FRIDAY~ The Tempest.

The Festival ended with another storm, but this time it was one of many worlds. For the finale event, the Chamber’s East was transformed into a visual world of wonder…The room was filled with large sheets all marked as sails projecting numerous adaptations of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Scenes of water and ships embodied the space like walls, immersing you into a world of theatre and play….

We created it through imagery, sound, sculpture and performance. The space unfolded into a maze of sound, action and dialogue. A grand theatrical metamorphose…The chamber was filled with a rainbowed umbrella, a rope with ribbon, a collage chair, a heap of mattresses awaiting to be slept on and a ghost iceberg…

A PA stood at the entrance of the chamber, projecting apocalyptic noise and welcoming the public to project into the space using the human voice. Live performances and multipal screenings created a scene of chaotic nature; a woman, placed at the entrance of the space poured flour over herself like a transient death ritual. Through these bodies did we create our final Tempest…

I feel like I am walking in the apocolypse,

full of time, space and water.

As we move around there are continues moving

images of the ocean,

and of ships drowning…

Of queens and sailors,

where the waves have captured them for eternity.

The bed is empty,

and the rainbow is lost,

within the silence of our ephemerality.

The rope lies tangled in our memories,

which we once walked with together.

 His voice echoes,

but no one is here to hear.

The ghost ship awaits us,

floating invisibly…

I stand in between two screens,

watching a woman pour flour over her head,

A ritualistic dance of death,

She falls,

and yet she is still.

White & Black,

Light and Dark.

It is so loud that I cannot hear myself think,

or feel myself move.

We are all still,

in this Tempest storm. 

Over the festival, I have learnt that as much as importnat it is to have an external presence, it is also important to be invisible. I believe the nature of performance and it its ephemerality is why it creates such wonderful experiences, because within these intangible moments, where there are no boundaries, we can truly let go and immerse ourselves within moments that can change and transform us, we can shape shift through them…

I feel that the most wonderful moments of the festival have been all the little the interactions we have had between each other, the journeys in between, from place to place, and our collectivity through them…The singing and interacting with a space, and being within a moment…                 

At sunrise, after lying all night on the big communal floor of beds, we left the chamber and met Dundee in the very wakings of the day. This marked the end of the festival, as we ventured out to meet the Sun; a new beginning…

The End ¿?………

THURSDAY~ Sunsets on Broughty Ferry Beach…

On Thursday evening, Ruth and I ventured out to Broughty Ferry in search of the sun. We found a lovely campfire on the beach and the tent of life perched in the sand with everyone inside it. There was sandy food, beautiful skies and a barbecue, all one could want on a lovely early summer’s eve. We spent the night around the fire, reading poetry and singing as the sun slowly went down…

And then we walked the 6 miles back to Dundee singing more songs…It took us 2 hours to get back home.

THE SOUL CITY EXISTS WITHIN US…

TUESDAY~ Deconstructing Identities…

On Tuesday the festival turned into a wonderful immersive worksop, in which we got to enter the world of the theatre…

The theme of the day was ‘construction & deconstruction’, and specifically looked at how theatre as a space can set up a metaphor world in which we can look at how society constructs and deconstructs our own identity.

We opened the day by visiting the Rep Theatre, which facilitated a workshop called ‘Constructing Identities’. This was an extremely interesting experience as we got to venture behind the scenes of the theatre space and see how they construct different worlds for each production. As part of the workshop we got to visit the set of The Tempest, which was showing there at that time. The set was an amazing installation of rubbish and abandoned objects, referring to the world’s current natural disasters and the way modern society has evolved.

I felt that the set resonated our very destructive nature and our relationship to the planet and how we affect it. The set looked like a massive explosion of rubbish; there was numerous bin bags spread around it, old computers and broken technology, desolate objects and things that we no longer value. Seeing the set in this very raw and visual way made me realise how important a background is to a play, and how much it can reveal. Even without the actors on stage, the set itself presents its very own character, creating the base for the happenings in which the play could take place. This made me realise that it is very important to create a world to play in, even before the story is told…

After this, we then went upstairs to a dress rehearsal room, now thinking of how to construct a character of our own. This involved deconstructing our own identities and looking at our everyday lives. As part of this process we also explored the different levels of identity, the internal/invisible and the external/visible. For example one’s eye colour is something very tangible, it is depicted by the person who is looking at you. One person who see’s green, another can see blue. Some parts of our identity are created by the person we face, others are completely invisible, like our birthday.

On Tuesday night we ended our explorations of identity by attending a wonderful and intensive one man play of King Lear performed by Jeremy Hardingham. This was done amongst the set of the Recycling Centre, and brought to a life a very manic and surreal theatre experience, where you watched a man deconstruct himself completely, right infront of his audience….

It all began with an egg; the beginning of everything…

MONDAY~ Camperdown Park…

On Monday we ventured out to the Caperdown Park to look at wildlife & habitat and how different species affect one another. This day was lead by Jonathan alongside artist’s Reiko Goto & Tim Collins who discussed the theme of ‘Empathy’ and how it affects our way of understanding and connecting with our environment…

The day was spread out through out the park, seeing the wildlife and creatures that lived in the enclosed habitats. In the park we also stumbled across Savage Corporations who had set camp in one of the empty spaces of the centre. It was a wonderful spectacle.

