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!
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.
Next week (Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th September) Graffito will be exhibited at the Tent Digital in the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane as part of the London Design Festival. Around 19,000 visitors are expected at the venue over the four days, and we will also be presenting the project at a special event for UK Trade & Investment.
We’ve created a special Diffusion eBook about the project for the event – where we’ll have some PPOD printed copies to give away. We’ve also done some early analysis of the server logs. To date we’ve had over 8,000 downloads of the App from the iTunes App Store and 18,000 connections since August 10th (that’s about 500 people a day playing with it). The map below shows where people have been connecting from (based on their iPhone/iPad GPS).
Come along and take part.
Some videos from Graffito in use at the Vintage@Goodwood festival
Inspired by the underground 80s hip hop scene, Graffito pays homage to guerilla street art and turns it into a celebration of pop culture on a massive scale. Graffito hands over the VJs canvas to the hips, fingers, hands and creative minds of the audience.
Graffito is an experiment in massive crowd-made graffiti. Anyone in a festival crowd can join in to paint on a giant canvas with digital paint using their iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Crowds of people can paint at the same time, on the same canvas by using their screen like a spraycan.
Graffito is a collaborative effort between several UK partners who are experimenting with next gen digital live art. Graffito is supported by Horizon Digital Economy Research (Research Councils UK grant EP/G065802/1).
The first live test of the system as a collaborative drawing/ VJ tool will be in the Warehouse Tent at the Vintage at Goodwood Festival, August 13-15 2010.
Over the past few months we have been developing new wearables and improvements to the Rumbler for Sensory Threads, which we successfully tested working together last week. The new wearables are based on Arduino and use XBee for communication, and the Rumbler now has multiple map selection, replay and printing (on the Rumbler’s attached micro-printer) of specific expeditions.
In the coming months we are planning to conduct a series of experimental expeditions through London to test the platform and build up a repertoire of expeditions for the Rumbler to replay. We will also be exploring building more portable versions of the Rumbler to make it easier to present at conferences and festivals.
Carnival is a time when everyday life is suspended – a time when the fool becomes king for a day, when social hierarchies are inverted and the pavement becomes the stage, a time when everyone is equal. There is no audience at a carnival, only carnival-goers.
A single screen video work, by Proboscis, drawing together line animation, visualisation of sensor data and video footage of a live event featuring European carnival characters Mr Punch and The Plague Doctor as they cavort around London in costumes instrumented with environmental sensors.
This Saturday I’m heading to Barcelona to take part in the lift @ home workshop at CitiLab organised by Fabien Girardin and Nicolas Nova – Hands on Barcelona’s Informational Membrane, part of Urban Lab days. I’ll be there, I understand, as a sort of respondent to the keynotes, Adam Greenfield and Ben Cerveny, offering some of our experiences in working at grassroots level – and I guess at policy level too – with geospatial systems, public authoring, sensor networks and doing general mischief.
Fabien has posted a list and bios of the workshop’s attendees, a very eclectic mix of doers and thinkers, here.
A film made in 2006 which demonstrates several of the interfaces – PDA, mobile, web and Google Earth – that were made for various tests and trial of Urban Tapestries. Also contains footage of participants in the trials and bodystorming experiences.
Today I’m travelling to San Sebastian, Spain to take part and give a presentation at the workshop, My Map is Not Your Map. The workshop is hosted by Arteleku and coordinated by José Luis Pajares (gelo); the other presenters are Lize Mogel, Fabien Girardin and Julius von Bismarck.
My presentation (Thurs 24th at 19.00) will be an overview of Proboscis’ projects exploring place, public authoring and sensing conducted since the 2002 (e.g. Urban Tapestries, Social Tapestries, Feral Robots, Snout, Sutton Grapevine & Sensory Threads. Proboscis’ work has always focused less on the technological than on the relational nature of linking human knowledge and experience to place – why and how people tell stories and construct narratives around the places they inhabit and which hold meaning for them.
NOW & UPCOMING
New Website & Twitter
Proboscis is pleased to announce that we have a new website where we will be posting much more regular updates on projects as well as our creative process. We will continue sending occasional email newsletters, but in future we recommend bookmarking the news page or subscribing to the RSS feed.
Proboscis has been working this spring and summer in Sutton-in-the-Isle on Sutton Grapevine, a story sharing project which will be shown at Sutton Feast Week from the 1st – 5th July at St Andrews Church and around the village. We’ve been exploring various different on and offline processes around local storytelling. We roved around the village gathering and recording stories – both past, present and future; hanging out at the community shop, visiting local clubs and individuals, hosting a storytelling barbecue and a workshop with young people.
