Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Processing Pink. How Pink is Pink? Escape the Echo Chamber.

Printed reproduction is not very accurate. That is, if you were to print the same image via a range of domestic printers (using home computing), the accuracy for ‘likeness’ is unreliable, essentially varied.

I tested this. I sent a PDF image of a pink star to a number of friends. My instructions: not to tamper with the image in any way (digitally), but simply print it as ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’. The following picture below shows the range of results. Different sizes, different colours - all printed out onto A4 paper.

Processing Pink (stars) at an art event in Shoreham by Sea (UK)
in 1998.

My main thoughts at the time, and which remain with me, concern our assumption that we all see the same thing, that we all assume that we watch the same image (quality) all at the same time (here I am thinking of digital or analogue moving images on various machines).

What I am getting at is that the collective experience in which we physically see things (especially via technology) is not as straightforward as we think. I wonder if you have ever seen a shop window in which the same TV programme is being broadcast via different tv monitors? The quality of image varies. For whatever reasons I can only surmise, - albeit the nature of the mechanical and physical features of the particular make and model, through to the default settings (perhaps altered) are aiding the variation of the picture quality.

It’s very obvious that we don’t really know what we are accurately seeing physically at the best of times. We are making conclusions and assumptions from our own physiological and cultural persuasions for example, from our adopted checklist of what is concluded as our norm. We make conclusions all the time, and these become our burden as much as our revelation. The ‘buzz word’ at the moment is a term called ‘echo chamber’. This is the means in which we reflect back our own self in the limited spectrum of seeing and hearing things, especially in relation to our use of the internet. ‘We are what we eat’ so to speak. The most alarming point in relationship to echo chambers is that the internet is a binary system of algorithms and cookies (no doubt much more besides) in which it prioritizes what we see and selects material that we ‘log’ and that we ‘visit’. The subtle and hugely dangerous fact is that we are skillfully manipulated in to thinking we are ‘free’ browsing – looking at material in which we are exploring, researching even. Unfortunately this is hugely misleading, as we enter in to a very narrow gaze.

Nonetheless, perhaps we have always been in the echo chamber, and occasionally breaking out (of our thoughts, of our customs). In this regard, I offer a contradictory thought to the one just posited. We always work within a tribe, a group or circle of people we have an affinity with. The trick, perhaps, and one that humans (can) do, is to jettison into new pastures and vary the mix, a little like the gene pool in which we swim, in which we re-engage the variation of ourselves. Every now and then, when we don’t mix well enough, when we are exposed to toxic shock, our DNA and our human condition alters and shifts. Some with tragic and devastation results of course. So the answer is to keep widening and mixing, moving and exploring, stimulating otherness and not locking oneself into the echo chamber of disease. From reading the Daily Mail through to sitting in the same barstool in a pub day in and day out, life restricts our relationship with ourselves, our brains, and ultimately our survival.

My project ‘Processing Pink’ was a reminder as much as a revelation in regards to the above. As a starting point in 1998, and as an artwork and experiment, its aim was to also elicit surprise and not just demonstrate a point. I am always keen to see what happens even when one thinks it will be one sure outcome. I find myself having to strongly remind myself that I have indeed adopted a prejudice mindset, fixed on belief systems etc… I have to explore and push myself into new corridors. I might be wrong, but I think this is the danger as one gets older (I am starting to realise…). 

More updates on further explorations and interventions soon. I'm seriously thinking of joining a flower arranging group just to change my world and my point of view. It's healthy. Escape the echo chamber as a matter of urgency!

Friday, 27 January 2017

ScartVideo - Experimental Video


ScartVideo: Mechanical modification / electronic impulses / human intuition. Made in real-time and without the aid of a computer: Video-Sculpture. DEDICATED WEBSITE LINK HERE

ScartVideo use low-tech audio and video analogue equipment, specifically designed, to generate material which is presented (and recorded) live. Two films are chosen to recreate new narratives and unexpected fusion – both in terms of pictorial and sensory distortion. The narrative is remade and given back to the viewer in which personalised fictions are re-established. Non-linear story making results without any prerequisite. The convention of prescribed and predetermined filmmaking, in which control is weaved and manipulated from the start to the end. ScartVideo take the films’ origins, playing and re-assembles them simultaneously. The result: To unlock unknown and self-determined narrative, that which occurs literally in real-time.

