Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt Work I
23rd October - 11 December, 2015
The first of three works in Gareth Hudson's show: Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt. Work I, a collaboration between Hudson and Sound artist Toby Thirling, takes four possible moments of sublime transcendence and then abstracts them through light and sound to reduce, refine and deliver an immersive installation. From four field recordings recorded by Hudson in various situations, Thirling employs a variety of techniques in sound design and sound synthesis to re-constructed through and environment of projection, light and sound.
Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt Work II
19 February - 1 April, 2016
Link to Chonicle Article
Does the transcendent come from without or within? Are we likely to understand it via the microcosm or the macrocosm? Is it found through practice or simply discovered? Gareth went to some ideal locations to see if there were any possibility at gaining answers and whether he found any or not, he always pointed his camera at the things he saw.
Those he couldn't visit he made up in his studio, which came with its own set of problems in representation and understanding. This dual screen video installation is an attempt at finding a common thread through all the footage he filmed or created. It is an attempt to find a dialogue that speaks of universals in scenes of Buddhists in prayer, sprawling Japanese Metropolises, makeshift cosmos and German airports.
Set amongst these images is musician Phil Begg's re-imagining of what Ry Cooder described as "the most transcendent piece in all American music" - 'DARK WAS THE NIGHT (COLD WAS THE GROUND)' by Blind Willie Johnson. A song that has now travelled further than anyone, or anything, into interstellar space aboard NASA's Voyager I.
The film plays in a continuous loop; each showing lasts 47 minutes.
The Preview evening was launched with live performance by Tyneside Sacred Harp Singers, performing the original "Dark was the Night" amongst other songs.
Thank you to Joanne Clement
Gesturing towards Newcastle's Globe Gallery you’ll find a modest sign softly lit with the words EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL AND NOTHING HURT. The title is taken from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-house Five and with its time traveling protagonist Billy Pilgrim, the Hudson-Begg installation finds an appropriate location on Pilgrim Street. Like the book, the installation is loaded with narrative manipulations of time, inviting audiences to question how we might translate/transcend experience and to consider grand and everyday pilgrimages.
For Vonnegut, whose satirical novel draws on his experience of hiding in a meat locker to survive the Dresden firebomb, parts of his science fiction are as much literary renderings as they are semi-autobiographical. Real and imagined viewpoints are integral to Hudson’s film, featuring footage which visually transports us from one pilgrimage to another, journeys he made and moments he perceived. We can understand ‘perceiving’ in both senses of the verb, the process of using the camera lens as way of seeing and recording but also in the sense of envisioning something beyond the physical world, to imagine something new.
Splicing fictive and documentary footage transports us to places on earth already ‘otherworldly’ to us, the further reaches of imagined interstellar space and at a cellular level, to insular worlds invisible to the naked eye.
We see a bustling Japanese city street crawl in entrancing slow motion, revealing sensual, infinitesimal flashes of being. Microscopic moments of interaction, we see us as we are, humans caught in a perpetual state of animation. Some of the seen see us, or at least, the camera. Taking Japan as a technological hub and slowing footage points to questions of contemporary lifestyles, its pace and machinery. Can we keep up? Hudson then cross-cuts these bustling scenes in Japan with low-key footage of Buddhist temples. We are presented with a deceleration of the already serene but the reposing monks aren’t torpid, in the anchorites we see flashes of being within their composure. We wonder what they are thinking. Notice a juncture of breath. A settling.
Responsive to the lived reality of Buddhism, these scenes depict the cycle of monasticism, including younger ordained monks at play, their robes swirling in the wind. A mode of surveillance, an immediate response to the footage is one of scrutiny. However, in combination with Begg’s soundscape, this inspection moves to introspection, a pacific experience comparable only to meditation. During the 45 minute plus piece, connections between the sense of the soundscape and its visual narratives emerge, curve and vault away. Through echoing chants, remote strings and other stratified sounds, we are transported from earth to space and beyond it, to an invented cosmos with vast blistering bodies and miasmic nebulas, interstellar dust and clouds of gas.
Looming full of pressure and presence, we can hear these celestial bodies as vividly as we see them in Begg's reimagining of ‘Dark was the night (Cold was the ground)’. The gospel song by Blind Willie Johnson is one of a selection of music on a phonograph record blasted into space on the Voyager craft, an ‘Earth’s Greatest Hits’ they hope might one day discovered by, well, who knows? Called the ‘Golden Record’, this disc contains everything from brainwaves to photographs of supermarkets, scientific literature and sounds from around the globe. Performed in church as a call and respond hymn, Blind Willie slides across guitar strings with a pocket knife, spiritual blues at their best.
‘Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt’ is an installation wrung with the sacred, occupied by the felt and poised on contemplation of the dark, the same dark unknown both the song and Voyager travel into, awaiting discovery and reply.
Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt Work III
8 April - 20 May, 2016
The electronic signals emitted by the brain at the time of death have inspired Work III. Using light and sound, the work aims to explore the nature of mortality and encourages us to think about our own experiences of death and our attitudes towards it.
For Work III, Gareth collaborated with Andy Hanson, an EEG Technologist at Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience, to record his own normal, healthy brain waves. A custom piece of software was then used to simulate what would happen to these waves during a fatal cardiac arrest.
The results were interpreted into music for a string quartet, composed by Phil Begg.
The new installation aims to evoke aspects of the work of German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who suggested that in order to lead an authentic life, a person had to live with the concept of their mortality close to them.
As with Work I and Work II, the theme running throughout is that of transcendence and the notion of the sublime.
Journal Culture Awards 2016 in the Visual Artist
We are absolutely delighted to announce the winner of the Journal Culture Awards 2016 in the Visual Artist category was our very own Gareth Hudson. Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt has been the longest running exhibition in Globes 21 year history. Produced as three separate video and sound installations the show has taken over the gallery from October 2015 until 20th May 2016 and it has totally lived up to all expectations. Congratulations Gareth and many thanks to all of Globes volunteers who have dedicated their time and expertise, to the funders who supported the production of this work including: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Engage FMS, Newcastle University, Arts Council England and of course Toby Thirling and Phil Begg whose contribution to the production of the sound track has had audiences mesmerized. All three pieces have provided our visitors with a truly thought provoking immersive experience. It has been a great privilege.