Sunday, December 9, 2007

MAPmaking project

The meeting for this project was on, Monday? I think? I don't know, some time fairly recently. Days sort of run together for me and I left my planner upstairs, so let's claim it was Monday.

The fun thing about the end of this term is that all of the super cool cross-arts collaborations are starting up and having their various planning meetings for the rest of the year. I already told you about the one with the LCDS, the MAPmaking project is with the communications students of the Royal College of Art (Not to be confused with the Royal Academy of Art. I don't understand why there are two Royal schools for each art form, but whatever.) Royal College is all post grad, which I thought was interesting. The project has been going on annually for a number of years now and each year a theme is chosen and the two schools get together and meet and show a little bit of what we can do. From there I gather that groups get together to collaborate some in pairs and others with larger groups.

This first meeting was at the Royal College of Art which is nearby the Royal College of Music and practically next door to the Royal Albert Hall, but down a little alleyway that looks like it doesn't go anywhere. The building itself was quite possibly more confusing than the Barbican. In order to get to the meeting room we had to walk through an empty gallery where people were filming, up a half set of stairs, through a hallway, up another staircase (but which staircase? There were three to choose from), etc. I'm not really sure how we found the actual room. I think it was luck and an innate homing instinct.

The theme for this year is actually a combination of things: equator countries, and global warming. The meeting started out with a presentation by a graduate of the communications department who had a slide show and talk about environmental stuff and global warming. It was very well done, and also very intense. He had an interesting perspective though, because part of what he was talking about was the role of the arts in helping the public to conceptualize the various problems facing the environment. The photograph that he showed us that has really stuck with me was of a piece that some artist did (I really need to start taking notes so I stop being all like "this guy did this thing and it was really cool, but that is all I can tell you about it...) to illustrate how much power is lost in the transmission of electricity. What they did was stand up a whole host of fluorescent tube light bulbs in rows underneath an electricity pylon and there is so much energy coursing through the air there that this entire field of lights is glowing even though none of them are plugged in, they are just shoved into the ground. It was a fantastic piece. It looked like a glowing orchard.

So that was intense and left all of us wondering how on earth we were going to deal with the topics, but the leaders of the project say that everyone always feels that way at this point and then at the end of the project come up with incredible work.

You would think that since we were at the art school that the visual artist would show off, but no: the musicians did instead. There were about 11 of us from Guildhall. Dave from dinner club, Ed from my dance collaboration, Jane from New Zealand, and another Ed all of whom are composers. There was also a classical guitarist whose name I forget and 5 of us music leadership kids. The composers each had an opportunity to play about 2 minutes of their works on a CD player, the guitarist played a lovely song, and then we did a group improvisation that was led my Nell Catchpole whom we originally worked with in the creative ensemble at the beginning of the year.

Those of us who were involved in the improvisation felt like we were kind of messing it up and that it wasn't working very well- but the artists were entranced... it was amazing. The back row stood up on their chairs and took photos and little videos on their mobile phones. They were so engaged that when we were done with the first one they demanded that we do a second one- and that time Nell got them involved with singing too. This was an entire room full of people we had never met- like forty people- so it was intimidating to get up there with a plan that we had formulated during the 10 minute break. And to be so intimidated and then to have it go over so well was incredible- and a bit surreal.

We were invited to go to the pub with everyone afterwards which would have been really cool, but we had to pack up our instruments and then when we were ready to go down the one person who was left to guide us there didn't have her ID card to get into the building and then that was weird and a little disappointing, but the visual artist folks will be coming to Guildhall soon enough, so maybe we can hang out then.

I'm really excited about this project too- though I am less clear about how it all ends up working than I am about the LCDS project.


Matt D said...

that sounds fun.

unfortuantely, I don't have time to finish the post, as I only have 5-10 minutes to read.

could we get a few shorter posts mixed in, so that we who have few minutes free with internet can actually read a complete post?

Casitareina said...

yup, I'll work on that!