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Fish, Chips, Cup O’Tea

We all have a story to tell. Do we tell the truth? To whom do we tell what? Which version of events is relayed to the listener? Is all narration reliable, or are we all unreliable narrators? 


I created performance where the audience co-created an interactive narrative that was unlikely to be repeated. I provided a unique insight into my journey in living in London and leaving London after 25 years. Each member of the audience is given a postcard of London. On the back of this postcard are one of three options "Fish", "Chips", or "Cup 0'Tea". The distribution of the postcards is not equal. "Cup O'Tea" is far more common than "Fish". "Chips" is somewhat likely. My performance is determined by what postcards I draw. It is generative by human interaction as well as by computational processes in Max. 

Some of the tales I told were true. Some were lies. Most people did not know what was true and what was a lie. I  lied about the postcards mattering. In one scene, it does not matter what postcard I draw. The result is always the same. 

"Fish, Chips, C'Tea" comes with a trigger warning regarding noise, flashing images, potentially upsetting images, and strong language. This is not a work for the faint-hearted to experience.

The work plays with the notion that the audience is also a performer. The audience co-creates the story with me. Each unique performance is a journey that we all take together. It is about for a short time building a small community in the space. I love the mystery of the performance- even I do not know precisely what will happen!


The Code

The code is in Max. I split the work into several components for clarity and ease of use. I created a modular work where each part can be easily altered for further development or another performance. To use computational power effectively, I split the code- the video runs in Gen and is therefore predominately run off the GPU. I had never worked with Gen previously, so studying this part of Max and learning to write shaders took effort and research.

The audio processing runs on the CPU. I chose to work with some aspects of Max that I was familiar with while still expanding my knowledge. I used techniques such as FFT processing of my voice to control video, amplitude measurement to affect saturation, contrast, video speed, and controlled random triggers to alter the video, thus linking the sound to the visual work. 

The splitting of the computational load enabled me to run the whole performance on my laptop and have enough CPU left over to power a multi-channel soundcard. I also custom mapped my Novation APC 40 to trigger events and control the sound in the performance. 

The Space

G05 at Goldsmiths is a great performance space . It also required considerable work, patience, determination and study to make the best use of it. 

I used multiple channels on my soundcard routed to a side patch bay and then patched into the main sound mixer. I chose this setup because it minimised the cable length to the patch bay as it was off to the side instead of running cables through the audience. 

This digital mixer had an uncommon internal routing system. It was very logical, but I needed to learn the logic behind it! Once I got the hang of it, it was straightforward to choose which speakers to send my sound to and adjust the volume and equalisation for each bit of the performance. 

The video setup used a local network and two siphon streams. To successfully run the video, I created two different siphon servers in Max. I then used NDISiphon to send the video to the central Mac near the sound mixing desk at the back of the room. This Mac ran MadMapper software, and I used this to create a range of video outputs. 

I controlled the MadMapper scenes from my APC 40, which was on stage. I achieved this by mapping the APC 40 to send messages via OSC to control the scene changes.

The setup procedure was complex and required everything to connect smoothly. The photo below is one page of my pre-performance checklist. 

The story continues and changes form. I want to perform the piece again and develop new scenarios and scenes. Overall the work was well-received, and I imagine it could be performed in various settings, including theatre and festivals.