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.
From its beginning our collaboration with Philips R&D had a focus on lifestyle and health as the two key subject areas so they have formed an integral part of our dialogue and explorations. We’ve spent time in our discussions making and reflecting on the cross-connections between the two; how they intersect and influence each other. As our discussions evolved, we became more interested in some of the challenges for expressing and documenting personal and collective lifestyle choices visibly or invisibly affecting personal health and quality of life.
Stimulating personal motivation for change or reinforcement of positive activities through new means of reflection emerged as goal worth exploring further. Our primary purpose has been driven by thinking of ways and means to make lifestyle choices visible as a means for reflection and possible behaviour change.
We debated what the possible scale and scope of factors affecting our lifestyles were that could be points of reflection; what the nature is of the need for both individuals and groups to see and reflect on the impact of their own and collective choices on health, well-being and quality of life. Our enquiry ranged from evolving ways to make visible and re-enforce positive patterns to ways of making bigger changes to negative patterns. Our aim is to be able to engage people both through individual and collective reflection and debate.
For instance, what could be vehicles for change that have broad reach spanning young and old without requiring great depth of knowledge to ‘read’ complex information? What could be more emotive, accessible, tangible and shareable? That could indeed inspire a visceral and instinctual form of personal and public reflection? What would form could this take?
Our response to these questions was to take totemic objects as emotive points of reference – iconic and tactile tools for ongoing reflection. We began planning to evolve talismans of self-health, personal pieces that could be carried around on a keyring or as jewelery to remind ourselves of what matters to us. The might be like the charms of old, bracelets embellished with objects, tracing key events and people in our lives but extended to become markers for health and quality of life.
From these ideas of the charm we searched for physical forms that could act as personal objects attached to life, as symbols that are already in the public mind. We arrived at the seashell.
Our collaborator at Philips R&D in Cambridge, David Walker, was generous enough to have some of the Lifecharm shells fabbed in a range of more exotic materials than our initial prototypes using Shapeways (a 3D printing firm spun-out of Royal Philips Electronics). The materials used range from metal/silver, ceramic and frosted and transparent glass.
Many thanks also to Dipak Mistry, our collaborator on Visualise Lifestreams at Arts & Business Cambridge who dropped them by the studio this morning.
This morning we are off to Cambridge for our final meeting with our collaboration partners at Philips R&D, where we will be presenting the lifecharm shells we have generated from our health data and talking about where we will be taking the project next.
In one of our current (and I feel, pretty exciting) commissioned projects that is part of the Visualise Programme, we are looking at new ways of making accessible interpretations and translations of information in a physical series of objects instead of another classic information visualization.
Although there are many beautiful data visualisation examples out there, the big challenge they often face is that they are very frequently inaccessible to larger audiences. We are really interested in finding ways of creating something very emotive and tactile, giving a more intuitive insightful access to understanding content such as personal health information which really matters to people. We want to overcome it often being hard to decipher with current approaches and tools without being a health expert.
Some interesting ideas are swirling around and en route I could reconnect with some ‘old friends’ that I got to know while still an architecture student many years ago: I have been revisiting D’Arcy Thompson‘s On Growth and Form and his in depth study of shell formation as an inspiration of how we might produce our own little evolving artefacts out of re-interpreted data spaces.
We have just been in the process of carrying out our own personal health data-capture with some off-the shelf kit (e.g. pedometer, blood-pressure, temperature) as well as environmental sensing via a couple of custom build Arduino data-loggers; the results of which we are now using for sketching out a variety of generative models for our new artefacts.
Watch this space for our first sketches of growing data!
Back in February Proboscis was commissioned by Andy Robinson of Futurecity, with the assistance of Dipak Mistry of Arts & Business Cambridge, to undertake an Art+Tech collaboration with a local industry partner in Cambridge as part of Anglia Ruskin University’s Visualise programme. This strand seeks to engage “leading Cambridge technology companies to collaborate with contemporary artists on the creative use of technology in public life.”
Over the past few months Stefan and I have been meeting with David Walker and Steffen Reymann of Philips R&D (based in the Cambridge Science Park) to establish a creative dialogue. The initial topics for our creative exploration were suggested by Philips based on research subjects being explored in their lab – Near Field Communications and health monitoring technologies. Our discussions quickly began to revolve around personal motivations for monitoring health and lifestyle –
- Why do people routinely lose abandon using health monitoring technologies?
- What might inspire new habits that actively involve monitoring?
- How could we create delightful ways for people to make connections between personal data and Quality of Life?
- How could we rethink the nature of data collection away from the purely rational towards the realm of the numinous and speculative?
Our initial thinking suggested that perhaps the problem with data collection is that it is often too crude and reductive – trying to make impossibly simple connections between phenomena in a complex system. Data visualisations are often barely more than pretty graphs – but our lives, our environments and the ways we live are so much more than that. How might we make tangible souvenirs from the data generated by our bodies and habits that could help us discern the longer term, harder to perceive patterns?
