Measc, by Polar Produce, a multidisciplinary, mixed media arts, research and performance group based in Bristol, UK. For this work, I created sound content and made the video documentation.
Measc is a location specific performance-installation on the concepts of wealth, consumption and production using Radio Frequency Identification, tag technologies. Measc was performed in October, 2005 at the John Wesley New Rooms, an18th century chapel/museum in the heart of Bristol’s retail centre, Broadmead.
The New Rooms is an 18th century chapel and museum situated in Bristol’s retail center. In the 18th century Bristol was an active trading port and a central apex in the triangle between Africa-Europe and America. Trade in sugar, chocolate, spices and slaves were the norm. It was during this time that the New Rooms acted for the Wesley’s as a family home, meeting house, medical dispensary, school and preaching room, where views on human rights and fair trade we discussed.
The architecture of the space, its minimal features, ship like nave and inner and outer courtyard and location were used to structure how the audience moved through the piece. The choreography drew on actions taken from stock exchange footage, advertisement, sales pitches and Wesley’s diaries, which documented the rituals of daily life in the building.
During the performance the audience were taken on a journey around the building and experienced an interpretation of this history. On entering the building, the audience swapped their ticket for a map, which had a RFID – a radio frequency identification tag embedded within it. RFID tags are intelligent bar codes. The tags exact location can be tracked at any point in time and they are commonly used within the retail sector to track goods across warehouses. Once the audience received their tagged map they were encouraged to enter into various trade and sale agreements with the performers.
Each map also had a symbol and route marked on it, which lead the audience through a number of pre-defined journeys via hotspots located inside and outside of the building. Entering a hotspot activated a particular type of media – sound, music, graphic animation, short film or still image. The number of people and the make up of each group as defined by the symbol on their map, determined the order in which the different sounds and images were played and experienced.
Between passages, pews, courtyard and rooms, the performers choreography and the sounds and images triggered by the audience’s interactions, created a cinematic experience, where worlds, within worlds, were created across the building.
From sugar mountains, to mad-hatter style parties, gumboot songs – to make-believe stock exchanges and the silent selling and trading of the body – in each world, everything was up for sale and the trade off between profit, loss and overindulgence teetered on constant edge.
Measc was commissioned by Bristol City Council as part of Creative Bristol. Creative Bristol is an initiative of Bristol Cultural Development Partnership, Arts Council England South West, Bristol City Council and Business West with support from The National Lottery and the Millennium Commission. Measc was also supported in kind by Alien Technologies, Integrated Product Intelligence, The Mobile Bristol Centre, HP Labs, Sony UK and the Arnolfini.
We would especially like to thank The John Wesley New Room, Bristol without their collaboration and cooperation this project would not have been possible.
Concept/direction and stage design: Teresa Dillon
Technical Coordinator: Maarten De Laat
Music: Luke Goss
Sound: Kathy Hinde
Projections: Rod MacLachlan
Graphic animation and print: Philip O’Dwyer
Performers: James Kennard, Swen Steinhauser, Alex Alderton, Imogen Knight, Anthea Lewis,
Antoine Fravel, Gary Clarke, Helen Hewitt, Nina Wyllie
Technical Support: Dan Powell
Technical adviser: Hans Daanan
Production Support: Adriana Meirelles
Photo documentation: Adam Faraday
Video documentation: Kathy Hinde