Category Archives: Artworks

London Theatres in Lockdown

.A project documenting London’s theatres and picture houses during the Covid19 lockdown. Below is a selection from more than 70 theatres and 30 cinemas.
This page displays images at 600px wide. Click any image for a slightly larger view.
The originals are 5000+px
Contact info and profile are below.

Theatres

Trafalgar Studios during lockdown

Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall

Her Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket during lockdown

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket

Shaftesbury Ave / Sondheim Theatre during lockdown

Sondheim Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden during lockdown

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

The Palace Theatre during lockdown

The Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus

The Old Vicin lockdown

The Old Vic, The Cut

Cambridge Theatre London during lockdown

Cambridge Theatre, Seven Dials

Royal Court Theatre during lockdown

Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square

Theatre Royal, Haymarket during lockdown

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

The Prince Edward Theatre during lockdown

The Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton St.

Southwark Playhouse during lockdown

Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway

BAC during lockdown

Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill

Theatre Royal, Stratford East during lockdown

Theatre Royal, Stratford East

Young Vic Theatre during lockdown

The Young Vic, The Cut

Coronet Theatre under Covid19 lockdown

Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate

The Vaults, Waterloo during lockdown

The Vaults, Waterloo

Sadlers Wells Theatre during lockdown

Sadlers Wells Theatre, Roseberry Av

Boulevard Theatre duting lockdown

The Boulevard Theatre, Soho. A completely new venue that was forced to close after only 3 months

Cinemas

Curzon Cinema, Soho during lockdown

The Soho Curzon, Shaftesbury Ave

Leicester Square Odeon during Covid19 lockdown

Leicester Square Odeon

Electric Cinema during lockdown

Electric Cinema, Portobello Road

Odeon Camden Cinema, Parkway during lockdown

Camden Odeon, Parkway

Tottenham Court road Odeon Cinema during lockdown

Odeon Cinema, Tottenham Court road

Hampstead Everyman cinema during lockdown

Hampstead Everyman, Holly Bush Vale

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About this project

I’m a media artist who’s dabbled in many areas – a long time ago I invented projection mapping. My big thing is light.
Mid March 2020 and I was finishing a major show at the OXO Tower, and feeling nervous about what may lie ahead. The news told us a plague was coming – a real full-bloodied plague!
My show finished, the day after I got Covid symptoms, and two days later was the lockdown.
A horrible month later I felt wobbly, but fit enough to get on a bike. I cycled into central London.
Standing virtually alone on Waterloo Bridge with no traffic on the road, no boats on the river and no planes above was… breathtaking. The solitude was at once bizarre, unsettling, and gorgeously beautiful.
From the bridge I could see the National Theatre. I had worked there – an important chunk of my life. It now sat empty, deserted, forlorn.
Zig-zagging down an empty Strand I revelled in the quiet and the safety of empty roads. There were a couple of taxis and a security guard out for a smoke, while completely empty buses patrolled the streets. Most of the homeless had been temporarily packed away, though as always a few poor souls had slipped through the net. The police kept an eye on it all.
Soho was vacant. It was like someone had pulled the plug during the night, with everyone cosily tucked up in bed, and the following morning the sun rose on this surreal frozen landscape.
Now hundreds of lanterns continued to celebrate the Chinese new year (and would keep doing so for months). Cinemas promoted A Silent Place II and Parasite as if they were set-dressing from a disaster movie offering some sly commentary, while theatres boldly advertised shows put to bed weeks before. I had sat in the dark in most of these venues swept away by their distractions, and had worked in many of them too. A show, a theatre, an audience are living things in intimate collusion. Together they breath life. The sum of the parts etc. The notion occured to me that I had stepped into some outlandish and fantastically huge wake, and was there paying my respects to these glorious but sad remains. Everybody would get to do this, one by one. Today it was my turn.
The streets would of course fill with people again. Normality would one day return. But would all these shows? It was obvious some wouldn’t. Would even the theatres themselves survive..? Some had already been on a financial knife edge.
I needed to return and document this. Lone photographers were taking their post-apocalypse snaps, but was anyone recording the theatres and cinemas?
Back home I made a list. Using Google Earth I got the best time to catch the light, and mapped out several day-long routes hopping from one venue to the next. So: 7.30am The Donmar; 8am The Royal Opera House; 8.30am Trafalgar Studios; and so on. This was going to take me a while – I had more than a hundred to cover!
Over the next few weeks I would spend a day cycling across town taking photos, followed by several days of post-Covid exhaustion (I’m in that scary ‘long haul’ category).
It was certainly a mixed bag. Some of the venues were impossible to get to (like the Barbican Theatre buried inside the Barbican Centre), some were just plain dull, but many were visually stunning, especially the huge Victorian edifices like Her Majesty’s Theatre on The Haymarket. Doing the ‘post’ on these has been a real pleasure.

