…Science fiction is useful both for stimulating the imagination and for diffusing fear of the future. – Stephen Hawking
For Artangel Open I am proposing a project based around Winspit Quarry in Dorset. In operation until roughly 1940, producing stone for major buildings in London, it was later used as a set location for Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 in the 1960s and 1970s. I hope to produce a site-specific work that will then be filmed, in order to respond to Winspit’s historic use in British Television. This proposal builds upon a longstanding interest in this area of British cultural history, and the previous employment of these themes in other sculptural installations. Science Fiction has remained a constant influence on my practice, because it is a form of expression that any era analyses the present through a projection of the future.
This project also represents an opportunity for me to work between the areas of time based media and sculpture in a more integrated manner than I have been able until now. I am particularly interested in how Winspit became the generic background for a multitude of unconnected narratives across several programmes. It was used for Doctor Who in the episode Underwater Menace (1964) and subsequently as the Dalek home planet Skaro in Destiny of the Daleks (1979). It was also the surface of the planet Mecron II in a 1981 episode of Blake’s 7. I envisage this project becoming the latest incarnated narrative for the site. Quarries were used throughout the 60s and 70s as locations for filming, producing the illusion of a variety of alien planets. Their rocky surfaces and abandoned industrial machinery are replete with a sense of foreboding, evoking an aborted future rather than the ruins of a present. Winspit quarry is situated along the Jurassic Coast and is a natural world heritage site of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, spanning the Mesozoic Era.
It is this palpable sense of an untouched primeval past that connects all planetary forms that makes it a quintessential example of a sci-fi space. At Winspit I plan to build a monument to science fiction, based on archetypal filmic motifs such as the obelisk and hexagonal door, shown alongside disused, industrial equipment (frequently employed as readymade science fiction prop). It will use materials commonly associated with science fiction of the 1970s and 80s, an eclectic mixture of typically futuristic surfaces and 1970s design. The notion of the prop is crucial here, as it connects sci-fi with my interest in the resurgence of DIY craft culture and new age philosophy in the 1970s. Historically this is when an unquestioned fascination with the space race and unchecked technological progress gave way to environmental concerns.
British science fiction particularly reflects this less optimistic view of a future world, and it is perhaps the Thatcherite downscaling of UK industry that such pessimism can be set against. In a period before computer generated graphics became a technological norm, props and sets across television had to be innovatively hand-constructed. With the environmental turn and budgetary confines of the 70s this handcrafting was paralleled in homes across Britain. Many techniques popular at the time are now synonymous with the period such as macramé, crochet and tie-dye. On the monument I want to contrast these homespun techniques with the shapes of 1970s science-fiction design, creating a mishmash of materials connected to a fictional future and a real past. I am also fascinated by how the inherent structural characteristics of film could be said to be analogous to teleportation. In Britain we associate this act of instantaneous displacement with another anachronous artefact: the Police box.
The Police Box is used throughout Doctor Who’s fifty-year history as the guise of the Tardis. Used in the context of this project I hope to use the still existing police boxes and the sites where they once existed to display the film of the Winspit Monument, pointing to the qualities of teleportation and temporal shift within the medium. By creating a monument combining craft techniques and modernist tropes at Winspit quarry I hope to honour the genius of 70s British Science Fiction, and reflect on the power of future reflections to map the present.
All Clear is the first piece of sound art to fully encompass the whole of the UK. Using the remaining historic World War II air-raid sirens as site-specific instruments, the work is created from live fragments of music that span the country to make a whole live work.
All Clear is a piece of work where no one can witness all of it live in person, yet it will touch all of the country, especially those in locales where the instruments are based. There is a hint of the question 'if a tree falls in the forest...' about the work for this reason. The work will be performed live just once and will be able to be heard in recorded form or live as a broadcast/online broadcast, with webcam/audio equipment at each location to record the 'instruments' as they are cued in.
Air-raid sirens have two notes available, and these are B-flat and D-flat. This makes composition a challenge. 'Playing' the instruments is also a great challenge. They are wound or cranked electrically, which gives them their distinctive build-up whine. They are also scary, broken down or abandoned. Forgotten heroes. Totems of memory. Museum pieces. Many were taken down at the end of the Cold War, but some remain, invisible to all but those who know or who care to look up. Hidden in plain sight, sirens are situated in busy areas such as Hyde Park and Waterloo in central London, yet they are largely unseen.
Air-raid sirens are hugely symbolic in British culture and the sound that they make has been heard in hundreds of films and sampled for dozens of music tracks. The sound is a shorthand for danger, attack and war, yet the sirens and their operators were also responsible for saving lives. The all clear signal was an invitation to take stock, be thankful you had survived and to inspect the damage. The noise of the sirens acts is as sharp an aid to memory as any smell or visual reminder. The final all clear signified a time to rebuild and the start of modern Britain.
All Clear will bring together communities of locals, cold war history enthusiasts, World War II veterans, retired ARP wardens, experimental music fans, British culture buffs, schoolchildren, teachers and musicians to explore the history, significance and use of air-raid sirens. Each location will be documented and stories recorded from those in the area. The performance could be made in 2014 or 2015 to coincide with significant dates 70 years back in World War II.
All Clear is as big an administrative task as it is an artistic one. Sirens will have to be located, tested and permissions for use gained. But this will all be very much a part of the work: with sites crowd-sourced, maintenance recorded and local enthusiasm sparked by every visit. Sirens will be photographed and catalogued, stories collected and media interest planted.
All Clear serves as a reminder of and a memorial to the ARP Wardens and civilians who lost their life in World War II. It also digs up forgotten and untold histories from the period, speaking with those who were there and re-examining literature, such as the ARP Warden magazines (which were produced locally) and leaflets from the Government and even the Communist Party about sirens and their use.
All Clear will be made in collaboration with local communities as well as with selected musicians and technicians. The work creates site specific interest and location yet is global in its delivery. It will be extensively documented in words, video, photographs and archive material.
I want to propose The Tour of All Tours: a network of guided tours that takes as its subject the breadth of tours (guided and otherwise) available in the Central London. It will utilise and expand upon the tours already in existence and then offer meta-commentary around them. It should be of relevance to both the local and visitor alike, critically and playfully working with the tourism and heritage sectors and in doing so opening up questions of globalisation, fragmentation of society, self-presentation and the meaning of the exchanges between local and visitor.
The Tour Of All Tours is inspired by a residency I did in Dubrovnik where I found the old city overrun and transformed by mass tourism. There was such a profusion of guided tours that there were traffic jams of guided tours. Rather than finding this distasteful and in-authentic I quickly realised this was the authenticity to be found there, authenticity being something that is alluded to yet tantalizingly absent in the conventional form of city tour.
The Tour Of All Tours
This experience inspired the idea of the meta-tour: a tour of tours. This is what I want to propose. I see Central London as also having a highly developed tourist industry yet also accommodating many other forms of self-presentation (e.g. diplomatic, corporate, charitable, political) that are manifested as tours of one sort or another.
I see The Tour of All Tours as a networked performance whereby people experiencing it enter at a number of points, begin a tour and are then passed onto another tour, and then another and yet another. The experience will be of spending 5 minutes on a number of very different tours some of which are touristic in nature while others will be made for very different intended visitors and reflect alternative interests. In this way a tour could combine a Historical Bloomsbury tour with a Jehovas Witness tour of The British Museum (these do actually take place) followed by a tour of soup kitchens, a West End theatre’s backstage tour and trade union’s archive tour. Most of these tours would be given in English but some would be in other languages so that the global nature of the city may be better grasped and the mechanics of being guided focused upon instead of the ostensive material the guide is imparting. The intention is not to be sensationalist and accumulate ever stranger and more outré tours, but rather to encapsulate within a Tour of All Tours some of the diversity of people and tours (public and private, guided and otherwise) that are available. The majority of the tours would therefore be genuine ones, already given to visitors, supplemented with a number of new connecting tours in which a meta-narrative would be given. These connecting tours would be developed and used to both add a further self-reflexive dimension to the work and to aid the choreographing of the multiple tours as they make their way around the city.
I am attracted to the idea of a Tour Of All Tours as tourism typically attempts to imagine itself as invisible, the local sites, stories and characters being the objects of attention. By shifting attention onto the tours themselves this brings into focus the elephant in the room, placing the tourist in the spotlight. One reason this may be of interest is that contemporary tourism can have a complicated relationship to host cities. Some people, but not all, will make money from the tourist economy but the character and identity of the city changes for everyone as a result of mass tourism. City centres can, at worst, become kitsch museums, a parody of a meaningful place of cultural and economic exchange for the local population. This can then lead to a passive aggressive relationship towards the tourist. From the other perspective, tourism always promises a taste of authenticity yet is usually unable to provide it except when things go wrong. The mass tourist experience is therefore usually somewhat frustrating for both visitor and host.
