Karl Ockelford is a multi-disciplinary artist working across film, sound, installation, photography and visual design. He’s had a long history working with Decibel, and so we invited him to explore different ways in which online performance videos could be presented. He explains how he went about creating the unique videos for each of the compositions in the 2 Minutes From Home series.
Who is Karl Ockelford?
I operate as a freelance photographer/ videographer/video editor/graphic designer with experience in installation management and construction. I also have my own small design label named Indolent Creations which focuses on creating specialised gift cards and unique product packaging. For years I have played music, performing solo electronic/noise, and collectively in rock/noise bands. I’ve worked with a range of artists over the years and currently collaborating with Sydney based multidisciplinary performance artist Rakini Devi on her Urban Kali project. I’ve worked with Rakini over the years composing music for her performances and recently branched into creating visual elements for her work.
I am currently living in Melbourne but I am originally from Perth. One of my recent projects has been making masks for my family and friends. I have also just finished an audio/visual project titled Cult of Synthetic Order under my moniker Reluctant Carnivore in collaboration with musician/artists Sage Pbbbt and Guy Fleming as well as Videographers Zebedee Parkes and Andrew W Ping. This project is a snapshot of the first half of 2020 which I describe as a slow and dark meditative journey through an abstract political and environmental narrative.
How did this collaboration with Decibel come about?
I have had a long history with the Decibel New Music Ensemble and have known some of the members for close to 20 years now. I shot Decibel’s inaugural photoshoot back in 2009 along with a couple of other shoots in the preceding years. I’ve made video clips for Stuart James’ composition n-dimension and also for the Lionel Marchetti and Cat Hope track The Earth Defeats Me. I have been wedged in a van with Decibel on a couple of occasions while documenting their tours. I have shot interview videos, built electronics and strange instruments for some of their performances, lugged gear, delivered beer and hosted a long list of national and international artists who have collaborated with Decibel.
How did you approach each video presentation for each composition?
From the outset, my focus has been to attempt to create unique videos for each composition. Although each video is unique there are some reoccurring elements throughout them. This being the colour matching of each player’s video to their position on the score as a means of informing the viewer to the performer/score relationship that is occurring on screen. Secondly, the conversion of audio electronics parts into an animated or still visual component in order to establish a connection to the audio that is not being generated by the musicians onscreen. I start out by looking at the score and then reading the accompanying notes provided by the composer. This generally gives me an idea of the theme and how the performers will execute their parts. This then informs my decisions on choice of colour palette, the possibility of additional visual elements and the placement of the performance videos/score within the frame. For some, the arrangement is simply an equal division between player rows and the score but for others that has not been the case. For example, Gail Priest’s 6 Grades of Grain focuses on the detail of textures so I made her score the dominant component on screen. Jon Rose’s Data Data put me in a unique situation where I needed to fit sixteen different performance screens in one space. I have been given a fair amount of creative freedom, allowing me to explore and develop ideas that are evoked by the composers’ scores. On seeing Lionel Marchetti’s hand drawn and torn paper score for La Patience I instantly thought of sheets of hand-made paper that I had saved and stashed away many years ago. The subject and format of Lindsay Vickery’s piece Mueller brought to mind an image of a spy fiction style classified dossier kept in a manila folder with surveillance photographs of the performers. Erik’s score for Pandemic was developed from accumulated Covid data which made me think of paper data strips being feed through a machine. The machine in this case being the performers of the piece. It has been great to have the opportunity to work on a project with such a diverse and interesting group of composers as well as an ensemble of amazing musicians.
How do you create the videos and what are your tools?
I have been using standard video, photo editing and design software. With a couple of the videos, I have set up and photographed some elements to include in the layout construction.
What’s been your favourite video and composition and why?
From a design perspective, I would say the composition by Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir would be my favourite. The detail in the score is exquisite. As far as a favourite for the completed list of videos and compositions, I’m not that sure that I have one. Part of the creative process involves me watching the video and listening to the compositions repeatedly so It would be nice to have a bit of time away from them before making any assessment.