Loose Space and Circular Time
Steven Ball
film and video works, 1991 - 2008

7.30pm, Friday 25 July, 2008
Teaching and Learning Cinema

302 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills

all titles digital video and UK unless otherwise stated

Side One
Direct Language 1 (2:10, 2005), Sevenths Synthesis (6:20, 2001), Direct Language 12 (0:55, 2006), ex-Local Authority (7:00, 2001), Direct Language 3 (3:04, Belgium, 2005), Beamer (6:39, 2002), Direct Language 2.7 (1:20, 2006), Direct Language 4.5 (1:21, 2007), No-way Street (1:00, 2007), The War on Television (5:00, 2004)

Side Two
Periscope 180° (16:00, super 8 original, Australia, 1992), Direct Language 4.0 (1:17, 2007, Spain), Direct Language 3.2 (0:45, 2006), The Defenestrascope (5:40, 2003), Direct Language 2.9 (0:49, 2006), Lucca Ambulation (with Martin Blazicek, 2:30, Italy, 2007), Pools Between Land (10:00, super 8 & analogue video original, Australia, 1991), The Ground, The Sky and the Island (7:00, 2008)

Total programme: approx 80 mins

Programme notes below

This programme is a non-chronological compilation of a selection of film and video works made between 1991 and 2008. These works cover a range of territory: digital materialist abstraction, spatial exploration, landscape studies and hyperlocal excursions; they are variously experimental and exploratory, occasionally rhythmically/musically abstracted or essayistic. As a retrospective of sorts the programme starts in the middle and moves simultaneously forwards and back in time. Compiling this specifically for a screening in Sydney prompted me to include two early pieces I made while living in Australia in the nineties Periscope 180° and Pools Between Land, as well as the recent video The Ground, The Sky and the Island. The latter reworks text, image and sound produced in Australia and re-examines questions specific to the landscape drawn from the material memory of travelling through that space. This will be its first public screening. Also included are a handful of short works originally made specifically for the videoblog Direct Language (http://directlanguage.blogspot.com) between 2005 and 2007. These short, often opportunistic, experiments and sketches are used as little punctuations, bridges between works made for more terrestrial contexts. - Steven Ball

About the author:
Steven Ball has worked in film, video, sound and installation since the early 1980s. In the late 1980s he accidentally migrated to Melbourne, Australia, where he continued his practice making a number of film, video and sound and installation works, as well as being engaged in various arts activist, curatorial, administrative, teaching and writing activities. Since returning to the UK in 2000 he has continued his practice as a moving image artist and since 2003 he has also been Research Fellow at the British Artists' Film and Video Study Collection, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London as well as co-organising regular monthly screenings between 2006 and 2007 with cogcollective. Most recently he has been making live video performance works, both in collaboration (with Martin Blazicek (Czech Republic) and as Storm Bugs with Philip Sanderson) and individually. He will be performing a new work Personal Electronics at Melbourne International Film Festival in August 2008. His work has been exhibited internationally including the UK, across Europe, South America, Canada, Japan, Korea and Australia.


Programme Notes:

Direct Language 1 (2:10, 2005)

At the end of the written word is the screen...

Sevenths Synthesis (6:20, 2001)

Animated abstracted synthetic sound-to-image/image-to-sound digital materialist parsing experiments collide with trad. pagan Beltane folk dance remixed Seven Step Polka in fragmentary, fractured and fast digital scratch mix. A hybrid of materialist and spatial exploration.

The video begins with very short snatches from a combination of colourful abstracted sequences and a grainy low light nighttime shot through a distant window where a television flickers behind translucent curtains. The sound is glitchy and fragmented. These sequences gradually become longer until images of traditional English dancers appear set to sampled traditional music. Gradually these dancing shots come to dominate, flickering alternating single frame cutting with the previous images. The piece winds down as the short abstracted sections again become shorter and fragmented, echoing the beginning of the piece.

Direct Language 12 (0:55, 2006)

Mouse action.

ex-Local Authority (7:00, 2001)

The video is made from static - but not still - images of a 1920s council tenement estate. The images consist of framed architectural features viewed through the trees in a courtyard. The relationship of stillness to the moving image is a complex one ...in many ways there is no such thing as a 'still' within the context of film: in a medium which moves through time, although we might think of a static image as having qualities of 'stillness'. The video used to make ex-Local Authority was shot on a static camera on a locked-off tripod and the motion in most scenes was the branches and leaves on the trees moving slightly in the breeze. Using editing software I was able to move the image from being absolutely still at one point on the timeline, to moving it back and forth along the timeline... one of the integral elements in this process was to simultaneously create a soundtrack from the midi music that I had laid along the timeline.
- extract from: http://sphericalobject.blogspot.com/2006/05/dancing-about-architecture.html

Direct Language 3 (3:04, Belgium, 2005)

The wardrobe is to the right of the bed...

