The second lab expanded upon the idea of building networks for collaboration and mentorship. This included consolidating our remit to working with organisations and artists from across the North, i.e those within approximately two hours travel of each other, centring on Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle. Every lab in it’s design and execution is a piece of research into how to run a lab. The Digital Media Labs have had to evolve with each iteration because they are responding to developments in culture and technology and this is an essential part of the make up of the project. This means that we have to constantly be in the process of developing the model and, in a way, that’s the point.
The Digital Media Labs have had to evolve with each iteration because they are responding to developments in culture and technology and this is an essential part of the make up of the project. This means that we have to constantly be in the process of developing the model and, in a way, that’s the point. The following reflections on the structure, space, time and collaborative environment of the week are by lecturer & artist – Ben Dalton, originally the technical advisor on the first lab in Hull, 2010 and now returns as a nominated artist in 2014. Please follow the other links to see the artists or lab book.
Time to Think
Structures for Thinking
Having constraints to work with and against also seem key to idea development, particularly over short time scales. In the first lab, a medium constraint of touch-screens elicited inventive uses and abuses of the technology. In the second lab, the ‘brief’ was more open, but themes of performance and light shaped thinking. In addition, the second lab used a format early in the week of presentation, workshop and structured activity to provide a framework for ideas and collaborations to form. I was aware of how quickly ideas cross-pollinated.
Space to Work
Spatially, the residency was set up to allow shared working and personal space, with additional environments (such as a basement for ‘messy’ work). Each participant quickly established their own temporary working contexts, with desks unique to their interests and tools. The Octopus house offered a form of focused isolation positioning the activity within the ‘resources’ of the park, and away from familiar routines and distractions. In a form echoed by the unmonastery retreat, the labs have been sited in cities largely away from the homes of those participating, which acts to create an intensity of collaboration and investment. A digital space, with sufficient internet access and a blogging diary format, aided the processes of notation and documentation of work in progress.