Wednesday, 26 March 2014

all of this has changed!

I missed one trick with the last post on Ambient Jam - all pictures of materials but no action shots! So here are some more to fill in the gap, this time with people in them.

Facilitators pictured above include Barbara Kane, Gill Moore, Hannah James, Lee Phillips, Mickel Smithen, Peri Mackintosh, Rainer Knupp and myself.

Top photo is by Barbara Kane, others by Rebecca Swift.

Friday, 21 March 2014

all of this can change...

Ambient Jam at West Greenwich House
London Bridge

Sometimes a plan goes completely out the window, and there’s no avoiding it. No matter how prepared you are, things crop up and all you can do is let go and do your best to steer the change of course. Take weeklyweaves for instance, it’s hardly a weekly post is it? And it is not for lack of work being produced... Ideas for posts come and go and might be revisited at some point, meanwhile the production of dailymades, always a priority, has merged with current projects and proposals. One of these is a series of objects created for Entelechy ArtsAmbient Jam sessions and well as a project at Oakleigh School in North London, part of the Little Boxes of Memories touring programme.

Ambient Jam at The Albany
String, tape, plastic and paper

I’m writing this fresh out of an Ambient Jam session, more of a training session on this occasion,  designed for all of us facilitators to try out new things, push ideas forward and feed back to each other.  The latter is always a challenge; the sessions are profound experiences with all communication and activity relying on touch, movement and sound. Words always fail me afterwards... 

Ambient Jam at The Albany
Between Worlds at The Barbican

As briefed, I planned to present something to the group. This would take the form of a question about the use of specific materials and props during sessions. I filled my bag with a few essentials: cellotape, string, fabric, balloons, paper roll, elastic rope and plastic bags. This is my Ambient Jam toolkit, though a reduced version of it on this occasion. I aimed for less be more and not a bore. To answer my question I’d set a simple task: pick a material, play with it, pass it on. Charles would stop playing his instruments for 5 minutes also so we could hear sounds generated by the materials. For once I’d take the opportunity to sit out I’d sit out and observe and reflect.

Fashion project at Camberwell college of Arts
Sock rope

Did this happen? No! We all got stuck in straight away… The elastic came out, we wrapped ourselves in it, balloons were blown, yoga mats were used as blankets and thrown around, bodies moved in all directions in and around the space in different groupings, and parts of the moveable stage were stacked up together in seemingly precarious ways to create slides and a high plinth (and there I am worrying about the health and safety impact of using elastic!). 

plastic bags
Plastic bags and balloon

Though my question was never stated as such, it was answered – I tried new ways of working with materials and saw others do the same.  As with any research, one question leads to many others… A whole set was created by the end of the session, and though the memory of this will stay with us, objects won’t, in this configuration at least. The next Ambient Jam session will start again with a clear space. Might there an alternative to this? Can an end not be our next beginning? Can the transformation and change of all these physical elements in space not be about building down as much as building up, and thinking creatively about undoing as well as doing? What about the ecology of all this: can the salvaged materials left behind from one session not be transformed into a new set of objects used in the next? Or has this happened already? Over to you Ambient Jammers…

Ambient Jam at The Albany
Rehearsal space and prop at Cecil Sharp House
Rubbish in my studio