During 2006-7 Vicki Bennett was one of the two artists awarded an Interact Artist Residency with BBC New Media, supported by Arts Council England and the Creative Archive Licence Group.
Vicki spent 4 months with “access all areas” to the BBC’s million strong archive. The result was a short film using imagery collaged from a number of documentaries made between 1951 and 1980 – featuring footage shot at The Festival Of Britain, also other footage portraying optimistic outlooks on post-war Britain. She tells the story, through layers of A/V collage, of how the artist can bring about positive change in culture. By juggling layers of imagery and context, much like a puppeteer, the film portrays the playfulness of the artist/director, moving images and scenery around with surprising results – “Trying Things Out”. It is partly autobiographical in that it reflects, by use of footage of people playing with machines and effecting imagery, that access to film archives can inspire new work, creating new dialogues where otherwise there may have been none. Sadly, both groups who had the vision to be setting up such forward-thinking projects (The Creative Archive and Interdisciplinary Arts – Arts Council England) were axed shortly before the completion of this film. May this film travel to all the places that these organisations would have liked, and thank you, Paul Gerhardt and Tony White.
The BBC and Arts Council England have announced the names of the two artists who will be given access to archive material in order to produce original works of art.
Vicki Bennett and Chris Dorley-Brown will both take up four-month placements which will be funded by Arts Council England and hosted by the BBC. Vicki will be given unrestricted access to the entire BBC archive, whilst Chris will be working with material released by the BBC and other members of the Creative Archive Licence Group. Both will be given free reign to manipulate, mix and rework the material to create a series of artworks. Vicki has been working with remixing video for the past 15 years under the name People Like Us and has had work exhibited at the Tate Modern and Sydney Opera House. The results of her placement will be shown within the BBC. If the material can be cleared, it will be exhibited more widely. Commenting on her placement, Vicki said: “As an artist working with found footage, my interest lies in the appropriating and collaging of media in hope of gaining some kind of insight, reflection and evaluation as to where we stand in relation to when the original material was made. By taking something apart and putting it in a new location it can shed new light on both where we have come from and where we stand and should go next. This is why it is so very important that archives should be accessible, in the way that libraries are.” Chris, who works almost exclusively with archival film, audio and photographic material has recently won the Prix Italia Award. The results of his placement will be exhibited and available for download though this website Chris said: “My work is reliant on interesting archive sources. The BBC archive is probably the one I fantasies about the most, so for me the opportunity to undertake this placement is one I value highly. The opening of this and other archives by the Creative Archive Licence Group goes against the grain in these days of commercial monopolisation, but I feel that the BBC, its audiences and the creative community can benefit in new and wonderful ways from this gesture.”The aim of these placements is to highlight and stimulate the inspirational possibilities of the Creative Archive Licence, a collaboration between the BBC, the BFI, Channel 4, the Open University, Teachers’ TV, the Community Channel and MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives). Under the licence, the public can download moving images, audio and stills and rework them creatively for non-commercial use. John Willis, Director of Factual & Learning BBC explains: “The calibre and volume of applicants for these placements has been extraordinary. Both Vicki and Chris are hugely talented artists and have championed this field for quite some time, we are very lucky to be able to welcome them to the BBC. We hope that their work will both help inspire new thinking in the artistic community and demonstrate the creative possibilities of the Creative Archive Licence.” Kim Evans, Executive Director, Arts, Arts Council England, commented further: “The overwhelming response shows just how engaged many of today’s artists are with issues of ownership, downloading, distribution, remixing and the public domain. The visionary new approach to culture marked by the Creative Archive License has clearly captured their imagination and we look forward to seeing the results of Vicki’s and Chris’s placements.”- 22 March 2006