We worked with the Northeast Photo Network, Sunderland University and Breeze Creatives to document an arts event in the Athenaeum building, Sunderland.The building is semi derelict and has a long history from being a shopping centre to being a nightclub but in it’s victorian hay day it was a centre for learning and sharing knowledge, a place where Sunderlands learned folks would meet and talk about their scientific, artistic and literary experiments.
The organisations commissioning this work were on the cusp of getting a lease on the Athenaeum building with the intention of bringing it back to life with a permanent gallery and several artist studios.
The aim of the event was to bring Victorian photographic techniques and 21st century techniques together in a ‘steam punk’ type of photography event and to celebrate the life and work of Joseph Swan (the inventor of the incandescent light bulb no less, Edison got the patent though!)
So this event certainly came under the banner of quirky, which we loved. There were various art installations from the Lostness Cycles who have created a series interactive kinetic photographic sculptures (see image) Wet plate demonstrations and an installation from AgNO3 Studio and some really captivating talks.
The video documentation of the event had to reflect all these elements of learning, art and the notion of time, looking back and looking to the future. The client also wanted us to as best as possible reflect the quirkiness of the event. There were some challenges to shooting in this environment. The lack of electricity in the building required all the lighting to be on builders spot light positioned around the room. Under most other circumstance this would be tricky but we think the strange lighting just added to the atmosphere and all the gear we have is great for low light shooting like this so we excelled.
In order to reflect the notion of passing time we adopted some motion time-lapse using our 3 axis timelapse kit. This brought the setting up of the event into the video and to took advantage of some of the brilliant light that streams in from the glass roof of the building that we would otherwise of missed during the night time event. This also added a dynamic twist the end video.
The combination of a quirky soundtrack, cutting edge timelapse and attendants thoughts really showed off the event well, the film is now used as a recruitment aid for the University of Sunderland’s photography degree course.