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One and All - a virtual coastal tour around Britain

11 Feb 2016

Posted by Tom Barker

One and All began life in the creative mind of Ben Wigley, borne of a desire to create a virtual coastal experience that is inspired by the sea and some of Britain's most beautiful coastlines. When colleagues at The National Trust expressed an interest to collaborate with him, he knew he’d found the right partner –  “I’d worked with Trust New Art / National Trust a number of times before, and I approached Tom Freshwater (Trust New Art) with an idea about making a creative response to the coast, he mentioned the 50 year anniversary of the Neptune project and I knew we had the opportunity to create something new and exciting.”

The project evolved to become One and All, a unique series of online artworks discovered on a virtual coastal tour around Britain - co-produced by Sound UKThe Swarm and Ben at artdocs. Take a look at the project at nationaltrust.org.uk/oneandall

After a development period, the team finally got started on the production in March 2014 - securing funding, confirming the artists involved, and firming up the details for what would be the first digital artwork of its kind commissioned by the National Trust and Sound UK.

Culminating in an exhibition online and at Somerset House in London, three leading artists - Martyn Ware, Owen Sheers & Tania Kovats - were commissioned to create works that explore our powerful relationship with the British coastline and the seas that surrounds us through art, poetry, film, and 3D sound.

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Online the viewer can explore the three main artworks individually, or 'Brave the Wilds' and take a virtual tour along the coast to experience them in context.  Martyn’s soundscape is comprised of stories captured from the public in a blue portable beach hut that toured the UK in the Summer of 2015. He has woven these memories into his digital composition, allowing the user to remix a jukebox of film clips, juxtaposing contemporary views of the locations with hand processed celluloid film created by Benjamin Wigley.

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In Tania Kovats piece, Tide, the visitor can see a live mapping of the high tide around the British Isles. The user can accelerate or pause the tide, discover harbours and headlands, and listen to the sound of waves slowed down to ‘Ztide time’ and the chatter of coastal radio.  Her lists of harbours and headlands bear witness to this constant ebb and flow, a snapshot of our centuries old need for fixed landmarks.

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Owen Sheers spent two weeks living close to Wurm’s Head and Paviland. By talking with those who live and work on this coast he delved into it's history, and the deeper time of archaeology and the rocks themselves, working with Ben to create a moving and cinematic poetry piece. The visitor must choose whether to turn left or right along the coast to experience the landscape in different ways.

Tom Freshwater from Trust New Art said of the collaboration: “The team wanted to offer a deeper appreciation of the coast and to go beyond the simple ‘day at the beach’ experience. Tania Kovats‘ work offers a meditation on the constant ebb and flow around our islands. Owen Sheers explores what it means to be conscious of the historic and deep time of Wurm’s Head and Paviland, including one of the earliest human burials in the country. Martyn Ware’s interests took him to where human industry and activity have left a mark in the landscape — and how this persists in memory.”

Artists need to reach people, and that means following audiences to the spaces where they spend their time. The interactive space online is used for gaming, for documenting, reporting and for entertainment - for moving people, inspiring them and for making them rethink. A natural extension of this is using the internet for art, and not purely as a new distribution platform, but as a canvas in itself. Simon Allen from the digital partner at The Swarm says – "The challenge is changing people's’ perceptions of where art should be viewed or experienced, and creating space online for artworks that take advantage of the unique properties of the browser as a way to connect with people emotionally."

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Delve into the One and All project here: Take a look at the project at nationaltrust.org.uk/oneandall

This post was written by Simon Allen, The Swarm

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Tom Barker
Posted by Tom Barker

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