Archive for the ‘Research’ Category
Now that I’ve finally moved to St Ives, living in town means that my research can be more autoethnographic, which means my subjective experience of everyday life also becomes a kind of social research method. Things like going to the local hardware shop (every day last week, for a vegetable peeler, gaffer tape, airbed, tape measure) start conversations about St Ives. This means more stories to record and discussions to have. Being part of the community I’m researching is, I think, really important to gaining a deeper understanding of place, its rhythms and narratives.
One of the delights of this is Feast Day. I overslept after not sleeping well, and was woken to the sound of drums along Fore Street as the procession made its way up to St Eia’s well (up the hill past Porthmeor, by the cemetery). I managed to have a shower and coffee in time to be outside my house to see the procession on its way back down Fore Street. The band were followed by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, some other town officials (I’m never quite sure of their correct titles, I really should know after the Knill Ceremony), and school children dancing. They all wore ivy wreaths, and some wore Cornish tartan.
I took my coffee and wandered after the procession with the crowd, through the mild February drizzle towards the parish church gardens. This is where the Mayor begins the hurling at half past ten o’clock, by throwing a silver ball to the waiting children on the beach below.
Cornish hurling is something like quidditch, played without broomsticks. There is a silver ball, usually made of wood and covered in metal, which is probably quite painful if it hits you. The aim of the game is to return the ball to the Mayor at the Guildhall by twelve o’clock. The winner gets a silver coin. There don’t seem to be any other rules, really. The first boy to catch the ball ended up with his face shoved into the sand. In the melee that followed, those involved in a scrum of punching and wrestling were so busy fighting that they didn’t see one of the bigger girls take flight with the ball. After that, the children dispersed to hunt the ball around the town. They also have to avoid being fooled into chasing one of the decoy balls, usually an orange covered in silver foil.
There follows an hour and a half of children running through the streets, shouting that so-and-so has got the ball, or that so-and-so had given it to someone else. Tactics are planned weeks in advance, hiding places pre-planned.
Everyone gathers in front of the Guildhall to wait for the ball to come back. In between, the Western Hunt (who weren’t hunting owing to poor dog health) and some saboteurs dressed as foxes came and went in Royal Square, which I missed.
Apparently, the bigger children are supposed to give the ball to one of the smaller ones to give to the Mayor. This didn’t really happen. A group of pink-faced older boys, steaming and over-excitedly restless as race horses, appeared, waiting for midday. They managed to get to the steps of the Guildhall without losing their ball, and presented it to the Mayor, to much cheering and applause.
The Mayor, Deputy Mayor and others then appeared on the balcony to throw (according to Bev, specially polished) shiny pennies to the children waiting below. I was quite surprised at the excitement of twelve year-olds to falling pennies, but the police were there to keep public order and prevent any injuries.
After that, the crowd dispersed, and I went home to get on with the long list of things to-do this week.
What Phil and I were trying to achieve with this (a rhizomatic encounter with memory, looking at the intertextuality of memory in the form of oral history, and the materiality of place, and the spaces in which these encounters occur to create a continuous narrative of place. More or less.) proved to be tricky to communicate in the St Ives September Festival programme. We didn’t want to scare anyone off by describing it too loftily as piece of sonic art, which it wasn’t really, as it was a test project to see how people responded. But neither is it an historical audio tour. I wrote this for the programme, with Phil’s help:
Put on some headphones. Take a walk around town. Encounter memories of St. Ives as you wander the streets. Fragments of memory, swept up from cobbles and beaches, tidied away into the archive, are pieced back together to again litter spaces around town. Archive voices entwined with original material create a rich soundscape to find stories of creative community.
Devised by composer Philip Reeder and St. Ives Archive Research Fellow Jeanie Sinclair, UCF
Wednesday 14th - Sunday 25th September, Mariners’ Church Crypt, Daily from 10 am until 4 pm. Free.
We were hoping that would get the balance about right.
It didn’t. The first day was somewhat disparaging, and I began to wonder why I’d thought this would be a good idea at all. The first people to do the walk, an older couple on holiday, came back after an hour or so. That seemed positive to me. I asked them how they’d got on. They were somewhat hesitant, so I encouraged them to be honest as it was a research project and I wanted their opinion so I could make improvements. “It was quite nice, but we wanted to know more about the history of The Digey.”
