To support the Pallion Ideas Exchange, we have created numerous printed materials including posters, worksheets, postcards, work flow diagrams and eBooks. These have been designed to help record concerns, hopes and aspirations, which could then lead to further discussions and point to the right person who may have had the same experience.
The design ideas behind these printed materials relied on the feedback and conversations the team had gathered with the members of the community in Pallion. It became a highly iterative process of adapting earlier work though co-design and initiating and making new pieces such as the workflow sheets as a response to ideas and suggestions that had been gathered in our workshops.
The main consideration when designing, was the importance to keeping it visually simple and informal. One example being in the eBooks, we didn’t want to create pages that may put people off by making it look too similar to application forms, but we wanted the eBooks to have a familiar structure for people to fill in with ease. To overcome this, I simply drew the boxes by hand; adding a folded corner and colour coded the outline to indicate the page sets. We agreed that the hand drawn method seemed more approachable and was implemented on all the other printed materials.
The illustrated scenarios had to be within an informal environment and drawn simply, but most importantly; approachable. So instead of my usual mannequins which you may have seen in previous projects, these illustrations of people had a very simple outline. The props and environment were kept minimal, with only flat colours highlighting the activity. With this a library of illustrations were created for the team to use.
The most challenging part of the project when illustrating was creating the three “Aspirations” images that are used in the “Visualising the network” map to reflect what the community hope to achieve in terms of “social cohesion”, “a better local environment” and “better life opportunities”. Each had to reflect various aspects in a single image, most of which were easy to explain in words but to frame it in one image required a lot of conversations amongst the team and just thinking about situations which we ourselves may have experienced or seen. The process for this particular part of the project was to think of how each aspect would be illustrated individually and gradually piece them together and tweaking it to make it work as one whole image.
Although at first we weren’t sure how the “Visualising the network” map should look like we used these three aspiration images as a starting point and the rest was straightforward. Having created a library of illustrations for activities and resources for PIE that we’ve used across the project, I re-used many of the images so that they will become easily recognisable.
These image files will become part of Proboscis’ forthcoming Neighbourhood Ideas Exchange Toolkit along with generic versions of the posters, worksheets, work flow diagrams, eBooks and postcards we have developed for the Pallion Ideas Exchange project. With this toolkit we hope to inspire others to adopt and adapt the parts for their own local social innovations.
Publishing remains at the heart of Proboscis. We began 18 years ago with COIL journal of the moving image and followed this with many series of Diffusion eBooks. Since 1994, we have commissioned and published works by hundreds of different people in many formats.
Our latest publishing venture, the Periodical, aims to re-imagine publishing as public authoring – a phrase we’ve been using for over 10 years to describe the process by which people actively make and share what they value – knowledge, skills, experiences, observations – those things we characterise as Public Goods. Based on bookleteer, the Periodical is a way for people to participate in publishing as well as reading – in addition to receiving a printed eBook (sometimes more than just one) by post each month subscribers are encouraged to use bookleteer to make and share their own publications, which may then be chosen to be printed and posted out for a future issue.
Our first project being developed as part of this venture is Field Work : subscribers will be sent a custom eNotebook to use as a sketch and note book for a project of their own. Once they’ve filled it in they can return it to us to be digitised and shared on bookleteer. Several times a year we will select and print someone’s Field Work eNotebook to be sent out as part of a monthly issue of the Periodical.
Why are we doing this? We’ve long used the Diffusion eBook format to make custom notebooks for our projects and digitised them as part of our shareables concept. We think that such new possibilities of sharing our creative and research processes with others is a key strength of what these hybrid digital/physical technologies offer. Creating a vehicle, via the Periodical, for others to take part in an emergent and evolving conversation about how and why we do what we do seems like a natural step forward. If you’d like to take part, subscribe here.
