Book review - Participate, Designing with User-Generated Content

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2011-12-14 08:04:31

Participate, Designing with User-Generated Content by Helen Armstrong and Zvezdana Stojmirovic (on amazon USA and UK.)


Publisher Princeton Architectural Press says: Creativity is no longer the sole territory of the designer. User-driven design has never been easier for the public to generate and distribute. Users of websites such as Flickr, Threadless, WordPress, YouTube, Etsy, and Lulu approach design with the expectation that they will be able to fill in the content. How will such a fundamental shift toward bottom-up creation affect the design industry? Participate considers historical and contemporary models of creation that provide ideas for harnessing user-generated content through participatory design. The authors discuss how designers can lead the new breed of widely distributed amateur creatives rather than be overrun by them.

Daniel Eatock, No Smoking Sign Library, ongoing

Nowadays, many of the tools of production and distribution used by graphic designers are available to the broader public. And not only are members of the public turning into amateur designers, they are also invited by professionals to contribute to their creative process. The book addresses the curiosity of the amateur of course but it also talks to professional designers (or artists) who fear that they might be trampled underfoot by distributed amateur creatives.

Participate is a introductory book for anyone who is interested in the impact that networked co-creativity has on design, graphic design but also on other fields such as typography, silk-screening, craft, fashion, advertising, etc.

Each chapter analyzes one of the key components of participatory design: community (or what drives people to participate in the absence of a financial compensation), modularity (the groups of units that makes up a larger system), flexibility (making branding more elastic) and technology (or why code is 'the new literacy.')

Chapters are colour-coded: the white pages are for theory and examples of successful participatory design. The yellow pages contain the interviews with designers, programmers, communication 'strategists' and curators. And because the authors of the books are designers but also educators, the blue pages are for exercises that invite readers to experiment with the concepts, projects and the ideas presented in the book.

The theory sections are written with clarity, they do a good job at explaining basics such as how the Open Source ad the Copyleft movements have paved the way for new mindsets, how technology has pushed users to adopt a more active role, what generative design is, etc.

A few projects presented in the book:

Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram, Outrace, 2010

For the London Design Festival, Kram/Weisshaar and Reed Kram installed eight industrial robots on Trafalgar Square and let the public take control of them to write personal light messages which were recorded and shared as video files.

Keetra Dean Dixon, Willing Wonder, 2007

Keetra Dean Dixon created a photo booth-like space in which people activate a hidden camera each time they lift a bubble wand and blow a bubble.

Stefan Bucher, the Daily Monster, 2006

For 100 days, Stefan Bucher filmed himself drawings monsters and posted the short clips on his website. He then asked readers to write the story of the monster. His "open Source Monsters" also allows people to submit their own drawings based on the inkblots he provides. The online project lead to a book which had already gathered a public long before it hit the bookshops.

Graphic Thought Facility, MEBOX, 2002

MEBOX is a customizable storage system. Each box has a grid of perforated discs that can be pressed out to create characters. When assembled, the double-thickness construction presents the message against the contrasting colour of the box lining.

Posttypography, The Splice Today logo, 2008 - 2009

Check out the website of the book, it presents dozens of projects that have not been included in the volume.

Photo on the homepage: Joe Galbreath, Paper Robot Army. Credit image: Kristian Bjornard.
Related: Le Cadavre Exquis.

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Rosângela Rennó: Rio-Montevideo

Feed : Universes in Universe - Magazine
Published on : 2011-12-14 01:12:59
Her exhibition in Montevideo, based on a photographic archive hidden during Uruguay's military regime.

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Martín Bonadeo. Bellico

Feed : Universes in Universe - Magazine
Published on : 2011-12-13 15:11:58
On telephones, technology, war, art, and daily life. Espacio Fundación Telefónica, Buenos Aires.

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Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project in Taiwan

Feed : Universes in Universe - Magazine
Published on : 2011-12-13 12:39:07
Call for Proposals for the Cheng Long Wetlands Internat. Environmental Art Project. Deadline: 8 Feb. 2012

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The Coal Prize Art & Environment 2012

Feed : Universes in Universe - Magazine
Published on : 2011-12-13 12:17:56
Call for art projects about the environment. Prize: 10,000 EUR. Deadline: 12 Feb 2012

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IDB Cultural Development Grant Program

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Published on : 2011-12-13 11:36:52
For arts and cultural institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean. Application deadline: 31 Jan. 2012

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Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean 2012

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Published on : 2011-12-13 11:08:15
Trips to Central America and the Caribbean. Offered by Cisneros Foundation & ICI. Deadline: 1 Feb. 2012

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apexart - Unsolicited Proposal Program

Feed : Universes in Universe - Magazine
Published on : 2011-12-13 10:05:50
apexart calls for proposals from around the world for exhibition in New York. Deadline: 17 Jan. - 17 Feb. 2012.

