The ArtLab welcomed a team of young co-researchers into the Fine Art Department at the University of Reading.
A delegation of students from New Christ Church Primary School, Reading worked with university students on a series of collaborative art activities. Their investigations centred on experimenting with interactive audio-visual technology.
A chance to explore
Our engagement workshops have historically, been delivered at school sites in and around Reading. The decision to host this series of workshops at the department this year, was a major change in project delivery.
It was very refreshing working within the department as opposed to the school environment. The school’s visiting teachers all agreed that the visit away from school was beneficial for their students. They felt that the day really encouraged students to engage with technology (97%). It seemed to raise the importance of the workshops and helped our visiting co-researchers to experience a small element of university life as an art student (over 90% felt that it was a life changer).
Each workstation presented themes of movement/drawing, the self/self-portrait and making/re-making. We employed the thematic colours, layout and smaller group sizes trialled at Tate Exchange.
It was refreshing to see how at ease students seemed with the technology and this led to them very quickly creating responses in each space. They worked really well collaboratively and shared ideas and solutions readily and willingly. The spaces felt very much like experimental ‘hubs’ as opposed to a ‘classroom’.
We consciously tried to amplify familiar approaches to ‘creativity’ presenting ideas in wholly different ways.
The Drawing Room
Walking through the activities, it was possible to see how our university students (two per workstation), teachers, TA’s, helpers and students worked together. There was a sense of sharing ideas through experimentation. Each group came up with different responses to the technology and equipment.
The Drawing Room which takes interactive audio technology (wireless headphones for all participants) and channels this into drawing performances. The students worked intuitively within the space to create responses to the audio, whilst exploring materials, performance, dance, gestural mark making and collaboration. The technology helped by reducing inhibitions around performing and drawing.
This workstation enabled students to create sculptures and objects using a variety of found objects including themselves. We were then able to digitally scan the creations and rescale them. These resized objects were then presented within the space using augmented reality.
The Selphie Sphere
Using a very large reflective inflatable ‘Selphie Sphere’ this workstation presented a spectacle for students to focus on. The discussion and activities centred on the self. We used the distorted effect of the sphere to initiate self-portraiture.
Students created elongated drawings of themselves that in turn developed into masks. These masks were then worn by the students as ‘avatars’ of themselves.
We used these ‘costumes’ to create an alternative school photo using a GoPro 360Degree camera.