There are so many aspects to Invigilator : Digbeth that still need working through, collating, understanding.

Here is a link to 'Surveillance':


The day after this was published the UK media was awash with stories of how councils are using anti-terrorist laws to spy on people that allo their dogs to foul the streets, famillies that claim to live in a catchment area of a particular school etc


Another aspect of Invigilator:Digbeth are the 'emotion grids' that participants were asked to fill in when at the work place.

I spent some time last night looking at these and the accompanying emotional words list – a list of emotionally related words that participants could circle that they felt applied to them at the time – as many as they wanted to circle or not.

One group posted a filled in Emotion Grid through the letterbox of the building 'Good For Wood' (which sounds like a good title for a porno movie) and pasted another on the building itself.

Harry Palmer's Emotion Grid fell into the canal and floated off.

Those that I have been able to look at will I'm sure soon tell me something.


Listening to the Invigilator:Digbeth discussion I was struck by oblique and direct references to boredom – the gallery invigilators job being referred to as sometimes boring.

When transposed to an outside space where the invigilator has to stand or sit and simply 'watch over' then the space and the action of simply watching over it sets up an interaction that is boring in such a way that it can transcend boredom if we let it… The space becoming bored of the invigilator throws up new facets new resonances between it and the 'watcher over' the 'invigilator'.

A couple of Invigilator:Digbeth participants said that they found the invigilating very zen like – another not at all – the invigilating passed-by with a contrived doing – a counting of and classification of vehicles passing through the invigilated space. Such actions are invoked by the space itself as it is watched over – after all it was only chance that the space invigilated happened to have cars passing through it – this counting this classifying borne out of the possibility of boredom.

"INVITE BOREDOM" – paul conneally 2008


Nikki and I are now independently considering all that happened and was collected during INVIGILATOR : DIGBETH.

We have a vast amount of material. The audio of the workshop is being listened to over and over again by Nikki who is extracting 'phrases' that might be key. I've got some video from this session where ideas around CCTV and being 'watched over' emerge – artists Harry Palmer and Rob Hewitt who formed 2/3s of one Invigilator team tell how the police stopped them and when told 'we're doing art' – then left them alone…

Gavin Wade didn't INVIGILATE but came to the workshop discussion – that gave another view which was interesting whentaken with those who actually went out on the streets – context – supported/unsupported work – gallery/not gallery – public/not public art…

hmm lots to do lots to think on


Here are some pictures of INVIGILATOR : DIGBTH followed by something about the piece itself:



paul conneally + nikki pugh + you + them
Saturday 29th March, 2-5pm
VIVID at 2pm

As Digbeth continues its metamorphosis and assimilation into Eastside (Birmingham’s transforming, revitalising and regenerating regeneration project[1]) art institutions and project spaces present there are slowly increasing in number and yet, for the most part, they are safely kept behind locked gates, barred windows and access-controlled doors.

For Invigilator: Digbeth, a team of volunteers took the role of gallery invigilator/visitor assistant outside where, rather than sitting in gallery spaces, they were watchful over the streets and the day-to-day life unfolding there.

This is the fifth in the Invigilator series[2] where a single set of directions has been transposed onto different locations to determine the exact place for watching over; we can choose our significant starting points, but then a pre-determined sequence of lefts, rights and straight-ons takes us on a not-quite-random walk to an unplanned invigilation site.

Invigilator: Digbeth consisted of several invigilations taking place simultaneously throughout the Digbeth area. The significant starting points were the galleries, studios and project spaces that would normally host the invigilators. The same galleries, studios and project spaces responsible for Digbeth’s renaissance…

Digbeth is also significant as the starting point for the Invigilator series as a whole since the directions used to arrive at the invigilation sites were derived from those used to get from home to a part-time job invigilating at VIVID.

Invigilators met at VIVID at 2pm, borrowing some of their red t-shirts and then walked to our respective invigilation sites (3 people per team) where we were watchful for about 30 minutes before returning to VIVID for refreshments and feedback. No special equipment was required: just suitably warm clothing and a willingness to interact with the city.

[1] www.birmingham.gov.uk/eastside.bcc
[2]New Forest,Derby,Tokyo and Nuneaton

Invigilator:Digbeth has been supported by Access West Midlands