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Monday, 11 June 2012

Griff says; Muscles of joy - they'll make you smile.

 On Saturday, the Streetlamp team were out and about in Glasgow trying, vainly, to keep our finger on the pulse of the cultural beat of that great city - not an easy task given the sheer volume of events going on every single day. I'd badgered the other two into making GOMA one of our stops as I'd been intending to drop in to the exhibition of four short films by Glasgow-based artist Katy Dove for the last few months and, somehow, had never quite got around to it. Aware that the GOMA exhibition was entering its final weekend I was approaching a near state of panic that I was going to miss it entirely and that wouldn't do at all. You see, Katy Dove is not only a wonderfully creative visual artist who produces beguiling animated films but is a musician too, more of which later, but first - the films. Unfortunately, due to my extreme procrastination, I can no longer encourage you to go along and see her work at GOMA for yourself, but what I can do is post one of her works, luckily available on Youtube, below and exhort you to look out for her work in the future. Here is an excerpt from Open Ended, a short, abstract, animated film made during her residency at Platform in Easterhouse in 2007.

The film is fairly typical of Dove's style. She specialises in gentle, kaleidescopic, and slightly hypnotic, images which provide a visual equivalent to the accompanying soundtracks. The soundtracks themselves are wonderfully chosen and on Saturday, as we listened and watched, we agreed afterwards that, as the films progressed, we had become slightly mesmerised by them and that this was as close as we are likely to get to the experience of synaesthesia (barring some sort of traumatic head injury - hopefully not). The accompanying blurb to the show states that:

" (Katy Dove) is interested in the role of the mind in informing her creative process. Her work is reminiscent of the abstract expressionism of Joan Miró (1893–1983) and Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), and relates to the Rorschach ink blot theory that we use our subconscious to bring meaning to the outside world and abstract forms."

What I would add is that Dove's video installations, like all great art, are beautiful in their simplicity. She uses hand-drawn and hand-painted shifting, and constantly evolving, psychedelic shapes that evoke organic forms. As they glide, swirl and slide in layers of colour across the screen one can't help but be reminded at times of the liquid light shows used by the likes of  Hawkwind or the Velvet Underground back in the 60s, which brings us rather nicely into the domain of music. You see that seamless segue? You'd almost think I planned these pieces.
Anyway, as I mentioned above, Dove is also a musician and is a member of seven-piece, all-female, art-rock Glasgow band Muscles of Joy (pictured). The other band members are; Esther Congreave, Anne-Marie Copestake, Leigh Ferguson, Victoria Morton, Jenny O’Boyle and Ariki Porteous. 

Interestingly, all of the other band members are also active in the Glasgow visual arts scene and, as well as film-makers, their line-up includes sculptors, painters and photographers. Muscles of Joy occasionally provide the soundtracks to Dove's films and their particular style is difficult to pin down. I suppose it incorporates elements of spiky punk or post-punk energy married to a more cerebral, folk-influenced, avant-garde sensibility. Think of the aural wonder that was Return of the Giant Slits, or a collison of Laurie Anderson with the Delta 5 to get where I'm coming from. Anyway, why don't you make up your own mind? Rather serendipitously, the band have recently released a 7-track radio session broadcast by WFMU on Jan 27, 2012. The session is available as a free download from the Free Music Archive and I'm embedding my favourite track below to whet your appetite:

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I do and I hope too that you'll check out the band playing live if you get the chance - just keep your eyes on the journals covering the Scottish music scene. The band's album can be ordered by mail order from Watts of Goodwill, or you can just pop in to the Streetlamp's favourite music store, Monorail music in Glasgow, if you're in our neck of the woods. I'll finish by promising to keep an eye on any future exhibitions or events featuring any of the band members and hopefully bring them to your attention in a more timely fashion next time.


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