About Arch

... An exploration of participation, art and architecture in the city to inform a concept for engagement with the local community via artistic intervention... offering to our client a point of departure for the continuation of these ideas in their future work.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Minutes of Meeting 24-10-08

Meeting with Clients and Professional Dancers 24-10-08

10am in Sharrow Community Forum

Engagement techniques
Caroline Reese is fantastic knowledge source to be tapped in regard to making people participate within dance. It is a real skill in making people feel comfortable enough to join in. – They own bus stop just as much as we do. Instead of just ‘doing art’ at somebody, we need to really consider what is necessary to break down the boundaries.

- We’ve found from our week of research that often got more interaction from people about our installations when they didn’t realise that we were involved in it. Speaking to them about the intervention as a fellow outsider. Perhaps we can build on that by going ‘incognito,’ pretending to be someone ‘everyday’ waiting for bus in order to get stories.

We decided not to let people know who we were or what we were doing during the last week, creating more gorilla events. We believe that this worked well for what we were trying to investigate. People very early on started coming up to us and mentioning other bus shelter installations that they had seen. We felt we managed to create an identity through the events rather than through a name or image. Trish mentions, however that this afternoon and during the next week we may want to look at having signs saying who we are and what we are doing as this may well aid in the engagement of the public.

Trish mentions that often a good engagement technique is to ask as a specific question as possible. So instead of saying ‘tell us a memory of a journey you had’ ask ‘have you ever felt intimidated on a bus?’ or ‘how do you travel to meet the person you love?’

Installations within Shelter – discussion after viewing videos
However engagement doesn’t always need to be so direct, it can just be a piece of ‘art,’ such as leaving a sofa in a bus shelter. It’s all about giving someone a new view of their world, changing someone’s day.

The bus shelter itself is an interesting forum due to the feeling of liberation of action you get when in it - the protection that the context gives us. Similar to the ‘white cube’ art gallery concept. This provides difficulty in itself - when does movement go from everyday to ‘art.’

After watching video of man cleaning bus stop – When do you go from being a performer to being in the audience? Is there a way of creating a situation where people can from one role to the other within the timeframe of the piece?

Timeline of shelter – During the course of a day the shelter can go from being empty to being very busy to being empty again. Perhaps this in itself in a dance? We shouldn’t be scared of the shelter being empty, something very beautiful and sculptural about it.

We found that often the memories and stories that people did share with us were quite painful. Simon suggests that perhaps this is the case as it is the most prominent memory on their minds. Trish mentions that Sharrow is quite poor so often we may well hear painful and difficult stories and that she appreciates that it is often difficult not to react to them but to remain as a passive recorder of the memory. – It is suggested we look at the work of DV8 – Lloyd Neeson and how they/he worked with very painful stories in a beautiful but shocking way.

Discussion after afternoon collaboration
It is mentioned that perhaps the structures we produced this week weren’t necessary as yet within the project. That an intermediate step would have been just to take the dancers out to an empty bus shelter and see how they react within that environment. Some of the ideas that we wanted to examine could have been looked at by just using the structure of the shelter. For example –

- Turning bus timetable as adaption of structure.
- Playing with Perspex as if it were reflection etc.

After that we could have added additional things to engage with.

We found that some structures worked better than others as platforms for interesting performance. Both structures looking at framing and suspension worked well for the dancers, giving them plenty of material to work with. It was felt though that the framing was perhaps too much of an ‘art installation,’ cutting off the public from interacting.

Is there a way of producing the same effect but without creating such a barrier effect?
The two structures which looked at structure moving with body and body moving with structure had good theory behind them, but it was felt that in order to get the desired effect they require a lot more thought about materiality and construction. All worked well however in giving us a good base for further experimentation in the up-coming week.

Interestingly it was found that the ‘event’ that encouraged the most public engagement was the harness device when no dancers were actually using it. We must use this knowledge to discuss how to create installations which invite questions and interaction.

The dancers were asked whether having a public audience changed their performances in anyway? It was mentioned that the audience reacting to certain movements, by laughing for example, made them want to play up the comedic aspect more.

It is agreed that the overall thematic approach of all of our installations has been that of separation and connection and that this should help us to be more specific when attempting public engagement.

SEPERATION AND CONNECTION

Issues of space
Simon asked whether there is a minimum space required for audience participation? It is suggested that perhaps the size of space is not the issue, but the subconscious barrier of embarrassment.

Possible future events/installations
Simon suggests the idea of having two or three people at a bus stop in ‘normal’ clothes waiting for a bus. Slowly but surely they start to move in rehearsed unison. This can be small, underground movement which suddenly emerges. This involves people in something special that would hopefully enrich their day.

Possibly something that can be looked at to do with the dancers next Friday?

Other ways of sharing stories – Perhaps using ipods/downloadable pre-recorded stories. Ring up telephone number to hear story about that bus shelter?

Exchanging memory. Ask everyone to turn up to an event (possibly final event?) with a memento or object which tells a story. You then swap and leave with someone else’s object.
It is agreed that we need to look over our past research, see what has worked and what hasn’t in terms of public engagement and expand on these ideas. Eg. Post-its, chalked-in footprints, curtains, postcards etc….

Final event/Upcoming week
Trish and Simon want the final outcome/strategy to be something that is ‘live,’ not something which is static and just toured around. A collection of techniques for engagement which can be used in many different towns can be used by Trish and Simon to collect memories and stories which will form the basis for dance performances.

How will the research we collect shape the thing built for the final event?

How best to showcase the memories and stories that have been collected?

- Projection (of text, image, other dance performances…?)
- Playing with shadow – structure out of shadow?
- Playing with scale – scale used to describe emotion?
- Framing of bodies?
- Structure moving dance, dance moving structure?

The dance performances will grow from a mixture of the research collected by our strategic bus shelter installations and as a reaction to the structure we design as a platform for the dance. The strategy for funding should also include information on who Trish and Simon would need to approach about getting permission to have slightly more permanent exhibitions in bus shelters.

These installations can be of any sort, ranging from built structures to post-it notes. Their raison d’être however must be as aids for engagement; encouraging people to leave stories and memories of public transport and journeys. They will also have another function, one of enlivening interest in the final dance performance that will be created. Hopefully they will aid in creating an audience for this piece.

USE INTERVENTION AS INVITATION

- What will encourage people to come in?

Final structure
Would be good if it could pack away – Ikea, DIY set of constructional diagrams?
Should involve projection in some way – play with layers and shadow.
Include something that the dancers can suspend from. – suspension of time as well as ppl.
Include strong lighting in someway (again playing with shadow)
Should involve framing – can be very cinematic
Should involve mirroring in some way. (Would be fantastic if we could include a mirror which spins)

How is it constructed?
How does it travel?
How is it disassembled?

Overall it should be something which amplifies the ideas that have been collected to turn these into ‘performance.’

It is suggested that perhaps the structure can be something with a base frame that different structures can then be attached to, depending on the specific areas of interest Trish and Simon are looking at for one particular performance. – Something adaptable to the situation.
Overall Conclusion
1. Strategic set of tools for engagement around bus shelters
2. Design of a structure for the showcase of collected research

Agenda for Monday 27-10-08
1. Discussion on the points that came up from Friday’s meeting.
2. Decision on path of action for up-coming week and division of labour.
3. Decision on what we want as a final presentation/exhibition of the project.
4. Conversation about whole school event.
5. Discussion on group outing on Tuesday evening.

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