Thursday, 19 January 2012

Rogue Art Studios: Owl Project

I went to Rogue Studios earlier in the year as I thought it’d give me a bit of an insight into what I could expect once I graduate and how graduates are working and networking and what their studio environment is like. There was a lot of variety of work, some occasional quirky interesting pieces; the artists were pleased when somebody entered their studio, and I spoke to some of them. I liked the diversity but didn’t feel like it’d be somewhere I could work, and there were a lot of depressed faces. However, there was a major stand out which I stayed for about 45 minutes at called Owl Project. I spoke to Simon Blackmore, one of the three artists in the collective, he told me he had a background in engineering (I wish I dabbled in engineering) and was zoning into everything in the room, the big clogs, the sounds, amplifiers, drips, electrics. It was amazing to see something like that and converse about how its come about and what’s happening next. One of the pieces I saw was ‘Flow’. Flow is a floating self powered structure based on a traditional ‘Shipmill’. A waterwheel will harness the power of the river Tyne and this energy will be used to power a number of electro-acoustic musical instruments that combine mechanical automation and digital technology to produce sounds that respond to the river.Owl Project is a collaborative group of artists consisting of Simon Blackmore, Antony Hall and Steve Symons. They work with wood and electronics to fuse sculpture and sound art, creating music making machines, interfaces and objects which intermix pre-steam and digital technologies. Drawing on influences such as 70’s synthesiser culture, DIY woodworking and current digital crafts, the resulting artwork is a quirky and intriguing critique of the allure and production of technology

The result is a distinctive range of musical and sculptural instruments that critique human interaction with computer interfaces and our increasing appetite for new and often disposable technologies. By choosing wood as the main material for the iLog, Owl Project have extracted modern design principles but deflected it back to a traditional sensibility. This immediately raises questions about modern desire for disposable technology and nostalgia surrounding traditional crafts.

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