As part of the lunches, Yvonne asked us to draw/recollect the discussions of the day and mark them on our little cardboard plates as a way to document the process of the day, linking the food with the whole day. I really enjoyed this process as it allowed our lunch to turn into an artistic intervention.

As well as discussing, we also did an immersive worksop where we were asked to empathise with and become part of our surrounding habitat. I took my sound recorder and sketchbook with me and sat in the grass for a long time. I really enjoy being immersed in one place and being still within it. I feel that by doing this you can almost become a part of it, by just being aware of yourself within a space. I find it a very magical moment.

This was my recording:

HUMAN SPACES~ Tay Bridge.

The final space I went to investigate was the Tay Bridge at the waterfront. The Tay is a fundamental body within Dundee, giving the city its birth place and source of life. The Tay has always interested me as a human space as it holds and resonates a great part of Dundee’s history and reveals how the city has progressed throughout time.

The Tay river holds two bridges: the Railway Bridge and the Road Bridge. Both these structures connect Dundee to its surrounding landscapes and have enabled its citizens to travel and venture out and into the city. As structures in themselves, the bridges are incredible bodies. They project themselves from the land and connect two spaces together, creating a relationship between human spaces.

As part of the festival, my fellow friend and artist, Ruth Aitken took us to the waterfront to experience a ritual walk. There we were asked to inhabit a disused space and bring it to life by walking around it and activating it with our human presence. It was when being immersed in the space that I realised how much the Tay forms the city, and as you walk around it you can see how far the water bends around the city, marking the very outlines of it.

At the waterfront there are a lot of different public art works that link back to Dundee’s shipping and jute industry. Dundee used to be one of the biggest harbour’s in the world, and even though this is no longer the case, you still get a sense of this grand open space, which was once filled with ships and large structures. As part of these little visual references to the city’s past there is a sculpture called the Panmure passage, which was sculpted by artist Marion Smith. The sculpture is inspired by a boat hull and links back to Dundee’s shipping roots.The sculpture is made from 11 upright granite slabs, which echo the form of a boat by creating an almost skeleton-like structure.

When inhabiting the space, I felt very drawn to this structure and so decided to do a recording whilst lying inside it. I lay my body down the series of holes and sang inside it. It was an amazing feeling being held up by his very strong sculpture and resonating within another art work…

This happening marked the very last of my investigations of human spaces within Dundee. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey and meeting the city in a more intimate way, in which I got to meet and inhabt spaces that I had never gone to before. This also marked the end of my time living in Dundee and was a wonderful way to leave the city…

HUMAN SPACES~ Dundonia.

Wandering around the city centre, I stumbled across some more spaces that made me think of how we have inhabittted the city through time…

Dundee is a city were you can clearly see a change in its identity; there are constant traces of abandoned buildings, spaces out of use and that are shaping to be new places…the city has visually changed. I find it fascinating how disused structures can strongly remind us of how we existed inside them. Buildings in many ways are like human museums that link us back to all the generations before us. Architecture in itself is a human space and creation; it is a physical world in which we have based our lives around. Everywhere around us has been sculpted as human space, they shape us as much as we shape them and become the places we exist in everyday…

But human nature changes, as does a city…In Dundee you can feel walking through the streets this older city, like a ghost city amongst it, all the invisible layers, all the buildings that re no longer in use, resonate a moment that no longer exists. I find it very interesting learning about people through buildings and looking at what our relationships used to be to them, and what they are presently…

I have really enjoyed collecting all these different memories and experiences in the city. My explorations in Dundee have allowed meet to see the city in a completely different light, and that there are many invisible stories within a city, like hidden markings in the landscape and buildings, the structures around us resonate our history, and reveal our relationship to space and place.

“MEMORY IS TIME”.

HUMAN SPACES~ Wishart Arch.

The Wishart Arch is a monument situated in the Seagate, which is one of the oldest parts of Dundee. The Wishart Arch is a remaining part of the city wall and was an old gateway into the city, forming part of the East Port and Cowgate. The monument frames a part of Dundee’s history and past. Once a protected gateway into Dundee it was converted into a pedestal from which religious reformer George Wishart preached to plague victims in 1544. It now stands as a very ghostly structure, amongst the modern city of Dundee.

The Wishart arch reminds me of how the city used to encircle the land, and how we as its inhabitants lived inside it. It is now said to be the only remaining part of the original city walls and architecturally dates back to 1500’s. I must have walked passed the structure several times, but have never noticed it before due to its strange location. The arch is in the middle of the city, and yet is completely immersed and made invisible by its surrounding environment. I think it is a wonderful piece of architecture, which remains as a symbol of the past.

