Pebble Dashing at Brighton Digital Festival
25th September, 2015
One of the best parts about Brighton Digital Festival is not only the sheer variety of events on offer but also the variation of locations in which they are held. The festival quite literally opens doors to so many interesting and diverse spaces in the city allowing you to explore and meet the brilliant digital and creative minds that work and live in this innovative city.
Having already spent a week exploring the open studios during the first week of the festival we decided there were definitely a few other events we wanted to take part in and I had my eye on The Great Pebble Dash.
So, last week saw local artist Raysto take to the streets with his pen and pebbles and invite the people of Brighton to go on a “pebble dash” across the city. The Brighton based artist known for his “pebblefaces” (pebbles with hand drawn faces which have sold at open houses and art markets) has been running this fun and interactive game for a number of years now.
The concept of the game is simple; the artist posts animated and photographic clues on social media, each hinting to the location of one of his unique and quite beautiful pebbles and encourages the public to get out there and find them.
Ready and raring to go we found the 1st couple of pebbles pretty easily and it’d be safe to say, at that point, we were kind of hooked. The pebbles all seem to take on a personality of their own and we found ourselves pebble dashing for the full two hours. We fell in love with one particular pebble and Raysto (via Instagram) kindly allowed us to “go back and claim that pebble for keeps”.
Raysto’s “pebblefaces” are originally inspired by Brighton’s pebbly beach. And while dashing around Brighton’s central landmarks there was something quite endearing about searching for induvial pebbles hidden in the city – especially with a beach full of regular pebbles sitting just moments away. It was almost as if these lucky pebbles had been “chosen”, given an identity, a character and a chance to make something of themselves in the big smoke!
The event (commissioned by the International Visual Methods Conference 2015, University of Brighton) was a great way of connecting “pebble dashers” with the Brighton cityscape. Like many treasure hunts it forces you to look up, and explore your surroundings. Of course, you do need to regularly interact with a digital device in order to receive the next instruction but all the while you find yourself spending time actually absorbing the landmarks and their finer details.
It was while waiting for the visual prompts I began to understand the slight contrast in place here. The relationship of digital device and social media, which regularly encourages you to look down, detaching you from your surroundings opposed to the exploratory essence of the pursuit - discovering new surroundings while searching for something as intrinsic as the pebbles themselves.
The International Visual Methods Conference aims to “explore the visual navigation and articulation of place” – and I’d agree that (in my rather limited understanding of the subject) Raysto’s “Pebble Dash” certainly achieves that.