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Posts Tagged ‘data visualisation’

Change Creators in Barcelona

The Change Creators spent some time in Barcelona from 10th – 13th April, with two full days of workshops in the Barcelona Fab Lab, which is part of the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.

On Monday the group received a talk from Guillem Camporodon on the development of computers. He took the Change Creators through their history and how the demand for them has increased so rapidly, sharing a 1958 quote from Thomas John Watson: “I think there is a world market for about five computers”. Guillem also explained the development of 3D printers and how they are being used all around the world. The group had a full tour of the building and an up close and personal look at 3D printers.

The Change Creators then spoke to Mara Balestrini, Director of Research for Ideas for Change, who has been collaborating with KWMC to develop The Bristol Approach to Citizen Sensing (which the Change Creators are part of). Mara spoke to the group about connecting people with sensor technology, the challenges involved and what to think about when encouraging citizens to use sensors. She gave examples of projects that had failed and flourished, giving a detailed explanation as to why.

The afternoon was spent exploring Arduinos with Guillem Camporodon and he also introduced the Change Creators to the ‘smart citizen’ kits. In pairs the group set up the kits around the Fab Lab, both inside and outside, ready to collect data for them to visualise the next day.

The next morning the group sat down with Guillem and Mara to present their ideas for using sensor technology within their campaigns: reducing food waste and diversifying mental health support services for young people. Mara and Guillem challenged some of the ideas, encouraging the Change Creators to reflect further, and offered their expertise, gained through similar projects and experience.

In the afternoon the group were ready to input the data, collected the previous night, into Adobe Illustrator and visualise it using a laser cutter. They decided what they wanted to visualise, with Chelsea and Yelena focusing on comparing the CO2 levels in Santiago and Barcelona. Through this exercise, the Change Creators got a first-hand experience of how sensors can enable you to be creative with the data they gather.

The two days were successful in helping the Change Creators understand sensors and data visualisation:

“I didn’t know it could be so creative” – Chelsea
“I’ve learned so much in a great, fun engaging way”- Charlie
“I’ve learned so much, I’ve got so many ideas about what I can do for my project” – Yelena
“It’s been really hands-on. We’ve been talking about these concepts for so long and seeing them in action has been really valuable” – Andrea


Sophie’s Journey

sophiedoodle“As KWMC’s Music Development Assistant I helped renovate the music studio, created a membership scheme, supported sessions like Creative Hub and XLR, worked in schools and developed graphic design resources including info-graphics about our data.

Through this role I have developed and improved skills in:
• Setting up and using a music studio
• Using Logic
• Working as a sound engineer
• Working as a graphic designer
• Facilitating workshops with young people

I have also learned how to interact with young people; before my internship
I wouldn’t have felt so confident in interacting with them, but now I know that I am able to support them if they need me. In the schools work, initially I felt out of my depth, but in one session I led an activity which made me realise that I can do it and so I now feel much more confident.

That’s a big thing that I’ve gained here is a lot of confidence in myself whereas before I didn’t really have any.

There’s big support here that’s really important: it’s like the Media Centre has become my extended family and I think that if I hadn’t had as much support as I’ve had I don’t think I would now have as much confidence in myself to do well now or in the future.”

Sophie Hosken-Taylor was KWMC’s Music Development Intern from the summer of 2014 until January 2015.

Dane’s experience

“In 2009 I was lucky enough to be awarded a Science City residency at KWMC where I had an open-ended brief to explore ways that household energy data could be visualised.

At the time I had a good knowledge of traditional animation 2D practices and the Flash web authoring software. I could do a limited amount of scripting with Flash but my use of Flash was as a development of traditional filmmaking; that is I produced content that was passively consumed.

Passive media is TV, radio and film – where the audience sits and soaks in authored content. But these forms are changing and for me as an artist it is important to experiment with the communication tools of our time; social media and live data. Social media encompasses Facebook and Twitter, websites where the audience becomes the author. This is a dramatic change to the romantic view of the isolated artist sitting on a South Sea island. These new forms of communication mean that artists have to create work in a dynamic environment and respond to unforeseen circumstances.

Getting involved with KWMC

KWMC have embraced these new technologies as it reflects their desire to give local people a voice and an opportunity to comment on what is happening in their area. The residency was a huge learning curve where I had to stretch my understanding of animation to create visualisations that responded to live data feeds. I have extended the range of my skills base: from traditional animation techniques, I now have an excellent knowledge of databases, php and javascript – the fundamentals of modern web technologies.

