Tutorial 27.05.2016

castethebest

This image is relevant….all will be revealed!

In my tutorial with Jonathan we covered lots of ground. I  put forward my ideas for Live stream during the show and how I would make sure there was something for viewers to see during the PV.

In preparing for the tutorial I’d realised that it had been difficult for me to make decisions that were solely for my practice, future professional practice as well as the final exhibition, and to leave aside more personal desires….as below..

Yet another conflict and ambiguity that seems to have pervaded  my work throughout the MA.

Getting used to organising an exhibition without being present may well be the way I have to work in the future .

The opportunity to organise set up/install  on-line and at a distance is providing me with just such an opportunity…Even if I’d really love to be there, involved with a team, and seeing everyone face to face.

In some ways it seems a sacrifice not to be involved in this way…but essential for my work, now and in the future.

So, we discussed the matter of delegation and distant, loose direction and how my practice so far had engaged with these techniques of working in participative and collaborative practice….and how exactly this would work for the Show.

I put forward ideas for how the audiences would access my stream, when the streams would be and some of the content on the various dates; especially a performative exchange for the PV night.

Also, how different audiences would be notified or made aware of the actions and events during the week of the Show.

I explained some of the links and associations which are important  for the final pieces and how I see them working together.

Jonathan was more than supportive and I was very over excited really as, for once, things seem to be reaching some point of resolution at about the right time….

I’ll  post more details but there will be no specific timetable…just something every 24 hours to ensure at least one lifestream is accessible via Twitter/ Periscope every day of the Show.

I’ve really tried to cut down on any excess for the show as there is so much layering, fragmentation and ‘stuff’ in my work I need some clarity.

I mentioned to Jonathan about my Geocache thoughts…which I’ve decided to put on hold… they are not for now but another piece of work for the future… and he agreed.

I also discussed some of my thoughts about reciprocality, participation, collaboration and audience.

We’d had a talk the previous day by Charlotte Webb about her PhD and it set me thinking about future study….whether my practice is more suited to research in other disciplinary areas…

I shared a few thoughts with Jonathan about this too..

 

Advertisements

Pin-hole Playtime – Solargrams

Way back, I been chatting to Martin, who lives in Llandrindod Wells about working on Crouch Hill and also about Pinhole Photography Day 24th April 2016. I’ve been involved with some of his image making before – notably a significant day in 2014- but as a subject rather than participant. Along with others, he’s been part of many conversations about the site and activities I’ve been ‘planning’ and somehow  (Him/Me?) suggested the possibility of using a pinhole camera on the hill over a period of activity.

I’d been focussing on May Day but to install a camera a little earlier meant that we could incorporate any images on the Pinhole Day Website (…or  they will be there when I have written this post so that the details of this post can then be put on the website ……….reflexivity in action!) and a combination of basic  analogue and digital tech for image making. The images will be Solargrams, tracking the course of the sun from April 17th to May 23rd incorporating Beltane sunrise on Crouch Hill.

Several important factors about the process relating to my research

  • Pinhole photography uses no lens…no mediation (at this initial stage) a raw and ‘pure’ analogue process, a direct extension of a camera obscura.
  • Solargrams, like these, track the movement of the sun over time and space from a static location; they show the passage of time within space… (rather than an instant). As Martin put it…’capturing contingency’
  • Scanning the image (see process below and here)  is a critical stage of the process as the original image will be DESTROYED by the bright scanning lamp (or at least severely damaged). Therefore, only one scan is permitted. There is a built in ‘ephemerality’ of the actual material imagery..
  • Collaborating and communicating with Martin had to be via mobile as there were no landlines in Wales and no Broadband.  The wind had blown down trees and brought down the cables.. in an unknown location so impossible to repair. He had been without a phone for several weeks. Luckily he lives at the top of a hill so his mobile connection is fine.

UPDATE: Here they are on the `pinhole day’ website !!!!!

The period they were installed ( 17th April – 23rd May) means they covered the time from before to after Beltane ( whichever Beltane dates you care to choose…depending on your location/nationality).

