Scarecrows and Lighthouses

Although not a Department Odd project directly, Scarecrows and Lighthouses is an ongoing collaboration between artist Martin Boyce (Turner Prize winner 2012), musician Raymond MacDonald and director David Mackenzie.

Tramway, “Scarecrows & Lighthouses is a multi-part art project involving a visual artist, a musician and a filmmaker. It explores the nature of what the OED defines succinctly as ‘united labour’. It is not a ‘meditation on collaboration’, has no single guiding principle and no absolute destination. And yet it is not merely a seminar of idealists but a practical and hands-on experience in which each artist enters the world and the methods of his fellow-participants, adopting/adapting their methods and philosophies on equal terms, bringing his own languages and techniques.”

For 18 months the trio made  “seemingly random forays out into the world, to Baalbeck in Lebanon, to Paris, and to the island of Barra, a three man pod of creative hunger, experimenting with role play, with notions of travel, work, identity and specialisation, sucking up a plankton of aesthetic experience. Each collaborator was required to set aside some basic assumptions and to adopt new ways of creative thinking and doing. Film is of necessity collaborative and largely pre-planned. Improvised music has by definition no fixed agenda. Sculpture requires that a physical object eventually exists in a particular space and with particular relation to walls, floor, windows. But what if all these principles are thrown in together, none given priority or determinate value, and allowed to rub up together without boundaries or set roles.” – Tramway

In February 2012 the trio had a show Part One, Scarecrows in Tramway, Glasgow. Tramway described the show as, “Think what happens when you throw a few old clothes on a cross of sticks. It is both you and not you, something that is both identifiably human and obviously an illusion. The birds are not frightened away but come and perch. Here is what happens when you swap artistic and professional attire, not in order to play media charades, but to see what lies underneath. There is no ego left inside, just simple constructions, logical consequences that may be followed or just as likely abandoned, improvised moments and encounters. There is ‘music’, ‘film’ and ‘sculpture’, but they don’t need those uniforms any more. Sit. Watch. Listen. Dance if you will. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Keith Bruce, The Herald, “Turner Prize-winner Martin Boyce, musician Raymond MacDonald and filmmaker David Mackenzie received one of the new Vital Spark awards to realise their proposal to create work that bridges the gaps between gallery, cinema and concert hall – and Scarecrows saw off anyone who wants to maintain those distinctions of space.”

The trio designed and produced a limited edition of chairs and plan to do a show incorporating them all in the future.

Scarecrows and Lighthouses remains an ongoing collaboration.