Experiencing a Mike Ballard show tends to induce a profound revelatory consciousness and his latest offering “Advertising The Invisible” prompts the thought what a crackingly versatile word “warp” is. Obviously there is the connotation of intergalactic travel at a unit of speed probably faster than light. Then we have the twisting tone-stretching acoustic meaning where harmonics, sounds and pitches are all crushed together then allowed to expand into a vacuum exclusively occupied by percussive beats. A ship can be constrained, prevented from taking off can be tethered by a warp. Finally, there is the sense in which warped describes a fractured style of thinking, a deviant state of mind. All these possible senses collide, clash and rub eachother up in a Mike Ballard show, he is truly warped. Jesus weft.
Media is another multi dextrous word one could twist and apply in a multi faceted way to the content of Mike Ballard’s show. Media rolled out include photographic collages, hacked objects converted to …… well, receiver/generator/transmitter devices, musical productions, chromatographic representations of digital signals. It sounds like I am making this up so perhaps some of those media can be illustrated using the time honoured tradition of photography and in the tradition of several other blogs we know and love this time, it’s pure single handed wobble-cam shooting.
A large cast assisted in the production of various musical and visual experiments, all part of the soundtrack for a completely fictitious and obviously unmade film but in this PR saturated era of spoilers, teasers and studio twitter leaks, it seems a logical step to release the soundtrack before the film has even been conceived. The Aerosol Orchestra played loud, ambient and percussive, leading a line up including The Clapton Rifles and The Long Range Desert Group, remarkably, all of them composed and conducted by Mike Ballard. Ensemble members name checked on the band bio include stationary related fictitious luminaries such as Rack Staedler, Phil Edding, Uni Wide, Zig 50, Shu White and possibly Pete Pental. Graffiti taggers will recognise a theme.
Ballard provides us with a broad range of visual treats ranging from his black and white photo montages inspired by Carravagio, Metropolis and brutalism to the optical elements of previous hacked audio visual experiments with record decks, cameras and light boxes via abstract cosmic geometry.
Despite the absence of direct cross over to Ballard’s notorious graffiti persona, this show still manages to illustrate what a hugely diverse and accomplished talent he is. We avoided clichés such as “internationally renown” at the start of the article and I’ll be buggered if they are going to be allowed to creep in here at the end but for sure after setting foot in LA, Europe and shortly, San Paolo, it’s nice to see catch a Ballard show on his East London doorstep.