Fortnight is a two-week long exploration of what it means to ‘be here, now’. It is neither a game, nor a performance, but a theatrical intervention into people’s daily lives. Participants receive communications and attend secret events around their city, experiencing magical moments that are created for and by them. On signing up to Fortnight users are issued with an RFID tag in the form of a wearable brooch and are invited to touch the tag against embedded readers in locations around the city. These touchpoints then release web, sms or email content for the participants. The brooch also has the function of identifying participants to one another, allowing them to share the experience, compare notes and form new relationships across the city.
COOKING TIME: 1 and a 1/2 Years
Try to please everyone by making sure the work speaks for itself and is accessible. I don’t think we should dumb down or make it generic. For me, the desire to please my audience is a fundamental part of the very hard job of being an artist.
Apply for a Theatre Sandbox commission with the aim of creating an experience for participants that would unfold over the course of two weeks via the use of technologies that have infiltrated the everyday, such as GPS and RFID.
Run a three-day test of the project in Lancaster with the help of the Nuffield Theatre Lancaster, the Storey Creative Industries Centre and some willing test subjects.
Through the test start to develop some of the project specifics; on the first day deliver two letters at midnight to test subjects to start the experience. Ask participants to open one (a letter) but not the other (a USB stick with a password protected file).
Over the next three days, send a number of seemingly personalised emails, texts and phone messages specifying tasks, which culminate in deciphering the password and unlocking a hidden video and narrative.
Following this test, think about the importance of a narrative, the use of more complex technology and how to work around the theme ‘local’.
As part of the Sandbox commission, link with Bristol Old Vic for the commission and attend a two-day launch event at the Pervasive Media Studio for Sandbox participants. Here, discuss project thoughts and work through ideas and questions.
Think further about uncovering a performance that retains the extra-ordinary possibilities of theatrical experience whilst it ‘is positively and significantly related to the context which it interrupts’.
Realise the notion of ‘Sandbox’ games, a form of game environment in which you can roam freely and explore without purpose but which can also have side quests that, should you choose to do them, can allow you access to new and exciting levels. Apply this structure to Fortnight.
Meet with a number of pervasive media and tech-related specialists to run over project plans, specifically Tim Kindberg of Matter2Media, who can write code for the project in such a way that it can easily be adapted to different cities without new programming.
Specify technical needs and start to get things built. Enlist RFID expertise and equipment from Infolab.
Prepare for a three day test run by setting up websites, writing code, writing texts, building things, ordering ducks and making films. Following this test, regroup and revise plans according to user feedback and experiences.
Stage another, longer test focusing on the technological elements of the project such as Google Maps, QR codes, RFID tags, online video content, SMS, password protected URLs and of course, rubber ducks.
Again, use the feedback from this test to work through any problems and revise the project ready for a third, weeklong test which will expand on the existing areas of the experience and introduce new parts in preparation for a full fortnight.
Learn lessons from this final test, such as the need for torches on night time deliveries, that netbooks are unreliable and, if you invite participants to gather ‘unsupervised’ within spitting distance of a pub they will by their curious nature, want to communicate with you and possibly plot their own version of events.
Run a full scale, two-week experience as part of Mayfest in Bristol combined with large quantities of publicity, time and effort.
On the first day hand deliver a letter and a felt badge containing an RFID tag to participants at midnight. The following day begin the personalised SMS and email correspondence with participants which will last the duration of the fortnight experience.
Encourage their participation through set tasks, hidden interactive objects, tweets, online mapping with QR codes dotted around the city and ongoing “duckumentation”.
As well as staging meetings for participants throughout the two weeks, finish the experience with a party on the 17th floor of an unused office building in Bristol.
Showcase participants tweets, emails, texts and images from the experience.
Encourage participants to share their experiences and feedback with each other and the producers. Produce a book of the resulting collection
Start to roll out the project to other cities around the UK.
It’s been an amazing 2 weeks, I am so glad I signed up to Fortnight. It did feel odd today not to have a mission to complete; it’s funny how quickly you get used to something.
Fortnight has been utterly magical. I’ve loved the tasks (although some have made me cry) and the texts and emails have been a little touch of beauty in a world which can seem a bit much sometimes. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like.
I loved slowing down, looking at things through duck-y eyes, the encouragement to ponder on things which I would normally never think about. Really felt like a new part of my brain and my senses were coming to life!