Friday, 27 February 2009

testing time

... there's a lot about time in e-merge, but that's for another post.

Postcard 2 is ready for print.

How do you get one?

Come and try the mediascape!

Today was test-time for e-merge at the Pervasive Media Studio, with a rough version mapped into the pedestrian area at the head of the waterside and horseshoe area. Several people from UWE and the studio tried it out and gave useful feedback from their perspectives of games designers, interactive arts, IT, photography and media. Thanks!

Tomorrow's test-time in the park with a trip to London to finalise maps, regions, active areas and where the content will be 'hidden' as well as test out and document a few other bits & pieces.

Thursday, 26 February 2009


postcard design 1


We got all the regions today - some more than once. 23 minutes and a pretty efficient route!

The dogs think this is a great project - lots of extra walks, perfect for the border collie nature - 'random' twists and turns, not following the usual trampled path !

I found myself thinking about gaming as I walked. Mscapes, interactive and mobile technologies are used a lot for gaming, and whilst it's not something I spend my time doing, I've enjoyed and learnt a lot from the few games I have tried out - especially live real & virtual games, like the Come Out & Play urban games festival in Amsterdam I went to a couple of years ago. But I also find games a bit too prescriptive. It's more fun when you can change the rules and try your own version - do you get £400 for landing on go? Does all the cash really go into 'free parking'?!

So is there a game element to e-merge?

What interests me more than creating plots and puzzles is to provide a rich environment and then see what happens. More of a creative play I suppose - if you want to play with e-merge, you can make different walks, you could walk in circles (which someone did with the sister mediascape Something More), you could run backwards and forwards, try and 'catch' all the content regions - and see what happens if you catch them in different sequences or more than once. Or just explore the park - on and off the trodden pathways. You could arrange to walk with a friend, start together, go different routes and then meet again at a 'viewing' point. Or experiment with the same small area but choosing different music for your walk; maybe play with where and when you watch your film, the synchronicites with the surroundings that that could present. Or anything else to find out what's possible...

So I hope e-merge will have a light, fun, playful element for those who want it, and encourage the walkers to be adventurous and experiment. To me that's a bit like switching off the TV and going out to play with your own video camera instead....

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Two versions of the same clip - dusk at the west of the park.

Low quality then medium quality (although both then recompressed by blogger).

I'm editing in Final Cut, which then goes into flash as the mscape needs swfs and the web will need flvs. Size versus quality... or shorter edits!


Here's the best test yet - now with real video and slideshow content from the park. The ipaq performed well, and the screen was very visible in the dusk! The battery seems to have held up fine, and even with a lot of media playing there were no real problems. That's a very happy feeling after the last couple of days of systematically figuring out some niggling playlist errors - which ones were bugs, new features in 2.5, quirks of my method, errors with the device, or inconsistencies within the programme.

The walk starts at the top (near the lane) and snakes around to end about a third of the way down the left side. It lasted 21 minutes, and then the film lasted for 15 minutes. The park is a lot bigger, so the scale of regions will be different as well as the layout, so the relative length of films will be much shorter.

With this walk I was watching my position on this map showing all the content regions and trying to walk through as many as possible. That's harder than you may think, in a bumpy muddy field on a slope, with no obvious physical mark of where the regions are!

It's interesting how different the route of my walk was because of this. I haven't decided yet whether to show people in the park where the regions are, or just show them the map of the park. They don't have to look at the map - just walk and enjoy the sight without needing to watch the screen.

Monday, 23 February 2009

lots of strands...

... these 2 shown below are from 10 second and 30 second traces of the same walk made thismorning and used to test the website bits that will go live next week... thanks Ben!

... there's also some background to the project on the BEV blog , and a page up on the e-merge walks website (where the films/walks will be shown during and after the festival).

... content-wise, it's coming together well, informed by the mscape region layout as well as the music, park layout and the footage captured.

... organisation also involves things like booking forms for equipment, checking logos, making sure the correct software's installed on ipaqs, user-testing and another visit to the Park etc... so quite a lot of strands to weave together into one!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

step by step

Once again, trying to fix a couple of unlikely scenarios ended up making things that worked go a little peculiar... So enough fiddling around.. here's another walk made thismorning.

