Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Final Reflections & Projections.

Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll.

So this is my final post and reflective blog on my experience

The above video is of Natasha Tsakos  who is a  a pioneer in theatre performance integrating technology with live performance. She speaks passionately about her field and the possibilites for human experience through theatre. When I watched this video is was a moment of YES!  She finds it difficult to explain what she does, but when she performs people understand. Her future philosophies on what the human experience can be in the 21st century is of a similar thought. It is evolutiontionary and a a 21st centruy technium is happening.

It is difficult to explain and its only when you show someone a video or picture do they start to see some of the world that I have been living in.

This project is more than just a group of people using a big skype screen or a portal to another world.

A post shared by Beck Stewart (@beck.stewart) on

It’s immersive in every essence. The reality that you knew, changes the moment you immerse yourself within the theatre and the screen. The inward, sensory, and psychophysical journey that I have been on I can’t describe in words.

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Cirkus School & Singing

 CIRKUS SCHOOL-

During the telepresence week, we would spend each morning doing a warm up session, focusing on mind body and voice. When we got to Tampere, the tempo change, what had been limited to some extent was togetherness in a tangible form. They had shared a digital immersive space, with a window into each other worlds. however a tangible, connectedness and physical space had not been shared. And Cirkus school is where the process was going to begin.

Ive realised on this whole experience that actors like to get up close and personal. This is something that I have always struggled with, I like my own space and too me if was something that I hadn’t part in. I had always been on the periphery, and circus school was the same. It would take till the end of the week in a body movement class for that to be broken.

The method I approached was more ethnographic. Firstly because I am in no way in any physical form to be carrying a student on my back, secondly I wanted to observe how both sets of students formed their : ‘tribe’ for want of better word.

Through the use of the acrobatic classes, taught by Yolie the circus performer, the students began to develop this trust. And secondly through the use of voice in Soilas’ session.

Relating this to the research in the  Sisters of Sound Part 1 & Sisters of sound Part 2 , specifically the neuroscience and what happens to the brain. Humans within their communities would often come together to sing. It was a form of identity and Soila brought this out in them, by instructing them to find there inner vikings.

The Finnish students and Coventry students where now forming their community in a different set, they were syncing up creatively and collaborating in a way that was so human, the energy in the room was overwhelming and powerful.

The neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified- Prof. S Wilson

 

Even they way in which I have filmed it, has been a challenge. I can at the time, that I was fairly blown away with what I was experiencing. I wanted to capture everything and I didn’t know what to focus on. Jon my colleague who you can see recording the sound in the background, is grinning and smiling the whole way through. He was also experiencing the same energy and it did just want to make you smile. As it really was a coming together moment, that was so pure and human in its energy no one would have helped but smiled and laughed…. even if they felt uncomfortable by what they were experiencing.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

The Land of A Thousands Lakes- Finland

Mistä olet kotoisin?

Tourism Poster Sourced: Pintrest.com

Where are you from?

Magical and ethereal  and in some way, has a drop back of elven woods from middle earth. It is the extremes of light and dark,  Freezing, snowy magical winters, with blissful long summers, with a double day. And in winter the northern lights can be seen dancing in the skies.

The land of a thousands lakes, well specifically thats 187,888 in total. There are around  179, 584 islands approx. 100,000 of these are located in these lakes. It is a place where you may just believe, that you could possibly bump into a troll or a wisp in the woods.

Finland may only be a 100 years old in terms of independence and in its time, surrounding countries have fought over the land. The people have a close relationship with this land. Much of that relationship is reflected in poetry such as the Kalevala, folklore & song.

A liberal and equal country now, but it took many artists and creatives to assist with the culture and identity change. The Cambridge history of Theatre (2010) describes Finnish theatre as “retelling of the story of the national awakening. The threat from foreign imperialism and eventually victory through political independence.”

Finland produced artist and writer Tove Jasson, who if you have ever read the Moomins, lived in Moomin valley, somewhere in Finland.

And then there is also ‘Tom of Finland’. An artist who completely challenged the status quo for homo-erotica art and very much set a president of identity for the gay community, not only in Finland but around the world. When I look at his art, I can see Freddy Mercury.

This is a brief introduction into what Finland is about. I have only touched the surface. But I know that its a place that I love. The clean air, the water, they mystery and magica. The calmness, tranquility, the extremes and quiet emptiness. In the Words of the Monty Python song “Finland Finland the country I want to be, Finland has it all”…

“An introverted Finn looks at his shoes when talking to you; an extroverted Finn looks at your shoes”.

