Internship Final Impression : Elena Festa

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Four months ago, when I started working as an intern at Proboscis, I wrote how pleasantly surprised and perplexed I was in finding myself in such a stimulating and challenging environment. My disorientation sprang from my own unfamiliarity with workplaces in general, having spent most of my adult life either at University or in the company of books, and from the inherent shifting quality peculiar to Proboscis. This crossdisciplinarity allowed me to try my hand at activities I could hardly have done anywhere else: projects I was more aware of and versed in, and a project I was less skilled at.

The outcome of my months spent here at Proboscis are a series of eBooks extrapolated from the visual essay I composed on Proboscis’ wall, loosely based on their work and enriched by my own series of allusions, suggestions and relations. First it developed as a concise mind map which outlined the fundamental design underpinning Proboscis’ long journey and then evolved in different and unexpected directions, feeding on my past knowledge, fortuitous connections and new sources of inspiration. It was elaborated following different paths and along the way I published several posts about themes I found fascinating and prominent. Unfortunately, the result of the other project I followed, Pic(k)ing out London, was less fortunate and successful in terms of stimulating participation but the reflections that were stirred proved to be neat and helpful for future research. Alongside I had the chance to grow more and more familiar and feel more comfortable with Bookleteer platform (absolutely brilliant!), Flickr and posting on blogs.

I want to deeply thank Giles and Alice and everyone at Proboscis for hosting me these months. I am confident and optimistic that my experience here will mature and take shape and, even retrospectively, will prove to be valuable and irreplaceable.

Pic(k)ing out London – How it went

October 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Last August I started planning and outlining the details of my personal project named Pic(k)ing out London. Alice and Giles helped me adjust and refine my initial blurred design, propelling questions and making objections in order to show me how intricate and elaborate planning even a simple project like this is. At first I was pretty enthusiastic about that as I thought I would have had the chance to test my ideas – how ever scattered and ephemeral they might have appeared – about urban interaction against the merciless reality. My aim was to select people from different backgrounds who have diametrically opposed points of view of London. That meant avoiding close friends or at least I meant to pick only a few and try to differentiate my recipients as much as possible. That again meant that I should run through different channels in order to recruit people who could possibly match my criteria and expectations. At first I sent emails to contacts I was provided by Giles and Alice and although the response was quite poor from the beginning I was at least pretty satisfied with the initial goal achieved: yes I had found six people willing to take part in the project (being six the minimum threshold we had set) and even if among those six there were some acquaintances or some friends of a friend they altogether formed a varied lot!

How ever promising it could be, it was not destined to last long. People disappear, they don’t get in touch or, when they do, they vainly assure me they will eventually do it. People then abandon the project along the way for various reasons and I should say I soon realized I was not in a favourable junction at all as all sort of unfortunate circumstances seemed to come together: computer crashes, camera breakdown, memory card not inserted and many other personal misfortunes.

In order to compensate for this ever weaker inflow of material Alice and Giles advised me to enlarge both the scales of time of the project and the spectrum of potential participants by adopting less-beaten methods to recruit and involve people. We cut the days people had to commit and proposed a 5-days, one-weekend or even a one-day involvement. Besides I tried to broaden my horizons by contacting associations and various community clubs, posting on different websites, boosting the group Facebook and Flickr pages, approaching strangers on the streets and handing out flyers. I should admit that I also went back to those very friends I had at first neglected and begged for help. However, as hard as I tried, it just did not work!

After the inevitable discouragement and frustration, I became aware that a reflection about the reasons why the outcome shattered my anticipation was absolutely indispensable and, all things considered, it was the only thing left to do. Giles and Alice were not of secondary importance in this process, as they always tried to make me understand that a marginal failure is unavoidable and predictable when doing projects that require the involvement of people. As long as you stick to your ‘sacred cows’, you have to be flexible and adapt your ideas to any change of circumstances which may occur.

As the project was initially designed, it was perhaps too demanding, too specific and not so straightforward as I thought it was if you consider working with people from a distance. This implies an autonomous effort from their part and if the tasks are a bit challenging they may easily get lost and lose interest in the project. Then it is mandatory to understand how people have their own concerns and duties to care. Therefore in a situation where the participants feel no obligation whatsoever, apart from being a mere act of helpfulness, and they see no reward in actually accomplishing the task, it is too tricky to trust in their complete commitment. Now I guess that having worked with a closed community would have made a great difference as people might have felt duty bound to carry out the research and might have found mutual help and support.

I have also reflected about my own attitude towards the whole project and in particular the strategies I adopted to convince people not just to say ‘yes, I’ll do it’ but to feel positive and intrigued by the principles and values of the whole plan. I therefore recognize in my own approach some flaws due not so much to a lack of faith in what theoretically underpins what I was doing, but mainly due to my own inexperience in translating some abstract concepts to a more varied audience. I feel that people outside the ‘field’ may find this sort of engagements quite silly or, at least, useless and unfruitful. So the puzzle, still unsolved, is: how to connect with people who may be, initially and on principle, suspicious and uninterested? How to make my aim and desire be understandable to a wider arena?

This enigma and my own unfamiliarity obviously made my conviction in the project be full of ups and downs and inevitably led to a poor and visible self-confidence. And that is not the ideal tack to prompt someone to complete a task! Moreover, the continuous alterations on strategies adopted, in order to make up for the scarce response, did nothing but weaken my ease. To be honest, one should take into consideration other factors to explain why it did not work as expected, such as the time of the year (it started in August when most people are on holiday) and a bare series of misfortunes which had diverted my initial idea. Anyway, I think it is essential to be critical and analytic towards both the context and one’s own faults. What I can say is that I would definitely like to put myself on the line again and test my unresolved issues if the occasion arises in the future and now I am confident that from this disastrous experience I may learn something precious. Most of all, I should learn not to take for granted what I used to and to ask myself those very questions that the project helped to bring to the surface.

Finally, I want to thank those who, despite snags, helped and supported me and those who did contribute to the project by sending me pictures and diary entries.

Pic(k)ing out London

September 1, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

This is the new project I am undertaking as part of my internship with Proboscis.

Pic(k)ing out London’ wants to prompt reflection about the ongoing interaction with the urban environment and how this affects people’s feelings and shapes their daily life. By collecting some of these unique gazes on the city and some of its  multiple expressions I intend to compose an emotional map which will tell the story of the many moods that daily mingle and overlap in London.

Because of its variegated population, its vastness, its contradictions, London is made of contrasting voices, dissimilar  faces, peculiar places and each individual is an irreplaceable tassel which contributes to compose an outstanding mosaic.

Participants will be asked to take three pictures a day and to keep a short diary for ten days. The pictures should be about a place, a thing or a situation they encounter, anything that catches their attention, both familiar or unfamiliar, usual or unusual in their daily life, and about a place or a situation they respectively enjoy or dislike in the urban environment. The pictures do not need to be technically perfect because what I value most important is the act of taking the picture itself, of being a little more aware and awake to our own surroundings.


Visual Essay – Mapping the Streets

August 1, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

“London is over-lit, its streets are monitored by CCTV and the avian police, its inhabitants monitor themselves using webcams, digicams and mobile-phone cameras; yet the nocturnal city can never be wholly regulated. […] 3am is the dark heart of the city, when the carefully repressed anxieties, aspirations and dreams of its emotionally parched inhabitants can no longer be contained”. (Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Night, Sukhdev Sandhu).

The streets carry a note of elusive, disturbing, electrifying mystery that is not concealed by its supposed complete regulation. The layers underneath, piling up little by little, create a dense bundle of voices and meanings to be heard and interpreted. The street is a site to enjoy and play, a site to survey and describe, to contest, claim and reinscribe. The street stands for the fortuitous and the transient, for wandering, mobility, arrival and departure, a proper metaphor for the travelling poetics of the postmodern migrant condition.

Visual Essay – Mapping Perception

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Mapping is not only about exploring and depicting a portion of territory but it can also entail travelling into, investigating and representing some unfamiliar trails inside people’s mind: setting the boundaries and drawing the many trajectories collective consciousness can cover. “The human landscape can be read as a landscape of exclusion”, starts David Sibley in Geographies of Exclusion, and the same organization and orchestration of space follows the construction and position of the self related to the category of the other and the wider context of society. If we look at our surroundings as the phenomenal embodiment of our shared imagination, then we will decipher not only the imprint of power in its many forms but also the scattered marks left by individual imageries. Alternative, subaltern stories, all those visions that are thought not to fit in, because they belong to the other side of the fence, where all that is not pure enough, according to a set of ready-made prerequisites, is dropped off.

 

Visual Essay – Mapping

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Space is a part of an ever-shifting social geometry of power and signification”, this is an inspiring  quotation    drawn from Doreen Massey’s Space, Place and Gender and immediately it puts light on two  major ideas  underpinning the understanding of space: its non-neutral and non semantically univocal  essence, and its intrinsic  conflict. Space harbours a wide spectrum of semantic nuances and potential  political definitions and thus produces  continual challenges in terms of interpretation and agency. “The  map is not the territory”, even if it is thought to be  so, but an interpretation, a graphic and linguistic  exposition of a portion of territory and how ever it strains to be  scientifically irrefutable, the discursive  component shines through mainly in the very moment such codes are disrupted. The elaboration of  alternative maps make overt that “maps, like art, far from being a transparent opening to the world, are but a particular human way of looking at the world”. The idea of embracing alternative tube maps came to my mind because I was already familiar with Alex Roggero’s Underground to Everywhere map where he replaced the tube stations with the immigrants’ city according to the main ethnic minority living in a specific area. This travel book is in every aspect an homage to the author’s wanderings across the city and a sincere admiration to the vibrant, Babylonic and multicultural London. The author himself mentions several alternative tube maps which have been produced during the years. The tube map itself is not scientifically accurate but it was designed in such a way, so readable and clear, that has become hugely popular and iconic. Moreover, a recent visit to the Museum of London gave me the idea to insert in my visual essay some samples of hand-drawn maps which are displayed at the museum entrance in order to further underline the discursive, subjective aspect of the act of mapping. In partnership with Londonist, readers were encouraged to submit hand-drawn maps, focussing on their own experiences and connections with certain areas of London and obviously the aim was not to provide a factual representation of the city but to capture the different and variegated personal projections on the cityscape. The galleries themselves, which go through London’s history from when London was just a piece of desert land to the very present, are full of fascinating maps, each revealing a peculiar sphere of London according to the point of view and the intention of the composer. Booth’s poverty maps, based on his survey into life and labour in London from 1886 to 1903, assess varying levels of indigence and criminality in different districts across London, graphically accessible through a colour code, so for example, dark blue stands for ‘Very poor. Casual, chronic want’, while black stands for ‘Lowest class. Vicious, semi criminal.’ The textual level of the mapping process discloses diverse perspectives on the emotional and biased degree involved in any act of representation and this leads us to think that the entity represented, in this case the city of London or at least a portion of it, is to be found where more or less codified and official discourses and a multitude of singular experiences meet. Regarding this, it is very illuminating to address Proboscis’ Urban Tapestries project which, combining mobile and internet technologies with geographic information systems, looked at how people could actively map the environment around them and earnestly share this ever-evolving body of knowledge. This kind of collaborative mapping hints at another aspect implicit in the mapping process: its blatant lack of innocence suggests a potential political use, either as a tool of coercion and possession – unequivocal, for instance, is the case of Imperialism as Edward Said suggests – and as an instrument to reclaim and re-conquer one’s own right to the city and to build an alternative organic mutuality.

