Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe 2015, Uncommon Places 2015

Follow Them: a conversation with Georgia Symons and Lee Shang Lun, Melbourne Fringe 2015

0 Comments 21 August 2015

If you were trying to put together a dream team to create a story installation in Melbourne, it’s quite possible that you’d end up with the powerful combination of live media artist Georgia Symons and independent game designer Lee Shang Lun. The duo met at the 2014 Fresh Air Festival, the annual festival run by Pop Up PlayGround, a Melbourne-based games event organisation. They are now collaborating on a unique project, Follow Me, as part of Uncommon Places, a program organized by the Melbourne Fringe Festival that provides opportunities for emerging artists to showcase their work in unique spaces around Melbourne.

Follow Me is Lee and Symon’s first collaboration, but they are both interested in challenging the traditional relationship between audiences and art. Symons has most recently has worked with Metanoia, the Malthouse, and Apocalypse Theatre Company. She has a particular interest in interactive storytelling and creating more immersive experiences for audiences. Symons wants to create opportunities for audience members to participate in theatre and storytelling, going beyond traditional mediums where the audience “just sits there and we tell them the art”.

Lee is an independent game designer who has created both digital and board games. These include an iPhone app ‘Stickits’, which was included in The New Yorker’s list of Most Elegant iPhone Games of 2013, and ‘Exodus’, a board game similar to Risk, where players try to maintain political power and safeguard their resources in the Maldives, all while trying to adapt their strategy to the new challenges presented by climate change. Lee is also passionate about sharing ideas and collaboration, facilitating “Freeplay”, the Australian independent games festival; All Day Breakfast, a creative community hub in Melbourne; and Interference Space, an experimental art gallery in Prahran. Lee and Symons also have another project in the works, called The Briefcase.

Follow Me is a story installation that guides the participants around Melbourne and is intended to reveal a new perspective of the city that is not immediately apparent. There are four journeys for participants to follow, each tracing a day in the life of a character in Melbourne.

Melbourne is an ideal setting for a project such as this. There are as many ways to experience this city as there are visitors, with many rich and varied perspectives which encompass the city’s intriguing history, a dynamic present, and the private significance of certain cafes and tram stops and alleys. Follow Me is an opportunity to uncover a personal history of public spaces.

Follow Me is informed by the concept of psychogeography, a term defined in 1955 by Guy Deboard, a member of Situationalist International, a politico-artistic organisation of social revolutionaries and members of the avant-garde. In essence, psychogeography is the act of experiencing an urban environment in a playful, distractible fashion, open to new perspectives and experiences; one seldom adopted in our hectic day-to-day lives. As Lee says, “if you get completely lost and wander around the city all afternoon discovering new parts of Melbourne, and never make it to the end of the story, that’s fine. That’s good, actually. That’s what we want.”

The journey begins at the Queen Victoria Market/Elizabeth St tram stop (Stop #7), on the West/Citybound platform. Follow Me will run from 11 August until 4 October. Each narrative will take about fifteen minutes to follow, longer if you become distracted by the wealth of new discoveries the different perspective affords.

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