News for March 2013

Putting Names To Faces.

I went into the library last week and decided to experiment further with Andy Wahols concept of taking a photo to try and develop and understand the person. This was undoubtably one of the hardest things I have had to do since working in the library.
Approaching people in the library and taking a moment in time to get to know the person on an intimate level in a short amount of time becuase they were working hard or doing dissertation proposals, capturing a moment in time when people are in the library for a specific reason and trying to convey themselves in a single snap shot.

Mark R Scovell (11210091)

Mark on the 8th of April wanted to put across that he loves chatting and procrastinating whilst in the library

‘I think I’m fun to be around but most people don’t like to come to the library with me because I will distract everyone from everything until someone forces me to do work, I am a distraction to others and myself .I go to the library because of the resources , sometimes I bump into a friend to have a chat . The library is quite big so I can find somewhere to motivate myself”. In a single snap shot there is a true sense with his wave and cheeky smile that he really likes to have fun, but the library creates an enviroment for him to work within. Mark said he’d love it if there was ‘a place for having a break’ a place to get away to clear your head and get back into the working enviroment and with this ‘place to break’ escape the factory enviroment for ten minutes.

Favourite cake – victoria sponge

Lucinda Brown (11239270)


The Library is supposed to be quiet but my friends always distract me, if do work at home my flat mates distract me , the library has all the books I need. I’m able to get out of the house, and find a place to be quiet and to work hard , which means its good for motivation. In this picture i was hard at work and being easily distracted from everything so was telling you to stop distracting me and trying to give the impretion that i work hard but I’m unorganised because this essay was extremely last minute’

Favourite Cake- Lemon Cake.



The reason I asked what their favourite cake was because like any conversation wth strangers its easiest to have a starter question and with the influence of ‘Hunt and Darton’

Jenny Hunt and Holly Darton, create enviroments where they can ask provoking questions about the society in which we live. ‘Their work ‘combines elements of spoken word, movement, improvisation, and installation in their experiment and play with the aesthetics of entertainment and performance’. Their work comes out of a shared interest in what it means to be human, making work about common problems, embarrassment, human behaviour, love, life and art. They tend towards the deadpan and the absurd.’

We decided to have our own piece of absurd in our piece so did large head pieces to draw attention to the cafe, we used maps on the majority of the head pieces and circled the library to focus on our site, in the centre of the photo is steph who is wearing a tea cup to advertise our pop up cafe.


Taken on the 3rd of may on the day of our perfomance

After talking in depth with people in the library Thomas Cuff gave our group an insight and said ‘ there isn’t a sense of community in the library’. This is something that Hunt and Darton acheive by asking big questions to people for example ‘What is it to be human ?’. Our group wanted to make a statment on the history of the buliding and the way people were treated in the factory, similiar work has been done by Maureen Hawkins who did a piece drawing attention to the segregation of North and Southern Ireland and we want to make a statment on the class system in British society.This idea runs parellel to our idea of making buliding a community and making people feel welcome and not just a number, in a buliding that has evolved from a place of work to a library that has the same ethics with the library users clocking in and clocking out and working towards a pay check or a deadline .These ideas and the inspiration from Hunt and Darton to take a space and mix the history and create our own pop up cafe in the library and create an escape from the history .. The Grain Escape idea has been formed !

Comments welcome :)

Works cited

Boon, R. and Plastow, J. (2004) Theatre and empowerment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Posted: March 29th, 2013
Categories: The Grain Escape
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The Grain Escape’s first attempt

On Thursday the 14th March, my group came to the library with pre-made cakes of different varieties to test people’s reactions within the working environment when we offer them free food. Originally we stood in the empty space where we plan to set our pop up café but realised that we were not catching the attention of people passing by and we were not prepared with the right furniture and decorations to make our project appear more appealing. One or two people stopped for a cake on their way up the staircase but did not stop for a conversation.


By discovering this, we decided to move up to the first floor entrance and placed the food on a desk and sat behind. Our positioning may have given us some advantage by not seeming so intimidating because we found our small cake stall became much more popular. People stopped and asked “What’s the catch?” and we found ourselves replying that we wanted to make the library more communal and give visitors the chance to relax in such a tense environment.


We aim to cause the same effect as Hunt and Darton do in their pop-up cafe, which is to make everybody who comes to visit us realise what it means to be human. This may be by sharing stories about themselves and sparking meaningful conversations or exchanging opinions on a topic such as our Stan’s Cafe inspired factual display through the use of rice, which will be set at the entrance to the cafe. In my next blog I will discuss the inspiration of Stan’s Cafe in further detail and how it is beneficial for our final performance.


Video of ‘The Rice Show’ by Stan’s Cafe Theatre Company. Youtube upload: feettothefire.

