Unclaimed Creatures: fade into view - guest feature by Sara Naqvi

Anna Brownsted, a Cambridge based American artist brings her intriguing Unclaimed Creatures project to Cambridge for the first time as commissioned by the Romsey Art Festival. Unclaimed Creatures as described by the artist, “create site responsive live art installations and immersive encounters that consider the participant as a protagonist.”

The instillation in Cambridge is called Fade into view and can be experienced along the very multi-cultural Mill road with its dynamic range of passer-bys. Anna chose this road as the location because she thinks Mill road is a complex street in Cambridge in the sense that it doesn’t really feel like what Cambridge people assume to be. “If you are walking down mill road, you are not seeing the visually eloquent classic Cambridge at all like the colleges and the whole classic architectural environment. Mill road is gritty yet lively.”

The instillation requires the audience or the participant as Anna refers to them as they are usually required to be quite active, to go on to the website for Unclaimed Creatures and download a sound and narrative audio piece on to their smart phones and listen to it using headphones on various locations along Mill road. When asked if the use of smart phones makes the instillation a very exclusive experience as not every owns smart phones, Anna expressed that this exclusivity element was the one thing that bothered her about this piece but thankfully the company Microsoft who has given Anna technical assistance in setting up the instillation, have also been very generous in providing couple of smart phones to be checked out to participants. Otherwise the instillation is fully inclusive in the sense that you are not required to book slots that you would miss out if fully booked. Everyone can experience at any time and most importantly it is free to experience so it is not financially exclusive either.

Anna has always been hesitant about discussing her instillation pieces. They almost have a secretive feel to them. Similarly she doesn’t want to reveal too much about the ‘Fade into view’ piece, so that to avoid the participant forming preconceived notion about what they are going to experience. The experience is meant to be very intimate to the participant-it happens in their mind and imagination. “It is about you the participant being alone with yourself with this narrative in unexpected places. By unexpected places I don’t mean something fantastical , it just means places where you wouldn’t think to pause and have a moment”, explains Anna.

Anna points out a theory about reading and writing by the writer Umberto Eco where he believes the reader plays the most important role in making what a book or narrative is about. He refers to the book, the text as lazy and that it requires the activation by the reader. So the written work can only do so much, but it only comes alive when someone reads and adds whatever they are thinking about it and their imagination. They add a whole host of personal experience to whatever they are reading. “I think that is quite an attractive idea in considering my instillation because the work is the work but there is a lot of ambiguity to it as I am quite interested in what the reader or the participant brings to it.”

Unclaimed Creatures: Fade into view instillation has been running since August 14th and will be still on till the 24th of this month. The sound and narrative audio can be accessed by going on the website, www.unclaimedcreatures.org.

(c) Sara Naqvi 2014

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