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Archive for May, 2020

Project Night explores self care and community wellbeing

On Thursday 14¬†May artists, producers and makers who work in and with communities came together over¬†Jitsi¬†(an open-source video call platform) for another of our fortnightly Project Nights to discuss ‚ÄėSelf care and community wellbeing.‚Äô

After the last Project Night discussion, ‚ÄėBeing creative with digital tools‚Äô, there seemed a need to pause, consider the impact that increased use of digital tools can have on our bodies and minds and turn our attention once more to care; both of ourselves, others close to us and our wider communities.

I personally had been noticing how easy it is at the moment to feel disconnected from my body and also how strange it can feel to be distanced from the physicality of the people and communities we are used to working with and seeing on a regular basis.

Guest Speaker

With these thoughts in mind we invited the brilliant Bristol based dance maker Laila Diallo to join us, open a space for us to connect with our bodies, engage in some quiet reflection and spark a discussion around self-care and community wellbeing.

Laila shared a piece of writing about what she has been noticing lately and led us through a gentle series of movements ‚Äď we closed our eyes, turned off our screens and gently felt the weight of one hand in the other.

Listen here for Laila’s writing and guided movement activity.

After this stillness and having moved our spine a little Laila invited us to write, spontaneously, for the duration of a song in response to these questions:

‚ÄėI wonder what you all have been noticing in these very particular times?‚Äô

‚Äėhow you have been connecting with those outside of your home?‚Äô

‚ÄėHow it has all felt‚Ķ?‚Äô

Taking care of ourselves

After this reflection, to the tune of Elvis Presley, we shared a few things that people had been noticing:

– the time going by so quickly despite us somehow standing still

– hearing the neighbours more and learning things about them

– seeing new parts of your home as you stare in strange angles during exercise

– the joy of Mr Motivator

– watching spring arrive and learning about nature

– making sound recordings and discovering new wildness in the centre of cities

– doing lots of baking and acknowledging some positive things about working from home ‚Äď less back pain from lugging props around and more chances to problem solve in new ways

Рa tension between more space for noticing and listening and the ongoing pressures of productivity.

Рfeeling tired, disappointed with technology and frustrated that the promise of more space and quiet isn’t always easy or possible to find.

We acknowledged that the experience of this moment is so personal and different for everyone.

Taking care of others

We moved on to a discussion about how we are taking care of others and our communities. Taking a moment to think about this we chose one thing to share ‚Äď either something we‚Äôd been doing or had found inspiring. We experimented with jamboard to create a web of care: writing our thoughts onto a digital post-it and drawing lines between ideas to highlight connections.

Overall people seemed inspired by some of the new webs of care that are emerging ‚Äď across fences, in streets or between previously distanced communities – and of course acknowledged those that existed already and have become even more important.

We wondered, how we might find ways to carry on weaving new webs beyond this moment? Are there any practices of care we could try and hold on to?

Resources

– Arts Professional has a new microsite for Covid-19 updates around how to: ‚ÄėStay well, supported and creative‚Äô.

– Arts Council England share evidence on how ‚Äėarts and culture is good for us‚Äô and some example projects that are ‚Äėmaking us feel better‚Äô.

– Arts and Health South West have curated a long list of resources.

Write-up by Martha King, Arts Producer

Project Night explores being creative with digital tools

On Thursday 30¬†April artists and makers who work in and with communities came together over¬†Jitsi¬†(an open-source video call platform) for another of our fortnightly Project Nights to discuss ‚ÄėHow to be creative with digital tools.‚Äô

From the last Project Night discussion, ‚ÄėStaying Connected with Communities‚Äô, it was clear that people were craving methods to go beyond digital and shared¬†some¬†lovely analogue examples of collaborating and connecting through things like snail mail and interventions in the landscape. However,¬†it was also acknowledged¬†that many are feeling an¬†increasing pressure to use digital tools¬†at the moment¬†–¬†not only¬†to¬†connect, but also¬†to continue to¬†be creative¬†and share this productivity publicly.¬†This is particularly a¬†challenge when not everyone has equal access to digital tools¬†and/or¬†internet¬†connectivity¬†and many¬†are juggling responsibilities and¬†suffering¬†from¬†‚Äėscreen¬†fatigue‚Äô.