So, lesson number one, explain things better.
It went on a bit like that for the rest of the morning, and I probably wasn’t doing a great job of selling as I ended up being a bit apologetic; I didn’t want to disappoint anyone else. I should probably mention that the demographic at the festival does tend to be older people and those with very young families. I realised that explaining that the HP ipaq PDAs that we were using work like satnav made more sense to people unfamiliar with smartphones.
One person actually said he wasn’t interested once I’d explained it, and left. Feeling very downhearted, I started to wonder if it was impossible to create something that would be accessible to everyone at all. The one person that I knew from the archive that came to have a go was foxed by the technology as a previous user had somehow managed to turn on the standby after three minutes button.
I realised that Phil’s sound track wasn’t going to work for anyone with tinnitus, as two sufferers reported back negatively.
I learned to stop talking about the project in terms of the negative, of what it isn’t, after one very nice local man came in and interrupted my weary apologia by saying yes, he understood what it it was thanks, and was very interested, and could he come back with a friend on Sunday? I felt then like a prize chump for patronising the only person to come to the Crypt Gallery that day who understood what we were trying to do.
So, be more explicit. It’s easy to get caught up in the detail and fail to summarise what is essentially a simple idea.
On day two, one of the ipaqs stopped working, so I only had two that worked.
I started being a bit more upbeat, and a few more people came. I’m glad, actually, that I didn’t have any more people come, as there wouldn’t have been enough equipment.
I got more positive feedback. Some people would, they said, rather be told where to go, and be given more direction. Others liked the idea of just wandering. There were some really lovely comments about Phil’s music, and in particular the way in which it enhanced a sense of presentness in time and place, making people look at things in new ways. I think in some ways that it worked better for those who were locals, or knew their way around the town better; existing knowledge and memories of place woven together with the sound walk created the kind of thoughtful intertextual experience I’d hoped for. At least it did while the technology was working.
The GPS drift seemed to be a bit of a problem. Areas I’d tested thoroughly didn’t deliver any content for some users. It’s very hard to get things in the right place using a pixellated map image when you need things to stay in a street that’s only a metre and a half wide. Using live maps in Appfurnace should solve this.
So, things to do for the next iterations: concentrate on specific places more, or specific themes to create micro-narratives of place, and join them together. Use more programming to improve functionality. Keeping it simple made sense, as it’s not about the technology, but the topography of place necessitates more careful thinking. Consider using narrative; the rhizomatic wandering can be retained, but perhaps reassure and guide without actually making a linear walk. Make some more recordings. Extend the stories, or at least identify them – possibly QR codes, possibly using good old paper, or possibly just a tumblr or similar. I still don’t want to interrupt the experience with material other than sound and place, as this disrupts the intertextual of the feeling of being both outside of the everyday and present in place.
On the Craft vs. Digital debate, this is my exhibition catalogue essay for Craft Code 011 – New Ways of Making, currently showing at The Wills Lane Gallery in St. Ives.
Ultimately the computer is a means for combining the skilful hand with the reasoning mind. Our use of computers ought not to be so much for automating tasks as for abstracting craft.
Malcolm McCullough, Abstracting Craft 1996
The more we forbid ourselves to conceive of hybrids, the more possible their interbreeding becomes […]
It is perhaps ironic that the digital and the analogue are so often discussed in binary opposition to one another. The more present that digital becomes, the louder the discourse becomes in its pros and cons relative to analogue, when quietly, hybrid practices are developing. The present moment signifies a point of change, a desire for discourse on craft that does not simply create dichotomies that prevent understanding of processes and of making.
CRAFT – CODE 011 – NEW WAYS OF MAKING explores the potential for experimentation and reappropriation, using digital technologies with traditional skills to create hybrid processes that create new contexts for craft production. These designer-makers reflect the move towards the postdigital in the hybridity of processes, playfully subverting expectations of ‘digital’ and ‘handmade’, but always remain connected to materiality.
These hybrid processes of making have emerged in part from the Autonomatic research cluster at University College Falmouth, where human-machine interaction, experimentation and innovative thinking produce diverse work connected by the discourse around craft and digital technologies. Combined with traditional skills and materials, these digital tools can create new modes of sustainable practice which seek to give the designer-maker greater autonomy.
