Future Art Ecosystems 2: Larry Achiampong and David Blandy

Future Art Ecosystems 2:  Larry Achiampong and David Blandy

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Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us. And you can probably recognize that I am not Kay Watson, Head of Arts Technologies. My name's Alex Boyes. I'm taking over for Kay this evening who couldn't be with us.

And I'm a producer here at Serpentine Arts Technologies. And this evening, we welcome two new contributors from our FAE2 Report, artists Larry Achiampong and David Blandy, who are who are artists that work across film, video game performance, literature and visual art. David and Larry, please let me know if I'm missing out anything there, but we'll get into it. I know you do all the things!

This conversation is part of our FAE2 Live series, where we speak to contributors from our recent report. And this report ordinarily is closed research publication and the Lives give us the opportunity to open up to you, our audience, to gain more insight and to speak to our contributors as well. We always post-produce our Lives for those who can't join us. So you can watch this at another time via Serpentine YouTube.

There you can also find previous Lives that featured artists like Amelia Winger-Bearskin and Sam Rolfes, as well as other R&D platform publications such as Legal Lab Report 1: Art + Tech/Science that was created in collaboration with Alana Kushnir, who's our Principal Legal Lab Investigator, and Marie Potel-Saville, who's founder of legal design agency Amurabi. So, Future Art Ecosystems and of that, Future Art Ecosystems 2. So the Future Ecosystem series is an annual strategic briefing that launched in 2020 and provides concepts, references, language and argument that can be integrated into operational agendas for the construction of 21st century cultural infrastructure.

So FAE1 one looked and addressed the implications of artistic engagements with advanced technologies, while FAE2 focuses on the larger stakes involving the revamping of digital strategies of cultural institutions, and in particular the advent of the Metaverse; an online/always online, persistent spatial and second world. David and Larry, so to introduce our two artists in more detail, I'm going to read out your bios from your website. But after I've done this, I always like to do this with any interview because you do so much. I'd really like you to sort of explain what you do, but potentially from a non-artistic perspective. But to start, Larry Achiamong's, Larry Achiampong's, solo and collaborative projects employ imagery, aural and visual archives, live performance and sound to explore ideas surrounding class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity. With works that examine his communal and personal heritage.

In particular, the intersection between pop culture and the postcolonial position Achiampong crate digs the vaults of history. I really love, crate digs. These investigations examine constructions of the self by splicing the audible and visual materials of personal and interpersonal archives, offering multiple perspectives that reveal entrenched socio political contradictions in contemporary society. David Blandy has established his terrain through a series of investigations into the cultural forces that inform and influence him in recent works, examining human consciousness within the digital world. His work slip between performance and video, reality and construct, using references sampled from wide, disparate sources that provide his and our own individualist sense of self. Collaboration is central to his practice, examining communal and personal heritage and interdependence.

Before we jump into questions, I also quickly want to introduce the rest of the Serpentine team and our two interpreters, Karen Green and Porrigine Kneigh-Rayliegh. Here in the studio this evening. I've got to Tamar Clarke-Brown, who's our Commissions Producer. I've got Ralph Pritchard, who's our Tech Manager for this evening.

Ralph is looking after all the video feeds and also just so that, you know, for those watching at home that require BSL services will be switching every 15 minutes. I've got Associate Curator of Arts Technologies Eva Jäger here. Um, and those who are absent.

Kay Watson, Head of Arts Technologies, Ben Vickers Strategist at Large, and Victoria Ivanova who's our R&D Strategic Lead. For those that need closed captions, you need to click the CC option at theobottom right at the Twitch frame. And because we are on Twitch, please do get involved with our chat.

We've got a dedicated Q&A section towards the very end. Tamar will be gathering these questions and feeding them back to us towards the end. So, yes, please get involved. But so back to my original question, David and Larry, I'd love for you to explain in your own words. I guess the non-artist-bio-speel about what you do. Wow. Do you want to go first Larry? Yeah, sure. I spend a lot of time working on the things that...working

around things that interest me, really. I love playing video games but I haven't played any predictions for a little while. I always go for these drips and drabs, even the same with like listening to music. I love music. I've got loads of vinyls and stuff. But I guess I have periods of of listening or watching or playing nothing, which for me is nice because it's kind of, I guess like detox or cleansing come back to things freshly and newly.

But yeah, you know, I, I like I like doing these everyday things. Also going to the cinema and I guess like conversating around those those things that people connect with for all quite the opposite. A lot of what I do revolves around conversations, I think, without without human interaction or conversations. What I do doesn't really exist.

It's not it's not it's not there to simply just exclusively serve me. It's it's about, you know, listening, taking a moment to breathe in, to hold that, and then to, you know, to excel, really. So it's. Yeah. What I do. It revolves around my life.