There’s also an image of Martin’s simultaneous (ish) sunrise on May 1st on the post about that event here…. when it is written

They were positioned to face in the direction of the sunrise to catch the movement of the sun across the sky, daily, for the period they were present.

The sun rises to the left of the Trig Point.

Martin, in true precision mode, gave me co-ordinates and landmarks to make sure I was facing the right way and in the correct spot and Helen helped to keep me straight when I fixed the cameras on the trees. They were small film canisters with film enclosed.

I took some images with a Polaroid One 600 too. Just for the sake of it…Helen even took a couple of me Periscoping the install using the Polaroid….and so on! and a couple of the surroundings for context…

IMG_20160527_0001.jpg

Here are the cameras, barely visible in one case,  when I took them down.

The other had been turned carefully round so that it pointed away from the activities that often occur on summer evenings!

When I went to retrieve them, Brian, the local historian in some of the Scopes was there walking his dog….

 

These are the images that Martin produced once they had been posted off to him in Wales and scanned.

“simply scanned, inverted, & adjusted contrast curves.
The colours are “as they happened”. Even with identical location & scanning there are different colour characteristics. Maybe chemicals in the air/cannister?”

Actually, that’s just given me the idea to set up a range of identical cams, each with a leaf of a different (aromatic/toxic?) plant enclosed

very ethereal and quite beautiful.

“Here’s a snap of the images on the photo paper as they appear in daylight. Should give you an idea of how thin the image is! The image v. quickly degrades once it’s flooded with light & there’s no photochemical means of preserving the image so that it’s viewable long-term. So the use of a scanner & photoshop/GIMP to stretch the contrast is a nice mix of new & old technology.” Martin Winfield

Rh_beltane_phc

This is how Martin processed the images….

Pinhole Solargram on Ilford MGIV paper, exposed from 17th April to May 23rd  unprocessed. Scanned, inverted & contrast adjusted in Linux/GIMP by Martin Winfield – martinwinfield.co.uk

Camera info:
35mm film canister with 0.2mm pinhole in aluminium foil.

 

Bill Drummond …..where is he now?

I’ve been loosely following Bill on his progress after reading this article and already being aware of his work at Eastside Projects . I love the daffs, Bill, as many other people probably do!

Bill-Drummond-raft-008

I thought about him on St.George’s Day, 24th April, as it was also Asparagus Day. I went to buy some locally grown asparagus from the farm close to Crouch Hill, but because the weather has been so cold it was two weeks behind! I went to the local Co-Op and bought some which had been flown f from (!?) Spain…..

DSC_2393

I had downloaded some asparagus based songs  (surprisingly there are quite a few) e. g. Chris Wood, Half Man -Half Biscuit , took the bunches to the hill and offered them to passers- by. No takers… surprisingly.

This was a Drummond-esque gesture, but semi-rural Oxfordshire isn’t quite the same as Birmingham…

I also checked out his website Penkiln Burn, to see how he was getting on……poster-1

Public transport, ideas worth spreading and ‘differance’

Communication and networking

Part One

I’d planned to go to London to a gig, and planned to combine it with a trip into College and also the library at CSM. I realised the morning that I was being way too ambitious and left in time to get to Marylebone, have a leisurely lunch with our Skype chat,and then get to the library.

For months I’ve been writing random thoughts and ideas that come at 4 am etc down on post-its but hadn’t done anything with them.

On the journey down I listed them all on sheets of A4, hand written. I love working on quiet trains…very conducive to clarity.

As I wrote, I screwed up each idea and made a pile. I had a paper bag with me…also with ideas scribbled on, and just before the end of the journey, tidied them up by putting them in the bag.

Then I was reminded of the concepts of dissemination, broadcasting  and the TED mission of ‘ideas worth spreading’. 

I had a sudden desire to throw the brightly coloured scraps with my ideas on all around Marylebone station and let them blow and settle where they may, be picked up and read or discarded…

If I hadn’t had overdue library books to return and tickets for the gig I may have done just that…. but I was sensible for a change, and just tore a hole in the bottom of the bag so occasionally the ‘ideas’ dropped out as I walked along. Some had fallen on the train floor , so I left them there.

