New York Public Access
Glasgow: Transmission Gallery until Mon 12 Apr.
Once upon a time, Andy Warhol said everyone could expect fifteen minutes of fame. He was fourteen minutes out. Thousands of ordinary Americans have heard Warhol but are getting more. Thanks to New York Public Access, anyone with a camcorder or video can become a 29-minute star on a weekly basis by submitting a mini-film for screening. The cable network of TV channels is a free-for-all, virtually uncensored playground-cum- soapbox for Big Apple residents. Warhol's spiritual home is alive with stardom.
Taking a peek at the phenomenon, Transmission Gallery's New York Public Access Experience has been curated by three programme-makers from New York. Lying back on fluffy cushions in front of three video monitors and an extensive library of tapes in Transmission, Patterson Beckwith, Alex Bag and Sam Soghor (who’s just fifteen years old) have creamed off their favourite shows from one public-access station - The Manhattan Neighborhood Network — and compiled a series of explanatory interviews with programme- makers. Both the couch-cosy setting and the on-screen content contribute to the experience.
’Most of the shows are made by people with a camcorder and VCR,’ says Patterson. ’That is the charm of public access. Nobody has any money to make their show — there are no commercials — but everyone watches the shows and talks about them.’ And squeezed into the schedule between preachers, music videos and Oprah-style talk-shows, there are some artists. 'I am a video artist,’ says Alex Bag, ’and having a weekly deadline to produce my show is a great discipline, like being back at school. Some of the shows suck because I haven’t had any time to work on them, but others look great. Now I have two years’ worth, and
Turn on and tune in: New Yorkers Patterson Beckwith, Alex Bag and Sam Soghor
that’s a lot of tape.’
Bag freely admits the young Sam Soghor has been inspirational. In his show Old Dog And Zippy, Soghor rants, bitches and curses MTV, politics and social issues. 'Basically it’s a piece of my life every week,’ the fifteen- year-old explains. 'I introduce people to new ideas, try to help people question authority, find themselves and find truth. I say fuck the government.’
Underpinning the American ideal of freedom of speech, public-access channels accommodate most voices and opinions. But not everything escapes the censor. Concepts of taste and morality still influence the channel's output. No on-screen penetrative sex and definitely no visits to the ’bathroom’, and recently, one long-running show was banned after the Bible was graphically desecrated on air by a heavy metal band.
But in this media-saturated age, the majority of the station's output is far more mundane. In varying degrees of degenerate colour and impoverished sound, people enthusiastically grab their chance to show their real-life action on air. At Transmission, both the naffness and significance of this home-made, low-fi medium can be experienced, hype-free and advert- free. (Paul Welsh)
Digital doppelgangers: Wendy McMurdo's Helen, Sheffield, 1996
and about to catch his death -— the Edinburgh show includes over 60 portraits, including the overall wrnning entry, Jananne Al-Ani's portrait of her lragi/lrish family
For McMurdo her portrait - taken when she sat in on rehearsals at the Joy Reynolds School of Theatre and Drama in Sheffield has more to do With childhood fantasy than cloning. It refers back to those childhood times when real playmates were not around, so imaginary ones were CONJUFCd up.
’I am interested in play and fantasy," the indiVIdual and the self,’ says the Edinburgh-based artist, who recalls her own childhood when, With some imagination, anything and everything seemed possible.
pictures completed two years ago Entitled /n A Shaded Place, they all feature digital doppelgangers set in a
Q The 1996 John Kobal
Photographic Award Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery
lt (Ollfti he (al'erl the pliritoi’uaphic of Wendy l\.l<i~.lui‘di)'s i.<)r’tiait, Helen, Sheffield I996 shows .1 young girl sitting on what appears to be an exact mirror likeness of herself \.’l.'ith all the current ‘ Dolly the sheep, the slightly
. surreal and :initer'.'iiig portrait is
perhaps another case of art mirroring science, says McMurdo
Achieved through manipulation and an oii-screen process of cut and paste, t\.l<l.lurdo's photograph is in fart a composite portrait of the same young girl It is also JOllii winner of the Most Creative Use of Photographic l.1aterial prize in the 1996 John Kobal Portrait Award One of nearly 3000 entries among them the Trainspotting photograph of Ewan McGregor soaked to the skin
solitary situation. 'Some people did think they were guite dark, some beautiful or clrsturbmg,‘ McMurdo 'But it depends on what the Viewer brings to the work '
The portrait is from a series of 1
McMurdo is also interested in the
ideas surrounding originality and indiwduality And who knows --
human original may soon be
duplicated for real Could McMurdo's . of
portraits offer a foretaste
portraiture for the new millenniurri7 :
Glasgow: CCA until Sat 26 Apr *at*
It’s a bit like being surrounded by giant stills from a black and white movie. Desolate scenes of a kind of no-man's land, neither urban or rural, hang on the walls. It could be the backdrop for a movie about Cold War espionage or revolutionary stirrings.
In name alone, Hai‘nah Collins's In The Course Of Time: A Worldwide Case Of Homesickness, suggests a mood of reverie. The photographs, taken in Poland after the fall of the Berlin Wall, are for Collins an expression of her ’interest in the in- between countries of Eastern Europe, those whose status is dubious.’
There’s a collection of redundant fans piled in a corner; a line-up of icons and bric-a-brac for sale outside Warsaw’s football stadium, a workshop furnace that throws out its last gush of flames. Yet it is the black and white of these scenes, blending into an all-consuming grey, that has the affect of anaesthetising any signs of life. intriguing to view, but perhaps a one- angled take on a country. (Susanna Beaumont)
Changing Perceptions Edinburgh: City Art Centre until Sat 10 May a a A 4r
Fields of colour: Sue Grierson's computer generated “colour events"
It's not often you get blown a kiss in a gallery, but it happens here. As you walk through a ’gateway' of two fans set on pedestals, a light breeze catches your face and the sound of lips kissmg comes your way. This is Ashley McCormick’s Affection (Oscillating).
Changing Perceptions, a group show of multi-sensory art, sets out to be accessible to blind, partially and fully- sighted VISIIOTS Fingertips can wake up to the tactile pleasure of Mary Bourne's stoneworks -r one stone has a silk-like smoothness; another, hewn like a mortar, is rough on the outSIde With a crumbly-textured lip, and a buttery-soft iitSide. In Simon Fildes and Stephen Hunter's interactive work, bits and pieces -- resembling the fall-out of a mechanic's workshop -- can be picked up to trigger off electronic music overhead. Meanwhile, it's the nose that gets working in Clara Ursitti's Self- Porirait In Scent, Sketch No 5 (scalp). Here a small motor emits the smell of the artist’s scalp And wrth a definite hint of the oleaginous, it sure is a 'sniff and whiff‘ olfactory portrait.
The show is a good move on the part of the City Art Centre. Yet the 'exhibition aesthetic' still rules. l wonder if the layout of exhibits is the most apt for partially-sighted or blind visitors, (Susanna Beaumont)
l l i