The more things change…..

After choosing not to archive my streams, Periscope now gives the option keep the Scopes for ever!…… I’ve just has a notification when I opened the app.

It’s been coming for some time in different forms, since the demise of Katch…as seen here  using the appropriate #.

But now it’s here automatically …if you want it!

In the meantime here are some of my streams  ..

21st May: I broadcast Louise and I looking through documentation of some of the work I made on Crouch Hill , some 8 years ago. Neighbours and our sons were involved in this work. We shared our memories and I reflected on the work, the space, then and now.

22nd May: I took down the pin-hole cameras and broadcast that process. Brian Little, historian and Elvie the dog, happened to be there at the same time.

29th May: I opened my birthday gifts from Louise on the Hill and shared the experience with the Scopers. There was little Trolling! Just jealous…

31st May : Walt Whitman’s Birthday. I read two Walt Whitman poems, Song of the Universal and To think of Time, from Leaves of Grass. These poems address, `time, Space, ephemerality, rural life and politics with thoughts of simultaneity. It rained very hard and I abandoned the reading because the wet paper disintegrated.

3rd June: Colleague, Jon Shapley, whose work also addresses issues of space, came  up the Hill and we discussed the nature of the space of Crouch Hill. I read from the summaries  key to my Research Paper that  I’d presented for the Research Discussion in February. He used to work in town planning, so I asked him to ‘build’ a new development, as housing is being constructed around the Hill as this project continues. There was some interesting ‘chat’  and lots of interaction as visitors to the summit altered the installation.

 

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and its still continuing now… see Twitter Here and Here 

I also made a Vine : I was reading from Bailey’s thoughts on Time Perspectivism whilst Jon built a village.

5th June: I wasn’t intending to Scope but as we reached the summit, I heard people partying. Some people had had a camp-out. The first I’ve seen this year.. It was an unusually warm day. The space changed again

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13th May: I broadcast Trace see in this post An inadvertent but significant simultaneity

22nd June: I broadcast For the Heart. I  read from classic texts, Hilda Leyel’s  Herbs for the Heart and Gabrielle Hatfield’s Hatfield Herbal on traditional herbal medicine, regarding the medicinal properties of Hawthorn. I’d intended to do this on May Day, but the May blossom was very late to flower and on the Summer Solstice, I hurt my back and couldn’t really walk at all. This day seemed appropriate to talk about traditional medicines to heal the heart. I broadcast it at 3.30pm, as others were holding a memorial for Jo Cox in Westminster and around the world. This time I was an intentional participant in ‘a simultaneity’, Scoped or not. 

26th June: Visited the Car-Boot sale at the Self-Pick Farm situated at the bottom of Crouch Hill., looking for bowls for the Show. I had several interesting conversations whilst Scoping. Particularly pertinent  was a seller from nearby Chipping Norton greeted by a viewer from Morocco, who marvelled at the tech. and said.. “So why do we need the EU then ” .. with all that tech…One of the sellers, Paul from Stargoat  recognised me from my involvement with publicity for the the Old Town party community in Banbury, some years ago. He played his guitar and chatted about music, David Bowie, walking the Wainwright Way and his home in Nethercote just outside Banbury.He also told a story about the role of his home in the exchange of information about nuclear fission to the Russians in 1948…I feel a project coming on….

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An inadvertent but significant simultaneity

I have been trying to decide on an image for the paper strip around my chocolate for the Final Show. Struggling with the idea of of branding... see next post.… I decided to go up the Hill with Louise and  take some photographs.

This felt really false. A deceit.

So, after looking through my box of materials containing ‘As yet unmade actions’ I decided  to take some candles, matches and the inside of a roll of parcel tape.

My intention was to melt wax on the surface of the Hill, inside a ‘frame’, to make a kind of ‘Wax Tablet’, an impermanent print – an ironic nod to Empiricism, as it seems to me to serve as the opposite of a Tabula Rasa, containing  previous action within and on the surface of it and so, an ‘a priori’ residual presence.

