Wednesday, 22 July 2009

You Turn Us On

jotta popped in to see the first stage of This Is Why We Meet at Wieden + Kennedy’s Big Brother-esque project space. There the affable and ever-so bright Chelsea College of Fine Arts team gave us an exclusive peek at their work in progress, an interactive mechanical installation which will launch with a bang (literally) on Monday June 20th.We sat down in a bean bag to ask the team a bit about themselves and what kind of work they make:

Grace Schofield – “I make film and performance , for my final degree show I showed a film of a collaboration with a friend in railway arch – we created the appearance of chemistry experiment, with dry ice and random chemicals. It was about the farce, we were just playing for the visitors who came and thought we’d set up a chemistry lab.”

Hannah Newell – “I do sculptural instillation, my final work was about reanimating public space. I built a bridge and a pathway, with scaffolding up building at Chelsea college, people taking up public space.”

Daniella Kemal – “My area was photography, and my work looked at how people behave in front of a camera. I invited people to undertake activities in front of camera, I was trying to capture honesty, but then began to question whether it was the event or documentation which was of more interest. So I became interested in interactive installation because it brings together people who might not have normally come together. And I love the title!”

Kiwon Hong – “I’ve been making large scale kinetic mechanisms, brightly coloured and moving objects. In the brief they mentioned sculpture and drawing – so I thought it would explore those disciplines, but it’s turned out to be much more crazy and really amazing!”

After being plonked in their think tank, how did the quartet begin the process of concocting an interactive sculptural instillation, which was to be placed in two opposite facing windows on a busy East lodnon street in less than a weeks time?

Daniella - "It was really difficult to figure out what we wanted to do. We did know thatb wanted it to be an action and a reaction, giving the public some control and the privilege of experience."

Grace - “Went through a lot of ideas,and actually the first few we came to we said "Oh ok that works”, and then we spent a long time figuring out what interaction meant."

In the first days Pat and Trevor (aka Joe and Jimmy), gave the team some exercises, team building style activities which encouraged them to think creatively and collaboratively, to interact without words, with each other and with the public.

Hannah - “We went down to Liverpool Street station, the two pairs got a word which we had to express without voice, but using paper and string!”

Daniella – “Ours was peace so we cut out flowers and gave them to people who we hoped would pass the other team to show them”
Hannah - “And we guessed because ours was war!

Now they’ve come to the technical stage, which involves building prototypes with tape and wheels, in order to pinpoint any major problems. The tight timescale means they’ve played on the interaction element of their installation, more than fine details of the “machine”.

A panic button moment came when the four texted Joe with a “phone a friend” SOS, pleading for tech help. Thus they were gifted with Nico, Wieden + Kennedy's technical man and the groups mentor and saviour.

So while still not entirely sure what team Chelsea have in store for us come Monday eve, we do know that there will be mobile phone number on display, so when passers by call one of the many Nokia donated phones, this will trigger the activation of their kinetic sculpture. So we’ll have fun calling from the comfort of home and watching on their website the reaction of innocent bystanders to this mysterious balloon bursting machine.

“It’s almost like putting 30p in a slot,” Says Joe, the proud co-curator, “like a carnival machine.”

Comparing it to the hair-brained invention cartoons of Heath Robinson, Joe says, “It’s kind of like going back in time to when the wheel was an exciting invention.”

"We want to do a 'Winner of the day', in that game show, tacky glitter style", says Daniella excitedly.

Grace agrees, “We want it to grab people’s attention.”

And from the snippets we’ve just gleaned, this wheel-turning, balloon-bursting, glittery phone-ringing concoction will do just that.

Come see for yourself.

Display: Monday 20th - Sunday 26th July
Private view: Monday 20th July, 6-9pm
E1 6QR

Track the blogs of each team with regular video updates here

By Millie Ross

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