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Can You Hear Me? I Can See You!

Our new exhibition – Can You Hear Me? I Can See You! – will open in the FACT Connects space in the foyer of the building on Light Night, May 17 2013.

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Artist Talks at FACT

Saturday 18th May 2013, 2pm – 4pm (FREE)

When did we begin communicating via laser? What happens if you take in LCD T.V. apart? Can you Skype through time?

These questions and more answered!

Following the launch of the current exhibition in the FACT Connects Space – Can You Hear Me? I Can See You! – there will be an opportunity to hear from the artists whose prototype works are on show.

Sam MeechDave Lynch and Jon Astbury have each been commissioned to create their own take on the themes of communication, telepresence and science-fiction which have linked together Re-Dock experimental workshop activities and a programme of adult education using iPads within residential homes across the North West over the last few months.

Using video, sound and services like Skype each of the three pieces experiments with past and future potentials for communication in an open-ended way: from transmitting sound using lasers, to ripping apart LCD screens and creating video databases from Skype – each of the works get under the surface of existing technologies.

Come along and find out more about the artists and their processes & inspirations for building these devices.

Part of:
Exhibition: Can You Hear Me? I Can See You!
Project: Advice Portal
This project has been commissioned through FACT’s Collaboration and Engagement Programme, funded by The Baring Foundation.

(Below) Dave Lynch, laser experiment.DaveLynch_proto


(Below) Jon Astbury, prototype.jonAstbury_proto


(Below) Sam Meech, Isadora Skype patch prototypeSamMeech_proto



Swan Pedalo Broadcast – AGF

Going backwards in time a small bit: enjoy this poetry performance by AGF (aka Antye Greie) on Barrow Park Lake as part of the Full of Noises Festival 2011 (organised by Octopus Collective).

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Interview with Alan Dunn

A very quick post to point to an interview conducted by The Aesthetic Trust with Alan Dunn about the installation “Constellation of Signs” which was one of several outcomes of our long-running collaborative work with Liverpool Biennial, which began with the “Canal &” research in North Liverpool.  Read more…



SYNTAX: Coding for Writers

At the end of June Mercy will deliver a new iteration of “Syntax: Coding for Writers” in the form of a two-day intensive skills-based workshop, which will be presented as part of FACT’s Open Curate It programme.  SYNTAX was originally devised in 2011 by John O’Shea and Nathan Jones as a framework for writers and coders to work together.  The SYNTAX experiment was the first time that our different collectives (Re-Dock and Mercy) had formally collaborated – it’s really great to see this initiative moving forward!

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Visiting Octopus in Cumbria

At the beginning of March I made a trip up to Barrow-in-Furness to meet with Glenn Boulter and the rest of the team at Octopus Collective in Barrow-in-Furness to discuss our shared challenges of running a small art organisation.

Re-Dock worked with Octopus last August when they commissioned “Swan Pedalo Broadcasts” (a new collaboration between myself and fellow artist and tinkerer Dave Lynch.)  We had amazing few days, building and operating a pirate radio station from the lake in Barrow Park and creating a temporary space for dialogue and performance within the FON (Full of Noises) festival.  That week was also the beginning of Rebecca Mulvaney’s “two week” residency with Re-Dock – a baptism of fire!  Since Becky is still working with us it was fitting she should come along too.  Also present were Hwa Young Yung (Director of MadLab Manchester) and Ross Dalziel (Soundnetwork).

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Swan Pedalo Broadcasts At FON

On Wednesday night I travelled from Liverpool to Barrow with John O’Shea and Dave Lynch to help set up and run a radio station on a pedalo. Our home became Lanternhouse in Ulverston and our base of operations was Barrow Park’s Piel House, which constantly buzzed with music and activity. We were joined by fellow Liverpool artists from the Sound Network, who built an incredible crazy golf course to be enjoyed for free by members of the public.

‘Swan Pedalo Broadcasts’  hosted talks between the likes of the Mayor of Barrow and Octopus Collective’s Andrew Deakin (about the arts, birdsong and being attacked by a carp) as well as a plethora of live performances from sound artists such as AGF and Simon Jones.

Forcing people into a confined space, on open water, where they had to pedal themselves around a pond somehow resulted in excellent conversations. These liaisons were broadcast live both around Barrow Park and online, which I had the pleasure of explaining to many of the park’s visitors, who assumed that we were up for hire.

I’d never been to Barrow before, but now I could probably confess myself to be a bit of an expert on the area. Councillor Helen Wall and Radio 4′s Bob Dickinson chatted to me at length about Barrow’s history and art scene before their voyage on the pedalo, suggesting that Abbey Road could soon become a hub of artistic activity. Whilst local journalist/DJ Molly joined me on board for a chat about her experiences growing up in the town.

