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Urban Tapestries

Proboscis, Urban Tapestries, 2003 (video)
Proboscis, Urban Tapestries, 2003 (video)
Proboscis, Urban Tapestries, 2003 Proboscis, Urban Tapestries, 2003
Urban Tapestries is a transdisciplinary research project. The project team comprises a range of skills and backgrounds including filmmaking, sculpture, literature, philosophy, ethnography, information design, communications, interface design, software programming and interaction design. This combination of skills and techniques blends together to add distinctiveness and freshness to established practices and creates a powerful group dynamic. In order to stimulate debate and to exchange their ideas the results of their research is regularly updated on the project's website. (1)

What would freedom of expression be without the means to express it ? As fundamental as this concept is, it appears empty and abstract if you don’t complement it with the freedom to choose the means of expression. Today's wireless communication networks offer novel ways to express ourselves. For the time being, these networks escape government or corporate control, which is why they are being used by many artists and activists to give this concept more concrete meaning.

Proboscis is exploring these new means through the development of an experimental interactive wireless system. Walking through the city equipped with a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) or a mobile phone, the user can access location-specific content (texts, drawings, audio, pictures) via the system according to a chosen thematic route: historical, political, social or cultural.

But the main goal of UT is to allow users to create their own content (images, sounds, films, stories, memories), as well as to create their own route—in other words to become authors. Designed and developed as a public authoring system, UT invites participants to inscribe social knowledge in the urban landscape with the goal of sharing it. According to the Proboscis team, social knowledge is found in everyday practices and is consequently distinct from traditional knowledge which is the domain of specialists. In this sense, UT seeks to highlight the knowledges that arise from the social sphere. In fact, the content added to the system by an individual is accessible to another who can in turn add his/her own content. This recording of different layers of stories, experiences and impressions associated with a location accessible to everyone leads to the emergence of a collective memory nourished by the desire of each and everyone to embed their reality in the city. Urban Tapestries thus seeks to promote creative interactions between citizens and their city, to create a place for the sharing of experiences and knowledge and to allow individuals to leave traces of their presence in the urban geography.

In a second phase of the project, in parallel with the technical development of the UT software, the team has decided to bring different partners together in order to explore the specific uses of author-system technologies: why do individuals use them, to what end, and how will these systems be provided. To be followed...

Jacques Perron © 2003 FDL

(1) Urban Tapestries :