Sunday, June 01, 2008

In which a lifetime of License Fees are accounted for in 30 minutes

ArtWorks Scotland - Alison Watt: A Painter's Eye

I'm sold on the iPlayer, to the point of having tears in my eyes.

Clicking around (and what a terrible interface it is for browsing) I noticed an arts programme destined for broadcast only in Scotland. Except, there it was on iPlayer, too - 30 minutes of television about my absolute favourite painter, Alison Watt.

I saw her work for the first time when I found a catalogue to one of her early shows in a second hand book-shop. She's a figurative painter, mostly, although tending towards abstraction of a kind these days. The work I fell for was portraits of women; drawn from art history, a little Ingres, really; very still, very beautiful, chalky and calm. I still love them, and would give anything to own one, to be able to look at it every day as the light changed, to live with it as it unfolded.

And here, here is 30 minutes of Proper Arts Television; just long, still shots of the paintings, and then the artist herself - her, there, talking - I'd never seen her before. She's so engaged with her work, she talks passionately about painting, about how it involves you, how you fall for images. The pacing reminds me of the old Modern Times documentaries; there's breathing space for the viewer to take in the pictures here.

I'm so happy to have found this; to have been reminded why I love images, and why I love television, and why I love the internet; to be reminded of why my career has travelled the odd direction it has.

Thank you, BBC Scotland, and thank you Alison Watt. There is so much happiness and beauty here.


Julie said...

Have forwarded this to the production team in Glasgow, who I know. I'm sure they'll be thrilled to get your comment! Jx

Nairnski said...

If only they hadn't bothered with all that download nonsense then millions would have been saved (not to mention the time). I'd love to see the stats of downloading from iplayer.

Jem said...

Hi Kim
If you want to use a more browsable interface for iPlayer then try

kim said...

Yep, I know about that one. Nice that someone's built it, but getting smart recommendations in to the interface should be a priority for the product manager, I think. There's just too much stuff in there at the moment - the grid is great for top level, but the ammount of duplication of titles makes it a sub-optimal interface.

Aggregation of anonymous viewing data + series affinity + linking behavior + 'recentness' + channel should give the basics of the algorithm.

Nairnski said... has an simple 'my interests' feature which could work for iplayer to help filter out the programmes of no interest. Then onto ratings and recommendations.

So much that could be done with it. It must be hard deciding what NOT to do next.

Leslie Hills said...

HI, I'm the producer of the Alison Watt film which was an independent production by my company, Skyline Productions, for BBC. Thanks for this. We were all delighted to read it. The film was made by my German friend and collaborator, Thomas Riedelsheimer who is, I think, a genius. All praise to BBC Scotland and Andrew Lockyer in particular for allowing us to make this film. If you'd like to see another example of our work take a look at the feature doc, Rivers and Tides, Andy Goldsworthy working with Time, available from Artificial Eye Best wishes,
Leslie Hills

kim said...

Leslie, hey!

Thanks so much for the programme, it was great. I'll look out the Goldsworth one too - thanks for letting me know!

Leslie Hills said...


This is Leslie again. We're just finishing DVDs of the Alison Watt film and I'd really like to send you one. We're using a wee bit of your quote instead of the usual constipated critic's offerings. Where can I send you a copy?


kim said...

Hi Leslie,

That's SO kind of you, thank you! How exciting.

Do you want to drop me an email at kim (at) mildlydiverting dot com ? We can sort something out that way.