It revolves around me being a parent. Those around me. As a young black man who is mostly raised by his mother, learning about, I guess, what some refer to as, you know, feminism, for example, for particular experiences. Yeah, that's that's what that's what I do. Yeah, like Larry, my practice comes from self-analysis in many ways, I view myself as an anthropological subject, pulling apart, working out what it means in many ways I came to that, through being at art school and kind of thinking about what I wanted to make work about and how could I make work about anything? How can you know anything? And, you know, you get get through to Descartes kind of a premise that the only thing that you can know is that you can know that your brain exists and that your understanding the world. And so you try and.

It's it's only your interpretation of the world that you can really, really think about and know and what is the subject that you can pull apart and analyze and laugh at and find ridiculous, kind of without exploiting. Other subjects and well, the self fits in quite well there. So, yes, so I started kind of pulling apart my love of hip hop, video games, manga, anime. And what it meant.

As a person, how do you reconcile the fact that my grandfather was a Japanese prisoner of war, survived on like a little bowl of rice a day and would never touch rice after that? And yet my favorite video games like Final Fantasy, seven Nintendo, stuff like I'm a total kind of nerd for all the anime stuff. So like, you know, a project like Child of the Atom, actually forever kind of comes out of that clash of the self vs. the geopolitical kind of situations. I was trying to work those things together.

And and like like, Larry, almost all my work comes from conversation, its conversation with sometimes. Sometimes it's a person, sometimes it's an object in the world. So it might be a conversation with GTA V Like kind of learning to fly inside Grand Theft Auto or it might be. Yeah, I'm talking to kids about West London Street talk for creating a dictionary that was a long, long, long ago, but this sort of and it's from from all of those sorts of investigations, our conversations started Larry. Like it was it was from a conversation like that we were having.

And it says like, well, you know, you've got you've got you've got the lyrics. Is this from a piece I did where I was reciting a bunch of mostly mostly Ghostface lyrics in Freud's final consulting room in North London. And you said, well, you got the lyrics, but where the beats, where's the production? And so I said I said was, well, you know, I'm only one person. You know, maybe maybe we could we could talk about doing something together and seeing where that would go. And it's it's it's gone here. So this is, what, almost eight years later? I mean, we been a while.

Yea, long times. You're making me feel old now. Not as old as me mate. That's true. Larry. I was just saying to David earlier what I really loved about your interview.

So for FAE2 we interviewed, like over forty five different people, and towards the end of that process, the interview, sort of the structuring of it became quite methodical and mechanic. But you were both our first interview, and it was really organic and really resonated with me. And I know I was only listening in. Kay was performing it. But what I really loved about it was you were both reflecting on sort of the differences in terms of your identity and your background. But through video games, you had found a way to collaborate and communicate in this rich environment.

It really, for me, it struck a chord because, I mean, my my video game that I'm always obsessed with is World of Warcraft. And I've made really lifelong friends with people through that particular medium. And people that don't understand video games often scoff at it or they sort of critique it and make fun of it.

But my question to you from this is kind of like what do you think it is about video games that create such a rich environment for connecting people? Oh, gosh. Yeah, we could literally just focus on that, yes. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, to do that. Yeah, that's a great question.

I mean. You know, I guess for me, like the thing is, it's it's not even so much with, you know, like recent video games that are kind of space or set of spaces for like creatives, where people can kind of like connect or build and create their own languages within a set of languages that already exist. Right. You know, you have people who hacked games or he, you know, kind of run for invisible wars and find things that, you know, the producers or creators of games didn't intend for people to, you know, to to exploit. But. It's really, I think.

You know, of course, you know, video gaming is is is very young compared to, you know, film, for example, music and things like that. But as a as a social media, it's a social medium, right. Of course, there are one player games.

There are loads of one play games. But even even that process of watching someone playing a game that can give quite a therapeutic feeling for some people, I'm more of a, you know, game played than a watcher. But I do appreciate, you know, when you're when you're going for a play through there's, you know, like set pieces visually in a video game, you know, so some kind of like smart kind of approaches to play things like that. But, you know, even without the kind of like the geeky elements of of that, it's really, you know, by and large, it's it's it's the space where.

And I'm talking from my perspective, it's different for other people, but it's a space where, you know, some people don't perhaps necessarily feel connected in other ways, in other aspects of life where they can become or be themselves or be something different than perhaps what they what they say they're reminded about, what they think of, you know, the escapism of it, of course, you know, which, again, you know, when we think about other mediums like literature and things like that, you know, that ability to jump into another world. Right. There's there's a there's a specialness there with that. And. It's you know, it creates, I would say, entirely infinite possibilities, but close to that in a way that, you know, other mediums in a way kind of in some respects, I think nowadays are playing catch up to, you know, if you can if you compare video games to to film, for example, a cinema.

Well, you know, video games are able to empathically take on the power of cinema, but cinema can't do that. The reverse. You know, there isn't, you know. Yeah, sure. There may be experiments where people have made, you know, film, where people have more choices and stuff, but it doesn't work quite in the same way that, you know, a video game, let's say Metal Gear Solid for example, or even The Last of Us.

