I now work at SIX and I am setting up a creative technology team.
We are looking to recruit:
Objective C / iPhone / iPad / Device developer
If you want to work at SIX too, and one of these roles seems a good fit for you, then drop me a line. mark dot simpkins At six-creative.com
Somethin’ Else make radio. In fact they do a lot of things, online, apps, radio etc. but one exciting thing that they are doing soon is a day of pilots for ‘Playful Radio’. July 7th they will broadcast over the internet a number of pilots, ideas for interactive, playful radio / audio content.
One of my ideas is in that list.
I have to admit that the idea when I put finger to keyboard, in my mind felt rather slight, it was in fact based on something that I had wanted to do around the election and was in fact much more of a visual art focus than this.
Inspired by the rather excellent ‘The Story‘ from earlier this year I wanted to do something around politics and playfulness. I still do, a day about playing games and making satire and exploring political ideas and processes in a way that is engaging to the many of people who would not in fact be interested in paying attention before.
We can step back further, before The Story even, to art. Here I have been thinking about the art of Peter Kennard, who now works with Cat Picton-Phillipps and they produce work, under the name kennardphillipps like this:
Peter Kennard has been doing this politically charged photomontage work for years, in the 70’s and 80’s he produced numerous works for CND.
One of his most famous is ‘The Haywain‘ where he took John Constable’s painting The Hay Wain (1821) and placed upon it the image of 3 nuclear missiles.
For me this is still a powerful image, the pastoral view of England with American missiles in it.
When Banksy started doing his ‘Santa’s Ghetto’ pop-up shops in London, this image of Tony Blair in front of a burning oil pipeline was a best seller.
It is not just Peter Kennard, a whole new generation of artists, many of them street artists are mixing politics in with their often playful images. The work of Banksy of course, but also collectives like Static.
Static produced a rather interesting ‘games’ series of prints around 2008. The three prints are ‘Right Hand Red’, ‘Fortunes Fated’ and ‘Corridor of Uncertainty’. They each have a distinctive style and each is about politics, protest and games. RHR features riot police and a game of Twister, FF Nixon and Kennedy face off over a Wheel of Fortune and in COU a game of Urban Cricket is played in an urban wasteland with riot vans watching.
They have continued to produce work that is based in politics and satire that is also playful and unique.
Now I have always enjoyed my politics delivered with a touch of anger, satire, creative spins etc. As I think I have mentioned in a blog post before, beyond my comic reading of Starlord and 200AD, when ‘Crisis’ came out I latched onto it and lapped up every instalment of ‘Third World War’.
And recently in my investigation into games and play it does not take long to find this same spark in this creative area either. Political simulations have been played for years. Some of the most popular video games are in fact of this type, Civilization and SimCity. There are also card/board games that allow you to play the Cold War or the Nixon/Kennedy election and most recently a small company in Cambridge started producing a board game about the ‘War on Terror’. It includes a black balaclava with the word ‘Evil’ on it. When your country is selected by the spinner as part of the Aix of Evil, you don the balaclava. Its probably a highly accurate simulation of the actual model used to decide who does form a part of this particular Axis.
On election night I wanted to fill a room with artists, to watch the coverage as it came in and produce art works, mashups through the night about the election, the reporting of the election, what was the world that was starting the following morning. Peter Kennard often describes himself as an ‘Unofficial War Artist’ then this would be a group of ‘Unofficial Election Artists’ responding to the nights events.
It did not happen, but the idea of mixing and remixing as an approach to examining politics and news as a playful prism still stuck in my head. So when I got an email mentioning that Somethin Else were looking for ideas, I sent something over.
All very visual, how does this work on radio?
So the idea was this, to take the interactive stream of twitter, find the stories and satirise them on the radio show, play with them. I tried to describe what I wanted, it needs to be The Daily Show meets Blue Jam, on the radio. The idea itself was not much more, as I thought about what I wanted to do I could not get away from thinking visually about the photomontages and mashups I have spoken about above.
But Somethin’ Else know about Radio and I got an email saying that they wanted to try the idea out.
