Kelly Jones and Linda Sandvik are one of two teams we are supporting through the 2015 Writing Platform Bursary Programme, in association with Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Writer, Kelly, and technologist, Linda, applied to the programme as individuals and were paired by the selection panel because of their shared interests, complementary skill and their openness to collaborating with someone they had never met.
Kelly’s and Linda’s project is inspired by Kelly’s parents meeting on illegal CB Radio and uses physical computing to explore the ideas of connection and intimacy, ephemerality and permanence. This is the first in a series of diary posts by Kelly and Linda documenting the evolution of their project and their collaboration.
After a rainy journey up (or across) from Cardiff myself and Linda met today for the second time since finding out that we were awarded the Writing Platform Bursary. Our initial meeting happened at Warren Street station, with both myself and Linda awkwardly eyeing each other thinking, ‘Is that the writer? – Is that the technologist?’ Thankfully, she was the technologist and I, her writer. Quite quickly it became apparent why we were paired to work together. With a shared interest in immersive theatre games and a love of tea, we began brainstorming ideas and exploring a way of pairing narrative with an interactive technological experience.
Today we’d arranged to meet by a statue outside a London train station, that’s coincidentally surrounded by statues, a clever idea , like saying – I’ll meet you over by that bit of water to a goldfish. Obviously if that Goldfish isn’t in a bowl of water at the time he needs to meet the meet-ee, their ‘meeting’ would be much easier than mine and Linda’s was. Eventually finding each other we spent the day in The British Library, sharing our developments with the project and trying to log onto the Wi-Fi.
When I applied for the Writing Platform the idea that I included on my application was for a project called ‘1.4 for copy’. ‘1.4 for copy’ is a play about how my parents met on an illegal CB radio in Dagenham in 1980. After a period of research and development it transformed into a piece no longer just based on how my parents met, but about connection. Specifically, how in 2015 it’s much easier to be connected, but we rarely do, our heads always down, looking at a screen. The other most interesting part of the project for me is the science, radio waves infinitely travelling through space, the signal eventually fades but when you think about it those stories of the past, especially on CB, are floating right above our heads. Very romantic. These are the things that Linda and I are looking at with our project. Can we make the audience connect and leave a lasting, yet fading impression of those connections they’ve made?
At the moment we are trying to find someone to build us two booths or sheds to test the idea that we have. The idea, yet vague, is something we are both very excited about. We would like to pitch up a CB booth in two different locations, probably Cardiff and Hackney, to test. After an introduction to the world of CB through the stories I am writing the player is moved onto the booth. They are given a CB license number, CB dictionary and instructions, after logging on (through the power of WI-FI) they connect to the person who is in the other booth. They won’t be able to see each other, just hear their voice, and at the end of their conversation they will be given a task to do that will get pinned to the other players CB license number, building up a library, a constellation of connection. We further need to explore the role of the voyeur and text/script within this project and how as a writer I can satisfy the requirements to not just have a great tech/theatre project, but that also has narrative and words. More on this in the next post.
We are also supporting Victoria Bennett and Adam Clarke the bursary programme. Their project uses Minecraft to immerse the player in the experience of a poem and expand the idea of what literature and video games can be. You can watch their first video diary here.
Kelly Jones is Winner of the Wales Drama Award 2014. Originally from the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, she has been living and working in Wales since 2007. Her plays are rooted in real human stories and often take inspiration from personal experiences, her upbringing in Dagenham and rooting in Wales.
Linda Sandvik is a creative technologist and Knight-Mozilla fellow 2015. She likes making things with code and electronics, and is interested in civic tech, serious games and loves a good story.