Nothing to Hide

Last month, Marina – Circuit National Manager and Hannah – Circuit Digital Producer were invited to speak at Culture24’s conference Connecting Collections. Our panel was called Deep Focus: Why video is changing everything.

In 3 years time 80% of all internet traffic will be video. Increasingly, people will consume and create longer-form and higher quality video on mobile devices. With this comes new expectations from audiences about the ways in which they want to respond to and engage with cultural institutions, ideas and artefacts. This session explored some possible futures and focuses in on projects which use video in practical and creative ways to support a deeper, more critical engagement by children and young people.

As our work during Circuit is focused on engaging vulnerable young people, we focused our talk on some of the key challenges using video with this group presents, but also shared examples of how creative use of video with young people has resulted in a deep level of engagement. In the below, we’ve used Tweets from conference attendees during the day to pick out and retell some of the stories that our audience found most interesting. We post this alongside a film that we produced to go alongside our talk, which highlights the issues using video presents, and showcases positive examples of how video has been used in work with young people from the Circuit programme.

In Marina’s work as a digital artist, she was working with a group of vulnerable young people on a film project. After buying a series of camcorders, colleagues were shocked when she gave them out to the young people, and asked them to take them home overnight and collect some footage. The staff were convinced the kit wouldn’t make it back. And yet, the next morning, all the cameras were returned by the young people, and each had collected some amazing footage, showing a real insight into the lives of young people, which was put together into a powerful film. By showing young people trust to take care of the tech, Marina was able to build a relationship with them, which resulted in them feeling commitment and ownership of the project, and making a film that was authentic to their voice.

The Circuit programme is delivered over eight sites, but two national groups of young people exist to work on specific aspects: Circulate – Circuit‘s young evaluators, and Team Digital – Circuit‘s young digital producers.

Circulate have adopted lots of digital strategies for evaluating – using iPad apps, digitally annotating photos, and most recently – vlogging. This allows them to produce a creative product from their evaluation, designed and multilayered, and most importantly – fun to make. The particular advantage of vlogging is that it allows young people a space for personal reflection, captures their authentic voice and yet shares that so that learning can be extracted for use in the wider programme.

Team Digital meet monthly on Skype video chat to share digital skills and explore creative tools for digital making. Video chat enables the group to meet where it would have been impossible to facilitate otherwise, with young people as far apart as St Ives to Manchester. When meeting up, Team Digital generally seem to Skype from their respective kitchens – and this creates the kind of relaxed, informal and trusting atmosphere that few other venues can support.

With young people leading the way in the Circuit programme, and video as a fast growing medium for everything from communication to production, we look forward to seeing how young people continue to integrate video into the programme. Will we send video messages instead of emails? Will reports take the shape of vlogs? Will we projection map video onto our walls instead of printing flyers? We hope so.