I went to the station toilet, left some there

and then to  Gino’s Cafe  where I continued working and attempted, unsuccessfully, to join  the MAFAD Skype chat.

Part Two

I worked in the cafe for a couple of hours of more, eating and drinking and one of the waiters asked what I was doing. When I explained, he told me the following phrase “in bocca al lupo!” – “into the mouth of the wolf!”. The reply should be “crepi lupo!” or  “crepi!” – “may the wolf die!” so that I could overcome the beast! He wrote down my Twitter username and blog details, though, stupidly, I didn’t take his so don’t know if he Follows.

I went back to the station toilet – the ‘ideas’ had been removed… so I  left some more.

Whilst waiting at themes stop for the 205, a kind woman noticed that I had a hole in the paper-bag. She drew  my attention to it and I explained what I was doing and why. She told me a story about how she once found a painted canvas by a bin in Aldwych. There was email address on it , so she got in touch. The artist  ( a student) replied saying that it had been left  as part of their work… so she understood my action.

She read the post-it which had fallen on the floor. It had 4 words on it.

‘That’s what I should do with my life’ – she said.….and we got on the bus.

It made me feel rather uncomfortable, reminding me of a piece of work I made some years ago around divination.

Part Three

The 205 was packed and the woman, a little younger than me who sat next to me, asked my advice about bus routes. Being a bit of a bus-route geek I was more than happy to discuss and encourage the download of CityMapper. We stuck up conversation and my assortment of bags and bits of paper intrigued her. She was linguist and so the conversation easily extended to Derrida. I’ve been trying to understand more deeply  the concepts of differance, deconstruction, the relationship between text and speech and how these may be operating within my methodology and ‘finished’ works.She is also a painter, so we discussed the Final Show and I asked if she would mind the possibility of participating. She kindly gave me her contact details, as Juliet Hendersonwhich I scribbled down on one of my many sheets. I got of the bus at Kings Cross, dropping post-its as I went. She went on to Angel, I think. I spent a while in the library, then made my way to the Roundhouse, Camden…..spreading ideas as I went.

Analysis

This day became, unintentionally, an illuminated illustration of my continuing practice of contingent action, as the  participation in a dynamic becoming of spaces of interrelations – all of it happening because of a rather ‘daft’ action’ and an openness to conversation – on everyones part.

I almost forgot, I went on to the gig and, sitting at the top of the Roundhouse, had something of an epiphany. Ridiculous really, but I’ve never noticed before the extent of reciprocity between audience and performer at a gig. Maybe it was because I was in an iconic venue, watching  a band that really moved me, with a friend from a previous life… or what…

I realised that by ‘sharing’ their talents they weren’t just showing off … the reflexive relationship was so obvious. It was like those therapy moments… something I’ve always known- only now I  knew it differently. It made me determined to re-assess and investigate that audience/ participant/performer relationship within my work, even further in the future.

 

Local Historians – Brian and Margaret

Brian and Margaret are frequenters of Crouch Hill and nearby Salt Way  when walking their dog, Elvie. They are also local historians and members of the local Banbury Historical Society . Brian writes a weekly column for the print edition of local weekly newspaper Banbury Guardian.

Brian had arranged to come up the hill, sit in the tent and talk about the history of Crouch Hill and its historical importance to the town. However, the weather had been so wet that access to the summit was very slippery and both Brian and Margaret had recently had accidents, falling; so we decided it was wiser to stay in the house!

I broke the chat into streams of around 15 minutes to see if this had any effect on audience. There was what has become a common feeling of local and global communities joining. Some of the names on the stream were familiar; Andrea from Asturias, who I shared my cycling memories with, in an earlier post was there.

Again, someone from Blackpool recognised my username as having a specific reference to the area. This has happened at least twice before; I get drawn into a chat about which school I went to and which hospital I was born in!!!

This brings a strange and lovely personal context to the Broadcast for me and hopefully  other viewers, the way that communities collide and merge in an open network……

The conversation ranged from some of the more general history, contemporary residential developments along the Salt Way, archaeological investigations prior to building and the controversy surrounding them.