In the 1970s, industrial CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines were developed that allowed the production of 3D things by entering numerical co-ordinates defining height, width and depth. From the 1980s onwards, computing technology evolved and democratised, allowing complex 3D objects to be designed on a 2D computer screen, but few had access to ways of making these objects real. Now, a new conceptualisation of tools and process is emerging. The physicalization of the digital is produced by challenging and interrogating these tools, and reflects a wider movement towards this reification of digital technologies as a natural progression from on-screen to real life from other kinds of digital media. What would have previously only been possible in 3D digital design on a 2D computer screen, developments in Rapid Prototyping and CNC allow objects to break out of the frame of the computer screen, creating new possibilities in making 3D objects that were previously only conceivable in 2D. Ultimately, as McCullough suggests, using digital technology is not about automation, or an anonymous computerised aesthetic, it is about intellectual investigation and creative manipulation, using hand and head to develop tools that give a new context to modes of production.
The autonomous hand of the maker is both visible and invisible in these new ways of making. A playful relationship between ideas of hand-made and digital connects these makers. A looping transformation between handmade and digital, blurs through an iterative process of making and remaking. Katie Bunnell’s Bunny Beakers started as a desire to create a narrative on a drinking vessel. Hand-drawings are scanned to create a digital image that is used to create a silicon mould, wrapped to create a beaker shape, and slip cast in porcelain. Concealing the mould’s join by hand-stitching the silicone reveals the hand in the beakers’ making, hand-made imperfections and continuous touch inscribed by hybrid process.
This hybrid processing of information to produce different contexts of making is integral to the circularity of process in collaboration between Ismini Samanidou and Gary Allson. Ismini’s hand-woven textiles made using traditional fan reed techniques are not flat. Tension in the weave produces a 3D object that is digitally scanned, then output digitally in different materials. When drawn on to paper with a CNC milling machine using pen or brush, they appear to be exquisitely hand-drawn. Using three sets of co-ordinates, a 3D drawing becomes 2D image, demonstrating a sensitive hand-drawn aesthetic that playfully refutes any preconceived notions of digital craft. The CNC milling machine then inscribes the textile weave into Cornish oak. The tactile surfaces of the woven wood are both impossible textile and miniature landscapes.
Drummond Masterton’s work in metal is influenced by his refusal to accept the limitations of digital technology’s aesthetics. The triangulation of points in space in 3D digital production tends to create a triangulated aesthetic, the process self-evident in the craft object. By understanding this triangulation he is able to break out of it, using triangulation to escape the triangular. Three-dimensional co-ordinates of making machines relate to co-ordinates in real space; fingers travel over the object’s surface and continue moving over an imaginary landscape. Drummond talks of the essential hidden haptic element of the hand’s intervention of the digital making process, the stopping and starting of the machine, the touching or blowing required that reveal the autonomous maker in the seemingly automated machine.
Points in space are materialised further in Tavs Jorgensen’s work exploring the possibilities of ‘Pin-Point’, ‘an array of pins placed in a set of perforated screens in which impressions made from one side are reflected as positive shapes on the other’, allowing infinite shapes to be reproduced in kiln-formed glass. This experimental tool allows for different modes of production, that allow, like the others used here, the intervention of the hand of the maker according to desire, to adjust the digital design by hand. The process of making is visible, and integral to the materiality of the object, creating layers of meaning beyond the aesthetic. Tavs’ investigations are iterations of process that express a need to find ways for makers to gain more flexibility and sustainability in contemporary craft.
Connected by points in space, place, inversions of process, playful and practical interventions of the hand, a love of traditional skills and the ultimate materiality of production, CRAFT – CODE 011 – NEW WAYS OF MAKING is a reconsideration of contemporary practice.
I was going to go for a walk around St. Ives today, and take pictures of things. However, it looked like this, and although I don’t mind getting wet, don’t think the new device would like it much.
Janet and Alban made another video on Friday. I’ll post about that as soon as it’s available. It’s an incredibly touching story from the archive.
I really think that we should pay more attention to the things under our feet. We take sanitation for granted, generally. It symbolises the literal construction of place. Proper sewers and streetlighting signify the coming of urban modernity at least as much as the railway, if not more so. And these major sanitation works began in 1895. Further major works were carried out in the 1930s, and then not much happened until the Clean Sweep initiative in the early 1990s, as far as my cursory research into the parallel development of town and good sewage systems go. Not very poetic, but interesting, I think, and surprisingly relevant to my research. Although not that much, so I’m going to stop going on about effluent. For now, at least.
