The New Art Exchange team took a trip to London to meet the Art Finder (AF) team in person. We had a crack team of four people from the NAE were CEO Skinder Hundal, Vice Chair Sukhy Johal MBE, Pips Bhadere and Me of course Ravi Abbott.
We arrived at the (AF) office in Holborn and met up with Will Doward and CEO Spencer Hyman . Their office was a room full of young people tapping away at the keyboards and felt a very creative and technological environment to be in. We stated discussions about what we hope each other can achieve and what we can realistically deliver in the timescale.
A lot of the focus was on AF and what elements and technology they can provide as we had not had the chance to go into as much detail previously. AF clearly explained to us what they can and cannot do. This was very useful as we needed to know exactly what was achievable.
We decided that we would aim to make it as simple as possible and use systems already popular online and easy to use such as ‘Facebook Connect’. We talked about milestones to make sure we are all working to the same schedule.
We also discussed how the voting system would work and how we can provide incentives to get an audience and encourage people to get involved. We talked about which sites, Gallery’s, websites and artists networks we can get involved with.
We discussed contracts and making sure that exactly what can be achieved and the milestones we have. It was a great meeting and cleared a lot of things up from both sides. We came away with a clearer head and vision on how the project will turn out.
by Ravi James Abbott Project Assistant
Over the past month we have been concentrating on the online element of the project, which has involved coming out of our comfort zone and has been both challenging and exciting. We have also been allocating portals to spaces in the real world within a newly filled out narrative, and as a team have honed in on the portals which will be most useful, practical and stimulating.
We have been looking at different models of communicating with an audience on screen, and what the online experience can be. Knowing that 3D rendering is not the direction we want to take, as it is expensive, derivative and limits the work of one’s imagination, has led to discussing other ways in which we can stimulate an audience whilst they are using their computer. We have realised that binaural sound is hugely important, and can be used to navigate space, tell a story and evoke a mood.
The MIT team have been doing amazing work (they have already pulled an all-nighter!), and have given us ten practical examples of how the experience could be played out online. Their ideas have been extremely inspirational and of course, sadly, we cannot reveal what they are, as that would spoil it for you!
Although our attentions have been focused on the online aspect, we have, of course, not forgotten about developing the on site experience. Surprisingly, for a show that has no text, language and the written word are an increasingly exciting way to give an audience member free reign to roam the space, and the ability to interact with performers. The next step is to try and apply the right discipline and method of communication to each element of the story, which is what we are currently working on.
Following Livi Vaughan’s (one of our lead designers) seven-day visit to New York, our designs for the new spaces are almost complete. We have also pretty much completed the full narrative of the show. This has led to the realisation that we are going to need at least one new live performer and quite a few online!
The final step is to work out where the portals of communication sit, before we all head to New York on the 5th March to begin the process of casting and building the show.
We’ve had a busy time of it since I last blogged; for one thing, we’ve finalised our first ScratchOnline Projects! More details of each of them below;
World Loopstation Champion // Beatboxer // Composer //
Teacher // Southbank Centre Artist in Residence
Shlomo’s idea is to experiment with creating material for a new kids show, which will be made with a group of young people, bringing together the arts forms of beatboxing and streetdance.
His scratch will take the form of a residency during the school holidays. Each day during the residency, Shlomo and the young people will be holding an online webcast to share what they have created that day, with hope to gather feedback and ideas from the internet audience. Among other things, the group will also be recording a daily Audio Diary which will be uploaded to soundcloud and be used to document their thoughts and feelings about the process. At the end of the residency, these will then be edited together into a full podcast to be published at the end of the project.
Shlomo is one of our more digitally literate artists, he already personally has a large online network, and regularly creates online events including a recent live webcast of his collaborative piece at Glastonbury (Shlomo’s Glasto Circus which featured Ed Sheeran and Bellatrix), and an experiment in improvisation called Relay Loop Sessions which was broadcast in collaboration with VideoJuicer online throughout the world. We’re really excited to see what happens with the development of this residency.. Enjoy the video above of Shlomo performing at BAC in 2006.
The piece that Hollie will be scratching is called Journeys, and it is a poetry/ spoken word piece based on a poetry album she wrote in 2010 called Push Kick: The Beauty, Brilliance and Bollocks of Having a Baby (which you can listen to on the bandcamp link above), which charts her journey from pregnancy to parenthood.
She’s found that the album had a huge reaction from parents, with many of them getting in touch to tell her some of their pregnancy stories. This led her to want to transform this personal collection into a spoken word showcase, which includes her own pieces threaded with other parents’ experiences through integrated audio, video and visual art. These will all be gathered using the ScratchOnline platform, enabling Hollie to gain feedback from, stream to and interact with people from across the globe, who she otherwise might not have access to- either because they are parents (and so are sometimes unable to attend performances because of childcare commitments), or because they are based overseas.
From a research point of view, she’s interested in exploring how the audience member feels when watching the videos, depending on whether they are watching alone, or in a group or with their partner. She’s also interested in how different stage settings generate different reactions, so how does a video recording made in an informal setting like on a bed compare to if she was sat in an armchair or stood in front of a mic.
Hollie has a great project and a really interesting set of questions she’d like to explore, so we’re excited about working with her on this scratch.
Gemma Brockis and Silvia Mercuriali
Still-night, based on Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities is a forty-minute theatre piece that takes as its protagonist the City in which it is being performed. One of the exciting sides to Still-night is that it spills out of the theatre, drawing a line between watching theatrical performance and watching the outside world – which is not only about seeing the streets as a set, but about becoming an audience to the fabric of modern life. As on-line activity becomes more and more a part of this fabric, it seems increasingly appropriate to Gemma and Silvia, that their work should find some way to spill into the virtual world. Since Still-night has the real world around it as its central interest, it feels like the perfect project through which to develop an on-line presence.
Gemma and Silvia said;
We anticipate that this presence will be a significant part of the audiences’ experience of the project as a whole and be, in some senses, a show in itself with its own audience. Their involvement will, we imagine, be an integrated part of the show’s development, not just in its early stages but throughout its life, as well as helping us to shape our creative process.
A key part of the project will be the sourcing of local stories, images, myths and maps, and then feeding these into the fiction of the piece. As part of the Scratch process, they will be creating a blog which will constantly be up-dated with pictures and story, from the city in which they are working. The first of these will be Lisbon, then London, and this will grow as they perform in more cities. They will mix their findings with comments from the online audience who are viewing and interacting with the blog, and all this will work together to create and develop the piece.
‘Motherland / Fatherland’
To help with the Scratch Online research, we’ll also be using one project as a ‘control’, this will be a scratch which continues as normal at BAC, which can be monitored by the researchers. For this we have chosen Nic Green’s piece ‘Motherland/ Fatherland’. Nic will be completing her ethnographic performance series Fatherland, Motherland, which will consider family, place and identity. She will be looking for a chorus of Mothers, of all ages, to help her complete Motherland in March. For more information on the genesis of the piece, please visit this article.
in other news…
So there you have it, our first three ScratchOnline residencies! In Mid January we had our first get together as a group, where all the artists and producers (each Scratch has its own producer) were able to meet one another and talk through their hopes and plans for the project. We were also able to see the first wire frames that had been designed by Nick at VideoJuicer, which were fabulous. From that meeting, a number of tweaks were made as a result of feedback from the artists, and yesterday we were given access to the first iteration of the site.. which is shaping up brilliantly!
I’m going to leave it there for today, but as always- if anyone has any questions, do drop me a line!