Brian also told a story of a birdwatching trip to the Battlefield of Edgehill site several years ago with local naturalist, Ernie Bingham and a follow-up ‘ security’ visit from the local ‘Copper’!

We looked through his extensive collection of books and he spoke about how the top of the hill was created artificially and that a local legend says that ” the Devil dropped it there…. on his way to the nearby church in Bloxham”  ( if my memory serves me right!)

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 10.06.46

During the chat I mentioned Alfred  Beesley’s  History of Banbury ( 1841). I hadn’t wanted to read in the official archives held in Oxford or Banbury libraries for this work.

My methodology is of re-mediation through people as agents, so it was a marvellous coincidence when Margaret said she had her own copy and went off to the shelves to get it.

That couldn’t have happened if we had managed to climb the hill!

Then she described  Chap Books, which were small, cheap, simple books and  on the streets to individuals and travelling sellers called Chapmen; who also sold  bootlaces, ribbons, lace,seeds and spices etc.  in the  17th to the 19th century .
Chap books were  were flimsy, ephemeral and passed from hand to hand with a readership  mainly  the poor.  They served like  broadsheets, ballads, and long songs,  covering a very wide range of topics from fairy tales to news of politics.   She had some re-prints with short verses describing the extreme Puritan views held in Banbury and also the  books printed by Banbury printers, Rusher  (whose poem I read from at the very beginning of this stage of my research, Reading William Rusher #Crouch Hill)

Brian also talked about some more recent activities on the hill including Steeplecashing and sledging which still continues…my younger son broke his foot doing just that !

We were joined, not just by the Periscope community, but also my son in a notification about his Amazon Prime account!

Another tender mix of the production of simultaneous, intimate and global space  through contingent social interaction within a re-animated past.

As I walked away from their house in the dull, damp weather I could see Crouch Hill with it’s distinctive summit from the ‘end of their road’…..

IMG_3690

Simultaneous Broadcasts

This is a short post about something that took a long time to make and a long time to look through the excessive documentation…. for just a few screen shots.

I wanted to push the idea of simultaneous broadcasting from the same site via Periscope. Providing, what I hoped were several witnesses to the same event… and play with that idea.

I invited 2 local amateur archaeologists and 2 friends. The theme for discussion was Hill forts… relating to the idea of Crouch Hill as a signalling post, using fires, to nearby  Iron Age Hill forts such as Rainsborough Camp, which features in my research paper. Th planned action would also  aim to illuminate the general militarisation of the area, now and in the past; the  ‘multi-dimensional layering’ of  action, social interaction, memory  and physical landscape…. so combining the ideas of simultaneity and palimipsest.

Veronica had researched hill-forts and was to discuss them with Claire and other on-stream viewers, whilst Louise, Chris and I Periscoped the conversations at the same time. However, Veronica was sick and could’t lead.

Claire brought  her local OS (Ordnance Survey) map (a good link to the Trig Point and geo-location ) using that as a guide, we discussed the local geography and historyand position of some nearby  hill forts and ancient landmarks We  tried to spot some of them in the distance and then drank elderflower cordial. We finished the broadcasts  by  all walking around the summit and showing the viewers the geographical context of the hill from all our points of view.

This was the first time viewers had  been given a guided tour!

Challenges and thoughts

I had 2 phones with me , so in theory, a total of  5 different ‘witness ‘ broadcasts, (with another participant viewing from the  via desktop app. )

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a signal on one phone and the others have very few followers. so chat was limited…I had 43 viewers and the others  a handful. I didn’t see much chat visible though apart from a few ( mild-ish) Trolls and could only see a handful of people hopping on…. not at all sure why that was…Generally no direct chat from me to the broadcast means very little from the network – unless people choose to  chat between themselves.

This is what I’d hoped for. Chat within and between broadcasts and our group on the Hill.

The bright sun meant that none of us could see the screens properly without covering up the phone( and the cameras!)

We spent a long time faffing setting up, using up our data and batteries, I got several back-up packs jus in case)  by which time most viewers had got bored and left, I think.

I could possibly have spent more time ‘training’ people to use Periscope and practising but I don’t like that idea of rehearsal and practice. The action and event is just something that happens… not theatre…the  faff was just part of the process and was streamed too, as it evolved.

Essentially, it was what it was,

At that time, in that place 

Although we didn’t create the sense of community and chat between Scopers I thought may occur,  we did broadcast 4 different witnessings of the same action.We’d all used the same # to make it easier for viewers to track us ( at least one viewer  did make the effort to find other Broadcasts).

The exercise didn’t really investigate  simultaneity in different locations as we were all in the same ‘spot’ … but was more an attempt to explore and play with the idea of performer/participant/ audience/ viewer/ witness/ collaborator and these roles.

I had the original idea from looking at Trish Browns’ Roof Piece ( 1979), although that is different.There are different performers in different locations, performing the same action, simultaneously. This has probably been created already via a broadcast channels such as Periscope. But for global performance  is a possibility for future development.

 

What we did do, was to record 4 different perspectives of the same action and relations within the space at the same time…and network them to a ( small) but global and local community.

See below  for 3 different shots of a passing dog-walker  (owner of Jasper; half-terrier, half- Springer) taken at,  more or less…, the same time.

He wasn’t really keen on joining the chat… more concerned that my temporary occupation may continue to permanence…

I’d also brought a game of ( chocolate ) chess as a reference to the history of social hierarchy and capture ‘layered’ and hidden within the space. It was so hot the chocolate melted, leaving a mess resembling a battlefield on the board….

May 1st 2016 #Crouch Hill #apreoccupation

Even before this MA I’d had an underlying desire to be at the top of Crouch Hill for May Morning! Many years ago, I’d heard Simon Pipe, a lover of ritual and founder of the local Hobby Horse festival, say that there had been a ritual horn blowing in(?) pagan times, and not forgotten it.

My research process seemed to have lead to this point and location, so I planned an event for May 1st 2016; conveniently, a Sunday. There are a multiplicity of rituals and attached meanings associated with 1st May described here in the Independent 2016 , Daily Mirror 2016  and The Guardian 2012 . Some traditional British folk-lore, similar customs in other nations, and political associations. The intention of the actions within this event are to make manifest some of the hidden ‘layers’ of embedded  but obscured or partially erased personal and locally collective meanings, whilst possibly uncovering cultural and social hegemonies and ideologies: building on previous research actions and events.

 Format for the Day

I continued to do this using a series of props and materials and ritual(istic) activities, starting the day with a solitary ritual at daybreak, followed by other events.

I had arranged for various contacts to, physically, come to the Hill throughout the day and participate. The people who were able to come on the day were a selection of those originally approached, coming at their convenience. Others approached could not come and may or may not participate at another time..

Several were to deliver and discuss topics relating to my research.

Others acted as observer/ participants/ witnesses   – asked to download the Periscope and Twitter  apps : broadcasting the same events from differing points of view.

All were sent short summaries of the ideas in my research paper ( as circulated to my on-line cohort for the research paper session) . I also talked to them briefly about Crouch Hill and practical plans for the day.- playings a loose directorial role.

Using TED Talks as a guide, I suggested that each of the contributors talked for 18 minutes (or less ) about Crouch Hill from their personal and professional perspective, without the content becoming an  academic discourse. Accessibility  and  audience was important.

I chose the TED Talk format because of their mission of ” Ideas Worth Spreading” which is key to the concept of “Broadcast” and the  metaphorical association with casting seed for germination.

TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. http://www.ted.com

Those who were able to come were:

  • A photographer/ sound- artist  (in Wales via mobile phone)  with an interest in time-based work and the environment.
  • An amateur local archaeologist/artist , with an interest in heritage who is researching another nearby site.
  • An anthropologist/ archaeologist who has lived with and researched  nomadic tribes
  • a senior town-planner, now working in the private residential planning sector in the UK but whose origins are Leningrad, Soviet Russia 
  • a local poet, with a particular literary interest in Proust, Sebald and Benjamin and a professional background working as a Civil Servant on policy for the Department of Health 
  • a textile artist with a professional background in theatre. (National and Royal Shakespeare Theatre) 
  • a support ‘tech’ to help carry things! and join in with the broadcast chat was unable to participate fully due to having to take her dog to the vet.
  • another support ‘observer/ witness’ was sick and unable to come on the day.

