UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS (2020) is a project bringing together patient ambassadors for Blood Cancer UK and stem cell researchers working at the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre. Through a series of stop-motion animation workshops held via Zoom, participants developed hand-cut animation sequences exploring their experiences of ‘the unknown’ in relation to living with blood cancer, the challenges of research and the global uncertainties of Covid-19. Animation materials included paper, velvet and issues of National Geographic published in 1960, the year Blood Cancer UK officially became a charity.
Commissioned by the Wellcome - MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute as part of its Public Engagement programme, project outcomes include an animated film featuring participants’ stop-motion sequences (Futuramic Unknown, 2020) and an installation for the Jeffery Cheah Biomedical Center at Cambridge Biomedical Campus (The Night the Mountains Moved, 2020).
'In contemporary performative arts the word “immersive” is banded around like it is going out of fashion. Very few performances live up to this adjective, but Anna Brownsted’s Marginalia is the very definition of the word. Marginalia is an experience for an audience of one, set in a secret location on the site of Cambridge Junction. It’s all very mysterious. As I enter the performance space reminiscent of a shipping container, Brownsted greets me, asking me to take off my jacket, and checking that I’m not scared of the dark amongst other health and safety questions. As I lie down on the single bed from where I’ll experience the performance, I’m slightly apprehensive as to what the next 15 minutes will hold. I’m compelled to close my eyes, take some deep breaths, during which time Brownsted pushes the bed (which it transpires is on wheels) into an enclosed pitch-black space. At first I feel like I’m in a coffin, but as time passes, I don’t feel like I’m anywhere. And this is where the genius of the work lies. As the audience member lies in the darkness, being whispered to by pre-recorded voices, they lose sense of space and time, which offers time for self-reflection, and also breaks down the boundaries of the traditional audience-performer relationship.'
Emily May, A Younger Theatre
Immersive sound installation
90cm x 270cm x 90cm
Commissioned by Cambridge Junction and supported by Arts Council England.
Marginalia is a single-participant immersive sound installation built into a hidden wall within a shipping container. Participants lie on a low bed and are wheeled into the small, pitch-black, fully enclosed space, the interior of which is embedded with rows of speakers. Featuring multiple soundtracks layered together to create a collage of spoken narratives that play across the listener's body, the work draws on hypnosis techniques and repetition to explore intimacy and the phenomenon of false memory.