Focus on #wearexperimenting

Taking photographs with a wheelie bin will play a part in a new photographic project about to start in Sunderland.

The #wearexperimenting project will be delivered by Sunderland photographic artist Jo Howell on behalf of the Cultural Spring and co-commissioner the North East Photography Network (NEPN).

Jo explained: “Wear Experimenting is an exciting project that infuses science and photography on a large public scale. The project is inviting the people of Sunderland to take part in a methodical, and fun, scientific mass observation of the city.

“We’re going to engage as many people as possible with photography and science, and we’ll achieve this in several ways. First of all, we’ll work with people in different areas of the city to record the path of the sun using handmade cameras.

“We’ll also be encouraging people to take pictures with their smartphones and use the #wearexperimenting hashtag to help us collect loads of images that we’ll then look to put into an archive for public display.

“And lastly, on most Saturdays between June and September our pop-up darkroom will appear in places around the city, and we’ll be encouraging people to take part in four photographic experiments.

“These experiments will be: taking portraits using a wheelie bin as a camera; portraits using microscopes; taking camera-less photographs of plastic waste in the city, and using coffee tins to photograph buildings around Sunderland.”

Emma Horsman, Project Director at the Cultural Spring, said: “With the advent of smartphones there has been a marked increase in the number of people taking pictures and an interest in photography. We wanted to reflect this growing interest with a co-commission with our friends at North East Photography Network, with whom we’ve worked before.

“#wearexperimenting will engage Wearsiders in a series of experiments and invite them to share their experience of life in the city. Experiments will ask questions relating to the natural and physical environment; social, domestic and work life; health and well-being of the city and its residents.”

Amanda Ritson, Programme Manager at NEPN, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Jo on this project and look forward to seeing the results of the experiments. The project will give people the opportunity to explore the creative links between science and photography, using both traditional photographic processes and new technologies to consider how photography helps us to understand the world.

“It’s a project aimed at people of all ages and the use of social media should increase engagement and accessibility to the project.”

Funding for the project has come from NEPN and the Cultural Spring, and has also been supported through public funding by the National Lottery through ACE.