Its amazing how popular comedy and panel shows about current affairs are. Its astounding that people would actually say that they did not watch the news, they watched ‘The Daily Show’ to get their information on what was happening in the world. Maybe it is something reassuring, if these people can write a joke about it, it can’t be ‘that’ bad. The world carries on. Forgetting, of course that comedy can often be so cruel.
I know that I cannot watch news progammes without thinking about ‘The Day Today’ and ‘Brass Eye’ the television shows by Chris Morris that tore apart how new and current affairs are communicated by modern media. Of course it was Chris Morris who also produced ‘Blue Jam’ something a lot more surreal and frankly odd. By latching onto Blue Jam as the nexus point with Chris Morris I want to say that we are trying to come up with something that is a bit different, not just Brass Eye on the radio.
Chris Morris has spoken about why his current film about Islamic Terrorists is not done in the style of Brass Eye, it was something he has done, about the language of television news, he did not need to re-tread that. We don’t either.
Of course maybe we will be lost in the sea of programmes about the news and I list these as shows that have influenced my when thinking about what this playful radio experiment could be.
‘The Now Show’, ‘PM’, ‘Broadcasting House’, ‘Mock The Week’, ‘Have I Got News For You’,’Russell Howards Good News’, ‘Spitting Image’, ‘Yes Minister’, ‘Yes Prime Minister’, ‘The Thick Of It’, ‘The Daily Show’, ‘Brass Eye’, ‘The Day Today’.
I hope that you will listen in on the 7th and give us your feedback, I hope that it works and it is something fun and worth listening too. When I have the links, I’ll post them here and on twitter. When I have more news on the presenter I’ll post that too.
In the meantime, if you think you spot a story that might be interesting, or could be funny, or just odd or important then let me know, on twitter: @marksimpkins
It’s a small cafe, tucked away off a main street. There is a steady bustle of people walking past on their way to other places. Inside is a small counter to order your drink, maybe something to eat. A handful of tables and chairs, all old wood, looking like they have been used for years and been in places other than this.
One thing you notice is that all the tables are large enough for a sheet of letter paper to be placed down and for words to be written upon it, with a warming cup of coffee by your side.
Paper and envelopes, all detailed with the name of the cafe are available at every table. Postage can be ordered with your coffee and food.
Regulars can have their own box to which letters can be sent, the walls display messages sent generally to the cafe itself. Stories from around the world as people who have visited briefly decide to share their current adventure with the place itself.
Each table itself has an ongoing letter, one that never leaves the table. People come and add their story and thoughts to the letter, addressing the people who have been their previously or those yet to come. These letters are in fact all over the cafe, the walls, the chairs. Stories can be told to everything in the cafe. They are like Kerouac’s long roll of paper recording his road trip only the travelling is not done by the storyteller for the journal, it is about those that move towards the object and what they set down in words at that time. The objects record those that use it, rather than the travelling experience of the individual.
Letters arrive and are sent, private and public messages to share and those to cherish. Letters official or random, some make sense whilst others more like a narrative fragment from elsewhere.
Some letters are bequeathed to the archive, to become as much a part of the narrative of the cafe. Others remain forever part of other stories, personal stories to be told to a different audience.
The cafe exists for those who want to sit down and write their thoughts, their dreams. Their criticisms and imaginings. The stories to share with loved ones, the letter to the editor or just a missive in a bottle.
It is a destination for letters and a distribution hub, a nodal point in a world of communication. A place to think, to watch, to talk.
A place to write.
Already there is a dedicated group co-ordinating with the US crisis camps and central CrisisCommons teams and making sure that the work done at these workshops is useful and vital to the whole aid / emergency and redevelopment work that is going into Haiti.
We have a space over at the London Knowledge Labs for the next few Saturdays and have started contributing to the Relief Web project
(in fact for a report on what has happened at the first workshop look at this wiki page).
Of course, we still need more help. If you can do something then please get in touch.
