Transforming lives: pilot project for multimedia exhibition that investigates how young people transform their worlds through the arts

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Drama

Abstract

This research will look at how to create a live visual and interactive installation on how young people transform their worlds through the arts. It will bring together young people who are making performance with those who research the impact of their participation in that making, and find innovative ways to express what can be made from that encounter. The research will draw from the social sciences, medical sciences, arts and humanities and also from thinking and practice in public policy. The research will be led by Paul Heritage, who has two decades experience of working at the interface between art practice and academia, creating large-scale mixed arts projects in partnership with government agencies. The Research Assistant Gary Stewart is a scholar-artist who has researched, curated and created live visual and interactive installations on complex issues of identity and representation, with particular reference to the lives of young people perceived to be 'at risk' because of issues of race, poverty, socio-educational opportunities. We will work with Gringo Cardia, a multimedia designer from Brazil who has extensive experience of performative installation, and the social impact of the arts in shaping young people's lives. Above all it will engage in the enquiry young people [from london and Manchester who are themselves using mixed arts activities to address complex challenges. One of the most problematic intellectual and political issues today is the impact of the arts on urgent social questions - in relation to uses of health and wellbeing, civil rights and social violence. If young people want to transform their worlds, then how best can they investigate and advocate for those creative processes? How can the social organizations of youth culture, the technologies and forms that they express themselves with, the means of dissemination and reception of the arts they produce be used as a means of enquiry which is itself a part of the transformations they seek? A field research team of young and emerging artists will work with young people who are both at the crux of these questions and who themselves are seeking to express their different understandings of the process of transformation. Together they will experiment with different media to articulate their enquiry: their questions and their discoveries. The focus for this investigation is the UK, but distinguished scholars, policy makers and artists from Brazil will participate as research consultants on the academic and artistic processes. The scale of the social crises that Brazil faces are daunting, but the sophistication of its cultural responses offer rich insights to those researching these issues in the UK. The project is built around the sharing of knowledge and insights between researchers from different disciplnes, between academics, artists and those involved in policy, between Britain and Brazil. The project will seek to find ways to create a live visual and interactive installation that express and question these processes within a framework that reflects the understandings of the research team and the young participating artists. There are two key research imperatives:
1. To draw on expertise from different academic disciplines, from arts practitioners and those involved in developing policy into practice to create a framework for an enquiry about the means by which young people seek to transform their worlds through the performing arts.
2. To pursue the enquiry with young people engaged in the practice of performance so that they can articulate and disseminate their questions and understandings through a prototype for a multimedia exhibition.
It will benefit the young participants, their peers, those who work with them, those who form policy about the arts and cross-disciplinary academic research communities. The results of the research will be will eventually be exhibited in accessible public spaces.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 1. Digital media installation software provides a unique performance research platform for young people to explore concepts of narrative, metaphor, and aesthetics in relation to re-thinking, reflecting and re-mixing their own social realities.

2. The exploration of digital media installation software and archiving enables a particular and democratic means of communication and knowledge transfer between young people, artists and researchers from different countries and backgrounds.

3. Creation of a series of live visual and interactive exhibitions that investigate how young people un-fix and critique their worlds through art.

Transforming Lives has enabled young people across London/Rio to collaborate on a creative research investigation that archives, performs and celebrates the multiple ways in which art transforms lives and communities.

Transforming Lives in an interactive, audio-visual immersive installation created by young people engaged in arts activities in peripheral communities in Rio and London/UK. They document, archive and preserve activities that effect real changes in their worlds. Using interactive digital and live technologies they collect, create and curate images/sounds/words/objects to advocate and celebrate art as a transformative practice.

The first installations have been created by young people from peripheral communities who are engaged in a range of arts practices. installations are sited in arts/non-arts locations, using audio-visual interactive experiences to bring the city into dialogue with itself. Through multiple authorship, the installation both transmits and receives images/sounds/words/ideas in a deliberate combination of low and high-tech methodologies. The young people discover and make active a series of meanings for each location, simultaneously raising questions about their own agency as artists/citizens within their community and their city.
Exploitation Route Spectaculu design school continues to teach young creatives in Rio de Janeiro skills that draw on the installation and VJ-ing techniques they learned during this project.

Multiplicidade Festival 2019 in Rio de Janeiro programmed Gary Stewart as a visiting artist-in-residence to create a video installation as part of the Festival.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://peoplespalaceprojects.org.uk/archive/encounters-beyond-text/
 
Description Young artist Plinio Pietro used the skills he had learned on the project to co-VJ with Gary Stewart during a performance lecture by Luis Eduardo Soares on urban violence at Southbank Centre in 2010. Lawnmowers learning disabled theatre group used the skills learned as participants and collaborative researchers to VJ content at their Krokodile Klub nightclub for learning disabled young people in the Gateshead area. Encounters group presented material as part of Salisbury Arts Festival 2011. The cumulative databank of images and video/audio material is handed on and added to by each successive group of young artist-activists, creating a growing archive resource which is available for study at People's Palace Projects by request. Paul Heritage was invited to present to the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2013 on the themes investigated in the ongoing research. Gary Stewart was invited to undertake the first artistic residency by a digital visual artist at the 2018 Literary Festival of the Peripheries in Rio de Janeiro. Gary Stewart was invited to undertake an artistic residency by Multiplicidade Festival in Rio de Janeiro, 2019 and to create an installation.
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Paul Heritage participation in AHRC GCRF Advisory Group
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Drawing on his experience of this and other collaborative international research, and in particular on the examination within this research project of the factors that make for a successful international exchange collaboration, Paul Heritage has served on the AHRC's Advisory Group for the Global Challenges Research Fund, participating in a Town Hall Meeting in November 2017 (making a presentation) and PPP sent 2 delegates to a recent residential meeting led by Naomi Sykes and Charles Forsdick that aimed to make recommendations / create information and advice resources about GCRF for AHRC, HEIs, peers among Arts and Humanities researchers, and the public.
 
Description Building resilience in adolescence - improving quality of life for adolescents with mental health problems in Colombia (BRiCs study)
Amount £438,896 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/S023674/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2019 
End 10/2022
 
Description Follow-On Funding
Amount £29,991 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/I026146/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2011 
End 02/2012
 
Description QMUL Centre for Public Engagement Small Awards 2015
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation Queen Mary University of London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2015 
End 07/2016
 
Description Transforming lives: pilot project for multimedia exhibition that investigates how young people transform their worlds through the arts
Amount £80,706 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/H015302/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2010 
End 06/2011
 
Description Phakama 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Department Department of Drama
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Paul Heritage and Gary Stewart ran the research workshops with the young people.
Collaborator Contribution Phakama undertook the engagement of the young people and provided working and performance space as part of their "Tripwires" project.
Impact 4 installations were developed by the group and performed at QMUL in April 2011.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Spectaculu, Casa Amarela and Fundição Progresso 
Organisation Fundição Progresso
Country Brazil 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Paul Heritage, Gary Stewart and PPP's project manager organised and ran workshops for young research collaborators from Spectaculu teaching the methodology for using the software and engaging the group with the research questions. Paul directed the students to go into Providência, listen and observe: to ask questions that would open up people's feelings about the community that had been made and remade there, record their answers, and document the sights and sounds of the territory.
Collaborator Contribution In group sessions, the students shared and discussed the material they had collected and explored with Gary how VJ-ing software could open up ways that these stories could most powerfully be told and contextualised. The young people worked in 4 groups to create their pilot installations, which were screened at Spectaculu and also in the Morro da Providência favela at the Casa Amarela community arts centre.
Impact 1) 4 installations 2) Felipe, Bruna and Erika - three students at Spectaculu who went on to participate in a Rio-London exchange, and then became peer mentors to the São Paulo groups whose "Declaração" videos can be seen among the Actions of this project.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Spectaculu, Casa Amarela and Fundição Progresso 
Organisation Spectaculu School of Art and Technology
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Paul Heritage, Gary Stewart and PPP's project manager organised and ran workshops for young research collaborators from Spectaculu teaching the methodology for using the software and engaging the group with the research questions. Paul directed the students to go into Providência, listen and observe: to ask questions that would open up people's feelings about the community that had been made and remade there, record their answers, and document the sights and sounds of the territory.
Collaborator Contribution In group sessions, the students shared and discussed the material they had collected and explored with Gary how VJ-ing software could open up ways that these stories could most powerfully be told and contextualised. The young people worked in 4 groups to create their pilot installations, which were screened at Spectaculu and also in the Morro da Providência favela at the Casa Amarela community arts centre.
Impact 1) 4 installations 2) Felipe, Bruna and Erika - three students at Spectaculu who went on to participate in a Rio-London exchange, and then became peer mentors to the São Paulo groups whose "Declaração" videos can be seen among the Actions of this project.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Encounters Beyond Text 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Four research groups from Spectaculu School of Arts and Technology in Rio de Janeiro participated in the initial phase of the project. Mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), the young people were enabled to engage in public debate exploring themes of territory and community.

The performances took place at Spectaculu (November 2010), Fundição Progresso (December 2010) and Casa Amarela in Morro da Providência (March 2011). Recordings of their final installations can be played at the URL below.

website is live and ongoing and being continually added to as more groups get involved with encounters
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/category/actions/riodejaneiro/
 
Description Film documenting Morro da Providência workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The film supported dissemination of the project outcomes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/films/
 
Description London workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Two phases of the project took place in London under the first phase grant, where groups mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic), Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), Sylvan Baker (academic), Daniel Mathison-Johnson and Remi Stewart (emerging artists) were enabled to engage in public debate.

The themes explored by young research groups have included: Social invisibility and its relationship to social security (July 2010, Southbank Centre); censorship (April 2011, QMUL in partnership with Phakama). Photographic documentation of the work with Phakama can be found at the URL below.

Follow-On Funding and a small contribution from QMUL enabled further work on the themes of displacement and asylum (September 2012, 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning); citizenship and democracy (St. Paul's Way Trust School, June 2013); and gender, human rights, disability and criminal behaviour (The Arbour, installation December 2013, Rich Mix and again in August 2014, London City Hall as part of a final conference on young people and cultural expression.)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/installation-by-groups-5-6-7-8/
 
Description Project film 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A film was made to document the project and disseminate its impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/
 
Description Project website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A website was created to document the project and disseminate the outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/
 
Description Rio workshops and presentations 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Four research groups from Spectaculu School of Arts and Technology in Rio de Janeiro participated in the initial phase of the project. Mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), the young people were enabled to engage in public debate exploring themes of territory and community.

The performances took place at Spectaculu (November 2010), Fundição Progresso (December 2010) and Casa Amarela in Morro da Providência (March 2011). Recordings of their final installations can be played below.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/category/actions/riodejaneiro/