Squirrel Nation is artist filmmaking collective, Caroline Ward and Erinma Ochu based at Islington Mill Studios in Salford.

We make durational film pieces about space and place, using digital video, social media and informed by academic research to explore the impact of architecture and movement of people through the urban built environment to investigate cities and sense of place.

Previous work includes the cycling documentary, Cote D’Azur, which was selected for screening at the Olympics Big Screen and Live Sites 2012.

Oxford Road is an audiovisual experiment to capture a changing city. We are interested in how a city, like Manchester is shaped by small changes in different parts of the built environment, over time, and how this affects the cultural memory of place reflected in people’s tacit and explicit knowledge of the city.

We are curious about how people navigate Oxford Road and what stories, experiences and memories people have that could be shared. We want to capture and archive this ‘living knowledge’ in a dynamic and creative way that can bring a city’s history to life both now and in the future.

Oxford Road is a durational piece that draws on the analogy of using time and archives to capture and structure the narrative of a city. We are interested in re-exploring the social history and narratives embodied in the urban built environment and have used photography, past and present, to inform our process to storyboard, shoot and edit the film. Essentially we are interested in the social choreography, the movement around the urban built environment, what are the professional and social routines that unfold along the Oxford Road ‘Corridor’ over hours, days, weeks?

Further, the relocation of two major cultural organisations, The BBC and the Cornerhouse, from two buildings within close proximity of one another, presents the opportunity to explore how the city and its people respond to changes in the urban built environment between 2011 and 2012 when both organisations move to new urban developments, Mediacity, Salford and First Street, Manchester respectively.

The film, Oxford Road, is the first of a series of experiments to capture the changing nature of this street, and to create an archive record ahead of the relocation of The BBC and the Cornerhouse.

The film and all of the footage shot is stored in the North West Film Archive, presenting a future opportunity to reflect on how a pivotal Mancunian through road that runs all the way to Oxford changes and re-shapes the city beyond 2012.

The film was supported by the Sync South East programme through Accentuate http://www.accentuate-se.org/

We collaborated with Sound Artist, Kevin Logan on this project. The next phase of the project will explore the use of interactive media, walks and storytelling to bring history and sense of place along the Oxford Road Corridor to life.

Oxford Road is Squirrel Nation’s first project for 2011. Other projects include the short film Cote D’Azur, and  JJASON What’s in Season, which promotes sourcing and cooking of local and seasonal food in an urban environment.

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