1. DONALD RODNEY LAB: Embodiment, augmentation and remixing

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    Join us for an afternoon lab of demonstrations and critical thinking considering the impact of digital technologies on the innovative British artist Donald Rodney. Artists, curators and technologists examine the artist’s final works, re-defined through embodiment, augmentation and remixing.

    Participants include:

    Mike Phillips, Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts & Director of Research at i-DAT, University of Plymouth | Ian Sergeant, Curator of Reimaging Donald Rodney | Antonio Roberts, new media artist and curator | Cathy Wade, interdisciplinary artist | Gary Stewart, artist and experimental sonic musician, former Head of multimedia at Iniva.

    The lab explores Rodney’s digital practice in detail, and will interrogate the artist’s key technology enabled works originally produced in the 1990s, in a dialogue between contemporary new media and interdisciplinary artists and members of the original art making collective ‘Donald Rodney plc’ including Mike Phillips and Gary Stewart.

    The 1997/98 works Autoicon and Psalms will be demonstrated and participants will be able to interact with them. Psalms is a wheelchair modified at the School of Computing of the University of Plymouth to perform repeated sequences specified by Donald Rodney. It uses 8 sonar sensors, shaft-encoders, a video camera and a rate gyroscope to determine its position; a neural network using normalised RBF nodes encodes the sequence of 25 semi-circular sequences of positions forming the trajectory.

    Autoicon was a dynamic internet work that simulated both the physical presence and elements of the creative personality of Donald Rodney. After initiating the project, Rodney died from sickle-cell anaemia in March 1998. Ian Sergeant, curator of the 2016 exhibition Reimaging Donald Rodney will consider the research process behind a one year project with the participation of members of Wolverhampton Sickle Cell Care and Activity Centre (WSCCAC) to produce a response to this, doublethink (2015). Alongside this, Cathy Wade will present a dialogue with the ‘data body’ of Autoicon.

    The lab will conclude with a presentation from leading new media artist Antonio Roberts, who considers the implications of co-authorship, authenticity and superceded technologies in revising and augmenting original works in the context of recent digital practice.

    The Donald Rodney Lab is presented by Vivid Projects with the Digital Humanities Hub, University of Birmingham. Supported by The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and University of Birmingham.

    Book your place at the Lab

    For background on the exhibition and research project, Reimaging Donald Rodney curated by Ian Sergeant in 2016, download the brochure here: Vivid Projects, Donald Rodney Brochure

  2. Psalms_Digbeth First Friday

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    In collaboration with Birmingham Dance Network and the exhibition, Reimaging Donald Rodney we present a new work premiere for Digbeth First Friday.

    Dancers Becca Thomas, Suzanne Grubham and Genevieve Say were commissioned to develop a performance in response to Psalms, the late artist Donald Rodney’s autonomous wheelchair. Developed in 1997 for Rodney’s final solo exhibition before his untimely death, the wheelchair was modified at the School of Computing of the University of Plymouth to perform a repeated sequence of circles, spirals and figures of eight, as specified by Rodney himself.

    In the new work, the dancers move in relation to Psalms and each other, tracing and illuminating the trajectories of the empty wheelchair in motion, evoking memories of a life lived and the simultaneous absence and presence of the artist.


  3. Reimaging Donald Rodney

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    Curated by Ian Sergeant & Produced by Yasmeen Baig-Clifford

    We are pleased to present Reimaging Donald Rodney, a programme of exhibition and events exploring digital legacy and identity through the work of Black British artist Donald Rodney (1961 – 1998). This is the first UK exhibition to specifically examine Rodney’s digital practice, and includes an events series to explore the potential of Rodney’s archive as a starting point for exploring cultural, physical and social identity.

