Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Berlin, Berlin, Berlin

Just thought I'd bring you up to date with some of the collaborations that we were involved in at the end of 2010.

First off Berlin, I was invited by Linda Florence and Prof. Zane Berzina from WeiBensee Kunsthochscule Berlin, to run a one-day workshop with their textile and surface design students.
Here's one of my favourite tracks about Berlin by Heidi Bruhl just to set the mood.

For this term's project brief, the students had been asked to look at collecting and collections. So with this workshop I wanted to work with them to explore the idea of collective making, and see what work we'd produce by sharing and working together for a day.

To start the day, all the students brought an amazing selection of food and drink so we could have breakfast together. Food has become a key part of our workshops, as it's a great way for people to relax, get to know each other and share.

We'd asked everyone to bring a photo of an object from a collection they'd been exploring, so we could use these as the starting point for creating. We went around the table with each person talking about their object and explaining why they had chosen it.

For our workshops it's important that people let go of being precious about their work, and to enjoy being spontaneous. This is essential if we're going to experiment and create together. It's not about the final work rather the enjoyment and process of collaborating.

For the first stage of collective making, we started to change the visual images into the written word and then into sound through the spoken word. We asked everyone to imagine their object as a person and write what kind of personality it would have and what that person was doing at that moment in time. I love the strange and beautiful images people conjure up as soon as the object is given a personality. Each person then passed their sentence onto the next person and wrote another sentence using the last word of the previous sentence as the first word. Each poem circulated around the table until everyone had contributed. The idea is to create collective nonsense poems.

In my next post, I'll put up one of the collective poems from the 30 or so we created.

Each person then chose their favourite word from one of the collective poems, and we drew each word using black-maker pens in pixel format onto a grid paper tape. Then we punched out holes in each black square so we could play this through a small piano player. Again turning, the word and the visual into sound.

Here's a video of the strip being played. I think there are some really interesting moments of sound within this particular strip.

In the afternoon, we created two further collective pixel drawings, this time using a variety of coloured pens and pencils. We gave everyone 3 minutes to draw a pattern based on their object, then when the time was up everyone moved one place to their right continuing the pattern created by the previous person, until everyone was back in their original place. I love the two pieces created. Not sure what we'll do with them yet. I'd love to turn elements of them into embroideries and further sound pieces.

To round the day off, I created a quick sound collage with samples of all the work we'd created, and played this sound piece back through an oscilloscope. Turning sound back into visual, so we'd come full circle by the end of the day.

I'd like to thank Linda, Zane and all the students for their great hospitality, and for participating in the workshop with such enthusiasm, and for being great fun to work with. I had a fantastic time, and I really hope we can take a sampler-cultureclash performance to Berlin in the very near future.

Photos by Linda Florence.

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