Archive for the ‘mobile’ Category

Dreaming the Dream

the dream by jaume plensa

The Dream Realised (courtesy of me)

Some great news just in at Channel 4 HQ – the Big 4 sculpture on the doorstep of the Richard Rogers designed home of C4 has been given an extension of 5 years by the planning department of Westminster City Council.

The public artwork – a 50-foot-high metal ‘4’ – was originally constructed in 2007 to celebrate both the Channel’s 25th anniversary year and the launch of the Big Art Project and was granted planning permission for one year, during which 4 artists were to decorate it. The installation is based on the Channel’s on-air identity, with metal bars forming the logo only when viewed from a particular angle and distance. It is basically a framework over which to date photographer Nick Knight, Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner, Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui and recent art graduate Stephanie Imbeau have added a skin.

Nick Knight, known for his work with Kate Moss and Bjork among many others in the realm of fashion & music, covered it with bare chest skin of various hues, adding the sound of a beating heart at its core. I recently did an Amazonimpulse and bought Knight’s new book, imaginatively entitled ‘Nick Knight’ – at £32.50 one of the most expensive tomes I’ve ever shelled out on. From an Allen Jones-like Suede album cover to exquisite nude shots of Kate Moss, it’s a lively spectacle.

Mark Titchner skinned the Big 4 with panels inspired by trade union banners and advertising, the slogans questioning the on-going role of television: Find Your World in Ours, Find Our World in Yours. He came in one lunch time to talk to C4folk about his work, shades of The Waterboys’ Mike Scott about him. My second encounter with him was a great rum cocktail-fueled chat with at the Tate Summer Party this year. Guardian photographer Vicki Couchman took a top class photo of me in front of Mark’s Big 4 for a Guardian piece on the inaugural Media Guardian Innovation Awards in 2007 (which Big Art Mob won).

El Anatsui paneled the 4 with metallic newspaper colour printing plates. What I remember most about when El (as he’s known to his friends) came in to chat about his career in The Drum, the basement space beneath the Big 4, was his generous championing of young, emerging artistic talent from Africa like Nnenne Okore.

Stephanie Imbeau won a competition to provide what was to have been the final iteration. Her Shelter saw the Big 4 fleshed out with umbrellas of a myriad colours. This is the version currently in place – it’s best viewed at night when it is illuminated from within [see below]. The umbrellas all come from London Transport Lost Property Office so no pissing away of public money there then.

The Big Art Project from which the Big 4 sprang started life as a regular, if very ambitious, TV documentary series. In the original visually rich proposal for the project from Carbon Media a space was left for the cross-platform treatment. Into that space went the Big Art Mob and a bunch of interactive ideas I put together inspired by the wonderful public art works that punctuated the proposal. The Big Art Mob was born of my messing about for 18 months with Moblog‘s mobile picture blogging software after an initial encounter with Alfie Dennen in the basement of Zero-One in Soho. I was on the look-out for the right project to which to apply Moblog and Paint Britain which evolved into the Big Art Project proved the one – the first use of moblogging by a broadcaster and one of the first uses of Creative Commons licensing by a UK broadcaster (the first use was PixNMix, a VJ project I commissioned in 2004).

Besides the TV, web and mobile stuff, at the core of the Big Art Project was the creation of six actual works of public art, seed funded by Channel 4 and the partners we gathered. One of these was Dream by renowned Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, located high up on the site of the old Sutton Manor colliery overlooking St Helens, a 20-metre-high north-western rival to Gormley’s Angel on the opposite side of the country. It is the head of a nine year old Catalan girl with her eyes closed (I found that out by asking Plensa directly at the capping off ceremony, he was very cagey about who she was and reluctant to reveal much in that particular respect). Dream was Plensa’s response to a brief developed through conversations with ex-miners and other members of the local community. Initially he came up with a huge miner’s lamp but the miners themselves pushed him out of his comfort zone or at least nearer his true self

Dream most deservedly has recently picked up a couple of major prizes. Last month it won the prestigious annual Marsh Award for Public Sculpture which is given to a work of permanent public sculpture erected in the UK or Ireland. The definition of public sculpture is loose, but the location must be openly visible to the public without having to enter a building or gain prior permission. The award was presented at the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

Plensa also picked up the British Creativity in Concrete Award for 2009 for Dream at a special ceremony at Southwark Cathedral. This award is presented each year to an architect, designer or artist in recognition of a particular achievement for the creative use of precast concrete. It’s difficult to convey the photograph-like subtlety of the face, no more than a pale reflection in photos like above.

