January 2019: Festival of the Not, Newcastle

posted: 03 January, 2019

I'm delighted to return to Newcastle this month, once again as part of a production by CIRCA Projects + Giles Bailey. This time it's a festival, entitled Festival of the Not and taking place at the newly re-opened Star & Shadow Cinema. I'm thrilled to be part of this, as our work together in the summer of 2017 was an incredible experience, and I've also been following the Star & Shadow's activities remotely (ever since performing there in Lied Music, with Mark Vernon, back in 2010).

I will be participating in a discussion with artist Louwrien Wijers on art and economics, but also leading a workshop/working group throughout the festival built around experimental documentation. If you would like to participate in this project – called Documentation of the Not – you can register for it here. Some more about the workshop, quoted from my proposal:

Cultural experiences are documented and disseminated for multiple purposes: for social media, to please funders, to establish press kits and CVs, etc. Traditionally, the role of documentation falls under the administrative team, sometimes with professional photographers or videographers involved (if budget allows). The dominance of social media has decentralised documentation, at least that which is not the ‘official’ part of the festival. But generally, the format of documentation remains constant: experiential (in personalised, social media contexts using images and video) or quantitative (in reports to funders, with statistics, etc.).

How can we reformat the idea of documentation, celebrating the pluralistic voices that are commonplace with social media, while also extending the language of experience sharing? Could the act of documentation be integrated into the festival itself, as a participatory activity, rather than an administrative burden or afterthought? How can other approaches to fixing the ephemeral combine?

Festival of the Not takes place from 17-20 January 2019 at the Star and Shadow cinema, organised by CIRCA Projects + Giles Bailey. Participants in the experimental documentation working group will gather at the start of the festival (or the night before) to explore alternative techniques to festival documentation. For example, such techniques could be forensic (gathering of evidence and artefacts); poetic; emotional; or performative. Participants will attend the other festival activities and document them through these exploratory techniques. Each night, before the main evening programme begins, the working group will make a 10 minute presentation of that day’s activities.

The experimental documentation working group is built around openness and experimentation; all participants are encouraged to explore different techniques. The subjectivity of this documentation will be made explicit, as opposed to ‘official’ documentation which implies objectivity.

For: people who like to collect things; people who enjoy collaboration; people who are not fussy about things always making sense

Serious Introspection
with John W. Fail was a live show in Helsinki, Finland from 2015-2016. Each week, John along with hype man Justin Tyler Tate, interviewed people about their creative process and tried to deliver a direct, communicative experience about art and performance. No one is really sure why John hosted a talk show, but a lot of strange things have happened in the universe and this is ultimately pretty insignificant. We tried our best to entertain. You know, we did eight shows in the first season and it was pretty time-consuming, but we were excited to come back for eight more in 2016. It's all archived here. The show took place at Mad House Helsinki's Ihana Baari, and was free to attend. We've made videos available from all episodes of the show here for you to watch. The show is indefinitely on hiatus as Justin moved away and other projects took over. We also will occasionally post audio podcasts when we get the time to go more in-depth with people, outside of the public show. The videos aren't always perfect and the audio even less so, but we hope you still enjoy them. But wait, there's more! The for-profit arm of Serious Introspection is called SI Services and we're up for anything, really! Now that we all live in different places, it's probably going to be quite an ordeal just to have three white guys host your kid's birthday party. But please believe me when I say that we would really, really love to do this. We will come to your event and offer our services for hosting, hyping and media specialisation (live tweeting) for a variable fee. We are still available, in theory to be booked for parties, wedding, bar mitzvahs and other events. If you'd like to find out more about Serious Introspection, you can start by watching these episodes and seeing if it's your cup of tea. The hashtag #SeriousIntrospection contains the running stream of live tweets from our media specialist Ernest Truely (and anyone else who might contribute). We have made the show available as a podcast where people get Podcasts, generally iTunes or Stitcher. Try the Overcast app, it's really nice. We have a Facebook page which we use to post info about the upcoming shows and videos as they are released. So yeah, that's it, pretty much. We're trying to keep this page simple, if for no other reason than our cup runneth over with websites already. We will announce future events and SI-related matters here so feel free to check back any time.