In one of her last public speeches Ursula K. Le Guin called for "realists of a larger reality". She underlined why we need people "who can see alternatives to how we live now." Seven years later, we find ourselves part of a pandemic-ridden world, coexisting amidst a myriad of fears, hopes, uncertainties and change. The shrill demands for a 'return to normal’ continue. Yet how ’realistic’ are these demands? What can be considered ’normal’ after experiencing a larger reality?
How can immersive experiences stimulate engagement with printed books in a library? To answer this question we worked closely with the librarians at the ASU Library in Arizona, where we temporarily transformed a study room into the Dust & Shadow Acoustic Ecology Salon. Here's what the experience looked like from a librarian's point of view.
As this atypical summer in the Northern hemisphere draws to a close, we thought it timely to share what's been on our minds and in the works. To let you know how we've been, what we're up to and discuss some of our attempts at sensemaking while navigating uncertainty and these "turbulent times". Echoes from isolation, from a place reminiscent of The City and The City where "from that historically brief quite opaque moment, came the chaos of our material history, an anarchy of chronology, of mismatched remnants…"
In this reflection on rewilding my professional life through experiments with birdsong, I meander through the structure of dawn chorus, my research on birdsong in composition and some ideas for my new work Gardez La Distance, alongside personal thoughts on living and working with nature, linking sound, habitat and physiology of the time and place.
In the proliferation of graphs and curves in recent months, finding meaning isn't always easy. When we see graphs as tools, reading them as sketches and summaries, they can be used to watch changes more closely, to better understand risk and uncertainty in chaotic situations. At FoAM we often use graphs to visualise and structure our participatory processes. One particular curve has been helpful in charting the evolution and various responses to the pandemic and to plot possible paths through them
After successfully performing maypole dances and creating simple twists and weaves with hundreds of passers by at the Algomech festival in Sheffield, we noticed how much people like to interact with our woven robots - wanting to help or direct their actions by picking them up and trying to understand what they are doing.As we are interested in tangible programming - where we move code from its conventional visual screen based domain into a touchable physical thinking form (inspired by our ancient weaver-coder ancestors), it was an important realisation that the robots themselves are in fact a potential tangible interface for thinking with.
While processor speeds and the use of computation in our society have increased enormously, it is significant that the materials of electronics construction itself (discrete components soldered on to resin printed circuit boards) has been broadly consistent for well over fifty years.The Penelope project is concerned with re-evaluating histories of textile technologies with mathematical and scientific thought. The emergence of “wearable electronics”, in particular inspiration from Penelope collaborators and friends such as Ebru Kurbak and Sandra De Berduccy is important for us because it proposes a new constraints and possibilities ushered in by alternative materials with a rich and long technical history of their own.
Ever since the Yugoslav war in the 1990s, I've got border issues. When the borders began closing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic I had a strong sense of déjà vu. Will the pandemic become yet another catalyst for violence and fragmentation? Just another reason to solidify borders and create distance from the other, the foreign, the uncanny and the unknown?
'Stay home', 'Shelter in place', 'Self-isolate'. Such instructions can only make sense with an appropriate place to stay. So, what would constitute a good shelter during a pandemic? A shelter that could become a home? Alongside the usual practicalities of location, cost or available services, what are some of the less tangible aspects to pay attention to?