I’ll be updating this.

 

Contact

Right now I’m scouting opportunities for publication.
A magazine feature would be ideal.
Single prints are available.
Get in touch.
p.s. Please don’t share this page on social media. Cheers!

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IKARUS

.As part of the huge Mars and Beyond event at Bargehouse, OXO Tower on the South Bank, I was invited to create IKARUS, a installation/imagining of a craft of the future that carried its passsengers to distant worlds powered by a shared dream of stars.
.This used immersive stereoscopic technology (The Disinhibitor) I had developed for an earlier installation Memories Can’t Wait in 2015. Wearing a pair of 3D glasses, visitors entered a space filled with 3D projections that would create the illusion of entering an alien and fantastical space in which they appeared to float amongst infinite moving stars.
.The show ran from 20 February to 15 March 2020.

IKARIE logo 1DisinhibitorIKARUS SUNChildIts full of starstwo ladies in space3D AlienBargehouse PlanTina 3

 

..Here’s a short video giving a taster of IKARUS
IKARUS happy visitor

 

The Tree That Blinked at Light.Move.Fest

.In 2019 The Tree That Blinked was selected for Light.Move.Fest in Łódź, Poland – a festival that annually draws 800,000 people! It was a big success.

Couple comp lg 5
A couple contemplate The Tree That Blinked during setup the day before the opening.
Click any image for an expanded view.

Lodz Peggy Camera Comp copy
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Click any image for an expanded view.

 

Here’s a video of The Tree That Blinked in Singapore (2 mins)
Jonathan Ross 286 Poster 2

And a video (4 mins) of the first presentation at Gallery 286, London
with audience reactions.
TTTB screen shot sml

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Platform

A Stereo 3D filmed installation running in a continuous loop of 8 hours.

CLIP0000249_002 (7.17.37.13)Click any image for an expanded view.

Platform is being created using a high-speed camera and later modified to create full stereoscopic 3D – a technique I have been developing for several years. It stretches time, and adds a third dimension, transforming an everyday setting into a mysterious world of living 3D statues, and revealing a hidden beauty inaccessible to those present at the time.

Each section has its own content and tone depending on who is present on that day or evening. A hot summers’ day will yield something very different from Halloween. Choice of lens and exposure also add a ‘look’. The process is a little random (which is challenging and fun) and requires some skill and vision to mould into a finished piece.

Platform begins at Edgware Road tube station, and takes 8 hours to follow the Circle Line around back to Edgware Road again. This journey normally takes 40 minutes. The piece is edited to form a continuous loop.

To me Platform suggests both an apalling transience to our lives whilst paradoxically hinting at something more enduring.

CLIP0000249_002 (7.16.43.11)
Here in Stereoscopic 3D.
Click any image for an expanded view.

 

Using this technique, a 10 minute segment, Platform 6, was shot on Halloween 2017. Meant only as a test, it has since taken on a life its own, winning Best 3D at the New Media Film Festival, LA!

Amother segment, Notting Hill, is in competition at SD&A, San Fransisco, January 2020.

Platform 6 and Notting Hill are available for screenings, and need 3D projection and glasses.
Some info and stills – here

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Platform 6

Platform ProRes Dec17 5 widescreen 3 (0.01.59.06)

Platform 6 was shot over one evening on the North London Line.

Platform 6 is part of a larger filmed installation, Platform, a endless loop of 8 hours. This segment was shot on Halloween and meant only as a test, but has since taken on a life its own, such as winning Best 3D at the New Media Film Festival in LA.

