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Small Society Lab 2015

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Dundee and Mexico City came together on 19 + 20 June 2015 to run simultaneous events in each city to share a connected crossing of cultures. Over 30 people joined us at Small Society Lab in Dundee to explore the city – the streets, design, food and culture – and connect with artists, designers and technologists on the other side of the world.

A diary of the event can be found here: http://creativedundee.com/2015/07/small-society-lab-diary/

Groups remixed aspects of both cultures to design collaborative, experimental and playful digital tools which considered issues relevant to city life; such as civic engagement, the environment, the high street and food production/waste.

This document highlights the process and the projects developed over the two days.

The Small Society Lab is an open project in Dundee, the UK’s UNESCO City of Design, which explores the development and understanding of the small city of the future. The Lab, now in its fifth year, is a partnership between Dundee Contemporary Arts, the University of Dundee and Creative Dundee.

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Small Society Lab 2015

  1. 1. DUNDEE x MEXICO CITY: 19 + 20 JUNE 2015 REPORT: JAN 16 [ Above: SSL participants continuing a Mexican Wave during a video conference with Mexico City participants. ]
  2. 2. Small Society Lab 2015 - Dundee x Mexico City Dundee and Mexico City came together on 19 + 20 June 2015 to run simultaneous events in each city to share a connected crossing of cultures. Over 30 people joined us at Small Society Lab in Dundee to explore the city – the streets, design, food and culture – and connect with artists, designers and technologists on the other side of the world. Groups remixed aspects of both cultures to design collaborative, experimental and playful digital tools which considered issues relevant to city life; such as civic engagement, the environment, the high street and food production/waste. A diary of the SSL experience can be read here, a recap of all social media stories here and a great collection of photographs from the weekend, here.
  3. 3. Sharing and remixing cultures Digital platforms were used to enable communication between the groups before, during and after the event; and the cities shared aspects of their culture - video, photographs and stories - with each other in advance. Both groups went on walking tours of their cities which provided inspiration and a chance to get to know each other. Open tools such as Periscope were used to live stream and video conferencing platforms enabled the discussion of ideas and the similarities and differences between the two countries creative economies. Participants in both cities were keen to connect and share with each other - digital connectivity provided a valuable, fast and cost-effective way of exchange and collaboration across continents. Over the next few slides are details of the projects and prototypes developed at Small Society Lab 2015 in Dundee.
  4. 4. GIF CITY WALL This prototype creates a new way for a number of citizens to engage with the city in a playful way. It projects citizen’s short form video clips about the city on to the walls and buildings, showing the vibrancy in a highly visual and accessible way; as an alternative to advertising. View prototype video here >
  5. 5. FOLLOW ME ! A digital platform to share and find places, events, tips and tricks that you enjoy. When visiting a new city, Follow Me! will get on a virtual tour of the city from the local people who know it best. As a local, you can easily share your favourite places to go and things to do in your city, by pinpointing your favourite places, events, walks in the area, so that somebody who shares the same interests could access these recommendations. As a visitor, you can choose from those recommendations, create your own personalised tour and visit the city in a different way, experiencing it as a local. Follow Me! goes deeper than traditional guidebooks by capturing peoples unique insights to the local area. Whether your into the theatre, craft beer or exploring the local nature Follow Me! can help you to enjoy your trip in a new city. What was the inspiration? “While exploring ways of connecting Mexico City and Dundee, we realised that we could only grasp a glimpse of Mexico City and make assumptions based on what we could find on the Internet. We were also fascinated by the photos and videos that the Small Society Lab participants sent from their respective cities. We enjoyed the idea that each content was very personal to the people who shared them, we wanted to know more about them. After long decisions about what we would like to show/share about the city we live in, we understood the importance of telling/sharing personal stories. Then, we looked at how we could show visitors from Mexico City, and elsewhere, where we enjoy going and what we enjoy doing in Dundee. We tried to develop a fun and easy way to give them a tour of the city as a friend would do it.” Why is a good thing for the city? “Along with providing another form of tourism - more personal and less institutional - this digital platform could ultimately result in the general betterment of the city. The locals would be focusing on things they like and taking ownership of showing/sharing what’s defining their city, shaping a collective image of the city.” Watch the prototype video here >
  6. 6. A POSTCARD FROM DUNDEE This short film was produced over the Lab weekend from the crowdsourced content received by Dundee’s citizens in advance of Small Society Lab. Content was sourced through an open call for video footage and photos and focused on themes such as the city’s streets, food, music and popular culture scene. City marketing departments often follow a similar format for promoting cities to tourists and these can sometimes end up quite generic. This project offers an alternative method of getting under the skin of a city, by harnessing content generated by the people who live in the city and built on by a community of creatives. View the film here >
  7. 7. WORDHUNTERS Initially inspired by a set of images of words from Dundee’s street signage, the group transformed these into a jointly authored 100 word poem which can be reconfigured to create new poetry depending on the individual’s preference. A dance performance accompanied the piece. Video here > “The Small Society Lab saw the blossoming of a number of ideas I'd been working on, it offered the possibility of sharing them with a wider constituency and blurring the lines of authorship for a full scale collaboration. The initial idea explored typography, photography, poetry and place as I took a series of single word photographs from shops, signs and the street to compose a visual poem from the bank of words that I found in Dundee.  What started out as an initial set of images of single words transformed through input from fellow wordhunters into a jointly authored 100 word poem, 6 new original illustrations and a live improvised dance. My time at the Small Society Lab has left me charged, fizzing with new ideas, expanded my creative network and triggered a new format in which to present words in the future.” Ian Abbott, Dance Specialist.
