About Joey Phinn

My name is Joey and I am a freelance writer, blogger and student currently studying BA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. I write for GKBCInc and update my own blog, Princeling, with an assortment of art, photography and prose. When I am not writing I enjoy watching Studio Ghibli animations, reading Murakami and obsessing over the beauty of Chinese gourds. Between planning eventual world domination and eventually becoming a “real” artist, I scour the deep web for those shining nuggets of creative talent that shape the undercurrent of British culture today – and, hopefully, our tomorrow.

Gabby Colledge

Who said acoustic music was dead? The era may be over, but its echo continues to reverberate and inspire the young, up and coming musicians of today. Despite the vast advances of music technology, most aspiring singers still cling to the jazzy sounds of an acoustic guitar and the steel strings beneath their callused fingers. It’s what we grew up with, what we all instinctively know. And it’s this sense of deeply rooted nostalgia that London-based, singer-songwriter Gabby Colledge teases out from between the eaves of your ears.

Colledge’s soulful voice rises and sinks like a wave, like satin with grain. It could have traveled here from another time, an eclectic, golden period of folk and jazz. Of her inspirations, Gabby muses:

“I generally love all acoustic music, especially stripped down versions of dance songs, and the YouTube channel Watch Listen Tell. I grew up loving classic soul singers such as Etta James and also more folk-based music like Laura Marling.

At the moment I’m listening to more chilled out, almost electronic music, such as London Grammar.”

Forever in a dream / about the texture of your skin / safety in your arms / I’m free from harm.

Thus far, Colledge has composed three songs on her soundcloud, Waiting for me, Anybody could be fooled and Done with you. There’s something particularly enchanting about the second song, with a lilting melody and lyrics that make you sigh with the beauty of it all – a feeling or memory you’ve forgotten in the corner of your mind — in the haze of your eyes / anyone could be fooled — and leaves you wanting more as the last notes linger and melt away.

To listen to Gabby Colledge’s music, visit her soundcloud, and let us know your thoughts below.

The White Building

Hover over the black capital letters of THE WHITE BUILDING on their website and it transforms into a conquettish HI THERE. Such playful, whimsical use of coding/CSS is, perhaps, inevitable of the Hackney Wick building that is known, particularly in glitch-kitsch enthusiast circles, as “London’s centre for art, technology and sustainability.” Run by SPACE Studios, the building runs a unique residential program involving artists from the famed James Bridle, who instigated the movement of the New Aesthetic, to Jesse Darling, John Rafman and the duo Kyoung Kim and Daniel Rourke who run the fantastic GLTI.CH Karaoke project.

It’s inspiring and refreshing to know that London still has innovative artistic hubs: more than a simple gallery or exhibition space, The White Building is a carefully curated space for cultural phenomena. From residency studios to event spaces and CRATE Brewery & Pizzeria, The White Building combines everything us humans need from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – food, drink and a roof over our heads – and turns it into a post-internet sanctuary where anything and everything can happen.

The building itself was born as a section of the Clarnico Sweet factory and ended its lease of life as a print works. David Kohn Architects has rebirthed the location as a “space for creativity, built by and for local people, resonating with its historical context” even as the work that goes on within often strives towards the technology of the future. They’ve hosted seminars, talks on bio-aesthetics, eco-futurism and dystopia, discussed the untangling of the digital future and advanced awareness of Paranormal Activity – an introduction to anomalistic psychology. It’s undeniably a pavilion of art, education and the future of big ideas.

What does the future hold? Temporary Sculptures by Klas Eriksson, an art installation and collective performance spanning geographical locations around the world will be ushered in on the 22nd of February, and James Bridle will be giving a lecture On the Rainbow Plane on the 26th of February, “investigating the relationships between the public understanding of technology and networks, and the classification of people and things performed by technologies. He will explore the embdedded politics, from the technological gaze to data shadows, immigration, deportation, and rendition.” Definitely a talk not to be missed.

Even more excitingly, curator and writer Omar Kholeif has edited a new book entitled You Are Here: Art After the Internet, published by Cornerhouse, which arose out of a year-long residency at The White Building and claims to be the “first major publication to critically explore both the effects and affects that the Internet has had on contemporary artistic practices… Responding to an era that has increasingly chosen to dub itself as ‘post-internet’, this collective text traces a potted narrative exploring the relationship of the Internet to art practices from the early millennium to the present day.” If you’re interested, The Creator’s Project has written an in-depth interview with Kholeif in regards to the book and our post-internet relationship with the aesthetics of today.

