Pandemic Encounters ::: being[together] in the deep third space – May 23, 2020

Creative Futures recently featured University of Brighton Professor of Visual Communication Paul Sermon in relation to his work around videoconferencing in arts practice.

We are delighted to announce Paul is doing a networked performance installation from his living room at home on May 23, 2020, 5:00–6:30 p.m (UK). Organised by Randall Packer and Third Space Network, in collaboration with Leonardo LASER Hosts.

For more information and to register to please visit here

Photo Credit © Paul Sermon

Pandemic Encounters is a networked performance installation inhabited by the live chroma-figure of Paul. Participants are invited to enter into the deep third space to engage & perform a ritual action as a reflection on the Covid-19 state of being[together] remotely. Each action has its own form: an artistic expression, a scientific analysis, a poetic rendering, a political manifesto, a social critique, a dystopic cry of distress, a subtle movement, a moment of catharsis, or a call in the night from some distant corner of the world. Pandemic Encounters is a collective/creative response to a global pandemic that has triggered an unfolding metamorphosis of the human condition.

World Times and Date:

San Francisco: May 23, 2020, 9:00–10:30 a.m.

New York: May 23, 2020, 12:00–1:30 p.m.

London: May 23, 2020, 5:00–6:30 p.m.

Sao Paulo: May 23, 2020, 1:00–2:30 p.m.

Hong Kong: May 24, 2020, 12:00–1:30 a.m.

War & Peace – 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

University of Brighton’s Dr Frank Gray and the team at Screen Archive South East (SASE) have prepared ‘War & Peace’ – a free to stream 7 minute film to both commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe and provide an introduction to the many films it has collected over the last twenty-five years on the experience of living in the South East during this epochal period of 1939-45. ‘War & Peace’ is designed as a chronological montage in black & white and colour of home front life as captured by film-makers from the region. It culminates with all the exhilaration and exuberance of the celebrations that took place that May in 1945 both on after VE Day on 8 May 1945. It features the building of Anderson shelters, air raid drills in a Hove school, a fire-engine off to an ‘incident’ in Surrey, Spitfires at Tangmere, Land Girls along with their pet dogs on the family farm in Surrey all posing in respirators, the ‘real’ Dad’s Army armed with broomsticks in West Clandon and the terrible and tragic aftermath of Brighton’s Blitz. It concludes with the end of war celebrations in London and the South East: parades, street parties, jitter-bugging and doing the hokey-cokey. ‘War & Peace’ is accompanied by a specially commissioned score from the award-winning screen composer Nina Humphreys.

‘War and Peace’ and all the films below (and many more) are free to stream online at

Watch: ‘War & Peace’:

Many of the films used in ‘War & Peace’ have never been seen before in public. SASE has been preparing for this anniversary by researching, digitising and cataloguing films from WW2. We now have, as a result, over one hundred and fifty Home Front films available to view on our website:

Six SASE films used within ‘War & Peace’ provide a valuable introduction to our Home Front collection and its representation of war years:

‘Brighton Civic Week, Civil Defence Services & Land Girls’ is one of a number of films by Winston Robinson, who during the war served as Brighton’s official cinematographer. This colour film features a visit by Home Secretary Herbert Morrison, who inspects the town’s defences, a parade in Brighton’s Preston Park saluting the twenty-six allied nations and women of the Land Army ploughing, harvesting and driving their tractors.

Watch: ‘Brighton Civic Week, Civil Defence Services & Land Girls’:

‘A.R.P’ a film by architect John Clague, who made a unique record of the Home Front in Herne Bay featuring evacuees arriving at the station, firemen dealing with incendiary bombs and men and women volunteers training to deal with casualties, first aid and gas attacks. He also filmed a visit to the deep tunnel shelters hewn into the cliffs of Ramsgate.

Watch: ‘A.R.P’:

A very recent discovery is the Bell collection’s ‘Childhood Wartime Scenes’ – which shows squadrons of Flying Fortresses flying overhead on a bombing raid and an attack by a V1 Doodlebug and the horrific devastation it brought to suburban Cheam.

