Finally I am going to add some substance to Pop Medium. My absence from Blog-town has been in part due to the number of projects we have going on at work. One such project was the R***** Projections, a component of the R***** Festival. I thought I would share a few of my experiences with the digital world.
Public Space and Cultural Divides
One of the key ideas behind the R***** Projections project was to take a popular public space and change the way the community see it and to alter their understanding of what the space actually is and what it could be. By doing this the hope is that the community will grow and learn a thing or two together, maybe even enhance (possibly on more of a subconscious level) their understanding of the space’s cultural significance. To do this we decided it might be a nice idea to project some images by local artists on to the sand, get some kids from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to compose a sound scape and put the event on when at a time when lots of people are already using the space in their own way.
Projecting the images down on the ground as opposed to, say, projecting up on to a surface such as a wall proved to be one of our major logistical problems. We decided on a 10 tone crane that had a reach of about 20 meters. Of course this meant we had a giant machine in the middle of our show, not the ideal situation but one we felt we had to live with. If anyone out there has an idea that would have worked better, please leave a comment.
Aside from that I think the major problem with the event was that the due to the nature of the images that were being projected and the style of the music that was composed, the show ended up being inaccessible to a large chunk of the community (educationally, socio-economically, culturally). While “high art” has a tremendous amount of value, it tends to alienate particular groups of people and can actually work to further the divide between different community groups (both formal and informal). Working in community and cultural development, I think you should always be trying to open peoples minds a little, expand their world and show them something they may not have otherwise been exposed to. However this process should be a long one and the steps you take need to be small. I feel as if we may have rushed in, made some inaccurate assumptions about the community and as a result produced an event that alienated a portion of our demographic. Having said this, the projections were well received by those who went and we have yet to receive any negative criticism, so maybe I’m way off the mark…
Note: I have bleeped out the name of the event because I work for local government and while I don’t feel anything I have said could be considered as defamation, I do value my job and would rather air on the side of caution.