Anyone out there who follows my work on DA will have noticed a lot of pictures in my gallery of stick figures made out of pipe cleaners exploring and interacting with the world. What started off as a childhood hobby eventually became part of my portfolio coursework in both high school (GNVQ Art) and university. The GNVQ Art project was to come up with a design for a set of merchandise products for a hypothetical company - I ended up turning my pipe cleaner figures into key-rings. Suffice to say they were still in the "beta" phase despite being a portfolio project.
In my 3rd year of college I found that the Abakhan Fabrics in Hanley stocked craft-work pipe cleaners and pompoms, so the cogs in my head began to turn. I showed off a couple of the figures to my college friends who suggested I should sell them around the campus at lunch time and during free periods (which beforehand were spent discussing the 90s) .
Three years later I found myself in my final year of university (or so I though at the time). I chose to study Live Art for my practical module, since it allowed the creative freedom I felt was missing from my previous modules (apart from the script-writing module, that was awesome). In the first few weeks of the module I had no idea what I wanted to create as a Live Art piece, especially considering the artists and performances we had analysed in lectures. Naturally, I didn't want to make a Live Art performance that was weird, controversial and pretentious for the sake of being weird controversial and pretentious (no offence, performance artists), so we were advised to base our performance on a topic that interested us. Being a mixed-raced, part-Jamaican nerd with Spanish and Irish heritage down the line, I went for diversity. That's when the "Bendy Buddies" got involved.
The final "performance" had three parts: my least favourite was the speech I had to give outside in the April evening rain. The other two parts involved the "Bendy Buddies". Prior to the performance night, I went around Staffordshire University campus leaving the little figures for people to find alongside a card with an address to a (now defunct) Facebook Group where people who found the pipe cleaner figures could upload photographs of their new inanimate friend. The final part to this performance was by far my favourite despite stretching the boundaries of what classes as "Live Art". I set up my laptop and a projector in the Drama Studio's Green Room, which doubles as the lobby for the building. Pointed at a blank wall, the projector, umm, projected this animation www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpbOBJ… . The silent video was on loop throughout the entire evening, inter-cut with a slideshow of photographs taken by myself and people who uploaded pictures to the Facebook group. It was a lot of fun making the stop-motion footage, plus my respect for Aardman and other professional stop-motion animators/studios went up by 200%. After the performance, I put away my pipe cleaner figures, shelving them in my mental archives at the back of my brain for years...
... Until recently. Now the "Bendy Buddies" have been re-branded as the "Desktopians", and they'll take their first step into the world of video games and professional merchandising. At least they will if I get my act together.