What did you love most about working in FACTLab?
The lab magnetised interested people to come in, input, question and interrogate what we were doing. The enthusiasm to input on the project was genuinely enriching to the development of our participatory spoken word installation.
How did being based here in the building influence the development of the work?
FACTLab facilitated a flow of visitors interested in being recorded, sharing work in the evenings and exchanging tools and know-how with others as we built components. When our project, installed outside on Ropewalks Square hit difficulties and was vandalised, the FACTLab team and FACT staff were simply incredible in their support. It was a phase of work in which we met a very gritty side of public participation and had to reimagine our project to embrace the tendency towards destruction, as well as creation, in the public sphere.
How did that work; did you have to make very big changes?
The lab gave us room to redesign the interaction and to integrate the destruction into the narrative of our project. It also gave us a space to debate and clarify our values around technology and ecology: interactions with the project's participants, and with Mark Wright and Radamés Ajna helped refine our politics and lay the foundation for a shift in direction.
We had no idea at the beginning of the project that the piece would become so performative, with late night sigils cast outside the gallery and a ritual for the mangled bird sculpture in the square. News of the bird's destruction had an emotional reach that we could not have designed, and prompted an offer to fund a permanent installation for Bold Street.
And what has the outcome of the project (changes and all) been?
Slowly, as this project was inspired originally to raise money for the Nepal earthquake appeal, I'm following leads to public participatory projects in Nepal. It is not clear how the project will grow - I hope it does - but it is clear that the bird's rupture has shifted our trajectory in a mysterious way.
The time at the Lab was vital, difficult and ultimately illuminating to our working practices and our aims to create open networks that experiment with new ways of being together and listening to each other. It was a time of creation, loss, reflection and reassessing our assumptions as artists. To have spaces to meet difficulties and transform through breakage and failed attempts to find stronger solutions is simply essential to creative work. We are immensely grateful to have been given this space at FACT to discover, to break and to transform.
Byzantium was one of the artworks created as part of the Libidinal Circuits: Scenes of Urban Innovation pop-up exhibition, at FACT 8 - 10 July this year. FACTLab and its' events are supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union and Connecting Cities