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Suzanne Nacha: In Deep

Feed : Akimbo exhibitions feed
Published on : 2011-12-12 00:00:00

Suzanne Nacha: In Deep

Harbourfront Centre, project room
October 1 - December 31, 2011

Opening Reception:
Friday September 30 6-10 pm

Held together by a common water level - a dialogue around the language of painting and the nature of the human psyche playfully unfolds in this installation of large-scale painted objects.
In deep is an installation that uses underground imagery as a metaphor for the human condition. Utilizing a narrow range of visual logic that hovers between illusion and abbreviated sign, a subtle, dark humour guides the viewer through a landscape both physical and psychological.

Suzanne Nacha is a Toronto based artist working in painting, sculpture and installation. Through the systematic abstraction and anthropomorphism of industrial and natural landscapes, she seeks to make iconic images that act at times as psychological mirrors to human experience. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, the United States and Europe and represented in private and public collections including the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the National Bank of Canada and the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, she holds degrees in both Fine Art and Geology. She has taught in the Fine Art departments of OCAD University, Sheridan/UTM and York University and for the past fifteen years, has worked in the mining industry mapping geographies of fortune and need.

Image: Tunnel Vision: a cautionary tale, detail, oil on panel, 2011, image courtesy of the artist

Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5J 2G8
(416) 973 4000

(*second image*)

Image: In Deep (installation) 2011
photo credit: Tom Bilenkey

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Blackwood Gallery presents Door to Door: Karen Kraven and John Marriott

Feed : Akimbo exhibitions feed
Published on : 2011-12-12 00:00:00

Blackwood Gallery
the third edition
December 12
December 18, 2011


Curated by Christof Migone
With Karen Kraven and John Marriott

Door to Door is an exhibition home delivery service. A cumulation of instant sites. An exhibition of moments. We are dislocating the gallery through a spatial and temporal splintering process. It is here and there, and there, and there, ... The starting premise for this itinerant series is to present work that delivers itself to you. In other words, if you cannot come to the gallery, the gallery will come to you.

About the projects

Karen Kraven – Apartment Hunting (2011)
Searching for apartments on that were for rent in Mississauga, Kraven took the accompanying photos and, taking on the role of an amateur interior designer, copied the composition of the photographs that appeared in these ads and simplified the images into their abstract shapes. Using the addresses posted in the ads, she will be mailing these aspirational sketches to the apartments they came from.

John Marriott – Experience Attractor (2011)

A piece of driftwood from Lake Ontario is set adrift through the postal system.
It is offered to the people of Mississauga as a guest to be received and returned by mail.
It is sent without packaging, just postage attached, to record the marks of its travels.
If interested, please contact:

About the artists

Karen Kraven is an MFA candidate at Concordia University in Montreal where she is the recipient of the Dale and Nick Tedeschi Fellowship. Recently, her work was shown at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery, Montreal and Neubacher Shor Contemporary, Toronto. She also completed a project with Centre Dare-Dare, Montreal, where a series of séances were held to connect with the spirits of what the space used to look like. She has participated in artist's residencies at The Banff Centre and with Reverse Pedagogy in Venice.

John Marriott is a multidisciplinary artist, writer and graphic designer based in Toronto. His artworks have been featured in exhibitions and festivals nationally and internationally in venues such as The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto 1995, 1996), Impakt Festival (Utrecht, 2003), 25HRS (Barcelona, 2003), Rotterdam International Festival of Film and Video (Rotterdam, 2003), 7a*lld International Festival of Performance Art (Toronto, 2004), ZKM (Karlsruhe, 2004) and the Toronto Sculpture Garden (Toronto, 2006). His artist multiples are included in private and public collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario and The National Gallery of Canada. His critical writing and reviews have been published in catalogues including A Better Place (MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, 2001) and Diane Borsato: The Chinatown Foray (Mercer Union, Toronto, 2009), books such as Suggestive Poses: Artists and Critics Respond to Censorship, and magazines including Canadian Art, C Magazine, Mix Magazine and Prefix Photo.

Generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.


Blackwood Gallery
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Rd. N.
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6

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