Vertigo Sea – John Akomfrah

We began the day by meeting at the Arnolfini to view and exhibition titled Vertigo Sea by John Akomfrah, known for his politically inspired and influenced exhibitions and practices.

I found the exhibition quite confusing to begin with due to its lack of narrative and alternative style. However I was later able to reflect on the selection of videos and make the connection between the exhibit and our previous reading material around remix culture and Bricolage. We returned to campus later in the afternoon to complete our workshop tutorial as well as have a brief group discussion around the John Akomfrah and his practice and exhibition. I felt that the exhibition and video selection played around with Surrealism due to its style. It lacked narrative and was constructed in an initially confusing way; it was only after the visit I began to understand the work itself. The surrealist style was created and emphasised due to it being set in the past but also due to the slow lingering shots of the costumed characters which created a cinematic and dramatic atmosphere. The combination of aesthetic shots and archive footage particularly conveyed a surrealist style. The slow and dramatic shots created a broken illusion of the films as well as playing around and recreating time as well as cinematic conventions. One thing that it particularly evident is that the two clips both lacked a narrative arch, this unconventional approach to cinema meant that the footage was mostly open to interpretation, especially in the second exhibition which featured physical cinematic installation of three separate screens adding to the subjectivity of the experience.

I feel that the exhibition was mostly down to personal experience, encounter and interpretation of the piece, due to its construction, individuals are guided to all focus on different things at different times; noticing different things. The use of sound was particularly interesting, most if not all of the films sounds seemed very isolated, ‘bassy’ and in some points overpowering for deliberate cinematic effect. In Vertigo Sea, sound was a key in the cinematic encounter by emerging the audience in a surround experience. We we returned back to campus, we briefly discussed some interpretations of the exhibition.

The use of repetition, clocks, sea and archive footage may be metaphorical for the human race going around in circles and making the same mistakes over and over again. The constant use of water and the ocean could be interpreted as a metaphoric connection that links the human race and nature together, the sea and tide could also mirror the same idea of repetition (eg. tide comes in, tide goes out) but also as a universal but untamed and powerful element of nature. In an interview, Akomfrah discusses his fascination with the sea; finding it highly interesting but referring it as a source of fear. The film and exhibition also plays around with the idea of death and mortality as it is often referred back to and showed, possibly to enforce the idea of the fragility of human life and existence.


Whilst in town I also took the opportunity to shoot more photographs that could be used in our project, I used the same process as before but only this time I found a better quality GIF editor [] which allowed me to create GIFs of higher resolution and quality. I took a variety of different images from different locations around Bristol’s city centre, locations including, the harbourside, Millennium Square and the Centre itself. Here are the final images…

Millennium Square
City Centre


Today in the tutorial we created websites through the use of the “Bootstrap” technique. Bootstrapping is the process of creating a website by using a CSS archive that contains various tags, attributes and styles and selecting the ones you want to quickly and easily create a webpage. We looked at a program called “Pinjendo”, I knocked up a website fairly quickly and it was very easy…kitty.jpg

I also briefly looked at creating a website through another similar website creator titled “WIX” this again is another quick and easy alternative to coding a website from hand and saves buckets of time, however its interface only allows you to create a website from a very basic and general template due to its selection of options meaning that room for creative intervention is greatly hindered if you were to use this as you’re only tool. I particularly enjoyed using Pinjendo as it was easy to use and allowed me to quickly create a website but it also allowed me to view the HTML whilst creating it, unlike WIX; although WIX has a wider range of customisations it limits you to creating the website directly though them and again doesn’t allow much creativity. Furthering my tutorial, and growing increasingly stressed with our looming deadlines, I had decided to try and create a basic template/example of our desired design to house our images on…

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Here is a rough design of what the webpage would look like….

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I began by creating a basic interface and menu in which to navigate through our webpage, whilst doing this I considered structure, theme, location and navigation in greater detail, IMG_9087.jpgwe have broken up shot locations into public and private spheres; sparking the possibility of creating a landing page that brings you the options of navigating through each topic and coming to locations determined by the “Public Sphere” or “Private Sphere”. I will pass this on to my group when we meet again towards the end of the week and see what they think.


Akomfrah, J. (2015) Vertigo Sea. London, Lisson Gallery