Last night Nicer Tuesdays returned to Downstairs at Mother London for a packed-out evening of talks focussing on creative projects which involve some form of participation; ranging from active collaboration to an enhanced watching brief.
Photographer Sipke Visser kicked off proceedings and showed how his projects – from inviting people on Gumtree to come and have their portrait taken to sending random photos to strangers in the post – used participation as an answer to a question; namely how to engage with subjects around his busy work schedule. His Return To Sender project saw him send images to (and get replies from) everyone from a perturbed old lady who called in the police to an angry, and ultimately lonely teenager.
For Kevin Haley of aberrant architecture participation is a way to “create conversation” and they use it “to take design out of the hands of designers and put it into the hands of everyone.” Using Social Playground and The Tiny Travelling Theatre as examples, he explained how participation is key to create “customary, meaningful and productive experiences.”
Matthew Knight started the second section by launching a live game of consequences among the audience. Using his projects – both word and photography based – he showed how unpredictability was an unavoidable element of any participatory project. This could, he explained, be a bad thing as it can lead to projects stalling, but it can also be a great way of getting unexpected results.
Rounding off the night was Hector Harkness of immersive theatre company Punchdrunk. He talked about how his company uses participation to “empower” the audience creating “a childlike sense of awe and wonder.” In particular Punchdrunk manipulate the space to get attendees to “chuck away the side of their brain that is trying to make sense of it.” Hector also touched on the group’s experiments blurring the boundaries between digital and physical participation using some mind bending technology.
Many thanks to Mother London, our speakers and everyone who came along. The final Nicer Tuesdays of 2013 takes place on December 17 with a look-back at some of the most memorable creative projects of the year.