project began in Sydney, NSW as part of an artist-residency at The
Performance Space in January 2005.
am interested in sharing a dialog from, away from, and about where "the
home" is. What does it mean to leave home, not have a home, have
the world as your home, not want to go home, not be able to go back home,
have a smart home, have your home under surveillance, share your home
or be forced out of home. Our country is our home and for those without
one and in search of it or for those within it and perhaps participating
from it there are countless stories, experiences, lost or established
identities and outcomes shared amongst us.
During the Performance Space installation I moderated the chatroom for a number of hours of each day starting from Monday the 17th to Sunday the 24th of January. From Thursday 21st to Sunday 23rd an invited public (of travellers and backpackers) had access to the chatroom. During these three days the group discussions/stories were projected into the installation space between midday and midnight of each day.
I called this first installation 1.NSW and the space included a slide projection of NSW's first number plate (see image), recorded sounds of a busy intersection in popular KingsX (to help create the scene), a large rear-projection of the online chatroom and a keyboard for visitors to login and tell their stories. I invited local backpackers in and around Surry Hills and Redfern to come and tell their travel stories and had bought a $10 telephone card (also called #1) and provided a telephone line in the space for them to call home. It was hard getting people in off the streets on Cleveland St, Redfern. Not many people pass by as they might do in a Mall or quieter location and I wasn't able to get late night access which would have made it more appropriate for travellers to call friends and family back home. But a handful of backpackers came in and out, chatted with the group online and some interesting stories came of it.
I am now interested in developing this project further. I want to incorporate the use of internet telephony (as well as a land line telephone) and wireless sensor technologies within a space driven by text, voice and sound and photo media gathered from the "everyday traveller".
I want to further explore what I suggest are three inter-connected themes of “home, exchange and solitude” and by doing so provide an avenue for people to share a dialog from, away from, and about the home whilst exploring problems of personal exchange and solitude in contemporary communities around the world.
In order to do this I would like to create an environment based on the model of the Mediterranean osteria (as suggested by Umberto Eco for his Multimedia Arcade in Bologna) rather than the Anglo-Saxon cyber café. It should provide a means by which people share an exchange or dialog (rather than nurse solitude in the company of others) and (as is the case in the Bologna Arcade) should be reflected in its openness and communal like structure.
I am interested in developing a space (rather then a keyboard-only email terminal) that sanctions a broad range of human-to-human communications and my understanding is that sophisticated gesture interfaces for sound synthesis (such as those being developed at IRCAM) and advances in Internet telephony make this project possible. Gestures are captured therefore expressions and words might be conveyed so much more convincingly. At the exact moment conversations or sounds are transmitted so might a strength or weakness in movement. Human emotions can be shared where for example excitement, pain or anguish might influence the moment of communication as say an ordinary cough, laugh or sneeze.
By building a sound, gesture and TCP/IP addressable communication interface I hope to create a point of entry into a world of changing environments, varying conditions of travel and social complexities that I believe today are over intensified by an ever-increasing “social and political gap” between continents. Visitors might probe their way through multi-lingual signs, controlling technology without having to control their flow of information in a hands free, expressive, sound and motion sensitive environment.
The format of the project would take shape as a sensor-driven, site specific, sound and Internet telephony installation to facilitate both gesture and verbal interface between everyday travellers and other (home) occupants (or travellers) with access to a telephone or Internet (wherever they might be). The core wireless technology would be embedded in the space and function out-of-sight.
© Damian Castaldi 2006
Below are a few photos from the Performance Space installation and a few of the stories contributed on the chatroom. I would like to thank everybody at the Performance Space and the group of artists doing residencies at the same time. Having only just arrived back in Sydney after two years of living and working in France it was a wonderful experience to find myself at TPS surrounded by a new, young and enthusiastic crowd of people. Special thanks go to Blaire French for helping me organise the residency from afar, Fiona Winning for her ongoing support of my work, Richard and Clytie for their technical help and Soraya for her time and delicious cuisine.
"Knives, bullets, handguns anyone ..."
Just a few weeks ago Solange and I caught a Redeye flight out of Perth heading for Sydney. Before boarding we checked in our luggage and wandered off to the Xray screening thing. We we're waiting to pass through the gates and an airport security bloke walked up the line holding out one of those plastic containers for keys, loose change ... Anyway, we we're waiting there in a long queue and up he comes with a big smile on his face saying, "Any keys, change, bullets, guns, handknives ...." . Everybody cracked up, laughed, couldn't beleive what he was saying. I caught his eye as he walked past me and asked "Can I leave them in my bag till I go through?". He looked straight back at me with a big grin on his face. He's security under pressure, I'm a traveller under suspicion but ....... I just loved that moment. Anyone could have been there, it's probably all on a security video and he's lost his day-job if anyone bothered to check it.
Cathy's story logged in at 5:50 on Saturday the 23rd of January.
Hi I'm Cathy. I am now here in Sydney. If I hadn't said yes to a dinner party in Sydney seven years ago to a friend I met in Tokyo, I probably wouldn't be here now. On my way from Japan to the middle east to find work, I stopped by Sydney for dinner and while I was chatting and sipping fine wine, the plans fell through. I was stuck in Sydney for a while. From then til now. If I hadn't come to dinner in Sydney one night I wouldn't have met people who inspired me and I wouldn't have studied archaeology and I wouldn't have gotten to work for two years running on a dig in the UAE. How's that?! And if I hadn't been here over a year ago I wouldn't have met the woman of my dreams. Anja. And we have a friend from Chile who would like to invite us to lunch in Valparaiso.
"It happened one night"
One night while walking along the Seine in Paris, with my partner, we noticed a lot of police cars on the Seine walkway. As we approached we could see a police boat, and police divers bobbing up and down in the dirty water. We got quite close to the activity before a uniformed authority figure nonchalantly shooed us away. But I was curious and walked back to the boat rocking in the water I leaned over to get a closer look. It was twilight so the light was strange and dim. Two black clad divers were dragging a figure in the water and when they got close to the boat they lifted the figure over the edge of the boat while another diver pulled it up into the boat. When the figure rose out of the water its face looked straight at me. It was dark green and monstrous looking. I jumped back.
This is a true story.
isn't my story, but that of a friend whom I met in a wedding in Italy.
We regulary regale each other with travel tales, this one arrived in my
inbox on Christmas eve. I'll post a story of my own sometime soon. Nathan
one happened over 10 years ago, though still comes up in 'travel tales'...