This post is one of several exploring the research and creative processes Giles and I have undertaken for our project Lifestreams, an Art+Tech collaboration with industry partner, Philips R&D in Cambridge as part of Anglia Ruskin University’s Visualise programme.
I have talked in a previous post on lifecharms to shells about talismanic, engaging and tangible transfigurations of lifestyle and health data in the form of sea shells. I now needed to explore the real thing. Off I went on another little spree of discovery both on-line and the real world, picking up a variety of ‘snails’ trails if you will.
I had been making some initial sketches of shells whilst looking at some of the mathematical models that have been around for shells (more of this in a later post) and got deeper into the strange and wonderful world of shell forms to pick p ideas for forms and processes that I could draw on in the making of our own shells.
Aside from producing a large haul of images from various on-line searches I wanted to make sure I would see a broad variety of the ‘real thing’. So being in London I went on to do take some pictures of ancient and contemporary shells in the wonderful and inspiring Natural History Museum within its fossil and invertebrate collections.
From these I made a lot of sketches for our life-streams shells so that I could get a deeper taste and sense of the kind of shell shape variations that exist. To me these sketches helped me to gain a clearer more visual understanding of some of the various archetypes and key differences in different shell structures that I came across. It got me to think about routes for the shell modelling process I have been evolving alongside on the computer and the 3d printers.
I had looked at both ancient fossils which had lost any of their external pigmentation as well as contemporary shells that still retained all their wonderful colour and detail. I am continuously amazed at the range and expressiveness of shapes and colours pigmentation of shells that are out there.
Last Thursday I visited members of the Pallion Ideas Exchange (PAGPIE) at Pallion Action Group to bring them the latest elements of the toolkit we’ve been co-designing with them. Since our last trip and series of workshops with them we’ve refined some of the thinking tools and adapted others to better suit the needs and capabilities of local people.
Using bookleteer‘s Short Run printing service we printed up a batch of specially designed notebooks for people to use to help them collect notes in meetings and at events; manage their way through a problem with the help of other PAGPIE members; work out how to share ideas and solutions online in a safe and open way; and a simple notebook for keeping a list of important things to do, when they need done by, and what to do next once they’ve been completed.
We designed a series of large wall posters, or thinksheets, for the community to use in different ways : one as a simple and open way to collect notes and ideas during public meetings and events; another to enable people to anonymously post problems for others to suggests potential solutions and other comments; another for collaborative problem solving and one for flagging up opportunities, who they’re for, what they offer and how to publicise them.
These posters emerged from our last workshop – we had designed several others as part of process of engaging with the people who came along to the earlier meetings and workshops, and they liked the open and collaborative way that the poster format engaged people in working through issues. We all agreed that a special set for use by the members of PAGPIE would be a highly useful addition to their ways of capturing and sharing knowledge and ideas, as well as really simple to photograph and blog about or share online in different ways.
Last time I was up we had helped a couple of the members set up a group email address, a twitter account and a generic blog site – they’ve not yet been used as people have been away and the full core group haven’t quite got to grips with how they’ve going to use the online tools and spaces. My next trip up in a few weeks will be to help them map out who will take on what roles, what tools they’re actually going to start using and how. I’ll also be hoping I won’t get caught out by flash floods and storms again!
We are also finishing up the designs of the last few thinksheets – a beautiful visualisation of the journey from starting the PAGPIE network and how its various activities feed into the broader aspirations of the community (which Mandy will be blogging about soon); a visual matrix indicating where different online service lie on the read/write:public/private axes; as well as a couple of earlier posters designed to help people map out their home economies and budgets (income and expenditure).
Our next task will be to create a set of StoryCubes which can be used playfully to explore how a community or a neighbourhood group could set up their own Ideas Exchange. It’ll be a set of 27 StoryCubes, with three different sets of 9 cubes each – mirroring to some degree Mandy’s Outside the Box set for children. We’re planning to release a full Neighbourhood Ideas Exchange package later this summer/autumn which will contain generic versions of all the tools we’ve designed for PAGPIE as well as the complete set of StoryCubes.
