DesignLab: Video art

During the autumn term, the V&A Schools team worked in collaboration with artist-in-residence Jamie Jenkinson and students & teachers from Welling School, on an in-depth project as part of the V&A’s DesignLab series. DesignLab aims to inspire a new generation of creative practitioners through promoting knowledge and skills across art, design and performance for secondary students and their teachers.


Plants on Windowsill III, iPhone 5, 2014 © Jamie Jenkinson

Jamie Jenkinson is a British video artist interested in discussing the video medium and its reception through video, sculpture, installation and performance. Jamie works predominantly with his iPhone, ‘the world’s most popular camera’, to produce medium-specific videos manipulating the cameras inbuilt features as a mode of unconventional image making.

On the first day of the project, the students were given simple activities to get them thinking around the power of their humble iPhone camera for exploring the world and in particular the Museum. Students made fan and shaky cam videos using simple techniques to create movement, either by physically moving the camera themselves or by moving the image they were trying to capture. Trying to abstract your photograph doesn’t come naturally at first and the students seemed both bemused and engaged. Jamie explained that in addressing the video medium and its accessibility, these works can develop into sculptures, installations, drawings, and performances. ‘The unconventional methods I proposed were taken on wholeheartedly, at one point the whole class were shaking iPads at the V&A collection, and seeing the aesthetic potential of it.’


Fan Video Film Still, Mobile Device, by students from Welling School © V&A


Fan Video Film Still, Mobile Device, by students from Welling School © V&A

Along with playful experimentation, we also wanted the students to understand the creative opportunities attached to both photography and video art and the career pathways which could evolve from these starting points. Jamie was shocked that most of the students enjoyed photography but didn’t see it as a career choice. ‘There are so many amazing and exciting opportunities in creative careers that young people don’t know about, and it’s through workshops like these I hope the realistic possibilities of a creative career are highlighted’.


Shaky Cam Film Still, Mobile Device, by students from Welling School © V&A


Shaky Cam Film Stills, Mobile Device, by students from Welling School ©V&A

Jamie selected a number of iconic and experimental film sequences to showcase story telling through classic cinematography techniques, many of which still inform commercial film making and photography today. The group were tasked to create their own sets using V&A objects, to trial replicating some of these same techniques through video before having the original film sequence revealed to them. Their final video work was a sequence from the film Dumb and Dumber, one of Jamie’s favourite films. Students used a basic white set made from cardboard and replaced the characters, furniture and objects in the scene with objects from the British galleries. The surreal outcome demonstrated the techniques behind developing a sequence for film without fixating on the actual content. Students utilised tilts, pans and tracking shots combined with storyboarding to create the sequences.


Group Sequence Film Still, Mobile Device, by students from Welling School © V&A

At the end of the project, the video work produced was screened in the British galleries. The students were surprised by how challenging the project had been despite working with mobile devices which they use every day. One student said ‘I was surprised how different angles really effect the shot and how hard it is to perfect the first time round’. In relation to manipulating an image using the camera, one student commented that ‘the camera can work in a way that can confuse the viewer into seeing something different’ which they hadn’t considered previously.

Through their working with Jamie Jenkinson and access to the V&A’s collections, the project has encouraged students to challenge and experiment with conventional image making using everyday digital devises. Studio and gallery visits have given students a unique insight into professional practice in this field and helped to link this back to what they are studying at school.

To find out more about DesignLab, visit: