Once again we have been collaborating with our esteemed colleagues Andrew Hunter and Lisa Hirmer at DodoLab on a discursive exploration of place and knowledge as part of our ongoing investigations and collaborative publishing project, City As Material. This time we have been undertaking a research expedition with Professor William Starling into the decline of the European Starling in Britain, seeking stories and evidence to explain their rapid disappearance in three towns : Thetford (in Norfolk), London and Oxford. Alongside Proboscis and DodoLab, we were accompanied by expedition members Dr Josie Mills, Curator of the Art Gallery at the University of Lethbridge, Canada and artist Leila Armstrong.
Haz has posted reports for each of the journeys and visitations which we undertook in Thetford, London and Oxford over on our bookleteer blog and we are now collaborating to produce a series of eBooks charting the expedition’s activities and findings – blending together questions, observations, musings, photos, drawings, rubbings and other things collected. As before, we’ll print up a limited edition of the books as well as placing downloadable PDFs in the online Diffusion Library for handmade versions and enabling bookreader versions for reading online.
This is the new project I am undertaking as part of my internship with Proboscis.
‘Pic(k)ing out London’ wants to prompt reflection about the ongoing interaction with the urban environment and how this affects people’s feelings and shapes their daily life. By collecting some of these unique gazes on the city and some of its multiple expressions I intend to compose an emotional map which will tell the story of the many moods that daily mingle and overlap in London.
Because of its variegated population, its vastness, its contradictions, London is made of contrasting voices, dissimilar faces, peculiar places and each individual is an irreplaceable tassel which contributes to compose an outstanding mosaic.
Participants will be asked to take three pictures a day and to keep a short diary for ten days. The pictures should be about a place, a thing or a situation they encounter, anything that catches their attention, both familiar or unfamiliar, usual or unusual in their daily life, and about a place or a situation they respectively enjoy or dislike in the urban environment. The pictures do not need to be technically perfect because what I value most important is the act of taking the picture itself, of being a little more aware and awake to our own surroundings.
“London is over-lit, its streets are monitored by CCTV and the avian police, its inhabitants monitor themselves using webcams, digicams and mobile-phone cameras; yet the nocturnal city can never be wholly regulated. […] 3am is the dark heart of the city, when the carefully repressed anxieties, aspirations and dreams of its emotionally parched inhabitants can no longer be contained”. (Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Night, Sukhdev Sandhu).
The streets carry a note of elusive, disturbing, electrifying mystery that is not concealed by its supposed complete regulation. The layers underneath, piling up little by little, create a dense bundle of voices and meanings to be heard and interpreted. The street is a site to enjoy and play, a site to survey and describe, to contest, claim and reinscribe. The street stands for the fortuitous and the transient, for wandering, mobility, arrival and departure, a proper metaphor for the travelling poetics of the postmodern migrant condition.
Last month I went up to Coventry Market to spend the day talking to traders and shoppers about set of works on paper I made last year as part of an ongoing series about markets, food and the informal spaces that draw communities together. The Coventry Market Traders found the works online, contacted me and bought them to hang permanently in the market hall. It was a honour to have the traders buy the work and bring it back home where it was created. You can get a sense of Coventry Market from this film made by the traders. The drawings will be on permanent display later this year but for now you can see images of the 10 works on flickr here. They grew out of a commission from Dan Thompson of the Empty Shops Network to record some of the places the ESN Tour was going to. I was inspired by the vibrancy of Coventry Market and the care traders take over arranging and decorating their stalls as well as the range of produce; from pet food to ribbon, cards to cucumbers, roasting tins to yams, fishing tackle to carpets, cakes and cranberries, you name it, someone will have it. You can find out more on the market website.
I want to say a big thanks to Bill and Sophie for looking after me so well last month and to Brian and all the Coventry Market traders for making me so welcome.
This Thursday 31st March 2011 we’re hosting an evening at our studio in Clerkenwell to launch our first limited edition slipcase set of books published and printed using bookleteer‘s Short Run Printing Service. The set in question contains the 10 books commissioned and produced as part of last Autumn’s City As Material series of urban explorations and collaborative bookmaking.
If you’d like to come please email us info at proboscis.org.uk – we’ll have drinks as well as offering a 20% discount off all publications. Or sign up on the Facebook event page.
(Drum rolls) Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present the finished eBooks!
The eBooks are part of Outside The Box and were created to accompany the play sets, they act as props to help stimulate game play.
