> a few questions to Salvatore and Oriana (but also to anybody who wants to
> add to it) related to cultural heritage and archiving, stemming from issues
> that I have encountered in my own projects. So you establish many alliances
> and discover many (possible and already existing but imperceptible to you
> until now) interdisciplinary intersections, layers of narratives etc.. how
> do you record them and map them? In Suely Rolnik's words, the ideal
> archive should be able to "..activate sensible experiences in the present,
> different from those that were originally lived, but nonetheless with an
> equivalent critical-poetic density." But how? when technologies are not
> able to do this, what other techniques do we have to reproduce such
> richness and its affective value - I could perceive from your words an
> enthusiasm that reminded me so much of my own experience, which then was
> also accompanied by a bit of frustration when I discovered that I was
> having a hard time to communicate it to others.
in our practice, we have found out a necessity approach this from a variety
Because if it is of course super interesting to have a standard archival
approach (accessibility, usability, searchability, persistence, safety,
retrievability, interoperability and other characteristics) we have also
found ourselves amazed by "performability" of the data, information,
knowledge, emotions etc which we capture from territories etc.
For example, in Sao Paulo, where we worked with SESC to create a "Real Time
Museum" of the city in SESC Vila Mariana, using massive amounts of data
captured by social networks and sensor networks in the city, we have both
designed a system in which the data was both archived and performed.
For archival purposes we used really standard open systems (HADOOP clusters
on raw data that was captured and processed in a number of ways to produce
emotional analysis, networked analysis, geographical analysis, as well as
more classic statistics and analytics. The data was stored in open formats
(including RDFs, for example, for linked data), distributed using file
systems and live APIs, and open licenses.
This ensured that researchers, designers, artists and more could access
everything freely to produce research, artworks, interface and system
designs for interaction with this data, visualizations, etc.
But the data was also thought for urban, participatory performance.
The Real Time Museum of the city was created so that people could access
the data through interactive experiences: architectural visualizations,
immersive rooms, touch terminals from which to interact with data, data in
The museum, hosted a series of education programmes, for children,
students, researchers, artists, designers, elderly, activists, cultural
managers, policy makers, so that they could understand how to use this data.
A group of activists used this possibility to study the serious water that
was going on in Sao Paulo during those months. A really serious conditions
made worse by the upcoming elections (and, thus, by the lack of information
in the media, as candidates did not want to bring up the topic, to avoid
loosing consensus) and by the dirty games played by the water company,
which was not releasing enough information, so to gain competitive
advantage in their requests. By combining social media, sensors and
participation, the activists were able to study the situations,
highlighting criticalities, protests and power struggles, but also some
incredible findings, such as creating evidence about the number of
improvised professions that were born with the crisis, about the
collaborative practices which were born with it, some potential risks for
public health and security (there was a guy that had released a tutorial in
which he explained how to recognize and open the manholes which hid the
conducts for emergency water for hospitals, and managed to trace its
diffusion), about art projects which were born with the water crisis, and
even discovered a method to automatically understand in semi-real time the
water level in the Cantareira (the major water storage of the city) by
using the social media images of the bridge that runs over it.
The data is now being turned into a publication and exhibit and it should
tour 29 SESCs all over Brazil.
This is just one of the examples in our practice of how urban performance
is central for the life of this data and of the impact which it has on
culture and civic life and imagination.
Another one is from Bologna, where we worked with the city administration
to create and support their policies for civic collaboration, which will
now result in the "office for civic imagination".
We created infrastructure for massive data capture in the city, and for
archival, usage and performance. And we, again suggested urban
participatory performance to combine what could be produced in thorough
science and humanities (from architecture, planning, to data sciences,
economics, to sociology, anthropology..) with that which could be only
obtained through participation.
Here you can find a description:
This year we will continue again with the concept of Big Open Generative
Data, in which people will produce simple devices which will enact
massively distributed data capture processes, creating a major innovation
in civic data commons.
Also in this case I completely agree with what you write here below:
I don't interpret it as a general and literal: "let's get scientists out of
> the labs", but an invitation towards a more interdisciplinary, relational
> and, why not? Humane approach to a variety of issues. This is not an
> invitation to change practice. It doesn't mean for the scientist to exit
> the lab and start doing the job of the sociologist, or open the lab to
> contamination, public interventions etc… or not rely on their tools of
> trade, but an invitation to practice a form of awareness that science is
> not made in a silo, but has a context around it, and this context is also
> made of the people it affects and/or benefits from.
> In the context of cultural heritage, I value this approach, because this
> potential opening can help us understand, preserve and enhance many aspects
> of a city, a territory or a social domain that we could not seize without
> the help of the scientific perspective. In this sense, many artists have
> already exited the lab: at the march for science in Toronto, just to give
> an example, keynote speakers included, among others, a climate change
> scientist, a science librarian, a social scientist working on science and
> human rights, a feminist scientist, an indigenous science advocate and a
> water protector.
As I was saying in my reply to Ken's email, I do not follow an "exclusive"
logic (as in "either or"), but an inclusive one (as in "and and").
I, too, am really happy that things are changing, and that scientists are
"getting out of the lab". But this is far from the norm, sadly.
And "getting out of the lab", of course, does not mean in any way to change
practice. It means what it means, with no added meaning: "getting out of
the lab" to create wider impacts through an alliance with arts,
communications, citizenship, through logics of desire and imagination.
This, again, as method, which requires, of course, a definition for
"alliance". For example, I am very critical to those situations where Art
is a decorator of Science. And also to the ones in which poor Science gets
a makeup through Art. And also the ones in which Art becomes a tool for
marketing for Science. This is also valid for Design and Communication.
Each discipline has its dignity, scope, objectives, capacities etc. And I
think that it is just sad to think in terms of which one has supremacy over
which other one, as well as a loss of the enormous opportunity to think in
terms of what they may add to each other by operating at the same level.
*[**MUTATION**]* *Art is Open Source *- http://www.artisopensource.net
*[**CITIES**]* *Human Ecosystems Relazioni* - http://he-r.i
*[**NEAR FUTURE DESIGN**]* *Nefula Ltd* - http://www.nefula.com
*[**RIGHTS**]* *Ubiquitous Commons *- http://www.ubiquitouscommons.org
Professor of Near Future and Transmedia Design at ISIA Design Florence:
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