As our discussions have continued we have begun to explore how we might generate talismanic objects – lifecharms – from personal monitoring data using 3D fabbing. Things which could act as everyday reminders about patterns the data suggests, which are at once both formed of the data and yet do not offer literal readings of the data. Objects which are allusive, interpretative and perceptible, but still mysterious. What would it feel like to have an object in one’s pocket that was generated from data gleaned from one’s own body and behaviours? How might this help us maintain a peripheral awareness of the things we eat, how much we exercise, our general state of happiness and perceive the subtle changes and shifts over time?
Stefan is writing elsewhere how we have been inspired by shells – excretions produced by creatures that tell (in a non-literal way) the story of the creature’s life – what minerals it ingested, what environmental factors affected it. For the lifecharms we’re experimenting with using personal data to drive 3D morphogenetic algorithms that can generate unique shell-like forms which we’ll then render into tangible souvenirs.
As a more macro counterpoint to the micro of the personal lifecharms we have also been considering how local public health data could be translated into forms which could be experienced as a group in a public setting – we’re investigating making a ‘fly eye’ geodesic dome with a light source to throw light upon the patterns in the data.
We’ll be continuing our discussions with Philips for another 3 months or so, gathering some test data (from ourselves) then making some prototypes and maquettes of our ideas for an event in Cambridge in the Autumn where we’ll present our work.
Some videos from Graffito in use at the Vintage@Goodwood festival
As part of our contribution to the Creator Research Cluster, Giles Lane, Sarah Thelwall (mycake) and Tim Jones (Solar Associates) organised a 1 day workshop at The Rookery in Clerkenwell to explore how small arts organisations could explore working with research departments in universities, and develop the case for becoming Independent Research Organisations. The workshop brought together around 20 participants from a wide group of artists and creative professionals, many of whom are already in collaborations with universities, to share experiences and insights into collaborative practices.
The workshop was partly inspired by Sarah’s Troubadour study for the Creator Cluster (due to be published in June 2009 by Proboscis), the executive summary of which was circulated to all the participants. It drew on the experiences of Proboscis (already an IRO since 2005), Blast Theory and Scan who have all maintained long term partnerships and collaborations with universities stretching back a decade or more. The AHRC was also represented at the workshop and was helpful in identifying the probable routes needed to be taken to achieve IRO status in the current climate.
The participants agreed to set up an informal cluster of interested parties who wanted to take the process further.
Participants: Giles Lane (Proboscis); Sarah Thelwall (mycake); Tim Jones (Solar Associates); Ruth Catlow (Furtherfield); Helen Sloan (Scan); Julianne Pierce (Blast Theory); Rob La Frenais (Arts Catalyst); Tassos Stevens (Coney); Ruth & Bruno (Igloo); Glenn Davidson (Artstation); Rachel Jacob (Active Ingredient); Evelyn Wilson (LCACE); Gini Simpson (Queen Mary); Annamaria Wills (cida); Carien Meier (Drake); Ben Cook (LUX); Tim Harrison (ACE London); Isabel Lilly (Stream); Joanna Pollock (AHRC); Nick? (A Foundation).
Absent Friends: Bronac Ferran (boundaryobject); Julie Taylor (Goldsmiths); Lorraine Warren (Southampton); Ted Fuller (Lincoln)
Funded by the CREATOR Cluster, part of the EPSRC’s Digital Economy programme.
SoMa is a think tank for culture which conducts research into creative practices and their effects on culture and society.
SoMa aims to enhance the role of creativity in society by building up bodies of knowledge and experience that reveal the social matrices which make culture the keystone of society.
SoMa’s activities are based on the umbrella theme of Cultures of Listening. Our research projects focus on how social, cultural and political processes and structures influence how we live, and the ways in which we define our relations to space and place.
SoMa is the research programme of parent organisation, Proboscis.
- explore the roles of creative people and the ‘cultural industries’ in the development of society, culture and public policy by conducting ‘action research’.
- assess the impact of creative activities, and in particular the experimental arts, on society and culture as a whole by drawing on bodies of knowledge & experience from the fields of Art & Design and the Social Sciences.
- identify ways through ‘cultural analysis’ in which creative practices can be critical forces for change and development in society, such as being effective tools in social and economic regeneration.
- develop links with industry to explore new forms of partnership and investment in culture to bring greater benefits to communities, audiences, practitioners and investors.
- evaluate and enhance current thinking on the relationship between culture and the economy to broaden the understanding of the former’s role in the development of society.
- influence public policy around the role of creativity in learning, work and play.
- embed creativity in everyday life by stimulating life long learning.
Stimulating Innovation & Creativity
- devise and realise practical projects as models for innovation and collaboration.
- investigate the impact of new technologies (and artists’ use of them) on society.