I do like the images traces make!
(The scribble at the top is when the device lost fix for a bit, and tried to work out where it was.)

Making and posting them here is a welcome little break - bit of a visual treat and tiny celebration or waymarker - whether it's successful or not, it's still a step closer to the destination.

Good news from 2.5 - it remembers the logger configuration!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

x 30 x 3 = 2.5

... or something more even! 30 content region pairs, each with video, slideshow, state and scripts. Moved into mscape experimental 2.5, and everything's going well except that the playlist seems to behave differently to 2.1 (probably doesn't need the workarounds I'd built in to it before any more!) so there's still a few bugs to iron out, but this is pretty much what will transfer to the Park. So it's over to Ben to add in the flash parts and extract data to recreate the films on the web. Exciting stuff!

Why is there no red trace (showing my walk)? Every time the mscape gets saved as a new version it needs the logger re-configuring, and in my excitement to run round the field again I forgot! Maybe tomorrow...

wild geese

Friday was a bit of a wild goose chase - I got carried away with trying to
pre-empt any kind of user action that would cause the mediascape to work differently from planned. Eventually I got to the point where building in lots of precautions was starting to 'break' it for ordinary use... A few steps forward, a couple back again.. in both the muddy field and on the computer!
The things that happen in the tester or on a micro-walk are less likely to happen in the Park-scale version.
Setting expectations and introducing the context of the experience is really important for walkers, and that will happen through the intro. narrative, instructions on screen, as well as giving any advice needed when they book out their ipaq at the ICA. Those bits are missing from the sketch at the moment, so it's easy to get over-vigilant about what people may do! There's also a fine balance between wanting it to be robust for public use, but also being a piece of innovative development, part of ongoing r&d - without the commercial end product that (should) necessitate a further level of usability. - and there's also the reality of one person's time!
So the latest stage has been adapting the local test to a sensible scale and making sure it works for the kind of scenario I want to create in the Park. That's the first trace below.
I will be extending the regions over the next few days so I can try out how the content runs together, and check performance of the ipaq once it's got a lot more imagery loaded. So the second trace shows the edge of an easily walkable area of the field - without falling into hedges, boggy land, or the neighbouring building site!
Looking SSE across the field-test...

Friday, 20 February 2009

A different blog..

Harriet asked me to write an article for the BEV blog about making e-merge... after having a look at some of their other recent articles, it seemed the chatty, easily explained style would work best.

‘e-merge’ _ A film-making mediascape by Jackie Calderwood

Interactive exploration of landscape through walking, music, artist’s moving image and mobile technology.

I’m making a mediascape for the festival.. with media drawn from and linked to the landscape, and experienced by walking around.

How does that work? Easy! Collect an i-paq (hand-held computer) from the ICA , plug in headphones, and listen to the instructions... you’ll be asked to choose some music, made especially for e-merge by three different women composers/bands. Then it’s over to you for a walk in the park. St James’ Park is right opposite the ICA and perfect for a stroll, run, or to meet the wildlife – from pelicans to squirrels that’ll take nuts from your hand! – you choose where to walk, how far, how fast – the music may encourage you to twist and turn as you meander the paths around the lakeside. When you’re ready, find a comfy place to watch your film – with images taken from the places you’ve walked, you may find a few surprises too! Make one long film, or several short films, and when you’ve finished we’ll upload a selection of films to the e-merge website so you can watch again, show your friends, and compare films!

The making process has been ticking away since November when I met Sarah Mosses, BEV’s innovation programmer, whilst visiting another interactive project. In one of those synchronistic conversations where I told her about my work using mscape to make short films, she told she was looking for a woman mscaper to create a piece for the film festival! Discovering the festival base would be at the ICA was a real bonus – with St James’ Park on the doorstep, perfect for a film-making walk. I’d made a similar mediascape last summer[] as part of extended practice completing my MA Media (Interactive Arts) at UWE, so would base e-merge on that, and create new content from and for the park.

