Now that more than ten people have asked me ‘What even is Free Seeing?’ I thought I’d better write a short blog post to explain it a bit more. Francis Lowe got in touch during the last Still Walking festival to tell me about his notion of ‘found places’ – to be regarded in the same vein as Duchamp’s found objects. Both the objects and the places were of course already there but the creative activity is announcing that there’s something further to be known about them, without actually altering anything. A small group of us wandered around Digbeth in the shadow of the viaduct arches, into Forklift workshops, across open land, reframing the world, tipping the horizon and generally being adventurous about visualising what was around us. Digbeth is already quite a bizarre place that naturally invites surreal interpretations.
It’s a recurring theme of the festival: people see the world differently. Indeed there’d be no festival if that wasn’t the case. It’s an intriguing moment in the walks when the guide describes why particular spot is relevant and yesterday we heard a different take on the same location from somebody else.
Francis’ theme is what the actual moment of seeing is comprised of, what we are actually doing to observe or notice something and how we can then be creative about it. We usually don’t need to be, so the subject never comes up. It helps to know that he teaches animation – a lot of the techniques of framing a moving image are appliable here.
All of this may involve looking over walls, lying down (mats provided!) remaining static, panning left to right, entering narrow apertures, looking at archaeological evidence, sitting in a croft and filing it all in an internal gallery. Advanced user may later get into testing deja vu, attention rehearsals, refining gut instinct, testing the edge of danger, losing found objects, learning to get lost and possibly a visit to moon as found object.
Tickets are £5, there are at time of writing 4 left, but once you learn the technique it’s yours to keep forever and to do anywhere.