History: ScartVideo, (formerly ScartTrio (est. 2006)). Founder, Harry Palmer. Guest collaborator, Toby Lloyd (2010-).


On 17th June 2016, ScartVideo performed their new live work called ‘ENCHANTING ALICE’ at the Laing Art Gallery (Newcastle upon Tyne), as part of a series of events connected to the Alice In Wonderland exhibition. (‘A British Library exhibition with additional loans from the Victoria & Albert Museum especially for the Laing, Alice in Wonderland delves into the world of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’).

The work used three cinematic interpretations of Lewis Caroll’s story to create an alternative version of the narrative, performed to a full house.

Thanks to Madeleine Kennedy (Art Exhibitions Officer, Laing Art Gallery) and staff.

You can view the full film here:

More info / artwork  www.scartvideo.wordpress.com

Question: Is the wax model of HRH Lady Diana any better than any other form of representation of her?

In regards to my blogpost ‘How will my life be observed in25 thousand years time?’, I would like to note that the photograph of HRH Lady Diana as featured may not be as some of us remember her. I found the picture of the wax model of HRH Lady Diana quite alarming, stark and synthetic despite attempts to the contrary (see picture). I would add that whilst it was made to look ‘real life’ (in wax), I thought that it was far from ‘real life’. I suppose that poses the obvious question: Can some real life pictures/sculptures/ photographs be more authentic than other attempts at real life? Does it matter? Is it more of a public thing, more of a stimulus – a memory prompting mission to engineer or awaken our sense of fiction, a belief and foster a strong sense of identification. Personification is the key, - a mechanism in placing mental connections, social and political hooks, and intimate histories, significant to those it concerns. Or mere titillation, - entertainment found in the corridors of  Madame Tussauds in London where you will find HRH Lady Diana as wax model.

The power of the image (not just physical) and the associations it provides foster a psychological in-road as to who we are and whom we identify with of course. It provides meaning, however real or unreal, fleeting, passing… We are movements caught in memories. They are stored and they return – ebb and flow, re-weave themselves into our lives that ultimately make us tick. We shape our moments, our approaches by the signs they signify, that impress, that formulate from our sublime to our ridiculous. We are what we believe. It’s what matters.

So returning to the artificial, the ‘real life’ wax version of HRH Lady Diana scenario, does the reaction that I find the picture of her in Madame Tussauds as synthetic really matter? Is she any less authentic as a wax model (or photograph for that matter) that in itself is nonetheless void of any real/accurate physical resemblance other than a prompt at our memory? Many will automatically take it as given that this is indeed the lady that was (physically). Indeed, the fact that we need to recreate a life-like appearance is curious in itself. It qualifies as skill, ingenuity and hi-tech which we marvel at perhaps. These days (in 2017) many people find the magic in smartphones and tablets. They are sophisticated, seductive, and clever (for the time-being anyway). I think I’ll go and have a series of portraits done or commission another life size, life-like wax model of HRH lady Diana copied from the picture I have. Or have a 3D model print out done. Let’s see what happens…

Saturday, 16 January 2016

How will my life be observed in 25 thousand years time?

I'm reviewing a lot of 'my' stuff (in 2016), and I generally have found more 'fiction' to display here on the blog: The landscape of meaning…in the creative pulsations of my creativity and my life - life creativity expressed here in the 'digital cave'. Interestingly, I think its safe to say that the recently discovered cave art in southern France will be around a lot longer than my 'smudges' that are placed here in this virtual world. I have ideas to 'secure the future' and have examined (in my mind and a few physical locations) the ways in which one could exceptionally 'store' long-term (saved and recorded) expressions of ourselves (and why this is also futile and unnecessary….). I conclude that 'stone art' or art expressed in secure hidden locations (caves) and worked on by applying organic materials to make 'art', - is highly likely to sustain communication with our future ancestors. In such a case, they may see art-as-'messages' from 2016 in 25 thousand years time (circa the year 27016). What would they make of a cave painting of Princess Diana for example?