- explore the importance of experimental creative arts for industry and innovation and champion artists as key links in the development chain of new technologies, services and practices.
- rethink what public art can be and how it impacts on society through new approaches and technologies.
Networks for Collaboration
- research how networks and modes of communication – virtual and physical – foster and build communities (of people and interests), and are transformative of social and cultural relations within local and across global communities.
Access & Undersanding
- organise events (talks, symposia, colloquia etc) and publications (research reports and creative publications) placing SoMa’s findings in the public realm to foster critical debate.
- feed back into teaching programmes and research activities of partner institutions, acting as an interface for further collaborations between practitioners from different disciplines.
- seek out new sites for contemporary art to reach audiences unable to engage with the current structure of galleries and museums – such as public libraries and new media production centres.
The third in a series of workshop on the theme of urban sensing, UrbanSense 08 took place in Raleigh, North Carolina in November 2008. The workshop explored ideas, prototypes and realised projects around participatory sensing. Karen Martin made a presentation of ‘Participatory Sensing for Urban Communities’ which described the Robotic Feral Public Authoring and Snout projects which Proboscis had created in collaboration with Birkbeck College, University of London.
Read the paper ‘Participatory Sensing for Urban Communities‘ (PDF 650Kb) by Demetrios Airantzis (Birkbeck College, University of London); Alice Angus (Proboscis), Giles Lane (Proboscis), Karen Martin (Proboscis), George Roussos (Birkbeck College, University of London), Jenson Taylor (Birkbeck College, University of London)
Here is the workshop abstract:
Sensing is going mobile and people-centric. Sensors for activity recognition and GPS for location are now being shipped in millions of top end mobile phones. This complements other sensors already on mobile phones such as high-quality cameras and microphones. At the same time we are seeing sensors installed in urban environments in support of more classic environmental sensing applications, such as, real-time feeds for air-quality, pollutants, weather conditions, and congestion conditions around the city. Collaborative data gathering of sensed data for people by people, facilitated by sensing systems comprised of everyday mobile devices and their interaction with static sensor webs, present a new frontier at the intersection between pervasive computing and sensor networking.
This workshop promotes exchange among sensing system researchers involved in areas, such as, mobile sensing, people-centric and participatory sensing, urban sensing, public health, community development, and cultural expression. It focuses on how mobile phones and other everyday devices can be employed as network- connected, location-aware, human-in-the-loop sensors that enable data collection, geo-tagged documentation, mapping, modeling, and other case-making capabilities.
In February 2008 Proboscis were resident with ICE (Information and Cultural Exchange) in Western Sydney, Australia. We collaborated with ICE and the British Council Australia to run a workshop and exchange labs over 3 weeks with a group of 15 creative practitioners from local communities. The project grew out of connections we made with ICE during the Coding Cultures project by d/Lux/MediaArts in Australia in 2007.
Through a series of intensive workshops, Proboscis explored approaches to creatively transforming cities and shared techniques with the Western Sydney artists, who in turn had the opportunity to develop projects. Members of the wider arts community participated in half-day Exchange Labs and a public symposium. Lattice addressed the ways culturally diverse communities engage with their environment and considered; what happens when people come to a city? What knowledge is lost, or gained? What are the impacts of emerging new identities on cities?
- The Lattice::Sydney film was made by participants in the workshop and features a playful model city built from any materials that came to hand, to manifest the ideas about ‘Creative City’ generated in the workshop.
- We also made Drawing Conclusions a short film of artists Matt Huynh and Tina Tran of Popperbox drawing conclusions from the Lattice forum.
- Lattice::Sydney project blog
- Lattice::Sydney Sketchbook Diffusion eBook by Tak Tran
- Lattice::Sydney Sketchbook Diffusion eBook by Tina Tran
- Lattice::Sydney Sketchbook Diffusion eBook by Matt Huynh
- Lattice::Sydney Sketchbook Diffusion eBook by David Capra
- Lattice::Sydney Unwrapped Diffusion eBook by Proboscis, ICE and Lattice Participants
- How to Find out What they Want Diffusion eBook by Matt Huynh, Todd Williams, Kasama Yamtree
Team: Alice Angus, Giles Lane & Orlagh Woods
Participants: David Capra, Ali Kadhim, Sanez Fatouhi and Amin Palagni, Ben Hoh, Tiffany Lee-Shoy, Fatima Mawas, Ben Nitiva, Matt Huynh, Tak Tran and Tina Tran of Popperbox, Denis Asif Sado, Trey Thomas, Maria Tran, Todd Williams and Kasama Yamtree.
Partners: ICE (Information & Communication Exchange)
Funded by the British Council as part of the Council’s Creative Cities East Asia initiative
with additional support from Foundation for Young Australians (Youth Digital Cultures Project) and support from the AMWU.
