National Treasure Hunt: Watershed New Talent Residency 2016
How might creative technologies be used to identify and preserve what remains treasured in England’s most unsearchable town?
In the 19th century Japan suffered a rapid decline in its cultural heritage due to westernisation and industrialisation. A crisis meeting was held by Japanese residents, and the first official ‘National Treasures’ in the world were born, primarily unique Japanese trades, buildings, artefacts and people selected for celebration and preservation.
Fast forward to 2016 and Scunthorpe - a place that was once unsearchable on the internet due to having an obscene word between letters S and H - is undergoing a similar threat to its cultural heritage. The steel industry in Scunthorpe is a key source of jobs in the area and home to generations of workers, but 900 residents have already lost their jobs at TATA steel due to the company changing hands. How might creative technologies be used to identify and preserve what remains treasured in England’s most unsearchable town?
For this residency, Tenaya proposed a National Treasure-Hunt: a search for characters, unique trades, iconic places and above all stories of identity in Britain’s steel towns - starting with Scunthorpe. She was particularly interested in creating an interactive, storytelling research tool / interview booth / device that could be used on field trips to Scunthorpe to learn more about the area and encourage interaction with locals in a playful and engaging way. The project has formed the beginnings of a treasure trail that people anywhere in the world can go on to learn more about fading industries in unique towns.