Saturday, 29 November 2014

Playing videogames...

If M C Escher could have made a video game app it might have looked something like this...
It seems reasonable to assume that if weathered painted wooden doors, rusty tins and all manner of broken detritus can be art; (as well as films, music and certain branches of cookery, gardening and sport which can also be seen as art forms) then surely some aspects of videogames should also be recognised as such? And does it really matter if they are/aren’t? I’m not going any further to attempt tackling the age old debate of what ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ art, numerous philosophers, writers and thinkers have attempted to do so infinitely better than me with the only certainty is that we’re still not quite sure and that it is ever changing.  It is ‘an excessively broad church’ I was once told.  Hence, given the amount of production, imagination, people and time invested in developing games, fuelled by the money the industry generates in Britain alone each year (in excess of 3.5 billion!) it is slightly surprising that videogames are met with a degree of resistance and snobbery in being perceived, critiqued or categorised under the ‘art umbrella’.
I’m all for a bit of inclusivity having played video games as I have watched movies, listened to music and dabbled in art (in the conventional sense) for years. When I completely per chance came across an online downloadable app called ‘Monument Valley’, a game that looked and played like being in an M C Escher painting I thought it was long overdue that I hit the keys and articulated my thoughts here on the blog.  [That and to prove that there is more to videogames as art than the likes of David Hockney drawing a few digital paintings on an ipad.]
In ‘Monument Valley’ the concept is a simple one; move the protagonist ‘girl in a pointy hat’ from A to point B via navigating your way through the ‘impossible’ architecture of a topsy-turvey citadel of er...monuments. Combining puzzle solving with narrative the player embarks on a series of challenges in which they control parts of the structures to create new routes and walkways that once didn’t exist in order to progress through the game. The illusionary perspective, that only really makes sense if/when you play the game arguably borrows its sense of impossible realism from the likes of the Surrealists and artists like M C Escher (see images below). I don’t want to intentionally make it sound 'dry' by over analysing it, as ultimately it is a really fun, elegant and beautifully simple looking game, but one in which (as in many games) has had a great deal of design, craft and creativity put into it. Surely worth some appreciation at least? 
The games creator Ken Wong claimed the design was inspired by Japanese prints and minimalist sculpture. The crisp, cell-shaded design with very sparse, flat and often mist shrouded backgrounds does have a very Japanese quality to it. Equally the music and sound effects in 'Monument Valley' have a Arabic, Eastern sound which alters based on the movements of the buildings when you touch the screen. The overall affect is very thoughtful and well put together gentle and calming game. In terms of where it sits in the bigger gaming community it reminds me of a growing trend for architecture design and utopias in games like Minecraft where vast, intricate and idealised visions of the metropolis or imagined structures can be created. In these virtual world's things can be created that exceed the limitations of reality and could and should be used as start points and spring boards for creativity and design. Who wouldn't want to live in a house like this?   
M C Escher 'Ascending and Descending' (1960) Lithographic print

If you’re in need of further convincing then look no further than the De Chirico influenced art style from the 2001 Playstation Game, 'Ico' (see image below) .

(Left) 'Mystery and Melancholy of a Street' (1914) Giorgio de Chirico -- (Right) 'Ico' (2001) Playstation 2