How did I get involved with mediascapes?

I started working with moving image 12 years ago within a sculptural environment, moving into short film and community media arts facilitation. 2 years ago, during my MA, I began to work with HP’s mscape software and love the freedom to make work that moves people in an outdoor environment, placing the user, context, work and artist in dynamic equilibrium.

Mediascape offers an exciting new medium to explore my interests of contrasting relationships: movement & stillness, audio & visual, time & timelessness, limitation & choice, ultimately the way we respond to choice, how we interact with the world around us.

The commission for BEV is a great way to bring mediascape to a new audience, and for me to contrast rural and urban environments, and contribute to the discussion about film and mobile technology. Mediascapes often seem to be used for gaming, information, and education. So bringing e-merge for women in film, and the general public, feels very enjoyable! As part of ongoing research, it’s just fun to have the opportunity to work alongside more creative people, develop ideas and test out work in new situations – and hopefully get some interesting and useful feedback!

Making it...

So, in brief, the process to date has included meeting BEV and working out logistics of equipment, audiences, and all those things... a successful application to the Arts Council to support e-merge, commissioning music, meeting with the Royal Parks and photographing and filming in the park, researching historical images, editing still and moving images, building and adapting a structure for the mediascape with hp labs’ mscape[] software –( imagine it like a map of time and place, with media content dropped in.)Testing and more testing, ‘iterative’ is the essential-word for this kind of work! Coming from a fine art and community media practice background, I think it’s really important for innovative work to be well documented, accessible to the general public, and visually presented, so I’m keeping a project blog [] and designing postcards to promote the website which will go live with films made during the festival [].

Challenges? Inherent in using a mobile device is the small screen and small quantity of film that it can play, so it’s a constant balance of what’s going to work well within the technology. Also how to be interesting and engaging to a wide audience, and the good old question of interactive design – how much freedom and choice can the end-user really have? Let me know when you’ve tried it!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

field test = in the field

It's a long way to London, so field tests are needed closer to home. Hopefully we'll be at a stage to test the structure and content with some experienced mscape-users in Bristol by the end of next. Meanwhile it's a muddy field in Somerset for wellies and walks!

This is the structure mentioned in the previous post, but mapped into a nearby field. It's shown up a couple of things already that didn't happen when tested on the office computer... proving once again that regular field visits (& therefore local as well as located) - iterative testing - are essential for any development with pervasive media. The worst bit was while I was chasing satellites, my dog was free to roll in something very,very smelly!

sketches in time

Building the mediascape structure...
Following on the theme of change and archive, it was time to move on from using Something More as the structure to develop e-merge. I suppose one of the things with moving image of any kind is that you have to sketch it out in time. With locative media the dimension of space needs sketching out too (topography or place at least - height/volume doesn't feature much yet).
What happens when someone moves outside the 'active' space? What happens when their device doesn't recognise the place? To what extent do they need to see their journey as part of the mapped landscape, or does that detract from the experience of landscape, or experience of the piece?

My use of mscape explores ways to use pervasive media in harmony with an unencumbered direct experience of place. When you go to a beautiful place, is it really enhanced by looking at a screen or listening to a commentary? Is there a way to use the technology to enhance experience that both adds to the occasion and evokes a memorable artistic experience? And of course there are all the concerns of interactive media design about meaningful user input - to what extent can, or would we want to, control our choices and the freedom we offer to others?

Those are the indulgent philosophical thoughts of the morning, reflecting after the midnight hours that birthed a working sketch (of time and space) unique to e-merge.
It has a beginning, middle and end! It knows where it is and what to do if it doesn't; it can choose music; doesn't drift (too much); knows when to play the film and is even polite enough to ask if you'd like different music or another walk!

Now back to the finer details - timers and finding the most reliable way of logging are the tasks for thismorning. [Note: sketch including timers & log here]

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

change and archive

There will be visible changes in the park by the time the mediascape's completed..
As well as the budding spring, the lake's going through a big change - being drained and dredged for it's 20+yearly clean-out, as I discovered on my visit last week! How different will it look when people are walking with e-merge?...