The Tour Of All Tours will bring tourists and local residents into the same frame as equals. It will achieve this by focusing upon something both are familiar with: the mechanics of the tourism industry. In this way The Tour Of All Tours can be presented as a conventional tour for tourists and at the same time also marketed to attract locals in order to destabilize both groups and create a meaningful encounter between them. It will make a playful and highly self-referential commentary upon contemporary tourism that extends its gaze beyond the industry to the phenomenon that fuels it more generally: globalization. It will be given in a engaging and simple manner, an approach to working in living situations which I call site-sensitive* whereby as little change as possible is made to the environment and the work has to accommodate itself into a living site. The tour will be the length of a conventional tour, that is to say, 60–90 minutes in length.
Research and Experience
I recently completed a pilot study of The Tour of All Tours in Stuttgart (April 2013) co-produced by Arttours and British Council Germany. This tour consisted of a single group led by a guide. From this (and previous networked outdoor performances) I now know the issues at stake very well and am confident of being able to realise this proposal to a high standard. I intend to develop the concept in other locations too, however Central London is a special place to do this and offers possibilities that many other cities do not. I know the city well so have a good grasp of both its possibilities and challenges. To create this in the most fully developed way will require significant resources and a team, it is for that reason I am proposing it to Artangel as I know you have the capacity to do this.
Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb is cultivated in the Rhubarb Triangle, a nine-mile radius between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell.
Its cultivation has many quirks, the most notable of which is the forcing stage, lasting about three weeks a year, when its growth is forced so quickly by candlelight that it emits a loud and continuous crackling noise.
Inside the Forcing Shed will attempt to digitally record a forcing shed located within the Rhubarb Triangle during the forcing stage. We are interested in attempting an impossible task: to record the whole Form of the shed, not simply its essence or substance. Once the shed and its contents have been recorded and stored as data, we will attempt to reproduce it as authentically as possible.
Inside the Forcing Shed is concerned with measurement, digital data, reproduction, authenticity and atmosphere. It draws from engineering, physics, metaphysics and aesthetics.
We will seek to capture every aspect of the forcing shed and its contents, including:
Capturing an element of a unique agricultural process in painstaking detail resonates politically within the context of a general crisis in British farming. Given the economic hardships faced by farmers; the power of supermarkets, EU dairy subsidies, pressures to engage with GM, Yorkshire Rhubarb’s Protected Designation of Origin status and semi-mythical growing process offers a rare positive image.
Treating the data we capture as the shed’s genome, we will investigate the (im)possibility of recreating the shed authentically. In contrast to the controversy over the patenting and ownership of genes – genes as intellectual property – the genome of our shed will be freely downloadable, with no ownership rights attributed. People may distribute, it, mutate it, and reproduce the shed freely. In fact, enthusiasts may choose to reproduce the shed in a computer simulation rather than in physical reality itself, in which case we can ask the question 'Is this virtual reproduction of the shed authentic?' (In fact, the Church-Turing-Deutsch principle asserts that a universal computing device can simulate every physical process, and Nick Bostrom hypothesises that we may already be living in a simulated environment.)
We will be as precise as we can with these measurements, and will use measuring devices from a range of industries to carry out the measurements (such as light or sound meters, Geiger counters, compasses, GPS, altimeters, range finders), but we expect to encounter many limitations to the measurements. Among them are:
We will formulate a process for judging what level of similarity is acceptable when recording and reproducing each element of the forcing shed. Crucially, this process will itself be recorded, using moving and still images, sound, text and drawing, to holistically describe the challenges we face. In documenting the processes of work and specialist measuring tools used, we will consider the fetishization of objects and our awe of the experts who wield them.
In his 1997 book The Fabric of Reality, David Deutsch refutes Stephen Hawking’s bleak assertion that the human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star. Hawking is one in a long line of scientists to have shocked the collective psyche by showing us that our place in the universe isn’t divine, special or assured. But David Deutsch reversed this trend by showing how the human faculty to measure, record and reproduce accurate models is in fact unique in this universe. It is with this in mind that we hope to embark on this project.
Our present culture is in chaos, riddled with corruption, greed and materialism. A rite of passage is necessary to break from this maelstrom, to gain contact and remain in accord with the ancient continuum of creativity that gives true meaning and order to the universe. Art is one form of such a discipline. It is a sacred trust, and to honour it one must endure hardship and make personal sacrifices. The Dark Ages is a time for coming together, and often Art and Music can function as a call to arms. – John Zorn, preface to Arcana II.
With the help of Artangel, and its commitment to work that affects dramatically and irreversibly the cultural landscape of the communities in which it comes into being, I am proposing to design and build a temporary, site-specific venue, RAFT, in Bloomsbury (at the geographical heart of London and one of its key historical cultural centers), that may act as an ark, a vessel for a sustained convergence and collision of home-grown and independent organizations, individuals and members of the audience and of local communities.
Modeled in the shape of a Whale – the mythical, mystical creature, revered and feared in equal measure – the structure will be a subversive and unavoidable physical intervention in the city, an incongruous manifestation (inspired by the image of the preserved Whale, that radically changes the community into which it arrives, in Bela Tarr’s film masterpiece The Werckmeister Harmonies) that intends to bring together a wealth of isolated and scattered individuals and institutions, each committed to the belief in creativity and the imagination as a sacred trust, as a right and duty, and who, through a passionate commitment to their work and ideals, contribute to the survival of a cultural discourse and promote development and change despite the hardships brought upon by a devastating financial and social recession.
Incorporating and absorbing the interests, programming, work and identities of each participant through a series of events, daily activities and presentations, permanent collections and accessible environments for the creation and experiencing of work, the intention will be to create one long, sustained and continuous flare for the duration of the project, that may provide nourishment for both contemporaries and new generations of artists and audience, inspiring and educating them to the fundamental responsibility of ideas and culture (free and independent of the constraints of a hegemonic market) for the survival of society.
After reading John Zorn's preface to his seminal publication, I was immediately awoken to the enormous responsibility that I hold, as an artist and curator working in London today, towards the cultural landscape of the city.
Throughout my fourteen years studying, working and living in the city, I have seen London change at vertiginous speed, but its inclination to breed idiosyncratic thought and subversive ideas and to forge untrodden paths and new languages remains unaltered. Its underground, independent currents run deep, across centuries of chaos and transformation, and although on the surface it is partly surrendering its identity to the push and tug of insalubrious political and economic currents, its Underground survives and thrives, although in the face of great difficulties and in scattered and isolated pockets.
I have been lucky enough to come into contact and collaborate, both as an artist and as a curator, with a wealth of inspiring organizations such as The Horse Hospital, The Swedenborg Society, Larry Sider's School of Sound, The Last Tuesday Society, Strange Attractor Press, The London Institute of 'Pataphysics and Artesian to name a few, and unique, visionary individuals like Gareth Evans, who has been penetrating mainstream culture with his thought-provoking, challenging and inspiring programming of multidisciplinary curated events in large venues across the city.
What has come to my attention is the scattered, isolated nature of culture today, and the consequences this has on a larger scale: community, and with it ideas and commitment to one’s own direct environment, is consistently disappearing throughout the country, replaced by a chronic lack of time and space to come together and exchange, to learn and understand from oneanother’s experience. Coupled with the devastating cuts to the national education budget, this is a potentially fatal blow to the survival and development of culture in the UK.
All the most influential movements in the history of art, thought and culture, have grown out of the consistent, sustained encounter of like-minded people, from a dedication to cross-pollination and collaboration, from a shared sense of individual responsibility and power to exert change on a large scale and an awareness of the endless ripples caused by each individual action. Considerations about the market and an economic discourse only came into play once the ideas had been developed, once the work had been produced, and crucially did not have a direct effect on the shape that the ideas and the work took.
For the past three years alongside my own practice, I have been curating The Light & Shadow Salon, a monthly moving image Salon in The Horse Hospital, and I have had an opportunity to experience both the strength and the shortcomings of events of this nature, where there is no material venue beyond the monthly meeting appointment, but where the desire to return to a safe environment, and the role that this 'safe environment' has for exchange and growth, are overwhelmingly obvious.
RAFT intends to become a temporary place of convergence and exchange, a crossroads where people and ideas will be in a constant state of transformation and permeability to one another. The lifespan of the structure will be documented regularly and will eventually be edited into a feature-length film that will chronicle the impact of such an intervention on both the lives and development of the individuals and organizations involved directly, and on the city at large.
At the end of the agreed period the structure will disappear, but hopefully its repercussions on the city’s landscape and its communities will be as obvious as the void it will leave.
My interest in cooking food and offering it to the gathering at an art event or exhibition opening goes back to my involvement with Artists for Democracy in 1975-76. Following this I did an event in Karachi in 1978, a performance involving my whole family there, in which a goat was slaughtered, its meat cooked and eaten by the whole family together. This work I Love It: It Loves I, 1978–1983, now exists in the form of twelve colour photographs with text in Urdu and English, and was in fact shown at the Pentonville Gallery in 1983. its significance as a unique work of art was discussed by Guy Brett, John Roberts, Jean Fisher and Desa Philippi. I'm relating this in order to show its connection with my present interest in the issues of ecology or environment, which in fact also goes back to my work Chakras of 1969-70. But it has now become a complex discourse of multitudinous nature going beyond what can be considered art to be displayed and looked at, being now, in fact, the basis of this proposal for the Open.