Videogames operate on a similar conceptual basis of puzzle solving, communication and engagement that can be not too dissimilar to the process of viewing art. Similarly they are interactive and immersive, games and I quote ‘speak to people’ and communicate in a medium that is debatably more of ‘our time’ than traditional methods of painting, printmaking. Without going into it now, I speculate that the most innovative artists are the ones utilising new technologies such as 3D printing, laser cutting etc. to make work.
 In the same way every scene from certain films can be perceived as an individual framed work of art so can shots or scenes from videogames be perceived as such. Increasingly as well videogames are becoming more cinematic in their story telling and realism ('Heavy Rain' from 2010 being one example).  Unlike a lot of art however videogames offer the ‘liberation of shared authorship’ as one Oxford professor** on a lecture on videogames as art described the process of interacting with games having one author who programmes/creates the constraints, rules and possibilities but multiple authors in those who interact with it and in the case of games like, ‘Minecraft’ or ‘Second Life’ contribute creating and altering elements within that digital universe. I struggled to think of any artists whose work operated in this way, other than that of participatory art and some environmental art projects. To be continued....
In 2012 the MOMA held an exhibition of iconic videogames (such as PACMAN and Pong) alongside its collection of Modern art works. Unsurprisingly it was met with some controversy and sparked much debate as to whether something which originated as a means of entertainment, play and fun could really be considered as art with one critic making a case for games not being an art form with the analogy of likening it to chess, 
“Chess is a great game, but even the finest chess player in the world isn't an artist. She is a chess player. Artistry may have gone into the design if the chess pieces. But the game of chess itself is not art nor does it generate art – it is just a game.”
Still if that is the case then we are ignoring the fact that ‘everyone’s favourite’ art protagonist, Marcel Duchamp had not only opened the doors to allowing ‘anything’ to be considered as art he specifically recognised along with Manray that chess too could be art and shared many of its traits with the process of making it,
‘...they saw qualities in it that they thought essential to their art –opportunities for improvisiation and play based upon skill, not chance; ritualised forms and iconography that embodied the violence and eroticism of the world around them; a new type of artist-viewer relationship; a unique sense of spatial organisation; and a set of contradictions that could be transposed to aesthetic or anti-aesthetic ends.*
The danger of inclusivity or ‘if everything can be art’ can mean that you dilute the distinction of what ‘Fine Art’ may be, but it’s not to say that all video games are art or in the same way that all videogames aren’t necessarily ‘good’ art. Although with more and more time people are spending online, in virtual worlds and the accessibility online generally it is a debate that is going to become increasingly hard for its critics to ignore. Videogames continue to develop that exceed their original origins of being merely things of 'play' and indeed on the other hand are one of the few mediums which truly value the role of play as a means of discovery and learning.
With a Minecraft exhibition featuring 3D reproductions of famous Modernist paintings currently on show at the Tate it seems that computing technology and in particular videogames are in fact being used as a means of appealing to a younger generation. I'd argue that it is more than a gimmicky passing fad and like it or loathe it, it seems they are around to stay. Popularity isn’t necessarily a conclusive bench mark for whether something can be considered as art or not, but the increased popularity of gaming and game production is worthy of our attention. Only time will tell.
Similar links and references:
*LIST, L. (2008) Chess as Art, In: MUNDY, J. (2008) Duchamp, Manray, Picabia, London: Tate Publishing . pp. 133-143

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Must try harder!

There was a fair amount of online chatter last week regarding a comment made by the newly appointed Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who at a campaign to promote science, technology, engineering and maths warned young people that choosing to study arts subjects at school could “hold them back for the rest of their lives”.

Pretty dramatic stuff!

‘Morgan said the idea that choosing arts or humanities subjects can keep pupils’ career choices open “couldn’t be further from the truth”.

To those who know me and to readers of this blog it will come as no surprise to learn where my own personal stance on this is, which to briefly outline encase you didn’t already guess, is that I completely, unequivocally disagree with what Mrs Morgan has to say as I aim to prove (amongst other things) in this post. However the starting catalyst for my post this week was not triggered from Nicky Morgan’s ill-founded comments but more from how we (as artists) respond to opinions such as hers and how we talk about the value/benefits of an art education in general.