As an ancient monument, the Wishart Arch resonates a different time and place. The Wishart Arch presently stands beside a modern building, which extends itself out from the arch’s adjacent wall. I think it is very interesting to think of buildings as their own bodies, and so in this instance when two buildings  come together in such a close dialogue with another, their original identity changes, and they become a completely new body. I think  this is why I have perhaps never noticed the arch before, because it no longer stands as a structure by itself, it forms part of  this completely different identity that does not resonate a historical place at all. It is very strange how two buildings with such different presences can stand beside each other and exist in the same space, yet they can also work together to communicate and create a dialogue between the past and present of a city.

For my explorations on resonance within the structure, I sat inside the small encove of the arch and sang inside it. It was a really lovely experience as it allowed me to observe the world around me without being seen, as in that moment I was concealed by the arch.  Being inside the arch made me feel immersed within its walls, allowing my voice to travelled through the structure. I sat inside it for a while, watching the space around the structure; how people moved around and through it…It felt as though it wasn’t a place where people stopped, but more a space that was crossed and inhabited a moment rather than a long period of time. I got the feeling that this Arch has become invisible to everyone, it no longer is seen as a body at all, and because of this I enjoyed occupying it for that time period, and acknowledging it as its own structure.

After some time, I left the structure and wandered up and through the streets it led to, finding new spaces of old that resonate our past….

HUMAN SPACES~ St. Mary’s/ The Steeple.

The following day, I went to visit some of the sacred architecture in Dundee’s city centre. It is incredible how many churches Dundee has presently, they run like a trail right through the city…

St Mary’s Church/The Steeple are said to be the oldest of these buildings in Dundee, dating back to 1190 when it was first constructed. It now stands as a completely different building, as the original structure was burnt by the English in 1303. It was then rebuilt, but again in 1547 the parish was targeted for being the largest church in Scotland, and the Steeple being the tallest Tower. Again it was rebuilt and again it was burnt in 1841.

Finally, in the 1870’s it was re-built by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who was commissioned by the local council to re model the church. The building takes the aesthetics of the Gothic Victorian Revival, which is physically very different from the Old Steeple that managed to survive from the 1400’s. This building is now what presently remains as St. Mary’s church, and is the only surviving structure from all its past decedents.

I find church’s very bizzarre spaces; they are public sanctuaries, yet there is so much political control over them, and especially as historic sites, they begin to close their doors and loose their purpose and identity. It is amazing how much importance we have given these buildings over the years, re building them over and over again….They are so present within every culture and city, and they remain sacred, even if religion has faded, the buildings themselves represent the people that built them, and as a beacons of hope, they remain as visual metaphors of our faith.

This is in itself creates a very resonant framework, standing infront of a building, that echoes all the structures that stood there before it, but also all the energy it has taken to re build them.  I am sure that their presence and human resonance still echoes through space now. I really like this church, it does for me symbolize the centre of Dundee. It is a very social hub space, there is always people sitting aroudn ti, and there has been a wonderful public art piece commissioned, which echos the ouline of the front of building on the ground.

I tried to enter the church, but it was closed, so I circled the space and found a little enclosure in one of the side walls, facing the Overgate. I stood there, taking in my surroundings and watching everyone move around the building. theere was a pigeon wandering around and a bin man working close by, so I definitely got the sense that this was a shard space. I sang very quietly and stood close to a tree. I felt very sheltered by the building and  protected. It then began to rain, so I decided to walk on into the city and follow it down to the Seagate…

HUMAN SPACES~ Cox’s Stack.

As well as visiting the Balgrathno Stone Circle, on the way back into town I went to visit my second site; the Cox’s Stack. I chose this not for its historic presence, but more for its symbol to the city. The Cox’s Stack is the longest surviving industrial chimney in Scotland. It is 86 metres high and is a prominent feature in Dundee’s landscape. As a monument, the Cox’s Stack symbolises Dundee’s link to the jute industry. The chimney was owned by the Cox family who specialised in the production of linen and then followed onto jute in the early 1800’s. The stack is placed at the heart of the Camperdown Works, which at the time was the largest jute factory in the world.

Now, the large structure stands like ghost tower…It is disused, unoccupied and impossible to access. I walked around it for an hour, trying to get to it, but there were fences and buildings placed around it like a fort. It is this enormous and predominant vertical structure, hidden within a sea of houses and shopping markets. You can’t miss it, and yet you can’t get to it. Again a very visible, yet invisible place…

The area now feels very changed and run down. Beside the Stack is a shut down commerce space and large housing estate. In my attempts to try and access the stack, I walked through the local housing estate, where all the worker’s of the factory would have lived. It did feel like entering a different time zone, yet this time it was close to the late 70’s/ early 8o’s. Lochee is a bit like a mining town, it definitely has a working class presence and resonates a place of work and labour. The small brick houses all lined up side by side echo a close nit community, where the boundaries of work and life merged.

I tried to get as close to the Cox’s Stack as I could, which was under a bridge. I sang underneath it, using the arched body of the bridge to allow my voice to travel in the space. At the end of the bridge, there was a park were the local children were playing football, and it was nice hearing them as I sang. I stood there for a while contemplating what it would be like to live in that area and walked slowly towards the main road, looking into all the windows and abandoned buildings as I walked passed them…