We are now looking into how we can create an exciting and unique environment for our pop-up cafe to be as exclusive as possible. For instance, we will involve matching outfits (similar to Hunt and Darton and Lone Twin), well decorated tables and many aspects of a comforting, relaxed atmosphere so that all who enter feel like they are at home. Similaralso to Lone Twin, we will not advertise our performance before hand to portray a shocking and spontaneous effect. We are also thinking of ways to involve library users more in our creation so that our cafe shows a strong sense of individuality for each person within the library.

Site’s visited:

Posted: March 28th, 2013
Categories: Library, The Grain Escape
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Time For A Trial Run

027‘Both performance and archaeology work with fragment and with trace. Performance and social practise, and their subsequent documentation or representation, through surviving traces and fragments, constitute heterogeneous  assemblages’1  

Dunking A Page In Water, Taken By: Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13

After putting together some initial ideas, we decided it was time to perform a test run and see what works best when it comes to provoking an audience response. We had already purchased some books to destroy in preparation. Two members of the group had also begun working on a new way to make the dresses which included buying skirts from charity shops, and attaching pages to the hem.

After the dresses were complete we started to test some of our ideas from previous research on sacrifice. The first idea was dipping pages into water and allowing it to subtly disintegrate over a long period of time.

(Becky Eating A Page, Taken by: Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13.)

Next, we tried to chew one of the books we had just purchased. This worked well at the start, however, after a while the taste of the old books became quite sickening and the pages were still readable. This led to us thinking up some other concepts. Having been working with safety pins to make the dresses, we decided to slowly pin prick a page and see what happened. The motion of pricking the page looked aesthetically pleasing and also destroyed the pages effectively.

We began to think about the fact the dresses we will be wearing are very feminine, and the idea of stereotypical woman’s work as ‘Some women did indeed work full-time for wages in a place outside their home such as a workshop, shop or factory, or on the land, while others worked full-time for wages in their own home cleaning and cooking’2 The concept of scrubbing came up, which is a motion that would have been used in home cleaning processes in the 1900’s and was something we all agreed would look effective.

While two of us were practising ways to destroy, the other two members began to experiment with the leftover book pages and started to add to our dresses. The expansion began with scattering a few pages to make a small train. After viewing a few pictures and hearing some feedback, we too realised it look extremely beautiful. In the end the expansion took over the aisles and meant people walking past had to take notice. Next the expansion took to the actual book aisles themselves. It looked like we were becoming at one with the aisles, or like we were a book emerging from them; however a broken book.


Emerging From The Aisle, Both Taken by Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13

To achieve this effect in the performance however, one member of the group will need to be forming the connections, rather than standing in a dress. Each performer in the dress will also still be destroying a book based on fact, whilst wearing the religion.The merging with the aisles could be seen to represent the expansion of religion within libraries. Once the entire book has been destroyed in one of our chosen methods, the performer will break free from the dress and walk away leaving the piles of destroyed books and pages behind them. Hopefully, the mess we create and leave will inspire the audience to think about the books we have destroyed and just left.

  1. Shanks, M. Pearson, M. (2001) Theatre Archaeology London: Routledge p55 []
  2. Roberts, E. (1988) Women’s Work 1840-1940 The Macmillan Press. p2 []
Posted: March 28th, 2013
Categories: Les dames des livres
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The Beginning of The Grain Escape

Through our research we found the work of Stan’s Café, a unique project that specialises in educating people through their original concept of using grains of rice to represent populations and statistics in an effective way that has proven to shock the observer as well as to put these figures into perspective. Their piece called ‘Of All The People In All The World’ focuses on drastic statistics such as ‘People who will die in the world today’. The vast amount of rice that is shown in one of their clips on their website highlights our own mortality as well as comparing to other such statistics that may seem not as severe, such as ‘People who had cosmetic surgery in the world last year’. The physicality of Stan’s Café’s works effectively as the varying sizes of the piles of rice has a unique quality that seems beautiful as these representations of people in the form of rice in the studio creates a tone of remarkable perspective.

‘Of All The People In All The World’1

‘At site, social, cultural, political, geographical, architectural and linguistic aspects of context may inform or prescribe the structure and content of performance.’2

Although our café can not physically hold the same amount of statistics nor are we able to obtain such huge figures and facts, this was not our full intention as we wanted this to be an element of what we are trying to portray. The facts that we wish to reveal to our observers will be significant to the place of the library and our environment, which will hopefully either change people’s perspectives on the library or at the very least educate people. To create the aesthetics of this piece we chose to spend a day counting individual grains of rice until we reached 20, 000 (filling one cup) in order to then calculate how many would be required for the rest of our figures. We chose to individually count the grains of rice to revert back to basics due to the site originally being a grain factory.

Counting grains, 7/3/2013, GCW Library, Photograph by Charlotte Mooney

Counting grains, 7/3/2013, GCW Library, Photograph by Charlotte Mooney

6000 grains of rice, 7/3/2013, GCW Library, Photograph by Stephanie Alcock

6000 grains of rice, 7/3/2013, GCW Library, Photograph by Stephanie Alcock

As our process developed we found that chalking these statistics onto a blackboard that was titled ‘Specials’ in our café would catch the customers eye and educate them subconsciously as they may have thought the board was a menu showing the ‘soup of the day’.