Leonardo Da Vinci's sketchbooks 'Muscles of the Shoulder' (1509-1510)

I heard the news of this story, like perhaps many people, through social media in the form of a blogger’s response to the story online. I was hoping to be in agreement with the blogger who expressed an incredibly well written opinion drawn from their personal experiences of both undertaking a business course which she consequently left in favour of an archaeology and poetry/arts administration career. In truth, however, I found myself disheartened by the quality of the argument for the arts in this and other posts I read online in which the defence for ‘why the arts/humanities are as important as the sciences’ were spoken about in such lofty, sentimental terms with the over-riding tone being that art ‘gave something to live for’ and offered a ‘wealth’ in the wellbeing sense of the word. None of which really spoke of how art made manifest in the real world. Forgive me for my own grandiose, 'loftiness' but I actually think art, ‘the arts’ are MUCH more important than ‘something to live for’. What could be more important than living you ask? They have practical, functional, monetary, real-life, earthly uses nor should they be lumped into a governed thinking that art is some form of secondary response to a real piece of research that exists independently; when in fact, art is the research, the product, the subject all at once or in no particular order.

 I’m not saying an emotive opinion in defence of the arts is incorrect, when the time calls I am the first to make an impassioned plea, gushing sentiment or dramatic speech for how important the arts are in the holistic, soul searching and life enhancing sense. My criticism is that when ‘preaching to the converted’ so to speak, that kind of tone makes sense. Consequently I think that when trying to convince a member of Government, who has just been incredibly negative and rather ignorant regarding the value and use of the arts, a ‘heart’ over ‘head’ approach isn’t the most perception altering way to do it. Rather it reaffirms her argument that implies the arts are not as deep-thinking as the sciences and therefore offer a limited career skill set. Categorically this is not the case, but it is possible that we, the art community, need to get better at how we talk about the arts to those who maybe don’t understand it, find it difficult, pretentious, a waste of time or valueless. That is probably quite harsh of me, but raises a point that, broadly speaking, we often choose to ignore the talking/writing about art, the critical aspect and although the arts are visual, kinetic and audio forms of communication; creative people/those who work within the arts shouldn’t have to be good with words, but increasingly have had to become so in order to survive in the real world. What's wrong with words anyway? Equally I feel slightly that audiences are partly to blame for encouraging an attitude of  general passivity in online reading, where text is skimmed and not often understood, "this person is ‘for’ art so their opinion must be a correct one" without necessarily considering what is actually being said and whether it really is helpful or not. This is why I think that the better defence for the arts in this instance is an informed one rather than an emotive one.

And so, with slight trepidation so as to dampen any heightened expectation I may have already generated, I am going to attempt to write my own response to this argument here...

Page from Charles Darwin's notebooks depicting the  'Tree of life' (1837) 

There is a sort of myth, a mystique that often surrounds the role of the artist which can hinder more than it helps. I put Nicky Morgan’s recent comments down to a lack of understanding on her part, as to what art and art education actually is. Although instead of blaming her I wonder if more could be done by the arts community to demystify the misconceptions of art and artists (although the challenge would be to do so without stifling creativity). The light-hearted, romantic or idealised view of producing art; of pondering, talking walks, leisurely painting and drawing in sketchbooks especially now that many artists create a whole career without almost ever touching a pencil (not for me, but each to their own!) is no longer a given stereotype. In reality, the artists I know don't lead a particularly leisurely existence and seem to spend most of their time writing applications for funding, filing tax returns and updating their web presence online. All of that in addition to actually having to make work and find somewhere to exhibit it! Perhaps what Mrs Morgan fails to realise is that most successful artists are also successfully business minded. If you are someone from outside the art world or even someone beginning to embark in arts education there is much curiosity, doubt and uncertainty, I believe, to the perception vs. the reality of what it means to be an artist in the 21st Century. Yet, thankfully it seems many are still willing to try. Therefore I speculate that if we are uncertain what the role or use of an artist is then equally we can expect that will be uncertainty on how the education system promotes and nourishes art subjects. 

