Channel: curated online space presented by Somerset House
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The new curated online platform for art, ideas, and the creative process at Somerset House is called Channel. Channel explores and dissects the creative process, concepts, and thinking that underpins freshly commissioned cross-disciplinary works in addition to presenting them. The digital portal will include a rotating program of exclusive commissions, documentaries, films, podcasts, talks, interactive works, and editorial content, drawing from Somerset House’s distinctive resident community.
The Story Cycle by Turner Prize-nominated multimedia artist Sin Wai Kin, who uses drag to bring imagination to life and to challenge identity, gender, and objectification, is the channel’s inaugural commission. The Story Cycle is an unreliable storyteller’s evolving narrative about two clowns looking for their home among unusual architectures. The entire film was shot inside Somerset House, which serves as a metaphor for the human body and the cycles of hearing, embodying, and sharing tales that shape our understanding of what it is to be human. Later this year, further commissions will be made in addition to the regular addition of new content to Channel.
The web program also features the “Artists in Focus” film series created by in-house filmmakers and viewed through the eyes of the artists. This series aims to demystify the creative process by following it from the initial idea to its finished form. The first batch of films concentrates on the artistic practices of Somerset House Studios tenants Sam Williams, Agnes Cameron, Rene Mati, and Saul Nash. Other exclusive documentaries include Latent Joy, which follows the recent experimental ensemble performance created by locals Vivienne Griffin and Paul Purgas at St. Mary Le Strand, and Channel will provide a profile of the chosen family following the success of Gareth Pugh’s and Carson McColl’s This Bright Land festival.
Additionally, Channel welcomes its own growing podcast series, which debuts with Echoic Archive by resident producer Weyland McKenzie. Echoic Archive’s artistic approach pays homage to dub legends like King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry. The episodes’ themes—African filmmakers, creative coding, mythology, and climate change—raise concerns about the position of the artist in archives. It will now serve as the setting for Alannah Chance’s six-part audio series The Process, which takes listeners behind the scenes on the creative process of new works by Tyreis Holder, Anna Meredith, Gary Zhexi Zhang, and others.
Viewers will be able to explore spatial sound works by Zadie Xa, Kelman Duran, Loraine James, Lafawndah, and Ben Vince from Assembly 2020 as well as Bumps per Minute, an interactive sound work by composer Anna Meredith, for the first time or again thanks to Somerset House’s archiving of existing interactive digital commissions. Afro-nowism, Afrofuturism, political arts, and disobedient items, as well as other artifacts from and influenced by Somerset House’s exhibition past, will also be available for exploration and engagement through Decentralise through design, interaction, and play.
As part of its ongoing programme, Channel introduces In Conversation, the talk series that kicks off with Eternally Yours moderated by curator Pelumi Odubanjo with artists Ellen Sampson and Ekta Kaul as well as a conversation between Sin Wai Kin and Róisín Tapponi. It will also incorporate the ongoing Grounding Practice series, showcasing discussions with Keiken and Nkisi and future artists to follow.
Existing documentaries, such as Leeroy New‘s Vessels of Transformation, We Are History: Race, Colonialism and Climate Change by Rob Akin, I Came Apart at the Seams by Mary Sibande and The Making of Nimiia Cetii by Jenna Sutela will also be streamable via Channel.
The editorial section of Channel will give a platform to curators, writers and artists who will offer their own insight into the commissions. The first piece published is a creative reflection on Sin Wai Kin’s practice, in the form of an open letter to the artist by interdisciplinary writer, editor and curator Imani Mason Jordan.
Over 200 artists and cultural innovators now call Somerset House home. By bridging creativity and the arts with broader society, Somerset House creates unexpected results and uncharted possibilities while enhancing creativity and expanding opportunities to spur social and creative innovation.
The material of the channel has been prepared with accessibility in mind and will offer other formats for presenting information, such as transcripts and subtitles. Through Arts Council England, the UK government’s Culture Recovery Fund has helped to build Channel.