Phoenix Gallery Leicester 2014. University of Milan 2015.

16 Films: Interactive Technologies, Audio, Sculptural Installation.

‘Four women, aged 40, powerful and vivid, passionate and connective. What do their stories reveal?'

 'I am deeply touched…you have given me the confidence to share some of my own writing’

 'I am deeply touched…you have given me the confidence to share some of my own writing’

The piece portrayed the memories, reflections and dreams, of four female participants at the pivotal  midlife transition of the forties.

In the 'live', the artwork re-staged participant stories to positive affect, through an engagement with twelve co-authored short films , screened on four doors, situated at a distance  to four co-responding tables. On each table, personal ‘objects’ were placed, perhaps an old key, a dry starfish, a displaced teacup, or a pair of child’s red shoes.As audiences entered the space, four could choose to sit as ‘explorers’, embodying the intimate space of a participant’s own chair, illuminated by a single lamp, enclosed within an auditory world of a personal headset. Others stood, ‘watchers’ , their bodies casting shadows into the surrounding darkness and silence. The objects on the explorer’s tables invited tactile exploration.  When an object was moved, tilted or rattled, a corresponding film came ‘alive’ and a voice was heard within the headsets. The piece functioned to draw the audience into momentarily ‘touching’ the participant’s life, whilst simultaneously offering a physical and conceptual space for self-reflection. My research set out to investigate how the power of re-staging individual stories, through immersive and performative technologies, could generate new qualities of reflective space[ . Enabling individual and collective conversation, contemplation and connection.

My working methodologies drew on social, technological and artistic approaches from human computer interaction, social science and performance studies. Specifically methods of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009), and Mark Granovetter’s seminal concept, ‘The Strength of Weak Ties’ (1973), were extended through attentive listening and video editing approaches. This unique practitioner framework, (Candy and Edmonds, 2011, p.190) was a transformative and iterative dialogue that moved between participants, the audience, artwork and myself. Generative findings were then distilled from this in-vivo experimentation. All components, to include MAX MSP software, Arduino hardware and the physicality of cables and wires, acted as networked co-creators within an environment that crossed virtual, conceptual and physical spaces.

The qualitative outcomes, gained through an analysis of participant’s and audience responses, revealed that the immersive quality of the experience was both restorative and transformative to people’s lives. Of intrigue was the relatively long duration of time audience members stayed within this digital artwork, between 40-60 minutes. As an early career researcher, this piece has attracted fulltime funding for my PhD in ‘Digital Performance and the feminine: transformative encounters’. I am now further developing my findings by inviting other adult ‘groupings’ into participatory interactivity. By encouraging the narration and performance of individual lived-experience through interdisciplinary methods, I wish to create new forms of artistic agency that can transcend boundaries and enrich communities. It is anticipated that my findings will contribute to initiatives such as the SWAN charter, Audience Engagement Council, NEF and UK Well Being Agenda an add to the emergent field of transdisciplinary research.

‘I was living in their and Alice's world during that time of engagement and yet it couldn't have been more simultaneously my own journey.’

'The delicacy with which the objects and the space was constructed, gave me room to breathe and take the stories in, but equally having a multiplicity of actions to undertake (holding the objects, listening, watching, feeling) gave me a very rich and intimate experience. The proximity of the space and the placing of objects, in front of the screens set-up an interesting framework.’

 ‘I felt surrounded by the work, cocooned, as it were.’

‘you have exceeded what you set out to achieve in ways you can’t imagine’,  

'I was profoundly moved by the work, not least because I recognise myself (a woman nearly 40 with children) in all of the other women, but more specifically because I am touched by humanity and reminded, in a sensitive way, about what it means to 'be'. 

PDF Download of: Tuppen-Corps, A (2016), ‘Point. Forty’ dialogic artwork. An exploration of the personal (and collective) impact of augmented storytelling', in Stories that make a difference Exploring the collective, social and political potential of narratives in adult education research Edited by Laura Formenti & Linden West, 2016 © Pensa MultiMedia Editore, Italy.