In my first KWMC residency I developed Electric Footprint, a social media tool where households could create a profile of their house and see their electricity consumption.

There are lots of residencies around that give artists the time to experiment with new ways of working. The difference with KWMC is that they extended my residency and then incorporated my artistic practice into practical applications. Carolyn Hassan, the director of KWMC, has been brilliant in taking the Media Centre forward from predominantly time-based media into interactive digital tools for the community. KWMC supported my work by encouraging an experimental approach. Most interfaces are quite dull whereas I was supported to be creative with the visuals.

Whose Data?

KWMC is a great place to try out new ideas. As well as Electric Footprint I initiated Allotmentville. This was a project funded by UnLtd to experiment with the idea of a social media platform for gardeners and has subsequently been developed by KWMC into My Knowle West.

In 2011, as part of their enquiry into live data, KWMC developed ‘Whose Data?’ and commissioned artists to develop work around community data. Because of my work on Electric Footprint and KWMC’s continued support of my practice I was asked to be lead artist on the project. We developed two key projects that gave both myself as an artist and KWMC a direction to develop new work.

  • Witterung by Susanne Stahl: Susanne developed a four coding system for the weather and I helped code the database and visualisation. This was programmed in php with a mySQL database. I used php to combine different images. This work has informed the web-apps that we have been developing for the local community and the local council.
  • CONNECTION/TIME: Developed with Dr Paul Hurley, Connection/Time uses social media to document live performances and events. It enables the audience to tweet and upload their pictures of an event and instantly archive the event reducing post performance documentation.

After Whose Data? I went on to develop Mayor for the Day, an interactive online survey encouraging local people to consider the issues around the Bristol Mayoral election. The survey was developed from the experience of developing Witterung and used the same techniques.

Reflecting on KWMC

I have been an independent artist for 14 years and I have had a lot of residencies and commissions across the world. On average these take about three months and then I move on to the next thing. There are several key differences between KWMC and other art organisations I have worked with.

For example, KWMC is interested in the practical applications of art. This intent can often reduce visuals to a bare functionalism whereas KWMC still encourage and support creative visual experimentation. Working at KWMC has been a unique experience because of the freedom and support they have offered me as an artist.

Furthermore, the context of the KWMC has informed the development of my work. I think KWMC is reflective and responsive to the local community so any work undertaken has to follow that remit. KWMC expect artists to work directly with the local community. This is great as it gives artists instant feedback on their work.

I don’t think my work on its own has engaged more local people but as a part of the KWMC team it has extended the organisation’s reach. It has also been used to showcase the many different projects that are happening in the building and that has encouraged more people from across the city and beyond to come to KWMC.

KWMC is a great place to experiment and try out ideas. I look forward to seeing it develop as place where those ideas can be resolved into fully functioning tools.

All the work I have made at KWMC has been developed from previous work, an ongoing experimentation and re-iteration of techniques and conceptual ideas. As an artist it has been wonderful to have that opportunity over a sustained period with support. Although the work has been artistic and creative I have also had the opportunity of working with Siemens and Toshiba in developing real digital tools. Because of the freedom I have enjoyed to experiment with the technology my technical ability has grown to such an extent that I have been able to help Siemens with ways of aggregating data feeds. My work at KWMC has massively developed my skills and opened up new opportunities.”

(Dane Watkins, KWMC Artist in Residence)
Visit Dane’s website

Meet the 2014 Junior Digital Producers

In October 2014 Knowle West Media Centre employed eight Junior Digital Producers (JDPs) – a group of young people aged 18-24 who are working collaboratively on an exciting web design, video and data project called ‘Visible You‘.

The project will produce an interactive documentary focusing on social isolation amongst teenagers in South Bristol.

The Junior Digital Producers (JDPs) are with us for six months, in a role supported by the Creative Employment Programme, and they are the second cohort of young people to be employed in this way – the first having worked on the Data Patchwork programme. Throughout their six months with us, all JDPs receive skills and employability training, whilst undertaking project work and research.

Some are joining us straight from education whilst others have had various work experiences. As the group are at the halfway point between education and their first job in the creative industries, the JDP role offers the opportunity to learn new skills and grow in a creative environment. So far they have had workshops covering web coding, photography, documentary and film training. They have been guided by project leader Naomi Yates, who has organised external workshops with organisations and companies including Ludic Rooms.

Now in the programme’s third month, the JDPs each have their roles within the project and they will be updating the Visible You project page regularly.

JDPs 2014

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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