Hi Linzy, please tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re up to?
I am the creative producer for the Open Senses Workshop & Conversation strand based at The Open Senses Hub, which will be the heart of the festival at The Trampery in Old Street. I am really excited about this program as it is diving into the world of tactility through workshops that explore touch from the perspective of dance, psychology, food, creative writing, textiles, VR technology and voice.
How did you get started in the tactile world of senses?
My background is dance and I work as a contemporary dancer alongside production so touch and physicality are things that have been very dominant in my work/life for a long time. My interest in multi-sensory work was really sparked by a project I performed in in 2011 which was working with dancers with visual impairments to explore accessibility for visually impaired users in town centres. Through working with dancers whose sensory experience was so different to mine, I learnt so much about how we can connect with each other and our surroundings by way of touch, voice and so many other senses I never knew we had until that point. It fascinated me.
What can people look forward discovering in the Hub?
I really think there is something for everyone in this program in a way that will provoke, challenge, ignite and engage participants to discover new ways to engage with the city of London and each other. We have workshops, talks and interactive installations happening over two days in one building that can have you exploring the physical experience of voice in the morning, living textiles (fashion that you can plant when you’ve finished wearing it!) over lunch, the sensory potential in VR technologies in the afternoon, a blindfolded tour of Old Street early evening, all finished off with a multi-sensory wine tasting and a sewn portrait of yourself!
How would you describe it in three words?
Visceral, Inspiring, Diverse.
Why did you get involved?
I have worked with the festival’s director Stephanie Singer and her multi-sensory immersive company BitterSuite for four years now and when Steph first mentioned to me the idea of a sensory festival that would take over London and celebrate some of the cities’ most innovative artists, creators, makers, psychologists, dancers and writers (the list could go on) all working in the multi-sensory field, there was no way that I couldn’t jump in!
In particular why do you think the senses are important?
I think we live in an age where we are really sensorial-ly over stimulated in a very negative way and the need for escape seems to be driving us toward cutting ourselves off from our senses in search of relief; be that through social media, gaming or television. It really feels like we are cutting ourselves off from each other, when we are perhaps at a crucial point in time where communication and empathy are key. We often have more physical contact with our phone screens than we do with other humans. This concept seems mad to me. By re-engaging with our sensory experience and exploring what that might mean on a very human level, I think it can only open us up to more innovative thinking: socially, artistically, politically and scientifically.
Why should people be making a beeline for the Hub at The Trampery?
While the workshops are thought provoking, intriguing, curious and immersive they are predominantly FUN and all the artists involved do incredible things. While there are workshops and conversations happening, there are also lots of installations, exhibitions and pop-up events throughout the building which means that you can really spend the whole day getting to hear, feel, see, smell and experience London in a new way.
What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?
What would you love to see happen with Open Senses in the future?
The festival is taking place across London in some brilliant venues who are all hosting such a range of events, my blue sky ideal would be to expand the festival to spill out more into public places, parks, roof tops, roads, canals, gardens, a festival that can happens in the royal concert halls and also in people’s front gardens!
What would you like to do in the future within this field?
I’d really like to create a program that is directed specifically at young people so as to engage conversation and thinking about tactility, smell, sight, taste and sound on a more day to day level from an earlier age. It really drives creative thought, problem solving, innovation and communication, and I think it could be a valuable edition within education.
Describe three words of how you feel about the festival?
Excited, inspired, humbled.
Anything else to say?
Make sure you get your tickets in quick as things will fly…
Many already have, so check out through the website and book your sessions…
Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.