Arrivals and introductions, Budapest week 1 1/2

Uncategorized emilie @ 8:22 pm


I missed my train from London.
He left at 4am and got there early.
This tells a lot about who we are.
(He was, I must say, not surprised)

Reflecting on these past few months, I realize that what has moved me most – because of its unexpectedness, is the nature of collaboration itself. Beyond authorship and choreography, performance and technology. Beyond what we had set ourselves up to discover…

But this is not (really) about that.

Onwards with Budapest.


We arrive at an uncharacteristically calm KIBU, where we were given the tour and handed the keys to our (amazing) flat. And although courtyards seem to be a banal architectural affection to locals, we feel like royals. We both have rooms with doors.


Patiently awaiting our turn to speak at the weekly team meeting, we are pleased to hear a familiar ‘hey guys!’ amongst the Hungarian chatter. A few (20) minutes to describe the project later, we find a desk, a wifi passcode and reboot the piece.

KIBU is alive, filled with dismembered robots and knowing makers. Absolutely welcoming.

We had left Amsterdam with We Are Forests running on an Asterisk phone system and the desire to move things along the open source hardware route. Objects soon to be part of the internet of things.

We had also been meaning to revise our working schedule, as 10-18 – we found out the hard way, is more depressing then useful. Myself being mostly grumpy until 12.

Happy beginnings.


KIBU is hosting a noise workshop. This is driving us completely mad, but we remain focused and enjoy the happening. Noise is good.

Yet an escape to the great market hall allows for food and illuminations.
And we fall in love.

‘high above your head, iron struts hold up the arching orange roof.
light floods in from the hundreds of square glass panes,
illuminating the infinite pattern of pale and darker tiles lining the alleyways.’
– We Are Forests (rethink_v03)

This piece had found its public space. A market.


Duncan is ill.

The weekend…

is spent battling illnesses and .

We (mostly) talk about the market, and the adjacent bridge, about the reverence of cathedrals and feeling like a guest in a space.

We devise choreographies, and imagine stories beyond walls.

We think about crowds and lost intimacies, about the sited and the specific.

We remember the busker in the Amsterdam square, who played out of tune (with the piece in our ears).
In the end we had given him money to listen to our mp3 and play accordingly.
And it was beautiful. An unperfected bleed between We Are Forests and, well… this is your (real) life.

And Sunday night…

we meet Lawrence.

Lawrence is a friend of a friend, a brilliant musician and british expat living in Pest. He takes us to a local jazz bar, where the ‘chef’s favourite soup’ is followed by Pàlinka.

We tell Lawrence about the busker, and ask him if he knows a singer with the balls to perform the audience contributions in the market, a cappella, at a key moment in the piece.

He says: sure!

And that singer is now Lawrence.

As of Monday…

We geek out on Gumstix.

Duncan fires up the engines (with Tim, live from Dublin), writing up PD patches and lines of Linux to make sense of it all.

And I ponder.
‘What would you whisper in a stranger’s ear?’…
What if this piece was ever really meant to connect only two people within a crowd?

Our phone system was built with the gall to connect as many participants as possible, creating a choir-like narrative layered onto public spaces in real-time.

But what of this second piece? The object-based – more intimate piece… Could we actually change all the rules?

I travel the city and find a tin music box that László happily takes apart to find room for the Gumstix. coque samsung The top tier sounds like the creepy ‘eye wide shut’ score, and I make scary faces while winding the handle. And leave it at that.

Lawrence visits with Dori to rehearse the a cappella moment. We hand them mp3 players and imagined bits of narrative. And as they sing of lost sisters and broken windows, we finally hear the piece. Whole. And everyone applauds.

Meanwhile, Arjan (the great) is still hacking away at the Asterisk phone system and connected web interface, as we’ve sent him weird structure diagrams he must now make sense of. And all the way from Amsterdam, we receive pings and urls with progress updates and eventually, a final product.

With the Gumstix alive, the phone system kicking and our three producers flying into town, we are ready for our first market test.

Friday (today)

We test.

Duncan meets Lawrence and Dori at the market while I explain the rules to our willing participants.

Phones in hand, we make our way through the busy streets, and into the even busier market. It’s almost 12 and locals are stuffing themselves with cabbage as tourists fill their shopping bags with souvenirs.

And as our system now allows for calling out instead of in, we hit play, and mobiles start to ring.

‘Welcome to We Are Forests. iphone 11 case Press 1 to start’

In the Panorama bar, on the top tier of the building, Lawrence and Dori are scribbling down participants’ contributions as they are being recorded in real-time on the lower level.

‘Strawberries. Sausages. coque huawei A giant lamp.’

Duncan pushes the narrative and instructions sound files as I walk along, recording wild sound with my ‘chic white’ project phone.

The choreography seems to be working. People are navigating the space as planned.

‘we’d like you to be part of the crowd again,
because this moment was never just for you

make your way back downstairs to the central walkway of the market.’
– We Are Forests (rethink_v05)

The singers are now facing each other in the centre of the market. From the top floor, we hear the lower chords of Lawrence’s song. coque iphone But the space is giant and to notes are lost.

And as the piece finishes, and participants make their way to find us. bracelet bijoux We hope for the best. The tech system worked flawlessly, but what of the stories? of the intentions?

The feedback is good, helpful. coque iphone Our newest canvas is understood, and people are moved.

Now what?

This last leg comes with a deadline.

We are pleased to finish the residency in Bristol, as it feels like the project will be returning from a long journey abroad. Yet the timetables are tight, and we’ll only have a few days to re-write the script for the space, and show and tell. And then there is Future Everything

But we are here.

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