Into the Forest main image. A man in black clothes stands in a dark room with green square spotlights shining down on him from above.

Into the Forest

INTO THE FOREST Darren Johnston

September 2018 to July 2019

Nominated and produced in association with Wild Rumpus & Timber Festival

Following an extended period developing and delivering the large-scale Zero Point in Japan and on London’s Barbican main stage, Darren wanted a period focused away from arts buildings, exploring the possibility of sited work in a natural environment.

Darren used the space at 101 to simulate working outdoors, also using the immediate surroundings of 101 to actually work outdoors. 101 created a giant pool of water for him to experiment with reflections, getting the audience to walk through the water. He tested out creating illusions outdoors - creating a trick of the eye in woodland.

This involved using infrared tracking on a dancer so that it only shows the body which glows like a ghostly figure in the forest. He found that the opportunity to test out this technology at 101 gave him confidence to develop it further and use it for live performance.

Darren found the experience of being at 101 an insightful and useful process which gave him “the tools and knowledge needed to go further into working outdoors”.

He particularly valued the accommodation and being able to work entirely flexible hours, often deep into the night, plus the contact with a wide variety of artists at 101 – from Korea, the Netherlands and France, while he was there.

A person stands in a dark black room with a stripe of white light running across the floor.
A woman with long red hair, wearing a black top and khaki trousers stands on a platform in a pitch black room with one stripe of white light running along the floor behind her. Her reflection is mirrored in the shiny floor beneath her.
Three people are silhouetted in bright white light that is shone from behind them in an otherwise pitch black room. The people's reflections are mirrored on a floor of water beneath them.
Images used with permission of Darren Johnston

While Darren was at 101 the Arts Council England Combined Arts Officers’ Annual Meeting took place there. They saw the work and walked through it, giving knowledgeable feedback. He also invited a group of Chinese students who were on an exchange programme from Beijing University at the Guildhall, who joined in the sharing with the ACE officers.

As a result of the 101 residency, Darren was introduced to Wild Rumpus from Cheshire, who invited him to undertake a residency to develop the work further in their woodland site, leading on to a commission for the Timber Festival. He then returned to 101 the following year to develop the work further, taking it on to a festival in the Netherlands.

Darren Johnston

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Timber Festival

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Wild Rumpus

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