Archive for the ‘cultural tour’ Category

In Spirit

A game about description, memory, sharing by Andy Field…

In Spirit was a game created for the spirit collection at the Natural History Museum.

In one cordoned-off corner of the collection stood shelves of creatures in glass jars so fragile that even looking at them with a grown-up’s eyes might cause them to start to grow faint and then disappear completely. In pairs, one adult and one child, players were asked to help us try and remember what was in the collection. The child would choose three creatures and describe them as best they could, whilst their accompanying adult (blindfolded for the safety of the specimens) had to listen and remember everything that was described to them. At the end of the game each pair were interviewed about what they saw.

Out of those interviews I have created this audio-piece. It is intended for listening on headphones either at home or, preferably, whilst walking through the spirit collection at the museum.

Both the original game and this audio piece were created by Andy Field.  You can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/andy-field-1/in-spirit


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Opening Lines

[Draft] project idea

Explore one site from a range of perspectives to develop different ways to experience and understand the space.  This could involve a frequent visitor, a security guard, an architect, an artist in residence, an audio describer.

The project will also explore how these observations could be combined in one event – paying attention to physical movement through the space and the information this provides for visually impaired participants.

This proposal developed from a series of events in 2011/12 exploring site specific art with visually impaired participants.  Initialy tours were led and described from particiular expert positions; a poet, architect, ceramicist and a cleaner.  These tours gave fascintaing and unexpected insights, it was interesting to think about how this knowledge developed in different ways; through academic study, observation, action.

The cleaner of a historic house described to us how she moved through some rooms in her stocking soles, having to first remove her shoes and the varying frequency for dusting different book cases.  This led to our suppositions on the value of the objects in the rooms and imagine the ones she is never allowed to dust.

Following this there were events to find out more about particular artists practise, the Bellrock co and Martin Parker.  The discussion with sandy from Bellrock was really enjoyable to meet a writer and director interested to work with visually impaired audiences and think about how verbal description could be incorporated into the voices of a play.
The final events were led by Anthony Schrag focussing on walking.  Anthony combined stories, myths and geology drawing on array of sources (including participants).  Physically walking through spaces connected ideas in different ways, similarly a museum display may be read differently depending on the order of encounters.  The curator can encorage this, or attempt to control it.

Presumably these connections and interpretations can also be left open in a promenade performance.  So there are still areas to research and consider to form a structure for the initial visits and final tour.  Who to involve, which artists might be intersted, what skills and observations will they bring?  Also thanks and more queries to be sent to Beverley at NLS and Rita Simpson for the initial suggestion.

A performance of Beats by Kieran Hurley with very visceral descriptions has also inspired the project idea.  The project should consider ways to explore and describe space with the group members, not for them.

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pacing the night

During  a seminar about Haptic Experiments, David Feeney gave an interesting comparison between artists walking practises which aim to disrupt our usual experience of the environment, sometimes useing tactics to purposefully get lost or disorientate, including walking while blind folded and the walking experiences of individuals with a visual impaiment.

In his presentation: ” An account of the importance of order and route-learning in the pedestrian experiences of individuals with visual impairments is posited between what Robin Jarvis refers to as the stroller’s ‘freedom to resist the imperative of destination’ .

Feeney argues that tactics such as blind folds and night walking, privilage the visual and suggests artist apprenticed with visually impaired individuals as a way to reach new understandings (find out more about this ideas).  This suggestion draws on James Winchester’s idea that “To understand each other across cultural divides, we must leave our comfort zone and become students of the many worlds out of which each artwork arises.”

research mentioned to find out more about:

Kevin Hetherington

David Bolt

Nina Morris “the uncritical way in which visibility is incorporated into many post-phenomenological accounts of landscape”

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We visited Jupiter Artland to test the new recorded descriptive tour before it opens to the public in May.  Diana, the education officer, recorded the tour following live tests with Artlink members last year.  Diana quite naturally described works, with some lovely visceral comaprisons.  She describes Anish Kappor’s Suck as the feeling you get when your heel catches in the bath plug as the water drains away.

On this tour we used Artlink’s portable FM loop system to broadcast the tour.  I held and controlled the only MP3 player and everyone listening had a receiver.  A simple box with a volume control, easy to use and no fiddly buttons.  as a group we walked round the artworks and listened to the recording.  this helped us focus on the content rather than the recording.

The tour will be available on handsets along with information from the artists and fictional stories by children in response to the artworks.  Hope fully the tours will work well for visitors to Jupiter Artland.  Follwoing feedback, the tour will be re-recorded for next year.  The group suggested a few improvements and tweaks but these were described as minor.

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MP3 players

MP3 players, which i thought might by a bit fiddly, failed to work taking up a lot of time and causing frustration.  As a result I didn’t properly explain the contaent and there was confusion as to when to stop listening.  We didn’t listen as a group but individually at different times.  In future leader should be seperate role from dealing with anything technical, this way delivery should be less affected by any hitches.

The next event at Jupiter Artland is also with MP3 players, so a chance to try to make this run smoothly.  Next time – better explanations, have all the same players, use splitter cable for headphones so 2 people can share and listen together.  It would also be easier to use MP3 players with screens so its easy to check whats going on.  the players used by Poor Boy had a hold feature, allowing only volume control, which ws useful.

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A cold and windy day at Cramond to listen to site specific sound and fiction pieces on Mp3 playres.  The sounds sparked some memories but we were too uncomfortable to listen carefully.

We abandoned the walk early and headed for welcome hot drinks.  We discussed the possibility of having sound equipment that would enable everyone to listen to same thing t same time with a central control.  Perhaps using the fm loop or ADA hire equipment.  However we decided if its a group experience, it may be best to have a live guide.  Not only is this easier but there is also more discussion, it is more direct and lively.  A recorded tour would have benefits as it would be flexible, enabling people to listen at convenience.  However best suited to 1or 2 people together.  Simple equipment, keeping hands free would be best such as the Playbutton.

“One of life’s good little experiments”

We have been working on this project for some time now.  This trip didn’t go to plan but it felt that we were trying something together that was part of an exploration, developing ideas for the project.  This realisation felt positive about the project and everyone’s involvement.

Things going wrong produced useful learning points, we realised the decisions we need to make and people offered to take more responsibility, such as bringing their own equipment.

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you need a destination but be flexible about how you get there

you need a leader but open and encouraging input

take time to understand different perspectives and notice the overlooked

the destination is not an end point but a pause, time to reflect, share and discuss

each walk is part of a longer jouney, drifting may happen between these

there are different ways to take part and influence

A quote from Jerom Bruner that for me sums up the afternoon:

“There is something antic about creating although the enterprise by serious.”

Bruner defines creativity as an act that produces effective surprise.

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