Here's a previous change - in 1940 there was a suspenson bridge across the lake:

This is one of the archive images, as shown in the Royal Parks Historical Survey: St James Park by LUC, 1981. Thankyou to Land Use Consultants and to the Royal Parks for permission to use some of those images in e-merge. Look out for a few surprises when the first walks are made and first films go online...


One of the 'upgrades' planned from Something More was to add a buffer around each zone to minimise the effect of drift on the end film - so that if you're drifting on the edge of a zone you only get that content once, but equally you can walk in and out of the same area lots of times and that will be reflected in your film by repeated sequences.
Here's a test for a single zone:

Mapping & first traces

Here's the traces from parts of my walks whilst filming etc.

OpenStreetMap seems to give the best (gps-accurate) visuals for the Park (as below). There's quite an interesting mix of maps and images out there including aerial photo and road layout, street maps, showing different interpretations of the park. Royal Parks have kindly given permission for me to use their illustrated map of the park in the mediascape, so that may feature too...

There are 3 ways maps will be used in e-merge:
  • as a maplib in mscape to create the mediascape
  • for map display to the walker while they're e-merge-ing in the park
  • on the e-merge walks website to show the routes of the walks with the films generated

Monday, 16 February 2009

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Filming in the park

Two days later, through rain, snow (!), wind and sun, day and night... 800+ photos and several hours of video later...

The music sounds great wandering around the park. I found I was focusing on different content when listening to the different tracks, so it'll be interesting to see how/if that's reflected in editing and in the walks themselves.

I've tested out a short version of Something More in the park, to check a few things like gps trace, playlist and log, pace etc, and have a good 'to-do' list ready to go...

Thanks to Niki and Graham at the Royal Parks for being so helpful and interested in the mediascape. I'm hoping to get the go-ahead to be able to include some images from an historical survey of the park, made 28 years ago, and full of interesting snippets, maps and snaps since it's origins in 1531. That may be the subject of a future post...

And thanks to Zeph & Mima for the usual overnight accomodation. And a fun night out at the Club Zigana Swedish Klezmer evening. Romanian sausages kept me from feeling cold or hungry all the next day! Bon apetit! Or rather - bună !

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

coffee and cake

make great companions to creative thinking! Lots of meetings today in Bristol about e-merge and other mediascape projects . The Watershed does great wheat-free sustenance: orange polenta cake, chocolate truffle cake. Beats flapjacks!

Thanks to the Pervasive Media Studio for loan of an ipaq kit to use in developing e-merge; Constance Fleuriot for mentoring support; Ben blindfish for help with the clever stuff (more to follow about mscape/web and log/playlist technicalities).

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Music for e-merge: Laura Harrison with Sarah Mosses

'Park: City: Sound... '
Composed by Laura Harrison with Sarah Mosses

Laura Harrison is a Brighton based composer and sound artist. A recent graduate from Sussex University in 2008 with a BA in Music, Laura is currently taking a year out teaching and composing before embarking on an Mmus in Music Composition at Trinity College of Music, London. Laura is an active musician and currently plays in a number of ensembles including CoMA Sussex and Sussex Jazz Orchestra.

Sarah Mosses is the Innovation Programmer and Live Music Coordinator for BEV. She studied Music and Film Studies at the University of Sussex, and this composition with fellow graudate Laura shows her interest in both these mediums. She is currently in development for a documentary on the modernisation of Ballet.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

walks on the web is the newly registered domain for the films made by e-merge walks. - Not sure yet how they will appear or how the site will be constructed; the aim is to show a selection of walks made using the mediascape, with the time, date, an image of the gps trace (route of the walk through the park) and the resulting short film.
What I'm hoping is that people will revisit their film online, adding to the experience after the walk.
The films will become a celebration of the diversity of walkers and their interactions with the place and the technology.
The site might also include space to comment, or links to other online feedback or discussion.

