|Suky Best & Rory Hamilton: Rodeo|
Blue Rodeo 2008
frame from animation 1' 47" looped
11 April - 11 May 2008
Rodeo is a series of three animations and five screen prints, continuing Suky Best & Rory Hamilton's collaboration exploring cowboy films. In 2005 they presented Wild West, five animations based on generic scenes extracted from these films. Unlike this previous work, where the action is described by the black silhouettes of the protagonists against a white background, Rodeo features the rider and bull or horse in vibrant, primary colour: red, yellow and blue. The power and emotion of the struggle between man and beast is heightened by the strong bold visuals. Also, in keeping with the traditional depictions of the rodeo, the animation either takes place in powerful, elegant slow motion or frantic real time. Eight seconds is the amount of time a bull rider must stay on to achieve a score.
This sport has its roots in Ancient Greece, as
found in frescos in Knossos, and is obviously related to Spanish
bullfighting; in Spanish, the word 'rodeo' means 'round up' or
'surround' as in cattle driving. The Spanish conquistadors introduced
horsemanship contests to the New World during the late 1700s and early
1800s when Spain owned a large amount of the land that is now the
The Greek origin, as in Knossos, brings to mind the Minotaur. In the animations, the silhouettes created often seem to merge the forms of the man and the beast.
These references are re-enforced by the style of the animations: when seen as individual frames much of the animation is very abstract in form, creating hybrids of man and animal; the action only making sense when in motion. The moment the rider is thrown off, the forms tend to resemble a pile of rags before they coalesce into the familiar cowboy form once again.
One of the interesting aspects about the rodeo is not only the very fast and intense competition between rider and animal but also the fact that the riders and the animals have their unique personalities. Bulls compete with their aspiring riders over and over in different venues, with bulls having names and individual characters. These characters can be seen as an extension of celebrity culture creating an equality between man and animal.
Suky Best is an artist working with print, animation and video. She has recently exhibited at Baltic, Gateshead and Art Now Lightbox at Tate Britain (a collaboration with Rory Hamilton). She had a solo show and publication , The Return of the Native, (commissioned by Film & Video Umbrella) at BCA, Bedford and the Pump House Gallery, London. In 2004 she completed a Wellcome Trust funded SCIART project making animations for hospital outpatient areas. She has just completed a moving image commission for The Great North Run (an annual half marathon in Newcastle); a permanent sculptural piece for the Devils Glen in Ireland and an animation for the main reception of University College Hospital, London. In recent years she has had commissions from English Heritage at Cleeve Abbey in Somerset; she made a 40 second film for Travellers' Tales, an Iniva commission, and a series of video to print works as part of Dartmoor Insight for AHA/Da2. She was a Fellow in Printmaking at the University of Wolverhampton (funded by the Henry Moore Foundation) 1998-2000.
Rory Hamilton has worked on digital screen based and installations projects for over ten years. In 2002 he completed Generic Sci-Fi Quarry with Jon Rogers as part of the TV Swangsongs project. For many years he was course leader in Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art. He is now head of Insight for the service design company Livework, as well as being the creator of EverythingIknow.co.uk , a site about the practice of art and design.