* The wiki is here: http://wiki.crisiscommons.org/wiki/Crisis_Camp_London
* Join the Google Group here: http://groups.google.com/group/crisis-camp-london/subscribe
* Follow and use this tag on twitter http://twitter.com/search?q=%23crisiscampldn #crisiscampldn
* Follow this Twitter list http://twitter.com/georgeweyman/crisis-camp-london/
* and the Twitter account @crisiscampLDN
* Ning group http://crisiscampldn.ning.com/ and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=265208869243
Crisis Commons London is going to exist beyond the events in Haiti because things will happen again, if you can take part, help out in some way (and help is needed not just in the area of code but in everything) then please do take the time to stand up and help.
Hexayurt Country [http://hexayurt.com/hexayurt_country/]
Architecture For Humanity – Haiti Quake: A Plan for Reconstruction [http://architectureforhumanity.org/updates/2010-01-17-haiti-quake-a-plan-for-reconstruction]
The Right Testicle of Hell: History of a Haitian Holocaust by Greg Palast [http://www.gregpalast.com/the-right-testicle-of-hell-history-of-a-haitian-holocaust/]
In July 1968, New Worlds magazine asked this very question:
Now is the time to pose the question again, back in 1968 science fiction writers took that challenge and produced some of the bleakest yet compelling dystopian and catastrophe based works ever written.
Now some of those same writers throw up their hands as they cannot imagine worse than the world is putting forwards right now.
geekyoto 2009 London
- Date: TBA
- Time: 0900 – 1730
‘What is the exact nature of the catastrophe?’
Speakers (subject to change):
Dr. Maxwell Jones – Manchester University
Jody Boehnert – Eco Labs
Patrick Andrews – River Simple
Gavin Starks – AMEE
Suw Charman Anderson – Ada Lovelace Day
and more to be confirmed.
join us. Tickets will be available soon.
The date has to change, I will be posting an update to the date and venue shortly and tickets will be available as soon as I can confirm the new date.
Just a note, though it has been quiet at gk HQ in fact we have been rather busy.
Just this last weekend, we ran the first Africa Gathering, here in London as the launch of the geekyoto global briefings. It was an amazing day and we will have more reports here and over at the AG website.
We are also planning some more events but I did want to say that the next geekyoto conference is provisionally booked for August 15th, back at Conway Hall.
The theme this year is:
‘What Is The Exact Nature of The Catastrophe?’
Yes, there will be more information soon and tickets released.
As you may have guessed from the silence the three days in March is not currently going to happen. Its still on our cards to do the thing we had planned, but may have to wait for a bit.
We will be holding an event, hopefully May/June time and somewhere interesting.
In the meantime, join us at http://www.africagathering.org on April 25th, London for the first of the geekyoto Global Briefings.
In our last post we announced our next project to work with Edward Scotcher on developing a day to continue the conversation that was started with his talk at geekyoto ’08.
We hope that beyond this we will be able to bring the world to you in an interesting way and also instill the geekyoto idea in many other parts of the world.
What we would be interested in hearing though is what parts of the world do you want to hear about, we have our ideas of where we would like to explore but what would interest you.
Let us know in the comments if you have any requests.
Part of the idea behind geekyoto was to find a way to find out about places, what is happening in the world around us, what can we take into our lives. Equally it is about the general wonder we should all feel about other places on this planet, other peoples lives. With such a rich tapestry of places, peoples and culture we should relish the adventure of just finding out about somewhere else.
With this thought in mind I am extremely pleased to announce that geekyoto is working with Edward Scotcher on what we hope will be the first of a series of events about other places on this planet. The geekyoto Global Briefings.
If you got to geekyoto 2008 you might remember Edwards talk about Africa and technology and his wonderful telling of the story of Fashoda. If you can not remember or did not make it you can watch a video:
On April 25th 2009, in London we plan to hold Africa Gathering a day for thinkers, supporters, sponsors, doers, geeks, dreamers – and everybody else to come and share, promote, highlight, progress and evolve issues related to ICT, social networking and technology in Africa.
We hope that you will join us.