Author Archives: madeleinecollie

Birthday Celebrations

For the 25th birthday celebrations at the FSGR Banana Asylum are presenting the final stages of our connections improbable project…. with films, walks, discussions, installations and an experiment in social media performance the project will explore the relation between the digital and the real in both the fictitious and physical spaces of the library and the centre. Two of the projects are detailed below.

Un paseo en la nube (a walk in the cloud)

Downloadable on MP3 this fictious walk through penaranda is composed of the favorite texts of our collaborators in the centre, (pablo neruda, miguel unamuno, pythagoras, Miguel Hernández and others). these texts will fabricate real and imagined encounters with the town.

The virtual life of Augusto Perez

La Niebla (fog) recounts the story of Augusto – a man who spends his life in a fog of philosophical confusion. Seemingly a meditation on love, the novel is composed of a series of tricks and deceits played on Augusto by the other characters, on the characters by the author, and by the author on his reader. We have been working with a small group of actors to recreate this story on facebook and the results will be presented in a funny lecture on the day of the celebrations.

on the walk in the cloud

Melbourne Open Lab

In the Melbourne Open Lab we heard from three speakers and then split off into two groups to discuss the questions and provocations that FSGR had sent. The discussion was lively, with a great mix of artists, librarians, historians, arts managers and interested locals and it was clear from the way our audience launched into discussion that libraries are places that ignite imaginations.

OPEN LAB welcome

“Empires of the future will be empires of the mind.” – W Churchill

Here is a snapshot of some of the discussions and and  some attempts by the groups at answering the questions….

What kind of librarians and cultural managers will we be?

Facilitators, Match makers, Distillers, Quality managers, Trusted guides, Conduits for information, they will act as points of access.

How do the public talk to each other? 

Musically… perhaps there might be musical instruments in the space.

Through common objects… perhaps there might be a comment book, a shared book that is built with each visit to the library.

In shared spaces… with a common focus, storytimes, homework and community groups.

The books exist so that people can use them collectively…Perhaps philosophy groups might run in the library making use of the books available to discuss areas of common interest.


“In the future… when we blink we will go online” Michio Kaku

In  this new context of online reading, how can we attract new audiences and what will the relationship between the digital and virtual spaces be like?

Is Web 2.0 content knowledge in the sense that libraries are accustomed to? and are these social or cultural exchanges archiveable in the way in which libraries are used to? If what is dawning is an age of greater social democratisation, how do libraries help facilitate these changes and adapt? And is this idea of co-creation in libraries a way of keeping people in the space for longer in the same way people stay in galleries etc…Will drastic changes alienate current users of passive services?

Someone suggested that libraries might like to host a “data furnace”…

…in the end this group decided that libraries have an ongoing role in contextualising / brokering and mediating knowledge and information and in bringing all these formats together and presenting them in meaningful ways. Libraries  have a role in helping us to build stories out of all of these disparate sources.

The group was interested in the difference between the precision of the knowledge that is available vs the informal colloquial knowledge that libraries attract particularly in rural centers.

Unbound v Bound Realities

“A book is
bounded. It has a beginning and an ending and a discoverable way of knowing
 that you’ve read the whole thing, you finish a book. Websites, like space, can go on forever.” Theo Gray, the author of The Elements

Sketches 1,2,3,4 and 5 – September – Part 3

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.

Looking for dreamers – September – Part One

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.

Anthropology of Performance

The relationship between art and anthropology is not at all new and has had a diverse range of implications for arts practices, including ethnographic film making, study of culture through performance, research as practice and all sorts of reverberations and after effects. We banana’s are interested in the way the two fields can support and formally effect each other without either form being dominant.

Its a slightly different approach to the ideas explored here in this 1987 text by victor turner… however it gives some context to the terrain. Antrophology of performance

The Cultural Centre for the Future!

And it all starts with some long conversations about art, fog and expertise.

Our first research trip to Penaranda took place at the end of June and was quite intense! We met with almost all of the staff of the centre,  (all those that were available and on our busy schedule) and we interviewed each of them with some questions that covered their working days, home life, usage of technology, artworks that they remember, foggy days and subjects of interest or expertise.

Above all it was lovely to meet everyone and through the interviews we learnt a lot about the town, the centre and the people that we will be collaborating with on this project.

a tour around the town

a tour around the town

It was very interesting to hear about peoples foggy memories, as part of the initial thinking about the project we have been talking a lot about the idea of Fog. We are thinking about it as a metaphor for connectivity, as a lower version of a cloud that exists between us and connects more closely to the space we are in together. Fog or “Neibla” will form a sort of structural map and metaphor for the project. It was very interesting to hear that in Spain, the Fog, has very specific cultural associations of death, sadness and loss. Some of the memories were lovely to hear but it is something to be aware to when structuring and making our project…. As we don’t want to make the audiences of the future sad!

Public Space and Exchange

Here is a lovely article about a knitting group that takes place in a library in canada, the researchers observe that the intersection between the social activity of knitting and the library as a public place of stories and story telling allows for a rich exchange beween the knitters. Purls_of_wisdom

Artists & Libraries

On Friday 3rd June, as part of our cloud research, banana asylum attended a symposium on artists in the library. Here is a list of some projects undertaken by artists with a fascination for libraries, archives and books.

Library of Secrets

The Quiet Volume

Future Editions

Book Arts

Banana Asylum are also inspired by the work of the human library movement.

The human library

and the inspirational city project

Ciudades Paralelas


Head quarters – Conexiones Improbables

This gallery contains 4 photos.