Artists Take Over the BBC

Still of John Smith's station identifier for BBC4 Via: BBC4
Still of John Smith's station identifier for BBC4 Via: BBC4

BBC Four has launched a series of four station identifiers (also known as idents) created by renowned London-based artists to celebrate its fall season’s theme, BBC Four Goes Abstract: When Art Broke Free.

The commissioned artists are 2013 Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, 2014 Turner Prize nominee James Richards, influential artist and film-maker John Smith, and Sebastian Buerkner.

Prouvost was inspired by “the magic of images within the TV screen, as well as tricks associated with moving image,” she says on the BBC website. Richards’ “nostalgic and grainy” work, showing images of sky and birds, explores the gaps between film and painting. Smith, on the other hand, re-appropriated an existing BBC Four ident grid and “deconstructed its elements,” while Buerkner aimed at “playing with perception thresholds.”

The station identifiers began airing on the channel this week and will continue to run until the 14th of September. Afterwards, they will become part of the BBC Four Collection.

As well as the new idents, the BBC Four Goes Abstract season features programs on the art superstar Yayoi Kusama (including a screening of her seminal 1968 video-work Self-Obliteration), a documentary of Zaha Hadid on Kazimir Malevich, and an archival film on the artist Barbara Hepworth, among other highlights.

The BBC has generally been considered the most “serious” broadcaster within the British TV landscape, with rival Channel Four regarded as the outlet for more artistic-minded projects. But this might soon change. Last July, the BBC Trust ordered the BBC One to take more risks, accusing it of playing “too safe,” according to the Guardian. As such, BBC Four might then become the perfect vessel for BBC’s edgier endeavors.


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