A transcript of Ed Cookson's introduction to the premiere performance of The Black Page at the Tyneside Cinema on 24th September 2009.
'Hello everyone and thank you all for coming to what is a truly special event for us, one that we’ve been building towards one way or another since The Sancho Plan was formed. The project was founded on the ethos of integration, but right from the start it was our desire to excel in every aspect of craft being integrated – the idea, the visuals, the music, the technology and the performance, and we’re just indebted to all the amazing talents in these varied fields that have contributed & continue to contribute to the project.
We’re also careful not to underestimate the craft of integration itself. We don’t see it so much as simply choosing the best music in isolation, but the right music to match the right visual and so on, for when these things come together in the right way to create a unified work it truly is a beautiful thing. Our aim is the perfect immersive experience. I have a vivid memory surrounding one particular painting at the permanent Dali exhibition in Barcelona, but my memory isn’t so much of the painting itself but of the experience of the painting. For sure, the painting was a beautiful surrealist landscape but coincidently positioned right above my head was an air-conditioning unit that emitted this almost musical rich ominous drone like something from a David Lynch film that for me perfectly complimented the painting, almost sucking me into that unusual landscape. Looking back I was also aware of the other elements that had contributed to the moment – while the rest of the exhibition was in fairly large bright rooms, this painting was in a much smaller, darker room to which the only entrance was through a red curtain. And it’s all of these factors and I’m sure others which were subconscious elements that contributed to my recollection of the experience.
And with today’s rate of technological hardware and software development, as artists we have an amazing array of integration tools available to create the unified immersive experiences of tomorrow. New technologies in themselves aren’t enough however; I’ve always been less attracted to work that seems to exist primarily to demonstrate a new technology. Technology and media are tools to be used to transmit an idea and the skill is to choose the right tool for the right job – or choose when to not use the latest technologies at all.
In The Sancho Plan, we have a belief that to get the best work out of the various artists involved we should let them use the best tools available to their craft, and these are often the ones familiar to them. Anyone who’s worked with a one-stop-shop videogames engine in which you create graphics, sound and interactivity knows that it rarely excels in any of these. Thus our visual artists can work in their favourite 3D package, or stop-motion or traditional hand-drawn animation; our musicians work in their familiar music software; our programming is done in languages such as Actionscript and Lingo; and our interfaces can be any electronic musical instrument or non-musical input capable of sending MIDI. And it’s MIDI, a simple protocol defined in 1982 to connect musical synths that binds everything together.