‘My Life As An Object’ part 2 – Tea At Englefield Green

Last week I wrote about part 1 of the mini-project I've been working on called My Life As An Object. That part is over now, and we're half-way through part 2. Before I talk a bit about that, I should just say that I thought the first week went pretty well. Greg did a great job of 'voicing' the object (and has written up his experiences), and I thought the narrative worked well - it was both jubilent and sad. Mia Ridge did suggest that Twitter makes it "too easy to miss narrative points", but I actually think that for the casual, slowly-building type of story that the @yellowchopper told, Twitter was a good fit.

Anyway, that was last week. This week, it's a painting that's "come to life". And a pretty good painting at that. It's by Paul Sandby, and everyone in the Rattle studio has come to be quite fond of it. The painting is called Tea At Englefield Green, and it is being brought to life via its very own Flickr account. To get things started, we sent out a bunch of postcards featuring different crops of the painting to anyone who we knew and had an address for. The same crops are in the Flickr stream, and we're encouraging people to tell the story of the painting via notes, comments and tags.

Compared to last week's object, this one not only uses a different platform (Flickr instead of Twitter), but has a different interaction model. Instead of a guest writer, who tells the main story whilst interacting with an audience, for this one, the story is told collaboratively by anyone who takes part. This is a harder thing to do, and as a result, the story will probably be quite different, but we think it's a powerful idea and that it's worth a try.

Which is partly what the whole project is all about really. A few people have asked whether we're tracking 'metrics', and whether we have targets for 'reach' and engagement and so on. The answer is that this project is all a bit of an experiment. You could consider it a small-scale prototype. It's not being widely promoted or marketed, instead the aim is to test some ideas, and see what works.

This is one of those few projects where it's okay if things fail. Which is liberating and exciting in equal measures.

In the meantime, please do go and have a look at the painting on Flickr, and take part in the story-telling if you fancy it.

I'll leave you with this quote from Nick Moyles about the Chopper's ending:

"So sad. The glory days of @yellowchopper look like being over." [link]