Brief: Working individually or in your groups, produce an intervention/remix/readymade action that will be documented as a short film.
Your intervention can be street-based, in a public place, or part of your home or univeristy life. It can also take place online, e.g. an adbust, mashup or remix.
Myself and Jordan Trembeth decided to create an artistic intervention by placing musical instruments (two guitars and bongos) in a public setting. The setting we chose was a busy area of the Plymouth University campus.
We were interested to see people’s reaction and engagement with these items being placed literally in their path in an environment where such things would be incongruous and unexpected.
I was pleasantly surprised by the interest shown by passers by; eight performance were captured within a period of approximately 90 minutes. The conversations that we had with those taking part were interesting and entertaining. Several people mentioned that they played guitar or used to play guitar. Leaving an instrument out in the open, inviting interaction, seemed to bring something out in people. We even had one individual who had never played in his life but gamely had a go!
Around fifteen minutes into the intervention, we were approached by a member of the University security staff who had spotted us on CCTV cameras. Security had assumed that we were busking (prohibited on campus). Once we had explained what we were doing, we were allowed to continue with the intervention.
This encounter highlighted that fact that, despite the University campus premises being effectively open to the public, there are restrictions placed on activities that take place within the University boundaries; there is an unseen private space within the ‘public’ space.
A street piano is a piano placed in the street which passersby are encouraged to play. The best known example comes from the Play Me, I’m Yours project by artist Luke Jerram.
What we would have changed/liked to have done
It would have been interesting to have used CCTV cameras to record peoples' reactions to the objects that we left on campus. This might be seen as more of a genuine intervention, there being no influence from the members of the team in the vicinity. However, we were obliged to keep an eye on our valuable guitars and obtaining CCTV footage from the University authorities might prove problematic!
To create a real contrast between the objects and the environment, we would have liked to have staged an intervention within a public (or University) library to gauge the reaction of the public and members of staff in this ordinarily quiet location. Conversley, an intervention in a noisy locale, such as a construction site, might be used to highlight the ‘noise pollution’ from building works and be used as an attempt to ‘beautify’ such surroundings.
We publicised the presence of these items on social media (Facebook).