As I have explained through various texts, articles, statements, and in fact some proposals to various organisations since 2000, some of which have also been published in my book Art Beyond Art (a copy of which is available on request), art must now leave its accepted and institutionally legitimised and controlled premises and enter the life of the earth and integrate itself with the creativity of its productive forces which are now under threat from the climate change. There is of course now tremendous awareness of this, that it can or may ultimately destroy all life of the planet earth. Politicians are now busy issuing statements in this respect and attending conferences to deal with this problem; writers are writing books and scientists are involved in finding the means to halt the impending catastrophe. But no one seems to realise that this problem cannot be resolved without its understanding and the creative involvement in it by ordinary people who are close to the earth and organically involved with it but have been disenfranchised and been deprived of even the basic means of survival. How can they then be creatively involved in it?
In May 2012, I was involved in an exchange and discussion with two eminent scientists: the Nobel Laureate Dr Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the geologist Dr Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester, following which Dr Crutzen put forward a body of most comprehensive proposals, with the emphasis that there must now be fundamental change in the lifestyle produced by the consumer culture, with which I totally agreed. But there was a serious gap in his way of thinking which I pointed to him, that without bringing togther all the disciplines and the understanding of the knowledge thus produced by the ordinary people and their involvement in the solution of the problem, there was no hope. In my letter to Dr Crutzen I wrote:
What we therefore first need is a collaboration between different disciplines (art, science, engineering, social sciences, philosophy, and so on), so that their work is pooled together, but in such a way that all this knowledfge together reaches and understood by the ordinary people without whose awareness and creative involvement little will change. In other words, what we need are number of small pilot projects as models which can be replicated globally... in which ordinary people are also involved through their own understanding and productivity...
What I had in mind by the 'small pilot projects' was a project for the Horn of Africa, a project comprising a number of collective organic farms. This would deal with the problems of the endemic famine there; it could also become a model not only for the realisation of people's collective creative energy and creativity but may also offer a solution to the problem of climate change. My description here does not, of course,provide the full details of what is a complex and difficult idea; it is only to indicate a link with what I'm proposing here as a project to be carried in the United Kingdom; initially somewhere in London.
The proposal involves establishing a sort of restaurant which uses rescued or salvaged food which is thrown away by the supermarkets, the aims of which I have already explained in my various texts, articles and statements since 2000; offals which are also usually not consumed as food can also be the basis of properly cooked deliciously nourishing food. The income for this enterprize will be used for further art projects, particularly such as mentioned above in Africa, creating models that would allow the deprived communities all over the world to recover and reclaim their right to be productive and creative.
The proposal of Food for Thought: Thought for Change is really for a Communal Eating House, which once developed, established and became operational, with the full involvement of the local community, will not only be a place where all people, irespective of their social or cultural backgrounds,could meet, eat together and discuss things of their interest as well as what the world is facing today as the result of climate change. It is in fact would be the place where those who are involved in producing knowledge within the academy, could come to, meet ordinary people, eat with them and exchange ideas; the knowledge thus produced collaboratively will be the knowledge that would create means – both material and intellectual – to solve not only the problems of deprived people but also of climate change through projects across the world.
I'm not sending any visual material in support of my proposal, as it is not something which is meant to be looked at. What I have proposed needs thinking, and thinking it should produce. I'm posting separately some supplementary material which is fundamental to the understanding of my proposal.
I’m currently working with Copeland Council on a project to recreate the 19th century chimney of William Pit (the most dangerous pit in the Kingdom) with additional sculptural elements. It will act as an optimistic symbol for both the past and the future of the Energy Coast. The author of the book 104 Men. The 1947 William Pit disaster Whitehaven, Amanda M Garraway has expressed her pleasure and support for the project. The design echoes Nelsons Column and will be 72 foot high, it fuses the classic monument with postmodern elements materials are copper sandstone coloured brick neon and corten steel. The chimney was demolished in the sixties and currently the area of West Cumbria is seeking to develop a cultural image based around the notion The Energy Coast.
Peter Tyson of Florence Art Centre (an old iron ore mine) is also enthusiastic and Alistair Hudson of the Grizedale Forest project hopes to participate in the realization of the project. Steve Chettle, Director of Arts UK, which specializes in Public Art commission project management, has been working with me and Copeland Council and Florence Mine to identify a plan to support the development of the project.
This symbol which fuses past and present has the working title Column of Light the main column will be built with alternate red and black bricks representing the layering of the unique geology of the west Cumbrian iron ore and coal deposits. The chimney will be pierced by a gilded pickaxe and a gilded shovel on top will be a sculpture of a miner with a text from Wordsworth.
I was invited some years ago to design a signature piece for the area to be a beacon for the region and its mining heritage and its future. I says he wanted to create something which both celebrates the past and is optimistic about the future. The work which the Council has now taken up to pursue in partnership with Arts UK is approximately 70 feet high and replicates the William Pit Chimney now demolished with a gilded pickaxe, a gilded miners shovel and a replication of a miner in corten steel gilded (which has been fabricated already) illuminated with neon flames on the top of the chimney.
The quote on the corten steel gilded sculpture of a miner on top is from Wordsworth who meets an itinerant worker on his way from Whitehaven to Manchester at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the poem Wordsworth says:
Once more my question did I renew 'how is it that you live and what is it you do?'
This is arguably the second most important question in English Literature.
It also links the intellectual pursuits to the material pursuits. Wordsworth is very conscious of his privileged position and the relationship to the newly developing working class in the heat of the industrial revolution which was changing the world. It is a question explored in the work in the Tate Gallery For Wordsworth: for West Cumbria.
The chimney is composed of layers of red and black brick representing the iron ore and coalmining seams of the region. I was born in Cleator Moor adjacent to the mine that produced both coal and iron ore from the same shaft.
When I was young in the forties the 'red men' of Cleator Moor and the area were everywhere and the coal dust and iron ore permeated everything including the men’s lungs. (You can see a series of 13 panels of drawings and collages documenting this mine and the men’s conditions and diseases at the Lakes College Distington which were acquired by the Arts Council of Great Britain when they were exhibited in the Serpentine Gallery London in 1978 in support of compensation for miners). The underground was reflected everywhere on the surface. We used kidney ore for doorstops; crystals for our rockeries and gardens; our doorsteps reddened with ore dust and water; offcuts from the pit props carried under the men’s arms were used on our coal fires. The grotto at St Marys’ Catholic Church in Cleator was created out of iron ore spoil by unemployed miners in the twenties and crystal shrines were built in Cleator Moor at a place called with Cleator Moor humor The Blood Tub.
Copeland Council has identified a site in central Whitehaven in which to situate the project and are very keen to pursue this.
The six species of deer found living wild in this country form an important and valued element of our flora and fauna. From the famous Red Deer found on the hills of Scotland to the Fallow of the lowland forests they are truly wild and hold an esteemed status often wrapped up in myth and legend. In fact only two of these species, Red and Roe, are what could be called indigenous.
They are all, however, thriving and surveys conducted have shown them to be increasing in both numbers and geographic spread. Over the last few years there has been a steady stream of deer entering towns and the urban fringe in increasing numbers.
The Green Viaduct presents a sanctuary for a family of deer, but how many are there in the group? Are there more sheltering close by?
The group have chosen to temporarily set up home on the viaduct.
The Green Viaduct presents a sanctuary, an isolated wild landscape retreat for group of indigenous red hinds with calves and a lone red stag.
The deer are an overt expression of the natural phenomena which has reclaimed a piece of redundant industrial heritage. They are symbolic of the self-seeded and thriving natural landscape which is reclaiming its position within the city. Wild Orchids have been found surviving on the upper planes of the viaduct, elevated above the city terrain below. A renewed natural habitat exists and is attractive to a host of wild and wonderful creatures.
The stag stands proud and defiant in the open proclaiming his territory and defending the group.
He is visible from the railway as if proclaiming the whole city as his own. The hinds and calves shelter in the established woodland that has rooted itself into the viaduct.
The Deer acknowledge the renewed importance and value of green spaces and seasonal changes in our cities to nurture wellbeing. Few people are aware that Leeds is one of the country’s greenest cities, by virtue of the surrounding parkland and that there are current plans for the city include the creation of new green corridors and a city park. The viaduct’s proposed future is an amenity space for hundreds of new city dwellers.
The deer are the vanguard of the new viaduct inhabitants, taking advantage of a natural landscape; an oasis in the city.
Red Deer are instantly recognisable to the general public, and occupy an emotive place in our consciousness, through images ranging from Disney’s Bambi, all the way through to Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen. They represent defiant independence, at the same time as being non-threatening and caring. They are not about words, statements or promises but ‘being’. Placing the group on the viaduct engages the public, changing their everyday experience and ambivalence with their redundant industrial heritage and asks them to consider why they are there.
