Picnic on the Screen represents a further practice-based telematics research project situated in the interactive media arts discourse. This specifically concerns current issues around the artistic use of large format public video screens through the urban screens discourse led by Scott McQuire and Mirjam Struppek et al, with its practical origins in public satellite artworks and performances by Nam June Paik, and Kit Galloway & Sherrie Rabinowitz with Hole-in-Space from 1980, which is further discussed by media archaeologist UCLA Professor Erkki Huhtamo.
Picnic on the screen was commissioned through the Arts Council England Cultural Olympiad programme, with the imperative intent to establish creative and sustainable use of urban video screens as a legacy of its investment and infrastructure beyond 2012. By reflecting strongly on the playful public intervention of Galloway and Rabinowitz’s Hole-in-Space, Picnic on the screen directly responds to the particular public encounter at festival events. This unique project combined my own established telematic arts practice and concept of telepresence with an interactive augmented-reality interface developed specifically for the installation, providing the telepresent participants with the ability to discover and control animation sequences developed by Charlotte Gould on screen in front of them.
This collaborative partnership resulted in an interactive ludic interface that was first developed for the BBC ‘Village Screen’ (public urban video screen) at the Glastonbury Festival in 2009. This work explored the creative potential of the Glastonbury audience as performers that have the capacity to create improvised narrative sequence through urban screens as a communications portal. Through the augmentation of the virtual and the real, users can explore alternative telepresent spaces and develop unique playful narrative events. Picnic on the Screen explored social play and the way fun and enjoyment interact with and enhance new media content and technologies, as a means of reclaiming the urban landscape through public screens.
Following its success at the Glastonbury Festival 2009, Picnic on the Screen was invited to link public audiences between the Bluecoat Gallery Liverpool and the University of Shanghai, for the first time via a telematic videoconference connection, as part of Liverpool Biennial 2010. Between the Lowry Salford and the University of Nottingham Ningbo China for the Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts Conference in September 2011, and for the official opening of MediaCityUK Salford in November 2011.
Glastonbury Project Web Site: http://www.paulsermon.org/picnic
Bluecoat Liverpool Project Web Site: http://www.paulsermon.org/urbanpicnic
Shanghai Project Web Site: http://www.paulsermon.org/shangpool