Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th are the final two days of Storyweir on Hive Beach. This video documents the two evenings of projections and live cello performances, by Matthew Benjamin, on August 3rd & 4th.
Our installation on Hive Beach in Dorset, Storyweir, finishes on Sunday 9th September. Here are some photos taken by photographer Pete Millson. From October 13th we will also be participating in an exhibition about the ExLab commissions in Bridport Arts Centre’s Allsop Gallery.
A short video clip from the Storyweir performance at Hive Beach, Dorset on Friday 3rd August 2012. Video projections by Proboscis (Gary Stewart & Alice Angus) with live cello by Matthew Benjamin.
At the start of our commission Storyweir (part of the art science project Exlab) the brief was to work with earth scientists (as well as local people) but when we heard cultural geographer Dr Ian Cook (Associate Professor of Geography in the College of Life & Environmental Sciences at University of Exeter) speak at the Exlab induction day/symposium we were instantly inspired by his highly collaborative approach to his research work; we wanted to try and collaborate and to bring Cultural Geography into the project. Ian’s project followthethings.com demonstrates his co-creative approach to social engagement and cross disciplinary working (with academics, students, filmmakers, artists, journalists and others). It felt like a natural link with our work and was very exciting to find at the Exlab event. I had read an essay Follow the Thing: Papaya way back in 2004 and I remember at the time thinking that I’d like to work with geographers who take this approach but I hadn’t realised until very recently that Ian was the author of that paper.
A windy walk to the end of Bridport Harbour with Ian and artist Gary Stewart who works with us at Proboscis resulted in a Ian offering to introduce us to some of his colleagues Geographies of Creativity and Knowledge Research Group, University of Exeter. Ian introduced us to three colleagues who each brought different strands of thinking to the project; Dr John Wylie (Associate Professor of Cultural Geography and Director of Postgraduate Research in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences) who has opened up our thinking on time and being in the landscape; as well as the ‘intertwining of self and the landscape’ coupled with how we move and walk in the landscape and visualise it through photographs and images; Dr Nicola Thomas (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences) has brought her exploration of craft and communities and the traces of history and memory bound up in skills, crafts and the evidence of them; and Rose Ferraby (PHD Researcher in the Department of Geography) who has an undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MFA in Illustration brought both an archaeologists eye to our reading of the land at Hive Beach and her ideas about how abstract ideas can be communicated visually.
An initial audio skype conversation left us very excited at the blend of academic discussion and rigour with a deeply creative and poetic approach. Following that we all spent a windy early January day outside on Hive, Burton and Cogden beach and a creative media ‘mash up’ day at PVA medialab (in Bridport) which saw us coming together with drawings, audio, video, data and other media. In all these we have found a shared interest in the social and cultural effects of the way the local community engages with its environment and the exploration of human and deep time. Looking at the sediments of Burton Cliffs and their fossil layer we discussed the evanescent nature of time and timelessness and the relationship between deep geological time and human time – particularly how he perspective of time is different depending on the prism through which history is viewed (fossils were once cited as evidence of the Deluge). In that sense history (perhaps also time) is not experienced as single linear narrative but constantly in flux.
Finding a lost welly trapped in the shingle mud brought up the notion of the Anthropocene (a unit of geological time that marks the moment when human activity is resulting in a visible impact on the ecosystems and geology).
Walking the beach and then above on the cliffs to the caravan site sparked conversations on the transience of nostalgia and memory, the way the beach (which is such an elemental place) triggers memories and affects our experience of time. The beach reconnects us to patterns and emotions that are long lasting and outside of the pattern of daily life.
This is not a large budget, long term research project so we feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Ian, Nicola, John and Rose it is a very exciting process and these interconnected conversations are influencing the questions we ask in public activities and the form, materials and content of the work. Through the dialogues we have focused an initial interest in the relationship between deep time and human time into how it is reflected in the ongoing dynamic processes and transitory human life at play on the geology of the coast. In that ephemeral space of flux between the land and sea the continual cycles of sun, tide and sea affect changes larger than we can imagine but also are felt by humans on a daily basis.
We’ve recently submitted a proposal for Arts Council England’s Artists Taking the Lead project for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It builds on an emerging collaboration we have with mongrelStreet (mervin Jarman and Richard Pierre-Davis) as well as ideas around migration and narrative we have been working on for a few years.
Trace Elements: Why are we who we are?
Trace Elements is an interactive and distributed artwork revealing the diversity of the journeys and migrations ordinary people make to live, work and play in London. Through words, images and symbols that convey these stories it will flow like a digital river through London’s public media spaces: generating a storyscape of endlessly changing combinations. It will allow both participants and audiences to form associations and connections between our lived experiences, hopes and aspirations as Londonders: a visual and poetic stream which we can fall in and out of.
Trace Elements combines the creative inspiration and experience of two artist-led groups, Proboscis (Alice Angus, Giles Lane and Orlagh Woods) and mongrelStreet (mervin Jarman and Richard Pierre-Davis). It will be a multi-faceted project that grows leading up to June 2012 and beyond. It will involve creative research with communities across London to elicit their stories of how and why they have come to live here: what they have given up; what they have held onto; what they dream of; what their fears are. This will be used to inspire a narrative ‘periodic table’ of story elements: images and symbols that capture the essence of people’s stories and experiences. The story elements will become a simple interface for engaging people to share their stories in a visual and symbolic way and will also be used to generate automatic poetry for dissemination via social media tools such as twitter and text messaging.
Using mongrelStreet’s iStreet Lab as mobile ‘stations’ for engaging with communities in their own areas, we will ‘recycle streetcorners’ into storytelling and sharing spaces, weaving a tapestry of social and cultural interactions across the city. iStreet Labs will also be sited in places such as airports, rail stations, parks and other public and private spaces to engage visitors, commuters and locals in sharing their stories. Audiences will be able to dive into the Trace Elements storyscape via media screens in tube stations, bus stops, rail stations, as well as via online and mobile media.
With uncertainty and climate change at the forefront of local and universal concerns we want to work with the people of London to create something that crosses barrriers by bringing to light our collective struggles and our shared hopes. Trace Elements will emerge as a magnificent reflection of the creativity, hope and determination of human spirit that has brought so many people here.