At the start of our commission Storyweir (part of the art science project Exlab) the brief was to work with earth scientists (as well as local people) but when we heard cultural geographer Dr Ian Cook (Associate Professor of Geography in the College of Life & Environmental Sciences at University of Exeter) speak at the Exlab induction day/symposium we were instantly inspired by his highly collaborative approach to his research work; we wanted to try and collaborate and to bring Cultural Geography into the project. Ian’s project followthethings.com demonstrates his co-creative approach to social engagement and cross disciplinary working (with academics, students, filmmakers, artists, journalists and others). It felt like a natural link with our work and was very exciting to find at the Exlab event. I had read an essay Follow the Thing: Papaya way back in 2004 and I remember at the time thinking that I’d like to work with geographers who take this approach but I hadn’t realised until very recently that Ian was the author of that paper.
A windy walk to the end of Bridport Harbour with Ian and artist Gary Stewart who works with us at Proboscis resulted in a Ian offering to introduce us to some of his colleagues Geographies of Creativity and Knowledge Research Group, University of Exeter. Ian introduced us to three colleagues who each brought different strands of thinking to the project; Dr John Wylie (Associate Professor of Cultural Geography and Director of Postgraduate Research in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences) who has opened up our thinking on time and being in the landscape; as well as the ‘intertwining of self and the landscape’ coupled with how we move and walk in the landscape and visualise it through photographs and images; Dr Nicola Thomas (Senior Lecturer in Human Geography in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences) has brought her exploration of craft and communities and the traces of history and memory bound up in skills, crafts and the evidence of them; and Rose Ferraby (PHD Researcher in the Department of Geography) who has an undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology and an MFA in Illustration brought both an archaeologists eye to our reading of the land at Hive Beach and her ideas about how abstract ideas can be communicated visually.
An initial audio skype conversation left us very excited at the blend of academic discussion and rigour with a deeply creative and poetic approach. Following that we all spent a windy early January day outside on Hive, Burton and Cogden beach and a creative media ‘mash up’ day at PVA medialab (in Bridport) which saw us coming together with drawings, audio, video, data and other media. In all these we have found a shared interest in the social and cultural effects of the way the local community engages with its environment and the exploration of human and deep time. Looking at the sediments of Burton Cliffs and their fossil layer we discussed the evanescent nature of time and timelessness and the relationship between deep geological time and human time – particularly how he perspective of time is different depending on the prism through which history is viewed (fossils were once cited as evidence of the Deluge). In that sense history (perhaps also time) is not experienced as single linear narrative but constantly in flux.
Finding a lost welly trapped in the shingle mud brought up the notion of the Anthropocene (a unit of geological time that marks the moment when human activity is resulting in a visible impact on the ecosystems and geology).
Walking the beach and then above on the cliffs to the caravan site sparked conversations on the transience of nostalgia and memory, the way the beach (which is such an elemental place) triggers memories and affects our experience of time. The beach reconnects us to patterns and emotions that are long lasting and outside of the pattern of daily life.
This is not a large budget, long term research project so we feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Ian, Nicola, John and Rose it is a very exciting process and these interconnected conversations are influencing the questions we ask in public activities and the form, materials and content of the work. Through the dialogues we have focused an initial interest in the relationship between deep time and human time into how it is reflected in the ongoing dynamic processes and transitory human life at play on the geology of the coast. In that ephemeral space of flux between the land and sea the continual cycles of sun, tide and sea affect changes larger than we can imagine but also are felt by humans on a daily basis.
The Soho Food Feast is just around the corner and I am so excited that the bookleteer notebook specially designed for this event will be used by the children of Soho Parish Primary School as they become food critics for the day.
I had a lot of fun illustrating the front cover for this notebook, though browsing through various mouth-watering photographs of dishes to illustrate before lunch wasn’t a good idea.
