Agencies of Engagement is a new 4 volume publication created by Proboscis as part of a research collaboration with the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technology and the Crucible Network at the University of Cambridge. The project explored the nature of groups and group behaviours within the context of the university’s communities and the design of software platforms for collaboration.
The books are designed to act as a creative thinking and doing tool – documenting and sharing the processes, tools, methods, insights, observations and recommendations from the project. They are offered as a ‘public good’ for others to learn from, adopt and adapt.
Download, print out and make up the set for yourself on Diffusion or read the online versions.
At the beginning this year I started planning how we could begin to introduce bookleteer into education and learning contexts and programmes – not just in formal settings such as schools, colleges and universities, but also in other spaces and places where learning takes place : museums, community centres, libraries, archives and grassroots groups.
We began this journey with a Pitch Up & Publish workshop in February co-hosted by former teacher, writer and digital evangelist at TeachersTV, Kati Rynne which was aimed at teachers and creative people who work in education settings. Among the participants who took part was Ruth from Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination who have ended up creating around a dozen eBooks for workshops and projects they’ve been running with people of all age groups. Others have also used bookleteer in their own projects and for creating teaching and learning outcomes – workbooks, notebooks, documentation and course materials – and not just in English, but Hindi and Arabic so far too.
Our own City As Material event series has also outlined a simple model to bring a group of people together to explore an idea, place or theme and then collaboratively produce eBooks (you can follow the development of the series over at diffusion.org.uk). In these events we’ve shared lots of local knowledge and experience within the group of participants, and found creative ways to share and explore themes of common interest with other people. Its very much in the informal/non-formal learning space (one of the participants was Fred Garnett, a former policy advisor at Becta who’s written on and worked extensively in this area) and I think it suggests exciting ways in which hyper-local groups can come together to explore or pool knowledge and experience, capture and share it in a rapid and very easy way not only among themselves but with wider communities too.
More recently we’ve been joined by Education Assistant, Christina Wanambwa, on a 6-month placement whose role is to help extend and focus our efforts on working both in formal and informal learning. We’ve begun a collaboration with Soho Parish Primary School, where she’ll be spending 1 day a week from January til Easter – helping both teachers and students use bookleteer to create tangible outcomes from curriculum based projects. We’re also using this project to understand more about the specific needs of schools in using online platforms like bookleteer; potentially to build a separate schools version that suits the context of authoring and sharing by children and the need for oversight by staff around issues such as child protection.
Christina’s also begun a research and outreach project visiting other kinds of learning environments to see how bookleteer could be weaved into their existing education programmes to add value and fun. She’ll be publishing an eBook of ideas relating to each place she visits over the coming months, as well as posting about her research on the bookleteer blog. Her first post discusses a recent visit to the Museum of Childhood (download the eBook).
bookleteer is about helping people make and share beautiful publications of their own – whether they handmake the results or choose the PPOD professional printing service. We want to help people find new and dynamic ways to record and share the ideas, stories, knowledge and experiences they have – learning and exchanging things of value as they go. bookleteer has enormous potential to enable people to make and share things of their own, books and storycubes; things which they can share with people all around the world, without the problem of shipping physical objects. Hand-written eBooks can be scanned in and made available online in the same way as ‘born digital’ ones and can also be turned into professionally printed books too.
We’d love to hear from other people in education and learning contexts who see the potential of using bookleteer in their own work and play, want to try it out and share their ideas, experiences and templates with others. We’d like to see bookleteer evolve into more than just a tool – into a community of practitioners creating and sharing across many languages, geographies, interests and outcomes. In the new year we’ll be launching new functionality which will open it up even further. Watch this space.
Articulating Futures was a 4 day workshop held at Chinmaya Mission Vidyalaya in New Delhi between the 17th – 20th November, 2009. As a collaboration between narrative designer Niharika Hariharan and Proboscis, the workshop investigated how through innovative thinking young students could be mobilized to voice issues that are important to them.
I had the opportunity of working as an intern and project assistant at Proboscis while I was pursuing my Masters at Central Saint Martins, London in 2008-09. Needless to say, the experience at Proboscis was invaluable, giving me important insights into the various processes of design thinking as well as management.
On completing my course, Proboscis offered me a professional development commission. The commission is granted to emerging young artists and designers to help them kick start a project of their own interest giving them an opportunity to showcase their capabilities to the ‘real world’.
Giles Lane and the Proboscis team worked with me through the entire process of my project Articulating Futures right from ideation up until the execution. Proboscis was an important member of the think tank that helped shape this commissioned project. They not only provided me with the required materials to execute the project but also a platform to share and discuss my work with creative practitioners at a global level.
