At the end of March I headed up to draw Coventry indoor Market to spend a few days on the next leg of the artistsandmakers.com Empty Shops Network Tour created by artist Dan Thompson (and involving Jan Williams (Caravan Gallery), Steve Bomford Natasha Middleton and podcaster Richard Vobes.) I’ve been commissioned to draw some of the spaces (and their occupants) the tour is visiting and Coventry Market follows from my drawings in Granville Arcade in Brixton.
An ancient city, Coventry’s medieval buildings were almost all destroyed during the second world war blitz that devastated the city. Its rich history is crossed by stories of King Canute and Lady Godiva. Today Coventry now has a maze of traffic free precincts and modern buildings built in the postwar period and it is far from what the medieval city must have been.
These precincts are watched over by many surveillance cameras and again on this project I to the issue of private and public space that has come up so often for Proboscis in the last 2 years as we find ourselves prevented from taking photos in shopping malls and public squares. PD Smith writes about this issue in an interesting blog post about Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the 21st-century City, Anna Mintons Book looking at control, fear and the city.
Coventry’s indoor market is a circular space in which you can get lost, dizzy and a bit confused about which door you came in but in the process find everything from a cup of tea to 5 kinds of sweet potato, dog biscuits, birthday cards, fake flowers, fresh rolls, loose cake mix, baking tins and graph paper. Its got a real sense or people mingling from different communities and backgrounds and ages using it to meet, chat and hang out, not just shop. They once celebrated it in a musical.
In many of our recent projects people tell us its less regulated more informal spaces that draw their communities together, Watford Market, Coventry Market, Brixton Market…But these more informal spaces are on the decline it seems and everywhere we see what Paul Kingsnorth wrote in In “Cities for Sale” : From parks to pedestrian streets, squares to market places, public spaces are being bought up and closed down, often with little consultation or publicity. In towns and cities all over England, what was once public is now private. It is effectively owned by corporations, which set the standards of behaviour. These standards are the standards that are most congenial to their aim – getting you to buy things. … There will be no busking, and often there will be no sitting either, except in designated areas. You will eat and drink where you are told to. You will not skateboard or cycle or behave “inappropriately”.
The Empty Shops Network is aiming to celebrate the kind of local distinctiveness that gets lost in these developments and it is working with communities to use empty shops for projects in the spaces and times inbetween other uses. The Network’s projects involve public meetings, informal training for local artists, and showcase the tools needed to run empty shops projects. See artistandmakers.com for details.
You can see more images from Coventry here.
Indigenous Public Authoring
A collaboration with Professor James Leach (UWA/CNRS) working with local people in Reite village, Rai Coast Papua New Guinea to co-design new shareable ways to record and share their local environmental and cultural knowledge.
Begun 2012 | Ongoing
A collaboration with ISG at Royal Holloway University of London, Freya Stang, NEPACS and Action for Prisoners Families to document and share the experiences of families visiting relatives in prison.
Begun 2012 | Completed 2013
An Art + Industry commission as part of Anglia Ruskin University’s Visualise programme to work with Philips Research UK exploring new ways to engage people with biosensor data to promote wellbeing and healthy life choices.
Begun & Completed 2012
Pallion Ideas Exchange
A collaborative community co-design project in partnership with the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway University of London and Pallion Action Group in Sunderland to assist in creating a grassroots knowledge network.
Begun & Completed 2012
A commission to create a site-specific artwork on Hive Beach, Dorset (on the “Jurassic Coast”) as part of the Cultural Olympiad connecting human time with geological time.
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 investigating groupwork and collaborative practices in the university community to support software development of a collaboration platform.
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
A commission 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, developing a collaborative drawing platform for smartphones and tablets.
Begun & Completed 2010
As It Comes
A commission from the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce to create a series of artistic works by Alice Angus about the independent traders of Lancaster and the culture of local trade.
Begun & Completed 2010
Birmingham Total Place
A commission for the Birmingham Total Place project to document the experiences of families receiving “Early Intervention” from social services and to communicate this in a novel way to policymakers and senior management.
Begun & Completed 2010
Our new free web service for creating Diffusion eBooks and StoryCubes.
Launched 2009 | Ongoing
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