Teaching / Education pack for Citation City

We’ve just made a “teaching pack” to accompany Citation City.  This is written in inverted commas because we don’t claim any formal knowledge when it comes to teaching, but it is good to share information about the creative process.  What we have done is make a document explaining the process of making this work. The pdf is intended as a companion to the audiovisual work, giving examples of the process one might undertake to create new work when sourcing from a large media database. This particular example relates to moving image and musical composition, but the methods can translate to other platforms that use composition, directing, editing, creative narratives and story telling.

Citation City education/teaching pack
PDF download: citation city teaching pack


Update (2018) :
The soundtrack is now available for sale as a digital download:

citation city banner

Citation City is a 42 minute audiovisual performance work which sources, collages and edits 300 major feature films where content is either filmed or set in London – creating a story within a story, of the film world, living its life, through extraordinary times of change, to see what happens when these multiple narratives are combined… what will the story tell us that one story alone could never tell?

“The result is a sweeping panorama of London, a London as represented through cinema – not the real city at all, but one that exists in the collective imagination of moviegoers throughout the decades.” Filmmaker Magazine

Please note: this is now retired.  However, we occasionally make edits available as stand-alone movies for cinema screening.

A time-travelling voyage through one city, assembled from hundreds of movie clips and inspired by the wanderings of Walter Benjamin. A patchwork of over 300 features either filmed or set in London, Citation City combines multiple narratives to create the story of one city in a period of enormous change. Pieced together by audiovisual artist Vicki Bennett (aka People Like Us), this beguiling, labyrinthine work takes its cue from Benjamin’s Arcades Project, an ambitious attempt to map out Paris in fragments which was cut short by the author’s death in 1940. Flatpack Film Festival

Interview with Kenneth Goldsmith in Found Footage magazine about Citation City
Interview with Peter Jaeger in filling Station Issue 63 featuring Citation City

Inspired by The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin, this audiovisual performance work by People Like Us is created from 1000s of clippings of text and visual media, collaged using a system of “convolutes”, collated around subjects of key motifs, historical figures, social types, cultural objects from the time. By gathering and assembling such groups of similar yet unrelated, he revealed a hidden, magical encyclopaedia of affinities, a massive and labyrinthine architecture of a collective dream city. On reading Benjamin, his approach to editing astonished Vicki Bennett, and the similarity of their creative processes of cutting and collating extensive lists of subject matter by context.

As a side project, Vicki also invited selected sound artists to create distinct soundtracks to the work in order to produce two new films.

9 December 2014 Cafe Oto preview http://www.cafeoto.co.uk/jennifer-walshe-sharon-gal-andie-brown-people-like-us.shtm
29 January 2015 World Premiere at transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
28 March 2015 UK Premiere at Flatpack Film Festival, Birmingham, as part of a larger WFMU and Walter Benjamin-themed programme
17 April 2015 Parede, Portugal
18 September 2015 Bristol Encounters Short Film Festival
26 September 2015 Whitechapel Gallery at Walter Benjamin Now Symposium (at 5pm), London
15 October 2015 Leeds Art Gallery (private screening for students only)
24 October 2015 Monty Hall, WFMU
28 October 2015 Red Room, Baltimore
21 November 2015 Brighton Cinecity Festival
12 April 2016 Sonic Protest Festival, Paris
7 May 2016 Delco Festival, Nimes
23 November 2016 Dundee Contemporary Arts
March 2017 Hull UK City of Culture/ReROOTed
Citation City is now retired. However we now make it available for movie screenings.
October 2017
Other Cinema, San Francisco (20-minute stand alone movie edit)
December 2019 Dare Conference, Ghent (screening)

Vicki’s working process

A portion of Citation City previewed at London’s Cafe Oto on 9 December 2014 then World Premiered in full at transmediale, Berlin on 29 January 2015.  It’s UK Premiere was at Flatpack Film Festival on 28 March 2015, and London Premiere at Whitechapel Gallery on 26 September 2015 as part of the Walter Benjamin Now Symposium.

Citation City notes on the carpet
Vicki’s working process

Citation City education/teaching pack
PDF download: citation city teaching pack
We thought it may be useful to make a document explaining the process of making this work. This pdf is intended as a companion to the audiovisual work, giving examples of the process one might undertake to create new work when sourcing from a large media database. This particular example relates to moving image and musical composition, but the methods can translate to other platforms that use composition, directing, editing, creative narratives and story telling.