In claiming this territory the Deer establish a new place for art in the city.
Green viaduct, Leeds, a cultural intervention.
Despite its prominent position adjacent to the mainline into Leeds Rail Station, the Viaduct is a unique piece of redundant historical, English Heritage listed transport infrastructure that almost everyone in the city has forgotten about. Discussions are underway with developers to retain the Viaduct as ‘green’ pedestrian and cycle route connecting the City Centre with South Leeds in a project similar to New York’s Highline.
Right now there is an opportunity for the Viaduct to contribute to the architectural, arts and cultural activity of the city. Leeds City Council and the Leeds City Art Gallery are both supportive of an initiative to redefine the viaduct as an outdoor sculptural space; an extension to the arts scene in Leeds.
Lend Lease is the private developer-owner of the viaduct. They have renewed their planning consent for the site. I have discussed with lend Lease, the idea of working with the council and its arts culture and heritage department to bring forward a public art programme for the viaduct which would exist whilst they prepare for the implementation of their consented development. (Not foreseen for some years yet) and possibly be retained in their long-term proposal for a public open space and route connecting New Wortley with the City Centre. They have confirmed their agreement in principle subject to detailed proposals and method statements on implementation.
The proposed intervention will highlight the viaduct, create a unique platform for art and contribute to the cultural activity of the city. The artwork will be visible from near and far; the road, the railway, adjacent buildings and become part of an illuminated city skyline. Everyone visiting the city by train will see the works.
This installation will signpost the viewer to the city art gallery’s online archive and to a collection of artworks depicting the viaducts active past and to the city’s historic narrative relevant to that specific place in the city, a former second station which no longer exists.
A planning application for the redefinition of the viaduct from redundant heritage to cultural platform has been submitted and consented with Leeds City Council; this consent runs in parallel with Lend Leases extant permission for the public open space and adjacent residential which exists for another three years. This installation will shift the public’s perception of their city, highlighting a forgotten history and signalling a possible future of a greener and better-connected place.
This opportunity exists now in the temporary stalling of a development cycle. The project demonstrates how artists have the ability to transform places, cities without being reliant upon the developer market. The viaduct would become a symbol of a diverse cultural city and a visual, friendly welcome to Leeds City Centre.
I intend to travel to north-east Sri Lanka to train and then excavate a land mine, defuse it and bring it back to Glasgow to be gilded and then to present it to GOMA, with proof of its origin, as the residual artifact of a process. This will occur during May and June 2014.I will be trained by Tamils, who in turn have been trained by The Halo Trust (HT), (a Dumfries-based NGO). The Halo Trust began working in Sri Lanka in 2002 and expanded its operations significantly following the end of the war in 2009 to clear mines from homes, gardens and fields as those displaced by the fighting began to return home. I am in contact with their project manager in Sri Lanka, who has understood my intention concerning this act and is willing for it to take place. That is to learn and put into practice the skill, art, or more simply the ability to complete the act of clearing a land mine.
The work will combine the concept of a ‘host’ (Glasgow) and its preparation to encounter many guest nations in 2014 with a singular act that has relevance both on international and personal levels. It will go further than merely illustrate an empathy an Other’s situation: on the work’s completion, I will begin to comprehend the Other’s state of living by actually experiencing its dangers.
The work represents an extreme act, in both form and material. Disarming and re-evaluating an object that was constructed to kill is a radical act in understanding death. Whether this concept will describe what will take place or whether it will be seen as an illustration in itself as it has no knowledge of the completion of such an act. And hence, the concept is no greater than its execution as that would ignore the physical, social and ‘slowness of doing’ accumulated within the experience.
I am returning the preposition ‘con‘, as in concept or conceptual, to its Latin root ‘cum‘ which means ‘together with‘ and which gives emphasis to social interaction and communication. In terms of the act of a ‘host‘ (in this case an individual) towards a ‘guest‘ (here, a nation) it fulfills the criteria of multi-cultural development through first-hand experience. Also ‘cum’, phonetically, is the same as ‘come’, which is what Glasgow is saying to all nations and ethnicities within the Commonwealth for 2014.
The exhibition/performance 'Tea to Escape the Noise of the World' (working title) will be presented in the area of London where the Empire tea trade was located. The venue will ideally be in Mincing Lane (‘Street of Tea’ which is a street connecting Fenchurch Street with Great Tower Street) in City of London as tea auctions were located here for over 300 years until 1998. The performance takes a creative approach to reconstructing/presenting a tea auction which will include the counting of teabags. The experiential aspects of the exhibition are an integral part of audience experience, where entering into the space of ‘tea’ will be important. This will not simply be a museological reconstruction of the tea auction space but will seek to engage, enchant and possibly amuse. A contemporary approach will be taken to engage with empire tea history, the colonial construction of tea as something quintessentially ‘British’ and the banal idea related to the ownership/wealth of teabags in my collection.
I have an extensive collection of used teabags, currently stored in suitcases and tins. Only teabags which I have consumed form part of the collection, thus forming a kind of diary of consumption or moments taken out to ‘escape the noise of the world’ (as Chinese scholar Tien Yiheng described tea-drinking). The current collection of teabags was begun in June 1999 soon after moving to England. Each teabag or batch of tea leaves which I have used or shared in a pot is placed onto a numbered strip of Surrey Cartridge paper, measuring 15cm x 80cm. The paper strips can be joined end-to-end, with tea-prints as joining markers. At present (April 2014) the paper strips number #2025 and measure over 1,600 metres in length: a not insignificant distance of tea-drinking!
Some of the teabags have been pressed into notebooks if I am traveling, (with an accompanying note about location, significant meeting or purpose of the journey). Notebooks from the past fourteen years thus include a range of specifically dated tea-drinking incidents. Although the tea project is a personal diary of sorts, the wider history of tea related to colonialism and empire, is of particular interest and has been researched as part of this project. In this way my personal tea narrative opens up longer, collective narratives of tea. Both these personal and collective narratives/histories are very much about the notion of time, often not considered when drinking a cup of tea. In each bag, however, resides a whole capsule of time/history: growing, harvesting, drying, storing and packaging. And this reaches further back to longer histories of tea related to empire and across the seas to India and China.
The Australian singer/songwriter Emily Barker will present the music for the performance and the film/s. Emily and I have collaborated on a number of projects over the past 7 years, including the short film 'Little Deaths', (commissioned for the song). A current collaborative short film project, 'Ah! Afrika!', and the artists’ book 'Questions of Home' form part of my Arts Council funded exhibition ‘Questions of Home: Excavations in Film & Fragments Lost in the Ether’ (June 2013). Emily’s song ‘Storm in a Teacup’ was written for my dual-screen film, 'Tea with Maya': these have been screened/performed live at King’s Place (June 2010) and The Green Man Festival (Aug 2010).
The performance, involving the counting of teabags, is an important aspect of the project. Its location in Mincing Lane (‘Street of Tea’) or the surrounding areas related to empire tea history are central to the site-specificity of this project. Tea auctions took place at Plantation House, Sir John Lyon House and at The London Chamber of Commerce; and any of the buildings related to colonial tea history would be ideal for this project. I have not yet sought permissions for the use of buildings but these negotiations would form part of project development with Artangel. The location in the contemporary central banking district of London is key to the performative aspect of the project.
In 2010 I exhibited part of my tea collection (suitcase of tea – ‘spill’) in COLLECT II (Space Gallery, Portsmouth). This resulted in a flurry of media interest and an eventual offer from the Guinness Book of Records, inviting me to be included in their publication. The media interest was focused on the amount of teabags in the collection (and whether the collector was quite sane!); and the offer from the Guinness Book of Records (GBR) was dependent on proof of the amount of bags in the collection (verified by 2 witnesses). Although I have not submitted my tea project to the GBR, specific focus on the amount of teabags prompted ideas for the performance, particularly as this ties in with the current banking crises and the virtual money dealt with in trading. Bankers may as well have traded in used teabags for what the virtual money was worth!
The proposed performance is also inspired by the accountant in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 'The Little Prince'. He spends all his time counting the stars and logging his calculations into a ledger to denote ownership. In a similar way the counting of teabags may be seen as a banal act, signalling the West’s concerted colonial focus on acquisitiveness and power which included the claiming of tea as distinctively British.
Proposed Exhibition Works:
The proposed works for exhibition, including experimental photographs, artists’ film/s and artists’ book/s would take as their starting points tea and tea history. This may include the cultural and socio-political aspects of tea history and the psychology of collecting. But these works will be artworks with interpretations/inspirations/narratives related to tea rather than works that explain the history of tea.
In medieval Britain, simple, mechanical clocks located in towers would, through the sound of bells, announce the canonical hours or intervals between set prayer times. These clocks often did not possess faces or hands, they relied on sounds to signal significant moments in the days, weeks, months and years. This practice has continued through to the present day, with church bells signifying Sunday, prominent Holiday services and important cultural moments.