To keep up to date with The White Building’s activities, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Amy Fletcher

We have always had a complex relationship with technology: the dictionary defines the term as the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, but technology in its most abstract form could simply be defined as an apparatus or thing that aids us – a functional tool or a way of being. In that sense, we could argue that we have been intertwined with technology since the dawn of man. Artist and filmmaker Amy Fletcher explores these intricate ideas as part of her ongoing practice at Chelsea College of Art and Design.

In her most recent work Let’s Play, Fletcher creates a playful, whimsical space that seems to invite the viewer to interact with the screen even though there’s no viable form of participation. Amy notes that her work “has a childish sensibility to it […] most recently I have been examining the subject of technology within my practice; looking at its constantly evolving presence within society and our innate desire for the next slickest gadget and gizmo.”

As in popular culture, art itself is increasingly enmeshed by and within technology. Using the film medium, a high-tech camera and stop-frame animation, the artist appears in her own work through the form of disembodied limbs: poppy music accompanies a set of magical hands that conjure and play with a set of objects set against a flat backdrop.

As an audience, we know that it is not “real” and that the objects on screen are not really changing from 2D to 3D from one frame to another. Rather than trying to hide its fabricated nature, however, the video actually tries to emphasise this quality through the loud camera clicks that accompany each shot.

There’s something clever in the film’s careful positioning and flickering frames that captures the eye: like a deft magician, Amy uses the stop-frame animation genre to create an illusion the viewer is willing to invest in – despite, and perhaps because, of its honest and effective duplicity.

Take a look at Amy Fletcher’s online behance portfolio to see more of her past, current and ongoing work.

Jing Hu

I first came across Jing Hu’s work at the University of the Arts London’s Freshers Fair last year, when we shared various works with each other as fellow fine art students. I was immediately blown away by the illustrative style of her paintings, possessing at once a very distinctive Chinese quality yet also the influence of western antiquity.

Her colour palettes ranges from vibrant reds to monochromatic greys, but the vast majority of her work have subdued, introspective undertones. The stylised, sometimes hybrid characters stare solemnly back at the observer, haunting in their androgynous, anime beauty and poised in frozen inertia. They sit or lounge or stand in luxurious, traditional settings or strangely fantastical landscapes. Doe-like eyes seem to accuse the viewer of something – you’re not sure exactly what, but they seem to be trying to communicate a story to you.

With a stroke of her brush, Jing Hu weaves an unspoken narrative between the threads of her seductive characters as she “explores ideas around flux, migration, urban-life with aesthetic codes as markers of identity and aspirations.” Essentially, her work elevates the banality of modern life to the realm of urban mythology.

To follow Jing Hu’s journey and view more of her works in her eclectic portfolio (which also includes mixed media art), visit her website.

Stephen Eyre

Glittering, charismatic and ever affable: aspiring singer-songwriter and producer Stephen Eyre springs from the buzzing London suburbia as a shining vision of our contemporary English zeitgeist. Much like his own multicultural background, the Essex-born musician dips his fingers in eclectic genres, from pop to Kraftwerk-esque electro to ethnic.

Eyre is, however, more than just a simple musician: currently studying BA Fine Art at UAL, he brings a vivacious body of performance work to the table that accompanies alternating soft and jazzy synths. Subtle exotic notes throb in the backdrop of his tracks like the faint after-note of a perfume – what Stephen calls an “oriental kind of sound”, acquired through the frequent use of pentatonic scales.

In his most accomplished track to date, Electric Girl, muffled drumbeats accompany a twirling, fluted melody that melts around Eyre’s deep, throbbing vocals. We are transported to a more romantic era and yet, simultaneously, a techno-futuristic dimension. The track is a juxtaposition, an oxymoron, a beautiful contradiction and portmanteau of universal sounds.

Something old, something new, something borrowed. The lingering feeling one receives is one of an upbeat, tender nostalgia, like hazy disco lights pulsing in a small jazz club located somewhere in a grungy basement (where all the cool art kids go at night).