SELECTION: Layout in paper form of descriptions of selected film content and possible subject headings (convolutes/citations) – August 2014

Press and articles:
Interview in Filmmaker Magazine (January 2015)
InEnArt Magazine (January 2015)

Vicki’s working process
The first stage after selecting footage is to type out descriptions of hundreds of segments then cut them out, and make arrangements of subjects, content, "convolutes"
The first stage after selecting footage is to type out descriptions of hundreds of segments then cut them out, and make arrangements of subjects, content, “convolutes”
Citation City
Vicki’s working process

Vicki Bennett/People Like Us
Since 1991 British artist Vicki Bennett has been working across the field of audio-visual collage, and is recognised as an influential and pioneering figure in the still growing area of sampling, appropriation and cutting up of found footage and archives.  Working under the name People Like Us, Vicki specialises in the manipulation and reworking of original sources from both the experimental and popular worlds of music, film and radio. People Like Us believe in open access to archives for creative use. In 2006 she was the first artist to be given unrestricted access to the entire BBC Archive. People Like Us have previously shown work at Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, The Barbican, Centro de Cultura Digital, V&A, Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Pompidou Centre, Venice Biennale, Maxxi and Sonar, and performed radio sessions for John Peel and Mixing It. The ongoing sound art radio show ‘DO or DIY’ on WFMU has had over a million “listen again” downloads. since 2003. The People Like Us back catalogue is available for free download hosted by UbuWeb.
Longer Biography
Exhibitions and Editions
Selected Performances and Screenings
Commissions and Awards

Press Image
Continue reading “CITATION CITY”

Codpaste podcast on WFMU

This is the archive page of People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz’s podcast “Codpaste”. Playlists and archives can be accessed indefinitely at http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/CT.  The album Rhapsody in Glue is now available for FREE download at UbuWeb.

Please read on…

Episode 1 – 3rd December 2007 – Cartoon Music

Vicki and Ergo ride their little bicycles with square wheels and honky hooters and tell you about their love of this funny music. Features, amongst others, the music of Carl Stalling, Roger Roger and BBC Radiophonic Workshop, all collaged with conversation and ridiculously pointless repetitions.

Episode 2 – 10th December 2007 – The Chase

Ergo and Vicki show you how fast they can juggle without dropping everything, or at least make very fast music. They play you some of their very favourite speedy rhythms, generally all at the same time, then when it’s finished they start it all over again. Features amongst others, different versions of William Tell Overture and Hungarian Rhapsody, and also the misc of Spike Jones, The Comedian Harmonists and Offenbach.

Episode 3 – 17th December 2007 – Hooked On Classics

In which Vicki and Ergo revisit the 1970’s phenomenon of Hooked On Classics, classical cover versions as well as all things light, orchestral and popular. Features a medley of the best of this fine mulch of classical music with a disco beat, as well as some tangential visits to the world of amateur orchestras. Features Portsmouth Sinfonia, The Swingle Singers, John Oswald and Wendy Carlos, amongst others.

Episode 4 – 24th December 2007 – ThEdit

All about the wonderful world of editing and cutting up of sounds. Ergo and Vicki talk about their favourite editors of life, and demonstrate how one can mess up sound so easily and to such good effect. Features the work of William Burroughs, Negativland, Language Removal Services and cut ups of BBC Radio.

Episode 5 – 31st December 2007 – Fwms Bo Wo

Features some of the best explorers of sound poetry, and general transformers of the spoken word. Is this nonsense? Is it music? Are we serious? Ultimately we don’t know but we really enjoy it, and this is a fun introduction to a kind of audio art that all too often is alienating. Features, amongst others, the work of Jaap Blonk, Leif Elggren & Thomas Liljenberg, Christian Bok and Stanley Unwin.

Episode 6 – 7th January 2008 – Snow Day

People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz examine their obsessions with the classical piece Troika (Sleigh Ride), Queen, Rod McKuen and songs about the weather, plus Vicki tries to mix Mrs Miller with B.J.Thomas and wonders why it didn’t turn out too well.

Episode 7 – 14th January 2008 – Banjos, Pots, Pans and Squeezeboxes

In which Vicki and Ergo discuss the combination of sampling, live instrumentation and voices. Features Wendy Carlos, Sun Ra and Esquivel, amongst others.