    Donald Rodney was considered to be one the most significant artists of his generation. He chose to incorporate his medical condition in his artistic practice, using it as a metaphor of black emasculation and racial stereotyping. Born in Smethwick, West Midlands in 1961 to Jamaican parents, Rodney and his family lived on Marshall St, visited by Malcolm X in 1965 when racial tension in the area was high. The racial climate to which Rodney was exposed had a lasting impression on him. He developed his artistic skills during prolonged periods of hospitalisation, resulting in him regularly missing school, due to his sickle cell condition. After taking an arts foundation course at Bournville School of Art in Birmingham he went on to Nottingham Trent, where he met Keith Piper and Eddie Chambers.

    Whether political or personal, Rodney illustrated his versatility, utilising a range of mediums for artistic expression through painting, installations, audio, robotics, film and archive.  Becoming a prominent member of the Blk Arts Group, Rodney highlighted the socio-political condition of Britain of the 80s/90s, its colonial past and the ensuing global impact.  Sadly, Rodney died from sickle-cell anaemia in March 1998, aged 37.

    Reimaging Donald Rodney aims to encapsulate the digital embodiment and legacy of Donald Rodney, engaging a new generation with an historically important visual arts practice. Rodney’s innovation in the face of the disabling, life limiting health condition sickle cell anaemia further informs two new commissions to support collaborative digital practice, which will be presented during the exhibition. These new works further interrogate Rodney’s key technology enabled works originally produced in the 1990s, Autoicon and Psalms – and reference the interdisciplinary methods Rodney brought together in order to facilitate his practice, specifically the art making collective ‘Donald Rodney plc’ comprising artists Keith Piper, Gary Stewart, and technologist Mike Philips.

    The new works developed for the exhibition include doublethink (2015), a bespoke online site designed and developed during workshops as part of a one year research process, with the participation of members of Wolverhampton Sickle Cell Care and Activity Centre (WSCCAC) and artists Antonio Roberts and Sam Wray. Alongside this we present  Autoicon (1998), the original digital archival website created in 1998 by Mike Phillips and members of Donald Rodney plc. Autoicon was created specifically as a digital repository of archival artefacts, related to Rodney.  Rodney and Mike Phillips, as former students of Slade School of Art, were inspired by Jeremy Bentham, its founder, who left instructions for his own immortalization, through the creation of his Autoicon.  “The Rodney Autoicon is being fashioned from the body of medical information gathered over a lifetime, by assembling a virtual body he will be able to exist in a pure information space”.

    The 1997 work, Psalms wheelchair has been brought out of long term storage for this exhibition, and is the impetus for a new performance commission in collaboration with Birmingham Dance Network. Originally unveiled at South London Gallery, October 1997, as part of Rodney’s “9 Night in El Dorado” exhibition,  Psalms is motorised using a computer programme, which enables it to continually navigate the gallery space, avoiding obstacles, human and inanimate objects alike. The wheelchair was modified at the School of Computing of the University of Plymouth to perform a repeated sequence of circles, spirals and figures of eight, as specified by the artist. Psalms uses 8 sonar sensors, shaft-encoders, a video camera and a rate gyroscope to determine its position; a neural network using normalised RBF nodes encodes the sequence of 25 semi-circular sequences of positions forming the trajectory.

    Reimaging Donald Rodney  raises questions and supports audiences to explore how digital technologies enable, re-define and extend the creative potential of artists disabled by circumstances both social, physical and situational. This aspect is explored further through artist talks and a symposium supported by The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and  University of Birmingham to examine the scope of digital tools to extend artistic practice for marginalised artists. Through the exhibition and events, we hope to create a space where people can engage with and contribute to critical discourse on art, health and society.

    Vivid Projects, Donald Rodney Brochure 


    Venue: Vivid Projects, 16 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley St, Birmingham B5 5RS  Instagram: vividprojectsuk #donaldrodney2016

  4. 3 Songs on Pain Light & Time

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    We are pleased to present screenings of two important films exploring the artist Donald Rodney’s life: The Genome Chronicles and 3 Songs on Pain Light & Time. The screening will include a Q&A with curator Ian Sergeant and Yasmeen baig-Clifford, Director of Vivid Projects.

    Please note that Dr Rina Arya is not able to attend this event.

