Preparation for SNAP

The concept of snap arose from a series of coincidences. Initially, I suggested the location for the exhibition to be a community centre firstly because I thought these kinds of places (large halls used for dance schools, religious group meetings) would be cheap and spacious. I also made this suggestion because I had been imagining using this kind of space to film my work in, I thought a community centre environment would be completely ideal for the group exercises I was conducting. Renting out community centres turned out to be quite expensive (about 40£ and hour) which meant that we would definitely not have been able to afford a space for a day, or a couple of days for set-up. So this decided things for us - we would test out an in-and-out exhibition. Any of the work that was to be shown in the space would have to either be a performance, an activity, or would have to be able to be put up and taken down quickly. So all work had to be made or planned with this in mind. We wanted to put on an events evening which was interactive, durational, involved a series of happenings that were not necessarily linked, but became connected under this roof and within this time frame.

So SNAP for us was about efficiency, community and interactivity.

What I wanted to contribute to the exhibition was a large scale materialisation of the exercises I had been testing out in small groups - the experiments being used in a workshop setting with a large amount of people. My plan was to make the cards I had been using with the selection of small groups again, but so they appeared to be an actual, professional-looking game. I wanted to run an workshop which involved a number of groups using the word-image-notation cards as stimuli for scenarios, movement and role-play.

An important part of preparing for the workshop was re-creating the set of cards that I had been using for the group activities. The original cards I had made had become quite scruffy during use, they had been bent and smudged. And they weren’t very professional looking anyway, as they were all hand cut and hand drawn. I wanted to make the cards look professional to encourage usage - to make participants feel as though they were taking part in something official. For me, this was just one way of letting the participants know that I was taking this seriously - hoping that this would encourage them to take it seriously also. I recreated all the drawings and diagrams using illustrator, to lose that hand-drawn quality, and to enable me to experiment with the most suitable thicknesses of line, the most suitable sizes of the drawings. I also felt that I needed to reproduce the cards for practical purposes. Firstly, I wanted to make the cards larger for the workshop so that they could be easily viewed by a number of people at a time. I also wanted the cards to be laminated so that they could be handled, used again and again, passed and moved around without being damaged. Apart from this, I wanted the other characteristics of the cards to stay the same - the exact words, images, and notation, and the exact same three colours.

I was extremely satisfied with the outcome of the cards - they appeared as a more refined, more professional version of the last, one that could actually be taken seriously as a game. The images had been perfected but they still maintained my own personal vision and touch.

I encountered quite a lot of difficulty whilst preparing the sheet of instructions for the board game. I know this is because I had spent too long working with the same game, I was so familiar with it that I no longer had a clear idea of what exact instructions were required for the game to make sense. I therefore had to get multiple people to read the instructions that I thought were correct, so that they could tell me if there was anything I had missed out, or anything that could have been misinterpreted. I realised that everything I wrote had to be completely unambiguous, otherwise the game may not function as I would have liked it to, or it may not have functioned at all. As soon as I had become aware of the importance of my precision, I felt a lot of pressure to make the instructions perfect, which in turn made the process quite obsessive. In the end I had to completely stop myself from making any more changed, deciding that if there were any problems or mistakes, these would help me to learn for the next time I have to do this.

For my actual workshop, I didn’t just want to write a script for myself and then rehearse it - firstly because I felt that I was so familiar with the activity that I didn’t really need to, and secondly because I thought that a script may prevent me from solving problems naturally and fluidly as they occurred. I thought the use of a script might be detrimental, that unpredictable questions and comments would disrupt it, and that I wouldn’t be able to recover under the pressure. So instead, I wrote a vague one that I wouldn’t have to learn off by heart but would give me a general idea of what to say. I knew that a fully detailed script would not be necessary, but I also knew that I would have to memorise, or at least have present with me during the workshop, was all the points that did need to be said, details that were vital for the instructions.

As a group, we prepared for the exhibition within our weekly meetings. Each week we’d talk about what we were up to, what progress we had made with our work. So each week we gathered a better idea of what we would each be exhibiting, and resultantly also a better idea of how our works would be fitting together. This whole process happened very naturally, we organised this as we went along, we adjusted our own idea very slightly according to the ideas of others so that when it came to putting together a final time plan, this was quick and easy. I think part of the reason why this happened so easily is because we were all really accommodating - this was what the exhibition was about, a group effort, rather than finding the best way to exhibit our own work individually. I think that it was productive being able to critique each other with our concept for the exhibition in mind - it made discussion more concise and relevant. And if an idea wasn’t deemed appropriate, then this was only in terms of SNAP.