Our installation on Hive Beach in Dorset, Storyweir, finishes on Sunday 9th September. Here are some photos taken by photographer Pete Millson. From October 13th we will also be participating in an exhibition about the ExLab commissions in Bridport Arts Centre’s Allsop Gallery.
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.
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.
There are no fences here … when you go out of town there are no fences, but I wouldn’t call this a wilderness because peoples homes are here, people live here.
This week I’ve been packing up a set of drawings to send out to the Canadian arctic town of Inuvik for the first leg of a touring show during the the 25 year anniversary of Ivvavik National Park in Canada which was created by a historic Aboriginal land claim settlement The Inuvialuit Final Agreement, signed in 1984. In it the Inuvialuit agreed to give up exclusive use of their ancestral lands in exchange for guaranteed rights from the Government of Canada. The rights came in three forms: land, wildlife management and money. (read more on the Inuvaliuit Regional Corporation). As a result Parks Canada and the Inuvialuit co-operatively manage Ivvavik National Park with the Inuvaluit Wisdom that the “The land will protect the people who support the protect the land“. Parks Canada has organised a touring exhibition of work from their Artist in The Park programme which I was invited to be part of by artist Joyce Majiski, in 2003 with whom Ive been working with since them on projects such as Topographies and Tales.
Middle of Nowhere?
Bordered on the north by the Beaufort Sea and Alaska on the West, Ivvavik sits at the north western tip of Canada. A highly biodiverse region of the Western Arctic, its Inuvaluktun name ‘Ivvavik’ means nursery or place of giving birth. It is a portion of the calving grounds and migration route of the Porcupine caribou herd and forms a part of the Beringia Refugium; an area untouched by the last glaciation where an ice-free bridge allowed humans and animals to migrate from Asia into North America over twenty thousand years ago.
In summer 2003 I met up with artists Joyce Majiski Ron Felix, Audrea Wulf and James Ruben, guide Mervyn Joe and elder Sarah Dillon and flew out of Inuvik, across the Mackenzie Delta towards Sheep Creek. From the air (and in the imaginations of the temperate zone) the arctic taiga and tundra, is a frozen desert. But landing at the junction of Sheep Creek and the Firth River we saw tussocks of wild flowers, embroidered cushions with succulent jewel like plants, luminescent mosses and ferns; miniature gardens of Babylon. Out on the land there were larger traces of life and stories of trappers, miners, hunters and travelers. The language of the north I grew up with paints an image of bleakness, but there the myths of desolation fell away.
“Have good time miles from nowhere!” someone had said before I set off. In the world’s ‘wildernesses’ like Ivvavik it is easy for a visitor to be lost in such a reverie of wonder at landscape that you miss the lives and culture that are part of it. There is a disjuncture between the notion of wilderness as barren, by definition disconnected from the social, and the view of land as homeland, a social place of culture, food and everyday life. To many outside the north the Arctic is still shrouded in an aura of romanticism portrayed, as it has been through the history of polar exploration, as a landscape of sublime desolation. To some, I expect, it’s not a place but an imaginary landscape far away from their everyday lives. I wonder what is the global consequence of this enduring vision of the land?
One day we see five caribou. Pregnant cows lead the herd from Ivvavik into the calving grounds in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); an area rich in oil reserves. So important are the grounds the Gwitchin people refer to them as the “sacred place where life begins”. If the ANWR is opened for drilling many people believe it will result in untold damage to the herd and the people whose lives and traditions depend on it.
Last week I was lucky enough to be asked to spend a few days drawing Granville Arcade/Brixton Village, on the first leg of artistsandmakers.com Empty Shops Network Tour to six towns across England, created by artist Dan Thompson.
I joined Dan, Jan Williams (Caravan Gallery), Steve Bomford and podcaster Richard Vobes, for lively discussion and to create new work on site for an all day event on the Saturday, you can hear Richard Vobes podcasts of about the project here.
Its been a while since I had the chance to stay in one place for a few days drawing, talking to stallholders and getting to scratch a little below the surface, seeing the flows of life. This year we’ve (Proboscis) been involved in several projects that have looked at the issue of common space and how its changing alongside the implications of huge shopping malls, department stores and the privatisation of public space. It was a real pleasure to be in a place where the character of it is created by the people using it to trade and to socialise. There was an almost constant sound of conversation, laughter and music and the smells of all the food being cooked or sold.