Episode 8 – 21st January 2008 – Collage

When does it stop being completely isolated from the rest of the universe and step into the world of collage, adding another patch to the huge quilt of sounds that have gone before? People Like Us “start at the very beginning” and try to find out. Features sounds from Noah Creshevsky, DJ Earlybird, Brion Gysin and Kid Koala, amongst many others.

Episode 9 – 28th January 2008 – I Can’t Tell A Waltz From A Tango

Can you? Vicki and Ergo offer a masterclass in the key of E Minor on all things that you can’t dance to. Features the swinging sounds of Percy Faith, Charles Barlow & His Orchestra, Johann Strauss II and Ferrante & Teicher.

Episode 10 – 4th February 2008 – Nana Mouskouri

Why on earth is it called this? Well, this episode is all about those themes and songs that are just so catchy that we just keep returning to them. Includes such delights as Bert Kaempfert, Lenny Dee, The Swingle Singers, The Comedian Harmonists, and of course Nana Mouskouri.

Episode 11 – 11th February 2008 – Sing Song

In which Ms. Us and Mr. Phizmiz play all their favourite songs and think about how artists fit in with the world of popular music, almost by accident at times. Features, amongst others, the fabulous works of Noel Coward, Winifred Atwell, The Ronettes and Xper. Xr.

Episode 12 – 18th February 2008 – Comedy

Funny ha ha or funny peculiar, either way, we love that music with a sense of humour, a sense of the surreal and absurd. Vicki and Ergo reflect on the aftermath of chancing a visit to a village hall full of leaping lederhosen. Listen to, amongst others, Mary Schneider, Liszt, The Goons and a bunch of WFMU DJs.

Episode 13 – 10th March 2008 – Easy Listening

No, don’t switch off, you like it really, don’t you. Easy Listening, it’s nice. Hear the beautiful noises of Glen Campbell, Esquivel, Nelson Riddle and Martin Denny.

Episode 14 – 17th March 2008 – Finale

http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/26515 – and at the WFMU blog
The final podcast of Codpaste – a 96 minute mix of the best of the show, which when we play it back, we’re quite amazed at how much we fitted into this series in such a short space of time.

What it’s all about

“Codpaste” is a weekly podcast series in which the two artists People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz will attempt to compose collage music from the very beginning, in a “work in progress” style, attempting to open up the creative process.  The theory is that it is rare to see compositions made from the outset, and usually the audience are only invited in once the piece is finished, done and dusted. It could be that new light may be shed on the creation of art if the curtains are opened and the audience are given access to the raw, the imperfect and the wrong as well as the polished and the finished. This is what we hope anyway!

From 3rd December 2007 WFMU will be hosting the podcasts of: (i) audio sources, the tracks used as the basis for the collage in the episode, (ii) sketches, mixes and collages combining track’s elements, with added instrumentation, electronics, vocals, etc, and (iii) fragments, layers, and multitracks of the collage compositions.  These elements will be tied together by snippets of light-hearted, tangential conversations and introductions and occasional mental overload and verbal meltdown.

The previous collaboration “Boots!” experimented with combining free digital downloading with more traditional formats and forms of distribution (record and CD through record stores), and came to the conclusion that the “gift economy” does work – with evidence of increased mail order sales and reports from stores hosting the record that customers also bought things at the same time.  As a result, we will compile these weekly programmes into a mp3 album of the same name (“Codpaste”), taking selections of the free podcasts, shaping them into a finished pod-album format, for sale on iTunes. Once the project is completed, all elements will be hosted in perpetuum at WFMU’s Free Music Archive, allowing the good work to continue once the artists are done with it!

It is a rare and new thing to be making work-in-progress in front of an audience – and hopefully will prove to be both fun and an inspiration for artist and listener (and ultimately listener as remixer), and a vital exploration of unique ways of making work in a market more than saturated with products.

Background on the collaboration

Since 2002 People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz have collaborated on a number of compositional projects; including a radio show, two albums and two live performances; “Boots!” and “Screen Play”.  “Screen Play” was a live soundtrack for Christian Marclay’s film of the same name, performed as part of the Wire 25 celebrations in London in November 2007. “Boots!”, a year-long project (2006-2007), was presented online as a free downloadable 5-hour long archive (at UbuWeb), including compositional elements dissected into component parts, demonstrating creative processes that led to finished works, making it remixable by downloader.  The project received radio play on BBC Radio, Channel 4 Radio – plus 450 subscribers to our subsequent 10″ record – “Honeysuckle Boulevard”, and an additional 200 who were too late to participate.

