Last Friday I was lucky enough to catch a preview of artist Yu-Chen Wang’s new work for The Imitation Game at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry and Manchester Art Gallery. I’ve already waffled on about my involvement with the project – but even after a good few weeks writing and editing fiction with Yu-Chen and museum curator Sarah Baines, it was still a brilliant surprise to see Yu-Chen’s vision fully realised.
Through fiction, film, pencil drawings and live performance (the shot above is Marc Parry playing a Linotype 78), Yu-Chen has created a rich, questioning work that explores and celebrates heritage and humanness. That it works so differently across both sites makes it even more fascinating.
On a personal level, I feel really lucky to have been involved. There’s no point sugarcoating it: writing collaboratively is challenging. It takes patience and compromise on all sides – not often the qualities of someone used to writing alone, obviously. But at the same time, this project is easily one of the most fun, rewarding things I’ve worked on. To go from nothing to three interlinked stories in a fairly short time was a big rush, and I loved and admired Yu-Chen’s imagination and sense of purpose; Sarah’s deep insight and humour. Plus how often do three people get to sit in a room and nerd out about machines?
The whole thing is definitely worth checking out if you’re in Manchester before June. And if you can make May’s live performances at the Science and Industry Museum, even better – the actors are ace.
Here’s more from the press release:
What if machines sitting in museum stores could remember, talk and interact with each other? What would they say, think and remember? Do machines have human qualities? Do humans have machine qualities?
In Spring 2015 Yu-Chen Wang was artist-in-residence at the Museum of Science and Industry. Her research and reflection on the Museum’s collection and historic site has led to a major new work, Heart to Heart for The Imitation Game, which encompasses text, performance, film, drawing and installation. Her work can be seen at both Manchester Art Gallery and the museum.
Following the residency, Wang collaborated with science fiction novelist Matt Hill and museum curator Sarah Baines to write the story of four characters inspired by a chosen group of objects at the Museum, who reminisce about their past and imagine their futures, revealing the interconnections between machine and human histories. The fictional text has become a script for a live performance, featuring the four machine characters.
A film of the performance is showing in the Liverpool Road Station building at the Museum of Science and Industry and an immersive installation using video projection, sound and drawing to evoke the machine dialogues is on display at Manchester Art Gallery.
Heart to Heart live performances at the Museum of Science and Industry run on these dates:
Friday 20 May: 10am, 11am, 12.30pm, 3.15pm, 4pm
Saturday 21 May: 10.45am, 12:45pm, 3pm, 4.15pm
Monday 23 May: 10am, 11am, 12.30pm, 3.15pm, 4pm
Tuesday 24 May: 10am, 11am, 1.45pm, 3.15pm
Tickets are free but places are limited – see eventbrite.co.uk for booking soon