Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Lift the Lid using Chinese Whispers.

"My Chinese Whispers Story"

The first Lift the Lid session for the Moving Portraits exhibition was full of intense activity. The grey and rainy Sunday was a perfect time to be exploring the topsy turvy world created by following a journey of "Pass it on" with Chinese Whispers. So what was passed on?

With their ticket 'to ride' in hand, a constant stream of friends and families took as long as they wished to follow 4 simple questions relating to a selected portrait in the gallery. Returning to the workshop, the words chosen to answer the questions were whispered back and forth between each member of a group until the words were transformed into something more magical or mysterious.

These new words then inspired a surreal picture story to be created using drawing, words and collage, drawing upon the original portrait viewed in the exhibition. The next part of the journey was to swap portraits and then go back into the exhibition to try and trace the portrait which had been the source. One family completed the journey, but couldn't find the original portrait before tea and cakes became an urgent activity to attend to. A communal Chinese Whisper snaked its way around the room from time to time, helping to maintain the theme.

The objective of the theme was to explore how an original piece of information can be changed as it is passed on or ' transmitted', and becomes something which is a combination of the original memory of the word and what is perceived to be heard. In the same way each person will relate to different portraits in this exhibition according to what they think is being communicated and aspects which are personal connections or preferences. What would participants in the workshop bring to the exchange of visual and oral information?

Below are 2 different versions of the portrait of Duncan Alexander Goodhew
whose portrait was extremely popular.

These were just two of the wonderful ideas and art work which were created as a result. Other favourites were The Screen Tests:

A temporary gallery of these portraits, became physically 'moving portraits' as their owners removed them to take home or to reposition them. Parents, grandmothers and other adult members of the groups identified that it was a really positive outcome to see their children being encouraged to take notice of the details of a portrait and then use their memory and imagination to be creative.

The next part of the journey will involve taking the idea of shoes as interesting portraits of all kinds of information about an individual. Wearing and creating dance steps with individually designed shoes will turn them into...moving portraits.....Don't miss this opportunity!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Saturday Interaction February 5th. Moving Portraits: Watching Guy Sherwin

What a busy day and thanks to everyone who brought their enthusiasm and eagerness to help make this short video piece. The idea behind this interaction was to add to the narrative and concept behind Guy Sherwin's self-portrait, short film called, "Portrait of Parents". Using a 16mm film camera he filmed in 1978, both his mother and father for the duration of the 16mm roll of film, approx 3 and half minutes. It's considered to be a self-portrait as Sherwin can be seen reflected in the mirror shown in the center of the movie, with his parents situated, one on each side of the mirror. The DV we produced at the exhibition on Saturday is in keeping with the time scale being of similar duration. Participants were filmed for about 30 seconds and during this period they watched closely and interacted with myself and discussed the complexity of the ideas behind Sherwin's film.

The continuous winding motion of Sherwin operating his camera created a bouncing type of movement, so the screen appears to be bobbling up and down. Some participants moved in response to this, some felt a sort of sickness motion. The film instigated a physical movement in many watchers when they were encouraged to immerse themselves fully. Trying to forget that I was filming and the other gallery goers were watching us filming, was a challenging exercise for some. Encouragement was offered to those particpant's who wanted to overcome shyness and help was provided to find strategies to help distance themselves from the distractions . Others unpicked the concept and found it interesting to include themselves within the extended narrative. We discussed the position of the viewer in this movie and whether the participants of our movie, felt more or less relaxed than Sherwin's mother and father. Most thought that because of our greater familiarity with the process of being filmed, the nervousness and obvious tension - although the parents seemed to enjoy the process - would be less apparent. The concensus was however, that the participants in our movie still had to make a concerted effort to ignore the process of being filmed and relax into the viewing process.

In essence, each participant was observing Guy Sherwin and his parents whilst Sherwin was observing himself. In turn whilst filming, I was observing all the viewers throughout their own viewing process. Confused? There's more! When viewed online - as you are now - one then extends the concept even further by viewing this new film, collaboratively made. Perhaps someone might like to video themselves viewing themselves in the video we made on the computer and then whoooaaaa...........

For my next session participants will not only be the viewers/actors but the producer as well. Couples, friends and families will be encouraged to take the position of both camera operator and subject.

Next interaction dates are 26th February and 26th March.