From my own experience of studying art, during my MA one of the most deep-seated things I learnt was that art does have a ‘use’ outside being merely a thing for ‘looking at’, or that the process of looking is also a valid ‘use’ in itself. This seems awfully silly to admit that it took me my whole art education from when I first laid crayon to paper to primary school, GCSE, A-level and even throughout my BA degree to reach this, fairly basic realisation, that ‘art is useful’. Maybe, it is something lots of people struggle with and if it took me that long to learn that art can be equal to that of science in terms of the skill-set it teaches maybe it would take others that long? If so, could we then be doing more to promote .....? True I wouldn’t want an artist to perform brain surgery on me, but brain surgery wouldn’t be where it is today without the inquisitive mind’s of looking, investigation, diligence and patience that share its stem with that of art skills. Engineers may require an understanding of maths more than their drawing ability but needs both, along with a problem-solving, creative, questioning mind that is obtained from arts education, in order to apply them into a working design. If that is the case then maybe my experience is shared with what many people struggle to understand; how the arts are relevant and have a value in being aesthetic objects as much as being research, experiential, interactive or social pieces.

Audubon's Arctic Tern (1827-1839) 

When I made the commitment to studying the arts full-time I was aware that the job prospects after weren’t necessarily going to be plentiful or great, which being brought-up in an education system that is designed to teach you that your career matters as though it is the principal thing that defines your whole being, which sort of hung over me like a black cloud throughout the entirety of my studies and some days still does. For reasons that I hold the arts in such high esteem, I've stuck with them and whilst it in some ways they haven't perhaps yet defined my career in an obvious or particular profitable way, it has most definitely defined who I am, what motivates me and how I respond to the world. And yes, I am a bookseller with a masters degree in Fine Art chipping away at the marble monolith that is the art world one blog post at a time. Some of my peers have already and continue to forge their own careers within the arts which is again one of the benefits of an art education it teaches you resilience. Of which I am still inspired by a quote I found in a book about creativity I read years ago which talks about graduates from the New Orleans Centre of Creative Arts;

‘Most NOCCA graduates won’t become professional artists. Nevertheless, these students will still leave the school with an essential talent, which is the ability to develop his or her own talent. Because they spend five hours a day working on their own creations, they learn what it takes to get good at something, to struggle and fail and try again. They figure out how to dissect difficult problems and cope with criticism. The students will learn how to manage their own time and persevere in the face of difficulty.’

I think the problem with how art is perceived as a subject in education is that it has been attempted to be compartmentalised into a system that operates on regulation and attainment. I’m not even sure that this is even a good way to teach maths or science? This is all purely my opinion but in essence I think there are many aspects of art which are not too dissimilar to that of science/maths, and educators, when looking at skill-sets and opportunities subjects offer, should be looking for the connections between the humanities and sciences rather than the distinctions between them. Skills such as, knowledge building, inquiry, logic, critical thinking, discovery, independence, application and realisation along with the numerous theoretical overlaps with philosophy, psychology, feminism, linguistics etc.

Sue Austin

When I dusted off some old notes from my MA days, in an attempt to find something to support my own opinion, I came across my notes on Pragmatism. I remembered in particular that a lot of what John Dewey has to say in 'Art as Experience' makes so much sense in relation to some aspects of education/learning, 

‘In insisting that hard thought was as important to art as to science.....Indeed he was eager to underline the deep similarities of art and science as forms of ordering and coping with experience, noting that they are hardly distinguished in ancient and primitive cultures.’

If separating the distinctions between the arts/humanities and sciences are too prescriptive then you are limiting what both subjects have the potential to be. In college I can remember being really surprised when I saw my dentist on an evening sculpting course (Until then I actually thought he went into a cupboard at the surgery and switched off at the end of the day) but when I thought about it it made sense that someone who was interested in a career that involved drilling holes and filling them may also be interested in the malleable, form shaping properties of sculpting?! When I began looking there were countless examples in science and art where there where the boundaries became blurred, Charles Darwin’s drawings/diagrams in his notebooks, the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, Joseph Beuys’s ’social sculpture’, numerous environmental artists, artists who contributed to social change amongst others whose work connects/tells is more about our psychological, expressive or spiritual needs to contemporary practitioners such as Sue Austin’s free-wheeling under- water wheelchair, Peter Butcher’s embroidered surgical implants, Rosemarie Trockel and the Wellcome Collection who have long supported collaborations between artists and scientists.

