Hello! Sasha and I are here at InSpace for Sound: Image: Art, Central Station’s collaborative art and music event, where we’ll be premiering two new films as a result of the Central Station Soundtrack Project. This is a liveblog, so please reload this page throughout the evening. Here’s Sasha’s companion post.

First up, we’re learning a little about Central Station.

[21:23] As regular readers of this blog & community will know, Central Station is an arts hub – a place to find creative people and inspiration. We’re being shown around some of the portfolios and site features.

[21:25] Central Station has been working with a number of projects. Art/Roc/Docx is a collaborative cross-disciplinary documentary featuring the band Isocele, a shooter, photographer, fixer, designers, curators, a producer and editor. At the beginning they didn’t know what they were making; ultimately they ended up with a 75 minute film that premiered at the Glasgow Short Film Festival. (I wish I’d been part of it. Sounds like fun. Who wants to make a film with me?)

[21:28] CenSta was also involved with the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. They’ve done a lot of work extending art in an interdisciplinary way using the Internet as both a communications and creative device; something I think more technologists should also be involved with. It doesn’t have to be all about extending XMPP and creating decentralized social networking protocols, you know; there’s a lot of human discovery and creativity that can be facilitated. Not just facilited – made. Technologists can be artists too!

InSpace is a beautiful space, by the way, but it’s a little echoey at the back. I’m straining to hear.

Central Station is being compared to WordPress and Facebook. It’s a community that involves people, says a representative of member organisation Savalas – but by implication it’s also a community about opportunities for creatives and creative organisations.

[21:34] We’re being shown a short film which links computer-generated animation and orgiinal composition in a really dynamic way. It’s like an iris reaffirming itself in a radar swoop, set to some arresting beats and atmospheric sound.

The last time I liveblogged anything, it was the Eurovision Song Contest. Alas, I don’t think the chances of anyone bursting out with a saxophone and avant garde sunglasses are anywhere near as great here.

[21:39] “Although it is global [...] There’s a tangible, physical community behind it.”

[21:43] Roderick Buchanan is talking about his soundtrack project. He’s talking about the freeing aspects of doing group shows (relatively little responsibility, the ability to see others’ work at the same time), and how independent shows are significantly more stressful. Central Station has been a useful community for him throughout the process of transitioning from one to the other, partially as a resource for help and advice.

[21:50] A discussion of the narcissism of social networking sites and how Roderick is on the “social networking rocks”. In particular, he has a problem with the terminology: calling people “friends”, for example. This is my day job, and my observation would be that it’s a cultural difference – not necessarily generational. I think people in California, where most of this technology comes from, are far happier with labelling strangers as friends than the Scots are. Generally, the most complaints I’ve heard about the wording on these sites come from Scotland; why is this, and what does it say about Scotland as a culture? (Or, indeed, California?)

[21:52] Indeed, Roderick says that when he was approached by Central Station to work on the “Composer wanted” project, he didn’t like the narcissistic aspects of his personality that the site drew out of his personality.

There does seem to be a very wide conversation that could be had here. As a half-American who lives in Edinburgh, I feel conflicted: should we all be getting used to promoting our personal brands? (This tends to be where I sit.) Or is it a worrying trend that really undermines something important in different cultures?

[21:54] Not everyone enjoys blogging. That’s absolutely true; what’s great about Central Station is that it allows for different forms. When I approached designing an open source social networking platform, back in 2004, our team made the same assumption: not everyone would be interested in writing text, or writing about themselves. Privacy and different media are crucial. CenSta has, in my opinion, made the right decisions here.

[21:56] Here’s a question (from me): do contemporary artists inherently need to be self promoters?

[21:59] Ultimately, Roderick says, his optimism has been restored thanks to the real-life community behind the site. “Giles [Lamb] and Savalas are the guys with the right trainers and haircuts on this project. I look forward to hearing what they have to say.”

[22:01] Roderick: “I was feeling all open and connective about collaborating with Central Station and Savalas on the production of a new artwork until I saw the streamed version of my video ‘Traffic’ online. Now I’m feeling naked and exposed.” But it’s surely good promotion? “Central Station is another set of opportunities, and we all try to make them work for us.” He doesn’t know if people are more connected to his practice thanks to his presence online, but feels that other people may see him (and the sountrack project) as an opportunity.

[22:04] “Technology is always making [promises] and not paying off.” I respectfully disagree, although, of course, I’m biased …

[22:05] We’re being shown a short film. I won’t describe it; hopefully it’s available to view online. Meanwhile, Sasha has uploaded some great photographs (aside from the one of me).

[22:08] Roderick: “the technology is still not there.” Technologists: opportunity! There are creatives out there dying for more tools, more infrastructure. Central Station is doing a fine job with the community – what else can you provide?

[22:10] The short film we’re being shown involves those awesome liquid-filled pen lids where little plastic characters float across the length. There was a bear. I always condone bears.

[22:12] The soundtrack project has received 41 responses; 2677 blog posts; 1641 group members; 2400 project pageviews. Much easier than trying to get that kind of participation offline.

[22:13] Those participants eventually boiled down to six shortlisted members developing soundtrack ideas for Roderick’s next piece of experimental filmmaking.

[22:15] Sasha has left us, but I’ll be liveblogging for the rest of the evening. Don’t forget to also check out the Central Station twitter account (and my own).

[22:17] We’re talking to Nils Mugel Meisel, who is one of the shortlisted musicians, and looking at some of the newly-soundtracked films. It’s inspiring stuff: original films seem to turn into completely new works when creative audio is independently applied. Makes you think about how much of a difference sound really makes, and also makes me want to get my hands dirty, or collar some of the musicians I know.

[22:27] Ultimately, Andy Sim and his team Fear Wasabi won the Central Station soundtrack competition, and went into production with Roderick and Savalas. Tonight’s event, at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, is the world premiere of the resulting film.

[22:40] Argh, we just lost 10 minutes of updates! In brief:

The standard filmmaking process can take years from inception to distribution. The process of making this film took between 6-8 weeks, which is revolutionary!

Furthermore, the team – in the end – found blogging useful. The reflection, far from being an act of narcissism, kept them focused; it ultimately ended up being an archive of their creative process.

There’s clearly a lot of work still to do in terms of creating a digital infrastructure for these kinds of activities, but this sounds like it’s been a successful project with a tangible outcome.

[22:43] We’re settling down to watch the films: Tattoo and Lament.

[22:49] Tattoo: centuries of deep conflict laid out on living flesh. Genuinely fascinating and – despite being essentially static – shot through with raw emotion.

[22:56] Lament: a shocking play on Paddy’s Lament that plays with expectations and ends like a lightning bolt.

[22:57] And that’s it – we’re closing down. Thanks to everyone who’s been following tonight, everyone who’s in the room, and to Central Station for making it all happen.