Congratulations to the team behind the Academy Award-nominated animated feature film Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon: Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley. I am sure we will hear lots more of their experiences over the coming weeks.
One of the interesting aspects of the lockdown for visual arts is where the innovation is in terms of reaching audience. PhD researcher Damian Mills with ‘The Art of VR Music’ uses technology to interact with localised sound and music, creating sonic and visual profiles of dancers Helen Hall, Linda Fearon and Talia McDowell and writer Niamh Scullion. His work provides a virtual rendition of artists in the Vault Art Studios in East Belfast.
Originally designed for a physical gallery space where the observer would wonder around freely to view the art with the added dimension of virtual reality, Damian has taken the project online. 'The Art of VR Music' exhibition can be experienced either as an augmented website or in virtual reality.
Explains Damian (above): "I have been working in the field of disability in the arts for the past 20 years and exploring the potential of virtual reality for disabled musicians for the past two years. I wanted to see if it was possible to create a virtual world that worked in tandem with the real world and to highlight the particular effort and dedication it takes to be creative as an artist with a disability.
"In real terms what that means is that there are extra recordings of interviews along with images of the artist themselves where the viewer can linger for a more in-depth understanding with stories of talented disabled artists, giving greater insight into their artistic processes and highlighting the technology’s potential."
Damian says he first met dancer Helen Hall through the Belfast Print Workshop. "Due to issues around her sight, she had a particular awareness of the corners of the etching presses was a very talented printer," he says. "Like many creative people, she moved onto a different art form: dance. I remember asking her why the shift and she said she simply loved the feeling. What better reason could there be?"
Niamh Scullion (painted above by Jamie Harper) is the powerhouse behind the building and co-ordinating of the Belfast Curragh, often seen on the Lagan. I came across it one morning in the mist and felt I had been transported back in time to a Viking invasion? On another occasion, I had the experience of rowing it around Strangford Lough (it was not the whole lough, but it felt like it) and a crew even rowed it over to Iona in the Western Isles. More recently, Niamh has turned her hand to writing and the online experience looks at this process.
Writer's Rooms: Niamh Scullion— Seamus Heaney Centre (@HeaneyCentre) May 22, 2020
Write Night instigator and former student invites us to her WR, secured through a recent iDA award from @ArtsCouncilNI
What might you revisit in times of crisis?
"Ciaran Carson's 'Still Life'...feels right at the minute."https://t.co/AZGrjzT7q0 pic.twitter.com/nMJUAWBX6W
I find the online experience interesting but the background music is sometimes too distracting to concentrate on what the artists are saying. Part of the experience I love about going to a gallery is the silence and opportunity to let yourself think.
Belfast International Festival of Performance Art 2020 will all be socially distanced and live streamed this year from March 22-26. The festival includes a piece by Hattie Godfrey who works in that interesting space between art, science and health.
Not to forget the Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics which starts on 22 March. We will venture down alleyways and up Cave Hill with visual artists while there will be a talk about collecting the frayed Union Jacks that hang about parts of our city.
As part of the Festival, I’m doing a live questions and answer session on Sunday 28 at 7pm about anything you ever wanted to know about any aspect of visiting any church in Belfast. So why not pop me a question on the evening in question.