As part of my ongoing work with the Mixed Reality Lab and Horizon DER at Nottingham University I was commissioned to come up with an augmented reality, paper based, activity pack or object that incorporated their Artcodes pattern recognition system. MRL wanted to create something to help them with their ongoing research into the social aspects of pattern recognition technology. Ive been working with Artcodes on and off for a couple of years and am interested in seeing it develop more so that it can be used more widely by people to share and author their own digital content. I’d like to use it in some of my public art projects and work with groups and organisations so I was keen to use this commission to research more about how and why people might use this kind of system, what works and does not and where or how it can be socially useful.
I researched and mocking up various festive ideas for traditional decorations, cards and advent calendars, we tried these out and decided to go with the advent calendar, Advent Calendars are very familiar and fit with the idea of the codes opening digital doors. A nice calendar is a treasured item that many people use year after year and this fitted with my thoughts about it being something people would want to have out and play with, and could share and use again.
I designed and illustrated it as a freestanding, gatefold calendar with 24 opening doors. It is traditional in style and features scannable Artcodes to use with the Christmas with Artcodes app. The calendar comes with 24 Artcode stickers to put under any doors . When scanned, using the Christmas with Artcodes app, these codes open photos, videos and other media. People could personalise and replace all the content by adding their own (photos of text, images, drawings, sound, video, urls etc) and share their digital layers with other calendar owners who could view the digital layer created for them. Everyone with a phone or tablet can use the same calendar and create their own digital layer.
I’ve been surprised by the range of uses people found and in particular the empahsis on using it to make a connection with people isolated or far away. Those uses included making a calendar for a friend having a long term hospital stay; making calendars of family memories, and having your own calendar whilst sending one overseas to share christmas messages between family far away.
A lot of what the team are discovering is about the language and processes that make sense to one person but are confusing to another. When you take a risk and invite people to try out a new technology the uses people find for defy your imaginaton, they find unusual ways to use things and uses for things. If people are not creatively involved in development of technologies it can limit the potential for those technologies to develop in useful social ways.
Over the past six months or so we have been developing some new partnerships and working on several collaborative projects:
Alice is collaborating with Dr Katrina Jungnickel of Goldsmiths College’s Department of Sociology (and a former Proboscis associate from earlier days) on the Bikes and Bloomers project. She has been creating a series of illustrations – inspired by Katrina’s research into early women’s cycling clothes and the “rational dress” movement – which are being digitally printed on fabrics as part of recreations of some of the early designs for freedom of movement in clothing.
Alice has also received an Artist in Residence award to collaborate with the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham on their Aestheticodes project, embedding smart codes for visual recognition into drawings and exploring the properties of working with printed fabrics for physical and digital storytelling.
Giles has been continuing to select works from bookleteer for our monthly subscription service, the Periodical – ranging this year from a tactile history of an ancient Scottish kingdom, to works of new poetry and fiction, memoirs of growing up in Soho in the 1920 and 30s, to a republication of John Milton’s 1644 call for unlicensed printing (and a free press), Areopagitica. He is also running a series of Pop Up Publishing workshops in May for the LibraryPress project, introducing new people to bookleteer and self-publishing in public libraries in Hounslow, Islington & Wembley.
Giles has recently been collaborating with the Movement Science Group at Oxford Brookes University who are leading on the development of a Rehabilitation Tool for survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is being funded by the EU as part of the CENTER-TBI project.
Giles has also been developing a new collaboration with the ExCiteS (Extreme Citizen Science) research group at UCL to bring together the work he has been doing with Professor James Leach and the community of Reite in Papua New Guinea on Traditional Environmental and Cultural Knowledge (TEK), with ExCiteS work with forest-dwelling communities in Congo and elsewhere. We aim to develop a prototype for indigenous people to be able to digitally record and share knowledge using a combination of machine learning software, mobile devices and their own traditional craft and cultural practices. This is being developed alongside our planning for further field work in PNG to expand upon our pilot TEK toolkit experiments using hybrid digital/physical notebooks formats.