Formality*  is an interactive experience brought to UP Projects by Barbados-based artist Ewan Atkinson that deploys humour and the absurd to explore citizenship and social acceptability. 

For many years Atkinson has engaged in the study of a relatively unknown community called The Neighbourhood, seeking to understand its origins and inhabitants.  The Neighbourhood Project  is an archive of this ongoing study. 

Formality*  is an interactive  digital visa application service that grants citizenship to The Neighbourhood. Built on the obsolete 1980s software system, HyperCard, it highlights the use of outdated technologies in bureaucratic practices. Meanwhile, the puzzling questions and riddles contained in Formality* refer to the political, cultural and linguistic limitations that impact free movement.  

From Ewan Atkinson: 

“The Neighbourhood is a strangely comfortable place, frustratingly cryptic and yet delightfully transparent, all at once. Formality* is a curious and frustrating example of technological ‘advancement’ in The Neighbourhood

While intended to simplify the bureaucratic visa application process, my experience exploring it suggests otherwise.  

The tutorial is woefully incomplete, the software antiquated with many glitches, and the questions border on the absurd. One wonders if it was actually supposed to work. In a commendable move to incorporate the voices of residents, the developers have included testimonials from local ‘advisors’ to help the user progress. However, their usefulness is questionable, suggesting that their presence might merely be an effort to appease rather than represent a real commitment to inclusivity.  Unsurprisingly, I have found no evidence proving that this version of the software was actually put to use.” 

Atkinson asks for your help.  

“My attempts to be approved for a Neighbourhood visa with Formality* have been futile. My application is always declined.  

I get the impression there is a secret way to navigate the software successfully. This is where I need your help. 

I invite you to help me with my research by attempting to use Formality* yourselves. If any information about The Neighbourhood is necessary for this task, you can find it in my research archive, www.theneighbourhoodproject.com

If you manage to gain approval, please email a screen shot of your successful 'Applicant Report' and a mailing address to  neighbourhoodprojectmail@gmail.com 

The first two successful applicants will win a limited-edition print of  'Peregrination, A Playable Reproduction,’ a Neighbourhood artefact first discovered in 2018.” 

Peregrination  offers advice to new Neighbourhood residents, helping them to acclimatise, attain acceptance and gain prosperity. Its aesthetic is reminiscent of 17th century Northern American and European board games, which conflicts with its content - raising questions as to the geneses and development of The Neighbourhood.  

Ewan Atkinson’s work has been exhibited by international galleries, museums and institutions including Liverpool Biennial, the 12th Havana Biennial, the Brooklyn Museum in New York, National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston, Jamaica, the Museum of Latin American Art in California, Art Museum of the Americas in Washington D.C., Transmission Gallery in Scotland and Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast. Atkinson has been an educator for over 15 years. He is currently the coordinator of the Studio Art BFA programme at the Barbados Community College and a co-founder of Punch Creative Arena, an independent curatorial initiative. 

Return to Happy Redoubt

  1. Game
  2. Players
  3. Info

You have been travelling for four sunrises. Your flask is nearly empty and there are just scraps of dried fruit left in your pack. Your feet drag over ruptured chunks of tarmac and uneven paving slabs, through which tough and resourceful plants push their heads. Deserted grey buildings are your companions, their broken glass eyes lifeless under the midday sun. Your head hangs low with tiredness and heat.

You stop. Through a buckled gate you see the unusual sight of a flickering electric sign hanging from a post in the middle of a long stone courtyard. You clamber through the twisted metal turnstile to investigate. The sign points to an open doorway, through which you see a host of electric lights blinking in a pale rainbow of colour. You enter. The room is bare apart from the lights and a descending spiral staircase. Two doors lead off to the left and right of the room but they are locked shut. Through the small glass windows in their surface you can see only darkness beyond. The room is cool, a welcome respite from the searing weather outside. You decide to follow the stairs downwards. Wide stone steps cause your footsteps to echo upward. You hold the cool metal banister, its black turned surface guiding your descent. Debris litters the less trodden parts of the steps, scraps of fabric and browned paper nesting amongst piles of dust that have gathered in corners where the stone meets the flaking painted walls. You soon find yourself on a narrow landing. Doors to your left and right have been sealed up with scraps of wooden board. In front of you is a large metal door, onto which are scratched the letters ‘H R’. You gently push the door. It swings violently inward at your touch, causing you stumble through. The door closes again before you are able to regain your balance. You spin round and try it but it will not open. There is no visible lock or handle and the door is far too thick and sturdy to break open. You sigh with resignation. It is time to explore your new surroundings.

