Guest Blog: In Between Time and The Storm

We entered the year of 2015 and the 6th edition of In Between Time Festival with fog, thunder and energy.

My name is Joon Lynn Goh, and I am Senior Producer for In Between Time, a Bristol based international producing organisation. We deliver ambitious interdisciplinary art projects and the international biennale In Between Time Festival across Bristol. We are an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, a City Council Key Arts Provider, and a registered Charity.

As producers we carefully place people in the midst of unusual artistic experiences  – a bridge transformed into a cloud, a teenage-led tour across the streets at night, a pop concert in a National Trust Chapel, or a hurricane of lazers in a Club Night. It is important for us to create warm-hearted invitations for people to try something new and to re-imagine their relationship with the city.

As programmers we champion interdisciplinary practice that crosses performance, live art, dance, sound, socially-engaged practice, technology, and public installation. 

As collaborators we champion an urgency of voice. 

We work with artists who speak to make their experiences visible, who reclaim to give new meaning to their bodies and histories, and who collaborate to find new ways of engaging with their situation and environment. The storm that approached February last year was an invitation to make change.  

In the calm before a storm, we gazed at an uncertain future
In the eye of a storm, we gathered our strength to find voice
In the aftermath of a storm, we picked up the pieces 

Today, in the year after Bristol 2015, it is good to remember that we are still gazing at an uncertain future, still gathering our strength, and still picking up the pieces. 

It is also good to remember that the sustainability we are seeking is the long arc of finding a language for both social and environmental justice. 

Image credit: Fog Bridge by Fujiko Nakaya, IBT15 Bristol International Festival, Feb 2015 presented by In Between Time in association with Bristol 2015 European Green Capital and supported by Watershed. Photo by Max McClure.

Fujiko Nakaya

As part of the festival, in association with Bristol 2015 and with the support of Watershed, Cabot Institute and Triodos, we presented Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Bridge. 

Fog Bridge transformed Pero’s bridge into a walkway of cloud for 10 days during the festival, reaching a footfall of 158,000 and prompting coverage from Ujima to the BBC, Telegraph and the NY Times. Fog Bridge is the work of internationally acclaimed Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, who over a life time, has refined the practice of creating immersive fog installations across the world.

The installation ran along side a retrospective exhibition of Fujiko’s past works in Arnolfini, Family workshops and film screenings, and a series of Public talks around the arts, environment and technology at Arnolfini, Pervasive Media Studio, and Tate Modern.

The Role of Art

In one of these talks, Richard Pancost raised an interesting point. He said:

We live our lives informed by the power of experience: the collective experience of ourselves, our families, our communities and our wider society. 

Our weather projections and harvesting practice, our water management and hazard planning are also based on experience: tens to hundreds of years of observation to inform our predictions. 

Now however, we are changing our environment and our climate such that the lessons of the past have less relevance to the planning of our future. As we change our climate, the great wealth of knowledge generated from human experience is loosing capital every day.

So how else is knowledge built?

I would say that art has greatest value at this precise moment.

Skilled artists challenge us:

  • To abandon today’s limitations
  • To envision something we have not yet experienced
  • To expand our understanding through imagining
  • To test a spectrum of possibilities by engaging

Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Bridge playfully asked us to imagine how our daily lives might be disrupted by a warming world. What would we encounter on our way to work or how might our children go to school? What would our city even look like? And whether we intend it or not, how might we collaborate with our natural environment?

In a life time of making fog sculptures, Fujiko Nakaya has developed an understanding of both technology and nature. Technology because she has worked with specialists to invent a system using water under high pressure and nano fine nozzles to create fog, and nature because each fog sculpture involves in-depth wind and temperature measurements in order to better collaborate with a natural setting. In her words:

“The question is not how to control the wind, but rather how to meet the wind on its own terms. How to design the terrain and microclimate so as to give the wind freedom to express its full potential. My role is to set the stage for the fog.”

– Fujiko Nakaya

And Fog Bridge was never the same - each hour - day and night of its 10 days, Bristol’s weather and Fujiko collaborated to produce an infinite menu of possible interactions: To watch from afar windswept tendrils across the surface of the water, to duck and dive amongst thick cushions of cloud, to gaze up as it disappeared into an infinity of sky.

Fog Bridge was and continues to act in our bodily memory as a gentle provocation: We are in relationship with nature, and in a changing world we have infinite potential to collaborate.

Sustaining Creativity