It is now a year since we started the InterMEDS project with our first partner meeting in Lavrio, Greece. 2020 was, of course, a difficult year for all partners, but significant successes have still been had on this project and we are looking forward to sharing some of those outcomes in the coming months.
We asked our artists to share some of their thoughts about how 2020 had impacted their commission.
Covid-19 has forced a complete rethink of my InterMEDs commission plan. I now intend to build on a lockdown portrait series I developed in my own community of Levenshulme, Manchester, and create a socially engaged second phase to that work. I will be recruiting a small, diverse group of women and plan to support them in documenting their own experiences during this next phase of the pandemic, through the use of photography, text and whatever other media they choose. We’ve all spent a lot of time in front of our computers since Covid hit so I will be going analogue – mailing materials and prompts out to participants and using disposable camera and notebooks. I’m not used to letting go quite this much so it will be an interesting new experience for me to hand over control to participants and see what comes out of it. I’ll be trying to tease narratives out of whatever comes forth from this work – looking for themes around home, routine and isolation. I’m just building up to recruiting for this project, so watch this space.
My project started off with a bang just after I received the go-ahead in February. I was going to run several stop-motion animation workshops using plasticine as the medium. I was going to take the participants models and turn them into a large piece of community art and the animations were to go online. But, before using my proper migrant community group, I organised a trial-group with some local mums who are foreign to the UK. The aim was to use them as my research group for the stop-motion animation project I had planned. Because my final group was to be non-English speaking, I thought that I could use my test group as they shared the same issues as migrants but could speak English well enough so I would be able to test run the project and receive valuable insights.
I ran one session before we went into lockdown in March and it went very well. I had 6 participants from 6 different countries and although they all said they did not take time out for creative activities; they found this time to be a creative and enjoyable activity and would love to do it again.
Then lockdown happened and the world turned upside down. Quite literally. I was housebound with three home-schooling children.
It took me a while to figure out what my next step with the project would be. I had previously run a Zoom session showing children how to paint with coffee and I thought I could use this in a Zoom session with my test group. It was tricky to get everyone to be able to meet up at the same time. Even though most are working from home now, it is even trickier to find a common date. Our first date had to be cancelled because suddenly a few could not attend. Eventually we all managed to get together, on a Friday morning and we painted the word coffee in our own language. It went well. I must say that Zoom is not my preferred method of running a session but considering that tier 4 is now looming above us, this is something I may have to pursue with my next group.
And thinking about how I would like to share my work. An interview with a participant and a video showing the animations sounds like a good idea. Could I build a gallery website and have that to show?
I am one of the artists selected as part of the InterMeds programme with Peshkar, a collaborative research project with several other partner organisations in Europe. The aim of the research is how youth and community workers can work with their local diaspora communities to encourage communication and explore the dynamic between the local community within the wider context of where they are and how they are perceived.
My approach was how we can use everyday technology to discover ideas of what we value and how that relates to practitioners and audiences – basically, what do we mean when we show images we’ve made to other people.
Photography in particular acts as a good way of archiving the world around us and ourselves. The medium of photography also has a certain quality – from printed photos presented in album to images that delete themselves after a few seconds, there is now a wide range of ways to make images. Recently it became possible to make accurate 3D models out of photographs, using a camera on a smartphone and some free software. The basic idea is you take a lot of photos of one thing from different directions and a computer works out what this looks like in three dimensions.
This method, also called photogrammetry, has many applications in everything from films and games to museums and engineering, being able to recreate real things into 3D is very useful and cool. For this project I became interested in how accessible this technology was and what people would make using it. The finished models would then be part of an archive that others could see, acting as a way of communicating what is valued by the people involved in the project.
My initial ideas for what I wanted to do have had to change because of lockdown, but I’ll be running some workshops over the next couple of months with the help of Peshkar. Work made by people participating in the project will be in the Young Digitals Festival in April, giving an exciting platform for the work to be shown.
If you’d like to learn about photogrammetry or be involved in the Festival, please get in touch as it’d be great to see what you make. It might be interesting things you have around your house to something you find outside – what would you want to make in 3D?