Watch: ‘Childhood Wartime Scenes’:

‘Victory in Europe’ made by Angelo Razzo captures scenes on that amazing day in London with GI’s, leading the jitter-bugging and waltzing throughout London’s streets. This film continues to be a mystery as we haven’t yet been able to uncover any biographical information on Angelo Razzo and how he came to be on the streets of London with his camera on this day.

Watch: ‘Victory in Europe’:

‘Victory in Europe 1945’ – another film from Winston Robinson which starts with the Mayor proclaiming the formal declaration of peace to delighted crowds outside the Town Hall before showing the citizens of Brighton & Hove enjoying street parties all across the town with eating, dancing, funfairs and sing-a-longs all celebrating that momentous day.

Watch: ‘Victory in Europe 1945’:

Norman Edwards’ highly atmospheric ‘Royal Thanksgiving’ captures the crowds, street sellers and men and women of the services assembling in Whitehall and along the Mall waiting to see the Royal Family joined by Winston Churchill on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Then moving to Trafalgar Square we see Victory bonfires, dancing and lines of dancers doing the hokey-cokey.

Watch: ‘Royal Thanksgiving’:

These films also relate to two of the themes found on the SASE website:

Home Front

Wartime & Military

Screen Archive Staff:

Director: Dr Frank Gray

Moving Image Archivist: Ine van Dooren

Business & Partnerships Manager: Jane King

Administrator: Louise Conway

Preservation & Production Manager: Nick Clark

Technical Assistant: Stasia Botwright

Collection Manager: Michael Matwiejczyk






Screen Archive South East is a publicly-funded regional film archive serving this region of England. Established in 1992 by the British Film Institute, the University of Brighton and a consortium of local authorities, SASE is dedicated to collecting, preserving, digitising, cataloguing and providing public and commercial access to its screen collection of films, videotapes, lantern slides and digital files. SASE is committed to ‘inclusive heritage’ and nurturing and sharing a vision for screen heritage that combines research, stewardship, curation, exhibition and education with audience & visitor development. It is dedicated to skill-sharing, knowledge-sharing (archival & curatorial) and working in partnership with colleagues both regionally and nationally.

Part of the University of Brighton, it serves the South East of England and its six local authorities: Brighton & Hove, East Sussex, Kent, Medway, Surrey and West Sussex. Its collection of over 25,000 lantern slides and moving images document the rise of screen culture in the region and the nation and represent primarily the changing nature of life in the South East from the late 19th century to the present day. SASE’s Conservation Centre is found within the West Sussex Record Office at Chichester (which includes work space and a climate-controlled media vault). This record office is SASE’s primary partner.

In 2009 SASE was recognised by the BFI as a significant UK film collection and it features on the AHRC website as one of their case studies:

General enquiries should be made to:

Screen Archive South East

University of Brighton

Room G02C

154-155 Edward Street

Brighton, BN2 0JG


Tel: +44 (0)1273 643213


Be creative with your videoconferencing, make it memorable, it makes a difference

On the 21st March 2020 I put out a simple message on my Facebook profile in response to the increasing use of online video communications due to the imminent Covid19 lockdown, “be creative with your videoconferencing, make it memorable, it makes a difference”. Having spent almost thirty years working with videoconferencing in my arts practice, I felt compelled to respond to the current situation with some words of creative encouragement. This sentiment has also been expressed through social media channels and broadcast news reports on the proliferation of creative video chat encounters, from living room performances and streamed DJ sets to family quizzes, karaoke parties and even Skype dinner dates. Whilst we have been quick to creatively experiment our way out of isolation, there are I believe further considerations and approaches to our new networked coexistence we can take. From my own experience of producing many telepresent video installations I have learnt alternative methods and simple techniques to increase our sense of coexistence in these videoconference encounters.

