Friday, October 12, 2007

Review: David Gaffney and Urban Myths retold

David Gaffney

David Gaffney presented a lunchtime reading performance of new work written in homage to the 1857 'Art Treasures in Manchester' exhibition, now recreated at Manchester City Art Gallery. My company published David repeatedly in, as well as commissioning him for The Burgess Project; his wit and talent shine through and it's always a real treat to see the world through his eyes.

The readings at MCAG ranged from a Victorian Child bought from a website, to Pete Doherty split in half and immersed in formaldehyde having left his remains to "Art". There was no geek in sight here, but David's stories are succinct in length and vast in imagination and his reading style is certainly a considered, rehearsed performance. They're posting all his stories on the gallery website soon, I'll add the link when they do. Oh, and go buy his book.

Urban Myths Retold

The premise: through an open submission process, ten short-short stories were chosen to form the basis for Interactive Arts retelling. The young students had just three weeks to read and respond to the stories, resulting in a one hour live art & installation performance through the often unknown nooks & crannies of the Urbis building.

I was impressed by the original stories (being an obvious fan of the short-short narrative format), but the diverse and innovative responses from each artist really blew me away. My favourite was most definitely the response to "The Clubber" by Hetty Malcolm-Smith, a realistic flash-back to heady rave culture days (or rather, nights). The narrative was delivered via a series of flyers handed out sequentially as you walked down the long, postered staircase. It could really have been The Academy, circa 1995.

One minor complaint I have was the use of the word 'interactive' in one piece, the re-telling of "Jenny Greenteeth" by Steve Jackson. I have a real issue with the way the word 'interactive' is used. Purely from my point of view, if you do not affect the work in a way that changes another participant's experience of that piece, it isn't interactive. Call it an installation and I'll be happy (and I loved the home-made lollipops so it certainly wasn't all bad).

Our narrator wore a back-pack throughout, which instantly made me wonder, why? You don't wear a backpack in a performance unless you need to carry something, so at the end I grabbed the young man, applauded his performance, and questioned it's purpose... "backpackcam" was revealed and I'm now looking forwards to seeing further remixes of re-tellings through the MMU.

Congratulations to all for a truly successful experiment. This type of project is exactly the right approach for MLF's "Freeplay" strand, where Literature, Technology and Media collide.I look forwards to more of the same from all concerned.

- Fee Plumley
(posted simultaneously at her blog, Geekinetics)


Lapa said...
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Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

I was at Gaffney reading too.

My review is now posted at

sexy said...
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