By the way, whilst I am contemplating 'my fiction' and the need to store oneself and be remembered, the tragic fact is in the need to store oneself in the first place! If I can make a point about the comment of storage and 2016, it would be nicely summed up in the most peculiar of western commercial activity: The Madame Tussauds wax museum offers exact replicas of celebrities and 'important' people. Clearly a money spinner for the masses and (hopefully) something that won't be found in a cave in 25 thousand years. What will that tell our ancestors!!!???

Remember how Princess Diana looked like? Safeguarded real life equivalent in wax at Madame Tussauds.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Bridge (aka The HumberBridge) backwards walking...

In the past, I have been formally commissioned to make two short films. The first came in 1996 following the four days of backwards walking (reverse pedestrian walk) on the biggest suspension bridge in the world (at the time) which was The HumberBridge. An eccentric performance walk in which I celebrated the absurdity of a political regional change: the renaming of 'Humberside' to 'East Yorkshire'.

I have inserted some newspaper clippings from the 'Back to the Future' in which I attempted to claim a new world record for reverse pedestrianism and why I did it.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The Eccentric City. Issue K/3 - the cockerel that beareth

Well, I've been elsewhere on the internet, on the road and at the typewriter, emerging with the lastest edition of the tabloid newspaper called The Eccentric City Issue k/3 The cockerel that beareth.

This is the third and physical newspaper since it was first publsihed and co-founded by my friend, Mr Si Walker in 2006.

The aims of the paper (which is not funded and remains highly independent and strickly non-profit), is to promote the nuances of creative individual pursuits from around the world, past and present. Articles, news and views, stories, discoveries and strange other 'human' conditions are pooled together over a 12 month period (sometimes longer).

18 months in the making.
40 pages never-before-read-or-seen articles in tabloid hardcopy.

Articles include:

Global eccentric perspectives emerging…
Where else could you read about:
Bob King. The Famous One Legged Acrobat…
UK’s famous contemporary inventor John Ward interviewed…
Crypto-taxidermy and outrageous Darwin mockery aka ‘The Squire’
Sheep disguised as cameras…
A Fatal balloon duel.
£1 Arts Commission scheme documentation.
Durational reading in public places causing concern…
Travelling tips for female solo adventurers and those who want to hitch-hike…
The Birdman of Hawkesley.
Industrial food fit for human consumption…
Audio autography.
Modified toys as musical instruments.
A postman’s diary…
Bus routes that are used as artistic investigation and celebration…
The Eccentric City Auction and Prize Draw.
Tea with the Mayor of Happiness and The Butler of Joy.
Nettle Beer and the truth behind liberation and commoning…”
Website to visit: Website no longer in operation. 
Note: On the website you can freely download previous issues.
Best eccentric wishes!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Contemplation could change your world and the world around….

‘Any art that arrests us, and does not lead us back into life with an opinion about it, is inviting us out and is performing a very important service. What it is giving us is an occasion for contemplation. We’ve lost the capacity, as a culture, for real contemplation. We do not contemplate easily – it feels like we’re not accomplishing anything when we contemplate. Now if we don’t have contemplation in our lives, we’re probably going to be going after it symptomatically – a lot of our spectating is like this.’

Thomas Moore
(taken from an interview with Suzi Gablik in Conversations before the end of time).

Just the ability to stop, relax and contemplate at ease is sadly missing in many people’s lives. What wonders we could create if we did?

-Harry Palmer.

