Antony Hall undertook an MA in Art as Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University, graduating in 2002. Since then, his work has had an emphasis on technology, usually in the form of long-term research projects, residencies, performance, web and sound art.
Antony Hall undertook an MA in Art as Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University, graduating in 2002. Since then, his work has had an emphasis on technology, usually in the form of long-term research projects, residencies, performance, web and sound art. He splits his time evenly between working collaboratively on Owl Project and on solo projects. Through Owl Project, Antony and his collaborators Simon Blackmore and Steve Symons create electronic music and instruments such as the iLog, fusing together hi-tech electronic performance with traditional woodcraftsmanship. A conceptual worker, Antony is driven by process, and focuses less on the end result than the journey he took to get there. He is realistic about the pressure to take on different forms of arts-based work in order to make a living: Research projects, consultation and education work have become a lot of what I do now but this is not a compromise I see this as a way of becoming (to a certain extent) self-sufficient. So it has become a hybridised practice.
Antony undertook an MA in Art as Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University, graduating in 2002. Since then, he has split his work pattern into two, spending approximately half of the year collaborating on Owl Project with Simon Blackmore and Steve Symons, using the rest of the year to pursue solo projects.
Whilst he has been involved with a number of rewarding projects in both guises, he experienced real feelings of uncertainty about being an artist at first: I actually went through a very confused time and to be honest I wanted to give it all up several times, considered retraining and came back round to thinking being an artist was the best thing to be.
This doubt could partly be linked to the kind of art practice Antony pursues. Often collaborating with scientists and technologists, projects are usually long-term and in the form of residencies, performance, web and sound art. Through Owl Project, Antony and his collaborators create electronic music and instruments such as the iLog, with which they perform at festivals and events in Britain and furtherafield.
The temptation to abscond from the art world was also financial. Great projects sadly rarely correlate with great fiscal rewards, and Antony recognises the need to support himself by offering consultation and education work. This hybridised practice is not a compromise, as it leads to self-sufficiency, and, more importantly, the means to go on developing ideas and experimenting.
His practice is very targeted: he knows what he wants to do, where and with whom. This is beneficial in some ways, not least that the relationships he establishes tend to be solid and long-lasting a critical factor when looking for support to continue projects that often take three or four years to develop. The down side to this may be revealed when Antony admits that he doesnt apply for new opportunities, such as the ones sourced by a-n, as much as he did when he first left college. However, the implication of this is that he doesnt really need to: Things just seem to keep popping up.
An advantage to Antonys techno-focused practice is that so much of it exists in various formats online. My work keeps working for me. For example, people who saw Owl Project perform at Garage, an electronic art festival in Stralsund, Germany that took place three years ago, are still contacting him. More recently, he has just presented his ENKI project, a new experience in brain wave synchronisation that uses the bioelectric communication signals from electric fish to induce a state of extreme relaxation, at DEAF (Interact or Die!), Rotterdam. It will go to a Subtle Technologies conference in Toronto in the form of a poster, followed by the Bios04 exhibition at CAAC, Seville, as a DVD.
With all this, plus various work with Owl Project, Antony is continuing to strive for his artistic and scientific goals, and admits, I still have a long way to go.
Jo Wilson is a freelance journalist and project officer based in London. A former member of a-n's Editorial Production team, she has an MA in Cultural Management from Northumbria University, where she researched the management of collaborative arts projects in the social realm, with a focus on young offenders. After coordinating the marketing and events for the Contemporary Art Society's ARTfutures 2007, she is currently working as a Project Officer for the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) on the Building Schools for the Future programme, which was set up to transform all secondary school learning environments in England.
First published: a-n.co.uk June 2007
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