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my experience of “E-merge”

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As decided in my last post, I did go to the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art in London) on the 12.03.09 to try E-merge by Jackie Calderwood.

As I went to the reception of the ICA I was given a HP pocket PC with headphones and I was told to follow the indications that were on the screen. Effectively what I had to do was to go to the nearby St James park and choose a music track from the options given to me by the pocket PC. Once chosen my music I could browse for one hour while my movements were tracked by a GPS system. From what I understand some video clips, done by the author, where linked to specific locations in the park and by walking through those locations I was “collecting” them. ObviouslyI was not aware of what I was collecting.

At any point I could stop and check the videos that I had collected on my pocket PC – and view them as a movie that would have my selected music as a soundtrack.

I choose to walk for 40 minutes without checking the videos and I recorded on video my own experience while I was walking in the park.

By clicking e-merge you can view here the video of my very own experience.

I am not sure I can call e-merge an interactive documentary… what is it documenting? A walk in the park? Not really actually as one just enhance the experience with music and gets the “bonus” of viewing a movie by the end of it.

But the problem for me is that the movie was done by the artist, Jane Harrowood, and that I could not link with the movie I “collected” on my pocket PC. In a way while I was walking in the park I was not interested in the movie – but just concentrating on the music and my own perception of the park – and then once I stopped walking and looked at the video clips I was not interested anymore on the walk itself – and I was just curious about the movie.

Somehow the two experiences did not jell for me, and I cannot say that I got anything from it…

When I came back to the ICA and gave my kit back to the artist I had a brief chat with her. I did ask her about the feed-back that other people gave her and she said that she had all sort of feed-back. Some people thought her videos enhanced their experience of walking, some others saw them as their own memories, and others found it playful.

I obviously do not fit in any of those categories… I thought it was an interesting use of technology but without a clear purpose, or a clear proposition.

I am also told that my very own version of Jackie’s videos is published on a website alongside all the videos of the other participators. I cannot imagine anything less interesting than to go and watch videos that people did not do (they just “collected” them without selecting them) about an experience that was not theirs…

But there again, maybe I am missing the point…

You will find some more positive feed-back on the E-merge blog page.

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 16th, 2009


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