With these contradictory pressures in mind we invited artist Lily Green, who works with communities across a mix of digital and physical spaces, to share some inspiration and prompt a discussion.

Guest Speaker

Lily shared a little bit about No Bindings,¬†a ‘tiny¬†publisher’¬†that blends¬†print, audio and community and also¬†about¬†her new project¬†Grapevine (co-created with artist Tim Kindberg) which is a¬†new platform and set of tools that enables¬†storytellers¬†to¬†connect¬†digital audio¬†with¬†physical¬†artwork and¬†allows¬†listeners¬†to¬†discover and share audio¬†connected¬†artworks through popular messaging apps.

Lily explained that she is ‚Äėalways thinking about¬†using a mix of¬†media and a people-centred¬†approach to how¬†content can be¬†made and shared.’ She shared¬†some tips on facilitating workshops¬†online, highlighting the importance of mixing moments of coming together¬†virtually¬†with¬†time¬†off-screen,¬†and how¬†behavioural games can become tools in themselves,¬†helping¬†us¬†subvert the way the creators of these¬†tools intended them to be used.

We had a go at playing with a great tool for doodling called Whiteboard Fox.

Here are our doodles over the evening:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lily highlighted how audio can be both a great connector, helping us to move away from constant visual screen use, and a great leveller as everyone has a story to tell.

She told us more about ‚ÄėGrapevine¬†nights‚Äô and shared a link to the first ever Grapevine live stream which featured multiple¬†performances direct from people‚Äôs homes.

You can watch Lily’s presentation below:

Reflections

Lily reflected that we can increase connection and avoid the digital feeling a bit anonymous by building audiences around networks that already exist, such as friends and families, placing performances in domestic spaces, connecting via live chats and having live audiences in the same spaces as the performers.

Her top tips for making digital encounters were:

РIntimate (build on personal networks)
– Customisable (like the playful whiteboard)
РConnected to physical (make a tangible memento to take away)
– Simple

In an inspiring closing remark,¬†Lily¬†shared that she has been¬†thinking a lot about immersive theatre and how to¬†‚Äėwarm people up‚Äô¬†for the digital moment.¬†She asked:¬†how could role-play, fake letters,¬†artefacts,¬†costumes or playlists¬†help¬†to set the mood, and be¬†blended with digital? How can we¬†reduce¬†screen elements and¬†stop trying to¬†connect to thousands¬†of people in one go?

Sharing

One of the¬†Project Night participants¬†shared that they are an immersive theatre maker and would be happy to connect¬†with Lily¬†‚Äď watch this space for audio / digital / immersive theatre¬†mash-ups!

Another participant shared¬†that they have been enjoying making interactive story experiences using a BBC tool called¬†StoryFormer¬†–¬†and someone else¬†chipped in to say¬†that they are the creator of this tool! The magic of Project Night.

Here are links to these BBC tools:

Apply here https://www.bbc.co.uk/makerbox
StoryFormer https://www.bbc.co.uk/makerbox/tools/storyformer
A new video about it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLWp46ZsI5U
StoryKit Рthe wider project https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/object-based-media-toolkit

Lucas Sweeney, Digital Innovation Producer at KWMC, then talked us through a few open source tools that are available. He has created a video especially for us to learn more about them:

Overall we reflected that¬†it’s vital to know, not¬†just what creative tools are out there, but¬†what you want to do with them, why¬†you want to use them¬†and how are¬†they‚Äôre¬†going to be accessible.

We also learnt from the night that in a short video call with over 20 people it is very difficult to start learning how to use new tools and is a challenging space for in depth discussions! Thank you to everyone who joined us for the experiment and patiently stuck with us through some tech glitches. We will be experimenting with a different structure for the next meet-up and would love to hear any ideas for other themes we could explore.

Please contact Martha for more details on martha.king@kwmc.org.uk

Resources

Finally, people shared some great links:

An online workshop run by Sophie Hope exploring Socially engaged art in a time of ‚Äėsocial‚Äô distancing¬†(22 May and 5 June).

A Medium article about designing for immersion

An online festival organised by one of our Project Night regulars.

Image by No Bindings

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
Bristol
BS4 1NL
+44 (0) 117 903 0444
enquiries@kwmc.org.uk

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