Abandoning Normal Devices in the Grizdale Forest

It was a real treat to get out of the city and head to the forest and Grisdale for the opening of the 2nd edition of the Abandon Normal Devices programme in Cumbria. Grisdale Forest is a great location for  digital interventions and amongst my favourites were the screening of Scratch ‘n Sniff Cinema The Company of Wolves.  I did however think it was a pity we weren’t in summertime and the screening hosted in the heart of the forest. I was amused to hear one of the festival co-directors describe the work as being responsible for the death of british cinema!

The series of AND salons  continued through this phase of AND with Dr Andy Miah in dialogue with artists Ubermorgan debating questions raised by User Generated Illness. The conversation elaborated on how in an era of self-diagnosis we assess our own health and whether medical expertise been abandoned for open source health solutions. It was a packed audience and the start of a debate they could have listened to all evening.

Arambo by Geoffrey Alan Rhodes which was sited in a log cabin was a fascinating  interactive cinema experience using playing cards. As the viewer of the film, I mashed up films of Rambo live on screen, bringing the sound score to an almost unbearable level of mania, then back to pure silence again when I removed all the images but one. Delightful, playful cinema which makes you sweat.

The Hudson-Powell residency commissioned by AND played with  technologies such as video-tracking and augmented 3D graphics, making  ‘grazing jellies’ which created a view into a forest where slugs munched on space men’s helmets and melon slices.  My movements and sounds influenced their behaviour and discovering this installation as I walked round the path of the forest moved my real world into fiction. Its set up raises question as to the relationship between ecology and nature, highlighting the need for opportunities which link artists working across these domains to reach a point where the digital can truly be an integrated part of the natural world.

Any future residencies like this would benefit from attempting to more deeply engage artists in their use of the natural environment as an energy source to power their digital work as opposed to the plug and play lead extensions  used for this one.  The forest is more than a gallery it is an eco system. its time to move the practice of eco-tech on and address sustainability.

~ by Debbi Lander on April 10, 2010.

2 Responses to “Abandoning Normal Devices in the Grizdale Forest”

  1. Hi Debbi! Nice write-up of the ANDfest in Grizedale! I wanted to give a shout regarding your point about energy sources. I was considering using solar power for a set of 10 remotely situated audio-kiosks I was planning to do at Grizedale for the festival. I scrapped that part of the project due to the cloud cover the area gets this time of year and went ‘old school’ with text in a small book instead. Ha! If the event ever happens in July though, look out! Solar all the way! Thanks again for the great festival. I had a blast. – Rob

    • Hi Rob, how you doing, thanks for that extra info. Il post the comment so people see it. Debbi

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