"On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs, as if to say, well done. Well done, everyone. We're halfway out of the dark. Back on Earth, we called this Christmas, or the Winter Solstice. On this world, the first settlers called it the Crystal Feast. You know what I call it? I call it expecting something for nothing."Art For a few brief moments I was able to wrestle control of the TARDIS from the randomiser and managed to land in Liverpool One (or for those not buying into the fiction walked past the structure on the way to the Blade Factory and decided that it would be ludicrous to come all the way back). After the disappointments of 2014, it's great to see the noticeable increase in public art included in the 2016. As well as providing a sort of promotional tool for publicising the enclosed venues were the festival takes place, they provide inexplicable additions to the city not to mention talking points for people on a different order to the weather or whatever's happening at work that day.
-- Sardick, "A Christmas Carol"
During the process of designing this Biennial, the curatorial board held a series of meetings or seminars with the constituency explaining their ideas process, of deciding upon the Episodes theme and what that might entail. This included Q&As with Colin Muir, the leading script writer and lecturer who explained how he thought television episodic narratives are structured and Celine Condorelli, an artist whose work often involves exhibitions which reconfigure themselves for different spaces. Hearing about the Biennial at these early stages was a valuable experience, especially when it felt like our contributions mattered.
The longest session was at the Blue Coat's bistro when one of the ideas was for an episode to focus on a particular date and we were asked to suggest that date and offer our own justifications. Because at that point, the idea of episodes was much more strongly tied to television, with my limited field of inspiration I chose 26 June 2010 which led me to doing a five minute presentation explaining the plot of Doctor Who's season 5 to the curatorial board of the Biennial plus another thirty-odd strangers. The best moment was having everyone huddle around my iPad as I showed them Vincent van Gogh's Exploding TARDIS.
The only surviving remnant of this idea seems to be Mariana Castillo Deball's To-day 9th July 2016, part of the Monuments of the Future episode (although the artist has been working on the project since 2005) . This is a large wooden structure in Liverpool ONE in the middle of Paradise Street, stretching from opposite Cath Kidson right up to Starbucks and is supposed to "represent an infinite staircase for a character who can jump across the same date in different years throughout history" which brings to mind everything from The Time Traveller's Wife to number Doctor Who spin-off stories in concept and Castrovalva and Escher drawings in realisation.
The object has an accompanying newspaper (available at other venues) which includes diary entries from passengers and crew members aboard various ships who happened to be travelling on that date culled from the Maritime Museum archives, as well as news stories. Sitting on the structure reading the paper, I realised that the drawings on its surface, silhouettes of Liver Birds and Liverpool landmarks, of the dinner which celebrated the clock for the Liver Buildings and the William Morris woodcut are repeated in its pages (or vis-versa). It's a public art piece which expects the viewer to become part of a performance of sorts.
Most people seemed to be having their lunch and children are climbing across its enticing giant steps. Standing back from the object reveals that its sections, a tower with notches and two pyramidal step structures could be slotted into each other to create a box but there doesn't seem to be any danger of that. But it does remind us of how even though we can't physically time travel, it's just possible for us to do so in our memories if something significant enough happened that day for us to remember or as highlighted by the paper in diaries. With this blog's birthday coming up in a couple of days, let's see what it talked about or linked to on each 9th July.
2016 -- Moaning about having to change my email address.
2015 -- The trailer for Doctor Who's ninth season was released.
2014 -- A still useful post about film distributor streaming rights for Netflix and Amazon Prime.
2013 -- A link to a 2009 episode of Radio 4's The Long View which compared Cardinal Richelieu and Lord Mandelson.
2012 -- Doctor Who's A Company of Friends: Fitz's Story reviewed.
2011 -- An interview with another Sarah Palin, Carl Bernstein compared the News of the World scandal with Watergate and a Beatles home video
2010 -- Adam Curtis finds complete footage of the BBC in Afghanistan (which led to his film Bitter Lake), The Courtney Love Experience and a BBC Proms database.
2009 -- Torchwood's Children of Earth: Day Three was broadcast and reviewed and a link dump.
2008 -- Superlambanana search update and an interview with Katie Grand, editor of Vogue Magazine.
2007 -- nothing
2006 -- viewing figures for Doctor Who's Doomsday.
2005 -- a review of MSN's website and the Wikipedia entry about H2G2.
2004 -- I was getting over a manflu, Orson Welles fact of fiction, I was quite wrong about Coyote Ugly but had already decided Love Actually was "dubious" and Becki Sedicki was booted off Big Brother 5.
2003 -- I watched Love Story for the first time and Doctor Who's Scream of the Shalka was announced.
2002 -- Nothing