“Type the URL into your browser and you’ll be transported to a series of imaginative interactive artworks, accessed through a telephone exchange. Overall, the effect is akin to taking part in a David Lynch movie. This innovative and unusual site is a breath of fresh air. Great stuff.”The Independent on Sunday
For our tenth anniversary in 2002, we decided to make 10 new artworks and 12 new web artworks.
At that period of time, we were really into making web-based interactive artworks, we tended to make one for each of our shows (hands up if you remember the Blackbox investigation room or the Persistence of Vision site?)
We distributed (analogue, paper) Helloland desk calendars at the start of 2002 with the release dates for the web artworks marked on them – at the end of the year there was a small gift for everyone who had participated throughout the 12 months.
Setting so many deadlines wasn’t that wise, but it all worked out ok and we got an eminently quoteable review from the Independent on Sunday so, you know, we can’t really complain – it’s not every day you get compared to David Lynch…
The Virtual Fringe
The Virtual Fringe is a month-long festival of imaginary performances, exhibitions and events programmed to (not) take place around Coventry city centre. Each event is devised in response to a particular building or space.
Coventry is a city rich in possibility. Even though its inhabitants like to think they are not too attached to the place, the truth is we are. We enjoy this city’s contradictions. We believe in its potential. And we can’t help but defend it when it is challenged.
The Virtual Fringe Festival is about exploring and harnessing this strength of feeling.
why programme a festival of non-existent events?
To encourage artists and decision-makers to engage together in the city’s regeneration.
To imagine new futures for old buildings.
To advance the aspiration of a vibrant city centre.
Some of the venues are buildings slumbering in a state of disrepair, in need of attention and animation; others are fully functional and events could be, and sometimes are, staged there. Some are newly created spaces whose history is yet to be written; others are earmarked for redevelopment and the potential for their reawakening lies ahead.
You are the audience for the Virtual Fringe.
We ask you to look through this online brochure and imagine your presence at this festival.
We ask you to imagine the buzz on the street and to enjoy looking at your city with new eyes.
We ask you to imagine your role in realising such a festival, given that Something, like Nothing, can happen anywhere.
“It is a very creative and practical exercise in showing just how vibrant the city could be…How artists can influence the arts policy of their local council is a difficult question to resolve: Talking Birds’ independent but engaging approach could be something of a model.”a-n magazine
In 1943, 830 women in Coventry, England, signed their names on a tablecloth. The names were embroidered onto the tablecloth, which was then presented to the people of Stalingrad (now Volgograd), Russia as a symbol of war-time solidarity. This gesture led to the two cities becoming twins – the first twin cities in the world.
Intrigued by this story and the tablecloth itself, which was brought over and exhibited in Coventry in 2004, Talking Birds’ first collaboration with artists in Volgograd was Twin60 – a virtual tablecloth twinning messages from residents in the two cities and marking the 60th anniversary of the friendship.
We subsequently travelled to Volgograd to visit the artists we ‘met’ through the Twin60 project – and brought them and their work back to Coventry. The Twin Tones, Other Coventry <> Other Volgograd, Twin Song and Twin Story projects all developed from this first digital twinning project.
The Difference Engine
Arguably, our most famous digital work is the Difference Engine – an in-pocket access tool we have developed.