The Story 2011

The Story 2011 happened on Friday, February 18th, at The Conway Hall, London. Here’s a list of the speakers and some blog posts about the event. You can listen to some podcast recordings of the event here.

2011 Speakers:

Cornelia Parker is one of the UK’s leading sculptors, working with familiar objects that she transforms through spectacular processes. Her past work has included silver tableware flattened by a steam-roller, a garden shed and all its contentsexploded by the British Army, and thousands of coins crushed by a train and suspended in the shape of two human figures. More recently, her work has explored the way that famous people’s lives transform the objects around them, making new works from fragments of Sigmund Freud’s couch, or the marginalia of the Bronte Sister’s journals. Through all her work, she opens up seemingly mundane objects to show the multitude of potential stories they contain. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997, Cornelia’s work has a narrative thread and coherence that makes each work relate to each other, creating an ongoing exploration of life, objects, and the stories that happen between them.

Phil Gyford is one of the most interesting builders and makers on the web. As well as being a gun-for-hire, bringing his elegant and simple design skills to projects for everyone from mySociety to Jamie Oliver, he somehow finds the time to run a number of epic personal projects that change the way people think about the web. Recently he has reimagined how The Guardian could appear online, but at The Story he will talk about Pepys’ Diary, an astonishing undertaking that started at the beginning of 2003, and will eventually publish every single entry in Samuel Pepys 17th century diary as a blog. Started as a simple attempt to get around to reading the diaries, Pepys Diary has become the most comprehensive annotated resource on Samuel Pepys on the web, with thousands of annotations, an Encyclopedia explaining the people and places mentioned in the diaries, and more recently, a Twitter feed. At The Story, Phil will talk through what he’s learned about life in 17th Century, creating collaborative history, and how a long-dead civil servant ended up being a social media hit.

Martin Parr needs no introduction. Probably the UK’s most famous photographer, his seemingly artless snapshots of everyday life illustrate the details and gestures that make up global culture, whilst simultaneously making them seem uncanny and alien. In glaring, garish colour, his photos of british food, bored couples, Japanese commuters or tourists at famous landmarks are, to use his own phrase, “like a soap opera waiting for the right cast to fall into place”. As well as his photography, he is a notorious collector of everything from Photobooks to Saddam Hussein watches, collecting ephemera with the same compulsion and comprehensiveness as his own images. In October 2010, Martin curated the Brighton Photo Biennale, presenting a range of new artists from around the world that bring his own narrative compulsion to their photography.

Mary Hamilton is a journalist, gamer, coder and all round do-er of things that are interesting and story related. She’sturned a festival into a newspaper, made a tiny newspaper for a fictional town, and blogs about lots of interesting things to do with stories, data, and making stuff at Metamedia. But better than all that, she runs a regular Zombie LARP!. Who couldn’t resist that? I’m fascinated with all kinds of real-time, live story-telling, so hearing stories about a LARP was just too good an opportunity to pass up. And its about ZOMBIES!!!

Tim Kring needs no introduction. The creator of the (eight times!) Emmy-nominated  Heroes, he is one of the most successful writers and show-runners in Hollywood. In summer 2010, he created Conspiracy For Good, an ARG that involved players in a fictional  battle against corporate greed that resulted in real world outcomes, including building a number of school libraries in rural villages in Africa. Tim has the unique experience of storytelling at the largest scale possible in Hollywood, and also at the cutting edge of new developments in participatory narrative. At The Story, he’ll talk about what it feels like to write a runaway global hit, how to engage with huge fan communities online, and how to take this attention and turn it into something that really makes a difference.

Lucy Kimbell is an artist and interaction designer whose work deals with how we evaluate, measure and communicate value in everyday life. Using language and techniques adopted from management theory and psychology, her wry and witty works make us think about what we mean by value, and whether our obsession with data can ever capture the slippery emotions and events of our lives. In 2002 she sent questionnaires to seventy people asking ‘What Am I Worth?’, recording the results in her book Audit. As an early pioneer (and critic) of personal informatics, Lucy will be talking about what it feels like to measure your life, and what it tells you about the people around you.

Karl James, has worked as a performer and director for many years, most recently working with Tim Crouch on his ground-breaking plays My Arm, An Oak Tree and The Author. Alongside this, he runs The Dialogue Project, using conversation to explore people’s life stories. Some of these conversations have been used as an installation at the Latitude Festival, creating intimate wormholes from the noise and bustle of a festival into someone else’s innermost thoughts. Karl’s work is story-telling at its rawest – honest, open conversations that are beautiful, tragic, shocking and inspiring.

Paula LeDieu is the Director of Digital at the BFI, and has a long history dealing with archives and digital culture. During her time at the BBC she launched the Creative Archive project, before leaving to join the iCommons project set up by Larry Lessig. Outside of this work, she has create the Bus Tops Project with Alfie Dennen, one of the national Cultural Olympiad commissions, which will transfer the tops of bus shelters into messages boards for stories, thoughts and shout-outs. At The Story, I’m asking Paula to delve into the BFI’s archive and pull out the films that, for her, symbolise why archives are so important to our culture.

Graham Linehan really needs no introduction. As the creator of IT Crowd, and co-creator with Arthur Matthews of Father Ted and Big Train, Graham is responsible for some of the most successful comedy TV of the last 20 years. He also has over 65,000 people following him on Twitter, where his links to spotify playlists, political outrage and comedy videos give a great insight into what lies behind his work. I’m looking forward to hearing from an absolute master about where the raw material for great sitcoms come from, and how the web is changing the way he writes comedy. Graham will be ‘in conversation’ with Cory Doctorow, who kicked off last year’s The Story. I can’t think of a better person to talk about writing, social media, and how to be creative online.

Mark Stevenson is a comedian, author and futurologist who has spent the last year or so researching and writing his new book An Optimist’s Tour of The Future. The book is based on his belief that there are always two ways to tell stories about the future – a pessimistic one, which is often the easiest to find, and an optimistic one. He’ll be talking about his astonishing experiences, from underwater government meetings in The Maldives to doing stand-up comedy about Neuro-Anatomy at Harvard. I’m *really* looking forward to hearing him talk at The Story.

Adam Curtis is a documentary film maker who has created some of the most original and challenging documentaries of the last few decades. His films dig deep into the stories and propaganda of the twentieth century, weaving complex interconnections between the ideas, people and culture that have defined our times, and preserved the power of our elites. His ongoing blog for BBC uses the BBC archive to pick apart the back stories to contemporary events, from Mad Med era Madison Avenue to the No 10 ‘Nudge’ unit. There is no-one else right now who is more lucid, challenging and engaging on the subjects of media, propaganda, power and storytelling, so we’re really pleased to have Adam signed up.

Blast Theory are a brilliantly innovative mobile game/performance/art company who have done lots of fantastic and award-winning projects over the last few years. They will be talking about their approach to narrative, audiences and mobile tech, and showing some of their work over the last decade. Hopefully, this will include the brilliant Day Of The Figurines, and Ivy4Evr, a recent experimental SMS drama they made for us at Channel 4 Education. Blast Theory know more than almost anyone I know about storytelling over mobile tech, and how to work with an audience that is simultaneously absent, yet intimately connected to the work.

Margaret Robertson is the development director for Hide & Seek, and will be this year’s MC for The Story. After Russell Davies’ brilliant hosting last year, I knew it would be tough act to follow, but Margaret is one of the most intelligent, witty and brilliant people I know. What she doesn’t know about storytelling or gaming isn’t worth knowing. In fact, she should probably be speaking, but I’ve asked her instead to be the seemless glue holding the whole event together. No pressure, then Margaret.

Writing and Photos about The Story 2011: