Saturday, 6 March 2010

[313] Techno Stories, 27th February

Last week I wandered over to Rich Mix in Bethnal Green to check out the Techno Stories event, put on by the National Youth Theatre and Ideastap. Four groups of young creatives from across the country - Sheffield, Manchester, North and South London - were tasked with tackling various briefs that took the form of a word or phrase, such as 'The Perfect Tree', 'Swarm' and 'Flood'. Each group had a number of weekends to work on their ideas and schemes, and cobbled together a short video presentation to pitch their project(s).

I was there thanks to an invitation from my good friend Edward Szekely, a filmmaker who was part of the South London posse. Their project S'Warm, was stuffed with plenty of ideas, if not distinct goals. Of particular interest are the experiments they conducted with webcams and networked laptops, in order to create real-time digital masks and an invisibility cloak. Segments concerning these can be found towards the end of the video below.

Techno Stories South London-S'Warm from National Youth Theatre on Vimeo.

The biggest surprise of the day was being greeted by the oaken tones of Nick 'Fox' Moran in the Manchester group's project, a 'Subtlemob' titled Flood. The Subtlemob is a variation on the Flashmob concept, but internalising the experience, where participants are provided with audio files for the MP3 players, and are narrated a story, and guided through a number of sequences and actions.

Flood was held at Salford Quays, with punters split into two groups. Each group would receive a different narration, centred on the Lowry footbridge, and an impending flood of catastrophic proportions. It is quite a fascinating concept, especially as a form of new media storytelling - mixing personal audio equipment, radio plays, and the real-world context, creating a hands-off, intimate experience. Their video is below.

Both Sheffield and North London were operating under the 'Perfect Tree' brief, and had similar ideas springing from social media, crafting an online space for collaboration and expression with a decidedly eco-friendly bent.

There is little information about the Techno Stories project online, and the day ended without a real destination for the amassed ideas. However, for further details about similar schemes, check Ideastap and NYT.

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