Sitting in our art studio, Stephen answers a few of my questions about his influences and ambitions for the future:

 1.    How would you describe your music?

Oooh, that’s difficult! I focus on the instruments. I’d describe my music as alternative but with a pop sensibility – a pop structure, blending different sounds into a pastiche of different styles and hopefully creating my own genre. Basically an eclectic mix of styles blended into a hodgepodge of lush instrumentation with big synth influences.

2.    Name three of your favourite musicians.

Kate Bush, David Bowie, MGMT.

3.    What kind of music are you working on right now?

I’m really getting into live work at the moment. Last month I had my first gig, my second gig is coming up very soon. And I’m currently collaborating on a project with Michael Oliviere AKA Bubbles, songwriter for Jennifer Lopez, Eminem and Gwen Stefani. But I can’t say too much about that yet!

 4.    Do you think you bring your art degree/education into your music?

I think my study of art definitely affects the visual presentation of my music, but not the music itself. Contemporary art can tend to be quite intellectual and about ideas, whereas the music I make tends to be intuitive and emotional. I do think that music has a lot of unconscious cultural connotations, however.

5.    If you could give any advice to someone starting out writing and producing their own music, what would you say? 

Hmm, I think it is important to find creative ways around a problem or something that’s holding you back. I think you have to take a look at yourself as an artist and ask yourself if this is an artist you would really like to listen to or see!

Intrigued? Follow and hear more of Stephen’s lush music on his soundcloud, or treat yourself to a live performance at his next gig this Friday at White Rabbit.

 

 

GLTI.CH Karaoke

To mesh music, performance and collaborative participation is no easy task, yet it’s what artists/writers/wannabe hackers Kyougn Kmi and Daniel Rourke (who’s currently completing his PhD in art and writing practice at Goldsmiths) set out to do in GLTI.CH Karaoke. Most of us have half-baked childhood fantasies about becoming rock stars that we live out in our showers to an imaginary audience. The fundamental human desire to make lyrical noise and its power as an intimate social experience is, perhaps, best seen in the karaoke social phenomenon, which originated in Japan in the 1970s.

The word karaoke originates from the Japanese character kara or “empty” and ōkesutora for “orchestra”. Strangely poetic: empty orchestra. Karaoke’s pop-culture existence feeds on and is inseparable from technology: a dark, faux-luxurious room and microphones connected to the mother womb of the TV screen, which flashes music videos and proclaims lyrics across its face as we belt out songs (badly), sycophants of desire. Why do we do it? Maybe because singing is a cathartic experience, or because it gives us access to our deepest fantasies.

GLTI.CH Karaoke takes this one step further. Their website, Glti.ch (in itself a whimsical play on words), sets out an unofficial manifesto for their intentions:

“Since April 2011 we’ve been exposing the course of accidents, temporal lyrical disjoints and technical out-of syncs. GLTI.CH Karaoke breaches hopeless distances with cultural and technical make-dos of readily available technology, to kluge people together in glitchy songfests.”

Their ultimate aim?

“To bring people together and have them collaborate on karaoke duets. […] Using free versions of Skype, Youtube and collaborative web software TinyChat, we orchestrate duets between people who have never met each other, who don’t speak the same language, bypassing thousands of geographic miles with glitchy, highly compressed data and a bit of patience.”

There’s something altogether wonderful and utopian about the idea of singing together with strangers across the Internet, our voices traveling through electric wires and pixelated through the winds of the earth. Our imperfection is moving, our technological and organic errors a fundamental part of what it means to be homo sapien. Thus, the glitch or “glti.ch”, either aesthetic glitches or broken translation in the filtered collaboration between people, represents our contemporary human condition.

GLTI.CH quotes Iman Moradi, “In a sense we are cherishing the little idiosyncrasies that are absent from the soulless machines churned from the production lines.”

We can read this as a simultaneous celebration of and reaction to the glistening Internet, which brings us together virtually but also limits our interaction with each other in RL. Is this a bad thing? What is GLTI.CH Karaoke, really? Its medium revolves around the Web and site-based events; its outcome encompasses social media platforms, blogs and video compilations. Perhaps what the project ultimately aims to achieve is to forge a new way of seeing, evoking a new simulative way of collaboration with other people in a brave new world.