Platform is created using a high-speed camera modified to create full stereo 3D – a technique I have been developing for several years. The process stretches time, and adds a third dimension, transforming an everyday setting into a mysterious world of living 3D statues, and revealing hidden beauties inaccessible to those present at the time.

Each part is different in content and tone depending on what is happening on that day or evening. A hot summers’ day will yield something very different from Halloween. Choice of lens and exposure also add a ‘look’. The process is a little random (which is challenging and fun) and requires some skill and vision to mould into finished pieces later.

To me the Platform suggests both an apalling transience to our lives whilst paradoxically hinting at something more enduring.

Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.49.23 (0.00.00.00)
Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.50.00 (0.00.00.00)Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.40.43 (0.00.28.04)Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.52.44 (0.00.00.00)Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 23.51.55 (0.00.31.17)

Here in Stereo 3D. Click to view images in a larger window.

Screen Shot 2018-07-02 at 09.30.47'Platform 6' - Karel Bata'Platform 6' - Karel Bata

Platform 6 was created over the evening of Halloween 2017.
It has been screened at:

The London Sci-Fi Film Festival
EXP Gallery, Hackney, London
Art in Flux, Ugly Duck Gallery, London
LA 3-D Film Festival, LA
SD&A, San Francisco
New Media Film Festival, LA (winner, Best 3D)
EVENT TWO, Royal College of Art, London
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
More to come…

New Media Film Festival 2019 Laurels

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ARTiculAction magazine interview

Interview with Karel Bata in ARTiculAction magazine.
Click on image to open in fresh window.

.Karel Bata - ARTiculAction.

The Tree That Blinked at Singapore Night Festival

The Tree That Blinked - LayszaSingapore Night Festival audience
Click on any image to expand

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This is quite mystical. In some parts of Asia, we believe there are spirits which reside in trees. Here, the British artist Karel Bata marries the persona of the tree with the portraits of people who had inspired him. Look closely at the details as the projections are set against the tree… then watch as it blinks and morphs into another face. Ingenious.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –– David Sucha, Life’s Tiny Miracles

The one that did catch my attention was The Tree that Blinked. This ghostly display uses spotlights to form a person’s face on a large Banyan Tree, which then blink and change every now and then. …the face literally pops out at you the moment you shift into the correct viewing spot. I found this to be very, very smart.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –The Scribbling Geek

My favourite of the whole festival however was The Tree That Blinked. It was amazing in so many ways, but the symbolism behind it was subjective which meant different meanings could come from this animated projection.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – Kara Bertoncini, The AU Review

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In 2017 Singapore Night Festival celebrated their 10th anniversary with 600,000 visitors. They had seen my earlier work and asked me to create something around their century-old Banyan tree to celebrate its antiquity. I was happy to oblige with my installation The Tree That Blinked.

It is a series of digitally manipulated portraits projected into an old Banyan tree in which I trigger and explore the mystery and myths that form such a large part of our perception of woodlands. The work moves and shifts as the leaves are blown in the wind, so facial expressions seem to change too and the faces appear to undergo transformations of age and identity. Blended with real movements in the faces, and subtle morphs from face to face, this provides a compelling illuison of something alive within the tree, of spirits within.

This was first shown in embryonic form at Gallery 286 in London. At the time viewers referenced childhood stories or experiences of mysterious forests and strange creatures, and even ideas of layered consciousness. Some saw the tree as benign. I have taken these comments on board, and the piece has grown with these ideas.

Click for video (2 mins)

Jonathan Ross 286 Poster 2

Some stills (Click any image to see a larger version)

TTTB Lyra Singapore Night FestivalTTTB Tree 1.49.12TTTB Katie Bailey SingaporeTTTB Tree 1.31.18TTTB Law 3

The audience loved it!
Audience 2.13.04 B (0.00.00.09)Audience 6 B (0.00.00.09)Audience 11 B (0.00.00.09)

A video (4 mins) of The Tree That Blinked first presentation at Gallery 286
with audience reactions.
TTTB screen shot sml

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Platform 1

 

Platform 1

Platform 1, Hackney 2017

An installation of projected stereoscopic ‘living statues’.

