Documenting the install of this Undercover Festival of Flipbooks, that will be in Darlington Library. Sometimes with new technology, concepts and installations, more traditional art forms can seem less exciting for venues and viewers. So called unique ideas, generate buzz and interest. Lately I have worked with painters, and designers and illustrators on a number of my video projects, so decided to try and conceptualise a group show. Site Specifity has done well lately for more traditional art forms, like theatre, such as Punch Drunk doing things in prisons and offices etc. So site considered, but wanted it all to be newly commissioned work. So, it evolved into commissioning artists to make flip animations in actual existing books, that will be placed on library shelves for an audience to go around and find. So it all happens outside the gallery. So all interactive and user friendly. There is a story about the playwright Joe Orton, writer of Loot, that he was imprisoned for drawing rude doodles in library books, though these are family friendly animations, in second hand books we place in the library. It will be on for four weeks from the 23rd of October. I will put up images of the books as I get them and the name of the artist, so people can preview what will be on the shelves.
Or the Little show that could. I have learnt something so it might be of interest to other artists. ‘Undercover Flipbooks’. This was a show in Darlington library where I commissioned 12 artists to create flip animations in a book of their choice, and then these books were placed on the library shelves amongst the normal stock. There were sheets made that visitors to the library could take and use to find the books on the shelves. The show started to become successful, got a good deal of local publicity and a good number of people came to the show and enjoyed it. I started a tumblr blog about it, and I made a number of short films of the books being flipped to camera, just fifteen seconds or so and put these online, and they proved really popular, and the three short films between them got 200,000 views. This is not by accident, I think it is important for artists to know, painters and drawers etc, that the internet love art, and they especially love quirky art, and they like short videos of this art. On Reddit the news site we just missed the front page and got 2000 upvotes. So if you make work of any sort, do make a little short film and put it online, and let Reddit know. Then library as Incubator, an online site that promotes art in libraries in the USA did a piece about it, and asked about showing the work in the USA. They put a call out and now the work is touring libraries in the USA, at the moment in Falmouth before going to Seattle and then we were asked to send the info to Manhattan, so fingers crossed..
So there are many streams in which artists can distribute work, and it is important I think that if something is made in a place it doesn’t have to stay in that place. lately I have thought that galleries are hard, and don’t always want you inside their walls. So taking art to the public, which I know other people do, is good. You can show in windows, etc. Though often that kind of showing lacks cultural worth, but through documenting the work and it achieving success online, suddenly a work in a window becomes viewed by the world and attains some cultural collateral. The works in the library were being spoken about in Japan. Also it was a way of taking drawing, or taking hand made animations, and through the concept allowing it to become part of some of the modern cultural tropes of interactivity, of experientially, of using gamification, making the art fun, making it into a scavenger hunt. So the work itself being embedded in a gamified environment suddenly lifted it to become something more than the drawings itself. Also that small scale can be good, and finding alternative distribution streams, it probably wouldn’t work without changing the way the audience interacts with it. Maybe don’t show the work at first, make the audience work. Libraries have been great taking the work and placing it into the actual library, as it doesn’t take up anymore space it has a limitless touring possibility.
Also this is a real world show, that benefitted from online success, to have further real world distribution. So it is a virtuous circle. Not showing work in galleries can be a good thing. I think there must be many more ways of showing like this that can really interest the public.