Thursday, August 14, 2008

Spencer Tunick: actions, responses and naked photos

I received many interesting reactions and very professional and prompt responses to my last post about the Spencer Tunick experience.

From the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (on the same day I posted and sent an email):

Hi Darragh

Thanks for your email and advice. There are loads of things we'd love to do around this project and hopefully you will see more over the next while. We are updating our own website to include more details on the installation.

We do apologise to you and all those who participated for being so late in getting in touch since the installation. We had a huge response to the installation and had to close registration the week before. Following the installation, we had to cross reference all participants opposite the registrant database which as you can imagine was a fairly intensive piece of work. And, yes, hands up, we didn't get to it as quick as we would have liked.

On capturing stories, we have been talking about that here as just from the people we've talked to so far, there is definitely some amazing material out there. There is a group already on facebook with 100 members and I hope this keeps growing as people share stories. The artist is on holidays at the moment but this is something we want to talk to him about.

We accept that 2009 seems a long way off, but this was a condition set by the artist. He also hopes to stage an exhibition in Ireland next year.

In the meantime, there will be a section on the Docklands website with some updates and photos of behind the scenes at the installation.

I notice in your profile you're an event volunteer. If you'd like to come talk to us some time on this or other projects, give us a shout.


This morning I checked their website, and yes, they do have a section dedicated to information - a little summary and a flickr slide show with all the photos you see on this blog post. They've also added a "submit your story" feature which, as I said, would be a nice touch.

Fair play to them - they took the advice and constructive criticism, responded in a gracious and prompt manner and followed up. I'm sure if I'd known a bit more about how Spencer operates, my expectations would have been managed better but I appreciate them getting back to me the way they did.

One of the comments on my post was from Gil from The Spencer Tunick Experience. This is a volunteer run "unofficial" website aiming to capture the best of the experience, with some good links, a forum and reports about the Dublin and Cork experiences.
I understand your frustration, and as a participant at Blarney, I am also a bit disappointed that I will have to wait that long. However, it is important to look at the situation from the point of view of the artist and the organisers.

Dublin Docklands, Cork Festival and Spencer Tunick are coming together to create an exhibition of the works documented in June. The effort required to organise this is far more than we individuals think, and the process takes time and investment.

Now, I can not speak for either the organisers or the artist, but having run a Spencer Tunick appreciation website and forum for the last 5 years, I do know that Spencer is very meticulous about timing events and does not like any information or images released before the official date, and this includes model prints. I completely understand and agree with this.

It would almost be like releasing the last ten minutes of a blockbuster movie a year before the rest of the film, or having someone steal the master tapes of a much anticipated album and posting it on the web for people to download before the official release date.

I can assure you that there will be no "photoshopping of Irish skintones", and digital cameras will not speed up the process for the reasons I stated above.

Like I said, I can not speak on behalf of Dublin Docklands, and I think a thank you should have gone out much sooner. I don't recall receiving an email from Cork Midsummer Festival either. So I agree with you on that count.

But I would much rather wait for my model print and to see the other prints and video documentation, when Spencer Tunick and the organisers are ready to reveal them - whenever that time may be, rather than see a few spoilers now and having it be "old hat" by the time the exhibition comes around, because regardless of what you may think - it will have a negative impact on the number of visitors to the exhibition, and it will essentially mean that a lot of time and money invested by the organisers will go down the drain.

So have patience and savour your memories of the installation until such time that the artwork will be revealed.

Best wishes,
Gil, it's great that you took the time to leave the comment, thank you - you raise many valid points, but overall my issue was with communication. I always try to look at things from the perspective of the organiser - having volunteered at and worked with as many events as I do gives me a unique perspective, and this is why I'm adamant that there's a simple but effective way to do things better.

If we had been told about the preparation necessary, told the photos would take this long, told even about your own website where we could have read reports from other people and been prepared for the waiting, both on the day and for the final product, then I for one wouldn't have felt as let down by the organisation or the reality-vs-image issue I ultimately had.

Would this have been difficult to do? More difficult than the logistics of arranging over 2,500 naked people by the sea in Ireland? I don't think so.

One of the things I advise any event organisers (or website managers or bloggers or anyone working online) is to try put yourself in the mind of your audience.

Think about how you'd like to be told, the information you think you'd like to read and what you'd like to know. It means you show you care about the people who are making the effort to volunteer their time and energy; it shows the effort you've put into ensuring their experience from beginning to end is remarkable - and so they'll talk (in a good way) about you and it shows that you've thought about it. That sort of thing matters. It will pay off for you in the end.

I replied to Loretta yesterday to tell her that I was both impressed by her reply and her attitude - it's knowing that people care, are enthused and are working hard that show a commitment, and as I said, with all the (re)actions I'm now looking forward to seeing what the final result will be, no matter how long I may have to wait!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Darragh,

    Thank you for all your comments. I just want to add a short clarification regarding the Spencer Tunick Experience and the Forum.

    Being "unofficial" as we are, means that our URLs will not appear in any official announcements regarding Spencer's work, and in line with this it would be inappropriate for Dublin Docklands to have included our URLs in any of their official announcements.

    Having said that, many people did find us from the moment the Ireland installations were announced and we have had close to 300 Ireland participants joining us since.

    Browsing through our pages, members will come across many threads relating to the question: "How long does it take to get prints". And the answers are there.

    The two installations in Ireland and the Happel Stadium installation earlier this year, have prompted me to prepare a FAQ which will be posted on the Experience site and the public area of the Forum in early September. Although the answers will also be unofficial, they will be drawn from our huge knowledge-base of all things Tunick, which we are lucky to have thanks to so many dedicated members and participants.

    Best wishes,