Neil is off to get married this Tuesday. Love and congrats to Ann and Neil, from us all!
Gen and Ali are here! And they are already making a massive difference to our culture and how we get things done, and made. Hooray.
If you'd like the more 'official' details', here they are...
Genevieve Sheppard (Gen) started her career in documentary and television production in Toronto and New York. Following this, she moved to London and into advertising, where she joined BBH and then W+K where she worked as a TV producer. Most recently she was Head of Production and Executive Producer at B-Reel Films. Genevieve will work across all the agency’s clients and new business, and will continue to progress the agency's support for 'Free the Bid’, the initiative advocating on behalf of women directors for equal opportunities to bid on commercial jobs in the global advertising industry.
Alexandra Kelly (Ali) started her career as an artist agent and producer at Serlin Associates representing fashion and beauty photographers, and then at Pocko representing illustrators and animators. She went on to work at Wieden + Kennedy as a Project Manager and Art Buyer, before joining the Government Digital Service (GDS) where she ran a creative team of filmmakers, writers and designers. The launch of GOV.UK has been widely credited with making government services simpler, clearer and faster. It also won a D&AD Black Pencil. Ali will be continuing to build the team and attract new talent to BETC, developing the agency’s culture and overseeing print and digital production across all clients.
In October 2017 the Happy Song was born. The first scientifically tested song to make babies happy. The campaign was a hit with parents the world over, culminating in 5.5 million YouTube views, at last count. Today, 10 months after launch, the Happy Song was the topic of Metro’s ‘Behind the Idea’ column.
It’s a gloomy rainy day, but hopefully the happy song will be bringing some cheer to commuters, and their little ones!
Glad you like your cake!
Here’s my latest column for Market Leader magazine.
As per last quarter if you’re a WARC subscriber you can read it on their website but they allow me to stick the ‘original submitted version’ on here, as long as it carries the disclaimer “Unedited Version” and the credit “Reproduced with permission of Market Leader, the strategic marketing journal for business leaders. To subscribe visit www.warc.com/bookstore © Copyright Warc and The Marketing Society.”
So, caveats having been caveated here it is:
Advertising people seem to have fallen in love with the idea that what they make are ‘stories’. Often, of course, they’re not. Or not good ones anyway.
Let’s examine that. I want to tell you a story...
1 The story is the frame, not the point
The best presentation I’ve ever seen was given by a radio producer called Piers Plowright. He walked onto the stage and said: “When I was a boy, I was playing on the beach near our house and I found this marvellous pebble.” Or something like that, I can’t remember the details, the actual story wasn’t important. We were all spellbound because he just started telling a story. He didn’t do any of that preliminary hoo-ha about thanking the organisers or saying how delighted he was to be there, he just started telling a personal, human story. Stories are powerful, but the act of telling one, and the way it’s done, is often more powerful. Most stories are, in themselves, pretty banal and predictable. A competent storyteller uses that to relax us and manage our attention, using the story as a framework. We know where it’s going, we’re looking forward to the ride, to the flavour the storyteller brings and the way they do it. The best example: the legendary vaudeville joke The Aristocrats. Do not Google that unless you’re prepared for the worst, most offensive language you have ever heard.
2 Real stories are hard
When it is the story itself that grips us, that’s normally because you’re in the hands of a real professional, someone who has studied Billy Wilder: “If you see a man coming through a doorway, it means nothing. If you see him coming through a window, that is at once interesting.” Someone who has thought about John le Carré: “‘The cat sat on the mat’ is not a story. ‘The cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is a story.” Someone who knows about Chekhov’s gun: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.” Real, compelling stories that understand these principles are not just flung together. The narrative scientists at Pixar spend years developing the stories behind their movies. The twists, turns and switchbacks that will grip us and illuminate their characters, that will keep us watching and keep us caring are pored over in intense detail. And this is where the very best advertising people are worth their money; they can compress all that science into 30 seconds. That is a special craft and one which will keep an elite and tiny cadre of people employed long after the algorithms have taken the rest of our jobs.
