The Reading Room: Retrospective description 3 : Activities and Reflections continued


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Film :

Reception and analysis-

I’d been working on this whilst visiting the Reading Room and planning the participative event.

It started as a few short bits of layered shot footage and searches relating to the location.

Here are some stills.

The finished piece is about 25 minutes long and very, very slow and, so some viewers say, mesmerising.

Others have said that it makes then ‘tingle’ from time to time….

My difficulty was making the film with relevant to the location and the audience in Croughton and maintaining a political link with the lack of/ intervention of digital comms tech in the area and the effect this may be having in a global context.

So the film may have sat on the fence and maybe I was trying to ‘ serve two masters’.

Certainly the film went down well with the Reading Room audience who interpreted  my message BUT  possibly the local emphasis took over from the effects of the comms at RAF Croughton?

I am not sure how this would be received elsewhere.

One comment from a friend said the political footage was not strong enough technically and therefore was lost, however I’m not sure. I didn’t want to make it blatant and lose the obscurity I’d created by the layering of sound and image..

I almost feel as if I need several versions depending on where they are to be shown.

Really I need to get this out there and see what others think.

I am not good at doing this.

I am still really bad at showing work….but this does need to be seen more widely to get appropriate feedback I think.

From the POV of this event it was fine.

The audience stayed and watched from beginning to end…..unusual for video, and possibly because it was ‘about them”

It was shown in the rather gloomy bar area but people gathered and watched together, though I did see the vicar dozing off for a moment!



It highlights the contrast between the lack of connection in the village and the comms  outside at RAF Croughton and also, I hope, the ‘psycho – geography’ of the Reading Room……

Making it was fascinating.

I’ve never worked on a piece this long before and looking on line for footage, I found myself moving into areas I’ve never investigated before.

Certainly I was in a different geograpical area on the internet. I found myself looking at footage of terrorist attacks caught on CCTV and broadcast on some Arab News Sites.

It was chilling to watch people ( doctors)  being gunned down in a hospital by terrorists wearing masks and people running  after bombs exploded.

This is the footage we don’t normally see.

I was in unknown territory and I could not put it into context properly as, of course, the voice over was in Arabic.

I felt uncomfortable and frightened. This was not a feature film.

In Summary, I need to think about whether I can make different ‘editions’ of the film for different locations and audiences.

I need to show it to more people.

I do not want to upload it to Vimeo or Youtube. I want to maintain ‘possession’ of it……..

Communication with Camberwell MA Show:

Analysis –

Basically this didn’t happen.

As I think I’ve already mentioned on a previous post relating to Audience, no-one got in touch by text, call, Snapchat… nowt!

Not during the Show but when I wasn’t at the Reading Room or during the event at the Reading Room.

Not friends, colleagues, tutors… no-one… not even people at the Reading Room called as a joke….

no signal when I was there but no texts or Voicemail picked up later…..

I could have handed out the leaflets away from the Camberwell Show and also Tweeted/ Facebooked/ SnapChatted etc about

this element of the event and so encouraged other input but I guess I was concentrating, as I mentioned on these two audiences…poles apart …….with no interim….

Possibly, because of the amount of effort I put into the organisation and execution of the event it feels as if `i ‘should have done more’ with it and let others see it or at least let them know it existed…. A-N and other areas amy have been appropriate.

I guess I didn’t want an ‘arty crowd’ to descend on the place physically but I could have put more effort in to have a ‘virtual crowd’ and not rely on the Camberwell audience….I’ve discussed some of the reasons why hey didn’t engage in the previous post.

Another lesson learnt. There are ways to widen participation without’ interference’ using digital and social media.

I should have used them better and not been so purist/ about this area.

Watching a Live-Feed of the event from the event –

Well, this just didn’t happen as I’ve described. No Broadband connection in or out of the Reading Room, though a tempting ‘theoretical’ link to BT Open Zone was possible.

Apparently this is visible all the time but you can never log-in.

Still, I did mange to work out how to set up a Live-Feed and did that, with the help of YouTube tutorials and my sons and the eldest’s Chromebook. See below:


Home-made cakes and Conversation:

Analysis –

Participation here was strong with all participants fully engaged during their visit to the event.

No-one just breezed in and out with a cursory look around.

The cakes helped, as did the presence of Jane and Richard who are Caretakers and Booking agents for the Reading Room  and who featured in the flyer.

The local people came in to spend time and chat and see what it was all about. So did the other visitors.

We had conversations about the ubiquity of the digital especially comms, the intrusion and usefulness, reliance or not upon digital technology, the expansion of RAF Croughton and unknown impact, surveillance of a different kind in the Cold War;

and we talked of other more ancient things…the nearby Iron Age Rainsborough camp, the stone that makes the building, the fires that were lit in the winter.

Things of ancient ritual and dwelling deep in the collective memory of this community

One visitor said that maybe to live in a place where there is No Broadband or phone signal will be a selling point in the future with these ‘islands’ of silence valued highly… with just face- to face real time conversations… Maybe.



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