Also  a commentary on the concept of palimpsest with a fluid reflexive relationship, between layers of  what is ‘written’ and erasure.

It started to rain as I  pitched my tent and talked to a passing dog ( Alfie) and his owner. We heard some shots, which I took to be a bird-scarer on the nearby Pick-Your-Own farm, but Alfie’s owner was not so sure, and was rather concerned thinking it was gun-fire. Not unknown in this rural area, but a bit close for comfort.

Louise arrived and I started work and broadcasting Trace #Crouch Hill.

Several people ‘hopped on’ including this viewer who had joined me before. It was a ridiculous Scope in many ways with Louise acting as ‘straight guy’ , chatting to viewers whilst I tried to light candles in the rain. I found a small wooden toy man figure, which had ended up in the earth

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 and placed the frame over ‘ him’ / that, to incorporate him in the wax.

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This gives an indication of the conversation during the process.

Towards the end, with the dogs getting restless, the wax leaking from the frame and me burning my fingers on the candle’s flame, I decide to just rest the candles on the soil and let the wax flow down on to the soil. Louise left and I just sat quietly chatting to the remaining viewer watching the flames via the Scope and my phone screen.

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When the candles had burnt away, I waited for the wax to cool, tool down my tent, packed up and returned home. As I left the Hill, I felt a sense of loss, as I often do when broadcasting alone from the site… a sense of detachment.

Later that night as I went through the Broadcast to save these screen shots I, unusually, had the TV on in the background.

Then I realised that I had been coincidentally privileged to be taking part in a simultaneous global community ritual of mourning and solidarity without being aware of it, and I understood the  meaning behind some of the comments a little more ( see link).

Orlando

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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…

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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

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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.

 

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!)

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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’…..

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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.

St Georges Day #Crouch Hill #adisturbingpreoccupation

I’ve been planning an event on the Hill for May 1st for sometime, but wanted to try something prior to that.

Background

I’d noticed that the number of ‘things going on’ locally for St Georges Day seems to be increasing every year.This could be an indication of increasing nationalism and reflect thoughts about immigration, identity, EU membership, devolution etc but I’ve interpreted some of it , certainly in this ‘neck of the woods’ , as a way that pubs and community venues can attract customers for  a ‘special event’- Another way of getting ‘bums on seats’- although obviously the political background impacts in how and when these events are selected. I noticed close by here in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK were this Ska and Soul Charity night at a leisure centre, and a poster outside The  Horse and Jockey.  An interesting cultural fusion in a place where diversity is present but not evident. I was also interested in the relationship between the religious and secular origins  of celebration of a patron saint on a Saint’s Day and how the image of the flag has been appropriated over time. Attitudes recently have varied over time , as this article in The Week shows from 2015 and Telegraph 2012.

More recently as I edit this in June 2016, with the links between football and nationalism here in the Daily Mail and here in the Coventry Telegraph, How to add the flag to your Facebook…

The event investigates and remediates some of the music and writings associated with representations of the saint, the date, associations with the space of Crouch Hill as it is and as created, locally and globally .

Documenting the ephemeral…again

By this time Katch had stopped working and I still had my iPhone 4S so could only save the broadcasts by screen recording from the Periscope app on my desktop. Again, that ambiguity of desperately trying to save the footage, comments and hearts before the 24hours were up! Documenting the ephemeral. I justify it here as part of the research process, for analysis and assessment.

However, looking back on it is fascinating as it makes me a viewer and of course changes my relationship with the work.

Below is the selection of clips I made for possible inclusion in the Symposium video. There is  un- edited footage from screen recordings on YouTube here #adisturbingpreoccupation But I’m afraid I haven’t had chance to organise the playlists…..

I have listed the pieces further on in the text , with rationale for the choices and some brief analysis.