The archive is closed this week for a stock take and general tidy up. This means that there are boxes of interesting things all over the place, and a great opportunity for me to have a rummage around and get to know the archive better.
I started on a few boxes of documents that had come from the St. Ives Borough Council Planning Department. More interesting than perhaps it initially sounds, highlights included grant approval documents for people living in downalong to have hot and cold running water and indoor toilets installed. These were dated right up to the early seventies and I found it shocking that several years after the moon landings, people still didn’t have indoor sanitation. I realise I’m probably being naive, and I’m sure this wasn’t unique to St. Ives.
The fascination with sanitation and utilities continued with the oldest documents from this box, beautifully copperplated contracts between the Town Council and an engineering company for the public works, including the installation of sewers, gullies, manholes, ventilation etc. which dates from 1893.
An interest in the town’s sewage system may seem far removed from the history of the creative community in St. Ives, but the works to improve the sanitation were essential to the local economy, making the streets more attractive to visitors and residents. It’s only twenty years earlier that a guidebook recommends avoiding St. Ives because of its open sewers and fishy stinking effluent. The population is growing again by this time, and more housing is being built and a growing population requires modern streetlighting and proper drainage.
Further documents show public health improvements were made in the town in the 1930s, around the time of the slum clearances. According to Greta, WWII interrupted the clearances, or St. Ives would look quite different today, and as it is, only the area which is now the Sloop Inn car park was cleared. The residents were moved to new council houses in estates like Penbeagle, with proper indoor bathrooms. Considering the number of applications still received by the council for grants to install indoor plumbing and bathrooms in 1971, as documents in from the archive demonstrate, it was probably a sensible move. The oil-painted poverty may have attracted artists and tourists, but the reality of living without modern conveniences must have been a lot less poetic in reality.
Other really interesting things included an accounts ledger from a clothes shop, containing details of purchases from the early 1900s until the 1950s, and another ledger detailing the fund-raising activities of some eminent St. Ives ladies who worked hard to raise money for a variety of causes during the First World War.
I’ll upload some photos next week, once I’ve got my fancy shiny new smart phone.
So, I’m a little late in posting this as there has been so much to take in in my first couple of weeks at the St. Ives Archive. Janet Axten and the archive’s volunteers have been really brilliant and helpful in introducing me to the archive, and I’ve even got my own badge, which I’m really pleased about.
The archive was set up in 1996 and has been developing steadily ever since. Currently based in the Upper Chapel Room in St. Andrew’s Street, there are plans for further development, and therefore it’s a very exciting time to get involved.
I’ve been introduced to so many interesting people, I’m creating new networks and connections and becoming part of the community here at the archive, as at the same time I begin to explore the historical connections of the creative community in St. Ives. I’m really starting to understand better what I’m trying to do, here, and how by extending my research networks I can extend my research. I’ve also been considering what John Hall has said about the autobiographical nature of research. Previously, I was aware that this research allows me to explore and combine my interests in education,cultural heritage and technology, but I think I realise now that my research is autobiographical on so many levels.
The town has got its own internet TV channel, St. Ives TV and the archive is hoping to produce one film a month on something from the town’s history, so I’m hoping to be able to get involved in that.
Mary has kindly invited me to the 91st anniversary meeting of the Old Cornwall Society in January. This will not only give me a chance to hear her speak in Cornish dialect, which she’s written several books on, but also hear some other talks.
Janet has suggested that I attend the meetings for the planning of the St. Ives Festival, which happens every September. This will be a great way of meeting people involved, and I hope to have a project to launch at the festival. I’m excited.
I am developing an obsession with guidebooks. I’m particularly fond of the little fold out maps. They contain opinions and advice on the nature of place and encounters with place.
The idea of sites for painting becoming sights for people to come and look at through the circulation and distribution of images is interesting. A site is somewhere artists come to paint, the site becomes a scene, tourists come to see the site of the scene, the scene becomes a picture postcard, more tourists come to see the sights/sites. This is something pointed out by Lubbren, that the art colony is a precursor to the holiday resort, where artists make a place known for its particular beauty, then the images of that place become known, which attracts people to visit. In turn also, the presence of the artists mean the development of facilities to meet their needs, which are developed further to accommodate the needs of tourists.