At first the initial sketch was rather unhealthy. It had more pastry, which seemed appealing to illustrate at the time because of its fancy presentation.But of course healthy eating is very important; especially for children, so the cover design was altered to a healthier version.
This week just passed Alice, Haz and myself have been running some co-design workshops with local community members in Pallion, a neighbourhood in the city of Sunderland, and with Lizzie Coles-Kemp and Elahe Kani-Zabihi of Royal Holloway’s Information Security Group, hosted at Pallion Action Group. The workshops, our second round following some others in early April, were focused around visualising the shape, needs and resources available to local people in building their own sustainable knowledge and support network – the Pallion Ideas Exchange. We also worked on testing the various tools and aids which we’ve designed in response to what we’ve learned of the issues and concerns facing individuals and the community in general.
The first day was spent making a visualisation of the hopes and aspirations for what PIE could achieve, the various kinds of activities it would do, and all the things they would need to make this happen. Based on previous discussions and workshops we’d drawn up a list of the kinds of activities PIE might do and the kinds of things they’d need and Mandy had done a great job over the past couple of weeks creating lots of simple sketches to help build up the visual map, to which were added lots of other issues, activity ideas, resources and hoped for outcomes.
Visualising PIE this way allowed for wide-ranging discussions about what people want to achieve and what it would need to happen – from building confidence in young people and the community more generally, to being resilient in the face of intimidation by local neer-do-wells. Over the course of the first afternoon the shape changed dramatically as the relationships between outcomes, activities, needs, people and resources began to emerge and the discussion revealed different understandings and interpretations of what people wanted.
On the second day we focused on the tools and aids we’ve been designing – a series of flow diagrams breaking down into simple steps some methods for problem solving, recording and sharing solutions and tips online, how to promote and share opportunities to people they would benefit and things to consider about safety and privacy before posting information online. We’ve also designed some simple notebooks with prompts to help do things like take notes during meetings and at events, a notebook for breaking problems down into small chunks that can be addressed more easily alongside place to note what, who and where help from PIE is available, and a notebook for organising and managing information and experiences of PIE members about sharing solutions to common problems that can be safer shared online. As the props for a co-design workshop these were all up for re-design or being left to one side if not relevant or useful. An important factor that emerged during the discussion was that people might feel uncomfortable with notes being written in a notebook during a social event – the solution arrived at was to design a series of ‘worksheet posters’ which could be put up on the walls and which everyone could see and add notes, ideas or comments to. The issue of respecting anonymity about problems people have also led to the suggestion of a suggestions box where people could post problems anonymously, and an ‘Ideas Wall’ where the problems could be highlighted and possible solutions proposed. We came away with a list of new things to design and some small tweaks to the notebooks to make them more useful – it was also really helpful to see a few examples of how local people had started using the tools we’ve designed to get a feel for them:
On the afternoon of the second day we also spent a long time discussing the technologies for sharing the community’s knowledge and solutions that would be most appropriate and accessible. We looked at a whole range of possibilities, from the most obvious and generic social media platforms and publishing platforms to more targeted tools (such as SMS Gateways for broadcasting to mobiles). As we are working with a highly intergenerational group who are forming the core of PIE (ages range from 16 – 62) there were all kinds of fluencies with different technologies. This project is also part of the wider Vome project addressing issues of privacy awareness so we spent much of the time considering the specific issues of using social media to share knowledge and experiences in a local community where information leakage can have very serious consequences. Ultimately we are aiming towards developing an awareness for sharing that we are calling Informed Disclosure. Only a few days before I had heard about cases of loan sharks now mining Facebook information to identify potential vulnerable targets in local communities, and using the information they can glean from unwitting sharing of personal information to befriend and inveigle themselves into people’s trust. The recent grooming cases have also highlighted the issues for vulnerable teenagers in revealing personal information on public networks. Our workshop participants also shared some of their own experiences of private information being accidentally or unknowing leaked out into public networks. At the end of the day we had devised a basic outline for the tools and technologies that PIE could begin to use to get going.
