Some films made as part of the Hidden Families project :
We have just finished putting together a new publication for the report on Families Disconnected by Prison, of which the Hidden Families project was one part. The project is led by Lizzie Coles-Kemp from the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway University of London and is going to be on show at the AHRC Connected Communities Showcase on the 12 March.
Tomorrow I start my journey to Papua New Guinea where I’m taking part in the Saem Majnep Memorial Symposium on Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK), hosted by the University of Goroka (Eastern Highlands Province) and supported by the Christensen Fund. The title and abstract of my talk at the symposium is:
Digital and Physical : simple solutions for documenting and sharing community knowledge
My work is about engaging with people to identify things which they value – for instance knowledge, experiences, skills – and how they can share them with others in ways that are safe, appropriate and inspiring. As an artist and designer I have helped devise simple tools and techniques that can be adopted and adapted by people on their own terms – such as uses of everyday paper, cameras and printers alongside digital technologies such as the internet, archives and databases. I will demonstrate some examples of how these simple physical and digital tools can be used to share community knowledge in freely and easily accessible ways, so that they can also be re-worked and circulated in both paper and digital formats. I hope to offer some examples of how TEK in PNG might be widely documented and circulated as part of commonly available resources.
I wrote a piece about my initial thoughts on what I’ll be presenting and doing whilst I’m there on the bookleteer blog last month. My invitation to this event has been through James Leach, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen who will be there presenting his collaborative publication, Reite Plants, with Porer Nombo in whose village James has been doing fieldwork for 20 years. I first met Porer three years ago when he visited the UK to assist the British Museum’s Melanesia Project in identifying artefacts from the region where he lives in the Ethnographic Collection. At the time James had asked me to help him devise some new ways to document this kind of Traditional Knowledge Exchange that would capture something of the experience of all sharing knowledge that more institutional methods might miss. Consequently we used some Diffusion eNotebooks to capture and record our interactions as much as the stories and information that Porer and Pinbin shared about the artefacts. Alice and I also had the privilege of spending time with Porer and his fellow villager, Pinbin Sisau, inviting them to our home for an evening with James and his family and sharing with them some of the simple delights of central London life that people who don’t live here wouldn’t experience.
After the symposium James, Porer and myself will travel back to Porer’s village of Reite on the Rai Coast in Madang Province where we’ll stay for a week or so. There we’ll attempt to put some of our ideas into practice – I’ve designed some simple notebooks for us to use out in the bush, some printed on waterproof paper, others printed on standard papers. I’m very excited to have this unique opportunity to test out ideas I’ve had for using the Diffusion eBook format and bookleteer in the field for over 10 years now – harking back to conversations I had with anthropologist Genevieve Bell of Intel in 2003. I’m also very excited to have the privilege of visiting Porer and Pinbin in their home and meeting their families and community – joining the loop of one smaller circle of friendship and exchange and hopefully spiralling out into some larger ones that will continue into the future.
This year we will begin a major new programme of projects exploring the intangible things we value most about the people, places and communities we live in : Public Goods. Through a series of projects over a 5 year period we’ll be making artworks, films, events, exhibitions and publications in places across the nation (and hopefully abroad too) working in collaboration with both other creative practitioners and local people.
In this first year we’re planning a series of smaller research projects to help us meet and engage with collaborators, identify places and communities, themes and activities. We’ll be using our City As Material format for collaborative urban exploration and zine-making as a method of investigating new places with local people, and also focused projects, like Alice’s As It Comes, in both urban and rural settings exploring other knowledges and experiences that are often overlooked or are being swept away by the fast pace of social change. We also plan to continue our research collaborations into new technologies for public authoring, play and sensing the world around us (such as Urban Tapestries, bookleteer and Sensory Threads).
Our aim is to build up an archive, or archives, of the intangible goods that people most value and want to share – transmitting hope and belief through artistic practice to others in the present and for the future. In the teeth of a radical onslaught against the tangible public assets we are familiar with (libraries, forests, education etc), Public Goods seeks to celebrate and champion a re-valuation of those public assets which don’t readily fit within the budget lines of an accountant’s spreadsheet.
We’d love to hear from communities, practitioners or organisations who’d like us to work with them around this theme – do get in touch.
The other week I had another chance to help the Graffito crew, this time exhibiting at Tent Digital in the Old Truman Brewery, as part of the London Design festival. I popped down on Thursday and Friday to lend a hand showcasing it, in much the same way as the Vintage at Goodwood festival; getting visitors to collaboratively doodle on an iPhone or iPad, their handiwork being displayed via a projector onto a large screen. This time however, the focus was very much on Graffito in its own right, rather then part of a festival arena. Many visitors were in the design industry and were considering larger implications for Graffito, which meant diverting many of the more technical questions to Nick and Jenn, the developers. I was content to continue doodling, and now I can boast impressive renditions of a rabbit, a rural landscape, and a raincloud, very topical considering the weather outside.
There seemed to be a lot more collaborative drawing this time around, with people adding to drawings by others, perhaps due to the more focused interaction in a smaller space. The eBook created for the event by Giles proved to be very popular – we even had to restrict the amount available at any time to avoid being empty handed on the remaining days.
Some videos from Graffito in use at the Vintage@Goodwood festival
Last week, I got a chance to help out the Graffito crew with their installation at the Vintage at Goodwood festival, in Chichester. This was the festivals first year, set up by Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway, along with other curators, to celebrate five decades of British music and culture. The Graffito installation was in the 80s Warehouse area, a mock abandoned industrial Warehouse; an ode to the 80s rave and acid house scene. A huge digital LED screen was linked to a handful of iPhones with the Graffito app installed, (the app was also available to download for free from the Apple apps store, the first taker being a very persistent and enthusiastic kid) which we handed out to various people to try out, their collaborative doodles instantly appearing on the screen.
The effect was amazing, and it took me a while to actually surrender the iPhones in my care to eager festival goers. When night beckoned, and the music from the amazing sound-system became more intense, the screen became trance inducing, and people got really involved. After capturing some of the more interesting screen shots, we compiled them in a blank eBook sketchbook, handily designed and provided by Giles, to chronicle the event. We also made StoryCubes with the Graffito logo and instructions on how to download the app, and left them around the arena. The Graffito crew are looking to do similar events in the future, so keep an eye out – hopefully I’ll be there hogging the iPhones once again.
Gallery: (click to enlarge)
Inspired by the underground 80s hip hop scene, Graffito pays homage to guerilla street art and turns it into a celebration of pop culture on a massive scale. Graffito hands over the VJs canvas to the hips, fingers, hands and creative minds of the audience.
Graffito is an experiment in massive crowd-made graffiti. Anyone in a festival crowd can join in to paint on a giant canvas with digital paint using their iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Crowds of people can paint at the same time, on the same canvas by using their screen like a spraycan.
Graffito is a collaborative effort between several UK partners who are experimenting with next gen digital live art. Graffito is supported by Horizon Digital Economy Research (Research Councils UK grant EP/G065802/1).
The first live test of the system as a collaborative drawing/ VJ tool will be in the Warehouse Tent at the Vintage at Goodwood Festival, August 13-15 2010.