An exploration on how Theatre can develop in a pandemic.
“Ensuring the people and organisations that make up our arts, museums and libraries are protected during the coronavirus crisis is our number one priority.” Statement from the Arts Council on COVID-19, date: 02/04/2020
An exploration on how theatre can develop in a pandemic, investigates the potential efficacy of theatrical performances online. It is about ways in which, a particular period in time can alter the future of theatre. Theatre practitioners have previously tried to change not just the future action of their audiences, but also the structure of the audience community and the nature of the audience’s culture. In a seemingly absurd way, the main force for such changes has been the instant and brief effect of a performance (laughter, tears, applause and other responses). This time has for the creative arts, been the outcome that has emerge from an alternative logic of practice which are not always easy to articulate and it can become difficult to discuss the work objectively given the intrinsically emotional and subjective dimensions of the artistic work in a pandemic.
Lost and Found: Exploring the Role of Online Art Spaces and the Potential for an Online Art Venue for Found Photography
Lost+found, Research Paper, 2020
With the ever-growing rise in the popularity of photography, there is a growingly large side-effect – the amassing of a vast body of images whose photographers, subjects, and purposes remain unknown. Many of these lost, unclaimed, or disposed of photographs are some could-be showpieces and uncountable amounts of everyday vernacular snapshots. Every day thousands of photographs are misplaced and discarded, they often end up losing their history and having their stories erased. These photographs can find their way into the hands of artists and collectors alike, who share a curiosity into the origins of the forgotten and found photographs.
Unearthing the original meaning and context of found photographs can sometimes be impossible with little to no information on its original narrative. It is the unknown of these photographs that creates a curiosity, that provokes memories, and a desire to create your own narratives from the visual clues held in the object of the photograph. For many, it is the endless unknown that surrounds found photography that intrigues them. It is the familiarity of the vernacular snapshots which invites the audience in, whilst still being elusive.
It is my curiosity for found photography which has driven my research project forward – exploring the role online art spaces play in the creation and dissemination of art, and what this means for the audience, the artist, and the art institutions. Whilst also influencing the creation of an online venue for found photography – Lost and Found.
Lost and Found has been created to act as a digital archive for found photographs. A place to celebrate and question the curiosities which surround found photography. It is an online community-driven project, working to create a space that generates conversation, questions, and curiosity. Lost and Found acts as an archive of people – a visual documentation of life.
A visual artist, frequently working with found photography, archival imagery, and alternative photographic methods to explore questions of identity and ownership, whilst celebrating the mundane and vernacular. My creative practice supports my continued research into the role of the art venue – both physical and virtual – in how we create and disseminate art.
VR is this asteroid that’s going to hit the planet, apparently, in 2023.
VR art with the coming of the era of “virtual reality” has come into being a new and independent category of art. In “Virtual Reality: an Empirical-Metaphysical Testbed”, VR art has the following definition: “In virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applied to the artificial intelligence technology as a means of media art form, we call it virtual reality, art or art of VR.” Can VR art control the art world and change the way art is consumed and even sold? As the most technical art form at the forefront of this storm, how can we re-examine VR art and the impact of VR art on museums. This has increasingly become a topic worth discussing. This paper starts with the introduction of a brief history of VR art, and discusses in depth the representative and forward-looking artists and their works in the FIELD of VR art. Through layer by layer analysis, it leads to the current situation and existing problems of VR art. Finally, the significance and development prospects of VR art are summarized to explore VR art practice in more depth.
The Arts and Project Management MA has allowed me to fully cultivate an understanding of the behind-the-scenes happenings of art organisations, cultural spaces, and visual arts projects.
My Final Major Project consists of a Research Paper and Project Plan. The research paper explores public art and memorial culture, accumulating qualitative and quantitative data to aid and enable a highly successful and competent project. Over the Rainbow is a project which aims to provide a memorial for those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
The public art memorial comes at a pivotal time for the architecture of public spaces in Birmingham. The city centre has few contemporary art sculptures and memorials, therefore I aim to provide a place of remembrance and connect communities in the West Midlands.
The Over the Rainbow memorial is for the living, not for the dead. It is crucial to remember the dead but support and solidarity is needed for the people still alive today; the people who are left behind. The key areas and explorations of the project are explored through my Objectives, Outputs and Outcomes, which are explained in the image below:
Public art offers critical reflections on the past, our present and our understandings of daily life. “It is impossible to have a society that is civil and educated without public art, it lifts up humanity and challenges the individual who encounters it to think differently about the world” (Walker, D cited by Laneri, R 2009). Traditional public art memorials historically form a literal representation and are hard to interact with, they form a strict formal boundary between them and the viewer. The familiarity of these monuments provides a metaphorical list of instructions on how to act or feel.