I would like to create a contemporary equivalent of this method of timekeeping and the broadcasting of information. My interpretation of this medieval concept will act as an alternative to the Speaking Clock, the conventional telephonic time keeping system within the UK. Fabula – A Talking Clock will be an active timepiece for and about contemporary Britain.
This new computer programmed telephonic clock will be physically located within the BT Tower in Central London* and more importantly, will be accessible and available for free from anywhere within Great Britain, twenty-four hours a day, every minute of every day, for one calendar year. Audiences will access Fabula – A Talking Clock by dialing a dedicated Freephone telephone number.
There are 1440 minutes within every 24-hour period. The sound that will be transmitted from the BT Tower to landlines and cell phones will be 1440 separate and distinct voices; each voice representing a minute of the day. Callers to the Freephone number will not only hear the actual real time being spoken; down to the minute, but immediately afterwards, callers will encounter a very personal narrative dealing with the speaker’s relationship with time, what time means to them and how the abstract concept of time and its perpetual immeasurability is manifest experientially and philosophically in their lives.
The voices at the core of Fabula – A Talking Clock will be taken from interviews that I will conduct and record with people of all ages and from all walks of life, cultures and backgrounds across the UK. The interviews will focus on each participant’s understanding of time as a series of moments, a series of experiences, which link together to create a continuous and infinite flow.
The recorded participants will be asked open-ended questions about time in order to gather the raw material for the narratives. These questions will focus on notions of the past, the present and the potential of the future, themes of anticipation and risk-taking, dreams, the role and significance of clocks and timepieces, loss, the nature of lateness, and feelings of being both time-free or without time and burdened by time, (amongst other things), so that the participants are encouraged to describe and expand upon their emotions, feelings and understandings about time and how this theoretical notion impacts on their daily lives.
Through the interview process, the participants and I will also explore what it means to experience different speeds of time and the pressure (and/or lack of it) of personal ambition and desire, the differences between compressed cinematic time and lived, real-time. These recordings will then be edited, each creating one of the 1440 individual narrated moments of time.
These examples of lived experience – individual expressions of time itself – will, once edited, last for no more than a minute each. In addition, the time of day of the actual live call from audiences will be reflected by the story being told; wherever possible daytime experiences will occur in and reflect the daytime, as nighttime experiences will occur in and reflect the nighttime.
To gather the 1440 narratives for Fabula – A Talking Clock, it will be essential to interview and record at least twice that number of potential participants as the recording ratio is anticipated to be about half. The final edited narratives will be brief, a moment or two, yet some will last for an entire minute in real-time. Audiences will hear time passing as they listen to the successive narratives that constitute Fabula – A Talking Clock for as long as they continue with the call.
Fabula – A Talking Clock will be fully automated, computer-driven and delivered through Freephone by a bespoke computer program. Fabula will be a poetic yet functional clock, a time-relative artwork that will explore various concepts of our understanding (and lack of understanding) of time.
*If it is not possible to locate the mechanics of Fabula – A Talking Clock at the BT Tower in Central London, an alternative location could be the BT Tower in Birmingham.
The upright piano has lost its place in the room once referred to as the parlour. This emblem of another era has become an anachronistic piece of furniture too expensive to maintain, superseded by other forms of home entertainment, and taking up valuable space in the contemporary living room. With no demand and of no street value, and with a lifespan averaging eighty to a hundred years, this is the critical moment of demise for thousands of these domestic-sized pianos, the majority of which were made during a boom in the 1920s. Now they are surplus to requirements and their present day owners have to pay for the removal and disposal of these pieces of musical furniture for which there is no market. Only those in excellent condition can survive an ending on the scrap heap or from being manually smashed up with a sledgehammer into wooden splinters, wire and brass pedals.
It feels important to give a final send-off to these instruments in recognition of their role in so many domestic and national events covering more than 150 years of British life. The upright piano holds the memories of several generations, accumulated from its position in living rooms, parlours, churches, school and village halls, and other public and private spaces all over the country. Its presence in 19th century and Edwardian era theatres and music halls, and at cinemas during the silent movie era, where it was a vital component to the public viewing experience with the music creating the atmosphere for fictional narratives as well as newsreel footage. Sometimes solemn, more often cheerful, the piano, with its player, created the mood for multiple occasions including weddings, births and funerals. Its sound encouraged romances and offered a diversion from family grievances, giving musical voice to innumerable emotional states.
This is not intended as a paean to nostalgia, rather a celebration of a part of British life that has slipped away and I feel the upright piano should be celebrated before it completely disappears. In its heyday in the early 20th century, Camden Town in London had 100 small-scale factories and workshops employing 6,000 people to turn out instruments that graced a wide range of living rooms, and other spaces, across the social scale.As a cultural and social icon its position is now occupied by other music systems, with the relatively small number of new pianos sold today mostly being made in China where production costs are low.
Realisation in Three Parts:
After a national campaign for the rescue of unwanted pianos, whose owners want to be rid of them, those collected for ‘Parlour Requiem’ will initially be stored in a warehouse. My proposal is to collect as many as possible, with a minimum goal of eighty-eight, referencing the total number of black and white keys on most pianos.
As an artist whose practise revolves a lot around film and video, there may also be a film work to document the whole process and performance.
Taking place in the week of the Scottish referendum for independence, artist Torsten Lauschmann will mark this historic occasion by transforming the roofs, bridges and town walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed into one big moving image installation – a visual spectacle on the border.
The installation will be experienced by those not only walking in and around the town, but those travelling on the train up above – from the east coast mainline which crosses the border between England and Scotland, creating a lifeline between London and Edinburgh.
Situated in between rural Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, Berwick is well known for having been passed between England and Scotland 13 times in its history. At the heart of ‘the debatable lands,’ Berwick is often considered to be neither English nor Scottish but to have an identity of its own, and yet is one that most see only from the train, passing from London to Edinburgh, or vice versa, without stopping.
For a short period in September 2014 the town will be highlighted in the media as a very physical and visual manifestation of the referendum, as the point at which the two countries unite or divide. This project will highlight the town further, through moving image art, with video projection perfectly mapping the ‘chocolate box’ like rooftops and bridges. The project will also mark the exact border – a point that is punctuated if travelling by road but not by train.
Like Berwick itself, the piece will explore borders, borderlands, and border identities - natural, social, ideological, and political. For different people it will represent dependence, independence, unity, and division. For others, it will represent other borderlands across the world. Moreover, the piece will cross those borders, just as the train passes through, and fading, with no clear indication of where one state ends and the other begins. Cultures, landscapes, and languages fade into each other in a spatial and temporal dimension.
The work will not take place just in Berwick, but starts and finishes with the London – Edinburgh train journey: building up from south to north and north through a sound installation that can only be heard from within the train, and which culminates in Berwick, with the in-train sound system playing the perfectly synced soundtrack to the visual events outside. In this way the work is stretched over the border on both sides, and ‘trans’-national.
With the projections creating an outdoor spectacle in the evening only, daytime passengers can engage with the individual works through free application, which also augments moving images perfectly onto buildings and structures when viewed through a smartphone.
The installation will be switched on 18th September 2014, the day of the Scottish referendum, and the evening of the Opening Gala of the 10th-anniversary edition of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, and will continue over the 5-day event.
Created by an artist originally from Germany and based in Glasgow, Lauschmann brings to the project his own experiences of crossing borders. His work is well known for having evolved beyond straight film and photography, playfully challenging the perceptions between cinema, moving image art and live performance – just as Berwick’s Festival does through its curation and new commissions.
His intriguingly multiform installations frequently highlight points of connection between digital technology and pre-cinematic optical entertainments, this time bringing an ambitious projection and smartphone application to Berwick’s Elizabethan walls and beyond. Moreover, Lauschmann is interested in the sculptural potential of video installation, with the entire ‘roof’ of the town’s unique architecture providing a 3D canvas for an immersive visual spectacle.
Absurd and humane in equal measure, One Another’s Company explores the notion that a problem shared is a problem solved. Conceived as an episodic play involving 30 performers, One Another’s Company is developed out of an ongoing series of live artworks that have been performed in galleries and theatres. Using these previously devised short live artworks as the initial building blocks; our goal is to develop an extended piece for a much larger group than we have previously worked with. Mounting this work outside of the traditional presentation models of cultural practice will bring into focus how performance operates in everyday life a concern at the centre of our practice.
Our ambition would be to situate the work in the main hall of a public Leisure Centre with a large separate viewing area that is partitioned from the main hall by glass. For the sake of this application, we have identified one or two such sites in the Greater London area but Art Angel’s support would be integral to locating the ideal centre for the work. With reference to psychodrama and dance theatre, the work would map various fictional therapeutic systems developed through workshops with the performers. These systems focus on the notion that collective performance can be utilized as a way to mediate and potentially resolve day-to-day problems. The live generation of sound is a key structural component of each system Foley techniques are appropriated and become therapeutic mechanisms.
