SOUNDS LIKE GRAFFITI Matti Pohjonen & Shabina Aslam
Since February, 2010, a group of international artists from the UK, Finland and India have been working together with young people in Bradford, UK, to create short sounds plays that audiences can listen to via their mobile phones in one of the city's most historic landmarks. This cross-media project - Sounds Like Graffiti - uses a diverse range of methods from participatory theatre, digital art, rap and electronic music to produce a series of short audio plays that reflect the lives of the youth in the city notorious for its crime, poverty and ethnic tension. The final result, a 30-minute story, helps young people of Bradford's most deprived communities express themselves through creative writing, audio production, mobile telephony and audiovisual forms as well celebrate a new generation of young artists emerging from Bradford.
Sounds Like Graffiti culminated in a weekend-long locative media exhibition in one of the oldest landmarks in the city, Lister Park, where members of the public could walk through the park and tune into these short episodes using their mobile phones (as well as through an online multimedia exhibition). The story follows the adventures of a young girl sent out to find her wayward brother. On her quest, she walks through the park and gets lost. The journey takes her through a series of fantastical adventures mixing the story of Odysseus with elements of the tough life young people face in Bradford today. The public walking through the park is therefore able to move closely together with the story through the different physical landmarks of the park while listening to these adventures played out either via their mobile phones of with the help of volunteer tour guides armed with mp3 players.
By combining the possibilities provided with new digital technology with more classical story telling, Sounds Like Graffiti therefore aims to shatter many of the negative stereotypes burdening young today people in places like Bradford by guerilla broadcasting new narratives and forms of interaction in public space. Following Bradford, we hope to now take Sounds Like Graffiti to new locations across the world where such innovative ways of mixing story telling and digital media can potentially help disadvantaged communities. We have tentatively agreed to take our next iteration of the project - Sounds Like Graffiti 2.0 - to east London, Brick Lane, where we hope to explore the spatially and culturally mixed lives of young Bangladeshi immigrants. This will hopefully coincide with the 40-year independence celebration of Bangladesh, where we want to build a locative media bridge between Dhaka, in Bangladesh, and London - an exhibition taking place simultaneously in (and between) two locations.
Needless to say, FUTUREPLACES festival closely reflects our core methods, aims and values.
To see a growing portfolio of our work or more details about the project, please visit http://www.soundslikegraffiti.net