I’ve created a total of six eBooks that fit with the role playing set, each eBook corresponds to the six roles available. Once roles have been assigned, players can take their eBooks with them to carry out missions. They can use it to take notes, draw maps, sketch images or even stick things into, they can do whatever they like with these eBooks that will assist their game experience.
But what’s inside you ask? (sniggers). Each book is themed to each role, not just on the cover, but the inside pages too. All pages inside are hand drawn with blank spaces for the player to use, it’s printer friendly and encourages players to freely scribble in them.
The eBooks can also be used for the other play sets too! For example, players can choose an eBook of their choice and use it to play along the story telling game. Or they could use the eBooks to create strange combination animals. (More suggestions available in the Outside The Box Suggestion eBook).
I enjoyed designing and creating the eBooks, it all began with making miniature versions as the initial design. Then making the basic prototype and moving onto finalising details and adding messages to the players. I had a lot of fun making the eBooks, I now hope that players will enjoy the finished product.
This year we will begin a major new programme of projects exploring the intangible things we value most about the people, places and communities we live in : Public Goods. Through a series of projects over a 5 year period we’ll be making artworks, films, events, exhibitions and publications in places across the nation (and hopefully abroad too) working in collaboration with both other creative practitioners and local people.
In this first year we’re planning a series of smaller research projects to help us meet and engage with collaborators, identify places and communities, themes and activities. We’ll be using our City As Material format for collaborative urban exploration and zine-making as a method of investigating new places with local people, and also focused projects, like Alice’s As It Comes, in both urban and rural settings exploring other knowledges and experiences that are often overlooked or are being swept away by the fast pace of social change. We also plan to continue our research collaborations into new technologies for public authoring, play and sensing the world around us (such as Urban Tapestries, bookleteer and Sensory Threads).
Our aim is to build up an archive, or archives, of the intangible goods that people most value and want to share – transmitting hope and belief through artistic practice to others in the present and for the future. In the teeth of a radical onslaught against the tangible public assets we are familiar with (libraries, forests, education etc), Public Goods seeks to celebrate and champion a re-valuation of those public assets which don’t readily fit within the budget lines of an accountant’s spreadsheet.
We’d love to hear from communities, practitioners or organisations who’d like us to work with them around this theme – do get in touch.
I’ve just returned from a research trip to Ontario, Canada with DodoLab where we spent a week planning new projects and doing a site visit to Windsor, Ontario for a batch of projects next Autumn with local artist-led group, Broken City Lab. Windsor is on the south side of the Detroit river from Detroit itself and, whilst being one of the earliest settlements in Canada, owes much of its former prosperity to Detroit’s auto industry. Today it is a town with serious industrial decline, urban blight and heavy pollution from the surrounding heavy industry and the vast numbers of trucks rolling across the Ambassador Bridge from the US into Canada.
Over the next year we aim to participate in DodoLab’s ongoing, intermittent residency in Windsor culminating in a week-long anarchaeological exploration of the city and the history of its futures. Building on the process we are developing through our current series of events here in London, City As Material, we’ll aim to work with local people in and around Windsor to create a series of shareable publications with bookleteer that can begin not just to map out the imagined futures of the past as created by the City and corporations, but also to project new ones based on hopes and aspirations of the grassroots communities who live there now.
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.
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.
Orlagh and I are just finishing a short video, inspired by our Snout project, which will have its first outing at the upcoming Mobilefest Festival in Sao Paulo Brazil. A single screen video work – it draws 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. It reminded me that Snout was featured in 2008 in Zona 2; signs in the city, a supplement to the Italian architecture and design magazine Abitaire. So to accompany the video here is the short essay and my drawings from Zona about the project:
A theatre of the everyday
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.
On 10 April 2007 the Snout ‘carnival’ performance and public forum (featuring Mr Punch and The Plague Doctor instrumented with environmental sensors) drew together artists, producers, performers and computer programmers to explore how wearable technologies with environmental sensors can combine with Internet sharing technologies to map the invisible gases in our everyday environment. The project by Proboscis, inIVA and researchers from Birkbeck College also explored how communities can use this evidence to initiate local action.
For Proboscis public space is a focus for convening conversation and dialogue. It gives context to shared issues such as pollution, the environment, and our personal and communal relationships to them. In Snout, we sought to meld the problem of measuring pollution in public space with ways to begin a conversation between local people that can inspire a path to change; not just frighten people with statistics.