'SPECIALS' board stating statistics, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, Photograph by Stephanie Alcock

‘SPECIALS’ board stating statistics, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, Photograph by Stephanie Alcock

Word count: 443

  1. Yarker, James (2011) Stan’s Café Theatre Company, Online: (accessed: 28 March 2013) []
  2. Pearson, Mike (2010) Site-Specific Performance, London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 143 []

Impossible infinity

Recently our group’s work has progressed a great deal; in particular we have managed to condense our work down to one specific element, and that is us reading a list of book titles from the library along with their numbers. The idea behind this is to show how ‘endless’ language is, and whilst we have advanced this even further recently, this particular part of our idea reminded me of a piece of work we were asked to write towards the beginning of the module.
It got me thinking – Is anything truly infinite? We read a passage from The Library of Babel, by Jorge Luis Borges, and this looked into the library’s ability to portray infinity and its reflection on human nature. Whilst this gave me insight into what we perceive infinity to be, it did not truly answer the question I wanted it to.
What is infinity? By dictionary definition it is simply a word used to describe something which we could not possibly begin to measure. However, when thought about in depth, does infinity in fact have infinite meanings? Or perhaps even no meaning at all?  It is powerful, yet it signifies weakness in the human race. It is supposed to represent everything we don’t understand, yet we have no evidence of it. Infinity is a contradiction.
Let’s first analyse the idea that there are infinite definitions to the word. Each and every one of us will have a different image in our heads as to what infinity is. Whilst one person might see it as forever, another may believe that infinity has an end, just not one that can be found. Infinity covers many unknowns. It could be used to describe the size of the universe, the number of atoms that make up the world around us or the amount of discoveries still to be made; all of these things are near to impossible to comprehend. This then poses the question: Is infinity meaningless?
Is it possible that infinity is just a word that we use to describe something that we, humans, as a race, are afraid to discover? Perhaps because we are unsure of the sheer of possibilities that something described as infinite has, we label it with this powerful name, creating an image that almost prevents us discovering what infinity truly is. Infinity is big, bold and bewildering to us; but should we be afraid of it? Should we use it as an excuse to stop seeking knowledge, merely because we believe we can never find an end? To put a simple answer to it; no, we should not.
Borges puts forward the theory of the infinite library, out-living the species that created it; it is a terrifying concept. He states in his musings:

“I am perhaps misled by old age and fear, but I suspect that the human species – the only species – teeters at the verge of extinction, yet that the library – enlightened, solitary, infinite, perfectly unmoving, armed with precious volumes, pointless, incorruptible  and secret- will endure.” (Borges 1998, p.118)

The human race has stuffed these buildings to the brim with all the knowledge that we possess, and we will continue to do so until the day that we cease to exist. It is hardly surprising that in history there have been attempts, some successful, to completely destroy these magnificent monuments. They are a considerable threat to our existence, whilst aiding in improving ourselves as a species, aiding our destruction also. The attempts to end the legacy of the eternal library were made in fear of what knowledge would do to our race; it was seen as being ‘against God’ to be so all-knowing. Perhaps those that held this view had a valid point. After all, is it natural for something so lifeless yet full of life at the same time, to out-last a species which is supposed to be at the height of intelligence? If we are so intelligent, so full of knowledge and wisdom, as we truly believe, why do we feel the need to keep everything we know in these libraries?

The reason we engage in this habit, so strange to all other existence on this earth, is possibly because of our fear of the infinite. Human beings are so determined to exist for eternity, to make our mark on this planet forever more, that we are seeking any method we can to try and beat the theory of infinity. However, that is all it really is; a theory – we do not know of the existence of infinity. It is simply a concept, put in place for we have fear of an end more so than we do of lasting forever. Either way, infinity will always be the powerful unknown that we live in the shadow of.

Our performance can somewhat represent our battle with infinity and what it means for the library to contend with potentially lasting forever. We are trying to create a seemingly endless list of books, labeled with numbers that could go on for infinity, using infinite methods of representing language. We have engaged with the concept of endlessness, and began to explore it’s impossibility by showing this in individual sketches. In trying to create an accurate representation of the libraries infinite aspects, we will no doubt face challenges, but we aim to demonstrate what humanity can understand from the word “infinity”. However it would clearly be impossible for us to exactly represent the extent of what infinity is. Maybe that’s what infinity is. Infinity is simply impossible.

Works Cited

Borges, Jorge Luis (1998) “The Library of Babel.” Collected Fictions, Trans. Andrew Hurley, New York: Penguin

Posted: March 27th, 2013
Categories: Borges, Library, Taking the Library Outside
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