The moment I walked round the corner of a forest path and first saw Dream in April was one of the high points of this year and indeed of my career at Channel 4, and made every second spent on the Big Art Project over the 5 year lead up worth it. It was a moment shared with my former colleague Jan Younghusband (ex-Commissioning Editor of Arts at C4, now Head of Music at BBC) who proved so open to the multiplatform dimension. It was indeed a dream come true.

stephanie imbeau

Night Shelter (courtesy of Tom Powell)

More on Big Art:

The launch

The mobile dimension

Mark Titchner’s iteration

Channel 4 and Digital Participation

One of my current projects is Alone in the Wild. Cameraman Ed Wardle has gone into the wilderness of the Yukon to film himself and how he copes with 12 weeks of total isolation. Each morning, as part of the safety protocol, he has to send an “I’m OK” message. He does this by sending, from a semi-disabled sat phone (can do outgoing SMSs only), a short message which is posted on Twitter www.twitter.com/aloneinthewild . He’s just started his third week out there – you can see some of the early rushes here and here, more to follow tomorrow [he leaves off his tapes in a dead letter box-type drop-off from where they are later collected by helicopter or float-plane once Ed has moved on, so no human contact] – and already after this opening period, it is clear that Alone in the Wild is bringing new people to Twitter/microblogging as these screenshots illustrate:

Alone in the Wild Twitter screenshot 1Alone in the Wild Twitter screenshot 2Alone in the Wild Twitter screenshot 3Alone in the Wild Twitter screenshot 4Aitw TwitterAlone in the Wild twitterAlone in the Wild Twitter screenshot 5This is a good, clear illustration of how Channel 4 inspires Digital Participation aka Digital Media Literacy aka Being Digital [Digital Britain report] by providing a purpose or mission or story. “Inspires” is the key word – it is what is sometimes lacking from social networks and platforms, and it is what Channel 4 consistently offers – Inspiration is a rare commodity. Even Twitter is basically a tool in need of a task or purpose, it is only as good as the things people find to do with it. Alone in the Wild provides clear guidance on how to join in the conversation on Twitter, part of Channel 4’s commitment to helping drive Digital Participation. But Ed’s “awesome adventure”, his inspiring story of courage and endurance and an unquenchable desire to do the extraordinary (he has been up Everest twice, been to the North Pole, every year he tries to do a new extraordinary thing, but never has he done one in isolation like this, a whole new challenge, as much psychological as physical) his inspiring story is the real energy which is motivating people to have a first go at digital social media.

Public Value defined

This comment was recently posted on the Embarrassing Bodies website:

“After watching your show, my husband decided to check himself one night
whilst having a shower. To his shock he found a lump. He went straight
to his doctor and within a week he had surgery for testicular cancer,
needs to have a few more scans, but thanks to the show he managed to
find it in time.”

by Sinead in response to the How to Check your Balls video

One of four Embarrassing Bodies Self-Check videos

One of four Embarrassing Bodies Self-Check videos

648,000 videos were viewed on the site during the week of broadcast of Embarrassing Teenage Bodies last week.

How to Check Your Balls has been watched nearly 300,000 times in the last six months.

Big Brother Audition take 2

The desperate wannabe‘s still trying to get on the show – at least he ditched the stripy shirt – but it’s not enough. Next!

Big Brother no-hoper

Big Brother no-hoper

Evidence of Body

embarrassing bodies

embarrassing bodies

It’s unusual to be able to see the direct impact, in terms of actual changes of behaviour, produced by a public service interactive project but in the case of Embarrassing Bodies this has been possible. A quick trawl through the comments on the site yields such evidence (there were over 3,500 pre-moderated comments in the first four days of going fully live). The core of the project is a set of Self-check videos. What’s so innovative about that? Primarily their openness, clarity and unflinching nature – very Channel 4 and it just wasn’t out there before in the ocean of web video. They show you what you need to see to be able to do what you need to do. The most telling comments for me are the ones where people realise they’d been checking themselves wrongly before seeing the video.

Another salient component is the creation of a rolling temporary community. I never set out to build a community per se. I was also keen not to reinvent the wheel of support provision in this area. So the dynamic is that people arrive in a just-in-time, task-oriented way – looking for the condition they are worried about (through any of the three search mechanisms). They then tend to hang out in the community just long enough to find which is the best support group or other help to plug into. In this way Embarrassing Bodies online becomes the glue to pull together a wealth of existing support and enable the best to emerge through detailed personal recommendation, rather than treading on the toes of niche communities and specialised support.

One other aspect worth highlighting is the use of the private space of the mobile phone (away from browser histories and prying parental eyes etc.) to enable people to make use of the material where, when and how they want – 12,000 mobile downloads occurred in those first 4 days. My hunch, for reasons including privacy and access, is that mobiles should play a major role in public service interactive media – from my observation, people in our circles get too obsessed with PC-/web-based delivery.

