Under the name “People Like Us,” artist Vicki Bennett has been making work available via CD, DVD and vinyl releases, radio broadcasts, concert appearances, gallery exhibits and online streaming and distribution for 25 years. Since her first publication in 1992, Bennett has developed an immediately recognisable aesthetic repurposing pre-existing footage to craft audio and video collages with an equally dark and witty take on popular culture. She sees sampling and appropriation as folk art sourced from the palette of contemporary media and technology, with all of the sharing and cross-referencing incumbent to a populist form. Embedded in her work is the premise that all is interconnected and that claiming ownership of an “original” or isolated concept is both preposterous and redundant.
A film by Vicki Bennett 
Soundtracks by :
Andrew Sharpley [00:06] | Matmos [01:02] | Wobbly [05:08] | Gwilly Edmondez [07:48] | Dave Soldier [09:38] | Jason Willett [11:02] | Ergo Phizmiz [13:23]
Gwilly Edmondez, Matmos, Ergo Phizmiz, Andrew Sharpley, Dave Soldier, Jason Willett and Wobbly each composed a score for a chapter of GESTURE PIECE, without any knowledge of who else was collaborating on the project or what the rest of the film would look or sound like.
The completed film stitches back together the seven chapters with their individual soundtracks, creating new connections between apparently unrelated film sequences. The result is a fascinating and witty reinterpretation of familiar film footage, with scenes arranged in surprising and often very funny combinations.
The title of “Gesture Piece” is partly self-explanatory – within human communication it is part of our hard circuitry that for instance we use hand gestures to articulate our speech, which is essentially graphically describing/enforcing audio or spoken discourse. Even when spoken language is not present, a whole series of hand and facial gestures are available to us to communicate expressions. By making a film that both contains human gestures (hands, facial, movement) as well as gestures made by natural and mechanical occurrences we are setting up the conditions for a dialogue between the graphical elements on the films and the improvisers, both with the film as well as with each other.
Gesture Piece has a sister project, Notations – a film created for live performance by selected improvising musicians and artists. When these two projects began, they shared the same umbrella name of Gesture Piece (the live performance was tested at Tectonics Festival in Reykjavik and Tel Aviv), but as the work developed it felt natural to separate them out into different names as they became two unique and separate entities.
In the weeks leading up to the online launch of Gesture Piece, Pixel Palace’s Curator for Digital media Arts, Dominic Smith spoke to Vicki Bennett about the development of this film.
The project Gesture Piece has now flowered into two unique and separate yet related artworks. It feels natural at this stage to rename these strands accordingly.
The title of Gesture Piece now is held by the sister project of Notations – a film with new soundtracks from 7 invited artist/musicians. These will go online in September 2013.
Gesture Piece was commissioned by Pixel Palace, the digital art programme at Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK) and supported using public funds by Arts Council England.
There’s a very nice feature by Colm McAuliffe in today’s Sight and Sound magazine – thanks Colm!
Gesture Piece* will be performed by an entirely new set of improvisers at another edition of Tectonics Festival, this time on 8 June 2013 in Tel Aviv at the venue Levontin 7. The performers this time around will be Alex Drool, Assif Tsahar, Robbie Avenaim, Christoph Heemann, Eyvind Kang and Jessika Kenney.
*Please note: The film for live improvisers Gesture Piece has now changed its name to Notations
18-20 April 2013
TECTONICS FESTIVAL, Reykjavik
Curated by Ilan Volkov, Tectonics brings together musicians from different worlds and backgrounds for an audience that’s open and ready for new experiences and surprises. The festival will include young composers and pioneering figures, chamber music, orchestral music and electronic performances.
People Like Us are currently creating a new work entitled GESTURE PIECE*, which will premiere at Tectonics Festival in Reykjavik. This is a film created for accompaniment by live improv musicians, who in this case will be the following performers: Skúli Sverrisson, Davíð Þór Jónsson, Kristín Þóra Haraldsdóttir, Hlynur Aðils.
Earlier that same evening, People Like Us will perform CONSEQUENCES (ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER).
**Please note: The film for live improvisers Gesture Piece has now changed its name to Notations