Thus that one scene, perhaps one moment, of local life, might be translated into a series of other moments, many of which would later be sent out into the world, to be hung in galleries, reproduced in books, and so on. And because of seeing those results, all kinds of people might be tempted to visit the place that inspired them.
Denys Val Baker, Britain’s Art Colony by the Sea 1959 p.22
So, back to the guidebooks. The images of Cornwall and St. Ives produced by artists which in turn attract other visitors are interesting, but a textual version of these images come in the form of the guidebook. The earliest one that I have stumbled across in a second-hand bookshop in London is Black’s Guide to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Published in 1877, its tenth edition, it pre-dates the first ideas of art colony in the county. The theory that it is indeed the artists which establish place as tourist site/sight, endowing a place beauty, making it attractive/attraction, is perhaps best illustrated by the short piece on St. Ives from Black’s:
The position of St. Ives, [...] is one of picturesque and uncommon beauty,; and it is to be regretted that the favourable impression which at first the tourist necessarily forms should be dissipated on his entrance into the town by its accumulation of nastiness. The streets are narrow and crooked; the shops mean and squalid; and everywhere pervades a fishy smell, “most tolerable, and not to be endured”.
Black’s Guide to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, 1877
As David Tovey points out in his survey of early guides in St Ives Art Pre-1890: The Dawn of the Colony, visitor accounts refer to St. Ives as being disorderly and putrid-smelling, and some even recommend avoiding the town completely. 1877 is the year that the branch line is completed, during a decade which sees the beginning of a decline in the fishing and mining industries.
Premieres at Inbetween Time 2010 on the 2nd December. Preview/test in London 13th November, 2pm.
Is likely to be quite different to As if it were the last time, described as more J.G. Ballard. It would perhaps be interesting to participate in both the test and the finished event, to see how much changes and how different it is.
The Theatre Sandbox Showcase came out of a series of workshops, which around 275 people attended. From this, a competitive process selected six different project proposals to participate in the Theatre Sandbox, funded by the Arts Council and supported by Watershed, iShed, Pervasive Media Studio.
What’s really struck me is that Bristol really seems to be a centre for all things pervasive. I’ve yet to find another central point, or network hub, that has creative links as extensive as those of the Pervasive Media Studio or Watershed. London is just too big and disparate, and few other places are lucky enough to have the facilities, investment, and most importantly, people and ways of connecting through place. UWE are obviously a big part of this too, and play a major part in both attracting and keeping a creative technology community in Bristol.
Interesting thing that Melanie Wilson pointed out: Children aren’t amazed by technology. Grown-ups might think that pervasive media is really interesting, but the kids are only really interested in the unicorns.
The technology is just a tool.
Local children participated in the design of this theatre project, which took place both inside and outside of the theatre, in the local High Street. The children learn that a unicorn has been caught in a huge storm, accidentally transporting it to this world. The children create a narrative through a journey, the aim of which is to send the unicorn back home.
Melanie described the project as challenging, mainly owing to finding ways of making pervasive media technologies achieve the desired effects. Tom Melamed of Calvium collaborated with Melanie and Ed to create the narrative, where bits of story are triggered when a child steps into a WiFi or GPS point in a specific location. A combination of methods was used in order for the parts of the story, like an enormous shadowy projection of a unicorn on a wall, to trigger at exactly the right time. In order for the experience to be truly immersive, the children were given minimal equipment, just headphones. All content was broadcast from a laptop in order for this to work.
Mind the Gap/Contact Manchester/Phil Stenton, Calvium/Theatre Sandbox Advisor
This project used relatively simple technology to achieve its aims, but was incredibly effective. Mid the Gap is a theatre company that gives people with physical and mental disabilities a chance to perform.
The company, with Phil’s help, created a sonic maze using mediascapes. Using the space outside the theatre, groups of five people all had headphones attached to one iPaq. Moving awkwardly and hesitantly, they shuffled about the car park, following audio instructions to move around. For instance, a wrong turn might mean hitting a sonic ‘wall’, and the reactions of the participants to and observer to this is really very funny, as if they had hit a real wall. The real genius of this piece is the emphasis on collaboration according to strengths and weaknesses within the group. Certain obstacles were on the frequency of 15-16 Hz, which meant that anyone over 25 was unable to hear (also, as an aside, a nice two fingers to the idea of the persecution of the young from the Mosquito). Other parts of the Sonic Maze could only be accessed through a sonic loop, requiring a hearing aid user to solve that part of the problem.