    3 Songs on Pain Light and Time (1995) is a rarely seen video portrait in deliberately unbalanced colours, made by Trevor Mathison and Edward George and produced with Black Audio Film Collective. The Genome Chronicles (2009) is directed by acclaimed film maker and artist John Akomfrah. In the space of a few days in 1998,  Akomfrah lost two people very close to him: his mother and a friend, the British artist Donald Rodney. The Genome Chronicles is the filmmaker’s response to these events in the form of a ‘song cycle’ in ten parts, which combines his own footage of repeated trips to the Scottish islands of Skye and Mull with Rodney’s own Super 8 footage.


  5. 9 Evenings: AUTOICON

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    AUTOICON was a dynamic internet work that simulated both the physical presence and elements of the creative personality of the artist Donald Rodney, one of the most significant and essential artists of his generation. After initiating the project, Rodney died from sickle-cell anaemia in March 1998.

    Re-Imaging – AUTOICON is a research project exploring the digital embodiment of the artist Donald Rodney, and the challenges of re-authoring a digital legacy.

    For 9 Evenings, Ian Sergeant and digital developer Antonio Roberts lead a salon to explore the development of ‘doublethink’, a beta website which has been produced through a series of workshops with participants of Wolverhampton Sickle Cell Care and Social Activity and Oscar Sandwell. The salon includes a rare screening of ‘Three Songs on Pain, Light and Time’ (Trevor Mathieson & Eddie George / Black Audio Film Collective, 25m, 1995).

    AUTOICON is produced by Ian Sergeant and delivered in partnership with Vivid Projects. The project is funded through Arts Council England.
    Presented in association with Black History Month

    This event is presented as part of 9 Evenings: Redux, a season of new collaborative commissions in which artists will critique, re-work and react to the seminal 1966 series 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering

    Admission is free


    Programme change: please note that the Dance Prototypes lab by Gabriel Shalom is no longer running.

  6. Art Macabre

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    Art Macabre, London’s purveyors of ‘death drawing’, inject a lethal dose of theatricality, curiosity and playfulness into the art of drawing from life. Drawing upon concepts, questions and ideas shared earlier in the day, Art Macabre invite you to explore deathly themes through a hands-on, creative event. RIP life drawing! 

    Create your own ‘memento mori’ designs with 21st century twists, sketch skeleton figures, nude flesh and bone. Live models will pose in theatrical tableaux, exploring personifications of death from around the globe to inspire your drawings. With drawing challenges and collaborative sketching games and a musical soundtrack to add to the atmosphere. Grab a drink from the bar, put pen to paper, and enjoy a fun, playful evening exploring the relationship between art, dying, and how death can be represented in colour and form.

    Art Macabre Death Drawing salons began in London in 2010, as a way to explore themes of death, dying, life and the nude body through drawing. Starting as part of a DIY feminist arts festival, Art Macabre has engaged thousands of people in drawing. From Latitude and Wilderness festivals, to outdoor cemetery sketching, pathology museums and old operating theatres, to the British Museum and V&A.

    Imaginative, intimate and inspirational, Art Macabre is everything you could want from a life drawing class – or any night out, for that matter.”  -Katie Antoniou, journalist for Time Out

    Advance tickets £12.50. Capacity limited – book to reserve your space.


    This event is presented as part of This Mortal Coil, an exhibition and events season at Vivid Projects exploring representations of death and the macabre.

  7. Repeator: Material World

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    Material is surface and object, an idea or information. We seek it in aspirational spaces; commercial & corporate zones in which our dreams are played back to us as advertisements and marketing campaigns, fashion, trends and current affairs. We purchase the new which in turn becomes the redundant. As citizens, we exist in a state of passive immersion with commerce and goods. The transactions we make in indoor shopping centres are continuous, forming a cycle of consumption and waste.

    Outside the security of environmentally controlled luxury goods concessions, there exists an alternative version of our desires. What we wish for, but cannot afford, spills out to the local market as counterfeit goods, embossed with logos.