People are more likely to become active participants with contemporary public memorials, as many have no boundaries. The public is invited to make their own mind up, use their own imagination and to sometimes form their own meaning and interpretation of the piece. They are able to morph their own experiences and opinions with the artists’ and each other. The design of the Over the Rainbow memorial is pivotal, will the sculpture hide in the comfort of the literal or can it conjoin the contemporary?
I decided during the duration of the planning stage that in order for this memorial to be successful, a strong design concept and depiction is essential. The Over the Rainbow memorial aims to be a ‘collective anchor point’, this concept is explored by Kevin Lynch: “Collective anchor-points construct deep integration with individuals and become part of their ‘mental map’ of the city”, (Lynch, K 1960). I completed a mood board of initial inspirations found on Pinterest.com which can be seen in the screenshot below:
Please visit my blog where I articulate the progress of my Final Major Project paper. Outlined are my initial ideas and inspirations for the research paper and project; key areas of research; information and explanations regarding the questionnaire I conducted and why it was essential to my research; the project plan and vital exploration and lastly, my critical evaluation.
Artist Statement: I am a practising artist based in Birmingham and currently working as an Exhibitions Coordinator at the RBSA Gallery. I have a passion for operations, logistical and curatorial management within an arts environment. My artistic inspirations stem from the natural form, examining the relationship between the maternal bond and separation. I work predominately with fine-art-textile, producing sculptures that metaphorically represent this connection. I form hand-constructed woven or knitted textiles and combine other materials like plaster. These inspirations are emotive and explore the turbulent relationship between motherhood and feminism and also touch on the corporeal nature of the female human body with the abject.
References: Lynch, K (1960). The Image of the City, The M.I.T Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England. Available: http:// www.miguelangelmartinez.net/IMG/pdf/ 1960_Kevin_Lynch_The_Image_of_The_City_book.pdf. Last accessed 14.8.20.
Walker, D cited by Laneri, R, (2009). Why We Love–And Need–Public Art. Available: https:// www.forbes.com/2009/05/05/state-of-the-city-opinions-george-rickey-public- art.html#77bb29d342be. Last accessed 3.8.20.
My work explores the deeper meaning of the monster character in films and what they represent to our society. This comes from my background in film studies and classical civilisations. The role of the monster has changed over the years but what it represents is still the same. I did a foundation degree in Art, Design and Media followed by a BA Hons in Theatre, Performance and Events Design. Having just completed my MA Arts and Project Management, my aim is to work in the events sector. I am currently working to save Dudley Hippodrome and return it to its former glory as an entertainment hub for the community.
Arts and Project Management
I have created a blog with my thoughts of Monsters in different films and what they represent in the films and to us personally.
Not all Monsters do monstrous things
Lydia Martin – Teen Wolf Season 4 Episode 10
Introduction in Monsters
Monsters have been around for as long as people have lived on this Earth. This is because they are created from our fears of the unknown. A lot of these fears are based around the misunderstandings and over exaggerations of people of a more basic time. Humans have been creating monsters since prehistory around the fire. Monsters were a major threat to prehistoric humans. They were used to keep the tribe members from wondering off and getting killed. Their biggest fear was the Dark itself and what could be hiding out of the range of the fire. This fear of the Dark was so deeply ingrained into their minds that we are still wary of the Dark to this day, that fear of the unknown.
As a rite of passage into adulthood young men would be to go out into the unknown and kill these monsters and bring back a trophy to prove it. It was a test to defeat their fears and prove they could protect their tribe when under threat.
Dragons for instance have never existed but seem to be imbedded into a lot of different cultures from all over the world; everywhere from Wales to Romania to China. All these places have mountain ranges and wild places where people believed the dragons lived. Despite the fact that these places are a great distance from each other and wouldn’t have known each other’s folk tales, they are all very similar in nature. Researchers believe that Dragons came about from people discovering huge dinosaur fossils and not understanding what they were or how they got there, created stories to explain their existence. These stories would have been past down orally through the villages by bards. Each bard would add their own spin to make each telling more exciting than the last. They would create great heroes who had slain these Dragons and that is how their skeletons are here now.
