A new experimental film called Excerpt has been revealed online by Mixed Milk, a Birmingham artist called Martin McNally, as part of Birmingham Museums’ Cut, Copy, Remix project.
McNally’s proposal was selected by an expert panel including the king of collage himself, Cold War Steve, following a call out to artists to create work using the digitised images from the Trust’s collection.
The Cut Copy Remix project set out to encourage creative use of the thousands of public domain images in Birmingham Museums’ free database to celebrate the extensive resource and support emerging digital artists to use the images to inspire brilliant and innovative new work.
Excerpt was due to go on display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, but with the doors currently closed, the film is being shared via YouTube. It will be screened in the galleries when this is possible.
See the film above or on Youtube https://youtu.be/BdEhKTlCU30
Mixed Milk on Excerpt:
“An excerpt, otherwise known as a passage or extract, is a chosen point in a narrative, it's where we place our attention. Engaging with an artwork is a way of opening a portal to a different time and space, the shape and colour of our engagement depends on our personal experience and cultural influences, we all engage differently with an artwork or artefact.
This artwork crops details found within the collection, re-sequences them, and binds them by their commonalities, hopefully encouraging the viewer to become aware of the intimate connections we all share, even if on the surface there's no clear connection, we are relentlessly interrelated.”
Mixed Milk was selected by Birmingham Museums Trust’s curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Emalee Beddoes-Davis, Cathy Wade from Black Hole Club, cultural consultant Lara Ratnaraja, and Cold War Steve aka Christopher Spencer.
Cold War Steve on Excerpt:
“The viewing experience of this immersive and superbly frenetic piece of art is, I imagine, as if one had been trawling through BMAG's vast digital archive, just before going to bed and memorising every minute detail from every piece of art - from grandiose oil paintings to watercolour sketches (via a taxidermy albatross and mounted scarab beetle), then plunging into a Mogadon assisted fever dream.
The images flit across the screen and are deftly edited into thematic tropes - from the unsettling to the genuinely serene. Individual fragments from thousands of different art pieces, merge to create animated motifs, which traverse humankind and nature. A wholly congruous audio track heightens the atmosphere.
A fantastically creative use of the BMAG digital resource.... the entire BMAG digital resource! Brilliant.”
Cathy Wade on Excerpt:
“Excerpt is a journey through Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource that makes a new narrative for the artefacts and resources in the collection to live and breathe. A digital video made from the single jpeg images that are available for free download, that creates new connections between objects and artworks so we can see them anew.
The focussed use of sound and image in Excerpt evokes conversations between artworks, buttons and coins rattle and run amok. Paintings and drawings link back to their origins as the sea and weather, buildings are constructed and textiles dance on the screen.
We would like to thank Mixed Milk for his work with us, it's been inspirational to see this work develop and take shape and are excited to share his response to the resource with you.”
Lara Ratnaraja on Excerpt:
Excerpt is haunting, fleeting, evocative, ephemeral, powerful, and peripheral, all at once and lingering.
Using the breadth of the digital archive in Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource, Mixed Milk has created a stunning and visceral response to the collections.
Excerpt links art works and objects across thematic narratives that draw the viewer into an experience which is augmented by a soundtrack that both responds to and drives the work forward. From nature through to portraits via objects and everything in between, Mixed Milk allows us to create our own personal connections to this series of images and in doing so make the collections a living archive that resonates with us.
Birmingham Museums Trust also commissioned Cold War Steve to produce work for the Cut Copy Remix project, and Benny’s Babbies has had a phenomenal response.
Black Hole Club, an artist's development programme based at Vivid Projects that supports artists in the West Midlands, also commissioned artists Rosa Francesca and Alis Oldfield to create developmental digital art responding to the digital collection and its data.
Their work and the work of Mixed Milk for Cut Copy Remix can be viewed online.
Birmingham’s collection, cared for by Birmingham Museums Trust, is one of the city’s greatest cultural assets and a priceless resource for learning, engagement and creativity. It consists of around 800,000 objects, displayed and stored in Birmingham Museums’ nine venues. Over 3500 of these objects are now available as free digital images, with more being added every week.
Mixed Milk said of the project:
“It's been an absolute joy to work with BMAG and Black Hole Club and have a thorough rifle through the Birmingham Museum Trust's digital archive, which is brimful of beauty and meaning.
“From the Ancient Egyptians to the Pre-Raphaelites, from Birmingham's local history to the moon and back, there's always connections to be found.”
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Watch this space, as the team will be finding new ways to keep in touch with audiences over the coming weeks. Keep up to date at www.birminghammuseums.org.uk and via social media.