Documentation of a submerging artist, Harry Palmer,
2003-2009 and pending: www.harrypalmer.co.uk

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Birmingham's hedgehog crisis on video

Harry Palmer talks about hedgehogs from Nicky Getgood on Vimeo.

Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis. PRESS STATEMENT:


Birmingham’s hedgehog crisis.

Why local eccentric activist Harry Palmer made an historic public appeal.


1 in 3 gardens no longer have an annual visiting hedgehog.

1 in 8 children have never seen a hedgehog.

On Saturday 22nd November 2008 at 3pm, Harry Palmer publicly spoke about his concerns for the hedgehog crisis at the Bullring near the historic St Martin’s church in Birmingham. Mr Palmer, a self proclaimed eccentric archaeologist, reinstated a public meeting as a matter of urgency and historic relevance, particularly in regard to hedgehogs.

In the heart of Birmingham a blue heritage plaque, placed ten feet on the side of the rag market, largely goes unnoticed. Until it’s pointed out, many have never seen the sign which states ‘Near here stood the old market cross. Public meetings took place here in the 18th Century.’ It was this sign and its significance combined with his love of hedgehogs that inspired Harry to talk openly about the safeguarding of this lovely creature.

With all the focus on the credit crisis, perhaps we should also consider the challenges concerning the humble hedgehog. Whilst the spotlight is on our own economic survival and security, the simple and shocking fact is that the hedgehog is under threat. According to Dr Pat Morris, considered the godfather of British hedgehogs by 2025 the poor old animal may well be extinct. Indeed, since the mid 1990s, it is estimated that hedgehogs have declined by over a half. Reasons are varied. This year after the recent cold weather, wildlife sanctuaries are being inundated with starving baby hedgehogs. Juvenile hedgehogs are particularly vulnerable and admissions to the centres are abnormally high.

Environmental issues are not helping. With wetter summers and warmer autumns, hedgehogs are having second litters later in the year making the newly born unable to survive. Unfavourable conditions of poor food supply and necessary warmth and shelter prior to hibernation add to the threat. Malnutrition is now a major factor with many hoglets weighing less than 300 grams are more than ever prone to the effects of starvation. Simply put, hedgehogs simply cannot cope with all the changes.

What other facts effect the humble hedgehog and its imminent plight? The habitat of hedgehogs in cities and towns has significantly altered. Gardens have less hedging of course, being replaced by wooden or brick fencing. Increasingly paved patios and slab-stone frontages have replaced gardens adding to the downturn of plant life and hedgerows. Simply put, less fauna and flora negatively affects the ecosystem. Swallows and bees are now reported to be struggling due to changing habitats and environmental circumstances. It’s an unsettling truth also that pollutants and toxic waste, plastic bags and empty containers - crisp packets, sandwich wrappers and plastic beakers for example, make the curious hedgehog susceptible to potential poisoning and suffocation.

So what can we do to help prevent any further number of hedgehogs from dying?

There are number of things that will help:

1. If you see a hedgehog in daylight, then it is likely to be malnourished and needs attention. Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures. It is best to seek advice (details below).

2. Lawn-mowing can be dangerous to hedgehogs. Hedgehogs may be in the undergrowth and many have been killed due to gardening accidents. Steady as you go!

3. Don’t feed hedgehogs milk or bread. They should be given meat based catfood and water.

4. Be careful with household rubbish and waste. Don’t leave plastic bags or containers etc.. outdoors. Hedgehogs are inquisitive and will find places to explore. Be careful clearing up any areas where you have piled-up wood, boxes etc.. as hedgehogs may well be hiding and resting.

5. Plant hedges and plantlife in your garden. Before adding any major areas with patio and paving stones, consider the environmental impact. Less greenery means less wildlife which damages the ecosystem.

6. Love nature and wax lyrical. Tell others about how much you love nature and that about the hedgehog crisis. Give people tips on how to deal with a hedgehog situation. Solutions encourage a positive culture of empathy and support.

For more detailed information / emergency:

British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
Tel: 01584 890801

West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue