Blind Ditch

Blind Ditch: 2001 – 2022

Land Marked map and lampFrankfurt

We began working together in 1999 during post-graduate study at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, UK. An eclectic mix of Europeans, back then we had a passion for DIY sound effects, the forensics of everyday life, and training ourselves to fall over in dramatic ways without hurting ourselves. Our first performance Land Marked commissioned for the Plateaux Festival (Mousonturm, Frankfurt December 2001), and the International Devising Theatre Conference (Dartington, September 2001), , was an experiment in locating the feeling of being ‘home’ together across our languages and cultures.

We discovered a shared enthusiasm for field work and utopian dreaming that was slightly out of step with the neoliberal individualism of the times. Making work increasingly outside of studio settings, we began to use the lens of our collaborative art practice to look more closely at where and how we were living, and to make art work in partnership with the communities we were becoming more a part of. Our award winning VANLAND project (Brussels Observatory Best Practice Award 2006), collaborated with young people in rural Teignbridge to produce short films about their village lives, and showcase them to their communities in a specially adapted touring caravan.

At the same time, we began to experiment with digital technology in ways that were too social to be quite achievable, and usually on the edge of failure. To treat the machines in the same ad hoc, DIY way we put together our other materials. Our 2004 project Eudaimonia treated the digital as an analogue space, and our 2006 project Who Wants to be a Hero Now? used crowd sourced phone videos alongside live image streaming, to speak to an online audience through a dial-up connection. We grew an ongoing interest in the architectures of digital culture.

Some of stayed in Devon, some of us left, some of us keep visiting. Some of us had children, some of us got other kinds of full time jobs, and some new people joined us. We continued to enjoy a supportive and inspiring relationship with staff and students at Dartington College until it finally closed its doors in 2010.

Bringing together our interest in digital and civic lives, our year-long project This City’s Centre (2013) was an ambitious distributed and participatory triptych for Exeter, based on the views from 40 windows within 10 minutes walking distance of the city centre. Collaborating with Exeter based associate artists, college students and local residents, the project mixed installation, interactive mapping and live stream performance to create a distributed work that spoke to the idea of the possible city as much as the one we live in.

Over the last 5 years we have expanded our collaborations with cultural workers from outside the arts – working with cultural geographers, creative technologists, earth scientists, and workers in public health and community wellbeing. The 2018 project The Common Line builds on this transdisciplinary approach through an ambitious concept in digital and participatory land art that is still in development. We have a growing practice as critical friends, mentors and co-thinkers, and retain our firm interest in exploring place-shaping and citizenship through creative practice.