I asked all to download the Periscope and Twitter apps where possible : broadcasting the same events from differing points of view and acting as witnesses as well as  participants

Daybreak Horn and Bonfire 

I reached the summit at about 5.30am, having spoken to participant collaborator, Martin W in Mid-Wales  at 5.18 as I left. He often gets up for May Day Morning at his house in Mid-Wales and we’d agreed that we would see the sunrise ‘together’. On the summit there was thick frost and it felt more like January than May. I turned to look for the rising sun and it was visible  above the Trig Point as I looked east. Just visible between the unusually, still leafless trees. I sounded a battery bicycle horn,  (an autobiographical reference) three times at approx 05.36am BST, the official time of sunrise…..but maybe I was a few minutes late….. and then started to make a ‘Beltane’ bonfire.Frame-17-06-2016-12-14-37

Martin W was at the top of his local hill (Trembyd), with the “landed festival” in the Wye valley below (Midpoint of sunrise 05.45 BST ) and attempt at simultaneity but he has no smartphone and so no archived Periscope chat to prove it!…. Just his photo below.Beltane_2016_0

Bonfire and music

The bonfire was created from cassette tapes, recorded from the radio without even using an external mic, by my father many years ago. I  tracked down digital versions of the content on iTunes and mixed them in Garageband.

Selecting the clips to use and then overlaying the tracks was interesting.

I haven’t worked in Garageband that much before. I considered using Audacity but wanted to make a fairly quick piece and despite the sessions I’d had , didn’t really feel confident using it for mixing. (Ha !) Sound quality did not have to be that good. All I wanted to do was play the mix track from my old phone via a Bluetooth speaker as before. The music was intended to be, like the action, pretty raw and unfinished… not high production.

In the end the mix took 3 days or more …..Finding exactly the same music by the same orchestras and string quartets where possible, ( he’d recorded these pieces because they were hard to find on vinyl…. mostly not run of the mill stuff) downloading it, selecting the clips, overlaying with just enough space between tracks  so the segue’d in without being too contrived….making things appear chaotic can be so time consuming…… Quite the opposite of my supposed  methodology, the continual contrast and paradox between the obsessive archiving, editing and remediation of the material and the ephemerality of the event. This almost acts as a commentary on the contemporary obsessiveness with archive and memory which contrasts with the intransigence of life…. if this isn’t too much of a cliche!

I tried to upload the mix on to Soundcloud but it was rejected due to Copyright 

SoundCloud :Hi OldRh,Our automatic content protection system has detected that your track:“Mix Of Analogue Music For May Day 6 – 30 04 2016, 13.46” may contain the following copyrighted content: “String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 13: Adagio non lento” by Alban Berg Quartett owned by Warner Classics. As a result, your track has been removed from your profile for the time being.

But here it is in Clyp in full

https://clyp.it/m2eqpkjm/widget

The aim was that as the cassettes burned the music sounded as if it was emanating from each clip that caught fire….as the fire spread…. so the music ebbed and flowed with the flames.

 

 Audience  and Analysis ( Daybreak and Bonfire) 

Was I doing this for a Periscope audience…at 5.30 in the morning…UK time…..?

I realised when I chose the tapes as material, that I was carrying this ritual for myself. My father died 16 years ago and I have kept the tapes to use in work. I wanted to hear the music on those tapes…. to bring it, briefly and temporarily, alive. The last track, playing as the embers smoke, is John Taverner’s Eternal Memory for Cello and String Orchestra played by the Royal Philharmonic

May Day Morning, with the association with passing of old life to new, seemed a good time to use them. A rather literal, symbolic personal ritual.

For the Broadcasts I used the #apreoccupation #Crouch Hill – a reference to a hesitant, playful activism in a public but privately owned space, the use of the tent and my own as an artist and individual.