You can tell compelling stories, you know, simply just cut scenes. But actually, you know, playing the role of that character through that. So it's that it's just the fact that that it creates a whole. Whole set of new worlds or universes or or spaces that are open for people to then go in and create their own environments, you know, which is which is the special thing about it, I don't think it's so much about the shininess of finishes of of a game and so on, it really is you know, it's it's the social space really.

And I think I mean, video games have been vital to me and Larry kinda being on the same page in a weird way, like when we first met up, it was very much like we were. Discussing a couple of elements from, yeah, Metal Gear Solid or Zelda or Mario 64 even, and these are the shared spaces that we've both experienced. They're all solo games, so they're games you're playing by yourself.

But when you discuss them with others who have had that same experience, it's it's like a shared memory. It's sort of, you know, and it's a shared memory that you've embodied because it's because it's a game and you're actually you have your avatar in the space and you experience at your own pace and with your own intensity, it somehow has a kind of a. There's occupies a different psychic space from, say, the shared memory of watching the same film, I think. You know, there are I that that's that too, is that kind of a shared shared element in our in our in our friendship.

But I think the video games especially somehow really, really struck a chord. And I think the fact that we were both kind of avid gamers was central to us, being sort of all on the same page and in a weird way. I mean, yeah, we're both Londoners.

But, you know, I'm from northwest, Larry, from east, but I'm white. He's black. Like we both love hip hop. But it's like there's so many there's so many points of sort of difference in our life experience. But we've had these shared memories in these in these spaces that have been created by Kijima and. Miyamoto and and it's it's yeah, it's it's strange, this kind of cross-cultural pollination, you know, these are these are games by Japanese designers that have brought these to Londoners together.

It's good to have a conversation about what it means to be to be us today, perhaps, you know, and and the fact that it's video games bringing us to that. I think would have been probably laughter like 20 years ago. You know. I mean, I was always kind of laughed at doing video game work for my for my degree, which is, yeah, back in the dark ages 99, like Tekken 2. But you just think like this is you know, I had to explain what a very bloody video game was. Pardon my French.

Yeah, it was just yeah, it's it's it's a kind of a different world now, now that we all have like a video game engine in our pockets. You know, the mobile phone is quite is more powerful than any of the stuff that I had growing up. I was I was, you know, entered the videogame space in on the Atari 2600 and and like the Amstrad six one two eight with built in disk drive. So but that was that was that was kind of where the base where I started playing.

And, you know, now the phone can pretty much you could you could do anything. You could definitely do game cube games on there no problem is like. Yeah, it's it's pretty it's pretty powerful piece of hardware. So

and and it does feel like now everyone's a gamer in some sort of way, whether that's Candy Crush or like, you know, Words With Friends. It's like like these are all the games. And then it's like it becomes like about the you know, there's still this this thing about the hardcore and the kind of casual user. And it's it's all very it's so much more complex, I think, now than it was I have an ongoing joke with my with my son. Who just turned 13 today actually. So happy birthday. Oh, happy birthday. Yeah, big one.

We laugh back and forth about, you know, what's the real game? And, you know, like he loves like he loves of the games we're talking about. And you kind of got into gaming just by watching me and then wanted to play. But he loves the ROBLOX And I'm not really a fan, but I watch him play and I understand how it works. And I understand, you know, what's really fascinating and of course, about I guess it's it's what is it? It's like it's Minecraft, you know. Hmm.

5.0 or whatever. Right. Like, you know, worlds to them. Well, it's people make money, ROBLOX or whatever. Yeah. Yeah. Like I, I love kind of pretending to be this kind of shriveled up old guy saying, oh, it's an abomination. What is this? What are you playing? I love, you know, and we take the mick of each other quite a lot. And and.

Even though I still won't really play those games because I'm just not into it, but like I think David's right, you know, in various ways, like more and more people are gamers for sure. You know, it's interesting when when when David was talking about, you know, 20 years ago, when I think about when I was doing my BA (Bachelor of Arts) which wasn't quite 20 years ago, but, you know, close enough. I my interest in gaming was was frowned upon in like a really serious way, like what? Like what are you actually doing? You're wasting your time.

And it's not like I hadn't heard that before I'd heard that via you know, like my dad, who when we would play the master system, he'd come into the room. He'd literally take the controls. No, he wouldn't even do that. No, no. He would literally take the catridge out of the side. And like, you know, how it is with those old games, if you just like knock it, then.

Yeah, the game just crashes and it just goes, errrrr. He didn't give a you know what! He'd speak in another language for quite a while, like, you know, meaning like get out of it or like, you know, go go and go and study, you know. But like I mean, that's the amazing thing is. Is the world's been shown that, you know, gaming, you know, not even simply from a lucrative point of view, but really a global perspective has so much to offer, so much to, you know, even things that we're still learning.

Right. You know, because, again, it's it's it's a new medium compared to so many of these others that have been long around for quite a while. And then, of course, like like you were saying, there's there's all the all the communities that come around games. You know, this this is totally a double edged sword because you have like the real intense friendship and camaraderie of people who are coming together for a common purpose. If I not been in Minecraft or something, building a particular thing or like World of Warcraft taking down a particular beast or something, but then then you have the flip side, which is sort of, you know, all the Gamergate stuff and and people people kind of.

Basically, gatekeeping, saying that certain people aren't allowed to play this sort of thing or certain people aren't supposed to be in this particular space, it doesn't belong to you. This doesn't belong in this. And it's it's. It can be an incredibly toxic space. I remember I mean, I worked in a videogame shop for a couple of years, and it was. It was both of those things at once at the time, but it was, you know, it was both incredibly like a real sense of like it was us against the world.

And we were all leveling up our our ability to play fighting games. That was most of like that was the obsession was like Street Fight by King of Fighters, mostly, actually, because Street Fighters, like, you know, that's like the mainstream thing. That's boring. Everyone was into King of Fighters and getting getting like the import Japanese cartridge of the for the mid-tier system and stuff and like having this really niche thing. And then like, yeah, people would come in who didn't fit their norm. And yeah, it was I mean, it's horrendous, really. Like like just just slurs and everything.

It was just, you know, you just wish that that side of well, maybe humanity didn't exist, but it was it was there. And you kind of trying to reconcile those two sides feeling of real friendship. And then it's like, no, this is this just isn't right. Like how this is how you're treating these people. So like. Yeah, it's it's a complex space.

It was so as the title suggests, by Metaverse, it was interesting speaking to some contributors, because within a game perspective, when you say the Meta, it's often associated with a correct way or the most successful way of playing a particular video game. And we you know, we came across a lot of responses like that, thinking that we were trying to investigate that too. But we can get to the Metaverse a bit later, because I know seeing all the people that signed up to the event tonight, which is fantastic, there was quite a few cultural practitioners within the list that I recognized.

I think it's really important what you mentioned about the sort of this legacy of the art world scoffing at people that are experimenting within this space. And I mean, our team at Serpentine Galleries, it's kind of like every single project we do involves a game engine or some type of game R&D element. But, uh, what I really loved from your original interview is you were sort of explaining the organizations and the structures and the variables that are most supportive and conducive to creating great work for you. And within the report, we advocate from an institutional perspective about, well, here's what we find most successful and most supportive for the artist. But it would be really great to hear from you again in terms of what are some standout experiences in which you felt really supported.

And it really helped your work. Maybe you could do the opposite (and remove any names necessary). But, yeah, I mean, I can mention a very recent experience, actually. It's a show that's on at the moment. So it's my first major solo show in the America's Foundation PHI in Montreal. Hugely proud of that show.

And I was talking to my studio manager about today, Zoran, like the thing that I was really proud about for the show is that I've never met the team, like physically IRL. Everything was done online. And that's not the way that I like to actually do things. I use that as a as a necessity.

It's, you know, also the way that I work before Corona and all of that, like I worked in isolation anyway. But because, you know, we're forced indoors, though, is not able to travel that kind of thing. And this opportunity was was given to to work on on a show, you know, a short space of time. Mind you. But the team were just incredible, amazing. People really worked hard around the clock.

And they were just really human. And and I have to give praise to them. And, you know, working working really strongly. And.

I don't know. I'm just going to I mean, I'm I'm always honest about this stuff. I don't have too much great things to say about institutions, because I think that the framework that many of them are designed by, you know, you're looking at histories of of oppression and imperialism, you know, in order to really make the changes, a lot of these things have to be broken and restarted. But, you know, you have moments where your faith is kind of reignited.

And, you know, the team there, Cheryl, John, Victoria Greer, like so many like amazing people who I just haven't met or I've just written to online and, you know, via email, they were just. It was like, wow, like this, actually, this if this is possible, you know, and like I said, I've not been out there. I've, you know, usually for shows, especially a solo show, I would travel out to the place.

And, you know, I tend to be working physically in the environment. I want to smell it. I want to feel it. I haven't got to do any of that. And still part of me is like. You know, I wish I could be there. But I think when when when you come across special people or special groups of people, you know, it it kind of takes away the the the cons of i.e.

in this situation, not being able to be within within that kind of space. So, you know, that yeah, that's that's been amazing for me personally. But again, I don't think that, you know, having said that, I don't think that that's something that everybody has, like an experience, a regular experience. And so, you know, but at the same time, like I said, you know, even even if a rarity, which I believe it was based on my experience of working with different institutions, they yeah. They called it a really, really cool, great people.

Yeah, I had the experience with Focal Point Gallery actually in in Southend, just because I'm from the beginning, like funding was an issue because it was hosting a project for New Geographies, which kind of came with came with a fee already, I think the big problem with artists working with institutions is that often institutions don't actually have the kind of group capital to fund projects that they put on. I don't know how many non practitioners know this, but most of the time work is either self-funded or its funding is found through other channels like the Arts Council or etc. You find the venue and then sometimes the venue will help you to find that extra funding. But it's yeah, it's it's sometimes it's often touch and go whether whether that funding comes through. And of course, as an artist, you don't want to have nothing to show when the show comes around.

