Last month I went to Bristol, to Knowle West Media Centre as part of Whose Data? an intensive residency week where 8 artists worked with the community to find ways of sharing live data. The artists; Jules Rochielle, Julie Myers, Paul Hurley, Susanne Stahl, Richard Layzell, Steven Paige, Chris Chapman came from backgrounds in performance, design, fine art as well as digital media.
Knowle is a large housing estate just outside the centre of Bristol and though it is classified in some areas as a “deprived urban area” it has a strong community and sense of place. It was built along the lines of the Garden City Movement and has lots of green space and gardens. There is an interesting mix of urban and rural and many people have a close relationship to the land;- they keep horses, sometimes in their gardens, chickens even pigs are not unknown.
The idea was to come up with locally relevant ideas for using live data that could be useful to people who want to know more about energy use, weather, growing food on their allotments and so on. During the week the artists created and presented ideas to KWMC and local residents four of these will be awarded a residency to develop their ideas further. Whose Data? is being led by Dane Watkins, who has been artist in residence at KWMC since 2009 (initially supported by Science City Bristol) working on the Electric Footprint project. The week long event was open submission and KWMC offered a small fee that was enough to make it possible for people to take time out and explore ideas. Its not something that happens often as a way to research a proposal but its a great model becuase whatever the outcome of the final selection it is a rare chance to intensely experience a situation as part of developing new ideas and dialogues. I liked the intensity, the time to get immersed in the place and the ‘open door’ approach KWMC has to the community.