I see mapping as a central issue in Proboscis’ work not only because several projects have focussed on contemporary perceptions of the human, social and natural landscape around us – see for example the Liquid Geography ebooks series – as well as on fertile and rewarding ways to affect it, but their general conceptualization follows the mapping procedure. Proboscis’ approach simulates an unexpected plot, a thorough exploration, rich in ramifications, bends and junctions, sudden and unpredictable directions.

First Impression – Elena Festa

July 6, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

This is my third week here at Proboscis, still pleasantly stunned as I found myself catapulted in such a fertile and constructive milieu. My name is Elena and I come from Italy, and although I lived in London before, this new dimension I am going through here has an inspiring as well as touching nuance. A little more than two months ago I eventually got an European Phd in Comparative Literature and Culture  from Università Roma Tre including a semester spent at the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck College. My dissertation was about the representation of London in postcolonial and contemporary European Literature and my analysis basically started from the assumption that urban space is not an inactive and semantically univocal dimension, but a text marked by conflict and personal memories which requires different readings, interpretations and models of literary and political
agency. This in part explains how keen I am on Proboscis’ approach on certain issues such as geography and identity, the relationship between private and public spaces and public authoring. And then this Spring I was lucky enough to be awarded a 4 month internship grant under the EU Leonardo da Vinci scheme and, especially, lucky enough to have a positive response by Proboscis. So here I am, reading and taking notes – I feel quite at ease with this kind of task actually – about the astounding story of Proboscis, running through their brilliant projects, trying to compose a coherent idea in my mind of their peculiar work. Before coming here, peeking at their immense website, I was thrilled to find words and concepts, the harsh terminology of academia simplified and brightly expressed in concrete projects. The more I read and the more I observe the activity going on in the studio – something is still shifty for me to tell the truth – the more the ability to combine thoughts and facts, art and society, the beautiful and the functional strikes me. I am particularly interested in their work and reflection about people’s emotional geography and the individual potential of positively and confidently affecting the texture of urban space so that a more equal society could emerge. I tried to outline the fundamental design underpinning Proboscis’ long journey – according to me obviously – in a concise mind map (see picture below).. yes I know there is a childish tone in it, hopefully I will improve. In fact, one thing I am sure I would be invited to do during my time here is to explore other ways – creative, artistic, ‘technological’ – to translate intangible ideas and make them real and touchable (and hence more effective).

For the time being, this is just a kind of vague proposal from my part to read Proboscis’ work along a trajectory that departs from the individual, who belongs to a society which is always and inevitably locally specific and geographically defined, and comes full circle to the very place we inhabit. In between – what I think Proboscis’ aim is mainly about – the subject is warmly invited to expand his/her creative potential in order to develop personal agency, to challenge monolithic received notions of space and time and collectively exert a positive, autonomous influence on culture and society. This basic map is just the core of a so-called work in progress which will be spreading out unexpectedly and, hopefully, entertainingly as well, with multiple suggestions and influences – I’ll keep you posted about any progression!

Finally, I’d love to thank Giles and Alice for giving me the opportunity in the first place to live this challenging experience and I thank as well my fellow colleagues at Proboscis for the warm welcome. The atmosphere here is unique, calm and relaxing with an electrifying vein streaming underneath.

Final impressions – Radhika Patel

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Marketing Assistant
(6 Month Placement, Future Jobs Fund November 2010-April 2011)

The past six months have absolutely flown by! Now that I have come to the end of my placement here at Proboscis, I thought I’d take a look back at my time here.

I have been fortunate enough to be involved in quite a few projects in the past six months. As I mentioned in my previous posts, I started off by launching the StoryCube website and have continued to blog weekly on different uses for the StoryCubes as well as including a feature post series about selected StoryCube sets. As I became a more confident blogger, I also started to blog on the Bookleteer blog about the different uses and recently moved onto blogging about my love of fashion and photography with publishing.

Taking part in Mandy’s Outside the Box project was great fun as all the team members got involved. I was mainly involved in the brainstorming part, thinking of different suggestions of ways the game can be played, as well as coming up with numerous words for one of the layers of the game.

I also got to do some photography (unexpectedly) in the studio, usually for documentation purposes. This led onto doing the photography for Alice at the 50′s Fashion Exhibition, which was a great experience, as I have not done something like that before, but would love to continue doing it. The teaching I got from Alice and Giles about using the SLR and photography has been much more effective than any class I have attended. Thank you!

Alongside this, I have been involved in the ‘re-vamp’ of the Pitch Up & Publish sessions; trying to attract a younger demographic on a frequent basis. This is where I was really able to let me creative side run wild, creating slogans and writing copy, which I love doing. This is something I also want to pursue in the future – copywriting.

The placement has been helpful on a personal development level as well as career wise. This was a totally different sector for me to work in, and was quite challenging being put in an unfamiliar environment. However it enabled me to experience and learn new things, which I would not have if I wasn’t offered the, placement, such as the arts and culture sector.

My time at Proboscis has been great and have been lucky enough to be kept on for a few more months.

Moin Ahmed – Final Impressions

June 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Web Development Assistant
(6 Month Placement, Future Jobs Fund November 2010-May 2011)

I have been here at Proboscis for six months now and surely the time has moved really fast. The FJF placement scheme has allowed me to acquire new professional skills needed to understand the real world and the working environment. The skills I have learnt have been advantageous because they have allowed me to take on significant challenges such as working on the integration of the online Bookreader for Bookleteer eBooks.

Acknowledgement

I would like to thank Giles, Yasir, Stefan, Alice and the rest of the Proboscis team for participating and encouraging me in my working life at Proboscis. This involved our regular Monday meetings where I was given the chance to talk through my objectives for the coming week and what I had managed to achieve since the last meeting.

Here at Proboscis I have been inspired from both creative and technological perspectives, which as a combination has been a great quality to develop for my profession.

Life at Proboscis

I have been working on various parts of the technological side of Proboscis mainly the front end and back end of the Bookreader so that the visual styling matches with the Bookleteer look and feel. The way we as a user would feel that the Bookreader is part of Bookleteer.

I have also contributed towards user testing this Bookreader such that no issues are found in any other browsers or devices. The browsers compatibility testing did involve making sure devices such as iPhone or any Android device displays Bookreader accurately.

I had issues in the past with setting up a local server to duplicate the live Bookleteer site. After having the help of Stefan and Yasir, I have managed to get this working successfully which then allowed me to work on redesigning and creating a new user interface for creating and editing eBooks in edit Bookleteer. This involved removing tables to div tags, which is defined using style-sheet. This is a better method to use because I believe that table tag is meant for listing tabular data, it is not optimised to build structure. Having div tags should improve the search engines optimisation too. I have also managed to remove some drop down options and replace them into radio buttons, which now has pictures to illustrate different options. This new design went live on the site as the final culmination of my placement.

Since my last post I believe my confidence has been boosted a lot as I worked along with internal and external members of Proboscis. This has allowed me to understand other projects that Proboscis deals with, which include non-technical ones too.

Life Before Proboscis and Now

The quality of information and knowledge I have received from Proboscis team members are priceless. This is because I had help from internal staff, freelancers and external members such as Stefan and Paul. I have worked under pressure where I was facing challenges from different perspectives. I believe I took those challenges seriously and researched viable solutions with the help of Proboscis members, which has allowed me to learn new things each and every day. For example:

  • Learning & using Github code repository
  • Installing and managing Linux Debian Squeeze operating system
  • Working with command lines
  • Managing branches  and merges in Github repository
  • Creating pricing estimator for eBooks and StoryCubes ordering system
  • Learning the backend complex framework of Bookleteer to integrate with front end page designs
  • Testing & providing technical support for the Bookleteer User API

Conclusion

My goal before joining the FJF scheme was to work towards a career in web development or assisting with web development. My goal remains the same and I believe that finding a job in this sector in the future will be a lot easier due to the experience, new technical skills and confidence I have built from being here at Proboscis.

I am now looking forward to taking up a new full-time job working where I will be contributing towards the software and web development side of a business. I strongly believe that this experience has made a difference towards my career path as I know what I want to do and now have the confidence boost to do it. Thus I am also  happy to be continuing a working relationship with Proboscis as a freelancer and help towards the development of new services/products in the future.

Moin Ahmed, June 2011

Final Reflections – Mandy Tang

March 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Creative Assistant
(6 Month Placement, Future Jobs Fund July 2010-January 2011)

It’s time to reflect on the past 6 months as the Future Jobs Fund placement has now come to an end, it really went by quickly! Other than the placement being too short, I can only think of the benefits I have gained with Proboscis during my time here.

It has been a great experience to explore more about the creative arts, with plenty of opportunities to utilise my artistic skills in all of the different stages of a creative process and exercising my knowledge with people of different backgrounds and experiences of their own.

I am also really grateful to Giles and Alice for their patience and teaching me many things ranging from local area knowledge to introducing artistic influences and techniques in hope that it would inspire me throughout the creative process of each project. With their kindness and constant guidance, they’ve become more of a mentor to me than simply my employers.

I also thank the New Deal of the Mind, firstly for organising this opportunity and providing scheduled sessions – The Goals Training programme, offering support and providing information about job hunting.

During the past 6 months I have been involved in various projects which include the storyboard eBook for Tangled Threads, then moving onto a project inspired by the Love Outdoor Play campaign with a full play set now known as Outside The Box. Once in a while I have assisted in the City As Material project and my more recent work is creating visual interpretations for Public Goods and designing eBooks to accompany the play sets for Outside The Box.

 

Some examples of the work I’ve created for the projects I’ve been involved in.

Outside The Box was a huge learning curve for me, I learnt many valuable lessons during the creative process. Firstly, how to manage my work flow better. The project became so much larger than anticipated that I found myself struggling with managing the workload, as I had tried to do too many things at once. Then there were elements on the actual product that I had learnt more about, such as decision making for a colour palette and how simplicity can convey ideas just as well as detailed illustrations. I believe there will be much more to learn from Outside The Box, as it will be going through the testing stage soon. I am excited and nervous to see what happens and I just hope that children will like and enjoy playing with them.

The biggest achievement whilst working on these projects was adapting. I was able to transfer many of my skills to fit each creative process but it was learning to think from a different perspective and presenting them in a innovative way which was the main challenge. The work flow and thought process also differed from my original training as a concept artist for games, as much of the work would follow a design brief closely, but with Proboscis it was very open and it possessed very little constraints making the possibilities endless.

I believe with all these achievements and lessons learnt, it will influence my work in future projects – the way I may approach ideas, deciding the colour palette, considering other ways to communicate my ideas across to reach a wider audience and to create art work that many can enjoy and appreciate.

This isn’t farewell! As I am very grateful for the opportunity to stay as part of the Proboscis team so I look forward to future projects and learning more about the creative arts, I’ll be posting about my work so make sure to visit!

Moin’s Second impression

March 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

I have been here for over three months now and conversely, time seems to have flown past so quick. I will now describe the work I have been doing and knowledge that I have gained from working in Proboscis.

My last impression was focusing more towards the research of Proboscis’s back end system and how the system is helping many organisations in UK and worldwide.

From the research, I have managed to understand that the Bookleteer system was used a lot internally and externally to create eBooks and Story Cubes to share experiences through this media. Having a system that generates a lot of traffic, it was important to make sure that the process of ordering prints or even to create eBooks/StoryCubes is easy for users.

Past and Present Work

There are some changes I have made since my last impression:

  1. Some tweaks in bookleteer blog CSS design to improve page layout.
  2. Adding a slideshow of images of some eBooks and StoryCubes to the bookleteer home page.
  3. Creating an online price estimator for bookleteer’s short run printing service allowing users to customise parameters (such as size, quantity and shipping destination) and receive an immediate estimate of the costs of printing ebooks or StoryCubes.
  4. Improving the navigation menu of the main proboscis website to allow as many drop down options as required.
  5. Testing the bookleteer API for bugs and reporting back to the chief developer.
  6. Working on design improvements to the user interface in bookleteer for creating eBooks.

Future work

I have recently started working towards redesigning and developing the front end system for bookleteer ordering systems. We should be able to incorporate this system with Paypal’s payment system to make the process a lot easier and faster for users. This should allow the invoicing to be made a lot easier than the current system.

We are also looking forward to re-designing the back cover of eBooks such that more spaces are available for users.

Knowledge and skills gained from working in Proboscis

So far I believe my knowledge of WordPress has increased dramatically as I can now work on the back end of WordPress where I believe I am confident enough to edit/add scripts to make the WordPress page more personal yet leave the CMS system unchanged.

My knowledge of CSS has also increased dramatically as I have now managed to understand the requirement for CSS in IE, which involves a lot of tweaking to make sure the pages display accurately.

Using these two solid skills, I have managed to design and create WordPress Portfolio of my own.

For further interest in the future, I want to create the admin side of the pricing estimator page, which will allow the admin to change the figures in database which will reflect towards the estimator and the final cost.

I look forward to working in Proboscis every day and enjoyed every moment of my time spent here.

Radhika Patel – Second Impressions

March 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Radhika here, the not so new Marketing and Business Development Assistant. It’s already been 4 months and here I am writing my second impression post… how time flies!

I last left off in the middle of the creation of the StoryCubes website, which has now been launched :). Having worked on the website and written numerous blog posts for promoting the StoryCubes, I have finally overcome my initial difficulty of blogging. This had led me to become a weekly ‘pop-up’ on the Bookleteer blog too, coming up with new and inspiring uses for Bookleteer. The part I enjoy the most, is actually bringing my ideas to life, by creating a mock up of each idea. It’s great seeing my ideas on paper instead of an image in my mind, and for all to see!

birthday invite made on Bookleteer

holiday scrapbook made on Bookleteer

Even though I’m the Marketing Assistant here at Proboscis, my favourite part so far has been the opportunity I have had to dabble in all the projects that are happening, from City as Material to Mandy’s Outside the Box project (great fun!). Being able to be apart of a variety of projects has given me much more understanding about Proboscis, how they work and much more of an insight than I could have imagined.

Another bonus I have had working at Proboscis is putting my photography ‘skills’ into action! This has definitely been one of the highlights so far as I love being behind the camera and being taught by Alice or Giles on using the SLR and about lighting, is much more valuable than attending any class! I am very grateful I have had the opportunity to do this, as it’s something I enjoy and want to continue doing. :)

The placement so far has given me a number of opportunities to learn new things, especially finally learning how to use Photoshop, with the help from my fellow placements.

I have continued to learn from both Alice and Giles about the arts and can expect an inspiring story to pop up any time of the day. I feel this has been one of my most valuable experiences here, as before I wasn’t exposed to the arts industry and have been opened up to a whole new world if you like.

However, I am still trying to conquer the four flights of stairs every morning, but apart from the breathless moment I have once I get into the studio, I am enjoying every minute of my time here.

Final Reflections – Hazem Tagiuri

March 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Creative Assistant
(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.

The City As Material series of eBooks I co-designed and contributed to.

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

Observational Sketches

February 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The wall of visual interpretations have expanded! Soon I will invade another side of the wall with my sketches.

In my previous post, I mentioned a major part of my work is creating visual interpretations as research for Public Goods, Proboscis’ new programme of projects exploring the intangible things we value most about the people, places and communities we live in. So far I’ve been creating sketches using images found online combined with my own knowledge. We decided that it would help to gather inspiration from the ‘real’ world in both drawings and photographs, to be surrounded by people and absorb the atmosphere of everyday life.

Usually shying away behind the PC, I agreed to take on the challenge and chose the Science Museum as my first destination. Upon entry there were many objects on display, from steam engines to planes to the evolution of technology. All these objects were traces of what used to be; evidence that reflected on the lifestyle of those that once lived. The objects were categorised in a time-line, indicating the different notable era’s in society such as mass production and the industrial revolution, it demonstrated the changes and evolution stages of specific objects and introduced new theories and materials that were readily available of that time and also the trends that influenced them. As I made my way through the different displays, I was overwhelmed by the thought that all these inventions were the stepping stone to today’s technology. If it wasn’t for these people, our world of convenience wouldn’t have advanced so much.

The next exhibition was the exploration of outer space, whilst looking at the different satellite and shuttle parts on display it hit me that curiosity is a big part of our human nature. Creating theories and exploring methods to prove them and making new discoveries. But it is science that makes it all happen, by making the intangible into tangible with the use of devices and tools; such as light or the ability to fly.

Going upstairs, leaving the historical part of science behind me, I came to the “Who am I?” exhibition. It delved into our biological make up with displays about how our brain is wired and exploration of dreams. The next few displays were about aspects that make us unique individuals such as our exposure to cultures and the environment we grew up in and how such aspects affect us psychologically. I really enjoyed my visit here, and appreciated objects which were the greatest inventions of their time. Although behind glass and never to be used again, just imagining the stories that accompanied it makes each object that more valuable.

During my time at the Science Museum I focused on photographing of objects so for the next outing, I headed to Westfield Shopping Center to create first hand observations of people in a public space.

From being used to sketching still life or just from imagination it was challenging to draw people that wouldn’t stay still! The aim for such an exercise is to capture the moment, through speed sketching; with enough detail to illustrate the subject’s form. As an artist who loves details, I struggled at first to sketch simplified drawings of people but because there was a chance that the person would suddenly move, I was forced to note down their action quickly.

I managed to spend some time just watching how people behaved, the gestures they made when with others and the body language they displayed. But one thing I noticed whilst in the center was; there was no concept of time – with no visible clock anywhere it made the experience feel so timeless and surreal with very little natural lighting.  People would often check their mobiles or they too would stop and observe others from the upper levels of the center, whilst waiting for their companion. I’ll be doing more observational sketches later on but at places where people might not move around as often as they would in a shopping center!!

Moin’s First Impression at Proboscis

January 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Who am I?

Hello! My name is Moin Ahmed and I have recently graduated in Computing and Information System from Goldsmiths College.

After graduating I went away on holiday for two months, then came back and started job hunting. In this recession I feel lucky that I have managed to get a call to work towards web development, which is what I always saw myself doing. I previously worked on User Interfaces and started building websites for numerous clients. This also involved working on different project proposals and technical reports.

My role in Proboscis.

Through the Future Jobs Fund I was able to apply for the Web Assistant role in Proboscis. My first impression of this place was it looked very creative and friendly. I am enjoying here now, with everyone, as it’s a great atmosphere, very creative and I am learning things along the way.

I have been focusing towards my aims and objectives since the day I started, one of which was to set up a local server to test bookleteer and diffusion. In the past I have installed Windows OS and set up a local server for software development so my challenge here was to install Debian OS inside Mac OS using Virtual Box.

I enjoy challenges, and this was a great way of testing my abilities, therefore, to complete this challenge I started with researching and then double checking with the developers to make sure it met the production server specification. Finally on the 21st Dec 2010 I  managed to get the server up and running. Now I am looking forward to test every feature and make sure they all work up to standard.

In the New Year I aim to work directly on developing web projects, primarily HTML, CSS, JavaScript & PHP-based and mobile apps (iphone/Android).  I am also looking to learn as much as I can from others, gaining  inspiration, and being part of the team to research and identify creative opportunities within the organisation.

What is like working at Proboscis?

Well firstly the building is near the station and has a lot of shops and food places nearby. The studio itself is in the 4th floor but I do not think that is a huge problem as a person can stay active, when walking up those stairs! The environment is very friendly and everyone gets along with each other very well which is brilliant. Overall I am enjoying my time here, as its very easy going, fun and you learn something every day!



Second Impressions – Hazem Tagiuri

December 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

Second Impressions – Mandy Tang

December 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Wow, it’s already time for me to write about my second impressions huh? If you’re wondering, it’s Mandy here! I started in July as a Creative Assistant for Proboscis, it’s been five months already!! Where did all the time go?! (laughs)

It’s been pretty busy during these five months, Giles and Alice have been cracking the whip to keep me busy working (T_T). Just kidding haha. They’ve been great fun, and most generous when offering advice and enlightening me with their knowledge, it always leaves me in awe with the amount of things they know.

Also, there has been more placements on board! Christina and Radhika are such lovely people, they both have a great sense of humour, easy to talk to and are always offering to help when it seems like I have too much going on (laughs). Oh and Moin; our programmer, joined just recently too! As for Haz… he’s been picking on me since day one!! that aside, he offers me assistance and I’ve enjoyed his blog posts and look forward to his future posts. Thanks guys for your help and support!

During the past few months I have been working on various projects. The first being Tangled Threads, then my current project Outside The Box and offering assistance here and there with City As Material.

Throughout these projects I sincerely thank Giles and Alice for trusting me with creating work without any pressure and just allowing me to carry out the projects to the best of my ability whilst offering kind encouragements. I tend to get carried away with trying to perfect everything so I thank you both for your patience and apologise for the delays!

If you remember reading my first impressions, I mentioned the many different assets in the studio either tucked away or on display and wondering about the story behind them… well… I’ve joined in with my own clutter! I’ve made so many Story Cubes I can build a fortress! Soon I’ll have enough to make a draw bridge to go with it (laughs).

It’s been really fun so far and I’ve learnt a great deal from Giles and Alice. I’ll do my best to fulfil my role and create work which others will enjoy! Have a great Christmas everyone!

A quick doodle of my fortress!

A quick doodle of my fortress!

Christina Wanambwa – First Impressions of Working at Proboscis

December 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hi! My name is Christina and I’ve been asked to write a blog about my first impressions of working here at Proboscis. I joined the team last month as an Education Assistant and will be working on various projects, but mainly on education based projects, such as our new partnership with Soho Parish Primary school. Though I’ve previously worked with children in schools, refugee and immigration centres in the past, I’ve never worked with children on creative projects that combine art with publishing, and jumped at the opportunity to do so.

The Proboscis studio is located in Central London’s Clerkenwell, surrounded by shops, cafe’s, markets, and great transport links. The studio itself is spacious, bright, colourful, and filled with eBooks, StoryCubes, and a range of different artistic pieces from previous projects, which all help to create a laid back and inspirational work environment. The people at Proboscis have also been very friendly and easy to get along with, and have helped me to feel relaxed and settled here in the studio - (it’s also worth mentioning that there is a very interesting looking fake head that sits at the back of the studio, keeping watch over all – a source of inspiration if you ask me!)

For the very short time that I’ve been working here at Proboscis, I can honestly say that I’ve already learnt a lot. From how to use different types of software, to writing and making my own eBooks, and contributing to StoryCubes, my time at Proboscis so far has definitely been productive. Working on education projects that include regular visits to schools, site visits to museums and other venues, and a self directed outreach work project, are all parts of this role that I believe with will be just as much educational as they will be enjoyable.

I’m genuinely looking forward to being involved in all aspects of work here at Proboscis, but I’m especially interested in learning as much about the field of education as possible. Working at Proboscis so far has definitely been a fun learning experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of my placement brings.

Radhika Patel – 1st impressions post

December 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Hey, Radhika here, Proboscis’s new Marketing and Business Development Assistant. It has been 2 years since I graduated and I felt like landing a job in marketing which I craved so much, was not going to happen any time soon, until I came across Proboscis through the Future Jobs Fund placement. I applied to the role straight away, which I knew was perfect for me and when I got the call saying I had been offered the job, I was over the moon.

I have been at Proboscis just over a month now and really feel apart of the team. Giles and Alice are both welcoming as well as the other placements. As this is my first time working in the arts, which is proving to be an enjoyable experience, I have had the opportunity to learn about new and interesting topics. I find Alice and Giles to be really knowledgeable which is quite inspiring at times, as I have explored areas which I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t here.

Take the City as Material (Skyline) walk, which occur fortnightly, as an example. This walk has been my favourite so far as I simply love walking around a city (in any country) looking at the architecture. It made me look at London from a whole new perspective, as well as learning interesting facts throughout the day from Giles and the special guest speaker Simon.

I spent my first week getting to know Proboscis, their projects and how to use Bookleteer. Along with Christina, Proboscis’s Education Assistant, we both created eBooks (shown below) using Bookleteer – ‘Eye Make Up Tips’ and ‘My London.’

I am still getting the hang of assembling the eBooks, but I am getting quicker and better each time I put one together. :)

Currently, I am working on the new StoryCubes website (launching soon), writing posts for various uses of a StoryCube. I’ve never been a blogger of any sort, so when it came to writing posts I found it difficult to get my head around. However after some guidance from Giles and Alice, I’ve now got the hang of it and am excited to carry on and write more posts for you all to read and enjoy.

What I like most about working at Proboscis is being able to work on my own projects as well as working with the other placements, helping them with their projects and working as a team. We all get along really well and the atmosphere is really relaxed and laid back which makes working in the studio more fun!

This is just the beginning for my time at Proboscis and even though the four flights of stairs takes it out of me every morning, I am looking forward to see what my forthcoming days here will bring.

Mandy’s guest post on NDotM blog

December 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Mandy recently had a guest post published on New Deal of the Mind’s blog where she discusses her experiences of the first few months and the GOALS programme which is offered as part of the placements run through NDotM.

welcoming another new placement

December 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re very happy to welcome Moin Ahmed to the Proboscis team on a six month placement funded through the FutureJobs Fund, in partnership with the London Borough of Islington.

Moin has joined us as a coder/web development assistant and will be working primarily on bookleteer.com as well as other online projects we have running. He recently completed a degree in Computer Science and Informations Systems at Goldsmiths College, University of London and has been volunteering for non-profits and working on his own projects since then.

Welcoming our two new placements

November 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re delighted to welcome Radhika Patel and Christina Wanambwa to Proboscis who have both joined us this week on six month placements, funded through the government’s Future Jobs Fund, in partnership with New Deal of the Mind.

Radhika is joining us as Marketing/Business Development Assistant and will be helping plan and deliver new approaches to marketing our projects, activities and products as well as growing our audiences.

Christina is joining us as Education Assistant and will be working on education and learning projects and partnerships, such as our new collaboration with Soho Parish Primary School.

FJF Placement Opportunity: Marketing/Business Development Assistant

October 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

*** Update 22/10/2010 : this vacancy has been filled ***

Are you aged between 18-24 and receiving Job Seekers Allowance?
Want to gain experience working in a creative company?

Proboscis is recruiting for a new Future Jobs Fund Placement (6 months at 25 hours per week) to join our team. We’re looking for someone who has a keen eye for detail and strong communication skills, someone who’ll want to help us reach new audiences, engage new participants and help our projects have a bigger impact.

To Apply : contact/visit a JobCentrePlus quoting reference CTE/154611
This placement is offered through our partnership with New Deal of the Mind

Marketing/Business Development Assistant Placement (NDotM FJF)
Role: Marketing/Business Development Assistant
Location: Central London (Clerkenwell)
Salary: £6.14 per hour
Job Type: Part-time 25 hours per week, 6 month placement

Person Specification
Are you interested in social media, art, creative technology and social engagement?
Can you communicate complex ideas in a simple and understandable way to different audiences?
Would you like to be part of a small dynamic creative artist studio which creates innovative projects?

The role of marketing assistant is for a highly motivated individual to help us communicate our work to diverse new audiences and to help us develop new business opportunities to promote growth, resilience and sustainability.

Duties
- support the creative team to communicate a range of projects to different audiences
- produce and disseminate marketing materials for different projects and activities using social and traditional media
- research & identify new business opportunities and markets for our projects, platforms and products

Requirements
- ability to work in a small team
- interest in arts, film, social media, design, culture and people
- experience of marketing, PR or business development
- familiarity with computers, the internet and social networking tools
- self-motivation
- willingness to learn new skills and take on personal challenges

Applications
All candidates should submit an up-to-date CV, with two references (where possible) and a covering letter explaining your interest and suitability for the job.

Eligibility
You must be aged 18-24, be unemployed and claiming Jobseekers Allowance for 6-12 months. Other JSA claimants aged 18-24 may also be eligible regardless of how long they’ve been claiming the benefit (please check with your Adviser).

FJF Placement Opportunity : Education Assistant

October 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

*** Update 14/10/2010 : this vacancy now closed ***

Are you aged between 18-24 and receiving Job Seekers Allowance?
Want to gain experience working in a creative company?

Proboscis is recruiting for a new Future Jobs Fund Placement (6 months at 25 hours per week) to join our team. We’re looking for someone who is passionate about working with learners of different ages and engaging them in new creative experiences.

To Apply : contact/visit a JobCentrePlus quoting reference CTE/154610
This placement is offered through our partnership with New Deal of the Mind

Education Assistant Placement (NDotM FJF)
Role: Education Assistant
Location: Central London (Clerkenwell)
Salary: £6.14 per hour
Job Type: Part-time 25 hours per week, 6 month placement

Person Specification
Are you interested in working with children and young people on creative projects combining the internet, publishing, arts and design?
Would you like to be part of a small dynamic creative artist studio working with children and young people using our innovative bookleteer.com publishing platform?

The role of education assistant is for a highly motivated individual interested in creativity, art, film, social networking tools, internet, design, culture and people to work as an assistant on education projects in a school and with other young people using bookleteer.com to help young people create their own publications.

Duties
- be part of a creative team
- act as the key contact for education projects
- work with children and young people on creative projects in schools and other venues
- work with our partners (teachers, artists, writers etc) to design and deliver projects and workshops with children and young people
- research & identify opportunities for new partnerships and collaboration in education and learning

Requirements
- ability to work in a small team
- interest in arts, film, social media, design, culture and people
- experience of working with children or young people in an education or learning environment (school, youth group, etc)
- familiarity with computers, the internet and social networking tools
- self-motivation
- willingness to learn new skills and take on personal challenges
- CRB check required (can be obtained on appointment).

Applications
All candidates should submit an up-to-date CV, with two references (where possible) and a covering letter explaining your interest and suitability for the job.

Eligibility
You must be aged 18-24, be unemployed and claiming Jobseekers Allowance for 6-12 months. Other JSA claimants aged 18-24 may also be eligible regardless of how long they’ve been claiming the benefit (please check with your Adviser).

Shalene Barnett : Placement Report 2010

September 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Communications & Coordination Assistant
(6 Month Placement Future Jobs Fund, March-September 2010)

When I first started working for Proboscis in March 2010, I was unsure about what my role would be or even what Proboscis was really about.

My first month was spent learning about what Proboscis is about. I learnt that they are an art organisation who work on a variety of projects within the art sector, I also learnt that they create and publish eBooks and story-cubes using a programme called Bookleteer which was created by Proboscis.

In my first month I was introduced to tender searching. This was something I had not heard of before. I learnt that tenders are like projects, so I learnt how to project search on various art websites.

Once the first month had passed, and I fully understood what Proboscis was about I was asked to try and think of a way that the eBooks could be used to connect with young people. Over the next couple of months I went about creating a variety of eBooks and story cubes using Bookleteer. I came up with many different ideas such as a calendar, lyrics pad, diary etc. All of these were brilliant ideas but we still could not find a way to make them into a project so as to connect young people to Bookleteer.

One day I was sitting having lunch with my boss and a colleague and we were discussing things we do in our spare time. My boss discovered that I create music and said he would of liked to have known that in the interview. This sparked an amazing idea which was called the MeBook and this MeBook was going to be the connection between young people and Bookleteer.

The MeBook is an informal curriculum vitae. It is a little booklet that would have everything that you would not think about telling an employer in an interview. Its all about what interest you, what makes you tick. We did a trial run making MeBooks but discovered that it was difficult to lose the formalness so because of this another idea was born it was called MeSketch. The MeSketch was another eBook which we created with questions about you, what your ambitions are, what drives you etc. We also structured a workshop as we thought this could be the easiest way for people to understand what the MeBook and its contents were really about.

I had now arrived at the fifth month of working for Proboscis, preparations for the mEbook were going well, and Proboscis had another project for myself and a colleague to work on. It was called Seven Days in Seven Dials. Seven Dials is an area in Covent Garden. A colleague of Giles and Alice (Proboscis directors) had found an empty shop off one of the streets leading of Seven dials and decided to turn it into an exhibition with the help of several FJF placements. We were split into different groups over the time we was there. I was documenting the work of each group so I got to work with different groups everyday.
The first day in seven dials I spent following the film group. They were creating short videos about the seven streets in the Seven Dials. This was interesting as I got to know what each street had to offer weather it be a shoe shop or an interesting piece of history.

Over the next couple of days I followed the photography group and the podcast group. The photography group produced some amazing pictures which I later made into a photography book. The podcast group made podcast about the surrounding area of the Seven Dials, and also some history about the area of Covent Garden. The exhibition was a success.

I am now in my final month at Proboscis and have enjoyed each step of my journey here. I would like to thank Proboscis for showing me my creative side and giving me this opportunity.

Shalene Barnett, September 2010

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