 

Finnish Nightmares
Illustrator:karoliina-korhone

There is a stereotype that Finns are reserved…. Well lets just say thats not true in my experience. I would just say that they have a special attitude and use of words. They are selective. And then you have the ‘Finnish word’, meaning that when things are said, they are meant. Meaning face value is, face value There is a Finnish proverb “Take a man by his words and a bull by its horns”

 

Chit-chat is small, but the Finns once they get to know you. Have this dark sense of humour, that is witty and to the point and incredibly dry..

 

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Embodiment, Mindfulness & Movement Part 2

“Be the centre of your storm”

Dr.Tiina Syrja

The Storm, a word which has so many metaphors. Not only in the Play of King Lear, where Lear looses his mind, but in other forms of literature. T

Twain relinquished that “weather is necessary to a narrative of human experience.” And Shakespeare told us- “minded like the weather’.  Lear is likeminded and chaotic like the storm. And in essence, these two writers are reflecting what all humans can feel internally.

Tiina Integral Yoga from Beck Stewart on Vimeo.

This was the final day of using the screen for a warm up class;: Yoga

Dr Tiina Syrja, is a Senior Lecturer in Acting at University of Tampere. Tiina is a speech therapist, yoga teacher, vocologist and is a teacher of the Alexander technique. I touched upon the Alexander technique in my previous blog “Embodiment, Mindfulness & Movement: Part 1”

The Alexander techniques was designed by F.M Alexander. He was an Australian actor who reflected and observed his human function. B.Rosenburgh 2008 describes Alexanders research Including body expression, posture, voice and body balance. By analysing and observing himself he discovered that through muscular interference he had not been using his body in the best way. He discovered that the tensions he was experiencing, were not always immediately felt but built up to a sensory value.  The methods he developed used systems within movement and body, that coordinated the distribution of the psychophysical process, starting with the head.

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Embodiment, Movement & Mindfulness Part 1

“For real human beings, the only realism is an embodied realism.”
― George Lakoff

Embodiment? That word….. a word that is flown around, especially where I work… If I am completely honest, until this project i really just didn’t get it. I had become disconnected with myself. However I was never someone who just threw the idea off… I wanted to understand what it meant, and really what it felt like.. I had lost the meaning of the word.

In a concrete representation of this word, some may say that life and its concept is represented by a circle. That is physical, that can be drawn shown and seen… this is what comes up when you google it off dictionary.com but then there is the other embodiment.

That other embodiment …..

What is ’embodiment’ when we consider it within an abstract context?

How does it feed the soul? That human experience that feeds some state of your own consciousness? Surely the incarnation of an experience will somehow attribute, to the embodiment of the human experience and surely would make us more human and for a happier and healthier society?

A post shared by Beck Stewart (@beck.stewart) on

In order to to be fully embodied for an actor, there has to be a level of mindfulness in performance.  And in order for that actor to be embodied, the process an actor would go through is vast, and then they would approach a particular or series of method.  It may be done in through varying types of practice such as Meditation, Yoga and Martial Arts.

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” ~Sylvia Boorstein

Many of the methods and process that Tiina & Mikko are psychophysical in practices and body within theatre. Cis.Rit.Edu , 2017, describe psychophysical as the scientific study of the stimuli (which is a physical term) and the perceptions and sensations that are evoked by this stimuli.

Dr Mikko is a practitioner of Asahi Health  which is a combination of the basis of  Eastern health practices such as Tai-Chi, but movements are based on Western medicine and physical education. One of the basic goals was to enhance peoples mobility & health. The programme was developed by a group of professional in fitness and martial arts, their names respectively are; Ilpo Jalamo, Timo Klemola, Keijo Mikkonen and Yrjö Mähönen . The approaches developed were to enhance and promote positive effects, on overall well being for those who practice it.

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

Stepping into the rabbit hole of Immersive Telepresence in Theatre.

 “In jest, there is truth.”
William Shakespeare, King Lear

You remember when Dorothy went to the ‘Land of OZ’, or when Alice fell down that rabbit hole?……

Yeah. Well that has just happened to me.

Lears Lapse 2 from Beck Stewart on Vimeo.

I have been exploring the world of Immersive Telepresence in Theatre, using visual immersive anthropology techniques and this is just a summary of what I encountered and felt this week….

While lost in the madness of Lear.

