Posted on Tue 31 Oct 2017

Introducing our Artist in Residence duos...

Continent-spanning love songs and making sound from the city’s light: these are the brilliant musical ideas from our latest Artists in Residence.

Image of Q-02, Brussels, by Vicky Clarke

Image credit: Vicky Clarke, Q-02, Brussels

Continent-spanning love songs and making sound from the city’s light: these are the brilliant musical ideas from our latest Artists in Residence, two duos who will explore the points where art and technology meet to play a different kind of border-crossing tune.

First, say hello to Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse, known collectively as Action Hero (the Guardian have called the pair a “maverick company” for their super engaging work). Bristol-based, Action Hero have a long history of creating art form-spanning performances and have a particular interest in all things pop culture.

Next year, Action Hero are moving out of their home in Bristol and into a motorhome. Weaving through Europe, they will invite people from every corner of the continent to sing a love song to add an ever-growing archive, in a project called Oh Europa.

Action Hero will collect songs, sample them, and find new places for them to be heard. But how this diverse playlist will be broadcast across the continent and how people will find it, are still questions. With Watershed’s help, they’ll explore possible answers and craft a remarkable artwork that will (hopefully) live on after their trip.

Gemma and James say:

“What will the people of Europe have to say and sing? How will they relate to each other and what connections will we all share? Oh Europa addresses the wider political themes of Europe but framed in a way that avoids dry conversations, monologues or debates about Brexit and election results. We want to hear what people feel from the heart. This will be Europe’s songbook – and we can’t wait to fill it with stories…”

The second residency has been awarded to Manchester-based sound artists David Birchall and Vicky Clarke, otherwise known as Noise Orchestra. Their Noise Machines are DIY electronic instruments that translate light into noise. Watershed will help them create SWARM, a guided sound walk that will use the Noise Machines to create a city symphony like no other. SWARM will be tested in Bristol and is set to premiere in Rome, Italy early next year...

Vicky and David say:

“Our Noise Machines have enchanted people of all ages, and we’ve really enjoyed seeing what people do to turn light into sound. This residency will help us build upon our previous work to create a spectacular experience that connects audiences to the city in unexpected ways…”

Victoria Tillotson, Watershed Producer, said:

“We are so excited to support Action Hero and Noise Orchestra to develop these incredible projects. With the current flux in the UK’s relationship with Europe, both SWARM and Oh Europa – projects that will cross borders to celebrate people and place – feel particularly timely. We’re extremely happy to help them build upon their previous work, open up to questions and challenges, and craft technology and a great experience for audiences – local and international!”

Both residencies will run from October 2017 until February 2018, and the artists will openly share their progress via blogs and talks in the Pervasive Media Studio. Your first chance to hear (literally!) more will be at a Lunchtime Talk on Fri 8 Dec – come and learn about their ideas and inspirations!