Students from across London are taking part in an interactive digital artwork this week, creating digital and hand drawn memes to represent their current feelings, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (10-14 May).
#Mood is an interactive and collaborative artwork created by media artist Stuart Batchelor for Culture Mile – the City of London’s cultural district – and the City of London Family of Schools, produced by Aphra Shemza from Art in Flux.
The artwork, which can be seen here from 12 May, maps the viewer using a webcam, with students’ memes appearing across their face like pixels. The viewer can move around and interact with the works like a digital mirror, putting the audience at its centre and highlighting our connection to one another since lockdown.
Inspired by an idea from Ella James, Head of Faculty Art Design Technology at City of London Academy Highbury Grove and taking inspiration from artists such as Andy Warhol and Barbara Kruger, the project was developed in lockdown to teach students how to use a range of media to communicate how they are feeling at this pivotal moment in history.
Teachers from 10 schools from Year 1 through to Year 12 worked with their students to create their memes with a hashtag, describing their moods. Stuart then worked with a selection of the participating young people via online workshops to create their own digital drawings, which informed the artwork’s final design. The workshops also gave the students the opportunity to learn about what it’s like to be a professional media artist.
“As an artist, the opportunity to work with and teach the students about software art was something I was really excited about. The #Mood project gave students an outlet to create during the pandemic and highlighted the importance of art adapting to global circumstances. It turned something isolating into a positive, social and creative experience.” Stuart Batchelor, Artist.
“As we went into another lockdown, our priority was to develop a project that allowed the students’ mental state to be the focus. By learning new skills in digital media, typography and self-portraiture, students could express their #mood of the day. Memes are already a currency for communication in our students’ lives and by tapping into this, we were able to form a picture of how they were coping at home.” Ella James, Head of Faculty Art Design Technology at City of London Academy Highbury Grove.