After all the preparation, filming, interviews, imaginings, conversations (in Spanish) we are in the last week and preparing for the showings on Thursday. In the last two and half weeks we have found experts in a range of topics and are ready to make a human library, we have invented and played a game on twitter (the rules need tweaking), we have begun work on a map that plots favorite texts against the city of penaranda, we have worked out what the centre for the future might be like, with open spaces, light and radical reinventions of our relationships to culture and now we have a plan and it looks a little something like this:
bits and pieces
How this will all fit together no one knows…. Its like fog, little molecules all strung together in a three dimensional curtain, pieces of material that move in and out of focus as the viewer scans it with their gaze.
Week two of our intense residency in Penaranda has just come to an end. Over this week we attempted to get to know the users of FGSR better. Through the casting we chose participants for 3 research groups- 2 made up of users of the centre, and 1 of non-users. While the methodology of this research was somewhat compromised- users met at the centre while we took non-users to a local cafe, the idea was less to find hard data and more to explore the ways the people of Penaranda thought and talked about some of the themes the project is concerned with.
We divided the workshops into 4 parts; community, collaboration, consumption, communication, using an icebreaker game at the beginning of each section. Luckily, the casting section proved useful in that everyone who participated had an opinion to share and it was quite hard to follow with everyone talking over each other! Again, thanks to our great translator for helping us to understand what the discussions were about.
This reasearch phase helped to illuminate a few things about how Penarandinos feel about emergent technologies. Pretty much everyone was online, using email and Facebook and Twenti to keep in touch. People had less experience in using digital technologies to explore their own creativity, making us realise further the value of the project and the desire of FGSR to engage with technologies, but to make sure they take their audiences along with them.
If we approach the discussions as another way of getting to know the people of Penaranda and the landscape in which we are working, then they were a success. The discusssions, the written and drawn material produced, and the diaries that the participants will be keeping will find their way into the final event. This research is an integral part of our practice, even if formalised by using a basic ‘focus group’ model.
In September we returned again to the centre, ready for three busy weeks of research, work, Spanish and sunshine. The work had been carefully split into three sections, during the first week we would gather people and resources, the second week would consist of workshops and observations with users and non users of the centre and the last week we would try out interventions and test possible structures for the final events.
We are super aware of the need within this project to have the staff of the centre see practical results of the works and to see the effects of new kinds of creative practice. So with the centres help we invited the users of the centre to participate in various ways over the three weeks to give feedback and insight from a new set of perspectives.
We are looking for dreamers
In the first week we carried out a sort of “casting” process to find people willing to help us with the research and share stories about their online habits. A flyer advertising the project was posted around the town (the flyer above was made by Olga Sánchez y Florencia Corrionero, staff of the Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez). We met each person individually and we sat on a stage, like hollywood directors, with lights and cameras while each person shared a one minute story about fog. It could have been something that they remembered, heard, saw in a film, read in a book or were told as a child. Fog memories are interesting as there is a metaphorical likeness between fog and memory (this is not the first time this has been observed) and it was a lovely to have these Spanish memories float across the stage into the darkness as we selected our researchers.
One of the purposes of this blog is to put markers along the way or to highlight points in the process that are problematic… the dead ends, detours or distractions. I’m sure its been said before but our limited knowledge of Spanish culture and language is a big one, especially with understanding the nuances of peoples reactions and responses to all these processes of engagement. In this week we were surprised by the formality of this “casting” process, but in the end it worked really well and we noticed that the librarians and staff really know their audience as people didn’t seem put out by this process. There are reams and reams to be written about cultural differences, and the relational difficulties that this might pose, but if there is anything we have learnt it is that a little goes a long way and with a lovely translator some of these problems can be overcome.