“Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Bangor.”
It’s a long time since 1979 when British folk band, Fiddlers Dram wrote ‘Day trip to Bangor’ and I’m sure they would be particularly impressed with the changes there, most noticeably the new home of arts and innovation, The Pontio.
We are excited to be working with Professor of Digital Culture and Communication, Astrid Ensslin on WALLPAPER and this week made the train journey over to Bangor University to have a preview look at the soon to be opened Pontio Centre. Unlike Fiddlers Dram whose journey to Bangor was made complete with a £1 bottle of cider, we were more than delighted to get on the only train out of four that had a plug socket. (Thank you Virgin Trains.)
Long journeys with both of us travelling together working on the same project, gave good uninterrupted opportunity to think and talk about WALLPAPER, to refine the story-lines, modify the Dalton Manor architecture and plot out other ideas.
Developing WALLPAPER is software intensive and media rich and we’ve found ourselves using almost all our licensed tools at some point or another during the process. Our portable work-office, with its terabyte drives, countless folders of text, 3D assets, photography, moving image and sound, was getting curious looks when working on the train. You could see fellow travelers peering at the screen wondering what this weird 3D house and rotating text is all about.
After 5 hours we arrived. A walk over the Menai Straits footbridge taking photos in the sunset was a good antidote to the long fragmented journey.
WALLPAPER is being researched as part of an AHRC funded research project entitled ‘Reading Digital Fiction’. The Principle Investigator Dr Alice Bell from Sheffield Hallam University is working closely with Professor Astrid Ensslin from Bangor University, and this trip was to see how we could bring WALLPAPER to Bangor.
Design Engineer John Story kindly gave us a tour of the Pontio Centre, as it is here that we will be exhibiting our installation of WALLPAPER in 2016. The building itself will house a 450-plus seat theatre, a ’white box’ exhibition space, a rehearsal studio, teaching rooms, a cinema and an outdoor amphitheatre. Exciting social areas for the centre include new Student Union facilities as well as bars, cafes and restaurants. Pontio will include an ‘Innovation Hub’ that will support collaborative design approaches between the university and local businesses.
Walking round Pontio was impressive, the use of light was stunning from how it cast shadows on the white walls, the wonderful expanses of bare wall ripe for projection, huge sky lights, through to the fantastic views of Bangor, Anglesey and the Menai Straits.
It was nice to meet some of the workmen. John, a painter and decorator was one of the hundreds of contractors to have worked on Pontio. He was hopeful they wouldn’t run out of paint until the White Box had been completed and it was fun speculating with him how much white paint had been used in the decoration of this building.
Pontio in Welsh means ‘to bridge’ and for us WALLPAPER bridges the disciplines of writing, games design, moving image and soundscape – merging all these media together to create a digitally born work.
WALLPAPER will be shown as an installation next Spring for two weeks in the White Box, a large blank canvas of space just waiting for some interesting digital projection (and a few coats of white paint).
Our trip to Bangor was not only a lovely day, but also full of creative possibilities.