At the core of Platform 1 is a series of Stereo 3D ‘living statues’ of rail passengers captured with a high-speed camera and frozen mid-gesture as we move past them.
This is then processed later to create a Stereo 3D image. It is part of a larger filmed installation, Platform, that runs for 8 hours. More information – here

Platform 1 is an istallation that evolves with the physical particularities of the venue it is in. The piece uses a large Stereo 3D screen made from non-standard projection material (such as a builder’s sheet!) giving a sense of the piece organically sited in its setting. It is presented using an innovative system using two 4k projectors that give an unusually bright 3D image.

Platform 1 is suited to a large space, but is very adaptable, and can be presented more simply, or in a smaller space, using a conventional 3D TV screen.

Platform 1 was first presented at EXP Hackney, London, November 2017.
It was shown again during Art in Flux at Ugly Duck Studios, June 2018.

Out Of Darkness (Virtual Light 1)

Out Of Darkness 600x317

A Projection Mapping installation staged at the Phoenix gallery in Brighton as part of the Painting With Light event in December 2014.

The piece creates an illusion of a light moving around inside the room and somehow illuminating it. However there is only the one projector, and the effect of this presence / absence is disjointing. Some see it as creepy, some as beautiful, but few are left unimpressed.

Out of darkness flux copy  Click here to play the video: Out of Darkness

note:
The live piece is creamy white and free from any of the flicker or artifacts visible in the video. The music was added for this edit. The piece itself is silent.

This installation has been shown at Painting With Light, London Decompressed (Burning Man), Gallery 286, Art in Flux, EXP Hackney.

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Note to arts curators:
Much of Out Of Darkness can be prepped off-site. But because the specific geometry of any venue it is important here that the final assembly and filming needs to be done on site. Providing that rigging the projector is straightforward, this usually takes half a day.
The venue does not have to be blacked out, but the darker it is the better.
I would welcome the opportunity to create a much larger version of this!

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Another Gray Area (1981)

Karel Bata - Another Gray Area 4

My experiments with image presentation led me to create Another Gray Area in 1981. I’d read Malcom Le Grice’s Abstract Film and thought I’d try something new. I rather liked the idea of projected images moving around to create new spatial illusions.

Another Gray Area used a rig built from Meccano housing a spinning mirror linked to a motor, with the whole lot married to a Sony Portapak video camera mounted on top looking down into the mirror. As the mirror rotated the camera’s field-of-view covered 360 degrees.

I video-recorded a dancer in Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s rehearsal space dancing around the rig. The video was then transferred to Super-8 film (my telecine was filming a TV screen!) and this was put in a projector which replaced the camera on top of the mirror-rig. This then projected an image of the dancer that moved around the presentation room, thus creating the illusion of a portal into the original rehearsal space. It was an effective illusion.

This was the first Projection Mapping installation in Europe.
There had been experiments before in the US by Disney, and (unknown to me then) Michael Naimark used a film camera mounted on a record turntable in 1980.

Another Gray Area was shown at several event spaces including Sadler’s Wells Theatre rehearsal rooms (where it had been shot), and the London Film-Makers Co-Op in 1981/2.

The projected material (which moved around the room) can be viewed here:

Vimeo link

I went off to WSCAD to study film, then pursued a film career, and for 30 years the rig sat in a cupboard under my gas meter! One day I attended a talk on the history of Projection Mapping and realised that I had unwittingly been one of the pioneers. Whoah!

Below is the rig. The shaving mirror broke long ago, but its rectangular frame survived. In the pictures it has been replaced with a circular one. Click any image to enlarge.

.How-It-Works
.Schematic 1
.Karel Bata - Another Gray Area - Wide
 Karel Bata - Another Gray Area: Schematic
 Karel Bata - Another Gray Area - Wide
  Karel Bata - Another Gray Area: Schematic
Sony AV3400 reel-to-reel Black & White 405 lines Portapak hired from Fantasy
Factory. It looks like something out of Kubrick’s
2001, but it wasn’t even SD.
But it was the best you could get in 1981. And it weighed a ton!

 

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