Embroidered Surgical Implant -Peter Butcher (2005)

In referring to Charles Darwin as a scientist we may be limited to a set of defining criteria of ‘what a scientist is’ and similarly could categorise what an artist is in the same way. When in fact what the scientist, what the artist is actually doing, what they are concerned with, what they are trying to find out, might be exactly the same thing! In this, “classification sets limits to perception” and so with the definitions more permeable in reality education should mirror this to be more open-minded, more cross-disciplinary with more validation to different approaches of research. I think this could be achieved without either subject losing its uniqueness or special characteristics, which are still important it just seems that at the moment the balance is more in favour of the divisions rather than similarities.

I’m not saying this is a universal guideline of how it should be all of the time, if you’re training to be a doctor, clearly there are many practical things and knowledge you need to acquire which you’re not going to get from just making drawings from the human form (arguably) but there needs to be more understanding from those in government about the potential benefits from all subjects, equally and not this current hierarchal system. Promoting science, technology and engineering is great but it should be done so in the recognition that the arts are equally entrepreneurial, enterprising and society contributing as hopefully some of my earlier examples demonstrated. I can list more if need be! 

Going back to Nicky Morgan’s implication that arts humanities subjects potentially close career prospects, somewhat reluctantly, she is possibly right but that isn’t so much a failing of the way in which arts or humanities are taught or what they teach, but I hypothesize due to a failing of how they are invested in by education authorities that promotes a lack of confidence and uncertainty of what arts/humanities graduates can offer from employers. That and the fact that there aren't many arts jobs going due to cuts made....but that's probably best left till another day.

And what would I know; I am but a humble bookseller. ;)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Turner Prize in your eyes!

There is a lot of carpet flooring in this year’s Turner Prize which could also be something to do with three of the four selected artists being film based [carpet, of course dampening the distracting sound of footsteps]. It took me longer than I’d probably like to admit to arrive at that conclusion spending my first Turner Prize 2014 moments adjusting to the dark, sound proofed interior of the exhibition space at Tate Britain. The 2014 prize marking my third overall Turner Prize viewed, the first artist/work of which I’m confronted by in the year's show was James Richards's film, ‘Rosebud’ displayed on what is possibly the biggest free standing television monitor I’ve ever seen! I sit down next to my fellow Turner Prize goers, a middle-aged woman (or so I assume!) and a young mum and toddler, wondering if they are full of the same heightened sense of expectation and intrigue as me. A minute later and the middle-aged woman begins administering herself eye-drops, much to my bemusement, a darkened art gallery being a fairly impractical place to start dispensing eye-care, surely? But needs must and I speculated if maybe there was something in her eye medicine that made her see everything a little differently or maybe she was preparing or purifying her eyes in anticipation for what she was about to see...? Perhaps I should have asked to borrow some? Should eye-baths be dispensed at the beginning of all art exhibitions? Sadly, though I did not know it at the time, this amusing encounter was to be one of the few lasting images I took away from this year’s prize. 

Now in its 31st year the 2014 Turner Prize features the work of four artists, ‘under the age of fifty, born, living or working in Britain, for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months before April 2014’.  This year’s nominees include; Duncan Campbell, Ciara Phillips, James Richards and Tris Vonna-Michell. On Monday 1st December one of these four artists will be chosen to win the £25,000 prize by a ‘jury’ of art curators from this country and abroad. Locals may note one of them being the Director of Bristol’s ‘Spike Island’, Helen Legg.