We are keen that the cast would be formed of trained as well as non-trained performers, a strategy we have employed before. This component will be extended into this project so that both the process and performative outcome are constantly walking the line between performance and everyday life, the relationship that is a central focus of our collaborative work. One Another's Company’s formation refers to evening classes or group therapy workshops as well maintaining a playfully reflexive awareness of theatrical enactment and its grammars. What emerges is the presentation of a fictional and slightly absurd displaced therapeutic environment in which each member of the group becomes therapeutic agents for one another's experience.
The collective construction of soundscapes is simultaneously presented as having therapeutic potential as well as being a theatrical spectacle. Each separate system that is demonstrated in the piece as a whole is considered in a similar way to a musical number in a musical. A number of performers would have a radio mic attached to their bodies. In order to achieve amplification, the performers must physically reposition themselves according to the location of the microphone. Their choreography and body positions are dictated by the goal of achieving amplification of sound that is projected into the viewing room. This motif is restricting and creates a further point of physical negotiation for the group members to engage with. There would be around five different systems presented in the work, some performed by the group as a whole and some calling for the group to separate into smaller units. At times, narrative testimonials are performed by individuals in the group. Other members of the group would utilize their bodies, as well as a variety of objects to construct soundscapes to underscore these narratives. A loud beep sound throughout punctuates the movement from set piece to set piece. This heightens this task-like structure as well as reflexively reinforcing that what the audience is presented with is a demonstration or exercise in collective storytelling.
The audience would be situated in the glass viewing rooms of the sports hall, looking onto the action. The unfolding sequences that make up the work would be meticulously choreographed theatrical demonstrations of how these fictional systems operate. Our decision to present the work in a space in which the performance and audience is separate, operates both practically and conceptually. The sound generated by the groups in their various configurations would be picked up by the radio mics attached to the performer’s body and amplified into the viewing space. This spatial separation would allow the sound to be controlled, choreography would operate as a form of live sound mixing, meaning that sounds produced by the group would come in and out of focus depending on the position of the source of sound to the mic on the body of the performer. This is something we have achieved in previous works with smaller groups building multi-layered soundscapes live. Having more than one group operating simultaneously to produce sounds implies an ambitious development.
Our intention would be to create a soundscape that is a live imitation of a 5.1 surround-sound audio experience. This technique creates the sense of spatial ambiguity; though the viewer is distanced and separated from the action their proximity to the sound it produces is close and intimate. This formal ambiguity would reflexively refer to the relationship of the individual in the crowd creating the sense of an intimate public. The separation of the audience from the action also mimics how performance and observation operate in human interaction in everyday life. The Leisure centre setting complicates the relationship between theatrical entertainment and the implication that these systems have therapeutic potential. The actions performed would be presented as a sort of collective physical and psychological problem solving. Viewed from above the whole action might refer to the simultaneous activities presented in Pieter Bruegel’s Children’s Games (1560).
The Elephant in the Room is a proposal for a documentary performance film work to be shot on location in Ealing, west London, and screened thereafter in the following locales: Ealing (possibly the proposed new cinema complex to be opened in W5 sometime in the near future); London’s East end (possibly Brick Lane); South London; other high density migrant-populated areas in England. The story itself focuses quite simply on the ‘real life’ tale of an elephant that originally escaped from a circus, fell and died in Ealing. Too heavy to be moved the elephant’s body to this day remains buried somewhere in Castlebar Hill, Ealing.
The proposal is to create a new film work, which in a fusion of Hindu and English pagan ritual, re-creates the happening, but imagined in reverse. That is to say, the elephant comes back to life from the dead, thereby presenting a narrative of hope and anticipation in a time of current utter bleakness – social, ethical and spiritual bankruptcy. The metaphor is, therefore, one of life and death as seen through the eyes of merging populations of the white English and the migrant Indians (here used to symbolise the ‘ex-British colonies’). The choreographed performance and film work will be staged on the streets leading from the town of Southall, right through to the leafy middle-class suburbs of central Ealing. The idea is to incorporate a ritual procession headed by vast numbers of Sikh drummers, who, within the piece, are there to raise the spirits from the dead in glorious (though multicolour) exuberant Ealing film studio ‘style’.
As one of a few artist directors who has broken the cardinal rule of never working with animals or children, my approach is to take absolute delight in continuing to do both – and to the max wherever possible.
Here, the story begins with rumours, generated in a primary school amongst a group of children, of tales of the elephant’s ghost materialising during the annual Hindu festival of Diwali. Quickly taking hold, circumstances generate fervour and interest in the younger population, but wretched fear amongst the elders. Eventually, the only way of keeping order is by the mayor’s own intervention and his reluctant agreement to allow the drummers to do their magic.
The proposal is filled with symbolism. The circus elephant here represents the Hindu deity Ganesh (the elephant god), and its death becomes the over-riding reference to the economic circumstances under which a large Indian population migrated to the UK from its colonies in post independent India. Apart from the obvious potential carnivalesque qualities, the film’s sub-text returns to questions of the long-standing relationship between the British and India - beginning with the British colonial occupation of India, and throughout which India, India effectively served as Britain’s bank. Ealing as a location is also important to this scenario, and in terms of post-colonial discourses, not least because it saw one of the most violent uprisings and race riots in recent history – in 1979, and again (32 years later) in 2011.
The title, The Elephant in the Room, references the age-old saying of that subject or question which no person ‘in the room’ wishes to discuss. It raises questions of silence and fear within our culture, and moreover, within our day-to-day life here in the UK.
I will be drawing on my previous experience gained whilst directing and producing a short art-house film (on 35mm format) shot in the city of Toronto, and which involved working with children (adolescents) and around road traffic. To this extent, I am familiar, therefore, with the process involved in gaining permissions from city authorities in the production of films. For further information regarding this particular artwork: Remembrance of Things Past.
I live in Ealing and know it well. As a locale, the borough of Ealing with its rich film history, and complex migrant histories, I feel, has great potential for somewhere where this innovative idea can be brought to life.
Proposed Treatment of ‘The Elephant in Room’:
I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth; banks are going bust; shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter; punks are running wild in the street, and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.
We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. And we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes as if that's the way it's supposed to be!
We all know things are bad – worse than bad – they're crazy.
It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please. At least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel belted radials, and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'
Well, I'm not going to leave you alone.
I want you to get mad!
I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your MP, because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street.
All I know is that first, you've got to get mad.
You've gotta say, 'I'm a human being, goddammit! My life has value!'
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!!'
The script from the film Network 1976, written by Paddy Chayefsky, Directed by Sidney Lumet
This speech will form the raw material for the work, a Duchampian ready-made that will be placed into context and activated through my working process with Artangel. The call and response of this project have echoes in the artforms of spoken word, poetry, griot, which of course has inspired rap, another passion of mine that I’ve used in my work, along with music. This idea of call-to-action also has synergy with the artistic avant-garde, the ideas of dada, the futurist manifesto. It also has a sense of collective political action, something which is only rarely seen in our fractured communities.
The film Network was a strangely prescient Hollywood film that predicted many of the cultural phenomena of our time, including reality television, twenty-four-hour news and YouTube. The speech by news anchor Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) still seems entirely relevant. The film itself was satire, but much of that satire has been surpassed by reality. The performance would give a space for people to unite in a cathartic moment of frustration at how the world is portrayed, re-asserting the importance of the individual at a time when social interactions are so often seen as algorithms and variations on economic models.
I’ve been working with protest songs for the past ten years, lip-syncing to them, using them in video-art. I’m committed to challenging the boundaries between the white cube and the street, between different modes of creativity. Where do we find ourselves in this globalised world?
On 25th October 2012, the BBC reported that the Ford Dagenham stamping plant would close its doors this summer (2013), its site intrinsically linked with Essex. Industry in Essex is diminishing and the landscape will change for better or worse with the closure of the plant and the impact of a community that worked there.
My art installation will provoke a vision of Ford Dagenham and its impact on the Essex landscape and the community that worked there. It will record a time past and a moment in the history of the car making industry in Britain.
Suburban subjects provide a ground for both a private and collective awareness that we need to find out who we are, so that we can better know where we want to go. – Susan Freudenheim, Art Forum, May 1987.
Working within the community I grew up with, (I am an Essex girl born and bred) I will make work that is not only placed in Essex car parks (the exhibition will move from car park to car park) but will evoke the spirit of Ford and Essex.
A series of interviews with local people who worked at Ford or have an association with the Ford Fiesta be carried out. These will be identified through my contacts, social networking, local press and radio.
The audio interviews will be installed in Ford Fiesta cars. The cars will be configured in the car parks conforming to the wiring pattern of the Ford Fiesta.
The interviews will have different agendas.
The ‘voices’ will be installed in several cars, each with a different agenda. The mix of voices from the installation will transcend gender, age, and nationality as they mix together in a sound symphony, of memory past and present. There will also be two sets of headphones in the cars for people to listen to specific interviews which will be edited together. The passing of time and the passing of the Ford plant will be encapsulated in the work, a requiem to the Ford Fiesta. The photographic portraits will be displayed within the cars, each becoming a time capsule of recovered memories.