[I discovered that it is not common land at the summit but still privately owned with public access/ rights of way)… though no designated Public Footpath.]

There were 3 live viewers and 3 Replay for the horn blowing and up to 17 for the last of 3 Live Broadcasts of the bonfire. I had to stream in 3 steps because of the different view points.. using the top of the Trig Point as a support for the 1st, longer distance, and use of a tripod for the second, close up. This part of the process felt rather contrived because of the use of the various bits of albeit low tech ‘stuff’.

I made the decision to go up the Hill alone, which meant that it broadcasting would have been practically very difficult without using tripods and holders.

I did try lighting the matches and holding the phone, but it wasn’t easy. Not holding the phone or being able to look at it meant that I couldn’t chat to the viewers but this action was most definitely a solitary ritual, with observers rather than participants. Despite some technical hitches with the rather intermittent Bluetoothing of the music, which is all part of my rather ad hoc approach to the action, and adds to the contingency  at the time of enactment ( in contrast to the preparation!),  the ritual was moving, significant  and affective to perform. Had also taken the plunge and upgraded to a new iPhone SE, as I really needed to improve the quality of the stream.

The video documentation on Youtube demonstrates this…

Documentation

I made the decision again to  keep recordings of this event, purely for the purpose of refection and analysis ( or at least that’s what I tell myself!)….  a paradox of ephemerality and archiving.…It is now possible, with my iPhone SE to save a screen recording, complete with chat as text and hearts, direct from phone to Desktop, which is much quicker and simpler than via the Desktop App…. too easy……The compulsion to Save.

 

After the bonfire I walked home down the Hill, rested and had breakfast, saved the screen recordings and made further preparations  for a  trip up the Hill with anthropologist/archaeologist, Damon Dennis.

Ritual and space  

Damon talked about May Day as a ritual in different cultures attracting questions regarding the practices he described. I was able to see the chat this time, as I was in the tent. We also discussed my thoughts of ritual within space, positioned as I was within my ‘green tent, at that time; in that place’. At least one dog walker passed by. I was unaware of any other. We talked for around 50 minutes… I was unaware of the time passing. I was trying hard to recall  Levis Strauss, Marcel Mauss, Victor Turner and  Eric Rothenbhuler’s key thoughts on ritual and ritual process- liminality, rites of passage, exchange, performativity  etc  and put it into some personal context for that moment, in that space,but found it very difficult …. I could not assimilate….or dissemninate…

Here’s a Wiki link… for summary and simplicity …any inaccuracies are fitting within the conceit of this project… and an edited clip

Archaeology, landscape and memory

Claire talked about the phenomenology of the landscape and the work of Christopher Tilley, personal recollections and coincidence...the book mark in the text she chose was a childhood birthday card, sent by an aunt who used to take Claire’s brother to Crouch Hill for picnic and some of the local history from her own research …Claire’s broadcast the sun- glare  made it  more or less impossible. Still a reasonable audience though.

Damon and her led a short Urban Dig, looking at recent archaeological ‘finds’ at the summit, again with great participation from the viewers.

I went back down the hill to greet Irina whilst Louise broadcast, explained and answered questions as Claire continued her dig.

Irina brought printouts of images and imagery as flags to serve as  prompts to her personal memories of May Day Parade in ‘70’s Soviet Leningrad with her mother. She showed images relating to the history and collective memories embedded within it. Then I sat in my tent, with her outside in the sunshine, so that we could chat with some of the viewers. By ‘coincidence’ one was a Russian who planned to play football in a nearby  (500km away) town. Ira chatted in Russian, discussing their support of local teams.

I took the viewers on a short tour around the landscape and discussed the site and context.Through the trees, walking the narrow path to the summit appeared more participants .