3 No sadness, no story
As you’ll see above from Messrs Wilder, le Carré and Chekov, a good story normally includes something going wrong. This is where most advertising stories fail. I was once asked to provide help with a script for a male facial skincare product. The creative idea was that your life showed in the lines on your face and that therefore they should be cherished, not erased. Not a bad thought. It’s just that the script – a montage of scenes from a long life – was falling rather flat. You’ve probably guessed why. Every single vignette was of something positive and uplifting. It was a life full to the brim with celebration, achievement and air punches. So it was boring. There was no shade, no contrast, no tension to be released. You can tell an advertiser knows how to tell a story when they’re prepared to let some sadness in.
4 Not everything is a story
Street Fighter II is one of the all-time great video games. It’s also a great example of how you don’t need a story to hold attention. There’s no story, just action. The Marvel movies, similarly, aren’t gripping us with their narrative science, they’re doing it with moments – moments of spectacle, awe, dumb humour or speed. No one recommends a Marvel movie based on the story. It’s all about “that bit when...”. Artier movies or books are based on character rather than story, or atmosphere. Great console games are often about world-building. They imagine a different set of rules and possibilities and extrapolate from there. The best advertising does that too. It imagines a world where your brand is important and follows the logic from there. And then, of course, there are jokes. Most of the most successful advertising ever has just been good jokes. And great jokes are defiantly not stories: they work by actively resisting and subverting the structures and expectations of stories. Maybe more agency bosses should describe themselves as joke-tellers. That would be a better story.
Russell Davies is chief strategy officer at BETC, a contributing editor for Wired, and a relentless mucker-about on the internet. Follow @fourthingsabout on Twitter for a stream of links and articles related to this quarter’s topic.
"Rosie Bardales is glad to be breaking norms and glass ceilings, both professionally and creatively. She tells David Knight how she believes that her agency’s supposed troubles are just little bumps along the way that she’ll be able to banish, using warmth, enthusiasm and a dark sense of humour..."
Read more in Shots
We recently shot a campaign for one of our lovely Danone clients. The stars of the show – babies! Over three days, many locations and even more coo’ing little people, we bring you a sneak peek behind the scenes as we prepare to launch the campaign next month.
Call Time – A very early 8AM
Wrap Time – A very reasonable 7PM
Location – A beautiful house in the depths of East London (estimated value a whopping £2M)
Shooting – Here we filmed and photographed six adorable babies.
Most memorable moment – the cute babies! They behaved very well and we were delighted with the results.
What we learned - babies tend to feel more comfortable in a familiar setting, such as a house vs a studio which can be big and intimidating for them!
When creatives get hot they lean on each other and take their shoes off. Cool.
The location house we’ll never be able to afford. Sigh.
Fiver if you can spot the bee.
Call Time – Another early start - 8AM
Wrap Time – we left the house location at 7PM and hopped straight on a train to Kent for the following day’s shoot.
Location – Haggerston Park, Stepney City Farm & East London
Shooting – Some sunny park shots, the very first of its kind pram cam, our lovely product and the coolest grandad in the world. Then even more babies before heading into the wild at the city farm.
Most memorable moment – Going into the chicken’s den! We sent our brave cameraman, director and art director to get close-ups of the beaky folk whilst trying to avoid getting pecked!
Spring has sprung in Haggerston Park
Respect the product.
Never work with babies or animals. We worked with both.
Donkeys: useless at hide and seek.
Ever wondered what became of the three little pigs?
Call Time – Urgh 6AM
Wrap Time – Yay 6PM
Location – Margate
Shooting – We open on a beach… Viking Bay in Broadstairs to be precise. Cue seagull pandemonium, pram cam on the sand and sunburn all round…
Most memorable moment – shooting the seagulls! Turns out the winged wonders are happy to pose if you have a handful of chips for them to gobble down.
Early bird catches the beach sunrise.
We did like to be by the seaside.
Viking Bay, Broadstairs.
Viking Bay, Broadstairs.
Going the extra mile for the seagull shots.
Art Directors: Anything to show off a half tense.
By the time everyone else arrived we had 6,264 shots of the seagulls.