The cars that make up the installation will all be Ford Fiesta’s each one evoking a different era. The cars will be purchased from scrap yards.
The exhibition will tour Essex car parks in the town centres, starting at my hometown Wickford, following through the districts of Essex:
Harlow, Epping Forest Brentwood, Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Chelmsford, Uttlesford, Braintree, Colchester, Tendring, Thurrock, Southend on Sea.
I am an Essex girl. This is both a personal project and homage to my heritage.
I wasn’t aware as much as I am now what Ford meant to my local area and the neighbouring towns. Growing up with my Dad who was an industrial engineer, smelling of engine oil and constantly tinkering with cars, disappearing for hours on end.
Wickford, Essex is where I grew up. In my teens, I used to hang in a big group. We would all travel in a convoy of cars down to the Southend-on-Sea to cruise, show off the cars: our Mark 1’s, Mark 2’s and a bright green Mexico which was the envy of all the boys. The boys constantly tinkered with their cars, spraying them, polishing them, rebuilding them, crashing them.
I am the generation when the Radio One DJ evoked the creation of the Essex girl and boy stereotypes. The days when the top ten meant everything.
Us girls would squeal with delight at the most recent boyfriends ability to drive fast, do wheel spins, revving his engines in the car park. Marvelling at the sound system in the boot. Driving through dark country lanes late at night, catching glimpses of frightened rabbits. We were rebelling out from the watchful eyes of our fathers and mothers rule. Music up loud, base banning, we were in charge what else was there.
Leaving Essex for Kent to go to university and my friend Chris, who worked on the production line at Fords in Dagenham, we went over the nearly built Dartford crossing,
The Queen Elizabeth bridge, I felt a pang of sadness, then I looked down at Fords in awe, of this huge epic site, with line after line of white transit vans parked in the car parks.
Henry Ford had at least two major impacts on society. He introduced the assembly line. By breaking down production into simple tasks, he lowered the skill level needed to work in a factory (any factory not just automobiles). This allowed huge amounts of products to be created at lower prices. Just as importantly, he introduced the living wage concept. Before Ford, most large companies based their pay structure on immediate cost needs the minimum.
Paying his employees enough to be able to afford cars, he would have a ready-made market for his product. He didn't force his employees to buy Ford cars, but Ford employee would have to know that it might not look good for his career advancement if he drove up to the factory in a Chevy.
I feel the closure of this site in Essex also comments on the great loss of industry in England, which has affected all communities throughout the UK.
A long time ago there were all kinds of songs that cultures shared – fighting songs, drinking songs, children’s game songs, working songs, hymns of praise. While each culture had its own variants and versions, often unrecognisable by people from other cultures, what they shared was the same need for song in the centre of their lives. In the early 21st century most of these song forms have moved toward the margins of how we live – but not the lullaby; that most private and whispered of all song types, which quietly remains at the core of what makes us human.
How do we celebrate and explore something so private, something whose essence is that it happens behind closed doors, with no-one around except for the singer and the listener? In the lullaby, who the voice belongs to, its familiarity, is more important to the listener, and to the song, than whether it’s in tune or has a beautiful timbre. But what do we say about the voice of a singer who isn’t trying to impress or sell anything?
Lullabies are a forgotten form of art song. Their subjects range from the restful to the deeply troubling, from reassurance to threat. A lullaby can endlessly loop a simple musical theme, or can progress across very sophisticated notions of rhythm and melody. They can last 30 seconds or for the whole night…
Why Opera North Projects?
Opera North Projects has an international reputation for stripping opera back to its constituent parts; the voice, the image, the audience experience. Over the last ten years, we have been developing ways for making new work out of found material, from solo Bach performed continuously over 5 hours in an open space, to Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, presented as a five room gallery installation by German-born artist Mariele Neudecker.
In 2007, we embarked on what has become one of our longest and most rewarding working relationships, with the composer Gavin Bryars. Gavin has composed or arranged the music for three of our most successful projects: Nothing Like The Sun (2007), settings of Shakespeare’s Sonnets for the RSC’s Complete Works Festival; Mercy and Grand (2010), arrangements of songs by Tom Waits for 8 musicians and voice; and Overworlds and Underworlds (2012), a site-specific soundscape for the Cultural Olympiad created with film-makers, The Quay Brothers.
Why Gavin Bryars?
In 1975, Bryars recorded his seminal composition, Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet, in which he used a found recording of an old man singing a religious ballad against his own slowly evolving orchestral accompaniment. The work miraculously found a way to acknowledge and respect the original voice and at the same time to transform the effect into something mysteriously beautiful.
At the heart of Lullaby Baby is this same impulse – to somehow respect and value the original lullaby and its singer, and at the same time to create an alchemy that releases the song into a new setting and a new aesthetic landscape.
Stage One: The Lullaby Bank
The first job for Lullaby Baby is to gather in these songs in their raw essence. Over a six month period, we will meet with ‘real’ people (ie not professional singers!) who have a lullaby to share. We will seek out lullabies from across a diverse range of world cultures, and from the old, the young, the urban and the rural. A half-remembered lullaby will have the same value to us as one that is word perfect. The lullabies will be recorded and the singers filmed in high definition. This is the lullaby bank – our most important resource.
Stage Two: New From Old
Meanwhile, Gavin will invite up to ten guest musicians and composers to become part of the project. These will range across the worlds of jazz, folk, pop, classical and world musics and will represent the very finest musicians in their fields.
Each composer will have access to the lullaby bank and will select their preferred lullaby. Bryars will select between 3 and 5 songs as his compositions will form the backbone of the overall compositional project.
The composers will work with their lullaby to create a piece of new music that is deeply informed by the original singer and song. Each piece will have in common that each time it is played the first thing heard is the original recording, followed by the musical response to it. Some composers, as with Jesus Blood, may choose to use the original voice in the actual piece, while others may choose to add their own voices, or the voice of a guest singer.
The process will leave us with up to 15 new pieces of music, ranging from 1 minute to 10 or 15 minutes. All will be recorded; this project does not have a live element.
Design and Audience Experience
The lullabies will now begin their journeys into the public sphere. In city centres (Leeds, Manchester, London) 15 small lullaby booths will appear. Entering the booths, audiences of one person will be able to experience both the original lullaby and the compositional response to it. There may be some tool by which they can select the lullaby, but equally we may prefer to put just one lullaby in each booth. To be decided.
In rural environments (Latitude Festival or theYorkshire Sculpture Park, for example), lullaby tents will appear. In each tent a bed, and the lullaby playing on a continuous loop. To experience the full set audiences will need to journey across the landscape, making their own, sleepy map of their path.
The design and positioning of the lullaby tents and booths will be an intrinsic part of the production. It’s essential that the experience of being drawn to the location, and making the journey between lullabies, is part of the event. The design will bring coherence and unity to the diverse range of musical experiences that we hope the composers will bring. We have yet to confirm a designer for Lullaby Baby, and are looking at possible designers from the worlds of theatre, visual art, and installation art.
Soundhouse is a sound composition in the form of a building; a living architectural organism, an unfolding complex of interconnected sound sculptures, atmospherics and compositional systems.
Audience members enter alone, their primary means of navigation a weak torchlight and their sense of hearing. They are exploring an interconnected network of near-dark hexagonal rooms, each with multiple entrances, exits and transient architectural structures. Micro-sound events swarm and traverse the rooms, mapping the routes taken by previous visitors to the house: ghost-like resonances rendered alongside atmospherics and hidden structural alterations. In each room, environmental conditions and sculptural listening events are inextricably woven together; the walls act as porous membranes, sounding, flexing, and circulating information between distant spaces.
In one room, the visitor encounters a humid darkness, permeated by a gradually unfolding scent; exploring further, they discover a suspended string chord, frozen, cloud-like in the air. A gust of cold air dissipates the chord, revealing a previously hidden space whose walls fold out, enveloping the visitor in a chattering library of noise. Further on, the visitor comes upon a dimly lit room of falling leaves, their trajectories teeming and swarming with musical motifs, mimicking a previous visitor's movements. As the leaves dissipate, a fire is revealed in the near-distance, fuelled by its own sound. The fire silences itself as it grows, its light pervading the quietening space before it.
The labyrinthine rooms of Soundhouse are connected together by a digital circulatory system, linked to a central chamber of systems-based compositions, installations and mechanics that are revealed to the visitor in the final section of their journey. The systems that govern the house echo the behaviours of a living organism, with parameters fluctuating in response to real-time changes -- movement patterns, visitor orientation and torchlight, humidity and temperature, time of day, and the structural properties of the building itself.
Soundhouse will be located in a remote and overgrown building, allowing the audience member to feel a sense of journey prior to entering. They enter a continuously evolving, unending symphony: a dwelling upon the interactions and interconnected systems that underpin our living existence. Within the house, the behaviours of both the present and past visitors influence the overall organic system that defines it, forming an implicit bond between visitors. The exploratory patterns of their behaviour in the sounding cells of this organism drive a web of algorithmic, chaotic and aleatoric processes that cause unique and unpredictable architectural sound environments for each visitor.