So here’s what 15 minutes trawling the comments reveals:

“this has helped me to make my mind up and go for help thank you

Really helpfull and i now check at least once a week …. Thank-you x

watched various videos and found them very very useful. wouldn’t have felt comfortable talking about some of these subjects with my doctor. they have taken the mystery out of the examination and treatment. thank you.

i suffer from this too, and its not something you like going to the doctors about. This site has been SO HELPFUL, as i now know its not only me!!

thank god 4 this website i am so grateful. it has started 2 get me down. (…) I had tests done then chicken out on the results. seein this has made me book an appointment with my doctor. its such a relief knownin im not the only person sufferin, thankyou!!!

i found all 3 self checking very useful. we all know we should do it but not nessesary how and are too embarressed to ask our own GP. i check my breasts yet i’ve been doing it wrong the video was an ideal way to show me the basics.

Hi, i just watched this video and checked my balls and i actually found a small hard lump on my left testicle, im only 16 is there any chance it could be cancerous (sorry if the spelling is wrong)?!

Thanks so much this has been so informative. My auntie died last year from Vulval cancer, not knowing that she was suffering from it. Now I know what symptoms to look for and how to self check I will do so regularly.
[Vulva Self-check]

Although now middle aged I was never sure when you were supposed to check your breasts. Thanks to your program I now know when and how. Many thanks and keep up the good work.

My boyfriend refuses to check his balls so thanks for the guide on how to as now i can do it for him.

WOW, i never knew how to do this check, i’m so grateful for this video its helped me immensely. thankyou
[Breast Self-check]

Interestingly, my friend watched “Embarassing Illnesses” last week, and they did something on checking moles, so he checked his out and noticed one had changed colour, so he went to get it checked and it does in fact need to be removed. So these programmes do something towards awareness!

i had it but i went to the doctors and now am recovered thanks !!”

This throws up the interesting question of how does public service networked media measure success and impact? Here we have evidence of positive behavioural change. For me the Comments stats are very telling. Then you’ve got video views. Return visits. UGC uploads. Session lengths. Buzz radiating across the Web. All manner of metrics. I’d argue that for most projects you can pick out a specific measure which captures the essence of the project, and which measure that is will vary from project to project.

What’s pumping the nads of the telly industry?

Here’s a nice little piece from the new issue of the cracking 4Talent magazine. It’s come along way over the 9 issues to date, evolving out of Ten4 magazine based in the West Midlands to become the nationwide contender it is now. This issue’s gorgeous cover in Burne-Jones colours is designed by London-based Slovakian designer Petra Stefankova, one of the winners of last year’s 4Talent Awards (for which I had the honour of presenting the New Media award).

cover of 4Talent magazine

Adam Gee: New Media Factual

“I have an upcoming project, codename Sam I Am. I’m busting to tell you about it but I can’t yet [Update SP4 readers: it soft launched today, hence the link]; it’s necessarily under wraps. It’s a very entertaining concept and interactive experience which still manages to convey a substantial meaning – in this case about the diversity of Islamic culture, and the narrowness of most of our experience and understanding of it.

The commission I’m most proud of: The Big Art Mob. It applies new technology and media behaviours to a worthwhile public task: mapping the best of Public Art (from bronze geezers on horses to Banksys) across the UK. Interested people from all around the country and beyond (we’re big in Brazil) are photographing artworks on their mobiles and uploading them to the map, having a good online natter about arty stuff along the way. You can interact wherever you are – I’m particularly proud of the WAP (mobile) site at bigartmob.com/mobile. It’s been nominated for 3 Baftas alongside the likes of the iPlayer and Dr Who, so it’s punching above its weight in true C4 stylee.

In the way that Big Art Mob finds a worthwhile purpose for moblogging (mobile blogging) I want to find missions and purposes for other emerging interactive tools and technologies like, say, Twitter – in itself geek masturbation and possibly the end of civilisation as we know it, with a creatively conceived context perhaps something exceedingly good.

I’ve spent the last 5 years at Channel 4 exploring what public service means in a digital world – from Big Dig to Big Art Project, and one or two projects that don’t even have ‘Big’ in the title like Picture This and Empire’s Children. But Big is important: ambition, scale and impact are all vital.

Cross-platform and interactive media is what’s pumping the nads* of the telly industry right now, and it’s vital to its future. All the creative and entrepreneurial energy is welling up in these areas and Channel 4 is ready for action.”

* [John Bender is absently tearing up books]
Andrew Clark: That’s real intelligent.
John Bender: You’re right. It’s wrong to destroy literature. It’s such fun to read. And…
[examines title] …Moe-Lay really pumps my nads.
Claire Standish: Moliere!

Human Bonds

james bond Pan book covers

So I’m on the underground yesterday, reading the new hardback I’d bought the day before. Then this burn-out walks on and I have that feeling – I know he’s going to sit next to me. He’s very tall, lanky, drug thin. His fingernails are dirty. The driver has to warn passengers to stay clear of the closing doors. The burn-out calls them “fucking idiots” in the expected loud cockney voice. I shift rightwards in my seat, hope he isn’t going to smell too bad (which he doesn’t as far as my hopeless sense of smell can tell), carry on reading.