Exploring empty shops is about celebrating local distinctiveness and the project will also show local communities how to use empty shops for meanwhile projects. Each project will last less than a week from start to finish and Dan makes a very open space for artists to follow their interests. Each week will involve public meetings, informal training for local artists, and showcase the tools needed to run empty shops projects.
The tour has been organised by the Empty Shops Network, with the first event happening just a week after the project was conceived at a meeting of organisations involved in bringing empty shops and spaces into meanwhile use.
The tour is supported by the Meanwhile Project, and the Brixton event is using a space provided by the Space Makers Agency. After Brixton, the Empty Shops Network project will visit five further towns, with dates in Shoreham by Sea, Coventry, Cumbria and Durham to be confirmed in coming weeks. See artistandmakers.com for details.
You can see more images from the Brixton week here.
Jan, Dan and Steve.
Steve and Terry – the butcher – in front of the pictures Steve and Jan took during the week.
We have been working on Ears to the Ground for around 3 months now and the phase of being out there talking to people and doing activities is almost over with our energy now being focused into how to condense over 200 voices and quotes into a small publication. We’ve been roving around Hertfordshire meeting young and old, talking to them in groups, in their homes, at events. As well as the many people and groups we have met we have; set up a stall in Watford Market to talk to market goers, set up outside Broxbourne Station to speak to commuters, set up a map outside Stevenage Job Centre and annotated it with post it notes of comments from Centre users and ran a drawing workshop with a youth group. We’ve taken our anarchaeology approach of using informal and creative approaches to excavate layers of meaning and understanding. I’ve enjoyed all the people we met who have been so generous, and as I go through the hours of recorded audio two of my favourite quotes so far have been from the Meriden Comunity Centre Community Bar on the Meriden estate in north Watford, and the list of what young people saw around their Neighbourhood in the Chells area of Stevenage.
In the Meriden community bar we asked: How long have you been here?
1962 I moved onto this estate.
I was going to say half past seven.
I’ve been a member of this club for years since it first opened.
I’ve been here so long I’ve worn a hole in the carpet.
You certainly don’t get any trouble in here fighting or all that, its just all mates really I suppose
Like a big extended family
We come down here to insult each other
Don’t know what we’d do without it, we’d sit indoors and watch telly.
We’re all living round here so we don’t need to drive.
The atmosphere, you know, you come in and you know you’re not going to get into any trouble.
And in Chells Manor Community Center we went for a walk with the youth group and after making a large drawing we asked: What did you see and draw?
I saw a fox
I saw the pub, shops, chip shop
I saw, a cat , a man smoking
I saw a tree and a road and an aeroplane
I saw a red flower, a broken glass
I saw myself
I saw a load of people at the youth club
I saw my house
apparently we saw a train going up a tree
I never saw two men shooting each other
I saw darren
I saw houses, dogs,
I saw the green, football, cricket, cycling down fairlands
The book will be published in December.
Alice Angus and Giles Lane are currently participating in the latest DodoLab in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada where we are working alongside Andrew Hunter (Chief DodoLabster), Barb Hobot, Laura Knapp and Lisa Hirmer, as well as a group of students from Mount Allison University led by Dr Shauna McCabe.
From 3rd – 9th of June we’ll be roving around the village gathering and recording stories in many ways; from hanging out at the election, the community shop, the pub and the community spaces with a large village map, to visiting local clubs and individuals, to hosting a storytelling dinner with the residents of a street, to running workshops and going for walks. As the village continues to change through growth, movement and migration the initiative aims to let local people explore place and identity.
Alongside this we’ve integrated storytelling and news sharing (by email and with a WordPress blog); sound recordings (via the free podbean and AudioBoo podcasting servicees and the low cost Gabcast telephone-to-MP3 podcasting service); photo sharing (via the Flickr group pool); social connections (via the Facebook Group) and news feeds (via Twitter). We will also be adding in some of our own inventions like StoryCubes and Diffusion eBooks to make tangible things that can be passed around, as well as the digital media.
We will be back during Sutton Feast Week from the 1st – 5th July with an exhibition and audio broadcasts at St Andrews Church and around the village.
See you in Sutton!
Paralelo, Sao Paulo, Brasil
Alice, Giles and Orlagh travelled to Sao Paulo in Brasil to take part in the AHRC and British Council sponsored event, Paralelo, hosted by the British Council Brasil, MIS-Museum of Image and Sound and Centro Cultural de Sao Paulo. We helped with the event facilitation, running two social mapping workshops and designing a special Paralelo Diffusion eNotebook, Travelling Through Layers, for participants to capture and share ideas, reflections and information.
