Jo: Triggered by neurodivergent access issues elsewhere, I am weak and wobbly, but not quite defeated as I slowly emerge from a severe relapse. The path ahead will not be easy, and other obstacles may present, but for now I am excited to announce Arts Council funding of my interactive digital R and D, Define Your Journey. A massive thank you to all who engaged with the test version on YouTube and filled out the survey, this info will be invaluable for the next stage.
My core team are Kate Lovell – artistic director, Charles Matthews – creative technologist and Joe Strickland – digital producer I will also be working with Anders Morris Knight of Shipshape Marketing and a very talented team of artistic and access advisors to be announced. We will work together to create an online digital experience, embedded with the aesthetics of access, with opportunities to make choices and interact.
(Gift Tshuma and Charles Matthews of Blurring the Boundaries test sound responsive lanterns triggered by a digital instrument. If you would like to get involved, these will be used in a series of online meet-ups for artists in collaboration with the University of Calgary. Funded by SSHRC – Social Sciences and Research Council, details TBA)
I am very grateful to my partners, Blurring the Boundaries, Disability Arts Online, Drake Music, and Together! 2012 for their support to make this happen. Foteini Galanopoulou, project manager and access support, has held the fort brilliantly whilst I have been unwell, highlighting the vital importance of the additional access budget from ACE, (available to the lead artist and core team) without which my project would be in trouble.
I am very much looking forward to working with all the talented individuals involved, – Kate Lovell’s theatrical work is political, quirky, rich and immersive.
For this blog I decided to ask Kate, more versed in working with actors, what attracted her to working with a neurodivergent musician and her powerful ally, the Dragon Cello.
Kate: I was curating a night of new work by D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists and programmed Jo-Anne to scratch a piece of work involving originally composed electric cello music, sensory-stimulating props, and live storytelling. I was blown away by the power of the Dragon Cello and the way in which it unified everyone in the space. The audience were able to take part in the performance at whatever level they felt compelled, from a gentle foot-tapping along to the beat to a semaphore-esque dance with colourful scarves. The visuals of Jo playing her spangling cello with full-bodied passion alongside a BSL interpretation of the music brought yet another layer of beautifully aesthetic access to the piece.
Jo and her Dragon Cello are a completely mesmerising duet. The digital experience is genre-defying, the term that best captures the feeling is sonic saga. I am attracted to the originality of the concept, the striking ways in which the piece is aesthetically accessible and the interactive and immersive bath of sound, light and words that is Define Your Journey. The small ‘p’ political aims of Define Your Journey completely chime with my commitment to working as an artist-activist, ensuring that all work I create or curate is pushing for social justice and change. Working on a piece where the key protagonists are a musician and her Dragon Cello is a brave new world for me as a director and dramaturg, but one that energises and electrifies my artistic soul.
Jo: Thank you Kate. That’s a wrap for this first blog. We’ll be posting our blogs here on DAO in the last week of every month. We’ll be sharing with you our process in making Define Your Journey an accessible and interactive digital experience, how we are doing this as a freelance team, without commissioning a digital production company. Our aim is to support and empower other artists who may wish to explore online digital interaction in their own practice, culminating in a sharing hosted by DAO in the autumn.
Define Your Journey came about with thanks to bespoke mentoring from HMUK Do It Differently Fund and further development and testing of the sound reactive lanterns were supported by this fund.