King Lear:Online

I find myself meeting two groups of Theatre students, that are rehearsing Shakespeare’s: King Lear. Rehearsals take place over a telepresence screen  and a window of communication is opened between two countries that are 1554.6KM apart.

This happened between students from the University of Tampere, Finland & Coventry University, UK.

But it is so much more than this…..

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre, Planning

Planning for a Playwright

Benjamin Franklin was once quoted as saying;

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail-

If I am honest there has been some procrastination, this however, has been more out of the fear of what I am about to take on. I have a habit of sometimes being a busy fool, and can find myself being a ‘media powerhouse’ churning out content that I may not use or need. And the question is; is this content produced relevant? What am I trying to convey & say?

My first meeting with my supervisors, Ken and Nick, I didn’t feel prepared. I had all of these thoughts and ideas of how I wanted the King Lear to be filmed, however, I didn’t have a plan and this was the problem. My mind was awash with thoughts but no conceit narrative of the final project.

They questioned what the narrative flow was it going to be? Who were the people I was following? And what was it specifically I was trying to cover. From the conversation I formed a basic mindmap and outline of the themes and content that we had discussed.

So I have to have a plan! If I reflect my feelings and approaches the last few months. I have had to get a full appreciation of what the project is about, I have had to be patient with the curators in their own planning and I have to understand what King Lear themes and subjects are. From this discussion I created a basic narrative workflow on the areas that I was going to start with.

 

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Final Project : Immersive Telepresence in Theatre

This is not Stargate: Telepresence in Theatre

This is not a portal to some other dimension as in Stargate, whereby the lecturer teleports his students to some far off galaxy and they perform shakespeare.

NO!

But Imagine if you could walk up to a large flat screen, being projected on the screen is a room, that mirrors the room you are standing in. A person walks onto that screen and they are the same hight and build as yourself, but it isn’t you, its someone else. You realize that you can interact with that person, talk, communicate, there is a 2 way communication going on. So you’re probably now thinking, well this just sounds like a skype conversation.

Well its not, when you have someone the same size as you, in an endless space and you are performing Shakespeare together and the people on the screen, just happen to be performance actors from the the University of Tampere.

This becomes something else…..

Categories 21st Century Media Practice

Quick Reflective Thought….

My previous blog post is defiantly a “works in progress” moment following our discussions in class today. It was interesting seeing how everyone else was progressing and some of the testing that had taken place with the work and the pre-production planning.

Everyone else seemed very concise in what they were going to do and some of the challenges that they may encounter. It was also intresting to hear the feedback and share thoughts on each others work. However when I compare myself to everyone else, I feel stilll a little overwhelmed by what I could film.

My lecturer pointed out two things that have stuck out to me. I completely agree when he says I will end up being a “power house” of documentation but not anything specific. He said that I needed to consider context as well as approaches. So ideas were thrown around and this is how I interpreted it.

Do I….

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, Adventures, Art

Poets Project- Isle of Raasay.

Format

IMG_1634 (1)

This was a holistic accelerated learning experience, to be able to connect with the land on a research level, emotional level through art and explore technical skills and apply them has been such an experience that has sincerly made me want to explore this further in my own creative practice and career.   I have never been to a place that has left me feeling like a part of me was left there and I am missing it. To have the sound of your hand being removed from your pocket that was so loud that my senses and ears had forgotten to scale the volume and I listened to the silence. We had to experience him, we had to listen to him.

The landscape was simply epic, surrounded by the Caledonian Mountains we scaled the Isle of Rassey upon foot and with the help of a minibus to get to our locations. We were there to document and connect with the island. We had previously been introduced to the poem “Hallaig” by Sorley Maclean.

“Time, the deer, is in Hallaig Wood

There’s a board nailed across the window
I looked through to see the west
And my love is a birch forever
By Hallaig Stream, at her tryst

Between Inver and Milk Hollow,
somewhere around Baile-chuirn,
A flickering birch, a hazel,
A trim, straight sapling rowan.

In Screapadal, where my people
Hail from, the seed and breed
Of Hector Mor and Norman
By the banks of the stream are a wood.”

( S.Maclean)

Categories 21st Century Media Practice, PGCE, Techology & people

MySpace – MySocial experience.

2004 Myspace started,

And I had started University in the September of 2003, my friends and I all followed and chatted to each other on MSN messenger & organised our students nights by communicating through text message and calls. Then someone said ” Hey check out this site, sign up and add me” 

I log on, typed in www.myspace.com, signed up and was greeted by this guy.. Tom