Interestingly, the issues in production concerned creativity that came out of misunderstanding. Theatre producers misunderstood the technology, and therefore created things that required Phil to find creative ways of using the technology creatively to achieve these goals.
Give Me Back My Broken Night
Speakman ventures away from the purely audio experience to add a visual dimension to his work in collaboration with Univited Guests. Where UG had previously worked with the Soho Theatre, this was a new experience for Speakman, who finally feels now that perhaps he really definitely actually is a producer of theatre.
The experience is small and intimate, with only a few players participating at any one time. Players are called on their mobiles, and given instructions. They carry tiny projectors around their necks, which project a map of Soho onto a piece of paper in front of them. In a departure from previous works, Speakman and UG are looking towards the future, rather than the past in their urban imaginary, asking their players to imagine what might be on this building site in twenty years time. What would it look like? What else would be there? What has changed?
In response to their descriptions, an artist is listening in on these conversations, drawing according to the players’ ideas. What he draws is visible on the projected map as the player is speaking, a vision of the future city.
The challenges faced during this project were mainly technological. The map idea, according to Speakman, started as a mistaken belief that a very new, thin, flexible material could be experimented with. However, as this was only available to the military, the paper/projection method was suggested instead.
Theatre Sandbox is produced by iShed http://www.ished.net in collaboration with Bristol Old Vic http://www.bristololdvic.org.uk , Soho Theatre http://www.sohotheatre.com , Lyric, Hammersmith http://www.lyric.co.uk, mac http://macarts.co.uk, Contact http://www.contact-theatre.org and The Junction http://junction.co.uk. It is funded by the National Lottery, through Arts Council, England.
Duncan Speakman – subtlemob: as if it were the last time
Mapping Festival 2010
The aim of this project is to create a reactive sound installation, using sensors to detect the presence of an audience.
I want to start a ‘conversation’ between the archive and passers by, located in a specific place.
Located outside, a motion sensor will trigger a device to play a series of mp3s of oral history clips from the Memory Bay archive. These clips will be randomised. I hope to edit the clips in order that they relate to each other to create the illusion of conversation.
I hope that these ‘conversations’ will trigger conversations in passers by, creating a talking point.
It would be interesting to have a simultaneous recording device running to capture people’s reactions, however this may present ethical issues. A QR code/web address on a nearby wall could lead people to give feedback online.
I may need some technical advice
Equipment (small costs involved)
Location: need to be able to safely install equipment so it’s weather and vandal proof.
Edited sound clips.
I would like to build on this further in the future if it is successful, creating more Talking Points around town, possibly with the facility for people to record their own reactions.
Further still, I would like to create multiple randomised conversations at each point. This would include recording other ‘ordinary’ people’s voices talking about place, who are then ‘involved’ in the conversation.
I would also like to project images of people talking on to layers of mosquito net, giving the illusion of depth, and people floating in space. Perhaps this could be done using a shop window.
THE MEMORY DEALER
Start date: July 2010
Funding: Towards Pervasive Media, Nottingham University
Watch the trailer:
Synopsis of Second Iteration, (Sept. 11th 2010):
The story begins with the audience/players listening to an mp3 file as they meander where ever they like through the city. The voice and music are relaxing and somewhat hypnotic and they are encouraged to see the city anew and to explore their own memories of the places they pass through. They are told they are waiting to meet Eve, an engaging but unreliable friend with whom they have lost contact. They are told how they met and how they fell out. After a while the mood of the soundtrack becomes darker, they have wandered into an area frequented by memory dealers and those who have become addicted to their wares.
They receive a ‘call’ from Eve who tells them she has been arrested under trumped up charges. If they can find a memory dealer they will be able to experience what she did at the time of crime and prove her innocence. They are told to return to the Broadway bar, fins a memory dealer and be discrete.
They can only approach the dealer one at a time. While they wait they might notice that the radio show playing is a talk show dedicated to the subject of memory dealers. The show features a spokeswoman for the handset manufacturers who have developed handsets that can collect and store memories. They are pressing the Government to legalise memory aggregation. They wish to catalogue memories on search engines. Eve calls the show and defends a banned organisation called the XM who want to subvert the aggregation of memories by encouraging the sharing of memories.
