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Over the past 5 years London-based art organisation Auto Italia South East have created ground-breaking new formats using live and media arts. Often their projects engage an audience in the here and now; from the entranced crowds at ‘Yes Way’, a festival in collaboration with the music promoters Upset the Rhythm, to the studio-audiences who feature in their artist-run TV series, Auto Italia Live.
A short, but fearlessly experimental history has been supported by a wide range of individuals working across the fields of performance, film and music, in Auto Italia's commissioning and creating of large scale projects. A process of trial and error has seen Auto Italia defy perceived boundaries so often imposed on art practices by way of classification. In their most ambitious project to date, Auto Italia Live explores the concept of “artists as television producers”.
While prolific in recent years, Auto Italia Live started in some uncertainty – “artists involved were confused as to what we were asking of them” they tell Jotta, “video content? Performance? Even a bit of acting? Television presenters?” The answer would be: all of the above and then some. Now, to coincide with Auto Italia's 5th Anniversary, the organisation will be broadcasting a one-off episode of Auto Italia LIVE from the historically boundary shifting, Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Auto Italia’s directors Amanda Dennis, Kate Cooper, Richard John Jones and the newly appointed Marianne Forrest, who works on production, (more often than not) work collaboratively with artists. However, they would resist defining a ‘collective practice’ preferring “instead to keep experimenting and working with many artists in many different ways”. They tackle multiple roles when working, frequently adapting and negotiating to realise large projects, which may not have been individually possible.
Since 2010 Auto Italia Live TV episodes have been produced, performed and broadcast live over the Internet and to a studio audience. Last year's live productions explored ideas ranging from ‘edutainment’ to matters of permaculture and ecology that surround the concept of ‘live’ television. The latest episode, commissioned by the ICA as part of the Remote Control exhibition, will question how live TV has changed our understanding of culture and public space. Auto Italia suggests that the episode will show a considerable shift from past projects - “We felt that this new commission would also be an opportunity for us to push our way of working and explore new opportunities for the format."
For Double Dip Concession they formed a “core production team" who are steering the project and producing an open treatment to which artists have responded. Airing on the 9th of June, the show will aim for the phrase "unwatchable TV"- a broadcast which directly discourages its audience from watching. Auto Italia question “how objects and movements take on a new dimension in the televisual space”, as well as “how magic and trickery can be exploited through framing and live editing.”
Engaging with live TV production, camera crews and technicians are assembled to facilitate and help realise the project. But, the formal technique of live TV has always been a challenge within itself. “It does become tricky and fractured when you involve this many people but it also allows everyone space to develop and talk about their project, interest and involvement”.
This year, artists Jess Wiesner and Nathan Budzinski have worked as a script writing team, providing an overview for the episode, while other collaborators have produced music, scripts, and sequences. Interested the role of the artists as television producers, Auto Italia want to “draw a parallel” with the relationship between curators and artists to that of commissioners and directors. In a subversive twist, Auto Italia Live question the role of the TV commissioner, proposing to "reclaim" of the format of TV for artists.
Can TV still change our understanding of culture? Auto Italia believe so: “artists have an important role to find new ways of dealing with this material in a way that traditional broadcast conventions cannot.”
For Auto Italia, the demarcation of work often seems less important than the audiences engagement with the project itself. “Now the format has been developed it has been exciting to work with Live broadcast as a medium and as material itself for artists to work with, ” they explain. Auto Italia Live is offering artists a unique place to distribute and broadcast work in a collective and collaborative context, an exciting model for the future.
Read a conversation between Auto Italia directors and the Double Dip Concession collaborating artists
Broadcast live at 7pm 9th June 2012, Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH
Live screenings will also be hosted by the Palais De Tokyo, Paris, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Outpost, Norwich and at FACT, Liverpool.