Rather depressingly this year’s Turner Prize is dominated by film. And ironically, after an earlier post about my inhibitions to watching film in art galleries generally*, I now found myself in a situation where I have to watch three all at once! Debatably previous Turner Prize’s may have been too accommodating, or trying to be inclusive for short-listing artists across different mediums each year (painting, sculpture, film and in more recent years performance art being represented) but I find it somewhat sad that there isn’t at least one painter, sculptor amongst the group and don’t feel the decision of so many film artists nominated this year is reflective of a decline in the quality or abundance of artists who categorise themselves as painters, sculptors etc. In fact, the Turner Prize felt like something of an anticlimax after having to navigate one’s way through the breathtaking scale of the Phyllida Barlow's installation of ‘stuff’ in the Duveen Galleries. Surely she deserves to be nominated one year?

Still, the Turner Prize has always been renowned for its notoriety, its controversy and its general challenging, at times awkward relationship with both the public, the media and the art world alike. In defence of this year’s chosen four, when you go into the work in more detail, one begins to realise it is perhaps the labelling of ‘film art’ that becomes irrelevant and blurred as each artist uses the medium differently. Stills from Duncan Campbell’s ‘It for Others’, in the form of a choreography of dancers dressed in black, becomes sculptural, James Richards produces accompanying tapestries to his film and Triz Vonna-Michell’s work feels more like a museum/performance poetry than to be labelled just as ‘film’. Most frustratingly of all however, despite their differences, it is still really hard to pick a winner amongst the four. I don’t personally feel one artist stands out much above the rest, making the question surrounding the Turner Prize this year not really a matter of who will win but should we really bothered?

James Richards 'Rosebud' (2013)

Before I was easily distracted by eye-drops, I was watching James Richards’s film ‘Rosebud’, a fragmented collage of personal archive footage or as Richards explains, ‘a restricted set of image sensations’ that flicks between grainy images of roadside shrubbery, pornographic  images from a Japanes art library which have been censored by the scratching/sandpapering away of the genitalia and close-up marco shots of President Hamilton’s eye on a ten dollar bill, its surface looking more like tattooed skin than paper. It moves (or is edited), with what’s been described as a ‘claustrophobic intensity’ whereby the ‘bigger picture’ is never shown; the viewer subjected to incredibly close-up shots, glimpses in a sort-of post-modern peep show. The soundtrack, coming from Richards’s background in experimental sound production is a series of amplifies noises of scratches and high pitched whistles and at this point I stopped trying to make sense of what I was seeing, what it all may mean and/or how it related to one another and instead focused on what it made me feel, which I guess was slightly unnerved. The whole thing was oddly tactile, in parts violent in others sensual; the textures and sounds present making it a ‘felt’ experience’ as to just being something you saw with your eyes. A quote I read from Richards goes some wayto articulating my own experience, ‘the screen is less a window into another world...but rather a surface upon which sensorial information can pass.’

Ciara Phillips 'Things Shared' (2014)
 Another collagist of sorts and who is the only artist not to use film is also this year’s only female artist; Ciara Phillips, creates silkscreen prints from imagery started from accidental ink splotches which have then been enlarged, cropped and repeated into a bigger ‘collage’ come installation. In the Turner Prize show ‘Things shared’ these prints have been pasted directly onto the gallery walls, the letters, K, N and O singled out and presented in the work in seemingly random intervals, of which Phillips implies, ‘I prefer letters to words –words can be a limit on meaning, but letters give their voice to other languages present in the work.’ In another aspect to this space a sound piece in a booth plays conversations recorded with the practitioners she collaborated with to make the prints as they share their experiences of process/making.  I think the work presented by Phillips in the Turner Prize highlights the danger of seeing just one body of work from these artists, usually out of context from the larger body of work within which it sits. I struggled to get much from this work seeing it alone, but having read more on the artist since, I think some of her concepts on printmaking as a process to ‘im-press’ and the double meaning surrounding the word are actually quite interesting. It is a shame I didn’t get it from the piece exhibited at the Tate.
Tris Vonna-Michell 'Postscript II (Berlin)' (2013)

