You, Me, and Everyone in Portsmouth – 2013

Outdoor Events

Shown: 25th & 26th October 2013, Portsmouth Guildhall

This Arts Council Funded project provided an opportunity to work in a large scale community based project. To date it is the largest crowd-sourced writing project in the UK. Produced by the ReAuthoring Project (Greg Klerkx and Samantha Holdsworth), it featured over a thousand people sharing their stories from the city. From that pool of stories four writers, Sam Cox, Amber Dodd, Annie Kirkby-Singh  and Lucy Flannery wrote poems, flash fiction, plays and short stories with the intention of projecting them for two nights on the 60m wide Portsmouth Guildhall building.


My role was as the digital artist, taking the stories and arranging them for the general public to see. Portsmouth Guildhall is a grand and complicated building, full of columns, windows and carved details. The challenge for me was to make a captivating artwork that also allowed people to be able to read and engage with the stories. This is probably the first projection of its kind, with approximately 8,000 words of text needing to be displayed. A usual solution to outdoor projections is to make a video film of animation, e.g. a 10 minute piece, my general approach to outdoor projection is with real-time computer graphics. I created a piece of software that would enable me to call in the stories, scroll them and mix them with visual elements throughout the night. This meant that the performance could be infinite, never exactly repeating as stories were called in semi-randomly, and juxtaposed with single word and sentence quotes from the participants.

The concept for the projection was a ‘storybox’ – a cross between a jukebox and a 1940’s radio, that chooses stories to tell.

Technically, the building presented a lot of difficulties and uncertainties as do most projection mapping project. We blacked out the windows and I created specific distorting aspect of the software to combine the four 20,000 lumens projectors that we used (technical services by Enlightened Lighting) to fit the building. I controlled all of the elements live, by mixing them through a midi controller, this enabled me to create a pace and dynamism to the piece, supported by ambient sounds of the sea, and Portsmouth streets.

This project was a big team effort and very ambitious in scope.