So you'll always produce something like regardless of everything, because, you know, it's it's important. So, yeah, in this case, the funding was already there. But not only that, they just had utter belief in the project, which was kind of crazy because it was a project to essentially make a tabletop role playing game. So not like a digital video game, but like a game like Dungeons and Dragons or the sort of like where you're sitting around a table, you roll dice and you have an adventure together through just stories that you're telling each other. And it was something I hadn't really explored in my practice before.

It was an idea I had inspired by by the site that I was working with, which is Canvey Wick. It was a space that had been due to be an oil reserve in the 1970s, but then was abandoned and left to nature for like 40 years. And is now a site of special scientific interest and has yeah. It's just unique species there and everything. So it's kind of a really, really interesting kind of metaphor, really, as well as being a reality for what could happen if humans just got out of the way, which is what the role playing game is. It's like humans get out of the way for a thousand years.

Life kind of returns to the earth. And then and then we kind of reenter that surface space and kind of explore it and find work out what we find. So it's it's that kind of tale of exploration.

But, yeah, they didn't question it. They just kind of helped me find people to to take part in the project. We were working with role play gamers in in South End and formed a really beautiful little community there who got so into it, wrote far too much, really, which ended up meaning that we kind of had to produce a book.

In the beginning, I was thinking, go be nice to like like put a, you know, a little pamphlet together with some rules or something or some ideas. But in the end, it was like this book, and they helped find some extra funding for that. So it's just that kind of support of the practice rather than. And the things that really get me, Larry, Larry knows this! Is those kind of progress report meetings, you know, you kind of come six months, six months in this like.

So how's it going? What have you got? Like, is this actually going to be a thing? You know, I don't believe that you're going to produce something in time for the show. And it's like.... And so it was the constant pitches isn't it? Yeah, I know what it is. It's like basically, you know, you know, the the art scene where institutions are like this is the equivalent of Hollywood, that constant having to pitch. And even when you have made the right pitch or like you've got, you know, like they like to work, there's still not enough. Like like David said, you halfway through the project.

OK, so where's where's the thing? You've been talking all this stuff. Where's the thing? Look, don't get me wrong. I do get on the one hand, you know that there are loads of institutions especially that are funded by public money. Right. So as a taxpayer, I like, you know, my parents are taxpayers, people I know are.

You know, that it's like, yeah, I get that as a working class person. Definitely. Like, you know, on the other hand, it's like back the F off, like you like you are.

You're on the payroll. I'm not on the payroll here. And you're asking me to build something which I would spend way more time than you're going to be spending when you add all your office hours and what not. You deliver, you deliver, you deliver. And yet still it's not enough. It's like having to constantly prove something. So I guess that's why sometimes I Sansar when I talk about this stuff, but it's not because I lie or that I simply hate, you know, the people you work with in these environments.

I think there are loads of amazing people who work in these environments. I just think the structures are very poor, you know, and that doesn't allow for, you know, spaces for for for practitioners to thrive. You know, so the thinking becomes kind of skewed.

And I think even, you know, when we talk about the the virtual or even the way that that's been adopted by a lot of institutions now, I'm not being funny, but like as a gamer, I'm like, you know, like and some of my game of friends who who don't go to art shows are like... Oh what's this, now? You know, what's this, you know, annoying in the sense of like complete like snobbery. But like like who who wrote this thing like that. Did they not even think about that reference? So it's it becomes interesting to see at this point in time how. The digital space or even the gaming space and what not is, is is now the daily bread. A lot like David said, and I can certainly vouch for that based on my own experience.

Some people who utilize it, who I know from back in the day are like, what the hell? Like, why are you doing this? You know? So I think that's the weird thing with the art scene that, you know, everything moves through kind of like fads and peaks and troughs and so on. But I think which is the reason why me and David work together, is because between what we honestly feel, you know, like when when I came across the the Duals and Dualities work and and things like that, I was like, yeah, I've met this person before, although I haven't met this person. You know what I mean? You know, I've dreamed alongside this person, even though I haven't, you know, shared food with them. And that's the special thing with gaming, is is is the way that you can really you can fly with some things. But again, like I said, you know, I think, you know, I do get suspect about some stuff in the arts.

You know, a lot of stuff, not some stuff, you know, like, well, it's true. It's like, you know, just because an artist is using like a headset. Oh, new technology. Great. Like, well,

you know, like again, like this kind of technology has been around for a while. It's not I don't think that it's it's it's it's actual potential that it needs to. And yeah, you know, these are some of those obviously part those conversations that we have. And I don't think much for me has changed since we had that conversation, you know, so yeah...

