Common Ground activity in focus: Sonicules
Dr Jude Brereton, University of York
“Born of science but shaped by art and music – a tangible demonstration of the importance of meeting on common ground.”
Dr Damian Murphy, University of York
“The range of means for dissemination and engagement with the AHRC community was one of the key strengths of the day”.
Creativity is one of seven cross-discipline research themes that have been identified as areas of strength at the University of York. As University Research Champion for this theme I have a particular interest in how concepts of Creativity act as a key focus for collaborative research across arts, humanities, science and engineering. I was therefore keen to ensure that colleagues at York who are contributing to the theme had the opportunity for their work to be represented at this important national event on the AHRC research landscape. Six projects were presented as part of the Priming Creativity stand in the Demonstrate Zone. These had been selected after an internal call and review process, and covered many aspects of how creativity is represented in core arts and humanities research at York.
Catriona Kennedy (History) and Jon Mee’s (English) project, The crucible of opinion: the soundscape of the Georgian Theatre, supported a workshop that is developing Richmond Theatre, one of the oldest working theatres in the country, as a space for research, exhibition and learning. This workshop considered the reconstruction of the sonic landscape of the Georgian theatre, reflecting on how public opinion was made and expressed in the physical space of the theatre itself.
The Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI): Shedding a raking light on craft project is led by Matthew Collins (Archaeology) and Gareth Beale (Digital Creativity Labs), and explores a technique for providing an enhanced visual experience of the micro-topography of surfaces. The project has resourced a simple and portable capture tool to reveal details of the production of materials as diverse as manuscripts, portable prehistoric art, gravestones and even chewed bone.
Florian Block (Digital Creativity Labs and Theatre, Film and Television) leads a team of researchers exploring Creative Game Analytics for E-Sports and Professional Gaming. This project investigates how the creative use of game analytics can foster data literacy among E-sports and professional game players, spectators and content producers.
Penny Spikins (Archaeology) and Barry Wright (Health Sciences) are collaborating on Mind and material culture: Autism spectrum conditions and creative engagement with the material world exploring and analysing previously collected data to develop a better understanding of the creative engagement between autism and materiality.
In Film distribution, digital technologies and the creative industries, Andrew Higson and Huw Jones (both from Theatre, Film and Television) have developed a high profile academic/industry conference to explore how film and television distributors are adapting to digitisation and new patterns of content consumption in the creative economy to develop innovative ways of making creative works available to their audiences.
Finally, a multidisciplinary team from Electronics, Computer Science, Health Sciences, Music, and Theatre, Film and Television, led by Helena Daffern from Electronics is researching, Wellbeing: Investigating Singing Health in Ensembles through Digital technologies (WISHED). This project will develop a prototype Virtual Reality game that will be used as an exploratory mechanism into the influence of singing on health and wellbeing.
In addition, at lunchtime, the Digital Creativity Labs, one of six recently funded EPSRC/AHRC digital economy impact hubs – who coincidentally just happen to have their normal facility located in the middle of the Common Ground Demonstrate Zone – threw open their doors to delegates to showcase projects and talk about their work in how gaming technology and interactive media are used to deliver impact across a diverse range of disciplines. The Digital Creativity Labs also hosted the Centre for Christianity and Culture who create interactive digital visualisations of UK heritage sites based on leading historical, archaeological and architectural research.
The Demonstrate Zone provided an ideal opportunity for all of these projects, both new and more established, to reach out to the Common Ground audience, gather feedback and provoke discussion. In particular, the Priming Creativity stand served as a key milestone and objective for disseminating first results or findings, and was a significant opportunity for the individuals involved in these collaborations to engage with the wider AHRC Commons community.
Another popular area of activity and interest was the Innovate 3Sixty space – a four-sided, surround-sound immersive presentation environment that hosted a number of projects throughout the day. Again, research under the theme of Creativity at York was very well represented. “Let’s Talk About It”: The Sound of Jane’s Story Experience (Sandra Pauletto, Bartlomiej Walus, Amanda Jayne Mason-Jones, and Antonina Mikocka-Walus) portrayed a young girl’s experience with chronic disease. Sonicules: Designing Drugs with Sound (Jude Brereton, Paul Walton, Alisdair Munday, and Andrew Chadwick) highlighted the role of art to engage the public with challenges in designing new anticancer drugs. Both of these projects were supported by the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2) a Wellcome Trust funded initiative at the University of York, and enabled artists to be embedded in active multi-disciplinary research projects. Finally, the AHRC funded OpenAIR: Open Acoustic Impulse Response Library Acoustic project (Damian Murphy, Kenneth Brown and Andrew Chadwick) presented visual and soundscape representations of a number of acoustic spaces, that have been captured and archived for use as a creative resource for sound designers, composers and musicians.
The range of means for dissemination and engagement with the AHRC community was one of the key strengths of the day, enabling a broad spectrum of projects to be represented, and in a manner best suited to the nature of the research and its related outcomes. We look forward with anticipation to the next Common Ground Event!
Dr Sheepali Patel, Cambridge School of Art, ARU:
“The written feedback to the project was overwhelming”.
The Crossing forms a strand of my research focus on Creative Communication, exploring the cross-disciplinary potential of existing and emerging audio-visual technologies and challenging traditional narrative conventions in engaging audiences with story and subject matter.
The research team and I had been constructing The Crossing for two years as such we approached the AHRC Common Ground Event with nervous anticipation. At the heart of our multi-screen installation, is the story of a young trafficked girl, which unfolds through a number of visual and sonic layers. Taking a cross-disciplinary approach, the project aimed to exploit the potential of live action, drone filming, visual effects and an immersive perspective shifting sound design through the 3Sixty’s wrap-around screens and using blue-tooth headphones to isolate the audience experience. The aim of the project was to explore the concept of ‘hope’ and it’s gradual unfurling reality into an exploitation of trust to perpetuate an illegal $150 billion worldwide industry which trades in people.
The written feedback to the project was overwhelming. The spatial impact of the 8 metre diagonal screens and the mirrored drone footage, combined with intimate audio experience created an unsettling physical reaction in the audience but also seemed to intensify the understanding of the complex issues involved in sex trafficking. It was rewarding to finally see the project in such a space and achieve and engage in a constructive dialogue with other researchers and members of the public.
Dr Shreepali Patel is an academic and filmmaker. The Crossing is currently being developed as an interactive project to be used in PHSE studies within Secondary School curriculum.