With Giant Robot, Chris New and Random Impulse

Downloading is saving the planet. On February 24th 2010, iTunes served its ten billionth song download, consigning the CD - with all the aluminium, polycarbonate, lacquer, silver, nickel and glass used to make it - to the [recycling] dustbin.

Artists are doing their best to effect this change in the industries they work in, be it visual art, music or film, from the purely digital releases of Random Impulse’s latest EP, ‘No Sleep For Winners’, to sculpture collective Giant Robot’s rejection of careers in the “hugely wasteful” film industry. “Egos must be deflated,” says Chris New, the rising young actor who sees low-budget cinema as a way of retaining green credibility. Despite record and film industry anger at the download culture, the fact remains that driving to your local HMV to buy a CD is more harmful to the environment than downloading.

In the process of making music or film, the same rules apply. When previously producers had to buy instruments and record them, now music can be made through your laptop. Less energy expended? For sure. Less ‘real’ sound on the finished product? Perhaps, but there would be a lot of domestic producers who could prove the opposite.

The greenest outfit we profiled is the sculpture collective Giant Robot, who once spent thirty-six hours in Brooklyn cells for attempting to erect a huge wooden griffin on an abandoned rooftop. While they stress that the ‘found’ material they use is a purely aesthetic choice, their work creates a welcome democracy and accessibility in the self-serving contemporary art scene.

Maybe none of these artists has a choice. Maybe austerity has made an eco-warrior of us all. What is clear is that necessity has opened the path for a kinder relationship between the arts and the planet. As PUMA dedicate themselves to ensuring a sustainable creative process, Clash meets the latest protagonists with innovative visions of environmental solutions.


Giant Robot, the street sculpture collective, operate out of a unit in a Stamford Hill industrial estate, mainly the province of local Hasidic Jews, who divested of their rekels operate their hardware stores in their shirt sleeves and direct me to the Robot’s hideout. The group’s yard is a mishmash of smashed cuckoo clocks and strewn piano hammers, with the Lea River glinting through the garden wall. Three of the collective of ten (Lee Whiteman, Jen Patterson, Stephen Shiell and pet Staff Noodles) meet me and, over liquorice rollies, discuss their projects.

To find out more about Giant Robot’s past and upcoming projects visit www.giantrobots.co.uk


Random Impulse is the king of guitar-riffed hip-hop, the type Kanye and The Roots helped bolster, but with a distinctly British flavour that explores all things London, more specifically his yard in Finsbury Park. When we meet on a sunny day in November, Impulse is worried. “I’m one of those people that freaks when we get a day like this in winter. My mates are all happy and I’m like, ‘This is climate change - it’s not supposed to be this nice!’”

The EP ‘No Sleep For Winners’ is out now.


Chris New’s latest film 'Weekend' has been hailed as a triumph of the easy style; a film that captures the gay relationship between two men - one an artist, one a lifeguard - in a series of observant takes that allow the protagonists room to breathe. When we meet he is caught in the storm of its worldwide release - it’s had a run-length of over two months in the US, and has been reviewed to fanfare in the UK.

Speaking to us about the film, he said: “I felt I could take a big leap of faith with this movie. The text does have a feel of being completely spontaneous, but the director put us at ease, so what felt like improv was actually scripted. We never considered people watching it! We’re very proud.”

Weekend is released on Blu-Ray and DVD on 5th March 2012.

Words by Miguel Cullen
Photography by Samuel John Butt

This is an excerpt from an interview in the latest issue of Clash magazine. Read more about the issue HERE.

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