It it was definitely a theme within the report and something that's heavily informing the next iteration of Future Art Ecosystems. But often and you've both alluded to it really is that with this work, particularly from a production perspective, the wrong reporting and formative evaluation and the structures that get slapped onto it, that, to put it simply, are more applicable and appropriate to, a static artwork on a wall or an exhibition space, like a formal formal one like that. And it becomes cumbersome and detrimental to the creative process. And so at least our team at Serpentine.

And we're also looking to other industries and we're looking at across different ecosystems, hence the report name, but different production flows in terms of what is most appropriate for creating this work. That's why we, again, have that chapter of the UX of art. I guess the opposite side of the spectrum...um David and Larry

is from an audience perspective. What frameworks or stage or technologies? And I say technology because I mean, exhibitions and performance stages were once upon a time cutting edge technology. But what framework do you feel has been the most successful for audiences engaging with your work? Maybe you have some standout responses from you, from memory that you can recall. You know, actually, for me personally, it's been the it's been the music, it's been it's been the sound work, you know, because um and I guess for me, I kind of came to this understanding like at the time, I'm not always doing my MA at Slade in sculpture. And I was just, you know. I think it was it was after some kind of presentation at Ed Allerton Rest in Peace kind of gave about the possibilities of sculpture, like being around and and everything that you kind of like consumer and experience.

And I really talk so much about my ideas because I just I wasn't interested in people shooting stuff down or or it just being altered really. I wanted to be able to alter things myself or like, you know, make mistakes myself and so on. But but for me, like sound sampling, beat making, exploring the evolution of what we know is hip hop music. That career and leading to later run by me creating my first vinyl record.

I think, you know, my surroundings in terms of growing up in in Bethnal Green. In the 90s and spending time also in Dagenham them as well you know with my dad. You know, that's not you know well, Bethnal Green of that time, Bethnal Green now is it's a whole parallel universe, but. You know, if you make if you make beats and you and you put them somewhere like you better you better have studied it in the best way that you know how.

It's not about oh well I've been experimenting with. This life is the beat drop. Do you know what I mean? And yeah, I guess, you know, from like the work MEH MOGYA and so on. Meaning my blood or translated from from from tree Ghanian language that that spoke to people in a very kind of like large.

And and I guess a global sense. And, you know, in some ways, I wasn't aware of what would happen with the work or those making this audio work. That audio existed as a vinyal, or also existed online. You could download it, could download it for free or whatever price you wanted if you want to put wanted to put a price on that.

You know, so I'm doing this at a point in time where of a. I don't know, I guess what you might refer to as contemporaries, like doing all kinds of. Hot stuff and, you know, going around the world and then all of these things and. You know, getting emails from people who I do not know. They didn't know at the time from different parts of the world saying, oh, this is amazing. You know, folks are making this or, you know, people saying, oh, like this really touched me in a certain way.

And most of those people have nothing to do with the art scene. Yeah. You know, and that still comes through to the people who know me just for that. They don't know me for making any films or sculptures or installations or anything that they just know. You know, Larry Achiampong in terms of the, you know, the musical kind of releases and and that I really appreciate because it's it's been a kind of like grounding space for me, really.

Like I said, I, I would go to places like, you know, Plastic People when it used to exist, CDR thing, you know, people take their beats in and stuff. And, you know, if you people didn't like it, you know, you heard that or you realized. And so, you know, like just doing things in in that way and as. Yeah, I think that's been the most I don't know, like success is such a weird word.

But that's been that that's been the most kind of sobering point for me, really, because it's just felt entirely real. Whereas, you know, as much as there is a reality within, you know, sharing and doing art shows, there's yeah. You know, there's there's some kind of like weirdness that I don't think it runs as well, parallel with what I've been talking about. I think I think both of us have. A kind of. And I guess yearning to to be to actually.

Connect with people, so and I think, you know, gallery spaces are good for a part of that. But you know that there's just a whole. Kind of community that just will not enter a gallery space ever. And so when when our video Finding Fanon II was taken up by, Okay Africa like back in 2015, it was like it suddenly felt like if this work that we've made for sort of an art context was suddenly out in the world doing a different sort of work, like it was actually communicating with people in a different way. And they were kind of looking at GTA in a different way. Is a is a film that uses Grand Theft Auto Engine and. Yeah, and

it felt like it really touched people in, you know, and it wasn't because they were looking for art , they were looking because they were intrigued by a film made in Grand Theft Auto V that was talking about Frantz Fanon, in a kind of a bleak way, and had its own sort of poetry, its own kind of reality to it. And yeah, it was based in. Essentially a conversation about our two respective positions.

And yeah, I think that was was kind of a really. I guess heartening on the environment, I. Yeah, my my equivalent to Larry is kind of outside of.

The. Outside of the art scene, sort of sort of grounding, I guess is is the tabletop role playing game kind of space. I mean, getting creating a zine and just putting it out there into the world about I know, trying to. It's a again, way a solo game where you try and discover yourself inside Breugel's Tower of Babel and you kind of roll the dice, you play some cards and the cards tell you what happens next. And you kind of go into a place, you'll gradually finding your own name back again.

And each time something goes a bit wrong, you have to pull from the Jenga tower. That's next year. You and eventually, inevitably, the Jenga tower falls over, which is the Tower of Babel collapsing. So it's like, you know, that this is coming. But it's like is your journey through this this little space and this is it been.

Yeah, I was yeah. I was just in conversation with this tiny publisher up in in Manchester called Brooks Press that specializes in tabletop role playing games, like they got a print done through Mixand. Some like this print place, like 50 quid to produce like 30 copies. They all sold.

But it's like it's just like a really weird sort of like a tiny niche thing. But it just has such a such a fervent kind of interest in that space. And like with the music, if it's not right, people will tell you if, you know, it's like this doesn't work or this is like this is just completely outside of of like what you're trying to do or like you do realize that this is completely wrong. That happens. And, you know,

these these are the conversations I'm having every day on Discord and stuff. You know, Discord. This is where all this conversation happens between like hundreds of makers across the world, but also very local.

Like there's a kind of a really kind of UK type of scene. There's there's a kind of whole like. Yeah, global south scene.

This is but these all these people are talking in their little silos, but also across each other. And this is kind of really energizing to see this creativity. And I'm sure I'm I'm almost searching for that analog in the art space.

Like where where is it that artists get together and just, you know, just have fun with each other and discuss stuff on a kind of regular basis in this sort of, you know, like on Discord or I'd know like 10 years ago on Facebook or say like like, you know, those sort of spaces just doesn't seem to quite exist in the same way that kind of mutual support network thing. I don't know if you had any experience that, Larry, That;s a bad question to ask. You know... I only come with the bad ones.

You know, I mean, you know, they're really good people. Who I know. Or, you know, I've developed relationships with over the years and so on. But yeah, I think I think like David says, it's like the art scene just it just breeds something else. I think I there's something to be had about the way the art school is that kind of creates this kind of weird kind of like competition.

That's not to say that people don't compete with in the gaming space. They do. But you have so many different tiers or different environments, the different spaces for that, where people will take you under their wing and so on, you know. Yes. Stay for a few people here are that he he's certainly

been helpful in my career when I was studying and so on. I think there's so much in the art scene where people are very guarded, mostly, you know, and even even at this day and age with the digital space like this, I know I'm even for me, like I'm I'm personally working through my own, like kind of my anxieties of of, you know, the social space, because I think that while on the one hand, it's really positive in a way that people can kind of just, you know, talk about things and put things out there and and share things in in a much more kind of instant way. Right. That doesn't need doesn't need the massive support network of a gallery, et cetera, et cetera.

I think the the design of like, you know, whether it's like algorithms or these corporations like Facebook and whatnot, you know, fed into, you know, our insecurities. And if you add in the art scene within that, it just creates a whole other, you know , like vacuum. So. You know, it's not me saying that that doesn't exist, I know those people who were doing really cool things and people who have like collectives and whatnot, but I think we're. Yeah, I guess that analogy you use about life here, the Tower of Babel, you know, swear like, you know, like trying to build this this this tower and it's been knocked down.

And then everyone's speaking in so many different languages and stuff. And I don't know, I just I do I do think about that from from from time to time and again, loads of loads of really interesting things going on. But I think in at this point in time where.

Corporations are like grinding us. I do wish we would galvanize in a way that was way more perhaps like organized, but maybe we're just not ready for that because there's still so much to kind of pull apart. And again, I think that even in a way kind of. You know, kind of part and parcel explains. Mine and David's practice because, you know, we are friends, we do get well, but there are conflicts, you know, and that's something that we we try to talk about. Within the work or when we're interviewed.

Our different life experiences, even if we want to try to work through them, create conflicts for us. You know, those lived experiences, you can't deny those. Right. So, yeah, I'm not sure that kind of like entirely answered the question, but I hope it kind of reaches into into, you know the point that you raised. We've only got so much time left, so we want to switch to questions. But really quickly, just want to say, I remember when Kay showed me Finding Fanon II and someone that would try to recreate film scenes within World of Warcraft, it totally spoke to me and I played GTA V as well. And the knowing that when you see it all together at the end, it's very easy to think of that.

You just go into a game environment, put everything together. But no, you have to sort of like work through the levels and then literally the, go sites scouting that's going to match your narrative, like there's so many different layers. It was brilliantly put together and I love it and completely changed the way that I see the game as well. It's quite striking. But sorry to seagueway very abruptly...Tamar, we've got questions. Can you share? Yes.

That was such an exciting and interesting talk. Thanks so much, Larry and David, for joining us today. We've had so many great questions come in through the chat, so I'm just going to feed them through one by one. So the first question is, can you talk about other spaces you share your work besides our institutions? Yeah, I mean, I kind of said that a bit already with, you know, like, you know, like clubbing kind of atmosphere. And I mean, I'm thinking I'm not even I don't even go to clubs much. You know, my sister would say should be taking the mick out of me.

