urban tapestries
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As a research tool
Proboscis uses a technique called bodystorming to rapidly iterate and test ideas. Ideas are brainstormed then turned into material forms and situations to reveal the kinds of relationships that occur between social and cultural interactions between people, places and things. Bodystorming is the transformation of abstract ideas and concepts into physical experiences, a tactile approach allowing us to investigate different qualities that ideas may have when applied to physical settings – part of a dynamic and continuous process of trial and error.

As a public experience
Proboscis has been developing a playful experience to engage people in the broader issues surrounding Urban Tapestries. Like a game it reveals the tensions and pleasures of rules and constraints. We use props such as a large floor map taken from a 1930s London guide, pre-authored Urban Tapestries threads to suggest the kinds of things people might annotate about a place, different coloured Post-It notes as the authoring tool and Proboscis' own custom Urban Tapestries' DIFFUSION eBooks to annotate each participant's threads.

The experience is intended to offer a gentle, non-technological, introduction to the concepts of mobile public authoring – to provoke and cajole unexpected and unintended ideas for what Urban Tapestries could be for different people. It creates a collaborative framework for testing our own assumptions and pre-conceptions about public authoring and social knowledge – about what happens when ideas become technologies, practices, and relationships. Bodystorming allows us to ask questions in an open and co-creative environment, where all the participants are responsible for their experience as much as we are for facilitating it. The event allows us to investigate:

  • what happens when people become co-creators and not just consumers of information
  • what kinds of knowledge will they want to share with their neighbours and fellow city-dwellers
  • how do people articulate and share their experiences of inhabiting the city
  • how people interact with ideas and situations on physical, emotional, intuitive and intellectual levels.

So far we have run eight events with a wide range of people: from senior citizens and teenagers, to artists, academics, civil servants, community workers, business consultants, technology professionals, designers, writers and teachers.

Bodystorming Experience Events:
September 2004 at London School of Economics (Social Tapestries Creative Lab)
May 2004 at Psy.Geo.Conflux Festival in New York
April 2004 at London School of Economics
October 2003 with Marchmont Community Centre
September 2003 with Marchmont Community Centre
August 2003 at London School of Economics
June 2003 with Mobile Bristol Team at HP Labs Bristol
  at Trinity College Dublin
May 2003 at London School of Economics (Urban Tapestries Creative Lab)
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