Our world is increasingly affected by human behaviour and industry – there is awareness of pollution in public spaces but we rarely have access to actual data. What is the local air quality of our street like? What ground toxins are present? The participatory sensing concept seeks to put the science and technologies of environmental sensing into the hands of local people to gather and visualise evidence about their environment.
We chose Mr Punch as an allegory of Western consumer culture. Punch is the fool, the trickster, an anti-authoritarian figure – challenging social structures, yet never taking responsibility for his actions. In the traditional Punch story – The Tragical Comedy, Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch, he defeats authority, but at the same time kills all the people close and dear to him. Ultimately he is left alone. We also chose the Plague Doctor because of his ambiguous relationship to technology. The doctor’s outfit is a kind of seventeenth century HazMat suit, but is he a real doctor or is he a quack hiding behind the cultural and hygienic prophylactic of the costume? With both the characters we are questioning the social and cultural role not only of technologies but also of those who use them, and why.
The data collected by the sensors in the Snout costumes are the ingredients for a feast of conversation; a recipe that includes various ingredients (sensor data, statistics culled from official websites and local knowledge shared by the community) to cook up local feasts of conversation. In addition to the data picked up by the sensors on the Snout costumes (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, noise, solvent vapours etc), other sources were aggregated such as local health statistics, local education and the ‘deprivation’ index.
Consumerism drives a headlong scramble of production, underpinned our concept of individual freedom and choice. Our desire to have technologies which ‘free’ us, enable greater communication and ability to travel are also ones which contribute to accelerating ecological damage. The technologies we manipulate to help us make sense of these issues are also part of the problem. The question then becomes, how do we take responsibility for the impact of our desires upon the environments we live in, and their effects on the environments of others? How can we shift our perceptions of what can happen on the street, in public space, to create the context to begin conversations?
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.
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.
This week we begin teaching a course on the city as material for artistic practice with students from Vassar College‘s International Program in London. We’ve planned it as a co-creative course, intending to act as facilitators and guides to the students in devising and conducting their own investigations of the city and creating their own interventions. The students will be creating a blog to document their activities, as well as publishing eBooks about their individual projects.
The course is fortnightly (from early September to the beginning of December 2009), based in our studio in Clerkenwell, from where we’ll engage in walks, watching, making, drawing, discussing and eating.
The focus for this class will be in considering the role of the city as material for artistic experimentation and creation. Only inadequately understood as “public art,” urban interventions produce public space where it does not exist, foster new modes of urban citizenship and participation, render legible the force of political and financial power shaping the global city, expose the mutability of “public” and “private” entailed by new media transformations of social space, create alliances between varied urban stakeholders, challenge the zero-tolerance policies of the increasingly securitized city, and broaden the repertoire of political resistance and direct action. In addition to contemporary practice the course will consider the rich histories of urban intervention by artists in London and elsewhere.
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.
We are preparing to head off this week to Sutton-in-the-Isle to exhibit our work on Sutton Grapevine at the annual Sutton Feast. There will be a display in St Andrews Church from Wednesday to Sunday and over Friday and Saturday we will be joining various Feast Events to show people the Grapevine and hopefully inspire them to add their own stories. Having spent a week in Sutton in June we have gathered a huge range of stories and audio which are now being edited and podcast on the Grapevine. We’ve gathered stories through interviews and chance encounters, meetings, attending clubs and groups, visiting events, working with the youth group, organising a BBQ, exploring the local area by bike, foot and car, through an exhibit in the Babylon Gallery Ely and through the website.
This week we will be at
Wed 1st – Fri 3rd July, 7pm – 11pm St Andrews Church (during Beer Festival)
Fri 3rd July, 2pm – 5pm St Andrews Church (free)
Sat 4th July, 10am – 12pm Tithe Sale, St Andrews Church (free)
Sat 4th July, 12pm – 3pm FOSS Annual Summer Fete, Sutton Primary School (free)
Sun 5th July, from 7.15pm St Andrews Church (during Last Night of the Proms)
Come and join us for a day in the Fens.
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.
As part of our commission, Being in Common, for the Art of Common Space project at Gunpowder Park we created a pack of cards containing our catalogue of ideas. The catalogue 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 inspired by the collective nature of playing cards. It includes writing, photographs, imagery and ephemera created and collected during the project, and includes material from the Exploration Packs that Proboscis sent to people around the world to investigate their perspectives on ‘common space’.
The Catalogue of Ideas is one of several works made for Being in Common. Proboscis also created three site specific works in the Park using optics, mirrors and viewmasters, to reveal different perspectives of the site.
As part of our commission (Being in Common) for the Art of Common Space at Gunpowder Park, 21 Exploration Packs were sent to participants around the world to explore what ‘common space’ means to different people in both urban and rural areas and of different ages. Participants were carefully selected to get a wide variety of responses from various walks in life including a market stall owner, computer programmer, wilderness guide, NASA space worker, parkour artist, mother, social scientist, tourguide and sea-kayaker, and from diverse places such as London, Sweden, Vietnam, Spain, Australia, Canada, India and Greece.
Each pack contains objects and questions exploring what the phrase ‘common space’ means. Participants have been asked to respond in whatever way they wish – write, draw, use stickers, take photographs, use sound recorders or video. The packs include a guide, eNotebook, Matchbox, StoryCube, Photos, Feltboard, Collage Pack, CD, a World Map and International Reply Coupons. Each was designed to offer an understanding of what ‘common space’ means within the participant’s particular context.
Some of the questions include:
- Describing a common space :
- what does it look, feel, taste like?
- What do you like about it?
- What makes it a common space?
- Who else shares the space?
- How do you navigate around it?
- What are the edges / limitations / restrictions you encounter?
- What are the features of a common space? Who belongs to / owns the space?
The responses will feed into Proboscis’ artwork to be made for Gunpowder Park early in 2009.
Rita King has blogged about receiving her pack here.
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.
Navigating History was created by Proboscis and curator Deborah Smith to bring to light unique local history collections through a series of specially commissioned projects by practitioners from the fields of art, design, jewellery, film and interactive technology. The project was sited in the richly diverse collections of East Sussex Record Office in Lewes, Folkestone Library & Museum and West Sussex Local Studies Collection in Worthing Library. In each of the libraries and archive you will find three of the commissions, a programme of talks and events, further information including inspirational archive boxes of background materials and you can join in with the project My History.
A significant portion of the local studies collections in the libraries and archive are only accessible through library/archive catalogues and are made available to the public on request. Navigating History‘s imaginative and exploratory commissions unearth items from these collections relating to several hundred years of history including 18th Century inventories, early film, maritime history and local newspapers. By interweaving past and present whilst exploring themes of identity and place the commissions open up unusual and new routes into the collections. A maze of narratives from the unexpected to the peculiar, the tragic to the wondrous are revealed from stories of ordinary people to those documenting momentous events.
Neville Gabie, Rachel Murphy, Claudia Schenk, Stephen Connolly, Rob Kesseler, Bob and Roberta Smith, Andrew Hunter, Simon Pope, Mah Rana, Jason Bowman and Sally O’Reilly & Cathy Haynes.
Team: Alice Angus, Deborah Smith & Orlagh Woods
Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Creative Partnerships, Kent County Council, West Susses County Council and East Sussex County Council
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.
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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.
Being in Common invited people to expand and alter their understanding of ‘common space’ and built on Proboscis’ continued engagement in the social, cultural and natural histories of sites and territories. It explored notions of kinship and belonging as well as those of property and ownership so connected to the meaning of ‘common’ in the English language and in Anglo cultures.
Inspired by the physical boundaries of the site and the close connection between the histories of enclosure, surveying and gunpowder that coincide in Gunpowder Park, Proboscis created three works which were sited in specific locations within the park. Through the use of optics, mirrors and viewmasters, visitors were invited to experience a different perception of their environment.
As part of Proboscis’ process of artistic research, Exploration Packs were sent to a number of people around the world who responded by creating their own perspective of what ‘common space’ means. These will be exhibited at the Field Station.
Accompanying these works is a Catalogue of Ideas, a pack of playing cards which playfully draws together, in 13 themes, imagery, writing, material from the Exploration Packs and ephemera collected during the commission. The themes, which range from water to human rights, environment to conflict and physical spaces to media, meditate on common space and the commons. Explore the cards via the Flash Viewer.
Art of Common Space Event – 21/22 March 2009 (Spring Equinox Weekend)
Gunpowder Park, Sewardstone Road, Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 3GP
Team: Alice Angus, Niharika Hariharan, Giles Lane, Karen Martin & Orlagh Woods.
Exploration Pack contributors: Tony Amaechi, Max Dixon, Gill Croft, Saffron Douglas, Myria Georgiou, Andrew Hunter, Rita J King, Joyce Majiski, Adriana Marques, Emilio García Millán, Louisa Rolandsdotter, Anupama Sekhri, Premlata Sharma, Tak Tran, Janet Vertesi, Kasama Yamtree, Nithaar Zain.
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)