We’ve just published our latest entry in the City As Material series: ‘Professor Starling’s Thetford-London-Oxford Expedition’ – three books documenting the investigative excursions of Professor William Starling and his research team (Lisa Hirmer and Andrew Hunter of DodoLab, Josephine Mills of the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery, Lethbridge artist Leila Armstrong, and Giles Lane and Hazem Tagiuri of Proboscis) during his trip to the United Kingdom in Feburary, where he sought to examine the rapid disappearance of the European Starling in contrast to the continued expansion of its North American cousin.
The first volume, Perquisitions, contains descriptions of the various participants’ thoughts on the expedition and its rationale. Congeries showcases selected items and ideas collected during their travels, and the final volume, Speculations, offers reflections and fantastical musings on the material gathered and testimonies heard.
Purchase a limited edition copy complete with specially printed ribbon here.
Material Conditions is a new series of eBooks created with bookleteer, asking professional creative practitioners to reflect on what the material conditions for their own practice are, especially now in relation to the climate of change and uncertainty brought about by the recession and public sector cuts.
It aims to explore what it means and takes to be a professional creative practitioner – from the personal to the social and political. How and why do people persist in pursuing such careers? How do they organise their everyday lives to support their practice? What kind of social, political, economic and cultural conditions are necessary to keep being creative? What are the bedrocks of inspiration that enable people to continue piloting their meandering courses through contemporary society and culture?
The first set of 8 commissioned eBooks, in a limited edition run of 50 copies printed via our Short Run Printing Service and bound with handmade wrappers, are as follows:
A Conversation Between Trees by Active Ingredient
The Show by Desperate Optimists
Making Do by Jane Prophet
Something More Than Just Survival by Janet Owen Driggs & Jules Rochielle
Remix Reconvex Reconvexo by Karla Brunet
He Who Sleeps Dines by London Fieldworks
Reflections on the city from a post-flaneur by Ruth Maclennan
Knowing Where You Are by Sarah Butler
Copies are available to order below.
The books are also available online as bookreader versions, as well as downloadable PDFs for readers to assemble into handmade booklets themselves, hosted on our archive of publications Diffusion – view and download the series here.
Material Conditions is part of Proboscis’ Public Goods programme – seeking to create a library of responses to these urgent questions that can inspire others in the process of developing their own everyday practices of creativity; that can guide those seeking meaning for their choices; that can set out positions for action around which people can rally.
“Trundling along our everyday routes through the city, our minds often consumed by thoughts of work and daydreams, our surroundings become all too familiar; a grid which we traverse on set rails, eyes downcast, something purely to be suffered until we reach our destination.
Surrender to the city’s own pace – immobile and immemorial – delve into dark corners and gaze upwards at spires; abandon the city as a stale platform for living, and seize it as material to inspire. Through shared excursions and experiences, playfully exploring our city, we come together to create. Open to all with no set ambitions, join us to collaboratively produce publications which showcase and investigate the city we inhabit.”
The City As Material set contains the 10 books commissioned and produced as part of last Autumn’s City As Material series of urban explorations and collaborative bookmaking. Printed using bookleteer‘s Short Run Printing Service, the set is limited to 50 slipcase-bound, individually numbered copies. It includes:
- City As Material: An Overview
- An Unbooklet of Disappropriation
- Ebb and Flow
- Ancient Lights, City Shadows
- Sonic Geographies
- The 2nd Book of Urizen by Tim Wright
- River – Gap by Ben Eastop
- Skylines & Sightlines by Simon Pope
- Deep City by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino
(6 Month Placement, Future Jobs Fund July 2010-January 2011)
Before starting my placement here, I had only vague notions of a career in writing, knowing I would inevitably employ my ability in some way, but entirely unsure what form this would take. I enjoyed scribbling poetry and other writing, usually as a result of my leisurely days, having decided not to attend university or embark on a meditated career path. These jots were the results of experiences I had in place of established life routes, and I never conceived they would shape my creative ambitions for the future.