The sun shines out of this art director’s head.
A fishy finish to proceedings.
Glasses in the air if you’ve got semi-serious sunstroke.
Authors: Karolina & James
‘Let’s do a quick brainstorm’. Usually floated as the best course of action when something’s either not been cracked, or has been forgotten about. But in the spirit of trying a few new things we had an all agency brainstorm this week - none of the earlier scenarios was actually the case. For the record.
Now I know a brainstorm isn’t a new thing. And people have also been writing about new ways to do them for years. But here’s what felt new and good about it. At least to me.
- We had a simple, likeable, brief and we weren't under any pressure.
- It was quick. We gave ourselves 30mins - in fact by the time things started we had 28.
- There wasn’t a lot of discussion. People first came up with their own ideas and then got into small groups to pick a small selection of what they thought was best.
- The decision makers were identified at the start and they had the final say. No discussion. (teams had about a minute each to present their selected ideas).
- It wasn’t very hard.
- It was enjoyable, because everyone did it.
- It yielded some results. After 28mins we had a bunch of not very good ideas and a few pretty good ones.
I know this is not a seismic event in the world of creative processes. The idea of mixing up collective brainstorming and individual thinking isn’t that revolutionary. It also won’t replace any other process we have. Or get in Campaign. Or on it’s own probably excite Clients.
But, it’s something we now know we can do. People liked it. And I think it paints a bigger picture of the fact we’re just happy to try some stuff. Oh, and as I said, we got a couple of ideas out of it.
Every Tuesday lunchtime we now watch a documentary at work. No one’s taking a register and you don’t have to come. The idea is simply to provide some inspiration, hopefully. To sit together. To not eat at your desk in front of Facebook. This week we watched the Christopher Niemann episode of ‘Abstract the art of design’. You’ve probably seen it on Netflix.
Whilst watching an hour of TV at work I’ve found out the following. I eat more healthily when I slow down a bit - a pear AND an apple, rather than a bag of crisps. Watching TV in the office, when still in work mode a bit, is actually really useful - I had an idea for an RFI, got some good bits of terminology for creds meetings, and have sorted my dad’s next birthday present. I also just really enjoyed it, which is no bad thing in itself.
Summer is here and it’s time to face your neglected, overgrown, rusty-barbecue-strewn garden and bring it back to life. But it doesn’t have to be a complete nightmare. We’ve been working with KADO to make it super easy for anyone to enjoy thriving flowers for the whole of summer.
Last year we designed and launched the brand exclusively for launch at Waitrose. This year KADO is available at Tesco, online and in Garden centres, to spread the word we’re bringing inspiration to you. We created an Instagram lookbook shot by Kristin Vicari designed to hero the human connection with plants.
In a whirlwind two day shoot we shot 3000 images for a social calendar that illustrates the joy of blooming flowers in your garden.
Closer to P.O.S.
From these shots we created proximity OOH to inspire consumers close to point of purchase.
I’ve just realised that we’ve been in our ‘new’ building for 2 months now. Everyone seems to like it here. Not least because we have windows. Windows that let actual sunlight in - which is a big improvement on the last place. Visitors tell us it’s a great space when they see it. Clients want to have meetings here, even when we’re not in them. And the lunch options are never ending. The big things are all set up now. We have doors on the meetings rooms (we didn’t for the first month), the IT works (we had no internet cable for the first 3 weeks) and the sign is up in reception. So now the hardest bit of any move, we need to make the place really feel like home.
I’m looking forward to seeing the personal touches coming through. Things on walls and desks that remind us what we do, and who does it. Mess that isn’t just moving in mess. Stuff that gives a sense of the agency's character and of the people who work here. That says this is a creative, interesting place to be. I suppose we just need to start creating the stories and memories of what has happened here, so it becomes more than just a ‘cool office’. And that’s the fun bit.
Market Leader is "the strategic marketing journal for business leaders”. It comes out once a quarter and they’ve asked me to contribute a column.
If you’re a WARC subscriber you can read it on their website but they’ve allowed me to stick the ‘original submitted version’ on here, as long as it carries the disclaimer “Unedited Version” and the credit “Reproduced with permission of Market Leader, the strategic marketing journal for business leaders. To subscribe visit www.warc.com/bookstore © Copyright Warc and The Marketing Society.”
So, here it is, without the benefit of editing and, therefore, probably, with a high risk of slander, libel and typos.
#MarketingAI - if it’s not the biggest hashtag in your stream right now it will be soon. All the large tech companies and half the world’s start-ups are about to knock on your door to tell you how their algorithms can transform your business. A tiny percentage of them are right. Here are four things to think about.
1. Don’t Worry About the Words, Worry About The Data
They might say AI, they might say Machine Learning or Deep Learning. They might have invented some dreadful neologism like Deep Marketing or some acronym that munges AI or ROI together. Someone will do that. Don’t worry about it. All that’s happened is that computers have suddenly got smart enough to do human-like tasks because businesses like Google and Amazon have access to vast amounts of data about stuff humans do. Google are really good at ‘natural language’ because they’ve got astounding amounts of human language being typed and spoken at them every day. Combine that with very large numbers of very fast computers and the computers can start to learn for themselves from all the billions of examples. (I’m simplifying dramatically). That’s the capability they’re trying to sell you. It’s worth remembering that you probably don’t have anything close to that amount of data. It might seem like all your transactions and insights and products and everything is a lot. It isn’t. In order to tell you anything useful they’ll probably have to combine it with other data. Or they’ll be manipulating your data with an algorithm that was trained on another set altogether. You should be asking questions about this. These businesses are hungry for data, your data, Their algorithms have to be fed. Make sure you keep a close eye on what happens to it. You don’t want to be paying them to make themselves smarter.
2. You Can’t See What’s Going On
It’s hard to see what Machine Learning systems are actually doing. They don’t work in ways that make ordinary ‘common sense’ to humans and they do lots of things very quickly, so it’s hard to spot mistakes. That’s even more true of the biases that get built in unthinkingly; the assumptions that have lain unexamined in your business for years, or things that are even worse than that. Many data training sets are built on majority populations. You don’t want to be standing in front of your board or a press conference blaming an algorithm for your accidentally racist targeting strategy. As The Atlantic magazine pointed out last year “Flickr’s auto-tagging of online photos label pictures of black men as “animal” or “ape” and researchers determined that “Google search results for black-sounding names are more likely to be accompanied by ads about criminal activity than search results for white-sounding names.” Read Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neiland imagine those things happening inside your business.
3. Build A Machine, Get Replaced By A Machine
All the prognostications about the robots taking our jobs focus on the jobs everyone imagines are easy to computerise. People who read stuff and make some decisions, within fairly limited parameters with reasonably little independent creative thought. We dress it up with a lot of hoo-ha but that’s true of quite a lot of marketing/communications jobs too. The more you’ve turned your marketing operation into something science-y the easier it is to replace with a computer. Even if it’s half-baked pseudo science. The computer doesn’t care if your formula is rubbish, if you’ve got a formula it’ll follow it. The more you use things like pre-testing to make decisions the easier you are to replace with a machine.
4. Cheap, quick, algorithmic - pick three.
The ‘creative’ side of the business is not immune either. Computers are getting pretty good at producing perfectly acceptable art, music and writing. None of it’s genius but all of it’s cheap. It’s just the sort of thing you might need as a soundtrack for your product videos or as a way of instantly translating your brochures. To explore how easy this is I built a little twitterbot that generates a new corporate tagline on the hour every hour. It can do thousands a second. Some of them are good. All of them are cheaper than paying an agency. (Have a look @taglin3r.) If I were one of your creative agencies I’d be getting out of the commodity side of things - the art-working, retouching, mood music side - and retrenching to the stuff that only authentically, originally creative people can do. If I were you I’d be doing the same.
Follow @fourthingsabout on twitter for a stream of links and articles related to this quarters topic.
Russell Davies is Chief Strategic Officer at BETC, a contributing editor for Wired and a relentless mucker-about on the internet.
Reporting on diversity is tricky for small organisations. Percentages can be misleading when a single hire or departure can shift the proportions in a category by 5 or 10 percent. And you need to be careful about what you’re publishing when percentages on charts might represent a single individual, you risk breaching confidences. Typically, as well, small organisations don’t have HR departments, there’s no one with specific training in what ‘diversity’ questions to ask and how to ask them.
Nevertheless we think it’s important to start monitoring our diversity and equally important for us to share what we can. That report is below. We’re afraid there aren’t any fancy bar charts, there’s not enough data to require them. There’s also a brief note on our method.
Doing this has made us wonder whether there’s a way we can join with other organisations to make this stuff easier for us all, perhaps we can share tools and techniques and create a useful set of comparison data. We’re going to look into that and write more soon.
If you’re interested in joining in, please get in touch.
What have we learned from the data?
We need to be more diverse. We’re doing better than some in some areas; our creative department, for instance, is 40% women, but even that’s not the 50% it should be and that’s a highlight. We’re too male, too white, and too heterogeneous. We need to fix that. That will be part of our growth plan and we will report on our progress here.
Diversity at BETC London March 2017
(We’ve rounded all the figures so they may add up to more than 100%)
- 60% of us are men, 40% are women.
- 33%of the senior management is female (ie there are two men and one woman)
- More than half of us (57%) are between 25 and 34. 22% are 35-44, 13% are 16-24, 8% are 45-54.
- We have no staff who would be defined as disabled according to the 2010 Equality Act and no one with a long-term health problem.
- We are 57% white (of various British origins) and 26% white (from non-British origins). We’re 5% Black British, 5% Arab and 9% from mixed/multiple ethnic background.
- 48% of us went to a state school, 26% attended school outside the UK, 26% went to a fee-paying school.
- 78% of us went to university and 43% of us were part of the first generation in their family to do so.
- 22% of us are primary or secondary carers for children. (So we’re pretty committed to be a family-friendly place to work)
Note on method
We did this by sending round a Google Forms questionnaire which you can see here.
It’s based on this one (WARNING - Word doc) from the Solicitors Regulation Authority. They seem like the kind of organisation that would have thought this stuff through. If you’d like to use our questionnaire for your study please feel free. Get in touch and we’ll share it.
I’ve always admired Steven Johnson’s charisma (watch his Ted Talk, you’ll be smitten). So being able to hear the man himself speak for the launch of his new book “Wonderland” was, well, wonderful. And a delightful hour of entertaining tales, from defecating ducks to AI.
Play (as trivial as it may sound) is what’s been shaping the world
The evening began with a glass of wine – fun already! – and a quote from Brian Eno: “Art is everything that you don’t have to do”. Now I love this quote. Not only because it gives an unusual and simple, albeit pretty open, definition of art, but because it shows that necessity isn’t everything. That style over substance may not be such a bad shout after all. And there’s great value to be found in the beautiful, the ludic, the superfluous.
Which was a charming segue into Johnson’s argument, pushing the story even further, that it’s our desire to entertain ourselves and experience beautiful things that’s been responsible for the greatest innovations in human history. That “play” – which he purposely labels in turn as games, delight, music, prettiness, fashion, and more – is the mother of invention.
So off we went on a one-hour journey from Paleolithic age to present-day Silicon Valley where Johnson employed his talents of storyteller to demonstrate, amongst other tales, how women’s wonder for new fabrics inspired the industrial revolution. How the automaton of the Digesting Duck – a scandalous French invention! – was the grandfather of pattern making. And perhaps the most relevant to us now, how music keyboards gave the world the idea of using all ten fingers to control some sort of automated device.
But I found particularly insightful the explanation he gave as to why play is such an engine of progress.
Play is powerful because every time we engage with it, something different can happen
It’s the dopamine that does it! Imagine you’re a caveman hearing notes from a flute made of bone for the first time – a sound that’s new, different, enjoyable and therefore worth fiddling with. Switching on a little alarm in the brain that something interesting is happening and pushing you further down the exploration alley. Surprise and delight are powerful forces indeed, and the “curiosity reward”, says Johnson, what’s been accelerating advances in AI.
So what about the future? “You will find the future wherever people are having the most fun”, suggesting that we look at the latest game crazes such as “Pokémon Go” to see how it might inspire the way people use such technology for less trivial pursuits. But Johnson also reminded us that technology isn’t the be all and end all. And as we have a tendency to talk about innovation in terms of gadgets or software, we should think of it in terms of spaces, nurturing environments where serendipity can happen.
Which made me think on the way home. The world of adland is supposed to be fun, right? And we’re lucky to have to generate ideas for a living. But in the midst of helping sell products and make businesses profitable – which we’re absolutely here to do – are we still having fun? Because if “toys and games are the preludes to serious ideas” (Charles Eames), let’s make sure we, as an industry, create a space of play in which we can engage in our hobbies, experiment and play. Let the magic happen. Wonderful.
By Caroline Baron
We recently made a new film for Rimmel, launching the new brand tagline ‘Live the London Look’ and a new brand attitude. Everybody I work with knows I love beauty, but when writing this post, I wanted to explore the reasons for this passion in a bit more detail.
There are probably as many definitions of beauty as there are people on this planet:
Brands are starting to catch up with the notion that beauty can not be defined - and it means something different to everybody. We need to take this truth seriously and do our best to represent and speak to a wide audience. We are connecting with savvy young men and women, a lot of whom look up to the brand and are highly engaged in the conversation. They will call out brands who don’t listen or move with the times. This is exactly why casting was such an important part of our Rimmel Anthem film. We wanted to give our audience a voice and an opportunity to tell us what beauty and makeup means to them. By giving real girls and guys a voice we are speaking with them rather than at them.
It is never boring:
Thanks to YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest I don’t think anybody could ever run out of nail art ideas, tips on how to contour and to generally learn & experiment. This is exciting, both for consumers and advertisers particularly when working on a brand such as Rimmel which is not afraid to push boundaries and experiment. It's even more tempting to try the ‘no-makeup’ look or a new lipstick shade when there are so many affordable products out there. Today - everybody has a chance to play.
For me it is indulgent in ways which may not be obvious, the biggest indulgence being time. The time that I take for myself to put on that blush, to play with eye shadows, etc. It’s meditative in a way to slow down and take the time to touch my face, to concentrate, to not be distracted by technology and life.
I am also amazed at what a difference a red lip can make on most women and how an under eye concealer can hide so many secrets.
And because what we all really want to know is what our audience thinks, I asked some teens for their thoughts on our latest film. Here is what they had to say:
· We like the modern aspect of it and how there are different ethnicities/different types of people included. We find it inspiring how there are a variety of looks not just models- it makes it original.
· Like how it’s not being the image of ‘perfection’
· The different paces alongside the urban ‘strong-beated’ music make it engaging.
· The slower end re-iterates the moral – to be yourself, very well.
· We did think that the room in which the nails were painted did not look too ‘aspirational’.
There's a lot more coming and we can't wait to share with you.
Watch this space and 'Live the London look' 😝
Babies. Squidgy faces. Sleep deprivers. Poo machines. So my friends say. As well as adorable things you can’t help but smile with. So we wanted to return the favour and get the chubby cherubs smiling. But how? Like their taller, older homosapiens, they love music. So we thought, let’s make the first ever song guaranteed to make babies happy.
So we made the Sound of Happy. We got C&G baby club to ask Mums and Dads what sounds made their babies chuckle. Farting. Tick. Sneezing. Tick. Duck noises. Quack.
Ok, Ready? Here comes the science.
We buddied up with two Goldsmiths University psychologists and Grammy award-winning artist (and writer of music for the new Harry Potter play) Imogen Heap. Fed them the SFX and watched them go. A literature review here. Four short compositions there. And it was over to the babies to let us know which melody they liked best. Kind of like the X-Factor, but with people taller and more articulate than Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell.
The little ones had spoken (well, wriggled, danced and smiled in Goldsmiths Babylab) as they let their favourite be known. Then it was over to lovely psychologists Caspar and Lauren to impart their wisdom. Babies think rhythm really is a dancer, as strong rhythmic music like the works of Mozart, gets babies moving to the beat.
