35th International Short Film Festival Berlin 2019
5 - 10 November 2019

Installation: Britain, Take a Bow

by Graeme Crowley

Babylon Oval

Britain, Take a Bow is a participatorygenerative artwork that explores the social and material fabric of the UK as we hurtle towards exiting the European Union.

We're living through a time of political uncertainty. Brexit has divided the nation. The far right is resurgent, our public services are on their knees, people are disconnected and atomised. Politicians obfuscate and lie and the mainstream media is pushing an anachronistic, sentimental vision of a mis-remembered Britain.

Britain, Take a Bow enables filmmakers to catalogue this turmoil and upload filmed vignettes of daily life in the UK to a database. These uploads are subsequently processed, compiled and cut to an always changing soundtrack of the National Anthem, God Save The Queen, to create a generative artwork. The construction of the audio component enables over 2 billion permutations of the audio, shifting from elegiac to discordant.

No two views will ever look or sound the same. It's an experiment in filmmaking where the edit, soundtrack and typographic overlay are determined by the machine.

The work is collaborative. 50+ musicians were involved in the creation of the audio component. Malcolm Garrett (Buzzcocks, Honorary Doctorate UAL and a vociferous critic of Brexit), Swifty (MoWax, Straight No Chaser) Paul Finn (BBC, Tate, TFL and D&AD), Richard Ardagh and Studio Bergini, amongst others, have created British-centric typographic versions of the National Anthem's lyrics which are placed above the film.

The participatory aspect runs through the piece with a host of filmmakers uploading film to the database. These include Simon Ellis (winner of the International Jury prize at the Sundance film festival for Soft, BIFA award winner and BAFTA nominee), Mark Chapman (an award-winning filmmaker and artist based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and mentor of Oscar & Cannes-prize winning director Yorgos Tsourgiannis (DOGTOOTH)) and John Smith RCA.