Sam Meech is an artist and videosmith. Frequently collaborating with others, Meech explores the role of analogue technologies in a digital landscape, and the potential to fuse the two in production and performance. He is also a co-director of Re-Dock – a not-for-profit arts organisation, developing projects that explore ways in which communities relate to digital media, ideas and public space. He is the founder of and lead artist for the Small Cinema project, and developed the Moston Small Cinema in North Manchester in 2012. He is currently exploring the links between knitting machines and digital imaging, and creating online tools for mapping independent film exhibition ecology.
Born in Huddersfield in 1981, Meech studied at Liverpool John Moores University (BA Multimedia Arts), and lives and works in the North West. Recent projects have included; “8 Hours Labour – Rates for the Job” presented at Kinetica Art Fair (2014), “Knitted Digital Football Scarf” at the National Football Museum (2014) & “Punchcard Economy” shown as part of “Time & Motion: Redefining Working Life” at FACT, Liverpool (2013). In 2010, Meech undertook a residency with the North West Film Archive to create a 20 minute film for live performance. ‘Noah’s Ark’ was developed in collaboration with poet Nathan Jones (Mercy) and musician Carl Brown (Wave Machines), using only archive film to re-tell the biblical story.
Exhibited work: ‘Knitted Oscilloscope and Fairisle Markers for La Place des Arts’
“Knitted Oscilloscope animations will render oral recordings of people working near La Places des Arts as knitted visualisations of oscillator waveforms and spectrographs, whilst they will also explore the potential to develop an interactive sound interface, either audio-reactive, or touch based, referencing Montreal’s heritage as a hub for electronic music. Visitors will be able to listen to recordings whilst watching the knitted visualisations, and even speak into the Knitted Oscilloscope to generate their own sound reactive textile animation.
Fairisle Markers, knitted banner markers drawing on the graphics and symbols of the area, translated into traditional knitted fairisle patterns. These markers document and distill the artefacts, ideas and concerns of an area as a knitted textile, their final form referencing both totems and also protest banners. Visitors will be able to explore the detailed textile designs close up and trace their iconography back to the recordings and images taken from Montreal.”
Exhibited work: ‘We’re All Friends Here’
Place de la Paix and Centre de design de l’UQAM
“Sam Meech presents a series of works reflecting the experiences of downtown Montrealers and casts a critical eye on the role of the arts in a changing urban environment. Through interviews and a visual search of the Quartier des Spectacles, he records and creatively reimagines the ideas, experiences and iconography of those who live there, in the form of traditional jacquard knits.
At Place de la Paix, participate in Crossed Lines, a reactive knitted wave that visually represents these interviews. Listen to them from a phone booth, and leave your own message; your voice will join the others in the knitting on the projection’s facade. Then notice the banner signs all around you that were created in collaboration with Marilène Gaudet, featuring details taken from the neighbourhood’s iconography.
At the UQAM Centre de design, view Ceci n’est pas un spectacle, a “knitted movie” that translates the ideas and experiences gathered during the interviews into patterns, symbols and statements that appear in glorious low-resolution knitted form.”
Exhibited work: ‘Crossed Lines & Fairisle Markers for La Place des Arts’
Mixed media & Ropewalks Square Installations
“‘Crossed Lines’ is a dynamic animated installation that visualises audio recordings of interviews with people from around Montreal as a reactive knitted waveform. Originally situated in a public square in Montreal, people can listen to a variety of voices from the area – business owners, shop workers, homeless, protesters, police, strippers, crafts people, skaters, bikers, tourists and so on – all discussing their perspective on downtown Montreal. Covering everything from anarchy to art, skateboarding to the sex industry, gardening to gentrification – many of the opinions overlap to form a complex picture of life within and around the city’s cultural hub, Quartier des Spectacles. In its new context in Liverpool, the similarities and differences between two cities are brought to the fore, adding another voice to this rich insight into the complexities of city life.”
“Originally exhibited in Montreal, this series of knitted banners displays verbatim quotes from interviews with people from around Montreal collected during the artist’s residency there. Taken out of context, the statements vary from the positive to the contentious, and could, at first reading, be attributed to a number of people living and working in the area, highlighting the overlapping concerns and conflicting perspectives of downtown Montreal.”
What aspect of your allotted Human Futures theme do you most engage with in relation to your own practice?
“I am interested in peoples’ memories of – and also ideas about – spaces around them. I try to collect those experiences and represent them in an interesting way that values them as much as an official / historical account of the area. Subjective experiences are very rich, but give important insights into how people relate to spaces. In the past I have collected memories of cinema, experiences of and ideas for the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and even peoples’ dreams. These have been shared through films, on site installations, and immersive AV performances (the latter sent people to sleep).”
How do you envisage collaboration and exchange being utilised within your proposed project?
“There is the collaboration and exchange with people in Montreal and Liverpool, and also the collaboration between myself and Darsha. The first, for me is a chance to speak to people in Montreal about their experiences of the city, in particular the area around Les Place des Arts, and to be open about how some of these could feed into an artwork, and give them to chance to steer that representation. Its a chance for some of the ideas, experiences and even tensions of people living and working in that area to be shared through an artwork. The second collaboration, between myself and Darsha, is more a chance to share approach and tools. I have little experience of electronics, but im keen to find ways that some of Darsha’s practice can inform my own and feed into the artwork I’ll be making in Montreal. Hopefully too I can support her in the same way.”