Sorting stuff out.

Spent the morning making a test trail for Brungerley park. It took longer than planned so i am now going tomorrow to test it (hopefully the weather will be better and ill be able to shoot a couple of pics.

I have been having meetings with artists from different parks and had a great day today with two really big break thoughts on what of the vast amount of work, ideas and archive material they have i am going to use and also how.

After meeting Lindsay in her caravan in queens park we decided to make a trail of her Cyanotypes between Netherwood road and upto the Rowley Lake. The use the Postcards as easers in Bank HIil, Thompson PArk and Queens Park areas of Brun Valley Forrest Park.

Then making chocolate and bananer pancakes and eating some beautiful Pete stew. I had a good conversation with Orly about what of her work might work best ont he App. We have some ideas, but then the material may have been misplaced. Maybe once you hav the App (dear blog reader) you can help me find it. HE HE You will get the joke when you visit the park.

In both instances of deciding what you use the simple has definitely been best way to approach such a complex task.

Tech Tech Tech

I feel like I have not been blogging and getting out and about for the past few days and felt I should explain what I am doing. (not blow by low as unless you’re a massive tech geek then it would be really boring. (if you are a massive tech geek then ill pass on those sorts of questions to the Aleph Boys and see what they have to say. ☺

Over the past couple of days I have been finding little quirks with adding content to the app, which the programmer just could not have seen as being important because he comes at the app from a very different point of view. As with all of these things it never until you go to do I something that you see potential problems. For example video need to be turned portrait so that it fills the screen rather than being a band across the width of the phone (which for me detracts from the video) I need to also test this with still images and text over the next few hours. WOO!

postcards prior to rejigging

Corporation Park: Promenade from Creativity Works on Vimeo.

Corporation Park: Eric the Horse Chestnut from Creativity Works on Vimeo.

Also it’s a toss up with mobile devices between having great high data/quality content and making it so that whenever possible the files are small enough that they can be downloaded on the hop. (there is the option to make files sizes that are bigger so the user can choose to download them later but I think its best if they can be downloaded as soon as the notification of a found aleph comes to your phone) One big problem is that the area that all the parks cover is so large that the aleph points are not showing up on the map unless the collection points are made massive

Corporation Park: Flora from Creativity Works on Vimeo.

So at the moment I am working out ways to automate editing, recode Xing and resizing processes that make the content the best fit that it can be within the app. This is taking a bit of time, but once I have it worked out it should make adding the other artists contents (late this week and next) much quicker.

Gulls in Corporation Park from Creativity Works on Vimeo.

IPhone Owners/Users can get Aleph Test

The Aleph App is up and running and can be placed on the iTunes store very quickly now, however the app developer is keen not to release it until their is some content, (as without it it looks like an app that does nothing) so i am adding in some content before it goes live on the iTunes store early next week.

The App only works on IPhones, but if you would like to try out the app before it goes on general release than please go to this link,
https://testflightapp.com/join/b4beaa060121209d7f19388a9aa1c133-MTA1MjI2/ and fill in the form and apply and you will be able to see it in the early stages as content is being added and different ideas are tried out. If you are going to be in the parks then this would be a massive help for testing that people are able to pic up the treasure points i programe into the map. PLease let me know if you have problems :)

What is Aleph Project App

Just realised that I did not really give you an explanation of what the App I am using, http://www.alephproject.co.uk/, actually does. So here goes…

Aleph Project App uses a combination of GPS and database technologies to create an interactive treasure hunt across a location or locations. At “active” waypoints on the map users will be able to download site/and or time specific art-based content – images, videos, text, audio, invitations/ vouchers. There can be any number of “active” locations available at the same time and users can filter the content to suit their own requirements and interests. Therefore the app can be tailored to respond to specific and varying demographics and allow different groups to only see download waypoints relating to a particular topic.

Users unlock new content in the “active” locations which they can download immediately or later over wifi. Previously downloaded content can then be accessed through the app regardless of where the user is. In effect, the user creates their own art gallery, scrap book and schedule of events of interest as they travel from location to location. One of the strengths of the app is that it motivates users to move from one location to another, and then another, and so on. The treasure hunt element helps engage the public in an innovative and interesting way, and enhance their experience of art in their location. It also helps to motivate users to visit a number of locations in a particular area that they might not usually experience. The other main strength is that the App allows audiences to engage with the downloadable content on their own terms

20:10:12 Changes for security reasons and Eureka on the M65

Had a Skype meeting today with the venerable Davy Smith of Aleph projects. Basically, changes had had to be made to the App on his end meaning that the process of how I upload content to the App had changed. I could explain te meeting blow by blow, but as the changes were made for security reasons, this would defeat the reasons for the changes and the meeting. (I was going to write, but then I’ll have to kill you, but it felt a bit malevolent)

Useful meeting? Yes.
Necessary meeting?
Yes Frustrating meeting? Yes
Was it Davy’s fault? NO
Was it mine? No It was frustrating because in order to tech me how to add content with the new changed we needed to do a screen share across Skype, but it kept on cutting out meaning the 1 ½ hur meeting became a 3 ½ hour one. Geer.

