processing my film strips in a variety of different chemicals to push and pull images and sounds, I have been observing the visual and aural delight of the photo sensitive process.
To date I have been through masterclasses in hand processing techniques, learning the chemistry in a more creative rather than scientific fashion, contact printing, optical printing, rostrum camera and the trusty 16mm Bolex. Even further than the standard workshops available to artists and film makers alike at no.w.here, I have made my own film emulsion, cooking up a light sensitive mixture which, when embedded with iron filings, makes the film surface gleam like an auburn crystal soup!
The residency has been going very well indeed, and in such an intensive manner than I’m still surprised at the amount of film I have made (and working with film can be a very long process). My original enquiry into sound from the rust staining and subsequent magnetic charging onto the film surface has started to form and shift towards a more visually deep film work, where the making of sound has been the incidental product (though related) of the image projected. For what I originally intended to be a way of making sound (the magnetic thud and crackle akin to tape) on film, the copy print and re-embedding of rust on the film surface, coupled with the unstable nature of outdated film stock has in turn created sonic dynamics that act in parallel to what is seen.
As for the sound of the work, it is like shooting a roll of still film, sending it off for a 24 hour development and waiting to get your prints. In other words, the way it is made each time onto the film is something quite exciting that you don’t always have control over in the moment of making. Of course, as you go along you get to figure out the way certain things are like they are, but it is always producing shifting results - albeit within a particular frequency spectrum. Often the image produces just static, click, crackle, thud, drop out and the occasional hum, and the way it is played back is not unusual, just the magnetic head that you find on a film editing table.
As expected (since working in a film lab was a first for me), I have produced a lot of stuff, and now I’m whittling it down into a rigorous form that will (I hope!!) be a distillation of film noise and image in the performance moment. The screening will be on the 26th October at no.w.here in Bethnal Green, and I will be joined by Artist Rob Gawthrop with a couple of his films, a short performance together and a discussion.
So far, very good!
Formed in 2004, no.w.here is a not-for-profit, artist run organisation based in Tower Hamlets, London that combines film production alongside critical dialogue about contemporary image making. As an artist run platform, no.w.here has supported the production of artist works, run multiple workshops and critical discussions and actively curated performances, screenings, residencies, publications, events and exhibitions. no.w.here's national and international projects explore political and aesthetic questions around contemporary image production and systems of distribution and their ideas come directly from a participatory artistic practice that does not take these terms for granted.