Friday, 5 December 2008

The NAF forum

Last week I attended the Norfolk Arts Forum day in Norwich. A thoroughly enjoyable get together of many members of the local artistic community. The theme was 'Internet Technology, Digital Media and the Arts' and, giving us their take on the subject, we had the very able Taylor Nuttall of Folly and the charismatic Hannah Rudman of Rudman Consulting as guest speakers. Exciting times ahead as far as technology and the arts are concerned with much public money being expended on reaching new audiences via their computer screens. While I am very interested in this aspect of the arts I can't help feeling there's something wrong with putting so much emphasis on the means of delivery at the expense of the content. I was relieved when other delegates raised concerns along similar lines. Problems with the monitoring of content for suitability to general audiences and the difficulties faced by those wishing to opt out when digital content is displayed on huge screens in public spaces were mentioned. Also brought to our attention was the irrelevance of it all to a group which gathers in a room to sing acoustically. (This left me free to put in my own question about the electromagnetic 'fog' caused by mobile and wireless devices and its effect on bees and other animals. Blank faces all around. It's as if wireless technology, like aluminium pans and nuclear power, simply has to be a 'good thing'.)

I am no Luddite and the fact that you are reading this on your computer, along with the fact that my book is available on line as a download, hopefully assures you of this. However, and you can probably feel a plug for said book coming, there is something wonderful about meeting people face to face and engaging with them in some artistic pursuit.

I am privileged to play in Jurnets Bar every now and again. This bar is in the crypt of a house that dates back to the 12th century. There is a wonderful sense of place that no virtual environment can emulate. The long history of the rooms culminating in recent decades with its use as a venue for acoustic music augments the splendid, but 'working', architecture. It was built long before electricity or the internet and will probably outlast both. Dwindling oil and gas supplies will not force its closure. Power cut nor computer crash can bring your evening to an abrupt halt. Only the time-honoured 'Drink up now, PLEASE!'

And so, finally, to Adventures in Sound. This is a book that can make use of technology if you like. It can be read in electric light or use factory-made instruments. But it requires neither. The games and activities are not culturally specific and can work anywhere. OK, I admit the facilitator needs a working knowledge of the English language but beyond that… Download the taster and let me know what you think. I can guarantee some real and meaningful interaction with your fellows. And a lot of fun.

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