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The National Neighbourhood : Light Waves

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Dublin’s Culture Connects : The National Neighbourhood sees community groups working with artists on activities and ideas that are relevant to them and their area, partnering with Dublin City Public Libraries, Dublin City Arts Office and National Cultural Institutions.

Light Waves comprises a series of projects, based in the Irishtown, Ringsend, Sandymount and Pearse St areas. One such project is ‘Ships Passing in the Night’. The artist James Ó hAodha is working with Sandymount Dodder Sea Scouts and the Sikh Community investigating methods of maritime communication. Here’s an update on their progress.

Week 1:
4 & 5 October

Meeting with the Sandymount Dodder Sea Scouts on Tuesday and the Sikh community on Wednesday, James worked together with both groups of children to learn the basics of morse code. During the 60 minute sessions James and the children spelled their names in morse using stamps, ink and paper. Sometimes this progressed to creating morse code words in the shape of the things they spelled. Finally, the children practised their new knowledge as James sounded out words.

Week 2: 11 & 12 October

For this week’s two sessions – one with children from the Sikh community and one with the Sandymount Dodder Sea Scouts – James had pre-made a couple of improvised Morse keys – made by wiring up a standard office stapler to a battery, light and noise maker. With this he and the children experimented with using light and sound to communicate words or short sentences in morse code to the other group members. Some of the words the Scouts communicated to each other were: emo, scouts, welcome, zuko (dog’s name), Emilia, door, dance, help, SOS, dab, dodder. Some of the words and sentences made by the Sikh children were: minecraft, Inderpal, the best in the world, alphabet, Deminder…

At the end of the session with the Sikh children, James reminded them that they would soon be meeting and working together with the Sea Scouts. Suggesting that they give him some messages to take to the Scouts for next week’s session, the children asked him to relay some short messages and questions in both English and Punjabi.

Week 3: 18 & 19 October

James began this week’s session with the Scouts by presenting them with (morse) messages in bottles from the Sikh children. The Scouts worked in groups to decode their messages, and worked on writing their own reciprocal morse messages for the Sikh children. James wrapped up this week’s session by showing and discussing with them a video of public art piece ‘Foghorn Requiem’ by artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway.

For his workshop with the Sikh group James and assistant Róisín began by decoding the morse messages in bottles sent by the scouts, and the gang replied with some follow on answers. After this they explored other forms of signalling with light; sending silhouette symbols and images using an overhead projector. James began by showing the group the ‘Khanda’, the symbol of the Sikh faith made using a sugar paper stencil. The group then chose their own image to make and project on the wall. The symbols included a Sun form, a cupcake, a car, a ‘Minecraft’ work bench icon, and recreations of the Khanda. James and Róisín were then invited to eat and to sit in as the group and their parents sang holy Shabands with a priest from the Temple, who accompanied them with a melody on Harmonium.



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