“GLTI.CH Karaoke not only inhabits the errors, the time delays and compression artifacts, but the ultimate variable of human interaction. Here, we believe, a neutral collaborative space can be mapped out, free to transcend markets, locations, time zones – free to roam between abandoned city basements, student bed sits and internet café laptops. GLTI.CH Karaoke events revel in the slippery nature of the web. Our manifesto asks to be written and rewritten as it gathers cracks, bruises and mistranslation errors.”

Enchanted yet? Read through GLTI.CH Karaoke’s previous events and keep a look out for its next virtual intervention on their website, flickr, twitter, facebook and youtube. Let us know what you think of glitch aesthetics in the comments below.

Freyja Dean

Some of the most fulfilling and interesting cross-disciplinary work in the burgeoning London art scene is coming out of the inter-dialogue between the arts and sciences – from biological processes to scientific theories to technologies that are testing the brave new virtual frontier, artists are increasingly drawing on the scientific basis for our natural world to weave the fabric of our contemporary narratives.

Art institutions, too, are beginning to recognise this – take the relatively new MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, which is supporting young creatives who come from all walks of life.

I refer, in particular, to the work of Freyja Dean, self-professed artist, illustrator and designer. She completed her MA last term at CSM, but before that was studying Scientific and Natural History Illustration for three years, and also completed work for the Royal College of Surgeons. She applies this scientific background of precise finesse to her artwork, seen clearly in the beautifully crafted lines and shading of both her anatomical and ink illustrations.

Freyja has created an eclectic range of work, from album covers to painting to costume design. I was particularly impressed by her MA work, IDollatry, which consisted of a fantastical “portal” guarded by a lemur-hybrid that opened up into a triptych of IDollworld. Listening to her speak at the MA Art and Science Symposium was inspiring as she explained how her work sought to explore the technological potential of the future, as well as the phenomena of modern, self-cultivated mythologies.

“I wanted to create an altar piece complete with idols (or IDolls) that explored the possible consequences, not just in terms of what we are capable of, but also what kind of humanity we are shaping for ourselves.” 

To peek further into the world of Freyja’s strange and futuristic Eden, visit her website.

Will Sweeney

There are fewer greater places to discover illustrative talent then at a celebrated institution like the Design Museum in London: it was there, during Vestige’s technology-based event, that I discovered the eclectic work of artist Will Sweeney. Treading somewhere between the mainstream and the obscure, Sweeney’s work nevertheless captures the popular imagination with elaborate drawings and renderings of fantastical alien landscapes and hybrid creatures – something Japanese, something 60’s inspired, something that entices and arrests your senses.

Some of Will Sweeney’s most commercially successful work includes his music videos for Birdy Nam Nam and his comic Tales from Greenfuzz. Watching Birdy Nam Nam’s music video The Parachute Ending is like taking a short acid trip: the colour positively pops in a psychedelic tableau of Iron Maiden-esque statues, flickering sci-fi screens and symbiotic plants in what Sweeney calls a “meat versus vegetables” kind of story.

Another of his works, Purposemaker, is a stunning pencil work of such detailed precision it likens itself as a futuristic interpretation of famed Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel’s Dulle Griet. A diorama of surreal characters juxtaposed on a flattened landscape, both works seem to reference allegorical interpretations of life and death – in times and places both real and imaginary.

Illustration, prints, comics, videos, toys, clothing and even exhibitions: the prolific artist has extended his incredible style to incorporate all aspects of commercial design and co-runs his London-based outlet Alakazam with Ayako Terashima. For more information or to see more of Sweeney’s portfolio, check out his biography on Big Active.

Dan Ojari

Animators exist and work in a pocket of time quite different from that of other filmmakers – a dimension where time wheezes and slows down to miniscule second by second, frame by frame. Take the words of award-winning animator and director Dan Ojari, who graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011:

“What a second is… Brief? Insignificant? Short? Most people don’t really pay too much attention to one.”

Blink, and another second has past that you will likely never miss. It may be argued in reality that sequential time is fabricated, but that’s exactly what an animation is: a sequence of events flickering by, capturing moments in time.

Perhaps Ojari’s keen insight as cinematic keeper of time is why his RCA graduate short film Slow Derek was a tale about the quintessential everyman: an office worker going through the gestures of every banal second of the day even as he begins to suspect that Earth is, slowly, leaving him behind. Slow Derek has garnered numerous awards and critical acclaim, from the Visual Science Award at the UCD Imagine Science Film Satellite Festival to the Grand Prix of Animayo and Animated Encounters.