Our final day at Pallion was spent helping the core PIE group set up various online tools : email, a website/blog, a web-based collaboration platform for the core group to organise and manage the network, and a twitter stream to make announcements about upcoming events. Over the summer, as more people in Pallion get involved we’re anticipating seeing other tools, such as video sharing, audio sharing and possibly SMS broadcast services being adopted and integrated into this suite of (mainly) free and open tools.
The workshops were great fun, hugely productive but also involved a steep learning curve for all of us. We’d like to thank Pat, Andrea, Ashleigh and Demi (who have taken on the roles of ‘community champions’ to get PIE up and running) for all their commitment and patience in working with us over the three days, as well as Karen & Doreen at PAG who have facilitated the process and made everything possible. And also to our partners, RHUL’s Lizzie and Elahe who have placed great faith and trust in our ability to devise and deliver a co-design process with the community that reflects on the issues at the heart of Vome.
A snapshot of my cluttered desk, here’s a sneak peek of what I’ve been busying away with; these are props I am creating for an upcoming cut paper animation illustrating how to use Bookleteer.
Traditional beliefs, customs, stories passed down through generations, superstition; you’ve come across some of these at one point in your life or it may still be a part of you to this very day. My next mind map for the Compendium is about Folklore.
Here I explore the different methods to which groups maintain, share and pass on traditions. It also contains quotes from the New York Folklore Society website, where people expressed what folklore meant to them and how it affected their daily lifestyle.
The cultural aspect is a public good, the knowledge or reasoning of why something is the way it is. A method people use to teach others about experiences expressed as stories, songs, performance, legends, myths and rhymes.
It is something communities strive to maintain as folklore symbolise their identity to themselves and others.
As part of our work on the VOME project with researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London’s Information Security Group we are working with Pallion Action Group in Pallion in Sunderland on a community engagement project to co-design a process with the local community in Pallion, Sunderland to create a knowledge network around money, spend and budgets. We are collaborating with PAG to identify the areas and issues challenging people around household economies. The project feeds into VOME’s aim of “exploring how people engage with concepts of information privacy and consent in online interactions”.
We’ve have been co-designing designing a set of huge posters with people at PAG to help gather knowledge and find the right language to use. We took a first set up recently for the first exploration session, and based on peoples’ comments revised and changed them and will be heading off to do a two day series of activities with local people to dig deeper into peoples concerns about costs, spend, what we can rely on and what is unreliable. I think the project is going to involve some very interesting cycles of creating, discussing, revising, changing and re-producing materials until we can collaboratively come up with the right materials.
Continuing my exploration into public goods for the Compendium I thought about public spaces; parks, the town square, spaces that doesn’t require a fee to access. In these spaces, we often see people walking around, hanging about, waiting for someone, conversing with each other, and so on; and then it hit me – places to meet and hang out can be considered as a public good. These could be conventional spaces such as the park or places that encourage socialising like a cafe, but there are also informal spaces; ones that are not dictated.
An example of an informal space brings me back to my university days; every weekend when I had to go to the main high street to buy food for my deprived fridge, I would have to walk through the town square where flocks of teenagers would hang out, spreading across the flights of stairs and having to dodge the dangerous skater boys practicing stunts from one side to the other. It was the same every weekend without fail.
Not quite the paper theme but still folding! This was a video clip I had seen a few years back, and it was my current research for the Compendium that reminded me of the video.
A demonstration created by the Pentagon research scientists; of a tiny robot as thin as a piece of paper covered with predefined folds. It wasn’t quite origami but using algorithms the tiny robot folds itself into the shape of a boat and then a paper plane. Quite amazing huh? I am not confident enough to go into robotics just yet, but for now I think I’ll stick to paper craft.
Continuing with my experiments for the Compendium using paper crafts, I wanted to try animating with 3D models. To animate something that was flat pack and have it lifting up as if inflating and popping up into shape from the ground. So I went on a hunt for a 3D paper model – thus coming across the tortoise designed by Konica Minolta. It took some time to assemble but the finished tortoise looked great.
But Yumi was not a flat pack, she was made up of separate pieces, so the aim of the experiment changed slightly to experimenting puppetry with Yumi a 3D model and have a story cube inflate into shape instead. This time round the experiment had two subjects or actors if you will, in the scene. So the difficulty here was getting the timing right between the two.
I’ve always admired the works of a craftsman, and I definitely feel that their skill as an artisan can somehow be reflected in the Compendium. But can craftsmanship really be considered as a public good? I turn to the Heritage Crafts Association, advocacy body for traditional heritage crafts for some answers. There I find an article by Professor Ewan Clayton, who explains all that I am unable to convey in words.
He talks about the importance of heritage crafts and that “craftsmanship have an interesting relationship to time” the embodied wisdom from the craftsman of a time is reflected in the artefact created, the interaction or activity that may involve the artefact, becomes a cultural resource.
He also mentions the focus in safeguarding traditional craftsmanship should not be made to preserve craft objects but to create conditions to encourage artisans to continue their practice and to transmit their skills and knowledge to others.
I also stumbled upon Richard Sennett’s book titled Craftsman, which mentions how medieval workshops provided a communal atmosphere and a social space, that bound people together forming a community of masters and apprentices.
Both Professor Ewan Clayton and Richard Sennett made insightful points about craftsmanship in the past and in our current lifestyles, it was also a sad reminder of craftsmanship that have become so rare and at risk of being lost forever that it made me want to learn more about them.
I wrap up this post with a quote from Professor Ewan Clayton’s article “So this intangible cultural inheritance that crafts carry is not only about our past – it’s about the vision of what it means to be human. It’s about now, and its about our future as well.”
The folding paper piece was quite quick and simple to animate, so the next one to experiment with for the Compendium needed to be a bit more challenging. A self folding origami crane. For those who are familiar with folding the crane, you’ll know that the crane have symmetrical folds ; so the real challenge here was working out how to make the paper flip over to carry out the repeated folds once one side completed the necessary step. My first attempt in solving this issue became too complicated and confusing, that I had to stop animating and go back to the drawing board to revise the storyboard.
Following the new storyboard the animation progressed at a good pace at the start but towards the end I wasn’t consistent with the number of key frames so it may look like the crane got impatient and hastily folded itself during the last few seconds. Despite the frames per second, I achieved the main goal of animating a self folding origami crane! But to maintain the consistency of frames, I am going to need to devise a time sheet to go along with the storyboard.
Branching out from the idea of social transactions; mentioned in a previous post about Stefan’s reunion over the holidays, led me to the topic of communication as a public good. How do we carry out these social transactions? Why is it so important to convey our thoughts and opinions to others and how will this result as a public good?
Communication fits the description of being both non-rival and non-excludable; words used from an economic point of view to define what a public good is. Thanks to conventional methods and modern technology, sharing ideas and thoughts have become widely available. But the point I am trying to make here is how we use these ‘props’ to communicate and share information.
The internet itself is not a public good, rather the communication and information functions it provides is. As a result the internet has given opportunities to create online communities that allow social connectivity of diverse groups, sharing information and knowledge that led to the creation of open source applications.
Taking these thoughts and ideas for the Compendium, I illustrated and brainstormed examples of our methods of communication through traditions; stories of experiences, songs, and visuals. Also thinking about the different outcomes created from the act of communicating such as social groups and communities linked through common interests, open source materials, data and information.
Whilst researching animation techniques for the Compendium of Public Goods, I came across many innovative and inspirational animations and thought it would be a good idea to share my findings through a series of posts.
Without further ado, I present SNASK; a stop motion animation created by Mike Crozier, an inspiration for my first animation experiment Folding Paper. The SNASK animation consists of clever transitions between different colourful patterned papers and eventually forming a box within a box, which changes into a TV and then ending the animation with the TV sinking into the desk. The whole animation was compiled from a total of 1846 photos!
Coffee Time by Wan-Tzu is an adaptation of Mike’s work, using SNASK as a template to learn and practice stop motion techniques. The video was a recreation of effects used in SNASK but given a storyline that reflected the creators love for coffee. I really liked the smoothness of the coffee machine interface, and the use of wool to represent the coffee, very clever!
Having spent some time researching about animation techniques for the Compendium, I was nudged to move away from my desk and start experimenting with animation on the other side of the studio. There, I was greeted with a green screen; a roll of thick green paper which Alice had heaved up the many flights of stairs and hung up ready to go. The camera positioned and set in place hooked up to the laptop; this marks the beginning of the animation experiments that I’ve been looking forward to.
My first experiment! ‘Folding paper’. I began by making quick sketches of the key frames with the help of a prototype of the subject to work out its movements. Using stop motion and following my storyboard, this paper will fold itself.This is so much fun!
As part of my explorations into the notion of Public Goods for the Compendium, I’ve been creating some sketch maps that explore how to define public goods. What are they? Public goods come in many forms and their meaning and values vary among different groups of people.
Whilst preparing to have lunch with the team, Stefan began telling us a story about his family feast during the holiday season. The social transactions he had during the reunion, the reminiscing of traditional dishes. It sparked the thought that it wasn’t just the act of sharing food that was a public good, but everything that evolved around it. Where and how we get our food; the agricultural skills and knowledge needed to grow our food; the market place in which people come together not just to buy goods but for social interactions and where communities share stories; the history and culture, our traditions and sociology behind food, and ‘Foodways‘ – a term used to describe any piece of food culture which once existed in a time and place that tells a story about who we are.
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.
Hello! It’s been a while since my last post and what have I been up to you ask? Well, I’ve been honing my skills in advanced Pictionary! Or at least that’s one way of looking at it as it takes on the same principle of visual interpretations from words. For the past few weeks Giles and Alice have been throwing words, concepts and phrases at me to create sketches visualising the meanings behind them.
Below are a few examples I have created which illustrate some of the many different projects Proboscis have accomplished over the years and key outcomes from them:
Perception Peterborough – valuing citizens’ voices in city planning & regeneration.
Navigating History – creating new awareness of rich local archives and resources.
Sensory Threads – revealing value creation in cross sector collaborations.
Snout – using play to inspire people and make complex issues more accessible.
With Our Ears to the Ground – connecting council depts to work together for the first time for cohesive community development.
Lattice – providing the catalyst for new creative collaborations.
Having been a part of Proboscis for a fair amount of time now, trying to describe the type of work Proboscis does can be a little tricky. So the best way around it was to look at what Proboscis had accomplished in the past, giving me a new perspective on the kinds of projects and themes Proboscis had undertaken and the different types of people they have worked with.
This part of the project had given me an great opportunity to exercise my conceptual skills, visualising complex activities and abstract ideas and presenting them in the form of a single sketch.
It was challenging creating a sketch that would capture and reflect the sense of a complex project and required a lot of conversation – to which I would carefully listen to pull out keywords that may best describe the process, outcomes and achievements of a project, then further researching to finalise sketches.
Throughout the process I’ve developed the ability to visualise concepts using a single word or string of words and sketching to reflect the meaning behind the words or the ideas conveyed, giving me new confidence as a concept artist to visualise something quickly and to use my imagination to give some of the sketches a touch of humour and a new perspective.
It has been an enjoyable experience, and given me a new insight to the type of work a visual interpreter/ graphic artist does and I look forward to more work like this in the near future.
(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