Wednesday, September 30, 2009


agent orange: tour over, agents informed and replenishment about to begin.


agent orange: intervention masterclass has informed and instructed and now the agent tour is about to start.


agent orange: the masterclass on intervention is about to begin. agent francis will lead the other agents on an exploration of the subject, with local facts and subject info.


agent orange: agents have arrived and are currently undergoing registration. this involves identity stripping, and deprogramming. from now on they are agents.


agent orange: bad news. we have an agent down in the field. agent brown has met an untimely end, however, luckily agent duffy has stepped into the breach. the mission will not be affected.


agent orange: oh and we're live streaming again today, so you can follow us all day by clicking this link


agent orange: hi interrogation fans, it's the morning of the final mission...intervention. today promises to be an interesting one. we have five disparate characters ready to become agents for change. just 20 minutes to de-programming and mission briefing.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Last Wednesday six artists arrived at The New Art Gallery Walsall, with instructions to meet a (heavily disguised) contact, and deliver a particular code phrase. The week's mission was to be Collaboration, and we had two pairs who had applied together to collaborate, and two separate individuals (strangers to each other) who would be put together to collaborate.

The artists arrived one by one, and were instructed individually to change into their agent uniforms, and make contact with their collaborators. First to arrive was Agent Marsden, closely followed by her collaborator Agent Taylor. The two were keen to make contact with each other, and get into their uniforms. In fact expressing that they were quite used to moustaches.
Next came Agent Holdcroft, who tried to disobey instructions and had to be put straight by Agent Orange. Then came one of the two individual collaborators - Agent Strain. Followed quickly after by her soon-to-be-partner Agent Shipley. The agents were hurriedly getting into their uniforms, while the lead interrogator waited for the final collaborator to arrive. We waited and waited, but Agent Charnley failed to appear.
Finally around 15 minutes later the tardy agent made an appearance. It later transpired that the Agent had failed to understand the instructions given, and had to be severely reprimanded by Agent Orange - it was clear that Agent Holdcroft and Agent Charnley were going to be a handful!
The agents waited in line on the chairs to have their mug shots taken. They all looked suitably nervous, and there was even a bit of apprehensive whispering going on, which was quickly cut short by Agent Francis - who sternly said 'No Talking Please!'
The agents underwent their deprogramming process, in preparation for the days mission. Then the Masterclass got underway. Agent Francis introduced the agents to the notion of collaborative practice, and offered a methodology for the days mission.Then the agents were taken on a whistle stop tour of the gallery, looking out of the windows at the square below, and taking the lift up to the roof to get an idea of the landscape and immediate environs. Pausing briefly for a group photo... Before returning to the Interrogation Room for lunch and a planning session. The Agents prepared themselves for their missions - with Agents Taylor and Marsden creating their (Inter)rogation Station, Agents Charnley and Holdcroft drafting plans and then building a paper wall.And Agents Shipley and Strain (who perhaps had the most challenging experience, having never met before) planning their strategy, and going to the local shop to arm themselves with protective clothing and a rake.The Agents were soon ready to launch themselves on an unsuspecting Walsall public.
The (Inter)rogation Station was set up on the left hand side of Gallery square. Agent Marsden and Agent Taylor had come prepared for their mission - with badges declaring I'm (inter) Walsall, and with postcards which people could fill in and send back by post. Their Interrogation mission saw them consulting the public using a textual aid - a sign which bore the word (inter) - the participant was invited to write a word under the (inter) which expressed how they felt about Walsall. The agents would then photograph the individual holding their sign. They managed to engage a large number of respondents in this manner. The surprising thing for the agents was the negativity expressed by the public. It is unclear what caused this (bad weather??) but many of the words written down were negative - for example (inter) bad memories. It was a great idea to have something to exchange with people (for their thoughts) and is certainly something that I have found in previous consultation/participation projects - the public are very happy to engage and even happier when they get to take something home with them. They collected some really interesting responses, and also generated lots of fantastic photos of the people of Walsall.
Agent Holdcroft and Agent Charnley took their paper wall out into the square and attempted to create a paper barrier across the square, which they hoped to encourage people to write on. The wind however had other ideas, and saw the agents struggling to assemble the wall.
At first it looked like it might work, as they slowly unrolled their wall. But once the wind had taken it, the wall started to rip, and so the artists had to adapt to their new situation. The wall was flapping noisily around, and seemed to deter a good number of the public from approaching.The agents decided to work with this rupture in their paper barrier, and attached the wall to the ground and clearly indicated in chalk where the break in the barrier had occurred. They then created a performance space, within the middle of the break where one of them would lie down - in a passive protest - symbolising escape and resistance to power structures. Every now and again the Agent within the circle would come out of their foetal position, jumping up and crying out 'See through the glass!' or 'Lets do something different' or simply letting out an anguished cry. The agents were fairly experimental in their approach to the performative element of the work - testing out their bodies and vocal chords in this new situation. While one of them was performing in the space, the other one was involved in an engagement activity, talking to members of the public about what it might all be about, and acting as a bridge between the public and the performance art work. This was important to them, as they felt that often work of this nature could be inaccessible, and they were interested in exploring the role of dialogues when working within the public realm.
Agent Shipley and Strain had decided to focus their activity at the back of the gallery, on the Canal.
They put on their protective clothing and went outside to dredge the canal - taking out a variety of discarded objects: bottles, teabags, condoms, cans, plastic - there were also some needles floating around in the canal.The agents first laid out their finds in lines on the ground - creating an interesting display.While one of them emptied the objects out the other one would be ordering them into lines.
Then they decided to use the objects to draw attention to Richard Wentworth's piece of public art - the stripey floor, that continues on up the canal away from the New Art Gallery Walsall.
They lined up the bottles and other objects into what reminded some of mini city scapes. The city scapes were carefully placed on each stripe, as far along the canal as can be seen from the gallery. They then selected one object from each grouping, which was then tied onto a long string, in order to create a long floating sculpture, which they returned to the canal - and floated back home to the gallery. The Agents then took their rubbish floating sculpture and removed it from the canal for good. One passerby asked, 'what's happened - has there been a murder?' responding to the Agents protective outerwear - if ignoring the moustaches.Then all of the agents returned to the interrogation room to talk about what happened, and work out how to disseminate their findings, and eat some cake.They decided as a group to have two of the collaborations working from the top of the space downwards, and then the other one to work from the bottom up and try to coincide somewhere in the middle. The resulting wall space was vibrant and interesting, representative of the days mission.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Post-INTERЯOGATIVE journey (inteR)reflections ...

AGENT TAYLOR and AGENT MARSDEN: Well, its been two days since we undertook our mission as Agents as part of the INTERЯOGATION:COLLABORATION project. Both our INTERЯOGATION STATION and our textual intervention with the public and the installation of our findings have inspired the beginning of an (inteR)reflective process where we hope to use our experience to trigger other projects in the public realm and together as Taylor Marsden Productions!

We found the day a really positive experience, particularly undertaking a day project with the pressure and intuitiveness that came with it. We had prepared our resources and had a plan of what we wanted to do; however our (inteR)experiences on the day and (inteR)action with the public in the site specific Gallery Square space was what shaped our dissemination and the final installation of our findings. We also enjoyed collablorating with the other Agents and (inteR)linking our findings in the INTERЯOGATION room to develop a combined approach of dissemination. The reflections and (re)reflections will continue to evolve and (inteR)reflect ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


agent orange: the post mission debrief and evaluation setting is underway fuelled by cake and tea.

agents marsden and taylor report a great, but largely negative response, in terms of feelings. to their inter project. members of the public were invited to record their feelings about walsall on provided white boards, largely in a single word. polaroids were taken of the process and people were encouraged to send their thoughts in by post. agents charnley and holdcroft overcame the wind problems wrecking their paper barrier and found that the struggle making that barrier was significant in itself. they created a submissive breakthrough space in the middle of the broken barrier incorporating an "eruption" themed piece of performance to symbolise escape etc. both agents who hadn't previously worked together to a great extent, reported positive feelings about their working relationship. agents shipley and strain hadn't previously worked together but were amazed at how quickly a seemingly fully formed idea came to them. they collected, collated and sculpted debris and rubbish found in the canal behind the gallery. agent strain enjoyed working in a different way to her norm and concentrated on her collaboration with a new partner rather than a collaboration with the public.

Mid-interrogation (inter)reflection

Agent Taylor and Agent Marsden: are back in the interrogation room to start to reflect, refract and reinterrogate. Pausing to look at the information collected, the agents will consider the (inter)disseminate of their findings.


agent orange: so the collaborations are under way as agents charnley/holdcroft, marsden/taylor and shipley/strain set out to investigate the public areas surrounding the gallery. shipley and strain are concentrating on the waste area behind the gallery, whilst the other two partnerships will be in gallery square. i'll report back later withy findings and outcomes.
Agent Francis:
Agents currently planning their response and readying themselves for their missions in the public realm.

Interrogation Station

AGENT TAYLOR and AGENT MARSDEN: are working collaboratively and creating their Interrogation Station to work collaboratively with the public of Walsall. They will be working in the (Inter)gallery square space to create an (Inter)textial dialogue ...


agent orange: agents and moustaches survived their tour successfully and are now back in the interrogation room to plan their missions of sandwiches and tea.


agent orange - as the masterclass draws to a close - the agents are about to accompany agent francis on a tour of the gallery, its collections and the immediate outlying area, in order to enthuse and inspire this afternoon's missions.


agent orange: all agents have arrived and are currently undergoing their process of identity stripping and interrogation briefing. further instruction and masterclass will commence shortly.


agent orange: oh and i should tell you, today's mission is collaboration.


agent orange: hello interrogation junkies - 10 minutes til new agent arrival. moustaches at the ready. agents today are; charnley, holdcroft, shipley, taylor strain and marsden. watch for updates and follow live on

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

happy memories

I really enjoyed the mission day Consultation, and it stirred several ideas about how to approach future projects....when I got home I immediately started writing down all my thoughts, in some way hoping to keep it alive for as long as possible!
A week has gone by and it still stays with me :-) The success of our activity has made me determined that physical activities in public realm is a way forward for my projects: I want to engage people with their local surroundings though activities that encourage play, creativity and reflection. This type of engagement appeals especially to younger ages who usually avoid stopping to talk and share their opinions; from previous experiences I found that 30-40yr olds enjoy stopping to have a rant! So the project, despite only being a day, has really helped development of my practice and I'm now looking for ways to realise these ideas.
How is everyone else getting on? what's yr news fellow agents?

Sunday, September 20, 2009


So last Wednesday four artists arrived at The New Art Gallery Walsall, armed with a set of instructions, and a sense of anticipation. First to make contact was Agent Kemp, who was quick to change into her agent uniform, and seemed a keen recruit.
Then came Agent Griffiths, who, it turned out, had made an undercover reconnaissance mission to the gallery the day before to scope out the scene.Next was Agent Beavis-Harrison.
And finally came Agent Armstrong.
It transpires that Agent Beavis-Harrison and Agent Armstrong actually came as a pair, and have previously gone undercover as EXIT HERE, and so would be working together during the day.
The agents received their briefing, which entailed exploring popular for creative consultation, information about the gallery and the process of designing and building it. A fair amount of detail was given in to the audience development activity, and consultation that happened between 1995 and 2000, during the design and build process, as this was relevant background information for the agents, and showed the commitment that the gallery has in terms of connecting with local people, and could also (I believe) be seen as a model of best practice, in terms of the development of cultural buildings with public money. Some examples of artists using consultation within their practice were given, and then the Agents were taken on a tour of the gallery and surrounding area.
The artists were then given an hour and a bit to plan their response. An interesting synchronicity appeared to be going on, with Agents Kemp and Griffiths deciding to work together - having identified that they had similar ideas about how to respond, and had actually brought similar materials with them to work with. Agent Griffiths had brought some long strings of net with her in white and pink, and Agent Kemp had brought long pieces of elastic bungee in yellow, white and blue. After planning what they intended to investigate, and how they might record their findings, the Agents went out into the square to get started.The first thing they did was to set up a space on a nearby wall to record the public reaction to the intervention they planned to make on the square. The recording area would consider the public reaction to their intervention, in terms of whether the public would interact with the intervention, simply comment on it, or ignore it. They had previously discussed (within the interrogation room) the importance of collating the data, and the fact that it was necessary for one person to 'interact' with the public while the other recorded. They discussed the need for these two roles to be covered, but were aware that one of the roles was less interesting for the artist than the other.This would explain why any commitment to this process yielding scientifically verifiable data seems to have quickly been discarded - as both artists chose to be active participants in terms of 'engaging the public' rather than one having to record the results of the engagement. This is entirely understandable, given the short time allotted to the active part of the mission.
Their main question involved engaging the public in debate over the use and purpose of Gallery Square. They decided to engage the public in activity within the square as a distraction technique, to get them to be more open and creative in their thinking about what they would like to see the square used for. Starting with very accessible questions, like do you come here often, and moving onto what do you usually do here, and then further to what could be done here, and what would you like to see happen here. They began creating personal creative spaces with members of the public - in the form of individual circles drawn around the participants feet. The participant was then encouraged to say what they might like to use their personal creative space for. The artists found that this question was quite difficult for people to respond to immediately, being quite conceptual, and quickly adapted their questioning methods, to encourage the participants to think about the sort of activities they enjoy, or would like to do.
This activity was just a bit of a warm up, but received very positive responses from the people engaged. Then Agent Griffiths and Kemp threaded the bungee chord between the enormous stadium style lamp posts, effectively creating a barrier across the square, in response to the way that the public walks directly across the edge of the square, avoiding the gallery. This started as just a simple line, which people would either avoid or limbo under, or there was a way of walking close to the wall - which meant you could safely get under the rope.
The artists set out to record responses on the wall.Then over time more bungee chords were added and the activity in the square became more complex. Soon groups started to interact with the artists, to make a giant cat's cradle in the square.
The artists worked with the groups to create variously shaped spaces in the middle of the square, and then engaged the participants in conversation over what the space in the middle could/should be used for. It seemed to me like a very successful participatory method, creating a literal, physical creative space which was used as a consultation tool. As well as this the public square was brought alive, and the public were 'moved' to negotiate the space differently, due to the activity going on. Later the agents decided to test out some individual ideas for working within the space. Agent Kemp occupied the seating area on one side of the main square, using the bungee to cordon off the benches creating an interesting sculptural effect. She found that the passive approach, patiently waiting for members of the public to come and interact was not as effective as the earlier activist approach. Agent Griffiths created a large sign asking 'What is this area for'?' and hung it in the middle of the square. She then used this as a prop for getting people talking. The wind unfortunately had a negative effect on this, buffeting the sign about in an alarming way, which seemed to keep the public away.
The consultation technique employed by Agent Beavis-Harrison and Agent Anderson complemented the cat's cradle activity, and in fact may have benefited from the 'cordoning off' effect of the bungee rope. These agents went to the local hardware store and armed themselves with white gaffa tape, as well as white boards and broom handles, which they turned into signs.They decided to mark out an alternate route in the square, which would aim to reroute the public's usual journey across the edge of the square, bringing the public closer to the gallery than before. They then proceeded to march up and down the line they had created carrying signs which said art first 'Walk The New Route Today' which seemed to work quite well, but Agent Beavis-Harrison had written 'Take A Walk' on her sign which some people seemed to find a source of antagonism - responding with 'I'll walk where I want to thanks!' The two experimented with semantics further trying out 'STOP' which did physically stop a few passersby and then 'WALK A NEW WAY.' They offered to accompany members of the public along the new route they had created, and while en route would ask them questions about the square, and its uses.As well as this they carried out a poll to see how many people in a 15 minute timescale would walk the usual route through the square, and how many would walk the new route, as proposed by them.
They found that 80% walked the usual route and 20% walked the new route.
Over the day as well as this interesting piece of quantitative gathered data, both groups were gathering qualitative data, in the form of comments made by the public. Here are a selection of some of them:
'Why don't you move the building forward?'
'Do something with the wind - with colours!'
'Make it a welcoming area'
'Get a plinth - like trafalgar square'
'Get a statue - like the bull in the bullring'
'This is the gateway to Walsall'
'I'd like an outside gym'
'I'd like a moustache shop'
'Id like floor art - outside the gallery'
'I never use the benches'
'They have performances inside - why not outside?'
About the artist's interventions:
'Why don't you walk around like normal people?'
'I love my own circle here - being in my own space.'
'I'll walk where I want!'
'You're invading my space!'
'It's mind-boggling'
'Brendan and Chantelle skipped with the elastic'
'I've never really though of walking a new way!'