Sheffield Fringe

Chemistry of Incidence

Friday 15 June 2012, 7:00pm

S1 Artspace
118 -120 Trafalgar Street
Sheffield S1 4JT

Chemistry of Incidence
Julie Westerman & Dr. John Hart, Fly Birdie Fly (UK 2001), video still


Chemistry of Incidence collects film and video works by artists connected to Yorkshire. The selections connect disparate themes, mixing science with abstraction, observation with imagination. In Fly Birdie Fly computer animation recreates a shuttlecock’s flight, weaving data analysis with the sounds of birds and resonating bells to reconsider the space-time of a flight. All That Mighty Heart locks obsolete machinery into present-day productiv­ity, whilst Hey Presto! The Art of Sound Travel reworks a public information film into a collage, with whimsy replacing instruction. In River Gauge, a rising tide is precisely measured. The viewer is immersed as science becomes abstraction. A handheld camera is used to capture Conversations on the Underground between two women. Their faces remain off-screen, yet we become locked into their discussion. Speech Marks exploits the limitations of its mobile phone medium to create a rich collage of the filmmaker’s life. Mute captures a gliding swan, shifting focus to otherworldly effect. In Rubbish, everyday waste is recontextualised to create a new composite. Lastly Love Under Mercury takes the daguerreotype as its starting point. An essay of a scientific discovery is interwoven with the imagined narrative of a love affair between two unseen narrators ruminating on historical facts and bend­ing them to their will. – Esther Johnson

Selected by Esther Johnson, artist and filmmaker. Johnson is Senior Lecturer in Filmmaking at Sheffield Hallam University. In 2011 she was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Performing and Visual Arts.

A discussion between Esther Johnson and the artists will follow the screening.


Fly Birdie Fly

Fly Birdie Fly | Julie Westerman & Dr. John Hart | UK 2001 | HD | 6 min

Fly Birdie Fly uses Sports Science as a gateway into Art and vise versa. Capitalising on the different language of sports, science, and art the film tracks the flight of a shuttlecock. The narrative and poetic film interprets the process of analysis, using sound, data, and a flock of geese.

All That Mighty Heart

All That Mighty Heart | Jayne Wilson | UK 2001 | Digital video | 11 min

In this, the first in a new series of short films, Jayne Wilson and the imagined Central Office for Clocktime Expansion invite you to consider mechanical engineering as an antidote to a fast moving life where time is a commodity. The work is supported by Arts Council England & The British Engineerium.

Unterhaltung in der U Bahn (Conversation on the underground)

Unterhaltung in der U Bahn (Conversation on the underground) | Christiane Thalmann | UK 2005 | Digital video | 6 min

Unterhaltung in der U Bahn is based on a conversation the artist had with a friend on the underground in Hamburg about being harassed and assaulted as a woman and about self-defence – a subject both women were concerned about and had some experience of.

River Gauge

River Gauge | Simon Warner | UK 2004 | Digital video | 3 min

A static camera records the tide rising against a depth marker on the Ouse Estuary at Blacktoft, Yorkshire. As the camera is gradually engulfed, reference points and focus are dissolved into a new, wholly abstract environment.

Speech Marks

Speech Marks | Steve Hawley | UK 2004 | Digital video | 4 min

Speech Marks was shot entirely on a mobile phone, and edited digitally. The limits of the phone used in this project are challenging; the image is low quality and small in size, and there is a maximum length of 9 seconds per shot. To use these limitations creatively the piece builds up a collage of moving images, a series of marks that build a fragmented picture in space and time. The scenes are a collection of moments drawn from life; an art opening, a day in the garden, a meeting at work. Using the phone in this way to transmit pictures instead of speech harks back to the early days of television, when low quality images were sent by phone lines in the 1920s, by the Scottish TV pioneer John Logie Baird. These primitive stuttering images and lo-fi sounds celebrate the everyday.

Hey Presto! The Secret of Sound Travel

Hey Presto! The Secret of Sound Travel | Jayne Wilson | UK 2012 | Digital video | 2 min

Hey Presto! The Secret of Sound Travel is the first in a series of short films inspired by the history and science of modern communications. The film fails to deliver in its guise as information film; instead treads a nonsensical and dreamlike path taking a scientific maxim to impart a reflective view on the laws of science in modern communications.


Mute | Miles Umney | UK 2008 | HD | 30s

A swan glides into frame, the camera reacts to the white of its feathers and lowers the exposure, so that the lake and surrounding trees fall into darkness. A relationship between the swan and its environment is constructed and mediated by the camera’s auto exposure function.


Rubbish | Alice Bradshaw | UK 2011 | Digital video | 1 min

Made for The Museum of Contemporary Rubbish founded in 2010 by Alice Bradshaw. The MoCR is dedicated to collecting, cataloguing and exhibiting contemporary rubbish.

Love Under Mercury

Love Under Mercury | Steve Hawley | UK 2000 | 16mm | 35 min

Love Under Mercury is about science, transformation, and tragedy. Louis Daguerre invented the daguerreotype when some drops of mercury, accidentally spilled from a broken thermometer in a cupboard, developed his iodised photographic plates, and thus revolutionised photography. But some years later the early Daguerreotypists developed symptoms of mercury poisoning – irritability, insomnia, and “childish over-emotionalism”. Just the very symptoms of love melancholy. Like Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter they had been poisoned by the mercury vapour. Thus science, like film (and like love) can bring about magical transformations, but all bring with them the potential for tragedy.