Britain, Take a Bow is a collaborative artwork examining the British social and material landscape since the 2016 EU referendum. Conceived by artist Graeme Crowley, the piece is a collaboration between UK-based artists, filmmakers, typographers, musicians and software developers.
A collection of filmed vignettes, Britain, Take a Bow is a record of the UK since the referendum, reflecting on the ideas of Britishness and nationalism as we struggle with the monumental decision to leave the EU. The artwork’s title is a play on the Daily Mail’s headline - Take A Bow, Britain - on the 25th June 2016 following the result of the 2016 referendum.
Since then, Graeme Crowley has been visiting pro-leave and remain areas to record short films exploring the people and environments of these places. The result is a library of hundreds of clips capturing coastal towns and seascapes, the majesty of natural landscapes and urban spaces, and daily life in the UK from the sad and mundane to the exciting and uplifting.
Each composite film is accompanied by a four-minute unique mix of God Save The Queen built from hundreds of recorded audio loops created by a host of different musicians, an orchestra, a choir and school children and produced by Paul Crowley. The films are cut with the speeches of key political figures during Brexit debates. Leading UK designers created typographic treatments that are superimposed on top of every composite film. Developers created a platform to allow other filmmakers to upload their own clips to the library. The platform is invite-only and 12 filmmakers from across the UK are currently participating.
Groundbreaking software combines the film, typographic treatment and audio stems in a way that creates a unique experience with each viewing. The system enables over 1.8 billion possible permutations of the national anthem alone, from calm and elegiac to discordant and jarring. No two viewings will ever look or sound identical – in itself a reflection of the complexity of Brexit and the fractured state of public and parliamentary opinion about its meaning. New content is added every day creating a continually evolving artwork.
Artist Graeme Crowley conceived and created the piece, now bolstered by additional contributions from filmakers including Simon Ellis (winner of the International Jury prize at the Sundance film festival for Soft, BIFA award winner and BAFTA nominee), John Smith RCA and Nick Jordan. Britain, Take A Bow also features typographic interpretations of the National Anthem provided by Swifty (Straight No Chaser, MoWax), Malcolm Garrett (a vociferous anti-Brexit voice), Lou Cordwell/Magnetic North and world-renowned designers The Designers Republic, amongst others. Richard Baker and Horace Keating from Tui Media created the software.
Graeme Crowley says: ‘The UK’s decision to leave is complex. Brexit has exposed the divisions across the nation. Britain, Take A Bow is a collaborative attempt to capture daily life from leave and remain areas of the UK through hundreds of filmed vignettes. I’ve made this piece to reflect the fragmentation and complexity of the situation and to expose the anachronistic and sentimental visions of the UK pushed by the architects of Brexit.’
The film can be seen at: https://www.britaintakeabow.org/video
The film will be shown at Hamburg International Short Film Festival as an installation from 4-10 June, 2019. Graeme Crowley will participate on a panel discussion about digital/AI/algorithmic filmmaking practices at the festival on 7 June.