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REVIEW: SOLOISTS:A CD ROM

Image by Dave McCormack

"Soloists": a CD-ROM

Catalogue for an Exhibition of Outsider Art In Scotland researched and curated
by Marshall Anderson for art.tm, Inverness.

The "Soloists" CD-ROM is available from art.tm,
20 Bank Street, Inverness IV1 1QU, Scotland, for ú10.00.

CD-ROM produced by Boogalusa, and funded by SAC.

 

I review this as an "outsider" from all art and computer circles and many more besides! "Soloists"
is an interactiye CD - ROM catalogue for Power Macintosh and Windows. The contents are divided into 5 sections: "Movies", "Paintings", "Sounds", "Texts" and "Soloists". It requires a movie player program such as "QuickTime". Keen to get on to the movies I counted l7 of them. Mostly quite short, I particularly liked Frank Bruces' 2 Patriots, a brief look at two carved wooden figures depicting aspects of war, with Frank Bruce being interviewed. I also enjoyed Eve Reid's gorgeous picutres
accompanied by birdsong.

The individual paintings, over 50 of them, needed a photo/picture program, such as my Paint Shop Pro5. I first chose "browse" which allowed me to see them all as thumbnail scale,clicking on to selected pics for a larger, more detailed view. Great fun.

The sounds were a bit disappointing, being so short and seemingly disjointed, although Ienjoyed "Pipes", "Chris" and "Cariba".

My favourite section was "Soloists" with its catchy music by David Oudney and the pleasing dot - merge effect between screens. The Dundee "Graffiti" by "Lichen" was marvellous and I
found the Chris Valence from Achiltibuie story, fasinating.Top places for me though went to the haunting garden sculptures of Bill Smart, Eve Reid's "Grail Garden", and the immensely
powerful images of Frank Bruce.

At the end of the "Soloists" section were two long essays - "Art Brut: Creation and Estrangement" by Roger Cardinal, and "Outsider Art" by Colin Rhodes. I found both essays very hard to digest but they were obviously very rich in information and ideas.

The "Texts" have a great deal of reading in them including information about the individual contributors.

A fairly modern computer is probably required to get the most out of this CD-ROM, but to sum up, a kaleidoscope of pictures, information, sounds and ideas which I thoroughly enjoyed and a great way to record art in a very small and accessible space.

Peter Murray.

I don't think the CD is that good because it is very slow and not that easy to use.I really liked Madge Gill's drawings, I had never heard of her before and I thought the music which went with Frank Bruce's work was really good.

Jodie Foster. Artist, Room 13, Caol Primary School (Age 8)

 

I found some of the paintings interesting and others I found quite boring but I particularly liked Dave McCormick's "Musical Instrument" and "Jug and Head". I liked Eve Reid's "Grail Garden" and "The Sky" by Adolf W÷lfli. I found the CD quite hard to use because it was hard to move backwards and forwards in it.

Laura Cameron, Gallery Curator, Room 13, Caol Primary School (Age 10)

At first sight a CD-ROM seems a strange format in which to produce a catalogue of 'OutsiderArt. My thinking has always been that 'outsiders' operate in a level of human expression that is
basic, profound and untrammeled by contemporary technology, they produce an art which goes 'from the heart to the heart. It took several hours for me to notice that the case inset calls the
CD │An exhibition of Outsider Art in Scotland, not just a catalogue. I will therefore attempt toreview it from both perspectives.The CD is crammed with information. It is split into three parts,an introduction by the curator Marshall Anderson, a catalogue of the Art.tm exhibition in Inverness including a series of video intervlews carried out by Cath Whippey and Christopher Helson, and two detailed and important essays by Roger Cardinal and Colin Rhodes.

As an exhibition of work it obviously exhibits all the problems that any electronic medium does when trying to reproduce work made in another, namely that a reduced (or enlarged) back-lit drawing is inherently different from what the artist intended. That said though, the images given for each of the Scottish artists represented do give a vivid idea of their work.

As a catalogue however, I do have reservations. Anderson asserts in his Introduction that he wanted first and foremost to show that Outsider Art lies buried in the working class experience
and that...the artist must rely on the educated middle class for exposure and recognition. It is dangerous to make facts fit a stated objective and it is clear that two of his chosen artists
(Smart and Galloway) do not fit such a tight manifesto. Moreover, no artist is less concerned about recognition (no matter from which side of the political spectrum) than the outsider.
This said, the introduction does provide a neat and concise entry point for those encountering the work for the first time. The catalogue section is detailed and illuminating with the video
interviews being notable. It is not made clear if the illustrations shown are from work exhibited in the exhibition, nor is any indication given of size or media used. I was distracted by the

music used in the background to some of the entries but as will be seen below this could be a generational complaint!

It is hardly the place of this reviewer to argue with the views of messrs Cardinal and Rhodes. Both essays are interesting and important. The illustrations given are however a disappointment.
It is obviously quite impossible to give even the remotest idea of Nek Chand's 'Kingdom' with one (idiosyncratic) image. (This to say nothing of the work of Darger and W÷lfli).

Using the disk does provide problems. Firstly, one does require quite a powerful machine on which to use the disk; I experimented with no less than five different machines (of both formats)
and found only one that was really up to the task. Secondly, there is no means of back tracking and this means that as a reference tool it becomes frustratingly slow. To look up the birth dates
of each of the Scottish artists necessitates scrolling through the entire catalogue. I could findno way of eliminating or isolating the video interviews or the text.

Personally, I would have preferred a traditional catalogue and, given the wealth of information that this disk contains, I am certain that it would be a well-thumbed work. However, there is no
escaping the fact that, although the format may not in this case be ideal, it is an important contribution to the understanding of Outsider Art in Scotland.

Rob Fairley

 

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