Interactive live streaming between Inside Out Dorset Hengsitbury Headlines and Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.
Live Landscapes was a pilot project run in September 2016 to learn if it was technically possible to live stream an Inside Out Dorset festival event into Dorset County Hospital, to see what interactivity or active engagement we could generate and to see what positive outcomes it had for patients.
Activate have been developing a partnership with Arts in Hospital but realised that hospital patients would not be able to access our largest project- our festival of extraordinary events in extraordinary, outdoor places, and we wanted to trial this live streaming project to see if we could bring the festival to them. But in order to achieve further health outcomes we wanted to ensure that there was an interactive element to the live streaming, so that patients could make choices and have an element of control, rather than be passive observers.
Working with Alex Murdin, director of Arts in Hospital, and filmmaker Lizzie Sykes we developed Live Landscapes interactive live streaming to run over the course of the 4 days of the Hengsitbury Headlines event. This was a trail of performances and installations in a site of archaeological, geological and ecological significance. We planned to work on the Dialysis Ward and on Kingfisher (children’s) ward. Using iPads to view the live stream, patients, staff and family in the hospital would be able to direct the camera crew onsite and choose which performances to see and how long to see them for. Or choose to ‘walk’ through the landscape or to the beach.
Lizzie contracted cameraman Josh Bosley and media company 1080 media to provide the technical equipment and facilities and they worked closely with the hospital IT team to ensure that we were able to manage a work around for the extremely secure hospital firewalls. For a full description of the technicalities see here.
Flexibility in the plans.
Once the project started, it immediately became obvious that although we had planned for the patients to choose performances to direct the cameraman to, this was still too passive a role for them. They very much wanted to direct the cameraman to take different shots of the sea, to travel on the road train at Hengistbury, to film other things happening on the site. And they wanted to have direct communication with the artists rather than to just watch the live outdoor performances on a small screen. So the project developed as it went along and changed into other formats. We spoke to artists on site and enabled different interactions. The camera crew were totally flexible and were willing to try whatever they were directed to do. And the artists were able to be spontaneous and responsive and either have discussions or create work responsively.
Over the 4 days we worked with- 24 children, family members and staff on the Kingfisher ward, both at the bedside and in the activities room; 6 patients on the Dialysis ward; 16 members and volunteers at the Sunday lunch club for older people. A further approximately 100 visitors saw film in the Damers restaurant on the Sunday when it was being shown on the large screen for the lunch club members.
Hides by Ferdinando Bernstein Byrne articulated themes of migration, shelter and refuge. Flick Ferdinando, the artist, was ‘installed’ in the large bird hide for the weekend and spoke to two different patients at the hospital. Something we hadn’t known before the event was that Flick's father had set up the dialysis ward in Dorchester and the conversation she had with an end of life patient receiving dialysis was very profound. They discussed the themes of her work which related to family, and the patient was very moved by the connection between Flick and their own medical care.
On the Sunday, Flick was able to have a further conversation with a young teenager who had attempted suicide the night before. This focussed on her work and the themes of safety and security. While the discussion was certainly not intended to be therapy or personal, it clearly had the impact of removing the young patient from the reality of their own situation for a short time and giving them another view of a situation to which they could relate.
One young child with a life limiting illness was in a state of distress when the project team entered the Kingfisher ward on the Saturday. The child was in bed with a parent by the bedside and a sibling in the activity room, watching the live feed with other children. Sweetshop Revolution, a dance company, performed very short excerpts of their show, specifically for the child. The dancers and the choreographers also talked to her about the show and their characters. They then created an improvised dance piece on a theme that the child gave them- ‘chicken nuggets’! The interaction lasted about 10 minutes, after which the child was laughing and smiling. This clearly had an impact not only on the child, but on her parent and her sibling- seeing the child enjoying something and being able to control the dancers.
The older lunch club met in Damers restaurant on the Sunday. Lizzie had set up a screen and projector so that they could watch the live stream while they were eating. Some members were able to direct the camera crew, and were particularly interested in the air ambulance, which was doing a display visit, the sea and the views. The film instigated many discussions about previous visits to Hengistbury and noticing the changes or similarities in the site. Many of the lunch club members are older and no longer able to get around independently, so they enjoyed being able to see a place that evoked memories of previous visits and time spent with husbands or wives who were no longer here.
For Activate- Rosalind Conlon- Producer
For Arts in Hospital- Alex Murdin- Arts Manager
Lizzie Sykes- Participatory Filmmaker
Josh Bosley- Lead Camera Operator
Douglas Benge- Camera Assistant
Dan Stephans- 1080 Media
Chelsea Nwasike- Runner
Brian Stalker- ICT Infrastructure Manager at Dorset County Hospital