 

 Content and Analysis 

For the Broadcasts I used the #adisturbingpreoccupation #Crouch Hill – a reference to a the political/ activist content of the folk/punk songs and texts re-mediated in this publicly -used but privately owned space, the use of the tent and my own as an artist and individual.

The Re-mediated content  is excerpts from

  • Let England Shake – PJ Harvey 2011  ( lyrics here)   This song  evokes the spirit of 2010 and past and present conflicts in our collective memory.  It serves as a contrast to the stillness and stasis of the visible broadcast image of the countryside from the tent on Crouch Hill and a call for reflection and action. Her words below express something I feel when experiencing the ‘place’ and ‘space’ that is Crouch Hill in its position in the past, present and future global landscape for my ‘locale’.

PJ Harvey:”The record is dealing with a lot of things that are happening in the world right now– conflict, shifts in powhe change in society and in countries’ relations to each other. Although I sing specifically from the point of view of an Englishwoman in England, I hope that I’m addressing feelings that are much more universal. Hopefully, many people can relate to these sorts of feelings– the push and pull that you have with your country, the love and the disappointments. And the nature of conflict is timeless, this cycle of war that has been here since time began and will be here long after we’re gone. It’s something we all live with” pitchfork.com

  • Kingdom Come – from Chapter One – The St George’s Cross – JG Ballard 2006 ( reviewed here in the Guardian) The action of reading this excerpt in this location and broadcasting it, links consumerism  with mobile technology; the ‘consumption’ of moving image, ‘shared’ experience; and the the hidden ideologies and histories associated with my broadcasting location.

In her introduction to Kingdom Come  Deborah Levy states that “it is a ‘sort of fairy tale  in which “more primitive world” is “biding its time”‘, where  Consumerism is turning  into ‘soft’ Fascism.

I included this piece to link St. George, Englishness and the politics of consumerism which exists just outside the frame of the Periscope broadcast…1.5 miles away in the Castle Quay Shopping Centre Banbury. This is built on the site of Banbury Castle, placed under siege in the English Civil War. William Waller apparently camped on Crouch Hill in 1644 during one siege.The poem by Rusher read in my  initial Broadcasts refers to that, here .

  • England in Ribbons – song by Chris Wood and Hugh Lupton 2006 (ref to  R3 Broadcast here) Broadcasting this song comments on and highlights the ambiguity, preconceptions of tradition and hidden beliefs; and the common connections between global mythologies, past and present  as well as the performativity and role- playing exisiting in conflict and politics. The clip shows my tent and also in the distance is RAF Croughton, not visible on the broadcast, but also pointed out later by Paul Mobbs, as the geodesic radar domes of the USAF communication station glistened in the sunlight at the end of the day

The song describes a traditional English mummers’ play, ( A folk play performed by  traditionally  male amateur actors. Two characters engage in  combat,  a hero, often and in this song, Saint George,  and his chief opponent, known as the Turkish Knight in southern England,  the loser being revived by a quick ‘Doctor’ who adminsters a ‘magic potion’ ).This references St. George, ritual and custom and so collective memory  with ideology and mythology  woven into the characters and performances which are still relevant today. According to legend, St George was a Roman soldier who ordered his death for failing to recant his Christian faith and became a Christian martyr.  He was brought up in Lydda or Lod in the Middle East Syria.

