Folkestonomy


Starting a prototype

I can read one ID, therefore I can read many.
I can read one ID, therefore I can read many.

Some of the 1-wire samples I've ordered from Maxim have turned up. I ordered a 1-wire Evaluation Kit, but it appears to be on back order, which could hold things up. The fact that it has to ship from the US, via the ever painfully slow UK customs, is making me nervous. In the meantime I ordered some parts from homechip to allow me to get on with testing the network ideas.

First step is wiring up a 1-wire reader and a 1-wire Silicon Serial Number ID chip, and seeing if I can get them to show up on my MacBook. The hardware itself is simple enough, but the software is more challenging.

Some googling throws up a Mac OS X compatible version of the one wire viewer. After some playing round, and reading all the comments, I manage to get it working, and I can swap serial numbers in and out on the board all nicely.

The software isn't really going to be much use in the final thing alas; There are a few options here though, I can use the basic libraries in here and extend oit to get the data out and into whatever database I want, or I can use other available software, such as the One Wire File System to read what's on the network. The problem seems to be that the mapping we need would require the network to be cut into segments, whereas the default one-wire network is just one long string of IDs.

I've been thinking about using an Arduino or Wiring microcontroller to talk to the one wire network; there are some libraries which appear to allow talking to one-wire nodes directly. The catch here maybe one of timing and accuracy: each network we have may be quite long, and so the timing issues on the 1-wire network may become a problem.

Again there are some options here using 1-wire hubs. It doesn't fit with my feeling of keeping it simple however.

More work to be done...


Handling the input.

Having worked out the scope of the language we may be dealing with: 100's of icons in many combined groupings, the initial thoughts of RFID have gone out of the window: readers are too costly to implement multiple times, and mutli-tag readers are expensive. RFID was an interesting possibility initially as we though we may be able to locate the tags within a 3D space, but that's also a bit more expensive, and not as accurate, as initially imagined.

Increasingly, however, the language seems to have developed into one of placing items together to make the map, and I've been thinking about these as some form of network. Having been searching around for similar ideas to RFID, I was reminded of iButtons. I'm going to look at how iButtons and 1-Wire Networks might be used to identify each of the components of the language.


Refining the language and gathering some initial data

A rough and ready mapping, clarifying my thoughts...no, really!
A rough and ready mapping, clarifying my thoughts...no, really!

The last month has been spent going back and forwards defining what information we are going to gather, and how we are going to use that to generate maps. I've also been working on how we might gather the data and get that into a computer, and then translate that into one of many possible views, as a map.

Kathrin, Andreas and I took a trip to Folkestone so I could have a look around, and so we could talk to some people about mapping, and the space. They told us there stories of how their lives are involved in the creative side of folkestone, the conversations helped me to think about how the pieces fit together into a map.


Storytelling by Signs, Language as a Network

The primary challenge for me is trying to work out how to turn a physical interaction by visitors into a set of data that can be used to produce maps of the cultural spaces in Folkestone.

From my earliest meetings regarding this I've always felt that the visitors are telling their stories. As the project has proceeded and the idea become refined the story has always been a core idea, with the refinement being the language used to describe the story, and the subject of the story we are asking to be told.

The initial brief has a strong concept for a visual language that would be used to tell the stories, based upon street signs and road-works. This would be a very physical process - not someone inputting data into a computer - and we wanted to keep the need for active digitisation to a minimal; the person who's looking after visitors should be focusing on the people, not a computer.

Early on this was imagined as having a map of Folkestone that players told their stories on, by placing markers on. The markers representing actions, connections and objects. This would allow for the story to be laid out across Folkestone, creating each persons map within that space.

Looking into how this could be digitised I started looking into ways of tracking the objects, initial thoughts pointed at
RFID
, but whilst it's possible to track RFID tags in space, it wouldn't have been accurate enough to track the placement of objects on the map.

More recent discussions, including the Mapping Workshop at the Stanley Pickering Gallery, has move us away from using the town map as the scope of the mapping tool, and move towards a more abstracted storytelling. This may, or may not, be easier to build an input system for.

Breaking the story down into it's components - essentially verbs and nouns, or items and contexts - has allowed me to view the stories as a simple set of star networks: core actions that are related to places and objects, which have another structure - time, which is (generally) a line.

I can imagine ways of mapping this physically, but the challenge is now how to get that to merge with the overall ideas of the graphical language and possible interactions. It's going to be a challenge to make that work with the visual ideas, and then produce meaningful and interesting maps from the data collected.


Finding a float

This one used to be owned by Pinewood studios - and now on its way to Folkestone.
This one used to be owned by Pinewood studios - and now on its way to Folkestone.


The only artist

As does the Kent Express....
As does the Kent Express....

We were invited to the press launch of the Folkestone Triennial:
one in Folkestone and one in the Orient Express at Victoria Station in London, and loyal and dutiful as we are we went to both …… which led to our 15 minutes of fame in Folkestone where we were the only artist to turn up, and got the baby in every single photo!


Squeezing into the Orient Express

Inside the Orient express listening to speeches.
Inside the Orient express listening to speeches.

The project officially launched in London in the Orient Express while stationary in Victoria station. Spread over three carriages which also meant that each speech was given 3 times.


In on the idea

Having met with Andreas and Kathrin about this project this is what I wrote to them:


Subject: Folkestone Triennial

To: Andreas Lang (public works), Kathrin Böhm (public works)

...

Folkestone Triennial is a more challenging project, but I like a challenge. It seems you want to create an iconic pattern language for describing social relations, over time amassing data that can be retrieved for presentation in a number of ways.

The language, and the structures it creates, will need to be extendable, allowing for changes which may not have been perceived at the planning and development stage, allowing for new icons and relations, to be added. This will need to work effectively with all presentation systems.

To this end it seems you need to find a way of describing the relations that may happen, and the icons and their properties, storing them in a database and retrieving them. The input and retrieval will mostly be abstracted from the data, and the gathering of this will come about in a variety of ways: for instance via physical interaction, or by second hand narration.

I would approach this with you by first of all trying to describe as many icons+parameters and relations+parameters as possible to try and see what consistencies and inconsistencies exist, as well as ironing out the meaning of the relationships. This would allow for a database to be built for storing the gathered information.

I'd then create a simple input mechanism, one which required a lot of knowledge of how the system worked, but allowed access to all parameters and options. This would be used to input some initial sets of data, allowing us to see how the parameters were used and which were important, and allowing us to revise that.

The third step would be to create some simple output mechanisms for the data, so that it could be presented in one or two forms. This would allow us to see how the data could be visualised, and what parameters were the most interesting to represent.

The next step would be to create an abstracted input method, such as the RFID based system we discussed, or a screen based or keyboard based input system for accessing the iconic language and parameter set to build the stories.

Finally a rationalised output interface would be built to allow the envisaging of the data gathered.

Each of these steps could be very open ended, but it appears you have already started upon the steps of defining the language and parameters. I managed to gauge some of the intent here with the language you had created, but have still to unlock how you tie all this together building the narratives, then translating that into a map... a further conversation I'm sure.

I can see this being quite an involve process, each step of the above taking between 5-7 days works, so my initial thought of 30 days work seems about right - though obviously visualisations could be produced for a long time I we'd get a lot of what you were tying to achieve honed out in the first step.

I'm happy to site down with you and try and work out some more specific details in the future if you want to.


A first animation of what we think we would like to make visible

trying to animate the idea


The Folkestone Triennial (FT) and culture led regeneration


Generating Space and Regeneration

The FT will become key producer of cultural space for Folkestone. FT acts from within the place, aiming for site and context specific art projects that enrich the existing one. Therefore it is extremely interesting to analyse and state what FT as a socio-spatial structure and event means in relation to the ongoing regeneration of Folkestone.

The FT is not at all the traditional sculpture trail. Instead it follows a very sophisticated curatorial understanding of what sculpture today might mean and how it acts site-specifically. Projects will vary in medium, scale, intention and meaning, and reflect a current status of art making that can be anything from pure process to ready made.

Each artistic proposal will be embedded in a spatial and social network to do with Folkestone, whether this happens through research, production, participation or the actual installation on site. Each art project will have its own route and space and become part of a growing cultural space.
FTS not only generates space for artists to develop and produce, it also generates space for exchange between the town and the visiting artists, it will generate space for cooperation and collaboration and create a new public space for visitors to the exhibition.
How does the ambition and intention of FT relate to a culturally lead regeneration? How do the art commissions sit next to creative industry initiatives? How to differentiate between creative industries and a critical art practice, without reproducing stereotypes of High and Low art, but maybe differentiating in regards to intention and outcome?

Artists from all over the world are invited to produce new work for the FT, and link back to a history of artist visitors to Folkestone, like Marcel Duchamp, who will be the focal point of Jeremy Millar’s exhibition at the Metropole Gallery this autumn. Are artists seen as interesting visitors to raise the attraction and cultural credibility of the place, or can they be understood as (co-) producers of cultural life and space?

Is the FT meant to be educational and recreational, or can it be more political by stating the art projects as “alternative” approaches and appropriations of issues that are relevant to the regeneration process, such as dealing with history, immigration, master-planning, civic participation, etc.

On the one hand its safe for the art to stay within the field of education and recreation, and to act out its preconceived role as a creative and challenging profession, which means to remain in its autonomous status and avoid the danger of getting functionalised. However, the FT is functionalised in a very positive and constructive way within Folkestone’s Regeneration. The FT will e.g. link the town to a wider national and international network, help raising the cultural profile, attract visitors and leave permanent projects in the town.
“ To work alongside and support the regeneration of the town” is stated clearly in the FT Artists’ Brief. The culturally led regeneration plans for Folkestone are ambitious. The aim is not to duplicate other models but to create a new prototype for cultural regeneration.

Due to of the fact that FT is already an integral part of the regeneration, we suggest a
(re?)positioning of the FT, from being the producer of a cultural event within the regeneration plans, to become a propositional and analytical tool for innovative cultural and urban planning and implementation.

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