  8. 8. Project V Supermarkets have driven the demand for perfect foods and squeezed the prices on local producers, whilst customers have less choice locally through the increasing lack of available product. We are also losing the skills to create affordable meals from scratch. Project V aims to explore different ways of combining technology and local food producers to make the basics available locally and conveniently. Connecting local producers directly with localised communities for everyone's benefit. Discussions were had with an international community using Periscope to understand the challenges also in Mexico. The project looked specifically at the distribution method and potential of vending machine technology on hyper local streets.
  9. 9. MEXI-DEE The ideal city of ‘Mexi-Dee' was created by overlaying aspects of both cities together and 3D printing prominent landmarks and adding them to the wall map. A final prototype could be entirely 3D printed and projection mapped to create unique landscapes. People were invited to draw their ideal features on to this new city using tag tool technology. The aim is to encourage people to be playful whilst considering the built environment, using more familiar street art graffiti techniques to reach people who might not normally consider or engage with the city’s urban design.
  10. 10. “The collaboration with Mexico City was great fun. It was wonderful to collaborate with our own creative community in Dundee with thoughts fixed on the amazing Mexico City with its vast scale and rich culture. As a game designer it was good to see how many likeminded people in Mexico were using the medium of games to tackle social issues and that’s something we aim to do more of in Dundee. Playfulness is a great way to address the many issues we face in our society. One of the many ideas that came out of the experience was a way to share interesting parts of our local environment though digital technology and art. Be it short animated GIF animation on a website or an App that customised a visitors experience.” Malath Abbas, Game Designer. The Dundee call’s for local content in advance of the Lab generated good local media attention, great social media coverage and the overall partnership gained national attention: a series of British Council Blogs, here, here and UNESCO UK.
  11. 11. The Small Society Lab is an open project in Dundee, the UK’s UNESCO City of Design, which explores the development and understanding of the small city of the future. The Lab, in its fifth year in 2015, is a partnership between Dundee Contemporary Arts, the University of Dundee and Creative Dundee. Read more about previous year’s Small Society Labs, here. This project was a partnership between the Small Society Lab and Digital Futures UKMX, in conjunction with V&A Digital Futures, British Council, Laboratorio para la Ciudad, Centro de Cultura Digital, Laboratorio Arte Alameda and CENART in Mexico City. #SSL15 #DigitalFutures #UKMX2015
  12. 12. POST LAB Following SSL, Creative Dundee assisted the development of some of the prototypes, including the City GIF Wall which had been developed by Dundee-based digital artist, Tom deMajo in collaboration with other participants at the Lab. Among the crowd-sourced city GIFs received, pupils at Dens Road Primary School were given GIF making sessions by their teacher prior to making and sharing their content which is now featured on the wall. Through a partnership with V&A in London, Tom represented Dundee at V&A’s Digital Design Weekend 2015, during London Design Festival which was a great opportunity to showcase SSL and his own work to the thousands of people who attended the 2 day weekend. The City GIF Wall can be viewed here. More about Dundee’s input to Digital Design Weekend can be read here.
  13. 13. POST LAB Another project which was further developed by Creative Dundee after SSL was Follow Me! This pilot explored cultural hotspots in the Stobswell area of Dundee. Locals shared their insights on a localised physical map and through video and audio interviews, with their stories and hopes for the future. Creative Dundee then produced this digital map and a short film, Postcard from Stobswell, featuring the voices of the community, which was popular with citizens across the city following its release. Using a design approach and digital tools, the project aims to tackle social challenges around perceptions of an area in an inclusive and creative way. Read more about the Stobswell project here.
  14. 14. SMALL SOCIETY LAB 2015 - DUNDEE x MEXICO CITY. Three open calls for the public to engage: • Citizens, artists, designers, technologists to join the two day Lab in June. (30 attended). • People encouraged to send photos and videos representing Dundee to shared with Mexico City. (120 received). • The public were invited to attend the final evening at the Lab for the presentations, video conference and food with Mexico City. (10 extra people attended). www.creativedundee.com/ssl V&A Digital Design Weekend Created a unique opportunity for a local designer to showcase his digital products - GIF Wall and Killbox - to thousands of attendees in London and speak with an international network (funded by V&A London). City GIF Wall The world’s first City GIF Wall was developed. 60 contributors from across the city shared their perspectives. Dens Road Primary School ran GIF making classes for pupils to engage. Follow Me! A prototype was created for a digital platform allowing people to share and find places, events, walks in an area, captured by recommendations from locals people. TWO DAY SMALL SOCIETY LAB: 19 - 20 JUNE 2015 A broad mix of participants attended including two retirees, a shop owner, community artists, environmental designers, dancers and games developers. A number of shared experiences included: a walking tour of the city which was periscoped to an international audience, a storyteller who made up stories of the cities, Scottish/Mexican food and drink, and two video conference hangout discussions between the cities. Local businesses were contracted over the two days to provide: catering, photographer, filmmaker and graphic designer. A diary blog can be read here. Six digital projects fusing the cultures of the two cities were developed, detailed below. Postcard from Dundee: Crowdsourced film about Dundee, created during the Lab from the content which was shared in the open call. Film has received 2,649 plays since its launch and gained lots of media coverage. Wordhunters: using city signage this piece can be reconfigured to create new poetry. Mexi-Dee: 3D printing aspects of both cities enabling others to city plan with tag tool technology. Project V: explore different ways of combining tech and local food producers for better availability. 1. Open Call 2. Lab 3. Projects Developed 4. Impacts Follow Me! Stobswell CD reinvested small amount of SSL income to explore cultural hotspots and tackle issues of social perceptions of areas. Locals shared their insights on a localised map and a short film. Digital map and film now well used. ACTIVITIES AND IMPACTS: 2015 Please follow highlighted text to associated links online.

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