Sensory Threads : demo at Dana Centre 23/06/09 & National Physical Lab 02/07/09
We will be giving the first public demo of our Sensory Threads prototype at the Dana Centre on Tuesday June 23rd. The event, Surface Tension, is free to attend (no booking required). Sensory Threads is a new experiment in mobile participatory sensing and sonification – making imperceptible things in our environments tangible and tactile.
We will also be demoing ST at the National Physical Laboratory on Tuesday July 2nd as part of the Wireless Sensing Showcase 2009:
Artemov, Mobilefest and Arteleku
Proboscis has been invited to participate in several festivals and workshops this year – from Mobilefest in Sao Paolo (Brasil) and at the ‘Your Map is Not My Map’ workshop at Arteleku, San Sebastian (Spain) in September, to the Artemov festival in Belo Horizonte (Brasil) in November.
New Cultural Snapshot: Cultivating Research
Sarah Thelwall’s Troubadour Study for the Creator Research Cluster, “Cultivating Research : articulating value in arts and academic collaborations” is now available to download:
Jump In Workshop, The Rookery, London
Proboscis, Sarah Thelwall and Tim Jon (Solar Associates) hosted a one day workshop with about 20 participants from small arts organisations exploring possible routes to, and reasons for, acquiring Independent Research Organisation status. The workshop was the final activity of the Creator Research Cluster (funded by the EPSRC as part of the Digital Economy programme), of which Proboscis was a founder member
Being in Common : Catalogue of Ideas
Proboscis has published a special artists bookwork to accompany our Being in Common commission for Gunpowder Park. The catalogue, a deck of cards, is a playful exploration of ‘common space’ drawing together fragments and ideas from across the project, to be played with, read individually or assembled into narratives and stories making unexpected connections and perspectives. The catalogue is available to buy for £10 (inc. shipping) from our online shop.
StoryCube prices 25% lower than 2008
StoryCube packs are now an average 25% lower than in 2008 – making them an even more delectable a tool for workshops and storytelling projects:
Diffusion Generator – update on progress
As part of our Technology Strategy Board Feasibility Study, we have completely re-engineered the Diffusion Generator. Thanks to our development team (technical advisor Stefan Kueppers and coders Simon Whiteside & Yasir Assam) the new Generator supports offline content creation; landscape as well as portrait eBooks; both long and short edge version of the Diffusion eBook binding; double and single sided StoryCubes; multiple languages (including many non-Roman alphabets); right-to-left languages (Arabic etc); and can accept CSS-styled XHTML as content. We are building a new website to access it this summer and hope to invite individuals and organisations to test it out as the year progresses. Please contact us for more details.
Paralelo, Sao Paulo, Brasil
Proboscis took part in the Paralelo event 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 for participants to capture and share ideas, reflections and information.
New Diffusion Titles
Dope smuggling, LSD, organised crime & the law in 1960s London by Stewart Home – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1205
The 36 Stratagems by anonymous – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1192
Would be Disciplined by Tony White – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1178
iStreetLab by mongrelStreet – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1148
Dodolab StoryCube by Giles Lane – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1118
Hard Hearted Hannah: Classics from Nowhere by Cartoon de Salvo – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1104
Hard Hearted Hannah: the world of the Strange and Bizarre by Cartoon de Salvo – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1107
On The Death Of Julia Callan-Thompson by Stewart Home – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1083
H2O by Alejandra Canales, Anne Ransquin and Juan F. Salazar - http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1070
The Anatomy of the Horse by George Stubbs – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1062
Measure Once, Cut Twice : a case study of Snout by Frederik Lesage – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1054
Bourriaud’s ‘Altermodern’ – an eclectic mix of bullshit and bad taste by Stewart Home – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1049
Tweetomes : some epithets on practices of pithy exchange by Giles Lane – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1025
The minimal compact by Adam Greenfield – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1012
The Tongue Conceals Time by Shae Davidson – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=1000
Click This? MySpace & the Pornography of Corporately Controlled Virtual Life by Stewart Home – http://diffusion.org.uk/?p=993
Sensory Threads will get its first public demo at the London Science Museum’s Dana Centre on June 23rd 2009 as part of the Surface Tension event. We will be demonstrating the prototype Wearable Sensors and the Rumbler and inviting participants to test out the system during the day. The event is free and no booking is required.