Social Tapestries (2004-08) was a five year research programme of projects that grew out of our original Urban Tapestries project. The focus of Social Tapestries was to create a series of experiments in public authoring in challenging environments and with local communities that could begin to reveal the potential for emerging mobile media in enabling change through the mapping and sharing of knowledge and experience in everyday settings. We developed projects with two social housing groups (a residents’ committee and a short-life co-op), schools (a secondary near Hull and a primary in North London), residents/users of London Fields and people who lived and worked in Hoxton.
Team: Alice Angus, Camilla Brueton, Kevin Harris, Giles Lane, Karen Martin, Sarah Thelwall and Orlagh Woods.
Partners & Collaborators: Birkbeck College; London School of Economics; Jenny Hammond Primary School; HIRO (Havelock Independent Residents Organisation); St Marks Housing Co-op, Kingswood High; Getmapping.com;
Urban Tapestries (2002-04) was a ground-breaking project that investigated how the combination of geographic information systems (GIS) and mobile technologies (including ad-hoc WiFi) could enable people to map and share their knowledge and experience, stories and information – public authoring. The transdisciplinary team developing it wove together an action research process bridging programming, ethnography, visual arts, filmmaking, animation, product design, information architecture, concept design, rapid & paper prototyping and creative writing.
The project resulted in numerous events, publications, technologies as well as two public trials of the Urban Tapestries mobile platform for public authoring in December 2003 and June-July 2004.
Team: Alice Angus, Daniel Angus, John Paul Bichard, Katrina Jungnickel, Giles Lane, Rachel Murphy, Roger Silverstone, Zoe Sujon and Nick West.
Partners & Collaborators: London School of Economics, Hewlett-Packard Research Laboratories, Orange, Ordnance Survey, France Telecom R&D UK.
Funded by Department of Trade & Industry, Arts Council England, Fondation Daniel Langlois
Proboscis is collaborating with Sarah Thelwall to conduct a ‘troubadour’ study to investigate artistic & creative research models and the ways in which these interface between creative SMEs and organisations such as HE institutions and the Research Councils.
In the work which culminated in Capitalising Creativity, Sarah developed a model for defining those activities which are at the core of an artist or creative organisations activities versus those which exploit the intellectual capital created and leverage it into income streams and commercial collaborations. Whilst this model of ‘first ‘and ‘second order’ activities was a good fit for some SMEs, Proboscis concluded that the research focused approach which it pursues is not well suited to the development of second order activities in this manner. Instead Proboscis, and organisations with a similar outlook such as Blast Theory, have pursued an approach that increases connections and activities with research focused institutions.
It is these connections and methods that we would research in the Troubadour Study:
- what are the interactions between SMEs and research institutions?
- how does each side of a collaboration evaluate the partmnership and define ‘value’?
- how is this value communicated to funders and stakeholders?
- what are the limiting factors of such collaborations and why are there so few examples?
- what lessons can be learnt from the experiences of Cluster members Proboscis and Blast Theory and how might this contribute to influencing funding policies and frameworks?
Team : Sarah Thelwall and Giles Lane
Proboscis is leading a pilot project, Sensory Threads, funded by the CREATOR Research Cluster. The project builds upon our previous collaborations with Birkbeck College’s Pervasive Computing Lab on the Feral Robots and Snout environmental sensing projects and takes wearable sensing into new areas with new collaborations with the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary, University of London, the Mixed Reality Lab at University of Nottingham and Southampton University’s School of Management.
Sensory Threads is a work-in-progress to develop an instrument enabling a group of people to create a soundscape reflecting their collaborative experiences in the environment. For this interactive sensory experience, we are designing sensors for detecting environmental phenomena at the periphery of human perception as well as the movement and proximity of the wearers themselves. Possible targets for the sensors may be electro-magnetic radiation, hi/lo sound frequencies, heart rate etc). The sensors’ datastreams will feed into generative audio software, creating a multi-layered and multi-dimensional soundscape feeding back the players’ journey through their environment. Variations in the soundscape reflect changes in the wearers interactions with each other and the environment around them. We aim to premiere the work in 2009.
Team: Alice Angus, Giles Lane, Karen Martin and Orlagh Woods (Proboscis); Demetrios Airantzis, Dr George Roussos and Jenson Taylor (Birkbeck); Joe Marshall (MRL); Dr Nick Bryan-Kinns and Robin Fencott (Queen Mary) and Dr Lorraine Warren (Southampton).
Following the Manchester Beacon workshop, Proboscis facilitated a StoryCubes ‘landscape of ideas’ to help Just b. Productions and the Manchester Beacon Project define the brief for a new commission to create an online public engagement service that maps connections between people, places, knowledge and creative activity in Manchester. Starting with a series of questions derived from the initial day-long workshop, delegates of b.TWEEN were asked to add their comments, ideas and suggestions to scope out wider issues, aspirations and challenges for the design brief of a new online ‘public engagement tool’.