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.
Much of our work, especially our research activities, is inspired and guided by over-arching themes. In 2011 we began developing Public Goods as our new theme.
Public Goods is our new theme focused on making and sharing tangible representations of the intangible things we feel are most precious 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.
What is most precious about the places and communities in which we live, work and play?
How can we begin to communicate the value of the intangible goods and assets that define our attachment to people, places and things?
Britain is entering what promises to be the most radical transformation of our public services and social infrastructure since the establishment of the welfare state in 1945. As many of the more recognisable tangible assets (libraries, forests, public art and culture venues, arts activities) are run down, sold off or cut back, Public Goods aims to re-invigorate our appreciation of the immense ‘common wealth’ that persists in everyday life across the diversity of cultures in our society. It is a critical moment of artistic opportunity to investigate the resillience, adaptability and future of local communities.
Previous Themes (2001-2011)
Cultures of Listening (2006-2011)
Since 2002 Proboscis has been exploring and developing the concept of Public Authoring, the everyday mapping and sharing of local knowledge and experience. We believe that it is just as important to listen to the voices of others as to make our own voice heard and that this skill is, in itself, a significant aspect of understanding citizenship, toleration and participation in democracy.
The act of listening is crucial to our vision of public authoring – where public authoring offers people a space to have a voice it also needs to encourage that voice to be heard and listened to. In the noise and confusion of the modern world, where we are bombarded with ever-increasing amounts of communication, it is becoming harder to listen, or find the time to listen to those around us.
Proboscis’ Social Tapestries (2004-08) programme can be seen as a metaphor to describe interdependence (of communities and people) through its exploration of how people weave threads of knowledge and experience across the public domain – creating a public knowledge commons. The everyday experience of sound and skills of listening are largely dominated by visual culture, yet cultures of listening are crucial to cultural experience and understanding human relationships; from the intimate to the civic, local to international. Social Tapestries aims to develop these practices of public authoring that in turn engender cultures of listening – places and spaces in which we pause to reflect on what we hear, to disentangle the meaning from the babble of noise.
Species of Spaces (2001-2005)
Species of Spaces explores the relationships between the physical and the virtual – how people navigate between the phenomenological world of the human senses and the invisible, immanent world of data and communications. SoMa acts as a facilitator and developer of new networks that lead to innovative collaborations, partnerships and alliances to explore how creative interventions can inspire and influence public policy and socio-cultural trends.
Projects include: Private Reveries, Public Spaces; DIFFUSION: Species of Spaces; Peer2Peer; Urban Tapestries; Social Tapestries;
A Species of Spaces Diffusion series was commissioned and edited by Giles Lane between 2001-06
Liquid Geography (2001-2005)
Liquid Geography questions and explores contemporary perceptions of geography, territory and landscape. It encompasses our research into new and emerging forms of public art, and explores new sites for reception by investigating the relationships between audience and artwork, producer and participant, site and distribution.
Projects/experiments include: Landscape & Identity;Language & Territory; Topographies & Tales;
Sonic Geographies; Topologies; DIFFUSION: Liquid Geography;
A Liquid Geography Diffusion series was commissioned and edited by Alice Angus between 2002-06
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;
Sonic Geographies takes sound as the entry point for excavating and mapping urban experience and invisible infrastructures of the city. In 2001-02 Proboscis created a series of maps and journeys that were personal renderings of sonic experience – sounds of the personal world in conversation with sounds of the city.
These mappings attempted to excavate the layers of sound that make up the city and create strata of difference: from the sound of a city’s church bells to the shifting sonic signatures of traffic, music radio and the layers of wireless communications. The excavation was designed to open up a new space of enquiry into the experience of the city, and how sound functions as a kind of infrastructure for understandings of place and geography particular to contemporary conditions in the city.
Team: Alice Angus, Katrina Jungnickel, Brandon LaBelle & Giles Lane
As part of Perception Peterborough three creative transdisciplinary workshops were led by Proboscis (alongside consultants Haring Woods Associates) at Peterborough Museum over three days in September 2008. The workshops were the culmination of Perception Peterborough and were designed to reflect on Peterboroughs’s vision for the future around the three themes;
- Green Infrastructure and Environmental Technologies
- Social Cohesion within a Climate of Migration
- Growth: Development of the Built Environment.