Aside from the general lifting, carrying, unloading and scurrying that needs to be done in order to pull off a live event; I set up an internet radio station, delivered quite a few safety briefings and produced a fair amount of paperwork.

Andrew Helm from Revolutions Brewing Company taught me the basics of brewing my own beer, I learned how to make origami ‘balloons’ from Japanese artist Ryoko Akama and composer Philip Jeck gave me some brilliant advice on buying a record player.

One of my favourite conversations was with Japanese professor Tetsuo Kogawa after his performance on Saturday night, in which he disrupts and manipulates radio waves in order to produce ethereal sounds. Tetsuo is an expert on radio, he can make a transmitter with little more than some wire, a battery and a soldering iron (he even made an experimental transmitter for the Swan).

It’s difficult to sum up five days worth of experience in a single blog post, so I’m not going to be fool enough to try.



Hull Residency


What a brilliant week!

I spent all of last week in Hull taking part in the Digital Media Labs touchscreen residency  along with 9 other artists it was excellent.

This opportunity was mastermided by Benedict Philips who is lead artist for a new NHS health centre in Hull.  There are so many positive things to report back that I think I will have to resort to bullet points:

* most important thing I have taken away – Digital Media Labs was a real ‘LAB’ experience – carefully selected collaborators, genuine open-ended experimentation and terrific support team
* we used really simple tool on the first day – Prezi – so that we could quickly try out ideas on the screens
* a lot of  the artists present, despite never having worked with code before, developed  functioning examples in the Processing language by the end of the week
* there was no pressure to produce a finished piece of work and or to consider wider implications – we were simply trusted to be artists and experiment with the technology.

There’s really no way I can even begin to talk about all of the brilliant work people made here – follow this link to the blog!




Re-Dock supported a new manifestation of the MESSAGE=MEDIUM text-message archive project which took place as part of the UK School Games in Gateshead and Sunderland last weekend.

For the unfamiliar – MESSAGE=MEDIUM presents the public with a pop-up kiosk offering a unique and unusual service: treasured mobile phone text messages can be transformed and preserved forever as tacky keepsake photo-keyrings!

Through making participant’s text messages into physical and tangible objects the MESSAGE=MEDIUM stall performs an alchemical procedure: materialising the ephemeral and blurring the boundary between the physical and digital domains.  And, whilst masquerading (and inhabiting) the footprint of a familiar promo-stand the piece seeks to engage curious ‘punters’ in a dialogue about the value they invest in their personal digital communications.

In the context of the UK School Games, MESSAGE=MEDIUM acted as a kind of station for the young people taking part  (and their supporters, family and coaching team) to reflect on their games experience.  For this reason the stall was situated in the “in-between” spaces – near the dining marquee, in a foyer and in a wide corridor, near some vending machines – places where it was anticipated that the young athletes might be winding down, biding their time and perhaps contemplating their next competition.

As an experiment, some of the photographed messages were also relayed over the internet  using a dedicated twitter account and the #UKSG hashtag.

…I’m not going to say any more! – below is a link to a much better blogpost summing-up the weekend, which has been written by Hannah Mumby who kindly volunteered to assist in delivering the project:

Also, a flickr photo gallery of documentation images is available to view here:

And, also further photo documentation here thanks to Tom Higham – one half of the fantastic Modular who were the commissioners of this, and several other excellent works, as part of a digital cultural programme for the games.



Foregrounding Context

Cultural Heritage Network workshop and presentation:

The process of collectively mapping and modelling, memories and ideas forms a core strand of Re-Docks methodology, and, over the past few months we have been contributing to a series of discussions relating to landscapes, memories and cultural practices, co-ordinated by Liverpool University.

A workshop in February aimed to explore possible ways that locative media technologies might provide interactive access to historical data drawn from GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and mapping-related projects in the arts and humanities.  This session was sponsored by the AHRC and British Telecom.

Myself and Tim gained a huge amount of insight into mapping technologies through listening to the various strategies adopted and developed by different practitioners and we shared our panel – Geographical Content in the Digital Arts – with two very interesting speakers: Taylor Nuttall, CEO of Folly and a super-energetic Chris Speed.

Taylor explained the role Folly have played in attempting to broker between physical and digital landscapes, blurring the boundaries.

Various iterations of the Portable Pixel Playground project demonstrate Folly’s commitment to combining aspects of play and technology in a new-media landscape and one of their current initiatives – LoveCulture – attempts to collate and share audience dialogues across cultural organisations through the use of an embedded cultural icon.

Dr Chris Speed, from Edinburgh College of Art, whistled through an impressive array of projects, proposing a nearfuture of augmented reality where everything will be tagged and “everything will know where everything is.”

One pioneering project in this landscape is – Tales of Things – which makes use of freely available QR barcoding to digitally attach stories and memories to inanimate objects via multimedia hyperlinks.

Tales of Things will be launched during the forthcoming FutureEverything festival in Manchester and shoppers at the Oxfam on Oxford Road will be able to record 30 second tales relating to the objects they donate. It will also be possible to scan items in-store, with embeded stories being played over the shops PA system!

Another project – Walking through Time – allows users of smartphones to navigate the city of Edinburgh both geographically AND ALSO temporally, digging down into history and calling into question Sat-Nav’s obsession with ‘NOW!’

During our slot, we shared some of Re-Dock’s ‘hands-on’ approaches to cultural mapping activities, working with simple props and digital metaphors.  We discussed the ways in which physical, lo-tech props, in our experience, reduced barriers to participation, and we also emphasised the way in which each of our projects brings specific (and subjective) local, contexts to the fore.

There was a strong contrast between the lo-fi flavour of the artworks we presented and the more technologically focused projects from the other researchers later in the day and this led to a very stimulating discussion around access: historical data-sets are often tied up in issues of IP and copyright & in terms of new technology – this can still be daunting for many people who feel that they lack technological know-how.

These points (and many more) will be picked up at our next Cultural Heritage Network session, which takes place in Liverpool on the 21st of May 2010.

Notes on all of the talks from Feb 10 can be found here:



Culture Lab, Newcastle

Between 27th and 29th of November we spent some time at Newcastle University’s Culture Lab, examining our four major projects from 2009 and undertaking a very rigorous end of year review.

We took 3 strands of enquiry:

1.  Collaboration and Collaborative Tools
2.  Organisation, Organisations and Agendas
3.  Art – Inspiration, Doing/Making/ (Re)presentation

These 3 inquiry themes were, in a sense, lenses with which to examine our work.

We wanted to revisit our projects and consider:  – What were the FACTORS which threatened, jeopardised or damaged these projects?  – What STRATEGIES and TACTICS might we adopt as principles to prevent, dodge or limit these factors?

Through careful analysis of this knowledge, we think that it will be possible to build a kind of handbook or RE-DOCK toolkit…

Importantly, we want to make sure that fellow artists, communities and organisations are able to benefit from our activity.  We will be sharing the many outcomes of this evaluation over the course of 2010

***** WATCH THIS SPACE! *****



A-Team Strategy

Wishing a Happy New Decade to all of the people Re-Dock have collaborated with during our first two years! We thought that it would be good to share a novel approach to project planning, management and evaluation: The A-Team.

At the early stages of any significant creative project – whether it’s an event, performance, workshop, exhibition – there are many elements to consider – artistic inspiration, collaborating partners, funding, audience, venue etc.

Balancing all of the inter-related factors that make a successful project is hard work and there is always the danger that all of these practicalities could dull the original artistic inspiration….

…what you need is – The A-Team! (cue music!)

#1 “Mad” Murdock! Allow “Mad” Murdock to get all the ideas out there without fear of criticism…. ya crazy fool!  Dare to dream.  Ask yourself – Without limits, what would you make happen?  What do you really want to do?  What has never been done before? Capture the imagination of others through playfulness!  Murdock brings to the table anarchic unrestrained creativity in a crazy-genius kinda way…

#2 B.A. (Bad Attitude) Baracas (Mr T) Next up is B.A. – a superhuman, who does not know the meaning of the word compromise.  In structuring your project, address whatever needs to be addressed, head-on!  Identify any factors which might limit the scope of your creativity and smash through those barriers!  B.A. can build the machinery to make the impossible possible.  He ain’t got no time for the jibber jabber!

#3 Faceman A really successful project needs some style!  How is your project framed and how will it reach it’s audience?  Elegance, craftsmanship, ingenuity, fireworks!  These are the qualities Face is looking for.  Allow your great ideas and hard work to have the maximum effect through exquisite execution and a touch of class.

#4 Hannibal Life is contingent – and you cannot plan for everything but, if you have been through the previous 3 stages then perhaps by now you can already find a path to success?

I love it when a plan comes together!

A-Team Strategy is akin to Edward de Bono’s ‘Thinking Hats‘ with an important difference – the A-Team didn’t just sit around thinking – they made shit happen!