Beamer (6:39, 2002)

Minimalist piece that exploits spatial/temporal relationship and viewer expectation in a drama of tension and release.
- read more at: http://sphericalobject.blogspot.com/2005/10/around-and-around.html

Direct Language 2.7 (1:20, 2006)

Direct Language 4.5 (1:21, 2007)

Urban spatial practices.

No-way Street (1:00, 2007)

Cordoned areas and blocked streets have become an increasingly common occurrence in urban centres. The strategy of producing public spaces of exception disrupts the pedestrian's everyday practice of writing the city. As regular pathways are rerouted along side streets and down unfamiliar alleys, the city starts to become a strange place, a more abstracted experience. No-way Street enacts the discombobulating effect of such orientation realignment through a series of multiple short video and audio loop sequences of blocked streets, diverted pedestrians and police cordons, constructed as a spatial and temporal matrix.

The War on Television (5:00, 2004)

The War on Television is made almost entirely from images derived from interference fractured digital television broadcasts. These are randomly processed and manipulated through layers of scratch techniques exaggerating the stuttering fragmentation.

The pristine digital veneer, the authority and reliability of the always-on 24-hour news channel fucked-up, becoming abstracted into a flow of jarring noise and stammering incoherence. A celebration of digital anti-aesthetics, excess and entropic fallibility.
- see also: http://sphericalobject.blogspot.com/2005/11/breaking-news.html

Periscope 180° (16:00, super 8 original, Australia, 1992)

Surveying through a full half circle...

Taking a look around from east to west and back again, between places in a shallow magnetic field, without putting down roots or making a tracing: becoming an open map.

The first part: Fremantle, West Australia, nautical references (seascapes, masts, lighthouses).

The second part: East Gippsland, Victoria, alternating indistinct images of beach, sea and sky with black and white footage of fishermen on a beach, voice-over taking up notions suggested by the first part: poetic speculation on uncertainty of migration, nomadic condition, continual departure, paradox of return: the refrain.

At sea when it began, three months of water and then down the west coast of Australia...

He's English, and he's here on some kind of scientific job, or is it geographic?

...and every day after that, I went to the beach...

The third and final part in aerial transit, an arrival denied by the film ending.
- original programme note, read more at: http://www.steven-ball.co.uk/an-archive.html#p180

Direct Language 4.0 (1:17, 2007, Spain)


Direct Language 3.2 (0:45, 2006)


The Defenestrascope (5:40, 2003)

The Defenestrascope throws the view through windows from monumental towers in contemporary and medieval European city and town. This eccentric exploration of urbanised space revolves around a sample ensemble setting of the traditional 16th century Norfolk song Go from the Window, framed by a fragmented clapping rhyme. A neo-rococo vaudevillian romp dedicated to Alan Lomax and Gus Elen.

go from the window, throw from the window
downsteps upstairs, upsteps downstairs
down in the street, out in the street
the wind is in the west, the cuckoo's in the nest
along the canal, down from the torre
bicycle piazza, amphitheatre
through the agora, crossing the ringroad
a ladder and some glasses, a rope and a pulley
crossing the platz, along the strasse
out of the window, down from the window

Direct Language 2.9 (0:49, 2006)

Lucca Ambulation (with Martin Blazicek, 2:30, Italy, 2007)

The Tuscan medieval city of Lucca is one of few with its wall intact, making it possible to walk a complete circuit around the city on it. Much of daily life takes place on the wall; one might say that it is the peripheral centre of Lucca. On a Sunday morning Martin and I take a walk on the wall: I walk clockwise, he walks anti-clockwise, we meet back where we started. The walk takes 49 minutes, compressed here into two and a half.

Pools Between Land (10:00, super 8 & analogue video original, Australia, 1991)

A broadcast from the undergrowth. A transmission from the fields of electrical and emotional energies imprinted on the landscape, recorded in the water. Snatches of a disembodied voice were recorded, subjective glimpses cut through the electrical crackle of the carrier frequency on the monitor. A fragmented world of reconstructed space and time in a claustrophobic environment beneath the canopy of trees.
- original programme note, read more at: http://www.steven-ball.co.uk/an-archive.html#pbl

The Ground, The Sky and the Island (7:00, 2008)

This video reworks photographs, super 8 film, sound and anecdotal text from a series of bush and outback locations across Australia during the 1990s. It takes the form of extracts from an imagined first person journal, layered over extruded experiments with composition and movement constructing a synthetic shifting landscape. Moving through discrete but related sections, the abstracted view shifts vertically through 90 degrees between the closeness of the local, the ground, and the claustrophobia of the distant colonizing horizon. As it travels east from the South Australian desert, through bush, tablelands and rocky range, the video becomes a subjective essayistic meditation, in absentia, on being in the landscape, the problem of attempting to reproduce these landscapes and the uncertainty of their representation. At its inconclusion we arrive on K'gari (Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland) where we reach the edge of the known world, a space being made in an open future.

total programme: approx 80 mins