After the meeting was over, I edited some postcards and uploaded a couple of bits of content. Visited Orly at her stall in the craft and vintage event in Nelson before heading back for a family meeting in Birmingham. As I was sitting in the car I thought. ‘Oh, I can’t believe I am on this motorway again. I seem to have spent so much of my week going up and down the M65.’ Then I realised that I could/should use the motorway and roundabout as points in the app. I could put Aleph points (places you go to in order to get content) as way I could inform people about different parks facilities and beauty. My hope being of getting their attention and making them thank about taking advantage of these amazing places that many people drive asset every day.

Brungerley Park and Cross Hill Quarry

So after my car park encounter i went into Brungerley Park and Cross Hill Quarry and did an hour or so of grass raking with volunteers form the wildlife trust. I knew i would be using my had, so left my camera in the car, which i regret. Geeer!!!

These volunteers do really important work to maintain the nature reserve and encourage the development of diverse ecosystems. Alos really nice people!

After this Amy kindly took me one a tour of the nature reserve, the sculpture trail and to the park. She told me about her great idea to do dog portraits as an engagement activity to get people to talk to her about the park. As we walked about she also told me about an idea that she had had to possibly made drawings that illustrate the hidden or unknown histories. I thought that this was a great idea and told her about the histories in Marsden Park and the prevalence of the industrial history in Burn Valley Forest Park.

This got us onto a discussion as to weather or not these histories were too obvious or i/ we were looking for things that tell a story and therefore looking for connections. I thought about it then remembered what Lee, form Park services had said to me when i asked him if he was unusual because of his interest and level of passion about the history of Marsden park. To which he had replied the the parks (not a perfect quote) “are our heritage. Our living heritage. Now adays the shops are all moving out of towns to shopping centres and superstores and this is killing out towns. The parks are ours. They tell our history, but their alive. And its not just the histories of the rich. The parks are also full of stories of the everyman. The stone maison is more interesting to me than the land owner who paid for the work. This is one of the only places where people can be in touch with these histories in a living and normal context.

I thought this was really poignant at the time, but this conversation with Amy brought it back into focus with force.

Encounters in car parks

In the morning I went to meet Amy in Brungerley Park and Cross Hill Quarry Nature Reserve. The plan was to spend time with Amy and volunteers in from the wildlife trust as they work in the nature reserve, hoping that from this experience and conversations I have while I work I would get a feel for the place and what Amy might planning to do and how I could aid her or incorporate this into the Aleph App. I arrived late, (not his time because I was lost, because Lucy B had bought an A to Z for me and it works much better than the GPS on my phone) because I ha been trying to work out some techeeee stuff then night before had not not got to bed until quite early and work up late.

When I found the park I saw Amy’s camper van in the car park, but no Amy. Then a woman in her sixties and her daughter saw me and started to wave. Great I thought, I am not the only one running late. As I walked over, her daughter waved, their dogs barked and she said, “We are going to have to leave.”
‘That’s a shame; am I that late? I thought we were starting at 10” I replied
“We have been here 40 minutes”
“Oh, I’m sorry, am I that late? Are their others here”
“Well, its just us” the woman said apologetically. “And we really have to get going.”
“That’s a shame, is Amy here?”
“Who is Amy?”
“The resident artist in the nature reserve, I have come to talk to her and have a look round and try and get a feel for…”
At this point a dog wondered off, the daughter chased after it and the woman looked confounded.
“Anyway, I’m …”
“So your not…?”
“Not?”
“I thought you were… We were supposed to be meeting… But then your not… No, your not.. Course not. Who were you looking for.


Posted from Briercliffe, England, United Kingdom.

Foxhill Bank Nature Reserve

In the afternoon i visited Sally Barker to try and get a feel for the nature reserve. As with Brun Valley Forest Park, this had a very different feel to the parks i had visited yesterday. This park is small. It is well maintained, but not manicured and most importantly of all it is not a Park. It is a nature reserve. Its treats are not in facilities within it, as with Corporation Park, but in the little gems of history, nature and environmental restoration that are dotted throughout.

Foxhill Bank Nature reserve

Sally will talk to anyone. She will not only talk to anyone, she will introduce herself to anyone. This was great for me because on a short circuit of the nature trail we met a number of people, some of whome visit every day, some who have come since they were kids, some who traveled to the Reserve each day to spend time there and/ or to walk their dogs. One man told us of a family connection to the old hose that used to be in the reserve, another of a playground area that had been built and upon which he used to play as a child.

When not talking to strangers and throwing balls for their dogs (so that Sally could carry on the conversations) we discussed possible themes and ideas that had started to come up. These included perceptions of safety and danger (in general and not just in relation to Foxhill Bank) The sue of water as a theme. The history of the park adn her encounters with groups earlier in the day (this should be in her blog)

Not being a park this did feel very different and i am starting to wonder how i am going to pull something together that will be relevant to these diverse locations nd the different peoples who take advantage of them