we started the project with a lot of discussions and research, around the topics of African history, Malian civilization, tradition and modernity, coming of age, community, everyday life. we felt we didn't know enough of African culture and we chose the example of Mali for its important history.
we brainstormed on a technology that could help better cultural exchanges or create new type of cultural experiences. the technology should be a tool that could be open enough to be re-used and adapt itself to the user. by the end of november, we had a first project proposal where we explained our aims and our ambition for this project. we wanted to establish a share experience here and in mali, where there would be in both ends a sense of knowledge and a sense of presence.
we thought about all kinds of communication medium for that purpose and issues rose like the reliability of infrastructure in Mali for online connection and electricity. therefore we thought of the possibility of using radio broadcasting.
soon though, our discussion led to another project orientation around the gathering and retrieval of data. once gathered, the data would later be retrieved by an audience through the manipulation of objects: a physical database interface that would be about a "concrete assemblage of abstract objects".
before the winter holidays, we decided to focus on everyday life and its complexities and not so much on history anymore. we defined the project as an "input" (capture of data) and an "output" (display of data to an audience); the location where we would display the data was not yet defined but we didn't want it desktop or net based. we were planning to write a new project proposal and to perform a test in Dublin for after the holidays.
in order to write a new proposal, we imagines using different ways to gather data: interviews, audio and video recording, digital or disposable cameras. we didn't want to make a reportage, or a documentary, it wasn't the purpose.
we wondered how we could get impressions of everyday life and imagined to follow someone for a day with microphones that would be "transparent". we were still thinking in ways to defining better the purpose and the media we were going to use (image and sound).
we started to get a finer idea of the tool that we wanted to create. a first test was done during the anti-war march in february in Dublin.
the cardboard box was then set and we had our first users testing it. we were later also meeting a number of people in Paris to get contacts for a field study in Mali planned later this year.
we were getting ready for our first workshop in Paris with a local organization, ADOS, based in the city's 18th district. meanwhile, we conducted tests in the lab for different options of interfaces in an exhibition context, including a very nice interface built in Java by Mike Bennett from the Adaptive Speech Interfaces group. but we finally opted for a zoom-out/fade-away interface (see section on the display for more details).
the workshop in Paris takes place in june with great kids who taught us a number of things about the tool we did an exhbition at the end with all the works that have been created. at the time, the timeline for the project was a print graphic design integrated in a physical slider (later we included the timeline in the projection).
we were getting ready for our trip to Mali (leaving for 3 weeks in august) - it was actually a lot of preparation (setting-up the first contacts, getting health issues sorted, etc). but it was a fascinating experience (see the field study section for more details). we came back with great results that we shortly showed at the ICHIM conference in Paris.
right after, we started writing a research paper for the CHI conference. it took almost a month.
we also set-up the RAW exhibition permanently in the gallery space of Media Lab Europe for Open Houses and various demos.
once the paper submitted, we started building a larger documentation to promote the project, including this website. we also started working on a new version of the tool and developing ideas for new possible applications.
we launched the first version of the website and were notified of the acceptance of our paper to the CHI conference. we're going to Vienna next april! (Vienna is a great great city).
right before the holidays, we managed to send all our Malian RAW users print copies of a selection of their pictures and a CD-ROM with the integrality of their pictures and the sound file.
|since jan 04||
we're working on a video documentation, on a fiction application of RAW, and submissions to more exhibitions and conferences. we're also working on possible opportunities for new workshops in another places in the world.