Jack from the TinderBox Collective - who are our project partners on Zoom Obscura - writes about his experience as well as the upcoming Works in Progress event they are hosting as part of their PlayAway festival...
Being involved with the Zoom Obscura project has been such an inspiring experience for us and the Tinderbox Collective. We have followed 7 brilliant artists as they have developed an array of creative projects that completely shake up your expectations about Zoom and how you interact with it. This is something we have played around with a lot at Tinderbox over the past year, mainly through live music and finding creative ways to run youth clubs and educational projects, but Zoom Obscura has opened our eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. The second workshop where all the artists presented the projects they had been working on made Zoom feel the most like a ‘theatre’ or performance space that I have felt out of anything I’ve seen before – I started to feel like I didn’t know what was real (or virtually real!) anymore and was mesmerised. From a piece exploring movement and touch through hypnotic audio instructions, to silent written poetry appearing across zoom screens, to technical interventions that fool you into not knowing what’s real, to hilarious emoji face tracking ideas, to AI generated doppelgängers and other interactive surprises – the experience has showed me just how many creative possibilities there are in Zoom and sparked loads of new ideas!
Being routed within a research project exploring issues around data and ethics in video-conferencing, the project has also led to a number of conversations and focus groups that we have had with staff and young people that we work with about people’s general awareness and understanding of data and privacy issues. We have made some changes to the technology platforms that we use to communicate as a result and are more actively looking for practical ways to embed these ideas in our work.
We are delighted to host an event showcasing the Zoom Obscura Works in Progress at the Tinderbox PlayAway festival. It couldn’t be a better fit with the overall theme of exploring how playful, creative technology can intersect with other artforms and sectors, and I think it will be really interesting for artists of all disciplines and especially those who have been working online with video-conferencing during the pandemic. It has definitely opened my eyes to new possibilities and creative ways to play with Zoom, so come and see/experience it for yourself!
A big thanks to Zoom Obscura for putting this project together, and to all the artists involved for their hugely inspiring work and ideas!