Welcome to Studio Swan is an ongoing, interpersonal, speculative adventure - a proposition that asks what conditions would be appropriate for us to temporarily become with plant or animal? And why would this be something desirable or necessary to undertake? A form of meditation? An alternative to travel? Or to expand our horizons of comprehending what it could feel like to be more than human?
Answering these questions initially found form as characters for a play that performs as a landscape to think through the possibilities that entail living through another pair of eyes, feeling through another nervous system, an intensely sympathetic state perhaps?
Researching and writing the backstories of the characters, narrative drives, conflicts, plot points etc involves various methodologies, such as inviting others to meet and co-create characters over coffee. Using a character and their associated traits starting point, the conversation meanders across personal experiences, research and flights of imagination.
In the photo above is another methodology involving a group literally playing out the scene through improvisation methods. It took place at an artist-led residency I participated in, held on Jersey Island organised by LADA (Live Art Development Agency). Concepts and propositions of the story were explored by us each inhabiting a characters physically, emotionally and intellectually.
Shaping the scene whilst responding to ideas and questions posed by participants was challenging and exciting; it brought to life something I read about Karrabing Film Collectives’ methods, “Perhaps the central purpose is to discover what we never knew we knew by hearing what we say in moments of improvisation. We suddenly see what we have been saying—what we have been sensing”.
Welcome to Studio Swan also formed the structure of a writing workshop for studio artists at Spike Island in Bristol. The workshop was immersive, weaving ethnographic practice, some role play, improvisation, writing exercises, storytelling and speculative thinking to co-create characters living and working at Studio Swan.
Participants were introduced to the story and characters through an interactive story I built using the platform Twine: nataschananji.neocities.org/welcometostudioswan.html