title: THE WALKING PROJECT
keywords: storytelling, narrative, installation, responsive environment, experience design
The project is an individual project made as part of the Art and Technology BA-study during Fall 2011.
The Walking Project has its thematic and theoretical background in narration in various media, where the geographic landscape and the urban environment of the area in question was taken as starting points [inspiration from psychogeography and soundwalks]. Narratives (stories of representants of various user groups in the area) arise in forms of reflections and associations during the [pre-designed] walking interviews that I was doing with eight focus group persons during October-November 2011.
The final installation can be described as a responsive story-teller apparatus that invites one to a versatile universe – an imaginary walk – of Aalborg East, where the user is exposed to a series of sensorial experiences in forms of audible and visual impacts, moreover in forms of messages (stories) of the oral language-type.
The goal of the piece is to gather and mediate these narratives in a form that results in an informative and aesthetic multisensory user experience different from the experience gained from more traditional and/or 'single genre' forms, as e.g. news media, newspaper article or a documentary movie (just to mention a few).
The project is accomplished in collaboration with Project 9220 [9220.dk].
Project 9220 is a social-cultural initiative for tenants of various housing associations situated in Aalborg Øst (East) aiming at activation, integration, education and family life. The staff of project 9220 consists of employees and volunteers, who additionally to their daily tasks wish to change the very dominant and negative media representation of the area. The seek projects that break the negative image and bring new and positive narratives to life. The Walking Project operates with both kinds of narratives, with a humanly approach. It aims at presenting various aspects of life in Aalborg East without judging and misleading according to the factual information.
Here stories of various main themes are being represented:
- youngsters in the area – and how to use their spare time, the lack of a youth club and/or similar facility. These young people are having a hard time finding activities for their leisure time, and according to some of the interviewees this is one of the reasons for vandalism in the area.
- the missing cultural and free time activities; such as cinema, concerts, workshops, cafés, etc.
- old traditions: This topic is related to specific places and buildings, but also to events
- regarding health care in the area - shopping in the area: There are almost no shops, only supermarkets, and there is a general wish for opening new local shops. On the other hand people are in doubt about if new shops – and mostly the small shops with a special profile – could survive financially in the area.
- nature: Having many green areas is a rare thing in Aalborg, and inhabitants of the district Aalborg East are generally grateful for having these frames. Some even emphasise it as living in a 'healthy Aalborg East'.
- family: According to several interviewees Aalborg East is a family district with focus on facilities for the whole family and low prices. On the other hand it is also said that families having a hard time finding activities during the cold, dark and short winter days, as most of the facilities are only available during summer.
- multicultural environment and social integration: These topics are represented in all of the conversations I had with my participants. In some more latent than in others. Most of the interviewees are emphasising the positive sides of these and mean that in Aalborg East there is a 'place for everyone' (as it is also the slogan of the organisation Project 9220). Though some problematic observations are also represented, such as the challenges regarding the successful social integration of New Danes. Also it is mentioned that many of these citizens are moving to Aalborg East, because they could not survive in other districts. Here they are welcome, so the area is giving them a so-called last chance, but their social integration demands hard work from a series of social workers, e.g. employees of Project 9220.
Materials and technology:
conductive thread, metal poppers, cloths covered wire
Arduino Lilypad, Kinect sensor
5 felt covered mini speakers, mini amps, sound card, projector, LEDs
prototyping and fabricating with laser cutting, sewing and needle felting techniques
coding in Arduino and MaxMSP
idea generation: brainstorm, researching local history, association methods, bodystorming, idea pitch other
qualitative data gathering methods: observation, Personas (user profiling), focus group interviews, sentence completion, word association method
rapid prototyping, paper prototyping, DIY fabrication
digital prototyping and fabrication: CAD, laser cutting, Arduino, MaxMSP
field tests / user tests: aiming for realistic settings, testing interactive system
experience sampling: non-invasive methods as observation, video taping, oral interviews