Friday, 6 February 2009

smiles in the snow

Fantastic news! ACE has offered to fund my proposal to Grants for the Arts for the e-merge mediascape.    
So now it's full steam ahead with e-merge, rather than the zero-budget skeleton back-up version (-phew! )

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Music for St James' Park : Trees/ Water / Paths

Jackie asked me to create music for the e-merge mscape and, now I've done it, to write about me - and explain the process.
I'm a musician  - guitar, bass, harp, flute : I play  with two bands, teach and lead workshops. What leads me on is engagement - the power of sound, and participation. So many ways to participate!
You can see what interests me at
Site specific music, and music for mscape, really fires my imagination.
It was a journey in itself, finding the right way to record what I wanted to create for the e-merge walks. Firstly, I'm a country lass - so how to find a way in to an ordered urban landscape? History is a trigger - but the history of this small piece of place is layer upon layer upon layer. Dense and tangled.
I came to simple, single, visual things - three pieces which I've called trees, water, paths.
It seemed important to break with linear experience. I anticipate the end user to be swept up, inspired, locked in.
I chose to break from what would be the usual process of a constant rhythm (easier said than done) and mirror the experience of becoming engaged - stop : look : listen : turn around : wait awhile. Look up, look down. Reflect.
Maybe it's a city thing, the chance to be alone in proximity to others.

Music for e-merge: Jane Harwood

Jane is a multi instrumentalist (guitar, bass, flute, harp) who plays in two bands, teaches and works as a community musician and mentor.
The soundtrack for the e-merge walks has been created with the help of Russ Stanley, sonic artist and fiddler.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Music for e-merge: Kukicha

Kukicha is a new all female Bristol based Electronica/Modern Classical band. Delicate, unsettling and menacingly beautiful compositions written for flute/oboe/voice and technology.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Sound and Image

The way the soundtrack worked in Something More was essentially a choice of music to listen to. After a short spoken intro to the piece, explaining what to expect, health & safety etc. , the walker seleted music from a choice of 3. They could reselect immediately, so hopefully noone would get 'stuck' listening to something they really didn't fancy. The music was the soundtrack to their walk, and then became the soundtrack to their film as they watched it.

It worked well, so I'm using that format for e-merge, but with more variation in the styles.
Following BEV's theme of celebrating women as makers, I invited 3 women musician/composers to contribute music for the mediascape: Sophia Loizou with Kukicha, Jane Harwood and Sarah Mosses.

The brief is for approx 15 minutes, in some way relevent and suitable for St James' Park, for a public audience includng families. The music needs to work without images as well as with images, and expect to work with images in an unexpected/unpredictable way! The film could start (and end) at any point within the soundtrack, and continue for any duration - so the 15 minute piece needs to work as a loop also. It will be played through headphones, which could be open (ie. letting in surrounding sounds), closed (blocking out the outside sounds) or anything people may bring with them...
Challenging? Unusual? Innovative? Exciting!

All three women have been fantastic and responded by creating or adapting music especially for the project, working collaboratively with others to compose, play and record some wonderfully visual sounds. Thankyou girls!

I'm really delighted with the music, and can't wait to try it out with a few test images actually in the park...

There will be more about the musicians shortly. Meanwhile, the music will also impact on the video editing and photo-composition.

With Something More I tried to find a new way of combining images, thinking about the attributes of locative media, gps, and how that is very different to TV, cinema etc. Using a different relationship to space, perception and time to try and build a short film that could have been made by a locative medium.
The Bath international music festival celebrated it's 60th birthday last year and as part of that a 60 second challenge was launched, for film-makers to use music available through the festival, and create short film celebrating music, 60 or the area.
'Whitesheet: 6 walks' was my response.
Tom Ellis' piece Magnetic Spheres was not what I would have previously imagined as music for Whitesheet, but when I heard it had a similar quality of energy as the landscape, totally loved it, and knew it just had to be the soundtrack! So that was the structure to combine photos and video from 6 walks on Whitesheet into an experimental short film.

Having heard the music submitted for e-merge, I'm putting my previous ideas about image compilation on one side, and going to try out 3 short films led by pure response to the sound (in the context of the park/images gathered), and see what happens... could be a total sidetrack not to be used, or could lead into something interesting for the mediascape... we'll see what emerges!