    The shopping mall discards what it does not need. Empty bags, packaging & fast food wrappers are offered back to the city as spent gifts that layer the streets with debris, as we drift they follow, to a certain rhythm. They linger, tumbling along our paths back through the patterns of streets’, conversing scratchily with the pavement; ‘short life expectancy, degradation, persistence’ and other similar musings are whispered in the wind.

    In Material World our engagement with surface, space, and commercial architecture is explored through new video & sound works made in public/private areas of shopping centres and the outer city centre. Footage has been captured on mobile phones offering a wider set of opportunities to document environments ‘unseen’ and without disruption. Using this technology we are able to utilise the high street ‘user/ consumer’ aesthetic which allows us to beam and project personal reflections in the commercial space. The work depicts what exists, it seeks to chart our immersion in the spaces we use as consumers. The ‘terial, a material, a material, a material world.

    By cutting and conflating sound, text and image, Repeator focuses the practices of Cathy Wade and Laurence Price as collaborative working processes in which works are layered, revised, regurgitated and replayed. Repeator is an ongoing project through which works are generated from research, exchange, conversations & collaboration with others. Previous projects include #FoxNewsDisco for Werk and WE LIKE with Keith Dodds for BE Festival.

  8. X-Ray Audio – live record pressing

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    Join Stephen Coates, author of the X-Ray Audio project, composer and music producer, as he tells the story of the X-Ray records and bootleggers in an evening that includes a live demonstration of recording onto X-Ray plates using vintage analogue record-cutting lathes and groove-based recording techniques.

    Stephen is joined by special guests The Leisure Society and vintage recording specialist Aleks Kolkowski, who will cut a new x-ray record from The Leisure Society’s live performance.

    This event is presented as part of This Mortal Coil, an exhibition and events season at Vivid Projects exploring representations of death and the macabre.

    Admission £5 on the door.

  9. Stealth

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    STEALTH presents recent work by UK and international artists critiquing surveillance culture and the invasive and pervasive technologies that shape our daily interactions. Utilising a variety of media including installations, video, social media and software, the exhibition explores how technology affects and disrupts our perceptions of privacy.

    STEALTH launches Thursday 25 June and continues to Saturday 11 July 2015. Special opening hours on Saturday 27 June, 12 – 2pm & Digbeth First Friday 3 July, 12.30-8pm including Curator’s talk at 5.30pm.

    Admission is free.



    Henry Driver (UK)
    Drone (2014) 

    Drone demonstrates the uncanny ability of simulations to mimic reality. Created using imagery from USA Army Youtube uploads, simulated representations from popular video games and imagery created by the artist, Drone asks the viewer to define the difference between simulation and reality and the issues that arise when the two are so closely entwined.

    James Bridle (UK)
    Drone Shadows (2012 – ongoing)

    Drone Shadows are a series of installations, comprised of the outline of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone.  Each 1:1 representation conveys both the physical reality, and the apparent invisibility, of drone aircraft. Described by Bridle as “the avatars of the political process”, drones are around us on a daily basis: visible and invisible.

    Bridle is a UK based artist, writer, and publisher. His writing on literature, culture and networks has appeared in Wired, Domus, Cabinet, the Atlantic, the New Statesman, the Guardian, the Observer and others, in print and online. His artworks have been commissioned and exhibited worldwide and on the internet. 

    Joseph Delappe (US)
    Me and My Predator – Personal Drone System (2014)

    Delappe’s work is a 1/72nd scale plastic model of a Predator Drone suspended on a carbon fibre rod and connected to a custom made aluminum c-clamp/head band which can be attached to the head. The Personal Drone System is designed for insecurity and comfort – to simulate using analogue technologies what it might be like to live under droned skies.

    Delappe also directs the project, an ongoing web based exhibition and open call for proposed memorials to the many thousand of civilian casualties from the war in Iraq.

