Festival Diaries - artist Tim Etchells

Mary HamiltonArtist and performance-maker Tim Etchells shares his Festival diary.Mary Hamilton

Artist and performance-maker Tim Etchells shares his Festival diary.

Seems like a long time ago that I first made the trip to Norwich, looking at the city and talking about neon signs, text messages and marathon performances amongst other possibilities.

The months have flown by since then - a combination of more site visits, endless poring over photographs of shop-windows, conversations about methods for delivering bulk text messages, solving questions about methods for installing neon signs and so on.


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Now it seems that things are coming together. The signs have gone into their chosen locations and I have put the finishing touches to the text for A Short Message Spectacle - a new work which invites audience to experience a performance by mobile phone alone.

An SMS is unfolding over the whole 16 days of the festival, with 4 or 5 messages arriving to the audience each day, the texts describing the scenes and events of an extraordinary and entirely imaginary performance.

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I love the text for this piece, and I'm very excited that it is now going out to an audience.

Perhaps the strangest thing about writing for this form is that one has to be so precise with character count.

A text message can only be 160 characters long and I have had to manically trim sentences to length.

There's something of cookery or origami about this process, as if one's boiling away liquid to get to its essence, or as one's folding the words, trying to economise, condensing ideas, checking and rechecking the number of characters.

Neon Signs by Tim Etchells is an installation which will be appearing at sites across Norwich throughout the Festival

You can see Tim performing Quizoola! - a mad marathon game of questions and answer, one minute pub quiz and the next interrogation - with Forced Entertainment on 15 May at The Garage.

To book tickets call 01603 766400 or visit www.nnf10.org.uk

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