Hello! Rachel Hagreen, LSM’s student blogger and third year Media Production Student here… I’m now home from Latvia and can safely say it’s been the most tiring two weeks of my life, but absolutely incredible. Here’s a snapshot of the EU-funded Media Culture 2020 Project.
We left Lincoln at 2:30am on 26th and arrived in Liepaja at 7pm on the 27th… After not sleeping for at least 48 hours, the British felt now would be a good time to showcase our greatest talents; drinking. Needless to say, all the multiple bottle of free wine didn’t last very long and we managed to conduct a king size game of Ring of Fire across the multiple nationalities.
The next day we woke up (not very) bright-eyed and bushy tailed to begin our first day of Media Culture 2020. The day began with everybody giving a one minute introduction to themselves.
Following this we broke into our individual concept groups and begin preparing the presentations we had already started working on in our home towns.
Day three started with us discussing in our groups the various stereotypes we give different European countries (apparently the British are very polite and drink a lot…) and later in the afternoon discussing ‘The Internet of Things’ and the future of technology with a presentation entitled “Smart things, smart homes, smart cities. Smart people?” – this introduced us to lots of upcoming technology and allowed us to think more deeply into the outcome of the concept we were developing.
The Latvian team kicked off the start of the cultural evenings with a loosely Halloween related party, beginning with a game in which we pulled a person on a sledge in the mud. We then played other Latvian games such as Last Couple Split and a quiz testing our knowledge of the country, ending in the tasting of some Latvian cuisine.
Day four introduced us to a new way of developing ideas called ‘Thinking Hats’ in which 6 different coloured hats were to be used to direct our way of thinking. My group found this technique extremely productive in developing our concepts and led us to completely changing our concept… You can see the presentation by Andris pictured left. Our very own Martyn Thayne then introduced his presentation on concept development and the importance of R&D and then it was back into our groups to create ideas based around using ‘open data’ to create new products or applications. The Finnish then conformed to their stereotype of drinking too much by producing us all with a very alcohol fuelled evening of games and quizzes followed by lots of vodka… (The British won!!)
Day five began with a sever hangover and lack of sleep. But despite this, most of us were successful in further developing our products with the help of Lenno’s presentation on preparing demo’s, we then got back into our groups for a few hours of solid work on our individual concepts. Everybody (apart for the British) then attended a field trip to test some electrobikes and we took this opportunity to plan our British cultural evening while everybody was away.
Our evening began with a workshop in pronouncing different regional dialects followed by a quiz in which the different teams had to pronounce sayings such as ‘Putwoodintoil’ (Put the wood in the hole… close the door). Afterwards we provided the teams with a typical English spread including cucumber sandwiches, Victoria sponge, jam tarts and tea and biscuits…
….we then interrupted the posh proceedings with a murder mystery, killing off the Queen (Cai) in the bathroom (below). The evening continued with the international students forming groups and interviewing each suspect until they finally discovered that Harry Potter (me!) had murdered the Queen (Cai) with a poison.
We started day 6 with a workshop entitled ‘Think Evil’. We were told to get into our groups, go to a location and write down all the evil things that could happen in that area. The purpose of this was to make us turn all the possible negative things into positives with hope that we would do this with our own work. We were then given an overview of the upcoming iWeek, a media arts festival held annually in Liepaja which aims to exchange knowledge, experience and creative output. The cultural evening was hosted by the Catalan’s and was full of many hilarious games such as ‘Pulling up onions’ and ‘Muffin Tongue-Twister’.
Day 7 saw the groups learning to use flow charts to develop the concepts and was also the beginning of filming for many, including my own.
By this time, all of the seven concepts were set in stone and talk began to turn to the dreaded presentations which were to be held on 6th November to an audience of over 50 people as part of the iWeek.
The cultural evening on day seven was the Dutch and once again we found ourselves playing some very embarrassing games including Spiikerpoep, or as the British called it, nail shitting… which I won! (sorry about the photo on the left.)
We were given the weekend off to catch up on some much-needed beauty sleep and took the opportunity to have a real look around Liepaja, unfortunately the weather was terrible for a change so we only made it to the beach.
On Sunday the Latvian’s had arranged for us to visit the town of Karosta, a closed city and naval base from late 19th century until late 1990s in which we visited an old military prison, the St. Nicholas Orthodox Maritime Cathedral, the Manege and the Northern Forts (see pics above.)
The second week in Latvia was full of hard work, late nights, early mornings and sad goodbyes. Our presentations were successfully delivered on Wednesday, leaving Thursday to reflect on the whole Media Culture 2020 experience, receive feedback on our final concepts and give our own feedback on the intensive program. On Friday we were finally able to see Riga, although sadly at the end of the day we had to get on our flight back to Lincoln.
The whole experience was absolutely incredible, I met some amazing people and now have friends from all over Europe who I’ll hopefully be seeing again very soon! Plans to go over to Catalonia for their festival DobleCLICK! are already being discussed. The festival aims to encourage students to ‘share their skills and talent and demonstrate their methods, tricks, solutions and ideas, providing practical tips on interesting themes’, so hopefully there’ll be a blog post coming from Catalonia in April!
As well as meeting many new, interesting and talented students from across Europe I have also learnt a lot about myself and how I work… I’ve discovered I sometimes have problems with communicating my thoughts and ideas, I focus a lot on the negatives of an idea rather than thinking of the huge possibilities and I also very rarely speak my mind because of the fear of coming up with a bad idea or saying something stupid… As much as I hate to use the ‘C’ word, this experience has definitely given me a huge amount of confidence which has therefore allowed me to work on the above points, which is going to benefit my final year at university dramatically.
So, in summary, next time an email goes out about Media Culture 2020, snap up the opportunity and apply.