The StoryCubes Installation was subsequently voted Best Interactive Gallery Installation by the delegates of b.TWEEN.
Team: Giles Lane and Karen Martin.
A collaboration with ISG at Royal Holloway University of London, Freya Stang, NEPACS and Action for Prisoners Families.
Begun 2012 | Ongoing
An Art + Industry commission as part of Anglia Ruskin University’s Visualise programme to work with Philips R&D UK (based in Cambridge Science Park).
Begun 2012 | Ongoing
Pallion Ideas Exchange
A collaborative community co-design project in partnership with ISG at Royal Holloway University of London and Pallion Action Group in Sunderland.
Begun 2012 | Ongoing
A commission to create a site-specific piece on Hive Beach, Dorset as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
Begun 2011 | Completed 2012
Experiments with drawing and digital printing of fabrics.
Begun 2010 | Ongoing
Public Goods Lab
Our in-house R&D creative technology initiative.
Begun 2011 | Ongoing
Our new 5 year programme of projects focusing on making and sharing tangible representations of the intangible things we value most about the places and communities we belong to, such as stories, skills, games, songs, techniques, memories, local lore and experiential knowledge of local environment and ecology.
Begun 2011 | Ongoing
Agencies of Engagement
A collaborative research project with CARET & Crucible at the University of Cambridge.
Begun & Completed 2011
City As Material
A series of one day events in London combining urban exploration and collaborative publishing with bookleteer. 5 collaborative eBooks published and 4 eBooks commissioned from invited guests : Tim Wright, Ben Eastop, Simon Pope & Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino
View the eBooks here
Begun & Completed 2010
Proboscis has been commissioned to co-design and develop the artistic identity for a major global awareness campaign about Persistent Organic Pollutants for the United Nations Environment Programme.
Begun & Completed 2010
Proboscis is a creative partner in the Graffito project supported by the Horizons Digital Economy Research Institute.
Begun & Completed 2010
As It Comes
Alice Angus has been commissioned to create a series of artistic works about the independent traders of Lancaster.
Begun & Completed 2010
Birmingham Total Place
A commission for the Birmingham Total Place project.
Begun & Completed 2010
Our new web service for creating Diffusion eBooks and StoryCubes.
Alpha Version launched 2009
With Our Ears to the Ground
A commission from Green Heart Partnership to engage with 4 different geographic communities in Hertfordshire and explore people’s ideas about community.
Begun 2009 | Completed 2010
Proboscis is continuing our collaboration with DodoLab (a project supported by University of Waterloo and the Musagetes Foundation) first initiated at the 5th World Environmental Education Congress in Montreal, Canada May 10th-14th 2009.
Begun 2009 | Ongoing
Proboscis is developing a new mobile participatory sensing project with researchers from the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London; Pervasive Computing Lab at Birkbeck College, Mixed Reality Lab at University of Nottingham; and the School of Management at University of Southampton.
Begun 2008 | Ongoing
A commission by ADeC (Arts Development East Cambridgeshire) to create a space where local residents of Sutton-in-the-isle near Ely, new and longstanding, can have the room to explore place and identity through creative activity.
Begun 2008 | Completed 2009
Being In Common
Being in Common invites people to expand and alter their understanding of ‘common space’ and is inspired by the close connection between the histories of enclosure, surveying and gunpowder that coincide in Gunpowder Park. A commission by Haring Woods Associates / Landscape+Arts Network Services at Gunpowder Park as part of the Art of Common Space programme.
Begun 2008 | Completed 2009
Proboscis was commissioned (with strategic consultants Haring Woods Associates) to develop the creative vision for the growth for the City of Peterborough, an ambitious £1bn development plan over the next 15-20 years. Through an anarchaeological investigation of the city, its environment and inhabitants, Proboscis devised and facilitated a series of workshops and distributable works that contributed to a major regeneration strategy.
Begun & Completed 2008
Proboscis was invited by the British Council to design a framework for a series of collaborations and residencies with organisations in East Asia, as part of their Creative Cities programme. Lattice is a framework for Proboscis to work collaboratively with different partners in the region to engage local communities in developing their own tools and techniques for public authoring, anarchaeology and cultures of listening. The initial project Lattice:Sydney is hosted by ICE (Information & Cultural Exchange) in Western Sydney during 2008.
Begun 2007 | Completed 2008
A week long Social Tapestries workshop with Year 4 students at the Jenny Hammond Primary School in Waltham Forest investigating children’s experiences of democracy and democratic behaviour. Developed and delivered with Loren Chasse.
Download the learning diary eBook (A4); final Group eBook (A4) and project report (A4)
Begun 2007 | Completed 2007
Snout was a Social Tapestries collaboration between inIVA, Proboscis and researchers from Birkbeck College exploring relationships between the body, community and the environment. It built on our previous collaboration on Feral Robots to investigate how data can be collected from environmental sensors as part of popular social and cultural activities. Two carnival costumes instrumented with environmental sensors were created and a mock carnival held in Shoreditch, east London in April 2007.
Begun 2006 | Completed 2007
Conversations and Connections
Proboscis collaborated on an 18 month Social Tapestries project with community development consultancy, Local Level and Havelock Independent Residents Organisation to explore how public authoring concepts and tools could be used by residents of a low income social housing neighbourhood (in Suthall, West London) to map and share local knowledge leading to an improvement in services from the local authority and housing agency. The project was funded through an Innovations grant from the Democratic Engagement branch of the Electoral Policy Division of the Ministry of Justice.
Download the Evaluation Report
Begun 2005 | Completed 2007
A week long Social Tapestries workshop with Year 4 students at the Jenny Hammond Primary School in Waltham Forest exploring the local environment and the children’s relationship to it. Developed and delivered with Loren Chasse.
Download the Activity & Impact Report
Begun 2006 | Completed 2006
Robotic Feral Public Authoring
A Social Tapestries collaboration with Birkbeck College and Natalie Jeremijenko to adapt toy robots with GPS positioning, environmental sensors and wireless data upload to Urban Tapestries. The prototypes were built for and tested in London Fields with the help of local people, and presented publicly at the Science Museum London.
Download the Cultural Snapshot
Begun 2005 | Completed 2006
Topographies and Tales
Topographies & Tales is about the relationship between people, language, identity and place, revealing small local stories against the larger picture of how our concept of space and environment is shaped by “belonging” and “nationhood”, and how boundaries, barriers and borders come to be formed. Proboscis collaborated with and supported residencies in the UK for two artists to create new works with us – Joyce Majiski (Canada) & Loren Chasse (USA).
Begun 2004 | Completed 2007
Social Tapestries was a research programme developing experimental uses of public authoring to demonstrate the social and cultural benefits of local knowledge sharing enabled by new mobile technologies. These playful and challenging experiments built upon the Urban Tapestries framework and software platform developed by Proboscis and its partners. Through collaborations and partnerships with other civil society organisations we addressed education, social housing, community arts and local government. Projects include: Experiencing Democracy, Snout, Conversations and Connections, Everyday Archaeology, St Marks and Robotic Feral Public Authoring.
Begun 2004 | Completed 2008
A collaboration with curator Deborah Smith commissioning 11 artists’ projects in local libraries and local history collections in the South East region of England. This unique project built on the Topologies research and created dynamic new relationships between local people, the artworks and the collections.
Begun 2003 | Completed 2005
Proboscis created and developed this groundbreaking project exploring mobile technologies, mapping and public authoring in partnership with the London School of Economics, Hewlett Packard Research Labs and Orange with Ordnance Survey and France Telecom R&D. The initial prototype (for PDA and WiFi) had a public trial in London in December 2003, the second prototype (for Symbian mbile phone and GPRS) was given a field trial in June 2004.
Download the Report: Public Authoring, Space & Mobility
Begun 2002 | Completed 2004
StoryCubes are a tactile thinking and storytelling tool for exploring relationships and narratives. Each face of the cube can illustrate or describe an idea, a thing or an action, placed together it is possible to build up multiple narratives or explore the relationships between them in a novel three-dimensional way. StoryCubes are part of the Diffusion Shareables concept and can be created using the Diffusion Generator, as well as purchased as packs for creative projects, brainstorming and workshops. Proboscis also offers a personalised StoryCube printing service.
Begun 2002 | Ongoing
Landscape and Identity; Language and Territory
Liquid Geography questioned and explored contemporary perceptions of geography, territory and landscape, at a point in time when understandings of place and space are being redefined. The initial strand of this research was Landscape & Identity; Language & Territory, a collaboration between Proboscis, MEDIA@LSE and inIVA. Two Creative Labs will be held on March 22nd and June 14th 2002 exploring how new technologies can be used in innovative ways to transform our knowledge of other societies and cultures and act as enabling tools providing a catalyst for the development of new ideas. A series of DIFFUSION eBooks were commissioned as pilots for future experiments in knowledge creation and dissemination.
Begun 2001 | Completed 2002
Sonic Geographies takes sound as the entry point for excavating and mapping urban experience and invisible infrastructures of the city. A series of experiments and sketches were developed that operated as maps and journeys but also as highly personal renderings of sonic experience – sounds of the personal world in conversation with sounds of the city.
Begun 2002 | Completed 2003
Private Reveries, Public Spaces
Proboscis commissioned 14 proposals from leading artists and designers addressing the theme of converging media technologies (internet, radio, interactive television, wireless telecommunications etc) and their social and cultural impact on the shifting relationship between private and public spaces. Three of the proposals were selected by a panel of judges to be developed into ‘conceptual prototypes’ for presentation to the public, peers, academia and industry as online demonstrations and at an event at the London School of Economics on June 25th 2002.
Begun 2001 | Completed 2002
Peer2Peer was an informal network of people interested in developing collaborations and practical solutions for potential partnerships across the arts, industry and academia. The Network consists of individual artists and designers and people from academia, industry, public funding agencies, private foundations and government. Proboscis initiated the network and hosted a number of meetings and events in partnership with the LSE, RCA, Iniva and others.
Begun 2001 | Completed 2003
SoMa – Social Matrices
In 1999/2000 Proboscis began to re-orient itself as a creative studio with a strong emphasis on research. Over the next 18 months we developed close partnerships with Professor Roger Silverstone at the London School of Economics and the School of Communications at the Royal College of Art. Our collaborative research programme, SoMa was launched in April 2001 as a ‘think tank for culture’ – a think, make and do environment for transdisciplinary collaborations.
Begun 2001 | Ongoing
A collaboration between Giles Lane, curator and producer, Andrew Kötting, the acclaimed director of This Filthy Earth,Gallivant and Smart Alek, and Mark Lythgoe, neurophysiologist at the Institute of Child Health, London.
The project looked at the perceptions of impaired brain function to further understand the mind and body interaction and our relationship with its abnormality. It made visible connections between scientific and artistic explorations of the human condition, probing the thin membrane between the able and the disabled.
Begun 1998 | Completed 2002.
Diffusion is a downloadable hybrid digital/material book format, developed by Proboscis in 1999/2000. Since the publication of the first series of Diffusion eBooks, Performance Notations, in September 2000, Proboscis has continued to use the format for commissioning new creative publications, as well as adapting and developing the format for uses in other fields and projects. The design schematics were first published in 2002, and since 2003 Proboscis has been developing the Diffusion Generator – an online application allowing people without design skills to publish Diffusion eBooks of their own.
Begun 1999 | Ongoing
Topologies was a research and feasibility study to investigate creating an initiative which could challenge existing definitions of public art. By commissioning and disseminating public artworks through the UK Public Library system, and using visual, aural and tactile media to investigate and represent abstract spaces and concepts, the works would form part of a wider attempt to broaden the audience for contemporary conceptual artwork. Topologies aimed to change both the context and the way in which people encounter art, aiming to introduce concepts of process-based art practices (as distinct from object-based works) to diverse and new audiences, and move the experience of encountering public (or conceptual) art away from a ‘viewer’ experience to that of a user.
The Research Report is available to download as a PDF file here.
Begun 1999 | Completed 2000
COIL journal of the moving image
Proboscis’ founding project, COIL was a 10 issue experimental publication that explored the practice of, and commissioned, artists film, moving image and new media works between 1995 and 2000. Over 140 artists, writers and others were published in the journal.
Begun 1994 | Completed 2000
*** Buy Packs of Blank StoryCubes ***
What Are StoryCubes?
StoryCubes are a tactile tool for thinking, storymaking and telling that are fantastic for exploring relationships and narratives. Each of the six sides can illustrate or describe an idea, a thing or an action – placed together it is possible to build up multiple narratives or explore the relationships between them in three-dimensions. StoryCubes can be folded in two different ways, giving each cube twelve possible faces – and thus two different ways of telling a story, interior and exterior, to reveal different perspectives and make new connections and associations.
Visit our new website for more ideas, uses and case studies: storycubes.net or read our handy guide below :
Multiple sizes : Proboscis has recently introduced a new medium size StoryCube (82x82x82mm) to complement the original size (55x55x55mm) and our custom exhibition size (228x228x228mm). The small and medium sizes are available both a blank cubes to buy and as templates in bookleteer for creating personalised cubes. The exhibition size cubes can be ordered as custom items – please contact us for more information.
Buy Packs of Blank StoryCubes
You can buy packs of blank StoryCubes from our online store from £19.99 (Original size 48 cubes, UK delivery) and £24.99 (Medium size 27cubes, UK delivery). The cubes are professionally manufactured using FSC-approved sustainable card stocks.
Users of Proboscis’ free bookleteer service can design their own StoryCubes and print them out at home (or work) on standard paper or card. Alternatively you can use our Short Run printing service to order professionally printed and die-cut cubes on 300 micron FSC-approved card. Minimum print run of 50 copies per StoryCube design and minimum order of 250 printed cubes. Join bookleteer today for free and create your own StoryCubes (and Diffusion eBooks).
Some ideas for using StoryCubes
- as a brainstorming tool to help people share ideas in workshops, conferences and creative labs
- as an evaluation tool to build up multi layered and multi faceted responses to an event (conference, workshop, performance etc)
- as mnemonic devices helping participants recall activities and outcomes of workshops and mentoring sessions
- in school projects to help students collaborate on group work, enhance negotiation and debating skills and develop tactile and spatial construction skills
- in community projects for intergenerational work – helping people see each others’ perspectives on shared issues
- with young children: make your own alphabet and number cubes or create StoryCubes with photos of friends and family to assist recognition and memory skills
- for storytelling games – where each participant adds elements to their cube and take turns in telling a story with them
- for storyboarding: to help organise storylines for writing, animations or films
- for urban gaming: use StoryCubes as props in urban game scenarios.