As Derek rides his scheduled train or sits at his desk, we feel a sense of complacency that is suddenly interjected with uncanny visions of a spinning void. Ojari comments that the film is “very much about relativity and the contrast between the mundane and the colossal. The starting point was after I became particularly fascinated with how fast the earth is travelling, especially because we don’t feel this speed. We are literally hurtling through space at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour and yet don’t feel a thing. I felt this was, aside from being an amazing actual fact, also was an interesting metaphor for modern day life.”

We feel aligned with the protagonist specifically because he is a vessel for our contemporary fears and suspicions that the world is somehow not what it seems. As we lead what philosopher Henry David Thoreau might call “lives of quiet desperation”, we believe there is a “true” reality slinking amongst us, just out of our grasp. Ojari’s character takes his destiny into his own hands by climbing out of the literal and metaphorical train window and plunging fearlessly into the void.

Red pill or blue pill? In a short eight-minute film, Ojari bundles all of these philosophical questions into a cinematic feast of modeling-clay beauty that mirrors our world and our contemporary neuroses.

To see more of Dan Ojari’s work, visit his website or follow him on Vimeo.

Shannon Tao

When it comes to art, paths cross in the strangest of ways – and there’s no better place to do it than in London. As Samuel Beckett once said: if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life. Yet oftentimes, talent springs up from the turf closest to home. As a kid I went to an international school in Guangzhou, China… and so did aspiring fashion photographer Shannon Tao, now studying at London College of Fashion.

Born Canadian-Chinese and working in London, Shannon’s work is introspective and reflective. A dreamy, nostalgic quality exudes from her photos: her models pose, stilted yet languid, in fancy dress or nondescript clothing, against leafy backdrops or the clinical edge of a toilet. The slender youths gaze towards the viewer, slightly blurred as if a Gaussian filter has been cast over their frames. Pink, violet, sky blue: Shannon’s world is largely hued with sentimental pastels and framed in polaroid – impulse shots of an everyday banality. Like what you might capture of a friend or an “odd in-betweener” with a blink of an eyelid, they are translucent, ethereal and glaringly transient.

Already, Shannon is starting to make waves in the fashion world, her newest series Glitzy Daydreams having recently been featured on Canadian-English magazine Zeum Mag as well as a collaboration with blogger Jiro Hsu being featured on Elle China.

To see more of Shannon Tao’s photography, visit her website.

The King’s Parade

Sometimes all you need to find talent is to take a hike – or a walk in Camden Locke. Whilst wandering to the nearby station and grabbing some Pakistani-style chicken masala wrap (with cheese), I followed the catchy strains of guitar drifting past the bridge and came across The King’s Parade – to be precise, their four talented members, Olivier Corpe (vocals/guitar), Sam Rooney (piano/vocals), Tom English (bass and sax), and Chris ‘The King” Brent, wielding his drumsticks with savvy.

In this age of Internet-based advertising, it’s refreshing to find a band that so relentlessly and successfully pursues a musical career through direct interaction with their listeners: live street performances. Scrolling through the music video of their hit single “Vagabond” on Youtube, the enthusiastic comments are largely from fans exclaiming that they found the R&B band through performances in places ranging from Trafalgar Square, Camden, the British Museum and even Leeds.

Their music is catchy and melodic, upbeat notes and rich, deep voices tinged with melancholia. The Parade’s Motown influences lend soul to their professional compositions and contemporary lyrics, perhaps best seen in “Vagabond”, which has now over 18,000 plays on Soundcloud and has amassed them a slowly growing fanbase – one whose strength rests in the fact that that many of those fans have already had the privilege of listening to them live, and know they prove to be just as good in reality as through a computer screen or filtered through a pair of headphones.

The King’s Parade’s first album will be officially released this October, and their next gig is coming up on the 16th of October at Paper Dress in London. If you’re seeking a quietly enchanting something to go with that chilled drink in the dusk of evening or some bluesy tunes to keep you company in the silence of the night, have a listen to the band by perusing their website and Facebook, or following their sounds via Soundcloud and Youtube.