You can subscribe to People Like Us and Ergo Phizmiz’s other solo podcasts, also on WFMU, at DO or DIY with People Like Us and The Phuj Phactory with Ergo Phizmiz.

Codpaste timeline

July 2007 – So it begins: collecting sound sources and visual material, discussing structure, audio collaboration begins
The simultaneous collecting and making of work.  The podcasts will to go out as the artists are making the work, so that the outlet is time sensitive to the creation.  The creating and outputting will be going on throughout the following stages until completion in March 2008.

3rd December 2007 – Weekly podcasts begin on WFMU
A weekly podcast will go out at the same time each week – subscribe through http://wfmu.org/podcast, with playlists and other information added both on this website and also http://wfmu.org/playlists/CT

March 2008 – Develop the material into an album
The artists will steer the collaborative material in the direction of it being collated in “album” form.  So in other words, this timeline contains a number of simultaneous and overlapping events – the making of material, outputting and collating.

May 2008 – Releasing the album plus hosting elements on WFMU’s Free Music Archive
The album, entitled “Rhapsody in Glue” is now available at bleep.com! Watch this space for bonus tracks which will be hosted at WFMU’s Free Music Archive shortly!

15 May 2008 – Rhapsody in Glue – digital album release

Following the success of the critically acclaimed “Perpetuum Mobile” CD of 2007, renowned UK collagists / composers People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz reunite for “Rhapsody in Glue”, a cycle of bricolage-ballet-music, skewed-waltzes, and skewiff-pop.
There is a story behind every album, and with “Rhapsody in Glue” we find a unique approach to constructing a record. Both long-term contributors to New York radio station WFMU, People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz decided to publicly tear apart their respective practices and create an album “in the open”, presenting on a seafood-filled-platter the process of collaborative collage composition – informally discussing and jabbering nonsense to one another, resulting in the “Codpaste” free podcast series. “Rhapsody in Glue” is the culmination of the ideas explored in the podcast series.

“Rhapsody in Glue” continues in the bizarre ballroom vein of their previous efforts together, however, increasing the sonic palette into textural depths previously uncharted in their work. If “Carmic Waltz” is an expressionist painting by aged ballroom dance teacher who’s eaten the wrong kind of mushrooms in her soufflé, then “Gary’s Anatomy” is a slice of pure absurdist pop shot through with slabs of exotica and Ethel Merman. Recurring through the record is an apparent obsession with Prokofiev’s “Troika (Sleigh Ride)”, which merges and mashes with Burt Bacharach and Queen on “Snow Day”‘ and lapses into pure fantasy on the almost entirely acoustic “Withers in the Whist”, jarring with Ergo’s strange, Victoriana obsessed lyrics. Then on “Dancing in the Carmen” we discover what happens if Nana Mouskouri is thrown into a pot with Peggy Lee and let simmer for 10 minutes, whilst “In The Waking” shimmers along on multitracked guitars, meandering melodies, and music boxes.

Rhapsody in Glue is available exclusively at budget price from http://www.bleep.com

3 June 2008 – Digital Single derived from Codpaste on the WFMU Blog

We are pleased to announce two brand new downloadable tracks from People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz, available to the web exclusively from WFMU’s Free Music Archive and Beware of the Blog. The Music to Run Fast By digital 7” is based around the idea of “The Chase”, where Vicki and Ergo sourced from and collaged as many fast moving sounds as they could possibly think of! This music was originally conceived for a live soundtrack to Christian Marclay’s film “Screen Play“, performed by WFMU’s delightful duo in London last year. It was then developed into “The Chase” episode of their “Codpaste” podcast on WFMU.

If you own a horse then do take this on your ipod next time you go out for a trot.
Download the mp3s at the WFMU Blog or at UbuWeb

Teaching Pack

We have produced a teaching pack to accompany the Codpaste series, in pdf form. Don’t forget you don’t need to subscribe now the series is over – just go to http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/CT to listen along with this!
Download the pdf here (30mb)
Creative Commons License
Codpaste – Peaching Tack by People Like Us & Ergo Phizmiz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
Based on a work at www.peoplelikeus.org/piccies/codpaste/codpaste-teachingpack.pdf

This project is supported by Arts Council England and WFMU.

click on thumbnails for larger downloads ONLY use for joint advertisements for both artists