Hei to all who are still looking at my blog every now and then and wondering why I haven’t been posting for so long…
Well, times are busy. So here is a short (?) update on the things that have been going on with me since September 2013
Urban Alphabets: new version
From september 2013 to February 2014 I’ve been working on a new version of Urban Alphabets for iOS. The process started with wireframing in september and some user tests on a wireframe-prototype in early october. After that it has been a very long process of coding. I learned C4, a creative coding framework on top of objective-C, but unfortunately I figured later that the framework does not run on the latest 64-bit-iPhones. So I had to go ahead and code everything in straight objective C. But good news, the app is online in the App store since mid February 2014.
At the same time I now have a Android developer, Ram Banstola, who works on the first Android version of Urban Alphabets. It will go online soon.
There is also a new look for the www.ualphabets.com website that displays all the letters that have been uploaded using the app (which means all devices using the app with constant internet connection).
Urban Alphabets: a Connecting Cities Project
In October I applied to participate in the Connecting Cities Events 2014, where the main theme is “participatory city” AND I GOT IN. I attended a artists’ and curators’ workshop in Berlin in late January where we discussed which projects that will be produced by the partners of the network will be shown in which cities. It seems Urban Alphabets is the most liked one for this year so it will go (or went already) to:
- Medialab Prado, Madrid/Spain in February
- Culture Capital Riga, Latvia May to November (workshop in May, the project will continue to be shown throughout the cultural capital year)
- Helsinki Media Facades Festival, Finland in August (at Lasipalatsi)
- Berlin (probably part of Wedding Moabit Festival) in September – probably we will do a connected scenario on the media facade together with Madrid
- Sao Paulo in late October/early November
- FACT Liverpool as part of the “TypeMotion” exhibition program
Those events generally consist of a workshop and a show on the facade of the inviting “institution”.
More information about all this can be found on the Urban Alphabets-website.
However, I want to add the same short update of the CCN event in Madrid here also (it’s copy paste from the Urban Alphabets website):
Connecting Cities Event at Medialab Prado, Madrid
From 17th to 22nd of February Urban Alphabets’ first Connecting Cities travel took place. I went to Madrid to give a workshop using the Urban Alphabets App and presented Urban Alphabets in a 2h event at the facade of Medialab Prado.
The workshop on 19th was organized by Myriam Cea, from Grafica Libre group at Medialab Prado. The participants were 21 graphic design students from Madrid’s “Arte 10″ and two of their teachers. After a quick introduction the students split into groups of 4-6 people, where each group had 1 or 2 devices, and walked through different parts of Madrid using the Urban Alphabets app for 2 hours. After that we met at Medialab Prado to look at each others alphabets and discuss the experiences using the Urban Alphabets App. The discussion I use recorded to use it as a part of the research of my Master’s thesis project.
I joined one of the groups during their 2h-walk through the city to see how they act and interact as a group to produce their alphabet. It was nice to see that the students obviously all had a lot of fun. Compared to previous workshops in Munich, Germany and St. Petersburg, Russia I noticed that the group I was with communicated much more with people outside their group: First we were at a second hand book market where the students wanted to take a photo of the cover of one book and asked the shopkeeper for permission. In the same flea market they also took off one of the price tags, to take a nicer photo of the “8”. A bit later during out stroll through the city the students took photos of a shop sign, and the shop owner asked why they were doing this. My Spanish is very rudimentary but just judging from these observations the workshop in Madrid showed that not only people using the app get involved with letters and the environment in a different way but also passers-by become interested. This is the main observation I made during the walk. Secondly, I noticed a lot of pointing with hands to certain letters and communication inside the group about which letters to capture. Also the students accelerated their walking speed when a sign had raised their attention.
During the following discussion we talked a bit about how different groups worked together: Some passed the device to the person who had spotted the letter to capture, some pointed at letters, some other made up their own letters or tried to see letters that happen to be in the environment. I had to push the students a bit to speak in English during the discussion, but when I managed I got good responses to facilitate my research. The following image shows the results of the paper-based survey I also make during all my workshops. It is nice seeing the numbers visualized but generally I’m much more interested in the qualitative analysis.
On friday evening we showed Urban Alphabets on the facade of Medialab Prado. I did a little presentation of what the project is about, which Nerea Calvillo translated. During the course of the 2h event around 40 (?) people participated in different ways. We set up 2 iPads on quite fancy looking stands, which could be used to write Urban Postcards and send them to the facade. These postcards where composed of the latest Madrid Alphabet, which changed quite a bit during the event. The second input message was the iOS app. There was at least one person on the square who uploaded letters during the event. He “miss-used” the app to upload many letters upside down or rotated. I admit that when seeing the upside-down letters for some minutes I thought I had a terrible mistake in my code… But then I realized this was just one more “miss-use” of the Urban Alphabets App. It is great to see how people use the app as a framework they can use to be creative inside of. Also during the event some people started making up letters using their bodies. That idea had come up before but I still I enjoyed to see how much fun they had. The last memory worth mentioning was a little girl, who was not able to read or write yet, but she could read and type her own name. She had a great joy when seeing her name appearing on the facade…
Overall, the event was, even though quite cold, very nice, a very nice atmosphere, about 50 postcards were submitted during the event, people enjoyed the letters of Madrid and played with them. I’m sure at least some of them will use (or have already started using) the Urban Alphabets App and at least some will look at Madrid in a different way after participating in Urban Alphabets.
I want to thank all the people in Madrid who made this possible, mainly Patricia (and her team!) from Medialab Prado for the help to prepare the event, Myriam for organizing the workshop, Nerea Cavillo for helping with finalizing the content for the screening and translation, and the students from Arte 10 for participating in the workshop and answering all my questions!
Urban Alphabets now on Facebook
I made a Facebook page for Urban Alphabets in order to be more present in social media with the project: www.facebook.com/UrbanAlphabets target=”blank” (like it to receive updates!)
but yes, there are also other things than Urban Alphabets happening ;)
Window Photo Collection online
After a friend of mine started her thesis about digital collections and I participated in her interview I got motivated to put my window photo collection online. For now it is a tumblR-blog. I am not too happy about that but it was the easiest way to start this fast. However, I hope sometime I find the time to code a theme myself that would also allow to geo-tag the images (at least tag them to a city) and show them on a map. Maybe I’m a bit map-fanatic but … well, there you see I studied architecture for 5 whole years ;)
I did not really say what this photo-collection is about: It is a collection of photos of windows I come across. For quite long (at least since I was in Krapivna, Russia first in 2008) I am fascinated by the details that windows reveal about the building itself, about the country, the time it was build but also about the inhabitants. I started this as a collection on one of my hard-drives when I came to Finland in 2010 but never had the patience to put them together somewhere. So big thanks to Helena for the motivation!
Some web design projects
During the time I also redid the design of www.alisonwiklund.com and implemented www.heeedmalawi.net. I made the website of www.ualphabets.com from scratch, including front- and back-end. I’m kind of proud of that! Currently I’m working on a web development process together with mainly Antti Hietaniemi. It is called Visualizing Energy Efficiency and is a commission from Aalto and Senaati property management. I will update on the results and more details about the project around Easter, when it should be done.
Probably I forgot some things, but well, those are the ones that come to my mind right now.
So I assume everyone is at least kind of up-to-date now!