And she's the one who would go to clubs. I didn't. But like I listened to the music. I love the music. People who were making beats or making sounds that that's that's where I share, or would share work.

This is going to sound really maybe soppy, but like I, I share my work with my family. I talk to them about it. You know, I kind of you know, I have conversations with my mum about things, you know, very recently went to Ghana. I've hadn't been for for like close to 25 years. And, you know, speaking to her a lot about, you know, reconnecting with my birthright and. And what's been great about it over the years is that she she's kind of understood the work more and more because I keep talking to her about I keep bothering her about it, but it's really it's just amongst among friends who came. Yeah.

Not necessarily. That's the question, says part of the art scene. So a mate of mine who I've been talking to about, you know, being creative as artists and like he he's he's kind of like a video game programmer, among other things. And he kind of he sometimes is like, yeah, you know, we're artists, but I'm not really an artist. It's like, no, but you are an artist. I know what you mean.

You're trying to say that like you're not an artist because you're not within this particular word or space, but you are very much an artist as much as I am Right. So, I mean, these those kinds of environments or spaces is where I talk about the work. I don't do I I get invited to do crits by. You know, I'm happy to talk to people about work and stuff, but it doesn't interest me to go and sit with a whole lot of other artists within the art scene, like because I think sometimes it just it breeds the same thing with the time. Right. If we're simply just around each other all the time. That's not to say I don't hang around with people who make work or practitioners and so on, but I find, I'm hanging out, art is the last thing I'm going to be talking about.

It's going to be the actual, the other things of culture that, you know, kind of like pull us together and so on. But yeah... It becomes too forward or something... Yeah I've done quite a lot of work with youth clubs and places like that. And is that always some of my favorite times showing my work. I won't share too much because I don't want to bore them or anything, but I always. You can always see a kind of a moment of of.

A kind of different understanding of what's going on. It's like, all right. Yeah, this is kind of it's like a film, but it's a bit different. It's like maybe like a visual poem or something like, you know, it's sort of you see that moment of recognition and a moment of.

A different kind of understanding is a completely different context for the showing work. As to...a gallery where everyone's expecting to come in and look at art and its art because it's in the gallery already so, but once you take out that context, it's something else. It's um yeah. A thing that exists in the world. And I think I think art has, it has.

I think it's good if art can kind of withstand the pressure of the world and still kind of have have an agency and still have kind of communicate something just just in its own right. Thank you for that. Our next question, Quantum E7 asks, where is this very interesting sounding discord server? But I'm going to change that just to whether or not there are any that you might recommend.

There's quite a few of them. I my my favorite probably is the FKR collective server. I guess we could put an invite in the chat. But it is. Yes. It's the Freaky Roleplay Collective...

they're... It's a it's a kind of group of people who look to play role playing games with the least rules possible, basically And they have they have all sorts of interesting conversations. David, I just tried to Google search that and it came up with some things I shouldn't be searching. So something bad.

Yeah, I hope you didn't share that. I didn't... but so it's the FKR Discord server? Yes. Let's see if I can find it and I can find it on Discord quite easily. It's interesting, like these networks are so rewarding, but you kind of need to know someone that knows someone or do sort of like a deep dive of Internet searching on a Friday night with a good glass of red. Um, yeah. Yeah, and the spelling is...

and this is sort of why I say. Have you found it Tamar? Is it kind of a description of what Free Creek spill is? And then the Discord Server Sorry I'm just loading up discord here. And I'll try to share the link....

David, are you sharing the link in the Zoom chat? In the Zoom chat? Yeah, I'm going to. If you can describe it to me, because I'll have to search it on Google for our viewers. This is. Oh, right, OK. This is our crazy Metaverse setup.

Oh Okay! Oh, no, you can't copy paste. That's terrible. OK. What I might suggest is if if you can email the links,

I'll make sure that we can put them in our YouTube description when we post produce the talk so that people can access them later. That would be really rewarding. OK. Yeah. Here's if you. You should be able to type this in its https or dash forward would slash forward slash discord dot gg, And then it's U 6 V captial A to Z capital B.V.

That should get you there. G g u six V capital A Capital Z, capital B. Yeah. V, v for Vernon at the end But after the g g. The forward slash. Yeah, that's right.

I'm I'm failing on the Google search.Have you got it Tamar? It's OK. I will I'll make sure to capture it afterwards and put it in you. Our YouTube, YouTube search. But thank you so much for joining us.

It's seven-oh-two, so we don't really have time for anything more, but. Oh, that's a shame. I love speaking and listening to you both speak.

You always speak with such integrity and emotion. It's just lovely to be able to listen to you again. So thank you so much for joining us.

And I'm sorry that Kay couldn't join us, but she sends her wishes. Yes. Send her ours too. Yeah. Get well soon, get well soon. Thanks, everyone, for joining us this evening.

2021-10-12 22:54

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