Tris Vonna-Michell may at first appear to be as I so rudely put it, ‘another film maker’ however he is also a historian of memory and uses his own personal life history and relics from his past to self-destruct, interpret, copy and create new stories/identities. Using slides, photocopies, found images and historical references Vonna-Michell creates new narratives and storylines based on the opposing images projected. In addition to the images Vonna-Michell records or performs a live monologue influenced by the sound poetry of Henri Chopin (whom he sites in a specific piece of work, ‘Finding Chopin: Dans l’Essex’) scrambling through his memories, repeating words and phrases. Dotted between these works are the paraphernalia of his source material, photographs, slide projector boxes, shredded paper, designer chairs becoming an archive in addition to the story. The viewer unwittingly also becomes part of unravelling the mystery and trying to make sense of it all, so much so you are left wondering how much is real and how much has been fabricated, how much is a copy. This layering and uncertainty, borrowing and altering, though fabricated is, I found, a more accurate representation of ‘a life’, ‘an identity’ than that of trying to tell or document it accurately. What Vonna-Michell’s work shows is that identity and personal narrative is made from multiple encounters, sources; meetings with other people and their life stories, fragments from the self we project and show to others and the self we perhaps are in private –the whole thing is very layered and is not a linear form of storytelling. Out of all this year’s nominated artists I personally found his work the most engaging in the sense it was made from lots of different components which forced you to participate and think about your own narrative/storytelling.
Duncan Campbell 'It for Others' (2013)

The last artist in this year’s prize is Duncan Campbell, already tipped by critics as the favourite to win, he presents two films ‘Stills from Sigmar’ a digital/stop-motion animation hybrid and ‘It for Others’, another hybrid that blurs the lines between documentary film-making, re-enactment and disjointed fictional/non-fictional narratives. ‘It for Others’ is a response to Chris Marker and Alain Resnais's 1953 film ‘Statues Also Die’ a film that explored the commercialisation of African Art. It argues that African Art out of context loses its original function and ‘degenerates to commercialised decoration’. A point that becomes increasingly awkward and provocative when in relation to African art in museums and art galleries (the piece narrated over images of African masks and objects). In another part of the same film a dancers appear to trace words/symbols from Karl Marx’s ‘Capital Volume I’. Sadly, I don't think these ideas being communicated through choreography are any more accessible than they are being read. Through several different visual displays Campbell weaves together a thought-provoking comment on commercialisation although arguably it represents rather than contributes much, if anything new to the debate that hasn't already been done. And by this point, as the last artist in my Turner Prize journey, unfortunately for Campbell, I was beginning to lose energy. Campbell is probably the most accomplished 'film maker' of the three, his editing, storytelling and shots being the most cinematic but I am unconvinced that that is enough to win.
This year’s Turner Prize was difficult! The work demanded a lot of time in order to be understood and out of context from the artists other work I felt there was much I was missing or failing to grasp. Was it worth the effort? I don’t honestly feel it was. There have been many, many more artists who’ve been interesting this year outside the realms of the Turner Prize, Phyllida Barlow, Tania Kovats, David Batchelor to name a few. If I had to pick a winner, Tris Vonna-Michell would be my bet simply because his work best emulated the thing I found most interesting in this year’s Prize, which wasn’t the work, but the lady putting in her eyedrops.  The mundane honesty of, ‘So what if I’m in an art gallery, my eyes are killing me. Time for some eye drops!’ was more amusing, more lasting and more realistic than anything much I saw in the Prize itself. Whether Vonna-Michell’s narratives are ‘real’ or not I guess it felt the most human of all the work presented this year and for that relatable quality his work provides where the others tend to alienate, he deserves to win.
  You decide? -The Turner Prize 2014 can be seen at Tate Britain until 4th January 2015

 Winner announced on Channel Four, Monday 1st December, time TBC.

Images from: