Response by Naima Karlsson
Response by Nathania Hartley
Try to imagine what this response will be like. You probably don’t know the kind of thing yet, so we’ll set the scene first. The brief was part of our AltMFA series on The Future, and called for a creative response to any of our guest speakers. This one starts with artist Hamish MacPherson, who came to give an interactive talk and first asked us to imagine what that would be like too. He gave it the title, “It’s going to be called either ‘so where exactly did the future come from?’ or ‘I can see the future, so can you and here’s how.” His blurb offered a rounded picture – alluding to things like the layout of the space, the tone, people, images, cultural and popular references as well as predicting those unpredictable things that do often happen – stumbling, technical issues etc. It gave a sense of being human… giving things a go and not being too hung up on perfection. This response wants to include all of that too. So you can see that this writing is attempting to mirror his, but it’ll deviate a bit too.
The actual event took place on a Monday evening at Guest Projects. It was close to the end of the year so everyone was a bit exhausted, run down and cold, still the talk captured our attention and made us want to listen. Hamish wore a jumper that had the words ‘I might be wrong’ on it. That statement resonated. A positive declaration rather than the admission of a lack of confidence. Looking failure directly in the eye and allowing it, welcoming it. It’s how we learn. The only way we can, especially with things that we’re all still working out… the big things that nobody really knows but, whether we like it or not, everybody is having an impact on… THE FUTURE.
As well as the jumper, Hamish brought along a lot of preparation, care, understanding and thought.
There was an allowance for change and all were welcomed. It was an atmosphere that we easily plunged into.
Animals nodded their heads on the screen in that removed, fun, clickbait way. They were predicting death and earthquakes. A tarot reading gave the group mixed messages, though from what we could decipher, it was mostly filled with doom. And coins. Ominous lights flashed, then extinguished. We were taken into the dark, before being illuminated by the light… by deep impressions left by Hamish’s ideas… and by the technological advances of a mobile phone. Music pulsated throughout the room… we got up and created movements that we’d tried to forsee, moving ritualistically and repetitively in unison with its rhythms. Gradual change, events as processes, duration as an ongoing sense of being. Our perception of time rooted in the cultural idea of progress, and the language we use to describe it. There was much of note to note, but we won’t lay every detail out here. Try to imagine it all from these small gleanings.
As the sediments settled within us the desire came to respond. Naima had found something in connection with the Tarot, and wanted to try out a new reading of the cards. Nathania had found a little of that elusive inspiration, and wanted to try out a new artwork. They decided on multiple forms. For the present – the written word, and in the future… perhaps early in the new year, they could continue the response as a live event.
Try to imagine what this event will be like. At the moment it only exists in the mind. First we have to find a suitable venue. Maybe it will be Guest Projects, but maybe the space won’t be available. Well for now imagine a big room, that you can fit lots of people into and do lots of different things in. Naima will perform her Tarot reading. Nathania will attempt her art piece – an immersive installation of sound (plus maybe some light) which is a big experiment and may or may not work. The idea springs from what was said about people having the ability to predict the next beat of a song and getting a sense of satisfaction in anticipating what will come next. For this piece beats will come and go and the volume will fluctuate. You’ll think you know what sound will be next, but it won’t be that. It will be something else. It’ll probably use bits of songs that lots of us are familiar with. But it might not. There’ll be research and discovery over the next month or so, and it might turn out to be something else entirely.
In addition to all of this, there could also be some small actions and collaborative things, perhaps in reference to the rituals that we all undertake. Maybe a tea ceremony, and some other things that we haven’t thought of yet. It’ll probably end up being part of the launch party to celebrate our a-n series. So there’ll also be publications of everyone’s responses and food, drink and merriment. There could be exhibited works and other live elements in response to the rest of the series. There could be music and laughter. Lots of AltMFA members will be there, faithful friends they’ve roped in to help and support and hopefully our guest speakers from the year, people from a-n, from the venues that have supported us, interested members of the public, and you. There’ll be a stressful period beforehand where we’re all pulling everything together at the last minute, unsure of whether we’ll secure a venue, get everything ready on time, or if anyone will show up.
It’s probably a bit too ambitious and might not end up existing exactly as we envisioned, only realised as a faint picture in your imaginings. Still, there most likely will be an attempt in actuality – even if ramshackle and full of stumblings and technical issues. We can only learn by trying – working things out together, failing together and, to reference a fragment from Hamish’s talk, exploring an idea rather than sticking to an ideal. Embracing all of this – the dysfunctional family spirit that is AltMFA.
‘So where exactly did the future come from?’
4 December 2017
Guest Projects, Shonibare Studios