“Is that the new Bond novel?” he asks me gently, having glanced down at the page I was on. The book only came out the day before. The open page had few clues as to what it was.

“Yes, it is.”

“Do you think the film they’re making of it will be good?”

“I think it’s based on a different story.”

“So is that written by Fleming?”

What do I take from the unexpected exchange? You can’t judge the book by the cover I guess is the obvious one we (certainly I) can’t be reminded of often enough. You can tell the price (but not the value). What I most took away was the Simple Pleasure that I had enjoyed the conversation and contact and there was real warmth in those human bonds.

The new Bond book is entitled ‘Devil May Care’ and has been written by Sebastian Faulks (of ‘Birdsong’ fame) in the style of Fleming. I’ve only ever read a couple of Bond books, but remember really enjoying ‘Casino Royale’ (the first Bond novel) for the surprising brutality of the man I had only encountered through the movies. The publication of a new Bond book felt like a bit of an event (I was one when Fleming died) so I bought a copy of this in advance on-line through Hatchards website and picked it up on the day of publication on the way to a meeting at BAFTA with Rob Bevan of XPT- we were working on the forthcoming website for 4IP, the new Channel 4-led fund for public service interactive media, announced at Next on 4 back in March and coming on-stream over the summer. Hatchards in Piccadilly – a book shop dating back to 1797 as it says on its rich green bags the colour of Bond’s customised Bentley with its Arnott supercharger – is one of London’s great treasures. It makes me feel guilty every time I buy from Amazon and I try to make amends by pulling by whenever I’m at the Academy at 195 Piccadilly and picking up a signed volume.

After having a satisfying creative session with Rob, my old collaborator from MindGym, I hooked up with Ivo Gormley of ThinkPublic to talk about his forthcoming documentary about the internet and democracy. We walked back Channel4wards through St James’s and St James’s’ Park where I had the pleasure of demoing Big Art Mob in its mobile incarnation [WAP site] to him in a small alley where we found a superb bas relief of Anthony and Cleopatra, which looks like it may once have adorned a theatre in the area but is now built into a wall opposite an old public house, and on a remixed sculpture which seems to have once lost its head in the park. Ivo’s dad, Antony, who he closely resembles, is one of the most popular artists on Big Art Mob, third only to Henry Moore and Banksy. I wonder what the ‘burn-out’ thinks about public art? what his favourites around the city are? Something to talk about next time…

Bond is back

Bodies

Embarrassing Bodies

Had a rather good day at work! 100,000 people used the videos commissioned for my latest project, Embarrassing Bodies, in the first two hours after broadcast of the kick-off show last night. That bodes well for a lot of self-checking and preventive health activity. One Self-Check Video was viewed 24,000 times in those two hours. And there were well over half a million pageviews in the first 12 hours. NHS eat your heart out… (or more productively and with less risk of MRSA, work with Channel 4 to get this kind of thing across effectively.)

Another C4 speciality is scheduling. Tonight’s a classic:
21:00 Embarrassing Bodies
22:00 Michael Barrymore – What Really Happened? (Honest, Officer, I’ve no idea how that embarrassing body got there…)

Embarrassing Bodies TV: Maverick TV
Web: Maverick TV and Made Media

Guardian article by Jemima Kiss

Wap-bap-a-loo-mop alop-bam-bam


big art mob

Now here is something tutti frutti from the mobile world – our new WAP site for Big Art Mob which I’m well pleased with. It’s knocked together by the boys from Moblog:tech and designed by Clifford from Edition. Looks great even on the crapola end of the hand-set spectrum. Helps complete that magic (cross-platform) circle of TV-web-mobile-real life so you can interact with the Mob wherever you are – you can register, comment and do everything you want from the ol’ mobile, as well as immediately seeing where the action is on the site (i.e. the posts with most comments in the least time). So check it out – on your phone – at http://m.bigartmob.com

big art mob

Kiss and tell

A piece from the Guardian today by Jemima Kiss:

jemima kiss

Inside some of Channel 4’s new media projects

Channel 4’s latest cross-platform project rolled out quietly this week. Picture This uses the talent show format to follow a group of digital photographers with Magnum’s Martin Parr, Alex Proud of Proud Galleries and Brett Rogers of the Photographers’ Gallery as judges.

….

The common theme with all of these is that they are thought of as “living projects”, pushed into the world by Channel 4 but then taking on a life of their own. For as long as new media departments are given the space to create those kind of projects without too much over-analysis of the market or preoccupation with a fixed end result, we might just end up learning something.

THE FULL ARTICLE

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