The memory dealer is rude and surly. She gives each person a device that plays a sound file. She tells them to wait for Eve to appear, to only press play when she does and to follow her.
The audience/players follow Eve as she lives out the events of yesterday. They hear her memories on the soundtrack and discover that the reason she was an unreliable friend is because she was a founder of the XM. In a mixture pre-recorded and live performance they discover that the XM HQ has been evacuated and a police raid is imminent. Against all protocols she must remove a stash of memories from a safe house. She is hugely unsettled by these events. Finally she runs into a shop and runs out holding a bag. She runs back to the Broadway.
SPOILER ALERT. If you want to come on a future production of the Memory Dealer and don’t want to know how it ends. Stop reading now.
The audience/players return to the Broadway bar where a huge video is projected. Eve is in a police interview room. A detective is gloating over how easy it was to break her spirit and get her to hand over the names of the XM hierarchy. A dossier is brought in. Eve is told she can go. As she passes the camera she whispers a plea for forgiveness. She couldn’t hand in the XM. Run!
The detective reads out the names of the people to be arrested – they are the names of the audience/players. We then see the photos in the file. A secretly taken photo of every member of the audience.
The Detective enters the bar and shouts, “Right. Nobody leave the room.”
This drama is part of a research project into whether pervasive drama can be as emotionally engaging as drama that is shown on cinema or TV screens. When we are in a cinema we are free to emotionally engage as others cannot see our responses in the dark. We feel similarly safe to emotionally engage when we watch TV in our living rooms. The central research question, to be explored through making and performing a piece of pervasive drama then gathering responses from our audiences, is can creators of pervasive media expect high levels of emotional engagement from their audiences? Does the process of absorbing media in public places and in unusual ways reduce empathy and submission to emotive storytelling? Would an audience for a pervasive version of “Love Story” cry as much as a cinema audience might?
Research is being undertaken by Dr Elizabeth Evans, Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, Department of Culture, Media and Film, University of Nottingham.
The writing of pervasive drama is an iterative process. One needs to write and test, write and test. Rik Lander already has plans for the next iteration based on audience feedback from the second iteration.
1 x downloaded mp3 audio file played on audience/players own mp3 player.
1 x mp3 file provided on a player by a ‘memory dealer’.
1 x radio transmission played over the PA in the Broadway bar.
1 x video projected in Broadway bar.
1 x hidden camera – still images integrated into video.
Cast for second iteration, September 11th 2010:
Eve: Sylvia Robson
Memory Dealer: Lu Capewell
Detective Constable: Jonathan Greaves
Radio announcer: Cara Nolan
Host: Elizabeth Evans
Narrator: Rik Lander
With many thanks to the staff at the Broadway Media Centre.
Photographs by Bernard Zieja
Across the country, people are worrying about their high street. Shops have closed, sites bought for regeneration sit empty while recession-shy developers wait for the right time, and people spend more timeat out-of-town retail parks or buying online.
But these empty spaces in town centres are still useful. They’re perfect places for short, temporary projects that embrace the meanwhile – the time between the last commercial activity and whatever comes next.
And a nation of meanwhile shopkeepers have been learning the skills to use these spaces, to be nimble and grab every opportunity while they can.
A really effective blend of oral history/life story interview and performance. Plays (literally) on the idea of memory as performance, and also that everyone’s lives are interesting.
These guys are my heros. They create audio-visual narratives projected on to 3D objects, using mapping.
The talk they gave on their work was really interesting. They showcased a piece created for a chateau in Nantes, as well as their up and coming indoor work that will be shown as part of One Dot Zero at the South Bank in London on the 13th November.
This piece made interesting use of limited space and movement. However, overall it was patronising and obvious, and I didn’t feel it was particularly successful.
Tom and Dan gave a really useful and informative talk about indoor positioning at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, as part of their series of Friday lunchtime talks.
GPS devices need to be able to ‘see’ the sky, and at least three satellites, in order to be able to accurately co-ordinate their location. So it’s pretty inaccurate indoors.
There is no perfect way of solving this problem, but as Tom demonstrated, there are several different methods that can be employed inside a building, such as RFID and WiFi packet sniffing, as well as proprietary device software such as Skyhook.