Telematic Dreaming at Fabrica Brighton 1999

Since the early 1990s I have combined and relocated distant audiences in a range of familiar settings in social and fictional contexts, from life size projections of remote participants on shared bed surfaces and green-screened TV viewers sitting together on the same sofa to distant gallery visitors seated at the same virtual peace negotiations table and performers sharing the same telepresent stage. From the early days of fibreoptic telephone lines to internet videoconferencing these ‘telematic artworks’ have invariably involved customised video and computing technologies to converge duplicated installation interfaces in gallery settings to bring distant audiences together, creating a greater sense of presence and empathy between them. Although relatively complex, they are not impossible to set up at home with bit of video experimentation and some rearrangement of the furniture. Through this practice-based research I have strived to co-locate audiences into a shared third-space of coexistence, having been frustrated with the assumption that simply looking into a camera will convey all the subtleties of body language, expression and a phenomenological sense of self and other.

Telematic Dreaming at Fabrica Brighton 1999

While videoconferencing has become commonplace in business, education and domestic contexts through applications such as Skype and FaceTime, peer-to-peer videoconferencing does not replace a look them in the eye handshake or a reassuring hug on the sofa with a close relative. However, when in your Teams or Zoom meetings I am sure you will have found yourself occasionally glancing at your own image in the smaller picture-in-picture window as well as looking at the person you are meeting – and they will be doing the same. In effect this is a means of relayed eye-to-eye contact. Switching between the views of ‘me looking at you’ and ‘you looking at me’ for each participant is another way of converging these remote spaces. This is the first step towards creating a third-space that my telematic art installations exploit by combining these views within the same specular image in mirrored installation settings, allowing the self and the other simultaneous reflection. The proprioceptive choreography of body movements, facial expressions and hand gestures are key components to any conversation, often used unconsciously, but by simply combing these views within the same image we become kinaesthetically conscious and in control of our combined coexistence, escaping our individual isolation.

Peace Talks for FACT Liverpool 2003

These telematic artworks not only resolve the absence of body language they can offer more than our physical encounters permit. They allow the participants the opportunity to observe and reflect on the performed dialogue occurring in front of them whilst being directly responsible for it. In ‘Peace Talks’ a work I produced in response to the impending war on Iraq in 2003, I combined remote gallery participants at the same UN peace negotiations table. Where a participant maybe listening, but unaware of their hunched stance with arms crossed and head down, which is clearly seen as a stubborn confrontational posture by the other. But when the self is also the other, the participants are immediately aware of themselves both internally and externally, being confrontational to the other – as well as themselves. Thereby being in a position to reflect on the objective point of view they now find themselves within, they can adjust their pose and stance accordingly.

Peoples Screen in collaboration with Charlotte Gould for Guangzhou Light Festival 2015

Through observations and reflections on these public performances and exchanges I have been provided the opportunity to witness emotional bonds and understand the subtle intricacies of the participant’s interactions and experiences within my creative practice. Enabling me to conclude that the act of moving our eyesight from the internalised position in our head to a third-person view outside of our own body offers an entirely new sense of self and conscious experience. Combined with another geographically distant participant, we are effectively sharing the same eyes – the same point of view, where one’s gaze of the other and view of the self can converge. The objectification of gaze is met on equal empathetic terms through this process of conflating our presence in a telematic third-space from the same single viewpoint. Justly seeing the situation from someone else’s point of view, which is simultaneously your own – opening the way to a greater sense of coexistence by expounding the juncture between empathy and presence in our videoconference encounters.

Telematic Vision at ZKM Centre for Art and Media 2009

Whilst we look forward to the day that we can read articles such as this one as old news and return to our physical engagements and social interactions as we once knew them, we might want to consider one optimistic outcome from it all … its unprecedented positive effect on our environment. As pollution levels drastically drop in cities across the world and our carbon footprints have been significantly reduced this will be an opportunity to learn from our Covid19 videoconference encounters and ask ourselves if we really do need to jump on the next long-haul flight for the sake of a handshake or a memorandum signing. When so much more can be achieved and saved by reframing our approach to face-to-face coexistence through being creative with our videoconferencing. Making it memorable now could make a difference in the future.

Paul Sermon

Paul is Professor of Visual Communication at the University of Brighton