And again, sitting here in the kitchen with coffee on one side and brioches and panini on the other. It’s the morning of day 4, and even though they say all good things come to an end, I really feel like I don’t want this beautiful experiment to end. Looking back on day 3 though there’s been plenty of great moments, more lessons learnt and some great memories made.
In the morning the musicians had the last of their workshop session, using the 3 or so hours to tighten up their set as well as working with Bruno Briscik on how to bring his Cello on three of the tracks they’d already prepared. Two of them Bruno will be adding some bass, while on one of them he’ll be an integral part of the track. Bruno has a bit of a reputation round these parts for being hard to work with and bringing a certain element of jinx to shows. Seeing him connect with 2tall and Tatsuki was a real pleasure, as we all drank coffee and he reminisced about his days in New York, and seeing as he and Tayone have been working together for years the whole issue of being hard to work with never really reared its ugly head. As for the jinx though, he managed to break his wah wah pedal and blow up his amp in less than 2 hours, which didn’t surprise our resident technician Yassin who took it all with a smile, and the hope that today when it comes to the show, the same thing doesn’t happen.
By lunch time the musicians were done and we were ready to move their equipment from the workshop space to the venue (which are luckily next door to each other) and prepare for a quick soundcheck. First though was a quick lunch with a bonus chocolate ending as our local ice cream sponsor was having a chocolate day much to the pleasure of Tatsuki and 2tall who’ve been wolfing down more sugar this week than in an entire year.
Following lunch I sat down with the Slow Breakfast guys, our resident film crew, to try and figure out what was the issue with our movies not displaying properly on Vimeo. Thanks to some help from the homie Hentsix and the FAQ pages we got to the root of it and as we all sat down at Alessandro’s place to work, things started to go a little wrong – my PC overheated and refused to work, leaving with me with the only choice to cool it with a fan. At the same time the Slow Breakfast were having a nightmare figuring out how to maintain the bit rate for the videos, but after an hour or two of pulling our collective hair out it all started working again and the videos and websites were updated and working as they should have (peep the embed below)
Elsewhere in the afternoon the musicians went to do a radio interview on Citta del Capo, while the visual artists continued to work on the various elements needed for their animation and shadow based visual show. Work which even at midnight after dinner was wrapped was still ongoing (more on that in a bit). Another crucial element of the afternoon was the need for us to prepare and map out our seminar which was taking place in the evening from 7 to 9 at the Modo Infoshop, a famous bookshop in Bologna and meeting place for many of the city’s artists.
Having realised the lessons we needed to take from the seminar on the previous day we tried our best to put together a stronger approach for this seminar, deciding on precisely who would do what, when and how – give or take the unpredictable element that always comes with these things. In the end the seminar and q&a session was still a success, with a good turnout and a strong presentation of the project and feedback from the artists about their experience so far. And yet still we lapsed: we forgot to print out the questionnaires to get feedback from the public, we still didn’t quite get the translation to work as well as it could have and we also still needed to tighten up our seminar game. It’s by no means a big deal, but for me personally I now know that the biggest lesson I will take from this pilot so far is the need to really prepare and oversee the activities where the public is involved. When it comes to activities with the artists we have pretty much on lock, we’re strong in that area and we’ve only got a few small lessons to take away. When it comes to the public’s involvement though, we still have a lot to learn.
I kind of live tweeted the seminar, partly for fun and partly to further prove our point that we want to use the internet as much as possible to give people a chance to have an insight into what happens even if they’re not there.
The evening wound down with some drinks in the bar next door to Modo Infoshop, as the artists and organisers mingled with the public, friends and others. And that’s when something amazing happened. Tatsuki introduced me to a Japanese woman, Ayami, who has come all the way from London after discovering Original Cultures on the Samurai FM website. Not only that but she’d come from London with no money, and so decided to find a couch to surf on using the internet, finding herself in the house of one of the girlfriends of one of the guys who works at Modo Infoshop! They were only too happy to host her for a few days as they knew about our event. To know that someone went to that much effort to witness what we’re doing, and to know that things worked out for them as much as they’ve been working out for us, was simply incredible. She’s a big fan of all the visual artists and also Jim 2tall’s work and so we introduced her to the artists and spoke for a few hours. As Jim said afterwards, it’s not just bless, it’s a manifestation of what we’re trying to do here – bring people from different cultures and countries together under the banner of the arts, to allow them to share and experience together.
The day ended once more with an amazing dinner from Lisa, and for the first time pretty much everyone involved in the pilot was around the table: from the artists to the organisers, the film crew, the photographers, the technicians and the venue owners. To see us all there in the courtyard, drinking, eating and being merry, sharing stories and experiences, discussing the week’s event was really special for me. I know we have achieved one of our aims, especially when I think back to the fact that there hasn’t been one time this week where I haven’t bumped into one of the artists involved in the project and he hasn’t smiled at me as the first thing he did. We have brought people together and made them share something unique, through this idea of cultural exchange. We’ve allowed artists to create something they’ve never done before, to take part into an ‘experiment’ that was taking shape as it was happening, controlled by them as much as by us. And so I now know that as much as I don’t want it to end, it’s really only the beginning of something that we are all going to ensure lasts as long as possible.
I’ll leave you with some quotes and the knowledge that our showcase tonight will truly be something unique, never to be repeated. If you can’t be there, don’t worry we’ll have you covered in the coming weeks with videos and more. And if you can be there, then I look forward to sharing this experience with you all.
It’s like Big Brother but without the bullshit and wasting time. Instead we make art on the spot.
Tayone, speaking about the documentation aspect of the Original Cultures project.
I’ve never done a collaborative project like this, it’s amazing.
Will Barras, talking about the visual arts workshops he’s been taking part in all week.