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Screen Tests

Creators:Cummings, Neil and Lewandowska, Marysia and White, Ben and Simpson, Eileen

Assembled from multiple source films Screen Tests unfolds as series of Warhol-like screen tests.

Slowly revealed is the location and the occupation of those before the camera; students and tutors from the Manchester School of Art in the 1930’s.

Beautiful and poignant as Screen Tests is, the film also addresses issues embedded in the political economy of creativity. There is conflict blossoming at the heart of culture, a conflict convened around the property rights that subsist in materials stored in public archives. Screen Tests explores this conflict, while enriching rather than depleting the public domain.

The British Art Show is a five yearly ‘survey’ of influential recent British Art, coordinated by the Hayward Gallery London, and touring four British cities. Marysia Lewandowska and Neil Cummings were commissioned by the curators to make a ‘context-specific’ new work.

While doing research for the commission, we realized that each of the host cities houses a regional public Media, Film and Television Archive. We intended to source out-of-copyright archival film from which to edit four new films - one for each city of the exhibitions tour.

We collaborated with Ben White and Eileen Simpson, and while working with the film archives we discovered a conflict blossoming at the heart of culture, a conflict convened around the property rights that subsist in materials stored in public archives. Film archives routinely use Intellectual Property regimes, to sell reproduction rights to their holdings; turning public resources into commercial revenue streams.

'Screen Tests' explored the conflict between private rights management and the idea of a public domain. We negotiated the release of all our films and the original archival source material, under Creative Commons licenses. These licences grant rights to others, to use, modify and redistribute the work. 'Screen Tests' therefore replaces a model of cultural reproduction based on restriction and scarcity, with one based on the gift and generosity; it was freely available at exhibition venues.

Official Website:http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/britishartshow6/
Type of Research:Art/Design Item
Your affiliations with UAL:Colleges > Chelsea College of Art and Design
Colleges > Chelsea College of Art and Design
Date:24 September 2005
Funders:The British Art Show, Arts Council
Related Websites:http://www.neilcummings.com/content/screen-tests, http://www.chelsea.arts.ac.uk/17214.htm
Locations / Venues:
LocationFrom DateTo Date
'Anticipating the Past: Artist: Archive: Film:' international conference at Tate Modern, London, U.K.May 2006UNSPECIFIED
'Ghosting: The Role of the Archive within Contemporary Artists' Film and Video', Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, U.K. 2006UNSPECIFIED
ID Code:822
Deposited On:07 Dec 2009 12:51
Last Modified:15 Sep 2010 15:30
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