This is a big deal. FACT (you know, that Liverpool-born culture lab most cities would die for) has been commissioned by Channel 4 to curate, with experimental animator Jacqui Davies, their new Random Acts series.
Acting as mini interventions into the cut and thrust of our multi-channel TV schedules, these three minute artist led films test and tease the parameters of television: subverting and challenging the medium, and – in the space of an MTV pop video – create an extraordinary conduit between viewer and artist.
If you’ve seen any of the previous films, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. Hard to pin down, the strand’s wilfully un focus-grouped expressions of creativity are, if you like, late night TV’s antidote.
“Channel four has always invested in independent film making,” FACT Director Mike Stubbs tells SevenStreets. He’d know – Stubbs has directed shortfilms, for television channels across Europe, since Channel 4’s Welsh service, S4C commissioned him a quarter of a century ago.
“In terms of accessibility, TV is the most significant medium there is, and as a space for art and artists it’s a very powerful and immediate platform for whatever it is they want to say.”
And what they often want to say, Stubbs admits, pushes the boundaries of what we’d usually expect to see on terrestrial TV.
“Some of it is politically difficult, yes,” he says, “there’s one piece that, if we get the go-ahead, will be extremely controversial. The content the artist has chosen to work with is unlicensed and very powerful.”
Tonight’s debut, Dangerous Games by Marina Abramovic reveals how, in twenty countries around the world, children are direct participants in war, serving as soldiers for both rebel groups and government forces in current armed conflicts.
Abramovic’s narrative is a work of fiction, but it hits home more powerfully than any hour long documentary. Which begs the question: what can these pieces show? How close to the censor do they sail?
“Channel Four has been very intelligent about the whole process,” Stubbs says, “The strand is called Random Acts for a reason. We’ve curated a series of extraordinary, surprising and challenging films, and we fully expect artists to subvert the medium, and take it to new places. Making a three minute film is bloody hard work, harder than making an entire feature length film.”
With work from Marina Abramovic (tonight 11.05, pic above) and future features from James Franco, Richard Billingham, Mark Leckey and Semiconductor, the films – running erratically, at around 11pm at night, is set to be a series-link must.
“We’re hoping for a second series,” Stubbs says, adding, “It’s great that FACT has been chosen to curate this. It embodies all we hold dearly about the intersection of digital art, aesthetics and personal expression.”