Artists: Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley
Virtual regulars and parallel realities, propping up the bar.
Commissioned by the FRED Festival in Cumbria, ‘Regulars’ was an interactive installation that ‘twinned’ two pubs in the Lake District with two pubs located in the rural Bavarian region of Chiemgau. Both areas share a reputation for good beer, and boast comparable natural resources that are popular with walkers.
A screen, microphone and web-cam were installed at each location, to create a live video link that connected two pubs together for the duration of the festival. Users of the pub were able to look into this ‚portal’ and experience a glimpse of daily pub life in Bavaria. They were able to directly interact with one another, share a joke, a tale, a tradition or a song.
We temporarily infused and confused the geography, narrative and communicative patterns of each site; placing new modes of internet-based social interaction, alongside and within a traditional ‘face-to-face’ social environment. We asked how much these Anglo-Germanic counterparts (temporary regulars) would become a part of the local pub community, take part in events, pub quizzes or karaoke evenings, or share in traveller’s tales, jokes and observations? What relationships, affinities and differences would be formed, and eventually perhaps even missed? How much will a ‘virtual’ presence be felt, placed within a traditional ‘face-to-face’ social environment, and what would be the lasting effects of such an intervention?
The four pubs
The Old Crown in Hesket Newmarket is a wonderful example of a local community pub, with a unique recent history. The Old Crown is owned by a co-operative of more than one hundred local people and other supporters and serves prize winning real ales, all brewed by the Hesket Newmarket Brewery, which stands at the rear of the pub.
The Black Swan is situated in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the village of Ravenstonedale. Guests can enjoy excellent home cooked food and real ales. The Black Swan recently opened ‘The Village Store’, 20 years after the last shop in the village closed, supported by the Prince of Wales ‘Pub is the Hub’ initiative.
Gasthaus Schellenberg is located in Bergen, Chiemgau, with wonderful views over the surrounding mountains. The pub hosts traditional food, local musicians, a small farm around the back of the building and parking spaces for horses. The pub celebrated its 100th birthday in 2008.
Gasthof Zur Post (a.k.a Beim John) can be found in the small town of Obing in Chiemgau. The pub has been welcoming both travellers and locals for at least 580 years, including the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Today the pub is central to village life, hosting a variety of local and international events on the small stage upstairs, or outside in the biergarten.