Below are some photos from a recent test at our studio and in the surrounding streets of Clerkenwell.
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.
Sensory Threads combines sound, touch and electronic sensing to create shared soundscapes that reveal phenomena at the edges of human sensory perception. It uses music and vibration to ping our consciousness to barely perceptible changes in the environment, making tangible articulations of our relationships to each other and the environments we move through. It is a playful platform for exploring what happens when we overlap data from one place to another and brings a unique musical and group perspective to mobile participatory sensing.
A work-in-progress, Sensory Threads allows groups of four people to create a collective soundscape of their interactions with each other and the environment. Carrying wearable sensors which detect phenomena at the periphery of human perception as well as the location, movement and proximity of the wearers, they can explore their environment whilst listening to a soundscape generated from the sensor data. Variations in the soundscape reflect changes in the wearers’ interactions with each other and the environment around them.
The data is simultaneously fed to the Rumbler where it can be experienced remotely as vibration, sound and image. The Rumbler acts as a stand alone installation allowing people to playback the sonic/sensory explorations; a tactile interface to otherwise ephemeral and intangible experiences. Other Tangible Souvenirs are generated from these experiences in the form of the microprinter’s sensographs and Diffusion eBooks.
The Sensory Threads prototype will be demonstrated at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre in London 23rd June 2009.
View all content about Sensory Threads
A Sensory Threads Sensograph printed by the Rumbler
Team: Demetrios Airantzis, Alice Angus, Dia Batal, Nick Bryan-Kinns, Robin Fencott, Giles Lane, Joe Marshall, Karen Martin, George Roussos, Jenson Taylor, Lorraine Warren & Orlagh Woods.
Partners: Proboscis, Birkbeck College’s Pervasive Computing Lab, The Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary (University of London), Mixed Reality Lab (University of Nottingham) and the School of Management at University of Southampton.
Robotic Feral Public Authoring was a collaboration between Proboscis, Birkbeck College’s Pervasive Computing Lab and Natalie Jeremijenko. Combining Proboscis’ Urban Tapestries public authoring platform with Natalie’s Feral Robot concept (first commissioned by Proboscis for Private Reveries, Public Spaces) to create a pollution sensing and mapping tool for local communities to discover more about their environments and correlate it with other local knowledge.
Working with local residents and users of London Fields in Hackney we built a feral robot to sense air pollution in the park, uploading the data via Mesh WiFi to the Urban Tapestries platform where it could be seen mapped against local knowledge about the park shared by residents. Space Media Arts provided a base for a bodystorming workshop and access to a local mesh wifi network.
Team: Demetrios Airantzis, Alice Angus, Camilla Brueton, Dima Diall, Natalie Jeremijenko, Giles Lane, Karen Martin, George Papamarkos, George Roussos & Orlagh Woods.
Partners: Birkbeck College (University of London), Space Media Arts.
Funded by EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
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
Snout investigates how data can be collected from environmental sensors as part of popular social and cultural activities. Proboscis collaborated with inIVA and researchers from Birkbeck College’s Pervasive Computing Lab to design and build two carnival costumes (Mr Punch and the Plague Doctor) that were instrumented with environmental sensors and LED displays. A website was created (using free social software tools) to show the sensor data mapped against other local knowledge (drawn in via RSS feeds) and contextual data (about local health, poverty, education etc) scraped from the Office of National Statistics.
In April 2007 we staged a mock carnival in Shoreditch to collect pollution data and stimulate conversations. The procession started out from the new inIVA building on Rivington Street and weaved a route up Charlotte Road to Hoxton Square, down Hoxton Street and round Shoreditch High Street to finish up with an afternoon public forum at Cargo.
Team: Demetrios Airantzis, Bill Aitchison, Alice Angus, Giles Lane, Jordan Mackenzie, Karen Martin, George Roussos, Jenson Taylor & Orlagh Woods.
Partners: Iniva; Birkbeck College (University of London)
Commissioned by Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts)
Funded by Arts Council England and Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Foundation.
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).
Proboscis was invited to take part in the Art & Cartography symposium exhibition, zoom and scale, at the Academy of Fine Arts and Kunsthalle Wien project space, Vienna in January 2008. We exhibited a set of 27 StoryCubes exploring the Social Tapestries research programme, a set of 8 StoryCubes reflecting our creative practices and process and two films, Social Tapestries and Play to Invent.
An LSE Electronic Working Paper by Roger Silverstone and Zoetanya Sujon