 Monopoly

Three other participants joined us; Damon and Claire left. I set out the Monopoly and replenished the refreshments. I had brought a teapot with cups, saucers and ‘tray cloth’ along with biscuits and fruit… to ‘make an occasion of it.’ I laid out an old London Monopoly board and everyone set up a game. This was a fairly simple link to an underlying capitalism within British culture but also to the distress and discomfort felt by many people living close to the Hill, as large new residential estates are being built by property developers within a quarter of a mile. The boundary  which runs next to the Hill, an ancient trackway, has been broken, with the Hill ( and town)  becoming surrounded by new developments.Although playing the game uses strategy and tactics, there is also chance ( throwing of the dice, content of Chance cards) and community ( Community Chest cards, Jail, utilities and transport), plus the need for selection of a token of personal representation.

I was aware that Monopoly was possibly difficult to access in Ira’s USSR. Monopoly was apparently created in 1903, before the Great Depression, by American anti- capitalist Lizzie J. Magie Phillips. She created the game as an educational tool to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies although the myth is that it was invented by game-designer, Charles Darrow. Magie Phillips was feminist, writer and poet, on themes of justice and inequality. I have heard the view that Monopoly was indeed a feminist game, as it gave women a chance to ‘have  control over their own money’.

During the playing of the game and the chat between players, viewers and myself.. many of these political and cultural issues were illuminated,  through the conversation and behaviour of the group. I was aware of the perfomativity of the game-play and the ritual behaviour both within and without the game itself

A New Folklore

Originally, Frances had discussed the possibility of bringing some personal objects for autobiographical reflection, however, when she arrived she had some props to demonstrate a May Day ritual she had extrapolated from the internet. A humorous but critical  juxtaposition of old and new, with some adaptations and confusion as the May blossom was not in flower. All the trees were about 4 weeks behind the usual flowering times.

The manner in which she guided me and the viewers through the ritual process really engaged the audience in the participation, performance and creation of the ritual with some shared conversation about the creation of contemporary folklore and myth; and the role of the Internet ( and Wikipedia) in that creation.

Pagan Poem and Proust

I spent some time in early March discussing Benjamin’s The Arcades Project with Martin and its relevance to my Research Paper and process, as an example of  fragmentation and unfinished work and palimpsest  multi-layering. I’d also  listened to his thoughts on Proust and memory, as part of a Memorials Moving and Invisible   , a walk near Edgehill Battlefield site and MOD Kineton. I had heard his Poetry at Beatnik Boulevard .

I’d  expected  him to talk  about Proust, especially as Crouch Hill is covered with hawthorn ( May) and Proust often refers to  it, along with metaphors for  memory. However, when he spoke on the broadcast he read a poem and then talked more about the notion of voluntary and involuntary memory and it’s relationship to physicality, sensation of movement and placement of a part of the body, to the  feel  of an object.

We went back to the Monopoly game, only to find he had been sent to jail in his absence.

Together we packed up and walked through the trees and down the Hill.

 Analysis Summary

The summit of the hill, and the surroundings developed and became ‘other’ as the various activities and actions during the day unfolded and as it was linked and merged with other global spaces through the Broadcasting network. Local visitors also folded in and out of the space during the day as differing relations were produced. The proportion of my directorial control vs contingency worked well, for the collaborative pieces brought and broadcast by the participants and the dipping in and out of viewers’ chat in the Broadcasts.The planning time seemed to have been sufficient and the spontaneity ‘sufficient’ as participants often surprised me with their contributions. The main themes of my Research Paper were made manifest, even if there was level of complexity which led to partial obscuring. This is what I am keen to achieve as it references ‘ palimpsest-ness’ within becoming action  and over time, but it is getting the balance right that  is possibly tricky  from the point of view of an audience….even though different audiences interpret differently.

The experimentation with multiple broadcasters didn’t work so well as some contributors were unable to come or download the app. However, I already have so much film it is hard to analyse and I really feel it is not a priority at the moment. This may change and I have got screen recorded documentation to be able to do that.

Viewer interaction could be better and in future I may buy a screen hood to help with sun glare.

The contributors seems pleased to work in this way and the event flowed naturally. There are  questions about the role of performance, ritual and the separation of the performer(s)  from the audience, witnessing  and the reflexivity of those relationships in this work which  always crop up.Compared with the St George’s Day event, this was both intimate and connected and felt truly ‘shared’ across all networks.