Over three days each workshop explored the notion of ‘Environmental Capital’ and both discussed and built ideas for the features of an environmental capital. Creativity underpinned our process for the workshops where a playful but intensive period of activity involved social mapping, StoryCubes and 3D mapbuilding.
The workshops involved:
Social Mapping to explore participants’ connections to each other and Peterborough using brown paper and crayons. StoryCubes to explore relationships of ideas to each other and focus the conversation, with
a physical landscape of cubes building up over the days. StoryCubes are a tactile thinking tool for exploring relationships and narratives, each face of the cube is illustrated or annotated to graphically convey an idea, a thing or an action. A 3D Map of a Future Peterborough to make manifest participants ideas for the features of an environmental capital and go beyond the big ideas such as ‘a carbon zero economy’ to look at how that might be achieved on the ground. Participants added both new ideas, suggestions and existing or planned buildings, structures or initiatives.
View a film of the collaborative map created over the first three days.
As part of our research for the project, we conducted an anarchaeology of the city and its people and created a series of Impressions to inspire different perspectives on the key themes for workshop participants and project stakeholders.
The Impressions, initially created as a means of conveying a local sense of place to national and international participants, were inspired by the series of ‘Wanderings’ that Proboscis undertook with local people in Peterborough as a means of conveying a local sense of place.
We were inspired by the people of Peterborough and the seeds of the future they showed us that Peterborough already has; the diversity, talent, river, and green spaces, fens and waterways, the history and folklore and the great generous friendliness of people who never turned us away. Our Impressions therefore were about the seeds of Peterborough; visible and invisible, from past and future, for hopes
and concerns. They are about what could be seeded, nurtured and grown and what seeds exist here already to help everyone do that.
The wanderings involved conversations and encounters with over 20 local people of different ages and backgrounds. Proboscis journeyed through townships, villages and city by taxi, train, bus, bike, kayak and on foot to investigate and explore the city and its surrounding landscapes. We gained a richer understanding, through local and grassroots perspectives, of people’s perspectives of what it is like to live in Peterborough and their aspirations for the future. The resulting series of Impressions include short films, audio collage, eBooks, StoryCubes and drawings that can be shared physically and digitally and combined with existing policy material to add new perspective to the visioning process.
- Lines of Mobility Diffusion eBook
- Blocks of Change Diffusion eBook
- Bus Adventures Diffusion eBook
- Underused Assets StoryCubes
- Monsters and Mermaids (8 panel french fold booklet PDF)
- Flows Film
- Perspectives Film
- Voices audio piece
- Briefing Pack Book (PDF)
- Briefing Pack StoryCubes (illustrated by Matt Huynh).
Voices records hopes, aspirations and feelings about the city of local people we encountered during our anarchaeological research for Perception Peterborough. One of a series of 8 “Impressions” of the city of Peterborough in England. Part of the Perception Peterborough project which involves artists and consultants in working with local, national and international people to develop a compelling and exciting vision for the future of the city.
In July 2006 Proboscis organised an open dialogue on Cultures of Listening for Interdependence Day at the Royal Geographic Society. The dialogue took the form of a series of conversations between an invited group of artists, social scientists, teachers, researchers, curators and policymakers at a picnic in Kensington Gardens, just across from the RGS.
Our aim was to use the informal setting of a picnic and our role as hosts to bring together a diverse group and stimulate conversations, rather than hold a more formal debate or discussion. This placed the emphasis of the dialogue on being a culture of listening rather being about one. After an hour and a half of introducing people to each other and connecting conversations, the group came together to reflect on what we had heard and said, followed by more conversation and connections over lunch.
Proboscis commissioned artist Camilla Brueton to create an artwork inspired by the event
Camilla’s Brueton’s commission for the Human Echoes event back in July is now complete and the digital element is available as two podcast files. The work is called The Human Echoes Archive and is a box of fictional and factual materials (drawings, maps, postcards, index cards, audio cd) that mimics the form, materials, structure and tools of archiving to reflect and extend the interconnected conversations of the event.
The Archive adopts a numerical ordering system to collect material relating to the people who were present, issues emerging and questions raised at the Dialogue. Like the informal pockets of conversation which took place at this picnic one can navigate freely between the material in the Archive rummaging, cross referencing and re-ordering or by using the the subject index and footnote references.
The podcast files are an edited version of the article contained in the archive with images of other material from it and, a layered audio piece of fragments of the conversations.