As part of our Social Haunting projects, we commissioned several artists working with video to interpret, represent and explore the ideas that came out of the Ghost Labs and the public-facing activities that our research teams were involved in.

Most significantly for our third project, our theme was ‘Song Lines’ in which we attempted to creatively weave threads together from the ‘living knowledge’ produced in the Ghost Labs and the communities in which they took place. These video aspects of the ‘Song Lines’ are a result of the interaction between the creativity of artists and the range of feelings, experiences and knowledge that are opened up in the course of communities’ involvement in our work. Our aims is that these lines connect with other people’s experiences and knowledge, and help to give a sense of the multiple levels at which a ‘social haunting’ might operate on individuals and their communities.


This film is part of a collection produced by film-maker Steve Pool from events and interviews in the North East and North West. You can find all of his film work on an external video archive site for the 'Song Lines’ project here

Speaking about the process of making the film, and the relation between the arts-based output from the project and its academic approach, Steve said:

“I am pleased we managed to capture something in the 4 minute film that says something about everyone involved rather than an academic feeling like they need to explain everything to camera. I think that all the creative outcomes – poetry, film and ballads, and Max’s radio work – help to flatten hierarchies and move towards an idea of creating living knowledge, with no indication that this situated and lived experience is of a different shape or value to academic knowledge.”

Town End Farm Estate Ghost Lab, Sunderland 2017

(credit: Carl Joyce)

Musicians Brenda, Geoff and Jill Heslop who make up the band Ribbon Road worked with photographer Carl Joyce, to make a video ballad, ‘Giving up the Ghosts’ for the ‘Song Lines’ project. The film brings together Carl’s powerful and intimate photographs with songs written in response to Brenda and Geoff’s experience in 6 Ghost Labs, all with tenderness, humanity and insight.

Several of the photographs which we feature across this site highlight Carl’s careful and compassionate approach. You can also hear Ribbon Road’s songs individually via the Music page

“The problems of some of the groups we met were outside of our experience and it was harder to find a personal relationship of feelings, but after a while we found things in our own lives which we could link with theirs.

Our understanding changed as we were going through the Ghost Lab sessions. At the beginning we thought of them individually, but during the latter part of the research and during the song writing we started to relate the different groups together. This was the reason that we put the whole ’Giving Up the Ghosts’ piece together as one film. We saw solidarity in action. Different groups with different backgrounds from different parts of the world but all with the same feelings. This came through as the main thrust of the project and has caused us to alter our views a little about future work.” Ribbon Road

Photographer Carl Joyce said: “When documenting the Ghost Labs it was important to remain unobtrusive with the participants, and to respect their personal space and privacy when needed. With this in mind, I often photographed the sessions from a distance, capturing genuine moments, and emotions as they happened. This authenticity is a true representation of the Ghost Labs.”

The films by Ribbon Road and Steve Pool were part of the ‘Song Lines’ project. Find out more about the work here 

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The Social Haunting stall at the Utopia Fair, Somerset House, London 2016

(credit: Max Munday)

Video was also used in our second project ‘Opening the “unclosed space” - Multiplying Ghost Labs as Intergenerational Utopian Practice’, as part of the AHRC Connected Communities’ Utopia Fair 2016, a public event in Somerset House in central London. The two films below were made by community broadcaster Max Munday. The first was used to contextualise our presence at the Fair; the second film was produced after the Fair and sets up a creative dialogue between the Ghost Labs and utopian reflections of the London event, and a Ghost Lab in the North Staffordshire coalfield.

This first film drew on participants’ feedback as well as a piece of sound art from the first project called ‘Underdrift’ by Danny Bright. It was shown on screens during the Utopia Fair and invited people to engage with the project via social media and in person by taking part in Community Tarot ‘readings’. They could then make cards themselves to feed back in to the deck, which would then be used to stimulate reflections by participants in future events.

This second film incorporates snatches of conversations at the Utopia Fair stall, and excerpts from two Ghost Labs: one with Voice of Youth, an east London youth group, that took place in Somerset House and another with North Staffordshire Unite Community participants, at the New Vic Theatre near Stoke.

Parts of this film were included in the team’s paper Neither “future as embarrassment...nor the past as spell” (Bloch, 1995): Opening a Utopia Ghost Lab dialogue in a Post-Bext context’ delivered at the ‘Utopia and Connected Communities’ Conference’ delivered by Dr Geoff Bright, Max Munday and members of Borderlines, New Vic Theatre at the British Library 07/12/2016.

 This work was part of the ‘Opening the “Unclosed Space” project. Find out more about the work here