  • I am Albion  – 2015 poem by  Bob Hill, ‘local’ poet and writerI heard Bob read this poem some months ago and felt it described and addresses preconceptions of contemporary Englishness.Reading it out-loud animates it, although it is still powerful as ‘page-poetry’. I felt that broadcasting it via Periscope from the Hill, made both a statement and comment to any viewers whether local passers by, in the UK or further afield regarding notions of geography, social space, associated identities, communication and language, both written and spoken.
  • Another Imperial Day – New Model Army 2005 ( Lyrics here  Apart from the name of the band and its associations with Cromwell and the English Civil War and so a link to the Broadcast location, this particular song, despite being written and recorded a decade ago, still has contemporary resonances,with  immigration and migration, world conflict and nationalism and politics. Broadcasting this from a tent as a temporary, vulnerable residence;- a space with no clear inside and outside,  not fixed in time,  with multiple identities – references the main premises of Doreen Massey’s position regarding space and simulateneity with respect to the Calais  and other refugee camps and the social space created and destroyed there. EDIT and no longer mentioned… 12.06.16
  • The Book of Common Prayer 1552/1558 version – 5th Sunday in Advent, Collect, Epistle and Gospel ( Link here to a more recent version)  The language of the BOCP  permeates English culture and it has been used as a means of social and political control  since  Henry VIII’s rule to today. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, created it as the authoritative manual of Christian worship throughout England with many revisions over time and throughout the world and past British Empire. It’s use was central  in the background to English Civil War and so contemporary ‘Britishness’.
  • Looking at headlines from international newspapers (23rd April  2015).  By including this action I was attempting to link my previous project at The Reading Room Croughton  + (other posts) , my Research Paper, past and present global and UK events with this event…. I’m not sure this worked at all as the connectivity was poor, the image quality too poor to see the text and there was no opportunity to explain to the viewers. This clip is also misleading as the dominant image is one of Kentucky fried Chicken… The edit was rather over literal reference to excessive consumerism and pervading American Culture… but, on reflection, I think it is distracting and easily misread. I could have edited it from the video but that would have given a misleading portrayal of the event….. of course the edits I have chosen are not impartial and not necessarily representative of that happened… highlighting the fact/fiction and self-reflexive ambiguity of any documentation
  • Reading from Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1915-1918 –ed. Rupert Hart Davies 1983  [entries for 23rd April]  I wanted to re-mediate some autobiographical in addition to  collective memories and own this book. Sassoon’s memoirs and diaries have given us  eyewitness accounts from the poet’s embodied experiences of WWI as a British soldier, linking  the pasts of 1914-18 with 1642-1651. Unusually, I completed this action twice as during the first, even the large dual battery backup for my phone had run out of charge. A colleague Claire, arrived just after and so she Broadcast this from her phone and Periscope account… hence it being viewed more as a ‘performance’. As she had ownership of her broadcast and as a witness,  used the camera phone in a way I would not have…resulting in this clip. during the reading, both of us were deeply affected by the action. She was not able to interact with any audience as she was unable to access the ‘chat’.This again emphasised the distance between me as performer, and the viewers, which I felt strongly, unlike the previous broadcasts that day
  • Ederlezi – Goran Bregovic 1988   This references the overlay, fluidity and simultaneity of tradition and custom across cultures and time in a symbol of   ‘essentially Britishness’. Again this was broadcast by Claire and the viewers see me as ‘performer’ or protagonist, even though my action is slight and relatively passive.There are references through the link with Romany culture to the creation of ephemeral physical spaces of collective continuing social interaction, throughout history.“Ederlezi” is a popular Romany traditional folk song, named from a Spring festival which celebrates the return of spring; Ederlezi is the Romany name for the Feast of Saint George, celebrated on 6 May [ Juian Calendar – 23 April] approximately 40 days after the spring equinox. Turkish Hıdırellez, which also signals the beginning of spring, occurs on the same day.
  • Albion – Baby Shambles 2005  was included on the ‘playlist’ for this event as I felt the urban references contrasted with the rural landscape that viewers of the broadcast would see and with the experiences of anyone living in the locality of Crouch Hill, demonstrating the variety of ‘Englands’ that exist; that Place is variable.The song concerns the concept, landscape and life of Albion, a mythical England (or Great Britain). This clip was actually taken as video documentation  rather than a live stream as Claires’ connection also failed at this point. Ae the same moment Paul Mobbs ( freelance environmental investigator, activist, Quaker and local historian) and his son arrived unexpectedly on the Hill. I had previously approached him regarding some collaborative action for the project, but had not arranged this meeting and he was not aware of the event ( he does not own a mobile phone!) As Albion played out from the speaker, Paul spontaneously pointed out USAF Upper Heyford, RAF Croughton, Edge Hill and other landmarks are relevant to my research, as well as discussing possible  planning permission for residential building encroaching on the hillside. This coincidence was a perfect example of the contingency of working in a public space. With his arrival and departure, as with Claires’ and the other ( very occasional..it was cold day) passers- by the space changed, as it did with each action; broadcast or not.To me this clip is highly affective, especially as it occurs towards the ‘end’ of the event…
  • This is England – The Clash 1985  (2010 World Cup version)  Again this was  video documentation rather than a broadcast but included for ‘completeness’. I wanted to include this song for the ‘punk ‘ relationship with folk tradition and Britishness.Also it references ‘Sheffield steel’  and  at the moment Tata steel is in the news. The only version available on iTunes was this one  2010 World Cup edition, with a St George’s flag on the album artwork. I placed the speaker on the Trig point as I wanted to  ‘strike camp’ with the soundtrack spreading as far as possible. I felt strangely moved by this process, despite only being there for half a day or so, I feel the documentation  has a poignancy to it as well. The space was undergoing yet another change. No one else witnessed this action, apart from Claire.

