Reflections on Week 2

The pendulum swung from the arts, to looking at the business of this project, and in an erratic directions of inquiry this week. The perspectives and ideas gathered through progress made in the development of the prototypes, meetings with mentors and pitching the project in efforts to secure a future for this project provided lots to consider. I felt much like a sponge: taking in everything and later expelling the excess to be left with only that which is useful.

While the beacons, outfitted with working GPS and Wifi, are set for lights to be added, and programming with the server and the database to begin, the question of data, and what will happen with the valuable residual trail and archive of movements of participants and their beacons is no longer a peripheral detail of the project, but rather, has begun to play a prominent role in planning and decision making process.

And as such, I had a couple of breakthroughs…..

One: Participants/Collaborators

At the beginning of the week, I struggled with what to do with the data and how to make use of it without compromising the original intent of the project and isolating one audiences interested in the art and community building intentions – for those who would like to use the data for their own purposes.

Where I originally saw these two distinct pieces of the project as being in conflict, the realization that community can be build on both sides of the data by making the resulting project data and the code that upholds it free and accessible for anyone to use. By doing this, there is an opportunity to engage collaborators through participation, and for others to use data for their own art and research.

Two: Data/Memory

The primary aspect of memory is repetition. The repetition that is created within the database by people walking the same streets, making the same stops, searching for the same people (or not), the recording of these movements for repurposing – repetitive use of the data by others, and in relation to the memories of others. For instance, the data may say that a two beacons intersected for ten minutes at a set of coordinates at a specific time. The individual(s), when asked would likely describe the happening differently…they may describe a conversation, the person and the experience of that 10 minutes as a whole.

Is one set valuable without the other?

In the Introduction to Memory: Documents of Contemporary Art, Ian Farr states: “A single memory, or experience can only be deciphered, can only be seen, if it is juxtaposed ‘with or against or beside’ another.”

The meaning of the data vis-a-vis the personal memory, and vice-versa, is paramount, and where negotiation of meaning can occur.

Stay tuned.

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