Impossible talk to Lana Elway

25 October, 2013

Impossible Projects produce a wide range of projects combining participatory events, new technologies and installation to involve and intrigue people from many different backgrounds. Working at the forefront of the interface between participatory and digital arts they mix the technological with the lyrical.

Impossible Projects are Chris Squire and Charlott Diefenthal who are based near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, both believe that the arts can represent familiar aspects of people’s lives in new ways, and that they do not need to be just for the elite. Their projects offer fresh perspectives in events that range from large scale visual poetry, to intriguing involvement through a creative conjunction of context-aware new practice and active participation.

Lana Elway, one of our Festival Reporters, interviewed Impossible during Frequency Out of Hours.

Can you tell me a little bit about Lightweight?

It’s a 3D projection globe, 360 degrees images spinning around a magical sphere, kind of like an orb which sits in this glade of the city. We have a number of different things showing on it, so there are bits of video and animation, other effects and sound.

How did you choose the images and animations seen?

Well, that came about because we came up originally with the globe as a thing in its own right and it existed by itself just as a piece and it’s a fantastic mesmeric looking piece of work I think, very simple and elegant. A platonic solid apparently! But we wanted something a little more participatory, so we added in the camera and the camera is a face recognition algorithm and wireless technology streams images across from people sitting having their photo taken. And we started looking at ‘winged flock,’ a flock of people’s faces with wings spouting out from their ears and they’re fluttering around and with different video backgrounds such as rippling water, it’s a lovely thing.

We were looking for other things we could do and one of the other things I suppose that really interested me was the whole era of very early cinematography and how still images became animated. You will notice the camera looks like an old movie camera and we take five images of your face but then we animate those together to make a very quick, simple, rough and ready animation of your features, moving between these different states.

The other thing that occurred to us was this idea of images spinning around the globe, so from that idea we started playing around with things and with the characters we could map people’s faces on to these different animation backgrounds. Then we tried different characters and actually in different contexts and sometimes an event has a theme. It seemed an interesting way as you get to see yourself in a completely different way of being. It’s the transformation we were interested in and how you can re-imagine yourself. It goes from a very private thing as you as a person and it becomes a very pubic thing which is shared with everybody, which is another transformation going on there.

Why did you choose Frequency as a platform to show your work?

It’s a great festival and it’s a great city to show work in so we were really interested to bring the piece here and work with the theme and with the people here to present something. We’re based in Huddersfield in Yorkshire so we’re not a million miles away.

How do you feel about the reaction so far from the general public?

You often get this affect that people come and stop by and end up spending quite a bit of time because it has this magical quality, a little bit like the snow shakers you can buy. There’s something about childhood and also transports you to this other kind of reality. It’s great and we’ve had a really nice reception so we’re just hoping more people come along to see it.

People have to look out for us a little bit as we are tucked in this little corner but if you are interested in photography or installation art or the participatory angle then come down. Our work really lies between digital and participatory work so we’re really interested in the collision between how you can make participatory work that involves the digital world and makes digital technologies not too remote.  I like the feel of this, as it doesn’t feel too digital to me. Another thing with the city in itself is it’s got a strong historical character to it and so it links in with that as it relates back in time through the early cinematography and fairytale ideas

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