They also knew how babies’ brains love patterns and repetition. And because they have a shorter memory span than adults, a tune can be repetitive without getting boring. At the same time, the element of surprise is something they also respond to. A silent pause, a change in the tempo, or an unexpected effect on the vocals, gets babies going gaga. And as 8 out of 10 dogs would testify, the higher the pitch of sound, the more engaged and gleeful infants become.
So, Imogen. What do you make of all that? Well, she made a catchy record that stuck in the ears of babies and adults alike. Featuring the favourite sounds of UK babies, the car horn of a 1955 Morris Oxford, the rocket launch sound of a US government agency, the woof of a grumpy Pomeranian called Lily and two different cat meows (thanks Linda and Fiji). Within a day of its release ‘The Happy Song’ had Buzz Lightyear, Simba, Sir Tim Rice and Elton John and all the Pokemon/men/women quaking in their cowboy boots, paws, loafers, cartoon feet, storming beyond the lot to take No.1 in the iTunes children’s chart.
Looking for distraction from the US election results this weekend? We recommend visiting Infinite Mix: Get lost through a series of incredible audio-visual installations on the cutting edge of video and contemporary art.
Taking place in the iconic brutalist building The Store, Vinyl Factory and the Hayward gallery present a selection of 10 contemporary artworks featuring hologram-like installations, multi-screen music videos, cinema-style 3D projections and a bullet-riddled tour of Kendrick Lamar’s home town. Conceptually and emotionally immersive, all genres are blurred, and it’s about time they were.
“What you see is as important as what you hear”
Devoted to video and music, Infinite Mix represents an inventive approach to layering images and sounds. Most of the artists involved have themselves composed, produced or remixed the soundtracks that relate to the visual elements of their work.
From opera to funk, post-punk, dub, dancehall and hip-hop, Infinite Mix is an experimental trip into diverse weird yet wonderful universes, both thought-provoking and deeply entertaining.
The first room opens the show on Stan Douglas’ Luanda-Kinshasa, a work that finds a 1970s fictional jazz-funk band in the midst of a recording session. Set in a replica of the legendary Columbia 30th Street Studio, the six hours long experience brings up this infinite perspective on which the entire show is based.
Down in the basement, Cyprien Gaillard’s complex and visually-lush film Nightlife, is projected in 3D. The dancing plant-life and trees in his film lurch out at you, waving around to the dub-reggae rhythm of the 1970’s Blackman’s World chorus.
The weirdest piece is without doubt the brilliant and surreal pop-tastic Jeremy Deller and Cecilia Bengolea’s film following the Japanese dancer Bom Bom, who specialises in an impressive mix of gymnastics and twerking. With dream sequences featuring deliberately cheap effects, this is an unforgettable experience.
If it is difficult to say, the most compelling work is probably the very ambitious two-screen video m.A.A.d. by Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker Kahlil Joseph. Mixing beautifully shot, documentary style filmmaking, the artist immerses the viewer into the often-chronicled violent streets of Compton in LA, with surreal scenes moving on Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 good kid, m.A.A.d city soundtrack.
Dystopia, raw realities or just artistic fantasies: all the installations challenge the boundaries between the real and the staged, the sublime and the everyday, the colours and the sounds.
A deep physical, emotional and cerebral viewer experience - not far from the office - that you cannot miss!
Infinite mix also features work by Martin Creed, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Cameron Jamie, Elizabeth Price and Ugo Rondinone that rethink conventions of documentary film.
We sit down with Tom, the newest addition to our TV prod team and find out what's on his mind and in his pockets.
What’s in your pocket?
Cash, phone, lighter, receipt from bar. Nothing interesting.
Your greatest creative inspiration on screen?
Gaspar Noe’s “Love” - the script is genuinely terrible, but it’s a beautiful film, with an interesting message.
Your Jedi name?
I’d rather be a Tusken Raider.
The dream thing you could remote control?
Your useless talent?
My face is really really stretchy.