Articulating Futures has been an extremely satisfying project to me as a designer and a thinker. It has allowed me to explore and share my ideas as an emerging professional in the field of art and design. And finally, it has given me the confidence to further pursue, lead and manage projects and ideas. Needless to say these are all desired and necessary skills for a future creative practitioner working in the industry.
Post the completion of my education in London, this Professional Development Commission by Proboscis was an ideal platform for me to progress towards a career in the field of art and design.
This week we begin teaching a course on the city as material for artistic practice with students from Vassar College‘s International Program in London. We’ve planned it as a co-creative course, intending to act as facilitators and guides to the students in devising and conducting their own investigations of the city and creating their own interventions. The students will be creating a blog to document their activities, as well as publishing eBooks about their individual projects.
The course is fortnightly (from early September to the beginning of December 2009), based in our studio in Clerkenwell, from where we’ll engage in walks, watching, making, drawing, discussing and eating.
The focus for this class will be in considering the role of the city as material for artistic experimentation and creation. Only inadequately understood as “public art,” urban interventions produce public space where it does not exist, foster new modes of urban citizenship and participation, render legible the force of political and financial power shaping the global city, expose the mutability of “public” and “private” entailed by new media transformations of social space, create alliances between varied urban stakeholders, challenge the zero-tolerance policies of the increasingly securitized city, and broaden the repertoire of political resistance and direct action. In addition to contemporary practice the course will consider the rich histories of urban intervention by artists in London and elsewhere.
Internship at Proboscis, July 2008 to March 2009
I am a visual communication designer. I graduated from The Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore in 2006. I am currently completing my masters in ‘Creative Practice for Narrative Environments’ at Central Saint Martins London.
As a part of my study at Central Saint Martins, I interned at Proboscis from July 2008 to March 2009. Working with Proboscis has enabled me to gain a global-local exposure and an insight into the art and design scenario in London.
- As a design student, I have had the opportunity to participate in a variety of multi-disciplinary projects and intend to pursue this approach to my work. Proboscis is an open space that employs such an approach and collaborates with a range of professionals outside the field of design.
- Working as part of an organization that deals with a range of projects from artistic performances to technological mapping, has opened up different avenues of thought, processes and understanding for me as a creative practitioner.
- Being a close knit and well established organization, Proboscis has enabled me to directly participate and gain first hand experience of their diverse work systems.
- Proboscis has enabled me to interact with other practitioners of design, allowing me to acquire knowledge of the art and design industry in London through the experience of others.
- At Proboscis I was given the opportunity to actively participate in workshops and client meetings (Perception Peterborough workshop and Being in Common) which has provided me with invaluable experience.
I was involved in the research and production which gave me the opportunity to work and interact with fellow professionals from the industry. I also gained first-hand experience in developing interesting and innovative research methodologies and documentation techniques. This provided me with the confidence to see a project through all its stages right from its inception to final production. I also gained experience in working with a wide range of mediums. For the Perception Peterborough project I worked with moving images and for the Being in Common project we constructed art pieces for installation in Gunpowder Park.
Although, my internship at Proboscis was significant in all respects, two aspects deserve specific mention.
Firstly, the artist versus designer debate. What is art and what is design? How are they related? What are the boundaries that define the two practices? Proboscis is an art organization and their work shifts between design- problem solving narratives to artistic explorations. As a design student over the years my process had slowly become devoid of artistic empathy. Being at Proboscis I have learned to incorporate ‘Art’ into my work again.
During summer 2008 I worked on Perception Peterborough, a project aimed at creating ‘impressions’ of what the city might evolve to become in the following 15-20 years. My approach here was driven by raising issues and providing possible design based solutions. Proboscis viewed the ‘impressions’ more ‘artistically’. They aimed at creating images and narratives that would inspire and evoke thought from the audience. This was an important realization for me, as I had been addressing the briefs from a solution driven perspective. Working with artists enabled me to work with more fluid and experimental concepts.
Proboscis has also given me an insight into London and its people. Through the course of many lunches and tea conversations, I have learnt about the English lifestyle, history, landmarks in London (some that I had walked past unknowingly!). I have had the opportunity to travel out of London, to Peterborough as well as Enfield (Gunpowder Park) and allowing me to learn about experiences and daily lives of people living outside the cosmopolitan city.
I am keen on developing my work in the arena of education in the future. Through my conversations with Giles who is a visiting tutor at Goldsmiths’ College Design Department, I have gained valuable knowledge in this regard.
My work with Proboscis has enabled me to observe how a studio functions at a systems level, which will be undoubtedly be useful in my career.
Finally, as a multi-disciplinary designer, I have always been interested in being part of spaces that allow participation through different processes. Proboscis allows for involvement and contribution to various aspects of a project which may not necessarily be related to one’s specialization. This allows for a larger learning spectrum in a variety of fields related and non-related to art and design.
I feel, from the above, that my internship and learning at Proboscis will be a valuable starting point for my future projects, goals, and growth as an artist and a designer, in the years to come.
MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments, Central Saint Martins, June, 2009
Internship Experience at Proboscis, January to June 2008
I heard about Proboscis while the research stage of an information design project at college. I was looking for interesting approaches into social and communication studies, and I noticed them as a group specially involved into different social areas and communities. At that point I didn’t get to understand much of what I was reading about their projects, but their singular way of working, variety of approaches and concepts made me really interested to know about that “small” group of people with lots of work done. At that stage, trying to classify Proboscis was hard to me and I assumed for most of the people who first get in touch with them. They work across disciplines, with high social involvement and lots of collaborative practice. They have a non-commercial look at design and communication and a tactile and playful way to look at either complex concepts or at everyday life. After being with them, working, collaborating, talking, drawing… Is still not easy to classify Proboscis, but I feel I understand them better, not only their work but also the way they have to look at the world surrounding. The environment in the studio is anything but tense or awkward, is an open space and a place for talking, discussing and listening new thoughts, connections or ideas.
During my time as an intern I used to work from two to four days a week, during a period of about four months. My main intention when I applied for it was to get a first contact with a studio in the city, to get confidence in my work while applying my skills and learn. Learn as much as I could from people who could talk and think about my general areas of interest. At Proboscis they were clear about their expectations and incoming projects in which I could get involved and that made the experience for fruitful.
My tasks there were from image making to lay-out, photo editing, illustrations or printing experiments.
I would encourage prospective interns to feel comfortable for developing work into the assigned projects and feel confident to present to the group, as they are really open and appreciate suggestions, ideas and experimentation. And it builds that unique atmosphere in the studio of a high collaborative way of working, where everyone and every project feed the others creating a whole range of interesting connections.
Some of the best outcomes from my internship time were the conversations with the team and the opportunity to experiment into personal interests in a non-stressful environment. I learn about ideas, meanings, connections, process or methodologies.
My experience with Proboscis is a journey that went from being a non enough confident student of graphic design to feel as someone taking part of a group in a interesting and rewarding environment, feeling able to understand and learn from daily work activities. Currently I work some times as freelancer with them involved in different projects, and it is a pleasure to keep that walk next to them.
Carmen Vela Maldonado, June 2009
Proboscis Internship Experience May-June 2008
I stumbled across the Proboscis website while searching for creative organisations that worked across disciplines and this is certainly something that sets Proboscis apart from other organisations. Other distinctive features are the close, small team they have within the work space whilst also putting collaboration with others, artists, researchers, academia and communities at the centre of their practice. These elements were some of the positive aspects of Proboscis and that remained distinctive throughout my Internship.
My internship involved working one or two days a week, lasting a period of a month or so. The experience was primarily engineered through my own desire to work with Proboscis in some capacity, whatever the nature of the work. On reflection this was perhaps a little misguided. In future I feel interns should be clear about the expectations of their work and interests and plan for a longer time with Proboscis than I had available to really feel the fruitions of the work.
I had an interest in Education as I was going to do a PGCE and thought that some time looking at creative technologies would enhance my understanding of education as situated beyond the classroom. In discussion with the team, my brief was to research into how we might develop some of the projects that had been completed in schools, such as Everyday Archaeology and Experiencing Democracy. I primarily looked at how Proboscis’s current work might link in with the ‘Personalisation’ agenda within education and proposed suggestions for developing the work. By the end of my short time with Proboscis I was able to produce a research document and for me personally, more importantly, an insight into the organisation and how creative organisations work. One thing I did not take the opportunity to do, which I urge all interns to do, is make time for conversations with the team and I think this is best achieved through applying to do intern work that is project and collaborative in nature, not individual research.
I did enjoy the freedom to co-construct my own brief with the team, and did feel supported however I do feel that if I had more time and was also involved in a more hands on project, rather than research I would have gained more from the experience. I would encourage prospective interns highlighting that Proboscis provide an alternative internship, a creative and reflective space and learning environment, where you are a genuine part of the team. This measure of flexibility and the engagement with cross-disciplinary practice provides interesting scope for further work in the arts, education and social policy.
A week long workshop exploring children’s relationship to the environment with Year 4 students at Jenny Hammond Primary School in July 2006. Part of Social Tapestries research programme.
Activity Report (PDF 1.6Mb)
Team: Loren Chasse, Giles Lane & Orlagh Woods.
Partner: Jenny Hammond Primary School
Curator Lisa Hunter of Dundas Museum and Archive spent a week at Proboscis studio in July 2008 exploring uses of the Diffusion eBooks and StoryCubes in a museum context.
Read Lisa’s comments on her residency here.
Social Tapestries Policy Paper : Public Authoring, Education & Learning by Megan Conway