United Kingdom 2011
MeYouandUs is a series of three artworks that encourage passers-by to interact with them, allowing each participant to create their own narrative. Each installation requires different levels of involvement, from an instant reaction to a gradual response. All three allow the people who happen upon them to express themselves and perform in original ways.
The artworks can be configured for different locations and circumstances, but were originally conceived as a digital triptych to be shown in public spaces. Aspects are currently being shown on BBC Big Screens in city centres in the United Kingdom. MeYouandUs has also been displayed in traditional gallery spaces.
Each artwork consists of a large plasma screen, a video camera and a personal computer. The video camera records and creates a virtual reflection of the spectators in the plasma screen. This reflection is then digitally manipulated in real time using custom software created for each of the following three themes.
For ‘Robots and Avatars – UK selection’ we present mirror 1: Real-time video is manipulated to create a three second buffer that is played and reversed at variable speed. The visible result is an exaggeration and repetition of the viewers’ original movements. An instant and spontaneous relationship is created as the viewer gains a third person perspective of themselves in almost real time. This version has been seen internationally, on BBC Big screens and a variety of public and gallery exhibitions.
Alastair Eilbeck and James Bailey
James and Alastair started an arts practice in early 2008 after working extensively in the creative industries, exploring professional and personal interests, both together and apart. Their practice focuses heavily on intervention in public spaces to produce artwork that has an open framework making participation integral to its success. The artists’ roles are to develop mechanisms, which allow the participants to produce ‘the work’.
They realised their first landmark project, handprint, in December 2008, a public installation which engaged the thousands of people who pass through Manchester’s, Piccadilly Gardens. Projecting volunteers’ handprints onto the side of the 105m tall City Tower. A major reworking of handprint will form part of the Northwest Cultural Olympiad in 2012 as part of the WE PLAY programme of events. A record of the first installation can be seen at www.handprint.org.uk.
Their next major self-initiated project, Trinity entered development in late 2009 as an installation for Manchester’s main railway station which 85,000 people use every day. This project remains under wraps, but will be realised in a three week residency in 2012.
Working from the north west of England, the artists are also responsible for two permanent, interactive commissions for a new build National Health Service, Neighbourhood Health Centre in Liverpool. Wishing Well is operational in an outdoor courtyard and 26:14:17 interrupts the tension of a waiting room. Both works combine a physical artefact with an online community component that allows the pieces to grow and change over time, drawing content from the people that encounter them. As a focal point for the community, potential users have been put at the heart of each work.
A further major commission, Lowry to Life is scheduled for late 2011. An ambitious telematic project, the outdoor intervention uses human skeleton mapping to connect people between two versions of L.S Lowry’s painting of Piccadilly Gardens. One will operate in the original setting in central Manchester and the other at MediaCity UK.
They have and continue to work with BBC Big Screens and have taken up residencies and exhibitions at both Hub in Manchester and FACT in Liverpool.
www.meyouandus.co.uk (selection of videos)