Stories on offer for artists – take these stories and make art from them

Published by Tony Quinlan on

Read on – the offer in the title is real.

Just before Easter, I was in New York for an excellent project exploration meeting with Starlight Runner and others. (An opportunity to let out my inner sci-fi geek and talk all sorts of speculative fiction, from Jasper Fforde to Stephen Donaldson. And indulge a little comics talk too…)

One part of the discussion – making stories available for artists to use to produce new art – prompted me of two things.

When we were collecting stories in Pakistan as part of the pilot of Children of the World, the intention was that those same stories would become part of cross-cultural discussion – pupils and students engaged in international debating, but gathering source material from each others’ narrative cultures. It’s still in the plan for when we get the next tranche of Children of the World off the ground.

And, more recently, at Mat Locke’s excellent The Story conference, (reviews here, here and here here here and check out Mary Hamilton’s wonderful talk on Zombie gaming here) I talked briefly with Adam Curtis. His talk is neatly summed up here

Adam covered much ground in his talk, but among the elements that resonated with me were his comments about how we experience the world in fragments that only make narrative sense later, how the stories we hear daily are edited versions of the raw stories of people on the ground, how making those raw stories is better. I was keen to talk further, but timed it badly as Adam was headed off to meet someone.

Our brief interchange at the back of the hall, however, made me think. One of Adam’s criticisms was that what we had done in various countries – gathering local people’s stories, with their explicit meaning attached to each one – was “just information”. He was more interested in what is done with those stories to create something new.

Which naturally, led me back to our intention from the Children of the World pilot.

So. As part of the Children of the World pilot, we collected some 1500 fragments of stories from people in Pakistan. These were collected Open Source, so are something I am willing to share – in order to create new art.

If you would like to get in touch to talk about using them, please do. Most are in English and are short snippets of experience in response to ambiguous pictures. They’re available as a text file, but get in touch and there may be some interesting things to play with beyond the pure text.