- Get more ideas, suggestions and case studies from our new website : storycubes.net
StoryCube Design Services
Proboscis offers several design services for StoryCubes. Please contact us for pricing options.
- StoryCube Packs for Conferences & Workshops: for organisers to distribute to delegates as an evaluation tool, or to stimulate discussion and debate. Proboscis will design and produce a pack containing StoryCubes and customised handouts for distribution to delegates.
- Workshop Facilitation: Proboscis can facilitate StoryCube workshops at conferences and events for brainstorming, discussion and evaluation sessions. Proboscis will design and provide custom handouts for delegates, all the necessary StoryCubes and will facilitate the workshops themselves. In addition we will document and evaluate the workshop as part of the service.
- Custom Printed StoryCubes: Proboscis can design and manufacture individually designed StoryCubes – e.g. as give-aways for events, objects for urban gaming experiences, marketing campaigns or other projects – for single or double-sided cubes with as many different StoryCube designs as you like (minimum order 250 StoryCubes). You can design your own StoryCubes using our bookleteer service and order them to be printed on digitally printed and de-cut card. See above for sample costs.
- Licensing: For customised designs and volume ordering (such as museum education programmes, workshops etc) the StoryCube design may be licensed to take advantage of local manufacturing economies.
Proboscis is a founder member of the CREATOR Research Cluster, funded by EPSRC as part of the “Connecting Communities for the Digital Economy” initiative. The cluster brings together practitioners from the creative industries with researchers from varied traditions that span ICT, the arts and humanities, the social sciences, and business studies.
The cluster seeks to establish a close connection between ICT researchers, those with an interest in business and innovation, and practising members of the creative industries and seeks to answer 4 main questions:
- What key challenges face the creative industries due to the emergence of a new generation of social, pervasive and affective ICT?
- And conversely, what long term challenges must be tackled by ICT research in order to support future creative industries?
- How can we better engage small creative companies in research and knowledge transfer?
- And especially, how can we establish new interdisciplinary approaches across ICT, the arts and humanities and the social sciences that support “practice-led” approaches to research?
Blast Theory, University of Reading, Storey Gallery, AmaK, University of Nottingham, University of Cambridge, Queen Mary, University of London, University of Technology, Sydney, University of Sheffield, University of Lincoln, Goldsmiths College, University of London, Exeter University, Decoda, The Creative Media Centre, Lancaster University, Brunel University, University Of Chichester, Birkbeck College, University of London, Proboscis, Newcastle University, University of Glasgow, iShed, Watershed, SCAN/Bournemouth University, University of Bath, University of Worcester, University of Southampton, University of Sussex.
A series of Pilot projects and ‘Troubadour’ studies will be conducted over the year 2008-09.
Capitalising Creativity : Developing earned income streams in Cultural Industries organisations by Sarah Thelwall
‘Shared Encounters’ was a workshop which took place at CHI 07 in San Jose, California. CHI is the annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems and this one-day workshop brought together researchers from academia and industry to explore how mobile technologies might support shared encounters in urban environments. Karen Martin and Giles Lane submitted a position paper describing Proboscis’ Conversations and Connections project and the challenges and opportunities faced by projects which make use of, and develop, new technologies but have primarily social goals.
You can read our paper here: Making Glue (PDF 150Kb)
This is the workshop abstract:
Our everyday lives are characterised by encounters, some are fleeting and ephemeral and others are more enduring and meaningful exchanges. Shared encounters are the glue of social networks and have a socializing effect in terms of mutual understanding, empathy, respect and thus tolerance towards others. The quality and characteristics of such encounters are affected by the setting, or situation in which they occur. In a world shaped by communication technologies, non-place-based networks often coexist alongside to the traditional local face-to-face social networks. As these multiple and distinct on and off-line communities tend to carry out their activities in more and more distinct and sophisticated spaces, a lack of coherency and fragmentation emerges in the sense of a shared space of community. Open public space with its streets, parks and squares plays an important role in providing space for shared encounters among and between these coexisting networks. Mobile and ubiquitous technologies enable social encounters located in public space, albeit not confined to fixed settings, whilst also offering sharing of experiences from non-place based networks. We will look at how to create or support the conditions for meaningful and persisting shared encounters. In particular we propose to explore how technologies can be appropriated for shared interactions that can occur spontaneously and playfully and in doing so re-inhabit and connect place-based social networks.
An LSE Electronic Working Paper by Roger Silverstone and Zoetanya Sujon