Just squeaking in a blog post at the last moment to keep to my ‘at least 4 a month’ quota. Lots has happened this month, Mayfest took up a great deal of it, then I completed 10,000 words of PhD chapter 1 and other material for my first year progress board, including all of the fore-planning (I actually have the next two and a bit years planned out, which is an unusual combination of reassuring and scary). I’ve also released a first foray into soundwalk style storytelling to the general public, and agreed to and submitted an abstract for a joint paper on the inefficiencies of the academic conference in representing performative thoughts for a TaPRA conference in September… That’s written better in the actual abstract. So a busy month, though I really do intend to do a run down of my experiences at Mayfest sometime soon, promise.
The image above is from the soundwalk I’ve released, check it out at http://walkwith.tumblr.com – all it requires is an mp3 player, 10 minutes, and some rain. I would really appreciate any feedback you have – either in text/audio/image/video form via the site, Twitter, or even posting me handwritten/collected things (as some people have). It’s my first experiment in the form, and at the moment is a bit like a monologue-with-interactive-bits than something that might be called truly interactive or player-as-protagonist driven. I shall have to get working with the second-person referential, I think. I’ve also got plans to play with binaural audio – to develop a real 3D feeling with the headphones. You can hear some really good examples of where that can lead at Papa Sangre’s house, the audio storytelling is there described as a ‘video game without video’. Make sure you wear headphones when listening. I’m getting some mic’d up ear buds and a cheap minidisc player (from Twitter, the lovely @daveisanidiot) to experiment with that. My brother (trained sound engineer if you’re hiring/have intern work/want someone to hold a boom mic whilst BREAKING WOOD) is also going to help out, so more technical stuff and higher quality hopefully forthcoming.
These experiments are all eventually leading towards the ideas I have for the currently quite cryptic Umbrella Project (no zombies involved), which I’m trying to secure some funding before lift-off. If you know of any funds, grants, or tech/web/music support-in-kind that might be out there and interested in being involved in a country-wide pervasive storytelling experiment, let me know. You can follow the Umbrella Project on Twitter here, and if you have £8,000 (I have a fully costed and sensible budget and everything) you wanted to throw at me, please do!
Finally, as June arrives and July seems much closer than it did in May, I’m beginning to think about what I might talk about at Shift Happens on the 5th and 6th. Shift Happens is an industry (as opposed to academic) conference about arts, learning and digital technology, and there are some really big speakers from places like 4ip, The Guardian, and the National Theatre also up there, so I’m trying to work out how I can best fit in. I suspect I’m there as a passionate loud-mouth and blogger before I am an academic, but I do feel like the dialogue needs to move on from ‘you should be using/interested in tech’, ‘but it’s scary/time consuming/too hard/not monetarily justifiable’. Perhaps a focus on the harder times that are upcoming with regards to the Tory-Lib Dem arts cuts. I’ll have a think about that. And if you think I have a particular clear message that I’ve hitherto missed, do let me know, very welcome!
Merry Bank Holiday Weekend. And if any of you are off to the Rough Beats Festival next weekend, find me and say ‘hi’. I may even say ‘hi’ back.