You are stood in a dimly lit reception area. The walls are black and covered in chalk glyphs. There is a set of double doors ahead of you. To your left is a market stall, bedecked with hundreds of hand-painted wooden necklaces. Each necklace features a symbol consisting of two circles, one on top of the other. The upper circle features a skull-like robotic face, the lower a pair of staring eyes. On top of the stall sits a small, brightly-coloured robot, surrounded by a cluster of electric candles. You step forward to look more closely at the robot.

“Welcome to Happy Redoubt, friend!” The robot turns to look directly at you. Lights flicker across its face as it speaks. “Please rest a while here in the marketplace. You can do jobs and earn currency. You can spend the currency on things you like. You can rest and do jobs. Please enter the market place. Be productive. Earn currency. We are watching. Welcome friend.” The robot gestures towards the doors ahead of you, its arms and head twitching constantly as it does so.

You hesitate.

“Have been here before? You seem familiar. Each visit is different. The options are endless. Welcome.”

Players

Emma

Catnip

Restless traveller seeking adventure, knowledge, and happiness.

Gus Fudge

Gus Fudge

Gus Fudge is a failed rock star who now fails to make a living through various creative means. He once worked as a cabbage harvester and has spent the last ten years working on a script for a comedy series called, 'Commuter Friends' - a dark and hilarious look at the lives of a bunch of Margate to London train commuters.

Cryogenic Cyborgs

Cryogenic Cyborgs

We are human cyborgs with afros and beards, we wear leather jackets and Bermuda shorts, our socks are always pink. Our purpose is to investigate the unforeseen effects of global events, for example the parallel international decline of tuppée sales and the political rise of Donald Trump.

Emma

Lumbble Liff

3"11' high. Loves to tinker and fix. Was a watchmaker in a grand city. Once tried to fix a nobleís large clock and found it too complex and too unfamiliar a design to repair properly. Widely scorned for 'letting the gnome folk name down'. Still scraping a living.

Gus Fudge

Orochi Pilgrim

Raised by ninjas in Kilburn, the Orochi Pilgrim searches for his Samurai father in the foothills of the Outer Circle of the Virtual Abyss.

Cryogenic Cyborgs

The Inflatable Building

The space in which we all exist, on the ground, in the sky, on the internet. We will give you a place to live as long as you know how to inflate us and have a place to put us ñ bring pegs, you wouldnít want us to float away.

Rick Anywhere

Rick Anywhere

Born in the mid 80s, Rick is a clone from a nomadic tribe of red-cloaked women. Determined to prove his own worth, he has put his tent on air-bnb and embarked on a quest with only his yellow backpack and small fish for company. He has a speed of 6 (when walking) and crafting skills of 9

Wasteland Neighbours

Wasteland Neighbours

£1 family from Stoke-on-Trent - we like gardening, growing salads and visiting the green spaces in cities. There are three of us, two with strong fringes and one with a beard. We live next door to a large brownfield and an oil refinery. We are keen bird watchers.

Torridon Croft

Torridon Croft

Torridon Croft was born into a life of privilege and quickly developed an insatiable appetite for destruction. It is said that great power demands great responsibility ñ not for young Torridon. Last rumoured to be peddling the Dagger of Xian around Kensington's least reputable antiques dealers. The world turns on Torridon's wretched axis.

Info

Follow nine players as they navigate their way through Happy Redoubt, a post disaster marketplace run by the remnants of the former technological age. They will be entering their moves in real time and will receive bespoke responses from Juneau Projects. Their game will form a unique story as they navigate the marketplace, using arts and crafts skills to survive in a new economy of making and creativity.

Three players will begin, followed by subsequent rounds of three players at a time, each making their own journey. The game will run from 19th May to 22nd July.

×