As we get on with our lives we forget about the fact that we are being watched via CCTV cameras dotted around our own towns. Do people realise that there are cameras? If they do would they act differently in the space? What would be the factors that would change the way people acted in a space; Weather? Time of day? A more obvious act of filming?
To enhance our knowledge of space and behaviour it would mean undertaking a lengthy proccess studying the space and people. It would also only be fair to study expected variables that might change the results. Spaces can be transformed from empty connections for destinations, to a lively bustling loaction that has become a destination. A space can coax families or couples as a resting place, or be a loaction for workmen to carry out their duties. People that pass through the space might have a life long connection to it, having lived there most of their lives, but will not pay attention to their surroundings on a daily basis. On the other hand it can be a site for tourists that will see everything in great detail, as they might not ecounter it again. What behaviour will set these people apart?
From walking around Lincoln, apperaing as tourists, a group member overheard a local man say “Nothing happens here apart from us.” as if to imply it’s a waste of time looking around this patch. It’s easy for local people to become used to their surroundings and see the ‘attractions’ as more of a practical thing or nothing that special. By saying that nothing happens there apart from them, he is suggesting that all the community do is simply live, when in fact it is because of them living that the place thrives. They are a crucial, relevant component in making the space what it is, without them the space becomes nothing.
Maybe if we linked both notions of CCTV and ‘nothing happening’ in the space we can inflict a healthy reflection on the people that they are important.
Our group intend to study and relfect a site using modern technologies, over the next few weeks we will mimick the CCTV camera located in a prime area of Lincoln using timelapses.
After some discussion, my group and I decided to organise a walk from Pottergate to the garden in Lincoln Cathedral which involved completing some tasks on route. One such task would involve a stop at Queen Anne’s Well (https://flic.kr/p/qQ4o7N), to perform the ritual which, according to legend, entails having to walk round it 7 times and then stick a finger in one of 6 holes in the door; a good person will feel the devil’s breath on their finger whereas a bad person will have their finger bitten off. When I tried this out today, I didn’t have a finger bitten off, so I rank myself as a good person. (Paranormal Database, 2014).
We were all of the opinion that it would spice up our walk if we were to pay homage to the numerous legends and folklore associated with the area between Pottergate and the Cathedral garden and that performing this physical ritual would add more interest to it. This was only one of many ideas we had but it led us to look more closely into the history of Pottergate only to find there is very little published about it. I delved into Nickolas Pevsner and John Harris’ book The Buildings of England; Lincolnshire, to discover that Potter’s gate stretched from the south east to the north east corners of uphill Lincoln near the cathedral and that the “stairway in the SW corner, now represented by the polygonal torrent,… allowed communications between the upper chamber and the gate hall” (Nicholas Antram, 1995, 484). This photo (https://flic.kr/p/r9UG9e) shows the tunnel which was used by those inside the city walls to shout down to those waiting at the gate.
Our discussions then led us to the idea that of course it was all about communication as it was one of the entrances into the city and people would have been obliged to state their business before being allowed in. On closer inspection, there has clearly been some vandalism over the years inside the arch of Potter’s gate such as this (https://flic.kr/p/r9LZrL) which was marked 1895. There are markings dating from 1895 to 2010 which just goes to show how our desire to make our ‘mark’ in history continues to fascinate us and that ‘old habits die hard’. Beth and I collected the markings so we can read and show how diverse they are (https://flic.kr/p/rrn5up). Doing this prompted us to come up with the idea of starting our walk at Potters gate and inviting people to add their ‘mark’ to it by sticking a post it onto the archway; we linked this to the manhole covers we saw inscribed with “post office” and “telegraph” which are also another form of communication. Rather than sticking notes on to the arch’s walls, our tutor came up with the idea of having a big piece of wood which people could sign before they started their walk; we decided this was a much preferred idea that allowed people to make their ‘mark’ without causing any damage to the building.
Paranormal Database (2014) Lincoln. [online] UK: Paranormal Database. Available from: http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/hotspots/lincoln.php?pageNum_paradata=0&totalRows_paradata=30 [Accessed 2 March 2015].
Antram, N. (eds) (1995)The Buildings of England. Lincolnshire. London: Penguin.
Our fourth time venturing up Steep Hill to our given site, and it was pouring it down with rain. After having brilliant blue sky and sunshine weather for the past few weeks (albeit still being very cold), it is of no surprise that it made us view the site in quite a miserable way. Despite the awful weather, we continued to explore our site and the possibilities of performance. In this session we had formed our groups, mine consisting of: Charlie, Jess, Megan and myself. We had originally tried to write messages and leave them in certain places around the cathedral and keep an eye out for passers-by to see if they would notice and comment about them. However, with the weather clearly not being in our favour and getting harder, we decided this probably wouldn’t work and took our inspiration indoors. It was in this session that we discovered how hard it is to begin creating something for Site Specific Performance – it is so open to ideas, that we could practically begin from anywhere. Struggling to spark initial ideas of where to go and what to do, we decided to think back to previous tasks we had done whilst exploring Uphill Lincoln. We thought back to last weeks session of misguided tours and our individual interests when creating our maps and decided to take a walk round the inside of the cathedral and subtly listen in to various people’s conversations. We headed to an unusual part of the Cathedral that none of us had been in, ‘Chapter House’ which happens to be where parts of the Da Vinchi Code was filmed. Having seen bits of it in the film, it was incredible to see the architecture and its brilliance in real life. We sat round on the seating area surrounding the round room and were commenting upon the organ that was placed in the room and how incredible the acoustics of the room must sound. At this moment when we were discussing this, we noticed a family come through the door: A mum, dad and two little boys. The first boy ran into the space shouting and running to the back wall and it immediately changed the atmosphere of the place we had quietly been admiring. He then sat down at the far side of the room gazing up at the ceiling. The mum, dad and the other little boy sat down on the right hand side of us, explaining to the little boy some history he knew of this room and how people in generations gone by would ‘have discussions’ in the room. We continued to observe the first little boy and began to think how different a child would look at the Cathedral, in comparison to someone of our age. I knew at their age I found places like the Cathedral extremely boring and quite scary places. What did that little boy think?
After spending around 5-10 minutes in Chapter House, we decided to go to the Cathedral Cafe and listen in to more conversations. Whilst we were there, we found it quite hard to listen in without seeming overtly obvious. Instead, we began to write down any ideas or places that seemed to spark any of our interests during the day. Here are some of the things we listed to look at or research further:
- Looking at the space with a child-like mindset – interview children about some of the pictures (below) we have taken surrounding the Cathedral?
Photo Credit: Charlie Roberts, February 2015.
Photo Credit: Charlie Roberts, February 2015.
Photo Credit: Charlie Roberts, February 2015.
- The Archways around the Cathedral – Stepping back in time, like a time capsule: the old and the new.
- The Hut, or ‘pixie’ hut as we referred to it outside the Cathedral – what myths does it have. Could we combine fact and fiction into our piece?
- Alfred Lord Tennyson statue – research some of his poems and reflect them back into the space in some way.
- The picture of the man’s head coming out of the wall. What is his story?
- Layers of perception – photo within a photo idea from our previous session.
Our job now is to do further research into these ideas and see which one sparks the most interest.
As this module starts to unravel itself it has be shown that a Site Specific such as the city centre or just the university campus has shown to be more than just a space of work, but a place of discovery and experimenting to make the site more interesting than a site of education. When I mean ‘a place of discovery’ I mean it is a habitation of testing boundaries with the community as said by Mike Pearson author of Site Specific Performance. For me from what Mike Pearson has written and my understanding of the introduction of Site Specific it “engages intensively with the history and politics of that place, and with the resonance of these in the present” (Pearson, 2010, 10) so to bring the vitality of rediscovering the place and why it’s there and how it came to be. From doing a practice of ‘subtle mob’ as a little experience of site specific, where we as a group was given some instructions, it was a bit scary at first, but it was a great way of bringing us into the world of Site Specific and it was fun to watch a the public reactions with what we were doing and how they were triggered by our actions such as “find a raised point to stand and wait for others to join you.” So when I started that task I stepped on to some sort of cement block and looked at the LPAC sign (on university campus) and people gathered which caused some curiosity. Site Specific seems for me right now, is based on community involvement and a joining people together with a fresh look of a particular site which triggered the imagination to rediscover the site in a new way and all this based on people’s curiosity.
Rachel Baynton Group (2015) Subtle Mob [performance] Lincoln: Lincoln Campus, 28th January.