The realisation of Soundhouse will build upon the artists' existing work using systems and patterns from the world around us as ways of organising sound. The aim is to create a reciprocal relationship between the two: using sound as a way to illuminate our understanding of the world, and using natural processes as a way to deepen our approaches to artistic composition. It will be the first large-scale public showcase of Jones & Bulley's critically acclaimed work, continuing their interest in engaging with unusual and challenging environments, and furthering their proposal for increased artistic dialogue between science, sound and sculpture.
The Zoo is an immersive theatre experience putting the audience directly in the world of the enclosed estate and its 24-hour supervised lifestyle. Will the audience and the residents gain from the experience, or feel they have been thrust into an Orwellian nightmare? The work will ask: Does taking away our choices and replacing them with a regimented regime give us a “necessary structure and discipline” to our lives, or make us all a dependent population of prisoners? How will children who have spent time living in these controlled environments function in the outside world?
The Zoo will blend site-specific and promenade theatre techniques with social media and audio visual material including live video feeds and CCTV footage. Set inside a derelict, local authority housing estate, the audience will be searched by security guards, having run the gauntlet of paparazzi and curious onlookers, before joining the play’s main characters for a lesson in parenting. They will then follow the characters into the main narrative of the play.
Claire is unpacking in her new home. It is in a fenced-off part of an estate for problem families. Claire is a single mother with teenage children, Callum and Holly. Callum’s crimes of vandalism and harassing their neighbours have caused her to be re-housed in the enclosed estate as part of a new pilot project. Claire has survived some tough times and has a sharp tongue when need be. She has almost forgotten the bubbly girl with an infectious laugh that she once was.
The block of flats that is Claire’s new home is one of several encircled by a high, perimeter fence. It is patrolled by security guards, with CCTV everywhere. Social workers compel residents to attend parenting, nutrition, and domestic hygiene classes, while the kids have anger management classes and after school activities. No outsiders are allowed to remain inside the fence after 11pm at night, and social workers can arrive unannounced at any time of day or night to monitor proceedings in individual flats.
Being a pilot project, the estate attracts (often unfavourable) media interest, and the publicity causes youngsters from the surrounding open part of the estate to come in during the day to try to cause trouble. The security guards are quick to expel the troublemakers but they still congregate outside the wire fence peering into what they jeeringly call The Zoo.
Background to the play:
The play derives from Judy’s extensive research into the Dundee Project pilot scheme and plans to roll out similar projects throughout the country. Under this scheme so-called problem families in Dundee were re-housed together in special blocks, where social workers had day and night access to their lives, and intervened to monitor and teach good parenting, home hygiene and prevent drink and drug abuse. Families were made to eat regular meals together and observe curfews. Initial results were positive but critics felt that by curtailing individual freedoms, people were losing their ability to take responsibility for their own lives and risked becoming institutionalised.
Currently more than 1,500 families a year, dubbed neighbours from hell, are to be placed in what have been called intensive care sin bins under a large expansion of the government's family intervention programme. The £15m scheme is designed to tackle the most badly behaved families in England by moving them into dedicated residential units with round the clock supervision by social care workers, providing support, parenting advice and counselling. There is no legal compulsion on the problem families to live in the specialist units but those that do can avoid permanent eviction from council housing, prosecution for antisocial behaviour, or their children being taken into care.
Why choose this play for Artangel support?
This is a work that captures the concerns of the nation in the run-up to the 2015 General Election. It looks at the long-term effects of living in a nanny state with citizens becoming inured to Government intervention. It also examines the role of the media in the development of society’s attitude to the underclass. Ultimately the play will ask “Where are we free?” – on the outside looking in, or with Claire and her family in the Zoo.
The work also engages with an audience who would not normally visit the theatre. We have contacted the Arts Services team for the London borough of Lewisham regarding a potential site. Our hope is to engage with local communities on the issues raised in this play, involving people in the development of the performance itself as well as becoming audience members.
We also plan to use social media to engage with a younger audience as well as re-creating the intensity of public and media scrutiny which oppresses our characters. Audience members will be encouraged to tweet during the experience and characters from the play will have their own Twitter accounts which will be accessible to all.
As the first artist-in-residence in the world’s longest running television drama series, Coronation Street, my intend to usher characters off script and into a workshop space conducive to art making. Where characters will be stimulated to plumb the depths of their artistic resources, to bring to light a facet of humanity that most Soaps obscure.
Why Change The Sheets?
Media theorists have posited that Soaps offer a participatory cultural experience for viewers, but for the community existing inside the soap, there is little immersive entertainment on offer as respite from cyclical conflict. Rarely do characters escape from the close-up and personal antagonisms that define the genre, the Street’s inhabitants live suspended within a soap bubble, floating in a cultural wasteland.
The Street’s inhabitants have strong social connections, but they appear to lack ambition to accrue 'cultural capital'. They rarely venture beyond The Street’s social spaces, in search of opportunities to stimulate the imagination or refresh a sense of the self. Street dialogue is relentlessly focused on maintaining a high emotional temperature, with few moments for characters to contemplate domestic décor. Rarely are couples seen making aesthetic decisions about the colour scheme for their living room. Though decades ago, there was the controversy over Hilda’s ‘muriel’, I remember the storyline well, it occurred in1976 the year I enrolled at art school. ‘Precariate’ Eddie Yates wallpapered Hilda Ogden’s lounge with a scenic view of a mountain landscape. Such a spectacular vista behind Hilda’s dinning table introduced a sublime backdrop to the tragicomic antics of the Ogden family. I trace my artistic awakening to this ironic juxtaposition of the cosy and the awe-inspiring.
Having secured the agreement of show’s producers to introduce an artist into the street, the artist will meet the scriptwriting team to discuss the ‘residency’ story line. The ideal outcome of the residency would be the placement of the artwork, produced by the participant cast within the set, as a temporary or permanent feature. If the placement of the artist within the community as a visible presence proved too disruptive to the ‘reality’ of the Street, a less disturbing but still effective strategy for incorporating the artist as a storyline could be the chronicling of the artist’s residency activities in passing conversation as characters interact. Some of the characters may ridicule the notion of having an artist in their neighborhood, (Roy, Kristy, Karl) other characters, may see the experience as a welcome distraction from the emotional treadmill, (Haley, Sally, Stella) then again a few of the more enlighten characters, (Ken, Lloyd, Emily, Mandy) may support the initiative as an potential enhancement of Weatherfield’s cultural complexion.
The residency process will begin with a schedule of workshops, in which the actors, in character, will explore the terrain of contemporary art of a participatory nature. As a means of stimulating dialogue in regard to the concept the characters might decide to investigate. An underlying theme that will underpin workshop activities will be behaviour and architectural space. In the UK millions of families live in cramped conditions in century old terraces, as do Corrie residents, providing an opportunity to air issue arising from living in inadequate domestic space, how such limitations of room impacts on the individual/collective imagination and on emotional health.
The actors will remain in role throughout the process of creating an artwork.
Apart from the residential artist, other practitioners from diverse discipline backgrounds will be invited to lead workshops, in response to the needs of the character’s as they develop their collective ideas. An example of such an activity might be physical movement workshop with a dance choreographer; as such a discipline will serve the initial theme -as suggested above. The form of the artwork produced by the character is open. The artefact may take the form of a single channel work, a multi-media installation, a live-performance, or series of street interventions, a sonic work embedded as ambient track within a single episode or more, of the drama. The residency artist is committed to the concept of facilitating the creation of an artwork, which represents the collective imagination of the participant characters.
Two distinct outputs are proposed for this residency, the first would be a fictional artwork created in dialogue between the artist and characters. The second output, Inga Burrows the artist would produce out of the workshop encounter, possibly using the workshop documentation.
The fictional artwork made with the characters (+ possibly Corrie viewers?) may take the form of a moving image work. Baring that possibility in mind, the ideal venue for a public screening for the non- participant residents would be the refurbished Rovers. Alternatively the artwork may take shape of an on-set multimedia installation. Alternately the artwork may take the shape of a 3-dimensional object, designed for site-specific reception, in the Street, as permanent a feature of the title credit sequence as the chimney stacks and lone cat.
Burrows’ curiosity in working with the documentation for output two, is to ascertain how effective the artifice of a participatory art-making workshop can be, in playfully illuminating the gaps and/or tensions between appetites for imaginative produce and quotidian satisfactions.
The actual artwork I am proposing to produce for Artangel exists in the space in-between the two proposed art works. Obliquely mirroring the dynamic in-between space between the soap world and the emotional imagination of the Corrie viewer.
Penny Woolcock is the artist/filmmaker I would wish as the mentor for this project, because of her outstanding accomplishments as a filmmaker and her professional reputation as an innovative and socially responsible practitioner.
Apart from appropriate workshop space the technical requirements of the project are: