TRACK: Proposal PDF

THE NOTTINGHAM TRENT UNIVERSITY
SCHOOL OF ART AND DESIGN

Proposal for the Master of Arts Degree in Multimedia

by Registered Project

to be studied part-time

Name SHAUN DAVID BELCHER

In 1870-72, medical John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Didcot like this:
DUDCOTT, nurse Dudcote, or Didcot, a parish in Wallingford district, Berks; on the Great Western railway, at the deflection of the branch to Oxford, 5½ miles W of Wallingford. It has a station on the railway, and a post office under Wallingford….

TRACK
Metaphors and a sense of belonging in a networked field of vision:

Does the deployment of traditional art practices within augmented reality locative multimedia applications alter the relationship between creator, viewer and traditional notions of an artistic sense of place?

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT

(Photo: Shaun Belcher)
TRACK is a fine art/ multimedia interdisciplinary project which focuses on a site-specific outcome.

It will utilise contemporary multimedia techniques of augmented reality and global satellite positioning to create online applications deployed on contemporary hand-held devices.

These applications will enable the viewing of traditional artefacts in new settings and create new metaphors and relationships between creator and viewer in a non-static environment. It is planned that users will be able to interact with and alter the artefacts.

The project will examine the wider implications of disrupting these conventional notions of creation and the ‘confined’ or ‘static’ viewer. Drawing on contemporary hybridity / network / locative arts practice it will investigate the relationship between viewer/landscape drawing and notions of land-writing and poetry. Utilising both traditional and the latest web-enabled concepts of locative art using mapping tools it will also attempt to engage active participation in a larger communal site-specific event thus enabling a ‘social’ outcome to the project.

RATIONALE

(Photo: Shaun Belcher)
Research question:
Does the deployment of traditional art practices within augmented reality
locative multimedia applications alter the relationship between creator, viewer and traditional notions of an artistic sense of place?

Context:

The project draws on over twenty five years of traditional art and poetic practice focussed on a specific locality. It contextualises this depth of traditional practice within a contemporary multimedia frame by redeploying this practice within a trans-media setting.

It thus incorporates my previous artistic practice, multimedia skills and research within a field of enquiry that fully engages with recent advances in hand-held devices and internet based systems and their related design and coding. It will also draw on contemporary poetic, fine art and cartographic theories in a cross-disciplinary manner.

Future Plans:

The project will act as a driver of future artistic practice and research
and enable a greater participation in research culture. (Professional Development Outcome)

CONTENT

(Photo: Shaun Belcher)
The project continues to build on a series of events, research enquiries and practice as research over a number of years. Material has been gathered including a portfolio of landscape drawings and several unpublished volumes of poetry.
The project is centred on a site specific location which involves a local art centre (Cornerstone, Didcot, Oxfordshire), an abandoned railway track (now a public thoroughfare) and internet resources, specifically GPS locative applications on handheld devices. I will create a series of applications which test the deployment of text and images through GPS mapping.
I then aim to draw together my multidisciplinary activities in one specific outcome. This will be an exhibition tied in with the created locative media that will also involve public engagement in producing new artworks through interaction. Users will use handheld internet connected devices to both read and create interaction during the event. I will create and deploy applications for hand-held devices across multiple platforms including iphone / ipad and android devices. I will submit applications and documentation of the exhibition if it occurs before assessment along with reflective journal.

Programme of events (provisional)

This is a preliminary listing which will be subject to additions and modification.

Publications:
‘Last Farmer’ – Salt Publications ‘Modern Voices’ No.4. (due November 2010)

Conferences etc:
November 30th 2010: Geography and Twentieth Century British Poetry – Royal Holloway Landscape Surgery group
round table following the RGS-IBG conference.

January 29 2011: Towards Re-Enchantment – A symposium. A day-long enquiry into the landscapes of Suffolk, the spirit of place and its various meanings, taking W.G. Sebald as its foundation.

June 17th 2011: ‘Digital Hybridity’ Conference Derby University – D-MARC Digital and Material Arts Research Centre in collaboration with EMUA.

Research visits:

Visualisation Research Unit at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design
Quad Derby: Multimedia centre
Phoenix Square Leicester: Digital exhibiting
Broadway and Antenna Nottingham
Grizedale Arts: Possible widening of practice to incorporate alternative outcomes and locations.
Exhibition:
Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot, Oxfordshire. (TBC).
A solo show in the gallery incorporating active participation by members of the public off-site via hand-held devices

Design Milestones:
See Timetable.

Website:
A stand alone website (separate to reflective journal) displaying content and possibly application download links or via itunes.

SUBMISSION

An application (or applications)
A website: A stand alone website for the project (separate to reflective journal) displaying created content.
A detailed documentation of exhibition outcomes
(if occurs before assessment.)
The reflective journal and summary:
Hhttp://www.shaunbelcher.com/rpt
Or a summative written piece.
Sketchbooks. (selections of which scanned into journal)

Sketchbook: (Photo: Shaun Belcher)

LEARNING OUTCOMES
Objective A: ART AND DESIGN (Development)

1. Through depth of research catalogue and map existing territory of current multimedia design and construction in area of applications using augmented reality on hand-held devices.

2. Experiment and test (beta) a range of artefacts that investigate the parameters of the project.

3. Deploy a working prototype by Summer 2011 as per timetable.

Objective B: CONTEMPORARY THEORY/ART HISTORY (Development)

1. Catalogue the current theories and art history of relevance to the theoretical area.

2. Explore and analyse the underpinning conceptual frameworks in theory and art history that examine and debate the territory.

3. Discuss and relate these debates to practical solutions and wider art and design theory.

Objective C: ART AND DESIGN (Production)

1. Acquire a high level of technical design and coding competence in the field.

2. Deploy a range of applications/artefacts that successfully demonstrate this acquisition of knowledge and skills.

3. Display this level of competence and knowledge by deploying these artefacts through online repositories e.g. itunes shop or from website download thus disseminating valid applications and good practice.

Objective D: SOCIAL / ADVANCED (Production)

1. Aim at social integration of participants in a online ‘gallery’ related to an exhibition (location TBC).

2. Integrate findings and participation into overall outcomes into M.A. process if this phase successful.

3. Through this social/personal integration achieve an advanced contribution to practice and/or discourse.

THE METHODOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK:

RESEARCH METHODS: In order of importance to project.

Practice Led Research:
AHRC distinction between research & practice section 53, p.13
Creative output can be produced, or practice undertaken as an integral part of a research process
Practice must be accompanied by documentation of the research process, some form of textual analysis or explanation, demonstration of critical reflection

Qualitative Research:
Methods: Interaction, Participant Observation, Non-participant Observation, Field Notes, Reflexive Journals, Structured Interview, Semi-structured Interview, Unstructured Interview, and Analysis of documents and materials.

Quantitative Research:
I cannot at present see a role for hard data being available but if possible Google analytics, online referral statistics etc may be used if sufficient interaction generated by users for quantitative analysis.

CREATIVE AND INTELLECTUAL METHODS:

Delineation of ‘Theory’: An artist’s personal statement

Throughout my ‘art-working’ life some things have remained stubbornly, one might even say obsessively’, constant. Be it in digital images as recently or in drawing or poetry and song I have remained constant in delineating a clearly ‘map-able’ terrain. This terrain extends about 5 to 20 miles in radius of my hometown of Didcot in Oxfordshire, England. Always the poor relation of the illustrious centre of learning that resides but a stones throw away.

There runs a hard core of intention throughout which draws on politics, ecological thinking and that obsessive returning to notions of ‘place’ and ‘landscape’. I regard my work as being a mapping of constant themes which recur sometimes years later. The River Thames is one theme the Berkshire Downs another. Local folk tales and oral literature mined from local libraries another. A recent song ‘Hanging Puppet’ drew on one such ‘tale. In fact one could describe it as artistic ‘Anglocana’ to differentiate it from Americana. I have written well over 2000 songs over the years. Mostly these are recorded in lo-fi versions and only really coming to life when in the hands of other more talented musicians (see the Moon Over the Downs CD 2003). Poetry has appeared in various magazines and in the Scottish anthology The Ice Horses (1996). I currently have at least 4 unpublished complete books of poetry on the shelf. One could describe my work as multi-disciplinary with a strong streak of green politics colouring the waters beneath.

I have drawn on some clear influences in writing and art. Seamus Heaney’s concept of a personal ‘Hedge School’ going back to John Clare is one thread. My forebear’s personal involvement in Agricultural Unions is another (see Skeleton at the Plough poems). I also am influenced by a ‘working class’ sense of writing picked up form Carver and Gallagher and other dirty realists. In song almost any Americana act would suffice. I am not American but I have strong American influences going back to Thoreau and Walden lake. To try and build an alternative ‘English’ approach I have increasingly been drawn back to the English Civil War when the notions of science and arts were more fluid and interchangeable. As an example I would cite Robert Plot’s Oxford a marvellous Natural History of Oxfordshire from 1677. In it one finds specimens such as ‘Stones that look like Horses’. I draw heavily upon cultural geography theory post Williams and Berger.

It is this kind of merging of scientific natural history and folk-lore terminology that I now most interested in both in poetry and artwork.

So how does theory inform my practice? Well I see no distinction between the various arts. I am widely read in poetry and song and that informs my practice whatever I do. At times I have also used cartooning as an ‘art criticism’ vehicle as well as penning many art review pieces. I regard both theory and practice as being essential parts of art education and indeed my own life-long learning. One would not exist without the other.

Robert Plot’s Natural History of Oxfordshire, first published in 1677, contained descriptions and illustrations of a wide range of fossils, rocks and minerals found inOxfordshire. It was a seminal work in early geology.
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Scrotum_humanum.jpg
Last accessed: 08.11.2010

RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS:

SUPERVISOR: Terry Shave

TECHNICAL SUPPORT: Dr. David Downes

RESOURCES REQUIRED:

Various hand-held devices for instance. ipad, blackberry playpad, iphone etc as available.

I understand that a bid for some of these items is in progress. Possible bids for funding to support hardware needs. Purchase of own hardware platforms. All other materials provided by myself.

Technical specifically coding support as and when required from within multimedia department.

Other organisations: (speculative)

Didcot Cornerstone Arts Centre as partner in project.

Grizedale Arts, Cumbria: Further development of concept.
These organisations will be approached formally and agreement statements will be included in a ‘modification’ of this proposal in future.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Contemporary theory:
Barthes, R. 1970. Mythologies Paris: Seuil
Baudrillard, J. 1995. Simulcra and simulation. Michigan:University of Michigan Press.
Benjamin, W. Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936).
Accessed 02.11.2010: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm
Berger, J. 1972. Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books
Bourdieu, P. 1993. The Field of Cultural Production, ed. Randal Johnson. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
Burgin, V. 2004. The remembered film. London: Reaktion Books.
Cranny-Francis, A. 2005. Multimedia: texts and contexts. London: Sage Publications.
Derrida, Jacques. The Paper Machine. trans. Rachel Bowlby. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press,.
Eagleton, Terry. 1990. The Ideology of the Aesthetic. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell
Foucault, M. [1966] (1974a) The Order of Things, London: Tavistock Press.
Foucault, M. [1969] (1974b) The Archaeology of Knowledge, translated by A.M. Sheridan Smith, London: Tavistock Press.
Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
Habermas, Jürgen. 1989. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Trans. Thomas Burger. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.
Halsall, F., Jansen, J. and O’Connor,T. eds. 2009. Rediscovering Aesthetics Transdisciplinary Voices from Art History, Philosophy, and Art Practice. Stanford : Stanford University Press.
Jenkins, H. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.
Taylor, M. 2001. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Zurbrugg, N. ed, 1998: Jean Braudrillard: art and artefact, London: Sage Publications.

Art History and Camera Obscura:
Elkins.J. Review of the N.Y.U. conference on David Hockney’s book Secret Knowledge, in Circa 99 (spring 2002): 38–39.
http://recirca.com/backissues/c99/elkins.shtml
Last accessed 6/11/2010
http://saic.academia.edu/JElkins/Papers/71332/Essay_on_David_Hockneys_book_Secret_Knowledge_
Last accessed 6/11/2010
Elkins,J. Essay on David Hockney’s ‘Secret Knowledge’ (Full version) http://www.webexhibits.org/hockneyoptics/post/elkins2.html
Last accessed 6/11/2010
Hockney,D. 2001. Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters. London: Thames & Hudson
Inwood,S. 2003. The Man Who Knew Too Much: The strange and Inventive Life of Robert Hooke, 1635 – 1703. London: Pan
Jardine,L.1999.Ingenious pursuits: Building the scientific revolution.London:Little Brown
Naughton, Dr. R. (1999). Camera Obscura. Available: http://www.acmi.net.au/AIC/CAMERA_OBSCURA..html. Last accessed 6/11/2010
Slaon,K.2000. A Noble Art: Amateur Artists and Drawing Masters c.1600-1800.London: British Museum Press

Cultural geography:
Baudrillard, J. 1988: America. London: Verso
Cosgrove, D. and Daniels, S., eds, 1988: The iconography of landscape. Cambridge: C.U.Press
Clayre, A. ed, 1977. Nature and industrialization. Oxford: Oxford University Press in association with the Open University press.
Daniels, S. 1993: Fields of vision: landscape imagery and national identity in England and the United States. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Daniels, S. and Cosgrove, D., 1993: Spectacle and text: landscape metaphors in cultural geography. In J. Duncan and D. Ley, eds, Place/culture/ representation. London: Routledge, 57-77.
Harley, J.B. 1988. “Maps, Knowledge, and Power.” In: D. Cosgrove and S. Daniels, eds. The Iconography of the Landscape. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 277-312.
Hoskins,W.G.,1955. The making of the English Landscape.London: Hodder and Staughton.
Matless, D., 1998. Landscape and Englishness. London: Reaktion Books.
Matless, D., 2000. Forms of knowledge and forms of belonging: regional survey and geographical citizenship. In: The City after Patrick Geddes.
Matless, D, Watkins, C and Merchant P, 2010. Nature Trails: the Production of Instructive Landscapes in Britain, 1960-72. Rural History, 21(1), 97-131.
Taplin,K. 1979. The English path. Suffolk: Boydell Press.
Turner, J. 1979.The Politics of Landscape: Rural Scenery and Society in English Poetry, 1630-1660. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
Williams, R. 1973. The country and the city. London: Chatto and Windus.
Williams, R. 1958. Culture and Society. London: Chatto and Windus.
Winchester, S. 2001.The map that changed the world: the tale of William Smith and the birth of a science.London: Viking.

Journals
Artnodes: E-journal on art, science and technology (Spain)
Accessed 02.11.2010. http://www.uoc.edu/artnodes/8/eng/numeros.html
Convergence: The international journal of research into new media technologies.
Accessed 02.11.2010. http://convergence.beds.ac.uk/ (UK)
Fibreculture Journal: Digital media: Networks: Transdisciplinary Critique.
Accessed 02.11.2010. http://fibreculturejournal.org/ (Australia)
WI: Journal of mobile media
Accessed 02.11.2010. http://wi.hexagram.ca/ (USA)

Contemporary Multimedia Practice:
Birmingham Institute of Art and Design: Visualisation Research Unit.
http://www.biad.uce.ac.uk/vru/index.php Last accessed: 06/11/10
Concept Shed: http://conceptshed.com/ Last accessed: 06/11/10
Future Places: http://futureplaces.org/ Last accessed: 06/11/10
M.I.T. Media Lab: http://fluid.media.mit.edu/ Last accessed: 06/11/
TIMETABLE

M.A. RPT                            08/11/10                         31/07/12

Proposal                             08/11/10                        09/11/10

Learning Agreement       08/11/10                       04/12/10

Presentation 06/12/10 10/12/10

Application Development 03/01/11 30/06/11

Beta testing 02/05/11 30/06/11

On Site 01/07/11 30/07/11

Vacation 01/08/11 31/08/11

Production 1 01/09/11 23/12/11

Production 2 02/01/12 28/04/12

Exhibition 01/05/12 31/05/12

Evaluation 01/11/12 02/11/12

Exposition 01/07/12 31/07/12