INTERCONTINENTAL aka How can artists (and audiences) collaborate meaningfully and remotely between different continents?

Convener(s): Tassos Stevens

Participants: included…

Jennifer Pearcy-Edwards, Ilana Winterstein, Emma Deakin, Leo Wood, Sophie Larsmon, Matthew Lloyd, Aaron Minnigin, Annette Mees, Alex Eisenberg, Pete ?, Alex Fleetwood… and more I have surely missed


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

I had this topic tabled in D&D New York by proxy of Alan Cox. The plan always being to table it here in London. I’ll post Alan’s notes too as sent, a fascinating contrast, I think as many of London artists are making participatory work for playing audiences.

We might be talking about performance, collaboration, skills and experiences.

Tassos: Existing project by Coney, a seed called Hutong: Made in collaboration over Skype with Beijing-based artist Hey Fan, and devising help from Coney’s Society online, a walk and directions that anyone can download to perform themselves, seed at present, rolling out wide soon.

Alex F: Hide & Seek running International Sandpits with LIFT this summer, in Delhi and Beirut (at least). Sandpit is an open space of real-world, (usually) social games. A sandpit in London linked live to one in different location via a video link projection, games played in both, some exploring the link and the divide. 

What’s the symbolism of the Sandpit? Fostering an atmosphere for play – basic question of ‘how are we going to play together?’ which opens out bigger questions naturally.

Could you put a grid in front of each screen so you can link the physical playspaces in each continent.

Difference in intimacy and privacy between Skype, especially with video, and a telephone call. What’s interesting is the interaction with the existing relationship between people. What do you see of the space behind the video camera, and what do you put in front of the camera to help define those different spaces?

The space and place around the screen – how do you explore these? 

Alex E & Pete: one went on holiday to NYC, other sent through instructions to be carried out there An almost ‘telepathic’ remote connection to the city. Send and trust that they are being done. Very intimate. Example challenge: make a bouquet and give to a pregnant lady; he couldn’t find a pregnant lady for an aeon. Instructions as constructions. Another challenge inspired by Janet Cardiff.

What’s meaningful? It’s how it inflects and transforms the relationship between the people, between the places, interplay between both. “In a way, I’d already travelled there”, I can explore the city without being there, one person being almost like the avatar for the other.


In Come Out & Play, tours of NYC as if it is Baghdad: You Are Not Here


In Hide & Seek Festival, Momus did tours of London as if it were Tokyo:

Both had fictional elements, deliberately not accurate representations. 

Project using Ustream (?), where wifi spots were difficult. Fucked-up stream, fractured and fragmented, sometimes give the sense of distance, it’s the failure and difficulty in the network that’s important. It’s the imperfections in communication that engender specificity and meaning.

Will Skype become an archetypal theatrical symbol of remote communication as a suitcase became a symbol of travel in visual theatre?

Who’s travelled to a different continent or hemisphere, for business or pleasure, in the last year? Maybe a third of us?  We’re living at the end of a generation where live human exchange wasn’t a luxury.

Leo: less interested in technology, rather the learning of inter-cultural meaning, and the arts as a vessel in which to learn. Will this interest be redundant if people can’t travel?

Greg: collaborating on google docs, and people moving the cursor from different places, a meaning that comes from responsivity and also from the sense that we’re alll looking at the same thing – the notion of theatre as an experience of collective witnessing.

Buskers in US via hologram.

We need to acknowledge the difference of remote comms rather than the same.

Alex: Arnold Mindel talks re deep democracy about collective thought, how it transfers between bodies, an energy whirl. Can this transfer via video/voice? Role theory at play here.

What happens with 3D HD video between Delhi and London? We’d have interface chambers, special spaces rigged up to facilitate the video link. How do you bring your journey into the room?

Alex F: Questions of travel and authenticity. How do I have an authentic local experience in a place I don’t know? Going to Rome, joining a network where given a local mobile, blog about Rome by locals, tips to consume the authentic experience. How much of a local does this make you?

Meeting between people and a meeting between places, otherwise always talking about a representation of place.

Annette: I’m from Holland, I’m often generalised as a Dutch theatre-maker rather than looking at me specifically.

Instructions make engagement itself an act of theatre. The screen is a cold interface

We might need to recognise a sacrifice, we can’t consume cultures again directly and easily, but you can only experience Delhi in Delhi, so important still to travel.

Why do I need to travel? Can find communities of diaspora in London.

Perhaps a travel agency that takes you on a holiday without leaving London. Go to Lagos via Ridley Road Market.

What are the sets you can place behind you on Skype, like Eurovision backdrops. The bedroom is the traditional backdrop, can you fictionalise those spaces.

Pete: In Central America, street theatre is the norm. The comparsa, theatre versus parade. What’s the agency of involvement that gives you that visceral experience? And also that you’ve made a journey to get there, the investment in the event that gives.

We should be making analysis of loss and gain, what happens in each modality of engagement, so we can better make value judgements.

Is the desire to create meaningful encounters?

Strangers in the night connections between people online remotely who can’t tell who it is they are interacting with.

Amigal(?) – a blank page online that you collaborate in writing with a stranger

Tassos, daft thought: How might we travel and exchange across continents by breaking it down into smaller legs – I exchange with someone 100 miles away, who exchanges with someone else 100 miles further, etc until we’re in China.

A project where two artists are walking Britain and collecting and sharing songs.

In the World Cup, the diaspora communities in London emerge to compete and celebrate.

In the 1948 Olympics, last time they were in London, ordinary people hosted visiting athletes.

Story reported of Lucy Neal, she is obsessed with cold-water swimming and went by train to Slovenia to participate in International Cold Water Swimming Championships, an extreme physical experience – like sharing a meal, or sharing a house.

Pete: watching home vidoes through a screen, someone else’s life experience.

What are all the roles you take in your city – resident of Stokey, father, artist etc – and can you have the same role in another city or identify with someone else who has? Do you need permission to take the role?

The Gaijin in Japan – you are always a guest as a foreigner, Japan is your host.

Interesting book - Universal experience: Art + The Tourist Eye

Commonalities of environments in different places, like the pavement in architecture.