Unreasonable Wonder

Mind blowing day, segueing from Christian Fauré DCRC talk to first REACT meeting with Jo Lansdowne and Mark Leaver - heady stuff.

Today at PMStudio my mind is like a huge tea bag, brewing away on the tealeaves of Christian Fauré's talk at DCRC and the first REACT meeting with Jo Reid, Jo Lansdowne and Mark Leaver.

Christian Fauré was talking about Ars Industrialis, who's strap-line is "association internationale pour une politique industrielle des technologies de l'esprit", which Christian translated as something along the lines of the political intervention in "technoculture".  He talked about the research centre, which works with a broad range of actors / partners, from schools and universities to entrepreneurs, artists and local authorities, coming together for a series of seminars centred in the Creative District in Nantes, France.  The seminar series is aimed at disseminating the "transdisciplinary" concept of the "Economy of Contribution" afforded by digital technologies as opposed to the disassociated speculative model of producers vs. consumers analogue technology, such as broadcasting. This got me thinking about the "contribute" function on the Know Your Place website and in our app...

I really enjoyed Christian's discussion of "intersectant objects" and the importance of a transdisciplinary approach, using the metaphor of Stereoscopic 3D glasses with different disciplines in each lens as the only way to view an object, which reminds me of Douglas Kellner's "multiperspectival perspective" in Media culture: cultural studies, identity, and politics between the modern and the postmodern(1995).

Anaglyph Stereoscopic 3D glasses

Topics covered by the Ars Industrialis seminar series include a session on I.P. / Open Data; "Digital Studies" which was very carefully delineated from "Digital Humanities"; the key role of the Amateur and Appropriation in the Economy of Contribution; Digital Addiction; the Economy of Culture and Art; Digital Infrastructure; Digital Studies and the Brain. But perhaps most intriguing is the protoyping workshop on "The Wall and Barrier of Video" which set the task of agile experimentation on the theme of inventing and sharing methodologies to segment and annotate videos using the Ligne de Temps platform designed by Bernard Stiegler.  The brief is to work with indexing and logging software, speech to text and annotation of video to make the time-based content accessible for database search - Jon Dovey described it as Storify for video.  Christian stressed the importance of the workshop as the act of thinking what we are doing through physical experimentation not just concepts.

The discussion of the role of the amateur as opposed to the professional was very interesting - the idea of the hobbyist's passion for their particular subject as opposed to the speculator who can speculate on any subject; the amateur's investment in their object, which Christian suggests built the entire infrastructure of the web. He stressed that, even though in French as in the English the word has taken on a pejorative association, in the French language its root in the word "amour" is much clearer, literally meaning "a lover". This very much keys into the City Strata Cinemmapping project in the sense of the tension between my passion for the cinema layer and the need to also be thinking about the overall City Strata platform - a tension that REACT advisor Mark Leaver suggests could be one between me as the "unreasonable" creative/artist/academic with my utopian vision of how I'd like the cinema layer to be and the pragmatics of what is practicable within the Sandbox both in terms of time and particularly the technological possibilities, which Jo Reid as Creative Economy partner can speak to.  

The importance of the amateur also resonates with REACT producer Jo Lansdowne's curiosity about the audience for the cinema: will it be just "cinema buffs"?  We discussed the value of designing for people who are passionate about cinema as not being mutually exclusive with it being of interest to a wider audience. I personally think that the cinema layer will appeal to anyone who remembers going to the cinema fondly, particularly Bristolians. Mark talked about the need to try and recreate the "wonder" of going to the cinema, something that Bristol Festival of Ideas director and editor of Dream On: Bristol Writers about Cinema, Andrew Kelly also stressed when I met with him last week. This has got me thinking about how the app can be designed to emulate the experience of going to and being in a cinema.  The journey structure could mimic the structure of the film programme, with the trailers and adverts and the main attraction.  Heritage partnter, Peter Insole suggested having a scheduled programme where people gather to experience the app at a pop-up cinema event / flashmob - I love this idea, bringing people together physically at a location to all experience the same experience.  For example, a film event could start at the GPS coordinate of the no longer extant Queen's Hall in Castle Park, the photo of which has an advertisement for The Mummy (1932) with Boris Karloff (bellow), and the experience could end at the Watershed with a screening of the film itself: 

Queens Picture House, Bristol

Picture downloaded form Know Your Place, the original image is from the Hartley collection of glass plate photographs held by Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives (Image ref: 239393)

Jo Reid emphasised the importance of recreating the feeling of actually "being there" when the site of a cinema no longer exists, using dramatisation, first person point of view and audio to recreate a scene of a premiere for example, drawing on her extensive experience with experience design with projects such as Riot! (designed for MScape) and Escape from the Tower.  We also discussed for the need for technological spectacle and wow-factor in the design of the app.  Lots of ideas brewing which I will blog about in another post...

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