Next month we (Hamilton, Southern & St Amand) will be taking part in a work by PROJECKT called ‘Field Broadcast’ for an exhibition at Wysing Arts Centre.

Field Broadcast is:

“A platform that enables artists to stream new work live from a remote location- a broadcast that is
literally from a field. All works, whether video, animation, performance, sculpture or live data will be
created in the field with no editing or post-production. Each broadcast will be viewed by a dispersed
international audience, at office desks, in cafes, on trains and at kitchen tables.
Field Broadcast explores the relationship between artist and landscape; the landscape is not the
subject, but operates as a platform and active agent in the production of new work. The live nature of
the broadcast is a crucial element of the project, linking the production and presentation of the work
in a single event. The artist takes a performative role within the production of the work, be it on or off
camera.  This opens up new possibilities in the relationship between production and viewing, in the
compressed time frame, the context and chance environmental conditions of where and when the event
happens and where it is viewed.  The live transmission offers a new opportunity to engage with
landscape, forging a direct link between the viewer’s location and the landscape from which the artist
broadcasts, the environment contributing to the event.”

This project really interested me because of the link between the live action and live broadcast. In a way this is a version of what comob does – as if the audience is with the artist in the field at that moment.

We have decided to broadcast from an air field, focussing on the moment when trainee pilots are learning to land and to take off – the ‘touch and go’.

I went to test the technology for doing the broadcast at the flying school at Leeds/Bradford International airport yesterday. The flying school suggested that the best place to do this would be from one of the ‘spotters’ locations. I might just have out geeked the spotters, as I sat on the ‘spotting’ bench with my laptop and wifi dongle, talking to Rebecca and Rob on my iphone, who could see me on screen through the live broadcast software as I swivelled the laptop around wildly to try to show them a cool plane that just took off.

The locations are interesting places in themselves. One is a cemetry (which I didn’t visit as the views would have been wrong today)

The first one I went to has an old stone bench which must have dated from the early days of the airport before it became the international and commercial hub that it is. It looks as if it could have been built in the 40’s perhaps.

The second is a sandy and potholed hill that looks like it is used by bikes as an off-road track. There were several cars there with people sitting in them looking towards the airport. Something felt seedy about the place. The quantities of litter blown against the perimeter fence of the airport, the backs of the hangars, the muddy puddles, the people sitting alone in their cars, the feeling of wasteland.

On a day when runway 32 is being used this is the better place to get a view of landing and taking off. One of the instructors had said that he would be flying circuits with a pupil and they should be in the air by 5pm. I waited until 5.25 and only saw bigger private and commercial planes. And although I saw some landings and take offs there were no circuits where the plane briefly touches down and then takes off again.

Its amazing how quietly planes move around at that distance. I kept being really surprised by planes coming in, or about to leave. And the point at which my vision no longer registers the plane as it disappears into the sky. And the video camera’s difficulty in focussing on a plane at a distance, especially if the sun is glinting off the hull.

The broadcast software all worked, I spent some time on the phone to Rebecca and Rob who were at Wysing doing their own tests and installation. There is a bell in the gallery that rings whenever a broadcast goes live, and my test was the first to make it ring!

The idea that the audience has an application on their desktop, but don’t know when there will be a broadcast works really well for this project. When an artist broadcasts their application springs to life and opens a video window. There are so many variables with flying light aircraft, it would be impossible to schedule it purposefully. For the broadcast I will have to call the flying school to check if the weather is right for flying that day, then check if they have any lessons booked in to do circuits (they say that nearly every day there is someone doing circuits) and what time they will be in the air. The wind direction will change which spotters location is best for filming because the runway is used in one of two directions so that flights take off into the wind.

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