Working at Proboscis has channeled my writing into a medium that lets it develop and influence others, rather than lurking in scrapbooks that never see the light of day. By regularly blogging – describing what’s going on the studio and my own creative processes, as well as researching inspiring works and spreading the word – I’m honing my craft and developing a work ethic. More exciting however, by creating and taking part in projects that use my scrawls, such as the City As Material series, I’m producing original writing pieces that are slowly forming into a respectable body of work. Although mostly short poems, (albeit with common themes that allow them to be compiled and displayed in their own right) I’m looking towards short stories and longer pieces to spur my development further.
Having the opportunity to showcase my writing, and letting the environment and events experienced here inspire it in turn, has influenced what route it might take. I wouldn’t rule out trying to publish an anthology, or at least submitting my work to publications – something I had only done once before, without reply. Even having a hand in a publication which displayed other people’s work, would be of great reward – then again, I’ve been doing that here with City As Material, and barely noticing the ramifications. I don’t think you comprehend the opportunities and possibilities available during a placement like this, until it is nearly finished, or asked to write an account of it. Perhaps that’s just my skewed look at it – motivation has always been an issue and this is my first job in the creative sector. I know there are people who are industrious (and rightly so) when it comes to their creative work – endlessly writing, committing to multiple internships and gaining ladder-holds and experience – yet I’m only just easing into that groove.
I think therefore, placements such as these could definitely benefit from being longer. Approaching the end of the 6 months, after adapting to creative working and learning techniques, I was just settling in and at the peak of productivity. Thankfully, I am being kept on as a full team member, but if the placement had ended there, I fear I might have been at a loss – not able to showcase a portfolio of work which was created in these additional months, and perhaps having to resort to a non-creative job, where it would be extremely difficult on focus on and develop my writing.
On a more optimistic note, as a result of the placement here and the work I’ve been involved with, we’re currently planning and scheduling new City As Material events for this year, as well as more Pitch Up & Publish workshops. I’m looking forward to sharing the techniques and experiences I’ve gained, with people who might now be in the position I was last year, and who are interested in using bookleteer and getting their work seen. Thus, it seems I might be able to take on a similar role that Proboscis and New Deal of The Mind have performed for me – undoubtedly rewarding, and a symbol of how placements such as these can positively influence people, who then hopefully inspire others.
Hazem Tagiuri, March 2011
Hello again. Since writing about my initial experiences of working at Proboscis, I’ve been working on various projects, primarily with bookleteer and the blog. Contributing regularly since Karen Martin sadly left us, I’ve been continuing to look at zine culture, and recently highlighting interesting uses of bookleteer in the Diffusion archive. Blogging several times a week has helped me develop a work ethic in regards to writing, something I was struggling with before joining Proboscis.
Giles and I also launched a new platform for collaborative publishing – our Pitch In & Publish: City As Material series of events. The fifth, and final, event “Sonic Geographies” was last Friday, having being held fortnightly since the 15th of October. Developing the format and planning the entire series was an exciting process, and having an integral role in the creation and running of it was a prestige. Being able to trace it’s inspiration from my early work with zines (the idea born from one day zine-making events), to what we plan to accomplish with future Pitch In & Publish series, gives me confidence to be able to create new long term projects.
A definite highlight of my role is having the chance to sit in on creative meetings, listening to established figure’s ideas whilst observing their ways of working, as well as giving input myself. The enthusiasm that results from open-minded thinking and the visualisation of possible concepts, is hard to match.
Several new team members have also joined us – Radhika, Christina and Moin. Their arrival has certainly brought a surge of activity into the studio, enabling us to work together on projects and gain new insights from other backgrounds.
Lastly, I have to thank Giles and Alice for giving me to opportunity to be here (particularly in this turbulent employment climate), as well as New Deal Of The Mind, whose work to find roles for young people in creative industries is invaluable.
Yesterday, Giles and myself took a trip to Oxford to meet Andrew and Lisa from Dodolab, who have just arrived in the UK, for an informal City As Material style wander. We thought it might be a great place to hold future Pitch In & Publish sessions, so we explored several of its museums as possible locations for inspiration.
First up, the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, (whose sign actually bears a Dodo) an amazing building hosting the skeletons of various beasts and stuffed creatures, and also containing the entrance the Pitt Rivers Museum. Dedicated to anthropology and world archeology, this extraordinary place is crammed with a huge array of exhibits; ancient handicrafts, shrunken heads, ornate weaponry, lining every inch. Lastly, the Ashmolean, with an extensive collection of western paintings.
Impromptu Pitch In & Publish sessions, perhaps causing some light mischief along the way with our partners in crime Dodolab, would be a great idea. The Pitt Rivers in particular would be perfect, perhaps a storytelling scenario where participants swap real and imagined tales about found objects and create their own eBooks chronicling them. We’re looking forward to returning and having some more fun.
The other week I had another chance to help the Graffito crew, this time exhibiting at Tent Digital in the Old Truman Brewery, as part of the London Design festival. I popped down on Thursday and Friday to lend a hand showcasing it, in much the same way as the Vintage at Goodwood festival; getting visitors to collaboratively doodle on an iPhone or iPad, their handiwork being displayed via a projector onto a large screen. This time however, the focus was very much on Graffito in its own right, rather then part of a festival arena. Many visitors were in the design industry and were considering larger implications for Graffito, which meant diverting many of the more technical questions to Nick and Jenn, the developers. I was content to continue doodling, and now I can boast impressive renditions of a rabbit, a rural landscape, and a raincloud, very topical considering the weather outside.
There seemed to be a lot more collaborative drawing this time around, with people adding to drawings by others, perhaps due to the more focused interaction in a smaller space. The eBook created for the event by Giles proved to be very popular – we even had to restrict the amount available at any time to avoid being empty handed on the remaining days.
Last week, I got a chance to help out the Graffito crew with their installation at the Vintage at Goodwood festival, in Chichester. This was the festivals first year, set up by Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway, along with other curators, to celebrate five decades of British music and culture. The Graffito installation was in the 80s Warehouse area, a mock abandoned industrial Warehouse; an ode to the 80s rave and acid house scene. A huge digital LED screen was linked to a handful of iPhones with the Graffito app installed, (the app was also available to download for free from the Apple apps store, the first taker being a very persistent and enthusiastic kid) which we handed out to various people to try out, their collaborative doodles instantly appearing on the screen.
The effect was amazing, and it took me a while to actually surrender the iPhones in my care to eager festival goers. When night beckoned, and the music from the amazing sound-system became more intense, the screen became trance inducing, and people got really involved. After capturing some of the more interesting screen shots, we compiled them in a blank eBook sketchbook, handily designed and provided by Giles, to chronicle the event. We also made StoryCubes with the Graffito logo and instructions on how to download the app, and left them around the arena. The Graffito crew are looking to do similar events in the future, so keep an eye out – hopefully I’ll be there hogging the iPhones once again.
Gallery: (click to enlarge)
Hello, Haz here. I’ve been asked by Giles and Alice to write about my first impressions of Proboscis and my experience of working here as a Creative Assistant for the last fortnight, under the Future Job Funds placement scheme. I was fortunate enough to get a placement just as the scheme was ending, and it’s a welcome opportunity after an otherwise unproductive year for me, an opportunity where creativity is a crucial part of my role, and something to be celebrated, rather than suppressed, as in previous job experiences.
As would be the case for many other young people in Future Job Fund placements like this, I have no prior education or experience in the arts, only a recreational passion. Any initial trepidation has been eased by the focus on existing strengths and interests (for me, literary) and a comfortable, relaxed environment to get familiar with Bookleteer, by creating eBooks and StoryCubes of my own. The studio, and the surrounding architecture of Clerkenwell, with its rich history, is inspiring. This was the basis for my first StoryCube, a simple photocube of historic buildings. Simple, because my initial idea, a 3D model of Smithfield market made using multiple StoryCubes, was a tad too ambitious for my first attempt, alas.
My eBook was a very slight portfolio of poems, which led me to start thinking about how Bookleteer could be a useful tool when creating zines (small circulation publications) and inspiring people to create their own through its simplicity. I’ll be exploring this during my time at Proboscis and sharing any interesting ideas and creations I’ve found from the zine scene on the Bookleteer blog, hopefully even attending some zine fair’s with a on-site Bookleteer workshop and writing about the experience.