Art Therapy: Martin Smith’s atmospheric films cure a colossal champagne hangover.

So after an evening doing my +1 duty (or drinking the free champagne bar bone dry) at the ECCA awards to support the wonderful wonderful Collective Studios (have a peek, they should have won) I decided in my possibly-still-drunk-madness to go and see some art! And, although I slightly died on the train home, it was a rather good day and the perfect distraction from the golden bubbles still swishing around in my brain.

First stop: Baker Street to see Martin A Smith’s Written On Silence – sound, film and photography swirling around a little white cube shop space. As I walked in I was greeted with a whisper and left to drift about the dimly lit rooms, slowly and uninterrupted – a therapeutic and calming experience that made me forget that my head was in a vice and my legs seemed to have seasickness. Perfect!

It’s small and simple, but immersive and atmospheric all the same. It proves that you don’t need ten projectors and a huge space to make a beautiful installation, which is always very comforting to an art student.

It is only on for three days, finishing today, but Smith’s work is both understated and  captivating so worth a look. Here’s a couple of clips – the first, Roses In December featured in Written on Silence. It seems a little chintzy and wrong on a computer screen but as an installation it’s very eerie, very different. The second, Ballet Mecanique is Fernand Leger‘s surrealist film from the 1920s which Smith has written and added a new soundtrack to.

“There are sounds and images that resonate, that remind you of something, even if they have no personal connection to you.
People buy family photograph albums of people that they do not know.
Old postcards remind you of holidays even though they are of places that you have never seen.
Super 8 film seems to capture the essence of childhood.
Sounds can evoke an atmosphere of places that you do not know.
What is it in these images that can create such a strong emotion?
Is it purely nostalgia?
Is it seeking a connection to the past?
Is it a longing for memories that you do not have?
Roses In December takes these sounds and images and creates an installation of universal, and yet very personal, memories.”

“Composer and sound artist whose work is concerned with the creation of atmosphere rather than of form, melody or rhythm, of creating an environment through subtle and harmonious changes rather than through force.”

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