I spent the day at Strawberry fair yesterday. I was helping in the arts area, which was fun and lovely but very tiring.
My favourite bit was the ‘Gothometer’, an art work by Colin Dewar. This was a device that detected how ‘goth’ you are. It looked to be a monolith with a stand in front of it, with a semi-circular display and pointer. The display goes up to eleven. A camera with a laptop was situated away from the main apparatus.
A voice instructs you to ‘please mount the podium’. No one that I saw interpreted this in the dirty way, and most people somberly and carefully stepped on the stand to wait for the the visual information to be processed.
The computer determines the ‘gothness’, a buzzer goes off, and the result is displayed, and a snippet of a song that appropriately reflects the result plays. Despite my imploring, Colin thought it best not to have Raffi’s ‘Banana Phone’ as level 1 (“too annoying” he said!), instead opted for alternating between Kylie Minogue’s ‘I should be so lucky’, and Alvin and the Chipmunk’s ‘Stayin’ Alive’. Other artists included the expected The Cult, Ministry, Siouxie and the Banshees and The Cure, but also Billy Ray Cyrus, Bauhuas, The Fall depending on gothness.
If someone was determined to be really really Goth, and got an 11, then not only would a song play but a little puff of a smoke would be expelled from the smoke machine behind the podium.
The whole thing was genius. Really fabulous. What might come as a surprise is that there really is a complicated algorithm to determine gothness – how many black and purple pixels could be found on the image from the webcam! I guess the results could be compromised if the view was obscured, or the lighting was bad. Also not all goths limit their wardrobe to black and purple. The scene has developed in some rather odd and fantastic ways, such as what my friend Si would call ‘Fluoro-goth’ where the person forgoes black entirely for bright acid colours in clothes and hair, but recognizably goth make-up.
Anyway, here are a couple of pictures from the day. I helped set up, including digging trenches for the power, servo and audio and went through the entire day with really grubby hands.
Note to British porto-potty providers – a sink with water is really cute and all, but utterly useless if THERE IS NO SOAP. Running cold water on hands doesn’t help with sanitation. Your hands are now dirty, germy and wet. I would have been happier with hand sanitizer, though would not have got rid of the dirt under my fingernails but I would have felt that I was not carrying festival toilet germs around with me everywhere.
The films were brill. I even liked my stint heckling punters from my 1945 programme stall with the union jack bunting and George Fornby playing out of the Tannoy. I wish the weather was better, but the real misery from the sky happened today so it could have been worse. JC, Simon Mullen, Cathy Dunbar, Helen Judge, Colin Dewar, Jen and all the others did a fantastic job with the arts area, and should be really proud.