Category Archives: In the Clouds

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

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.

Research as Practice? – September Part 2

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.



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.

In the Clouds, surrounded by fog

Light travels differently in the fog, we are blinded, surrounded, waiting for the sun to come up.

The theme of the fog came to us from the Director of the centre Javier Valbuena, by way of a Spanish book by Miguel Unamuno (a basque writer who spent most of his life in Salamanca) it is about a fictional character Augusto, whose complicated love life leads him to wanting to kill himself. Before he does however he visits the home of the author to ask his expert opinion, in their conversation the author (Unamuno) reveals that Augusto is a fictional creation and that as his life is not real it is therefore not possible for him to end. In the book the character sees “his world as full of small and almost imperceptible occurrences, some of them good some of them bad, and all of them serve to obscure his vision.”La Niebla (Fog) is then a condition under which we live somewhere between reality and fiction.

While at the Edinburgh Festival for work, I’ve seen many different shows which have provided a lot of inspiration for Banana Asylum’s upcoming visit to Spain. Importantly, it is clear how many theatre makers/ live artists are embracing new technologies of various kinds in their work. Terms such as pervasive media,  locative theatre, iterative and immersive have been ringing in my ears.

So far I’ve seen a few performances which have made me think and feel, it is only ever one or the other that I ask from an artwork.

I, Infinite by Tom Dale Company was a wholly immersive piece of choreography performed in a white dance studio. Audience members could view the solo dancer from all angles and get as close to her as they dared. The mode was a sombre look in the future as Dale created a work which looked at the ‘beauty of human movement through a digital perspective’. Of particular note was the moment in which the dancer moved underneath a haze of dry ice. The lighting was such that is felt as if she her body was brought alive by her breath allowing her to move in and out of visibility while lying under the haze. The use of ‘fog’ in such a beautiful way is something BA can explore further for this project.

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!

An Introduction in June

At the end of June Banana Asylum returned to Penaranda de Bracamonte to begin phase one of our project. The week consisited of interviews with every staff member at the centre. Our motivation was to get to know each staff member better, not only in their roles as employees at FGSR, but as individuals. We were also interested in gauging interest and/ or barriers to the project, so we could understand obstacles that might present themselves along the way.

In spending a week in Penaranada we came to learn that, well, all streets lead to the centre. It really is a tiny town, something we are both unfamiliar with, adding to the intensity of the project. We located some beautful locations around town and became very excited about what me might be able to do with them!

By the end of the week we had consumed a huge amount of jamon y queso, began to understood the rhythm of Penaranda and identified some of the FGSR staffs main concerns. On the whole people were excited, but apprehensive about the project. There is a real sense of pride for all the staff that work there, something that makes doing this kind of project inspiring for us, but also understandable that they are concerned about what we will get them to do! Fog continues to be a theme as we asked each staff member a memory they have of fog. It is useful to use this as a guding principle and to realise how murky and threatening it is to most.

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.