    Ryan Hughes (UK)
    We’ve Been Re-Distributed (2011)

    We’ve Been Re-Distributed is a work which adopts the blurred presentation, content gathering and distribution techniques and tendencies common to broadcast media. Hughes reflects these tendencies and extends them through other means of communication and presentation. The work uses randomly found, selected and edited video presented via VHS projection, various forms of print based material and mass communication via email.

    Manu Luksch (AT/UK)
    FACELESS (2007)

    Luksch focuses on the effects of emerging technologies on daily life, social relations, urban space, and political structures –  specifically, possible futures of infrastructures, the thresholds and constraints of public space, and the traces of data that accumulate in digital networked societies. Her 2007 film, FACELESS was produced under the rules of the ‘Manifesto for CCTV Filmmakers’. The manifesto states, amongst other things, that additional cameras are not permitted at filming locations, as the omnipresent existing video surveillance (CCTV) is already in operation.

    The UK Data Protection Act and EU directives give individuals the right to access personal data held in computer filing systems. This includes images captured by CCTV recording systems. For a nominal fee (£10), an individual can obtain a copy of this data: financial or medical records, or video recordings. Other legislation states that the privacy of third parties must be protected. In CCTV recordings, this is done by erasing the faces of other people in the images – hence the ‘faceless’ world.

    Sang Mun (US)
    ZXX (2012)

    Sang Mun built the ZXX font as a disruptive typeface which would resist decryption. It is named after the Library Congress’s labeling code ZXX, which archivists employ when they find a book that contains “no linguistic content.”

    “The project started with a genuine question: How can we conceal our fundamental thoughts from artificial intelligences and those who deploy them?” “I decided to create a typeface that would be unreadable by text scanning software (whether used by a government agency or a lone hacker)—misdirecting information or sometimes not giving any at all. It can be applied to huge amounts of data, or to personal correspondence.”

    Mun built six different styles (Sans, Bold, Camo, False, Noise, and Xed), each of which is “designed to thwart machine intelligences in a different way.”


    STEALTH is presented as part of RADICAL NETWORKS,  a programme of aesthetic disruption and questioning of the moving image, ethics and digital legacies.

    RADICAL NETWORKS takes a subcultural perspective, seeking out and introducing practices and tendencies from emerging communities of artists, makers and collectives. 



  10. 9 EVENINGS: Breathing and Staring

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    We are delighted to present the first collaboration between Darren Joyce, George Saxon and Justin Wiggan. 

    Drawing on their recent groundbreaking projects with the health sector, the artists present new research exploring empathy, nostalgia and recall through audio, performance and film. Their individual contributions will clash, coexist and repel each other. 

    Justin Wiggan will explore the portrayal of nostalgia drawing from the empathy tests used to tell humans from androids in Philip K Dick’s cult novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the cultural phenomenon of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) – the pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli; and Harsh Noise Wall – in which artists produce unchanging, monolithic “walls” of static noise.

    George Saxon presents BREATHING TEST: Dying Melody, a new work focused on breathing (inhalations and exhalations), and the limitations caused by childhood respiratory illness and auto-immune weakness. Through live performance, archived video recordings, visual and audio soundscapes, Saxon will explore illness and its manifestations, highlighting the liminal gap between memory, recall and nostalgia.

    D Joyce, using binaural recordings (holographic 3D sound), will explore schizoaffective disorder – a brain disorder in which sufferers experience two vastly different worlds within one consciousness. Schizoaffective disorder is to experience both the world that non-sufferers perceive, but also a complex world riddled with auditory hallucinations and mood swings. Joyce invites the audience to listen to holographic sound in realtime through the medium of headphones and experience what it’s like to live in an audible parallel reality.

    Programme of events:

    Friday 02 October | 6-8pm
    Joyce, Saxon and Wiggan present a live event for Digbeth First Friday

    Saturday 03 October | 3-4pm
    Join the artists as they discuss their collaboration and wider practices.

    This event is presented as part of 9 Evenings: Redux, a season of new collaborative commissions in which artists will critique, re-work and react to the seminal 1966 series 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering