How will arts, culture and creativity shape a better future for Coventry?

A blog about Art for the People, a Talking Birds project, originally written for Coventry 2021.

We’re hugely excited to be developing Art for the People with the support of Coventry 2021. This is a project that has been a very long time in the gestation – and for a while we didn’t know whether we would be able to convince people to invest and make it happen – because it doesn’t really take the shape of a traditional art project.

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Taking over the world, one canal trip at a time

Jazz Moreton and Alan Van Wijgerden reflect on their Green Futures supported Nest Residency for Random String

Alan Van Wijgerden and I embarked upon our Nest Residency in partnership with LudicRooms with ambitions to make better work than we have seen shown in the city.

Quickly learning that a relatively small grant couldn’t buy us the time required to take over the world, we focussed instead on experimentation with Ludic Rooms’ 360 degree camera. Due to the fact that our residency considered the Coventry Canal’s ecosphere in relation to the concrete and cars of the city, we intrepidly created opportunities to explore the canal and its environs on foot and on water, through the dual lenses of the above camera. Taking aural readings of the surrounding habitat’s soundscape, we created a plethora of footage, from seagulls that have flown all this way inland to feast on thrown-away takeaways and general detritus to a narrowboater and his squeezebox.

Our palatial studio in Talking Birds’ Nest was the scene of much heated discussion. Alan spent much time being told to “shush” by Jazz and retreating to the “naughty chair” (which was very comfortable). We thought that we had wasted the first week, after which we refocussed with an introduction to the 360 degree camera, but thankfully, Astrid Gilberto on Alan’s old HiFi- recovered from the corner of his garage- was very soothing and enabled us to rekindle our friendship and productivity.

Alan cheekily blagged our way onto the RV Scribendi for a boat trip all the way from the basin to bridge 4 in Foleshill: an hour’s cruise. We then walked back to the Canal Basin in all of ten minutes, thus proving Jazz’s experience of having lived and cruised on canals for almost twenty years as being extremely slow.

In another cheeky move, Alan shamelessly hailed the great Alan Dyer, who graciously allowed us into the historic Canal Basin warehouse in order to take photographs and record more 360 degree footage. These experiences were seminal in our bid for auteur cinematic status and we were extremely grateful for everyone’s help. Someone that we are particularly grateful to is the redoubtable Philippa Cross, who supported us in each one of our hours of need. Our biggest issue within the residency was the fact that we were using hardware designed for Mac users.

Both being Windows PC users, we feel- after the experience of transferring data from a Mac to Jazz’s trusty PC laptop- that apples should only be used in strudels, and possibly pies. Talking of pies, Alan came close to cooking seagull pie because Jazz forced him to go on numerous trips to try to record inner-city seagulls. The final successful recording is so deeply engraved in Alan’s memory that he knows for certain that it’s track fifty on his trusty recorder.

Like Donald Trump (and this is the only way that we are remotely comparable), we failed in our planned takeover of the world (also known as a finished production) but we are planning to use the material that resulted from the residency in a further application, after Alan has recovered from Jazz dragging him out of retirement to work on an Art project of momentous ambition.

In moments of contemplation, the view from our window of the futuristic canal crossing inspired us to greater experimentation, which we are going to use as part of an Arts Council or BFI funding bid.

Seriously though, we greatly enjoyed the residency and the opportunities and inspiration that it offered us.

Jazz Moreton, August 2021