Proposed Artistic Collaboration on The Email – will it have the Vital Spark?

New Romance by Email from Mathew Billingtons portfolio

Being a woman who is interested in the way that digital media influences the art of conversation, I am excited at the prospect of the collaboration between Scottish writer and artist Alastair Gray and Turner prize winner Douglas Gordon. They want to make The Email a 21st century documentary in homage to the classic John Grierson short The Night Mail, based on the poem by WH Auden.

Douglas Gordon has created art in digital media for years including his portrait of Zidane. But what is fascinating is Alasdair Gray’s take on this. The Times report states:

“Part of the creative challenge for Gray is to discover all he can about e-mail, a subject of which he is cheerfully ignorant. “I don’t handle it myself, I have a secretary who does it for me,” he said. “The main thing would be to discover enough about the technical process to find a kind of rhythm. Auden’s text: ‘This is the Night Mail, crossing the border/ Bringing the cheque and the postal order’ has the definite rhythm of a steam train.”

“Discovering the different clickety-click rhythm to accompany an e-mail documentary will be a matter requiring some research.”

The project is is crammed with creative powers and distinctive voices. Auden, Gordon, Gray, Greirson – what a a mash up. Its up for the Creative Scotland Vital Spark awards, created for just such projects.

Producer John Archer also has an interesting take. He says:
“We want to find examples of how people have used e-mail for the big turning points in their lives,” Archer said. “It’s easy to use e-mail to say ‘I love you’, but a lot tougher to say: ‘I’m leaving’.””

A rich seam, huh?

But is it the concept already passed its sell by date? The Iphone has superceded email for intimate conversations and the Ipad will take collobarative, intimate communication into new territory.

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