The Sea is a terrifying, dangerous place, even for experienced sailors. A lot of people are fearful of the Sea for many reasons. Some people are unable to swim and fear falling in and drowning. Others are terrified of the vastness and not knowing what lies beneath the surface. I have a fear of the Sea even though I’m an extremely good swimmer. It’s more of a dread of getting dragged out to Sea and never being found again.Back when people first started exploring the Oceans their navigation techniques were primitive at best, using the stars to guide them. This would mean they had a high chance of getting lost and longer journeys would take place. This would lead to a very poor diet of preserved rations which lacked important nutrients such as vitamin c. This causes scurvy which is known to affect the mind and can lead to hallucinations, which could explain creatures like the Kraken. The Kraken began life as a Scandinavian monster that roamed the North Atlantic and preyed on sailors who got too close. Scientists believe that the sailors would have seen a giant squid, which can grow up to 15 feet. These sea creatures are rarely seen thus making the stories told about them even more wonderous. Sailors could have gotten a glimpse of one just before crashing into the treacherous rocks and the survivors would have been convinced that they were attacked by the Kraken.
Bodies were often found to have strange items buried with or on them. Some had iron stakes through their chests, others had large stones on their heads and chests whilst others had iron sickles across their throats or stomachs. This was intended to remove the head or open the gut should they attempt to rise from the grave. In 2014 researchers examined the skeletal remains of 17th Century graves in north-western Poland and speculated that the ones given a vampire burial may have actually been cholera victims. The villages took extra precautions with the burials to make sure the dead stayed dead and didn’t pass on the disease. A common thread seems to connect most of these burials together, in that they seem to have suffered through epidemics or illnesses.People didn’t understand what was causing these diseases, like cholera, so didn’t know how it was spread. To help prevent the disease spreading, they would bury the dead whilst they were still warm. This led to many people buried alive, consequently this developed into a fear of being buried alive. Though if a person were buried alive in Eastern Europe and managed to get themselves out of their grave, they might wish they hadn’t. If someone ‘came back from the dead’ the locals would panic and think that they were a vampire or revenant. Subsequently they would then be stoned to death, if the villagers were too afraid to get close, or held down and staked until they bled to death. They didn’t discriminate between men or women, adult or child, rich or poor. Anyone suspected of being a vampire was killed.
Monsters in Films
These monster films come out at a time when we needed them the most. Dracula and Frankenstein came out during the great depression; when wall street crashed and plunged the world into an economic depression. These films along with others created a golden age in cinema as the general public wanted escapism from their lives and problems. The monsters represented the horrors they were facing but would cheer when they met their demise. The monster never won. The Wolfman came out during world war 2 ironically as wolves have been associated with wars and battles for many hundreds of years. The werewolf is a metaphor for the horrors of war. The human side represents the media version of war with the photographs of comrades smiling together looking all wholesome. The beast represents the reality of war, the bloody violence and unnecessary death that inflicted so many soldiers. Very few came back whole, whether mentally or physically. Frankenstein, despite being a monster, helped to boost morale as he showed he could beat death.
The second surge of monster movies came just at the start of the Cold and Korean Wars, another distracting from reality. The eighties brought about the slasher genre and horror films became a lot gorier and violent. Audiences were used to war by now and needed a shock from reality. Most people watch scary films because it reduces their anxiety as they are in a safe environment and watching it on their terms. There’s also the adrenaline rush you get from the fight or flight response that’s triggered when watching horror. In the words of Wes Craven (horror director) “Horror doesn’t create fear; it releases it”.
After looking at these different monsters I have concluded that they are all a part of us. They reflect our fears and show our hidden desires. We all try to find our place in society like Frankenstein. We all have feelings of losing control of our minds and bodies, like werewolves. Dracula shows us what happens if we hold onto revenge. We will end up alone, having pushed everyone away, and desperate for company. We all fear the unknown whether it be the ocean, the dark or what happens after we die. The monsters have taught us to enjoy the little things in life like love and the company of others.
Theatre and the COVID-19 Pandemic: the implications of COVID-19 on Ghanaian Theatre Practice
Research paper 2020
For this paper, I used theatre practitioner-based interview questionnaires to research the impact of COVID-19 on theatre practice and the alternative presentational forms that can be used to ensure that this sector continues to adapt and grow despite world-wide ‘lock-downs’. Due to my experience and knowledge of Ghanaian theatre, the main case study focus was the Ghanaian theatre and arts sector.
As an international student who saw the worldwide impact of the pandemic whilst being aware of social and economic climate back home in Ghana, I wondered how my home country would brave the storm that is COVID-19. Watching in earnest as the British government took measures to curb the spread of the disease, I wondered how the Ghanaian government was going to handle the global implications of the pandemic and its effects on our economy, especially the arts sector. The Ghanaian art sector (especially the theatre space), an already struggling area is far behind things like STEM education which was seeinga rapid pace of growth and improvement. Hence, this pandemic left the theatre space in a very uncertain predicament. This realisation led me to ask myself a few questions: what would be the new way of theatre in this ‘new-norm’? This was the motivation that inspired me to research more into the subject area.
Keys areas looked at include:
Digital Inclusion Socio-economic impact Alternative forms of the practice
Within my dissertation, I focus on a discussion and exploration of the subculture of bootleg fashion and the impact that fast fashion is having on the environment, through an exhibition proposal. Within this exhibition, is an exploration of consumerism and the buying culture that has such damaging effects on the industry.
My time at Birmingham City University has helped me develop both personally and artistically through the support of the tutors and my peers. It has helped me to understand and develop ideas that will hopefully shape my future career prospects. I am planning on travelling Europe (when possible!) in the next year, broadening my experience and development as an individual, I hope upon my return to start developing a career working with various galleries across the UK.
I am an artist and educational professional based in Birmingham. This past year, I have been involved with research exploring the role of public arts and developing ethical engagement strategies for arts organisations. My interest in socially engaged work stems from my working experiences and previous career path in arts education. I view the arts as a powerful political and social tool to express the emotions and struggles of shared human experience. It is important to break down cultural barriers and use the arts to open a channel of communication.
Arts and Project Management
How do arts organisations apply ethics in the public display of art, in order to reflect changes in cultural and social attitudes?
Following from my research undertaken in Research in Practice and my interest in socially engaged work, I wanted to explore how ethical considerations are applied by organisations in the commissioning and supporting of artists’ work that is participative yet pushes boundaries. The findings from my Research in Practice resulted in the following areas of potential further research:
To examine if ethics can be separated from aesthetics in participatory practice and the impact this has on arts organisations in terms of funding policies and commissioning new works.
To explore the role of the artist in socially engaged practices – should artists be working for societal benefit as educators and facilitators or is the role of the artist to be antagonistic and divisive, to unsettle cultural and societal notions of economy and exchange?
To examine how best is social change and justice realised – through education and representation or politicizing the public?
My current research is following on from this exploratory topic – Can ethics be separated from aesthetics? This question will inevitably have an impact on arts organisations’ decisions regarding curation and programming, funding policies and new commissioning available to artists.
Initially I was interested in how arts organisations considered ethics in commissioning transgressive work and the impact this has on artists producing transgressive work with participants. This proved to be difficult to gather primary research; the topic is sensitive, and participants were reluctant to engage with the research question. My research aims, on reflection, were too binary for this complex subject.
Following the interview with an NAE former creative producer, I became more focused on how arts organisations relate to audiences and the ethics of engagement in museum practices:
How does this affect curating decisions, programming and the public display of artwork?
How do arts organisations consider ethics when evaluating art for public display, in order to be accountable to their audiences/users?
This led to a re-development of my research aims and finalisation of the research title:
Most of this research has been informed by reading materials, desk research and critical analysis of case studies. More primary research could have been utilised, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic many arts organisations were closed with their staff on furlough. I received several apologetic replies from organisations unable to contribute to my primary research at this present time. A detailed evaluation of the research methodology is available in the appendix of this report. I have used Harvard referencing. Numbered footnotes are included.
How do arts organisations apply ethics in the public display of art, in order to reflect changes in cultural and social attitudes?
This report examines ethical considerations in the public display of art by arts organisations and museums. First, I have evaluated ethical philosophies and their applications to art, outlining the distinctions between ethics and morality. I have critically examined the ethical responsibilities of arts organisations to audiences as they respond to moral attitudinal shifts and how this can influence decisions on curation and context within temporary exhibitions. Further to this, the ethical duties of arts organisations to be accountable to audience’s social and cultural needs have been considered and how this is reflected through an ethics of engagement, representation and authentic authorship. I have addressed how arts organisations can respond to changes in cultural, social and moral attitudes to re-contextualise problematic biographies and histories of collections using progressive educational strategies of ethics.
My research has developed an exploration of how four recommendations of progressive educational ethics could be applied within the arts organisation/ museum to respond to social and cultural shifts and contextualise historical art collections on public display (adapted from (Hein, 2010) (Dewey, 1916):
Arts organisations (and practices in the public realm) should question and represent dualisms in order to address social inequalities.
The goal of education should be further education. Art should provide the resources for repeated and continued inquiry and alternative methods of enquiry; Arts organisations should be spaces for open ended questioning and interpretation.
Arts organisations (and practices in the public realm) need to reflect, challenge and examine their practices continually in order to respond to the needs of their audiences. This practice should enable opportunities for meaning making and feeling.
Connect educational work and exhibition programming to life and contemporary struggles in culture and society. Exhibition programming (and art practices in the public realm) should centre life experiences and connect to situations outside the arts organisation that reflect complexities in live human experience.
Factors such as exhibition programming and audience demographics can influence the social and cultural ethical considerations in the display of contemporary artworks. As custodians of collections, arts organisations need to exercise a certain level of objectivity that enables them to evaluate a work’s contribution to knowledge and education. However, ethical responsibility in their display necessitates consideration of human social interaction. As society’s moral attitudes shift, the contextualisation of collections also needs to be responsive. This research is extremely relevant to the contemporary issues faced by museums, who are increasingly being required to address Britain’s colonial past. I have outlined how these progressive educational ethics can be deployed as a working strategy for a current solution to contextualising Britain’s historical public statues. Currently arts organisations respond to social and cultural changes using reactive practices, how could these four educational ethical principles be used instead to develop strategies of pro-active responsible action and influences social change – to develop activism? Tate is currently conducting a programme of research, ‘Reshaping the Collectible: When Artworks Live in the Museum’ (Tate, 2018), to consider new models for the conservation and management of contemporary works of art. Research on the development of collective memory ecologies, I feel is particularly relevant to the cultivation of activism within arts organisations. Could the four principles of progressive educational ethics be implemented as a framework for the continuous re-interpretation of our collections that proactively challenges historical collective memory, therefore developing and influencing memory ecologies and engaging publics with activism? This topic could be explored further in a PhD proposal.
I have a strong passion for public engagement, curation and exhibition design in order to make content interactive. I am a strong analytical researcher which I have always developed throughout my work. I am highly interested in how digital technologies fuel and benefit public engagement, which is why I wanted to develop my research within the problem areas of this. I approached my Major Project by doing a research paper and a project plan.
What needs to be considered within art organisations in order for audiences to benefit from digital technologies?
Digital technologies have a strong impact on audience engagement and have had a positive impact on a number of audiences through different projects. Engagement within digital technology allows audiences to both have an active role within the participation, as well as allowing for a new avenue of communication and cultural experiences. They positively benefit audiences by providing a channel of communication which audiences may not engage with without digital (DDCMS,2019). However, there is a lack in opportunities for audiences to learn how to engage with the digital tools that are being used. They are slowly being introduced into art organisations but there is still a lack of users friendly opportunities for the audiences to learn properly how to get the best out of the digital technologies provide
Technology is trying to bridge the gap between communication and bring new experiences to audiences. By using digital technology within exhibitions, events or content online it allows audiences to go at their own pace and manoeuvre around the site as they please (Martins.H,2020).Due to COVID-19 many event or activities have been conducted through a webcam resource such as Zoom, Teams or Skype.
Audiences relationships with digital technologies have always been problematic due to the wide range in technologies available and the technical issues that arise with them. Due to the recent pandemic it has forced organisations to turn to digital but also review what needs to be put into place for all audience types due to it being the only way of keeping up to date with the organisation. The idea of digital can potentially scare non digital audiences due to the unknown and lack of confidence leading to frustration. However, guidance is needed but it still needs to stimulate the audiences enough to benefit from interacting with the content. The research has been concluded by suggesting that museum/ gallery website content should both engage, stimulate and inspire audiences from digital and non-digital backgrounds. It should include links to tutorials of how to use specific types of tools or how to access certain material. It should include Zoom meetings or that type of channel in order for audiences to bring a social element to the experience, and Pop up chat boxes that enable audiences to discuss any issues with their engagement.
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Policy of Funding Schemes, Independent Contemporary Art Enterprises and Arts Attendance in Finland.
Research paper, 2020
This research paper is an overview of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdown on the contemporary arts sector in Finland based on the information provided by the local art organisations, artists and community members. The paper also reflects on the changes in the sector’s funding strategies caused by the latest major economic crises in Europe.
As Finland has been the place of my work residency, I decided to use my Research in Practice and Major Project modules to analyse the current state of the contemporary arts sector in the country by conducting a series of surveys and interviews among residents, artists and arts management staff members.
Finland is a country where arts are deeply integrated into people’s lifestyles. Despite the chain of economic crises the country has been through in the last decade, support for the arts sector in Finland has been constantly increasing. The COVID-19 pandemic hit all sorts of arts organisations, artists and art consumers all over the world severely, and Finland is not an exception. The paper reflects on the response of funding organisations and independent art enterprises in Finland towards the pandemic-related crisis. It also assesses the impact of the crisis on the arts attendance among the Finnish residents.