To document- or not document?

These broadcasts wer not automatically on Katch so I made the decision to screen record after, as mentioned earlier, the documentation then exists and is edited into another piece of work, the video. I have done this consciously and edited according to the conceit of the work.I am still struggling with how this changes the action, if it does, but fell I ned to look at what I have done at this stage for analysis as well as assessment. I was surprised by how deeply affected I was watching the footage, and differently from during the action…

Technical issues:

I had problems with connectivity, both for the broadcast and also of the music.

I’d made downloaded several tracks from various sources onto another phone and Bluetooth- ed them across so that the soundtrack is embedded in the landscape and is the action in many cases. Just me, in the tent and the music…. and viewers

I had difficulties seeing the screen on my phone whilst broadcasting, sometimes using a tripod or phone holder, which meant

  • I couldn’t see the comments to read them and respond to them because the tripod was in the way
  • Often they were unreadable because of glare even though the sun wasn’t shining.
  •  I was reading from text so couldn’t reply to viewers comments
  •  The connection was poor and this affected stream quality in some cases and viewer retention
  • This was a more performative action than previously, less interactive by intention, though I did try to explain the relevance of each piece before the broadcast.
  • Despite a large dual battery backup pack for the phone and the bluetooth speaker I ran out of charge
  • Before the end of the event, colleague, Claire’s phone lost connectivity… so not way of broadcasting….. still that was only part of the action, after all…
  • EDIT : I didn’t screen record the comments or hearts as I forgot that these are only accessible  when using Chrome as the browser for the  Periscope app and at this stage I couldn’t screen record from my phone.I suspect because I wasn’t able to respond the comments would be minimal… but a shame never the less..A bit of a paradox…temporally speaking……

Each piece was broadcast separately but with the same hashtag #Crouch Hill #adisturbingpreoccupation which, along with the title was long and caused some issues when having to re-start the broadcast when the connection went.

The title references the ‘loading’ and associations/ intentions/ perceptions relating to the use of a tent pitched in an undesignated location, my artistic and academic pre-occupation with Crouch Hill and my temporary intermittent ‘ownership’ of the space, which seemed pertinent to this event on this day in 2016 and the global network space in which it existed. Associations I am aware of are listed below…

  • Traditional ‘family’ rural  camping holidays often at Bank Holidays associated with religious festivals
  • Refugee camps and migrating peoples
  • Nomadic cultures, homelessness and transience
  • The Occupy movement
  • Military associations
  • Environmental and other activist groups
  • Music festivals
  • Camp outs -small(ish)  gatherings with music and alcohol +,  a phenomenon of ‘teen culture’ locally particularly on Crouch Hill in the warmer weather.
  • Scout, Guide and Woodcraft-type Youth camps
  • Circus