Monday, 21 October 2013

Amphibolous - Occupying the Mainstream

Amphibolous' occupying the mainstream was a commission for If Only's two-week 'occupation' of Gallery 2 at the Bluecoat in Liverpool.

Adam Webster taking a spin on the turntables in Gallery 2
The piece consisted of an a cappella vocal performance by the trio that used streaming technology to create a unique audience perspective, seen from the individual points of view of the performers. To do this we taped mobile phones to our heads, sending the three video streams to a TV in the gallery and the audio to the sound system. The ultimate lo-fi hi-tech action.

The idea was to start as normal: a performance in a gallery. However, the stream allowed us to go exploring - through the rest of the Bluecoat, and out into the streets of Liverpool - while the audience inside the gallery could still watch the performance from the comfort of their seats. This also created a second audience, the people of Liverpool, who caught a primetime showing of a unique happening. Finally, after our adventures around town, we headed back to the Bluecoat for the grand finale.

The project offered a number of ideas to play with. Firstly, because the audience could see from each of our perspectives, we didn't have to always be together. We could split up, combine in different configurations, and come back together, creating a range of dynamics to be explored.

The piece was part improvisation, part composition. In order to exploit the different combinations, 'textures' and dynamics of the journey, we decided not to plan an exact route, but rather set meeting points along the way. We also came up with a number of strategies to create larger scale forms in the piece: when it would be more appropriate to start splitting up; when we should come together; points where we should run to increase the pace of the action.

The resulting piece was a lot of fun. It is always fascinating to see the response to public interventions like this. Well, you can see for yourself. Here's the video...

Amphibolous are: Adam Webster, Ash Steel, Simon Jones.

Monday, 14 October 2013

F.A.C.E. - Facial recognition

In August, I was invited to create an installation for TiLT Dance's Manifold event at the Kazimier in Liverpool.

Recently I have been working on some projection mapping techniques with General Midi of a.P.A.t.T., so this seemed like the ideal opportunity to test out some of the techniques we'd developed. The result was F.A.C.E. (the Facial Apprehension Control Experiment), an interactive installation that used facial recognition software to replace and swap people's faces.

The night was an incredible fusion of performance and installation art. A couple of particular highlights include the piece which used a live bio-sensor to control a 'light-suit' worn by a trapeze artist, and an installation by Null Pointer where paint was sprayed down a tube onto a record player as it played a record.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Candy Cigarettes

Last year I teamed up with experimental theatre group, the Rat Pit, to create a new multi-sensory theatre piece for the If Only festival that I was part of the curating team for at the Bluecoat in Liverpool. The end result was a new 15-minute work, Candy Cigarettes.

Working together through a series of jams, exercises and improvisations, the Rat Pit (Carly Lindon-Forrester and Georgia Tillery) created an intense non-linear drama that explored adulthood through the prism of children's play, while I devised sonic and olfactory content to accompany and enhance the drama.

Designing smells to fit the piece was a particularly fascinating process. I wanted to keep most of the smells quite abstract, in the same way that the accompanying music was abstract, without an overly literal and simplistic interpretation of the unfolding drama. Instead, I wanted something that could bring a new emotional light to the action going on onstage.

Because we had to create a very concise piece to fit in with the nature of the night, a lot of the original material developed had to be cut... somewhat of a double-edged sword. The work became tighter and more focused, but some of the scenes didn't quite have the time to breathe they really needed. We got great feedback from the performance, and decided to create a full-length version with a view to touring it.

Georgia had started working at Creed Street Arts Centre in Milton Keynes, and they were very keen on the idea. So we all trekked down south for a week of rehearsals, development and, finally, two shows that expanded the work to a full hour. Reviews were great, and we are now planning to take the show to the Edinburgh Festival next year. There is a video of the full-length performance, but, while it's in the editing suite, here's the original from the If Only festival. Enjoy!