City As Material 2

This Thursday we’re traveling to Thetford with Dodolab, alongside Josephine Mills from the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery and Leila Armstrong, for the first of the next round of City As Material events, centered on the theme of ‘Migrations’.

Following in the fluttering wings of Professor Starling, who will be investigating the passages of Starlings across Europe and North America throughout the ages, we’ll be looking at the migrations of people to these shores, how these have influenced spaces and communities, as well as more intangible forces – the migration of knowledge, skills and beliefs.

Next up: London and Oxford. Look out for tales from the days, and the eBooks created, very soon.


Diffusion Archive Highlight – City As Material: An Overview

A document of the five City As Material events we ran in London last year, this eBook collects the blog posts penned after each event, a selection of photographs taken, as well as an introduction to the project and our motives for undertaking it. Created in place of an individual eBook for Sonic Geographies, due to the absence of a special guest, this account of the series provides a narrative that was lacking from the other books produced, detailing the experience from each event on the day, not just the resulting output, and hopefully intriguing potential future collaborators.

Simply using the existing text from the bookleteer blog and full-page photographs as covers for each section, in a book, turns transitory blog posts and assorted snapshots into a publication that can stand on its own right, demonstrating the transformational effect and credence associated with a printed document (although it’s also readable online), made possible with the eBook format.

Read City As Material: An Overview with the online bookreader below, or download, print and make via Diffusion.

examples ideas & suggestions publishing on demand

City As Material Set

We’ve just received the complete set of 10 City As Material books back from the printers and next week we’ll be designing and making the special slipcases to hold them together and collect them into their limited edition (50 copies). The set will go on sale from the 31st March 2011 via the proboscis online store.

We think this is a great way of showing how easy it is for individuals or groups to create and print multiple books in short runs (such as 50 copies) that can be collected together to make a beautiful publication. We will be aiming to add the ability to design and print out your own slipcases to bookleteer later this year, but in the meantime we’re happy to discuss designing and printing custom slipcases for your projects.


Hours Zine

The first issue of Hours, a monthly photography Zine is available now, and apparently issue 2 launches tomorrow. Convenient of me to have just seen it now, eh? Each month, someone is chosen to take 24 photographs in 24 hours, using only a manual camera. Hours then develop the photos and publish the results. It’s a nifty concept, costing only a quid, plus the cover and minimalist design looks great as well. It could be a good idea to do something similar, combined with the spirit of our recent Pitch In & Publish series – each person takes an eBook’s worth of photos and makes their own document of the trip.

It’s available here.

making news

Two new eBooks for City As Material

This week we’ve published the last two of four commissioned eBooks from our guests at the City As Material events : Tim Wight’s The 2nd book of Urizen and Simon Pope’s Skylines and Sightlines. These add to the other two already published by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Deep City and Ben Eastop, River Gap. Haz and I are working on a final book for the series which will present and overview of the events, our aims and feedback from the participants. This will complete the full set of 10 eBooks for City As Materials series 1, including the 5 collaborative eBooks published last Autumn : Situated Moments from the City, Ebb & Flow, Ancient Lights, City Shadows, Layered and Sonic Geographies.

In the next few weeks we’ll be printing up a limited edition set (50 copies) of all 10 eBooks through our PPOD service and are currently designing a special slipcase to hold them. The slipcases are also being designed as templates which we’ll incorporate into bookleteer later this year as an option for people to customise and create their own. We think they will offer a convenient way to organise or collect your own Diffusion eBooks. As with the other shareables, the slipcases will be designed so that they can be printed out and made up by hand (using an A3 printer/sheet size).

We’ll be hosting an event to launch the limited edition City As Material set this Spring – look out for updates on the date and venue.


Pitch In & Publish: City As Material – Overview eBook

We’re currently creating an eBook documenting our Pitch In & Publish: City As Material series of collaborative publishing events, detailing the inspirations for the series and the creative process, as well as accounts of each event and our overall thoughts on how it turned out. We’ll also feature participant feedback and what to look out for in future events. Designed to be a part of the limited edition City As Material set of 10 eBooks (which will be printed soon), this overview will provide an accompaniment to each themed publication, and the eBooks created by our special guests. I’ve sent an e-mail to everyone who took part to get feedback / pester them, so that we can hopefully be finished by the end of this week. Look out for it soon.

events news

Commission a local City As Material event

Reflecting back on the 5 City As Material events of last Autumn, we’re really pleased both with the reception of the events themselves by participants and that of the resulting publications with friends and colleagues. Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing the personal contributions of the guests (Tim Wright, Ben Eastop and Simon Pope – Alex Deschamps-Sonsino’s is already available) and an overview eBook of our own. And we will print a special limited slipcase edition of all 10 eBooks using bookleteer’s PPOD service and launch them in the Spring.

Future Plans in 2011
This year we hope to take our Pitch in & Publish series of City As Material events outside of London to other towns and cities in the UK (or abroad). We’d love to hear from people or organisations interested in commissioning us to devise and run a one-day (or possibly longer) collaborative urban exploration and publishing event in their own town or city.

A typical event…
We’ll work with the local hosts to devise a topic, plan the exploration route and design customised notebooks. At the end of each walk we’ll need a space (with WiFi access and ideally a printer) to sit down with the participants as a group and work on planning/drafting the collaborative eBook that will be the record of the day. As before we’ll be using a range of online and social media to post up photos, audio, video etc taken during each event by all taking part – and we’ll be encouraging all the participants to sign up with bookleteer to create their own personal eBooks (and/or StoryCubes).

How to book an event
Please get in touch with us to plan an event in your town or city. Our basic fee for each event (payable by the host) will be £600 + VAT and travel expenses (and accommodation where needed). This fee covers pre-planning, facilitation by 2 members of Proboscis on the day and post-event coordination of the collaborative eBook (+ publication on, as well as printing of a limited edition run (50 copies) of the eBook.
Local hosts will be responsible for recruiting the participants to each event. Proboscis will also help promote each event across our own networks to engage as broad a group of participants as possible.


City As Material: Sonic Geographies

Our final Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, Sonic Geographies, was held last Friday. A shortage of participants (probably due to the icy weather and weekday timing) meant that myself and Giles were alone in our wander though London, resulting in a slightly different walk then usual. Equipped with Audioboo, we set off to record the different sound properties of the city, in a far more leisurely and exploratory mode then previous events.

We had decided that rather than strain to produce a typical eBook with original work and concepts, which would be limited under the circumstances, we would instead purely document the day’s trip and link to audio recordings made during it. After capturing some of the ambient and wildlife sounds in Hyde Park (mingled with the hum of construction work and a talking animatronic tree), we entered the bustle of Mayfair and Soho. Surprisingly, in this sprawl the sound landscape was remarkably similar, and sometimes indistinguishable, when we were in enclosed courtyards and winding alleys, the geography creating immersive sound bubbles. Lastly, we managed to record the faint notes of a church organ, in the undercroft of the chapel at Lincoln’s Inn.

Back at the studio we created the eBook, lifting the images and GPS located maps of the recordings from Audioboo, and using a QR code to easily link to the relevant page. For the last few pages, we used images from “The Cries Of London” and “The Beggar’s Opera” playing cards sets, then a page consisting purely of a visualisation of white noise, to illustrate the change of the sound landscape in recent years – the cries of market traders promoting their wares has given way to a homogenised hubbub of engines and vehicles.

You can listen to the recordings made on Audioboo, and download the Sonic Geographies eBook on Diffusion here. Keep track of the discussion online with the #cityasmaterial hash tag on Twitter.


City As Material: Underside

Our fourth Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event was held last Friday, around the theme of “Underside”. Participating was our special guest, Alexandra Deschamps – Sonsino, alongside Giles Lane, Mandy Tang, Radhika Patel and myself. We met at Poppies Diner in Whitechapel, a cafe decked out in Americana, quotes from Hollywood films adorning the walls (though some a bit off the mark) and the most glamorous of culinary staples …. fried chicken and builders tea. This caff / diner hybrid proved a fitting start for Underside, a theme more ambiguous than our previous events.

Alexandra had suggested visiting the 4D Model Shop round the corner, to pick up some materials to work with along the walk. After acquiring  some unusual knick knacks, including miniature models of Barack Obama and the first lady, and a polystyrene egg (clearly novelty triumphs over practicality every time), we set off.

We were particularly interested in hidden flows in the city, and the alternative uses of the networks that these travel within. Alexandra speculated over what would become of BT’s phone lines in the future, once technology had outgrown their capability. Giles explained the history behind manhole and coal covers, and the abandoned infrastructures London rests upon. Our walk took us through side streets some of us had never traveled through, and the slow pace highlighted quirky features dotted around the city that are ignored in frantic daily routines.

During lunch, we fiddled around with our bounty from 4D, and after Alexandra experimented with using different props she had made against the backdrop of the Barbican, a place containing vast expanses, though also riddled with unusual nooks and crannies.

Once at the studio, we started to form the eBook, sketching the layout and deciding how the materials we had gathered during the day could work within our theme. We are in the process of creating it, so look out for the Underside eBook on Diffusion soon, and keep track of the discussion online with the #cityasmaterial hash tag on Twitter. You can view all our photos from the event on the City As Material Flickr page.

Our final Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, “Sonic Geographies” is on the 10th of December. Book a place here.


City As Material: Skyline

Last Friday we held our third Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event; the topic -“Skyline”. Taking part was our special guest, Simon Pope, as well as Giles Lane, Martin Fidler, Katharine Willis, plus our new addition to the Proboscis team, Radhika Patel, and myself. Meeting at Leadenhall Market, we listened as Simon explained his interest in the topic, whilst introducing the photo essay he created for the Skyline notebook, before starting our journey through the heart of the city.

Gazing upwards, we strolled towards the Gherkin and then Tower 42, before breaking off from our path to explore some secluded passages and elevated walkways, spotting little wonders you would never notice during everyday travels. Walking right past office worker’s windows, we got some unusual glances as we peered inside and discussed the relationship between the buildings in the City and its dwellers, taking heed of the abundance of CCTV camera’s recording our steps. These, plus the unusual nature of some of the areas we visited, almost make you feel as if you are trespassing, even though we were on public land; a hidden garden we wandered upon seemed to be a haven of exclusivity, with little seating alcoves that resembled guard posts.

Back in the main streets, we made our way to the Monument, our aim to ascend it’s 311 steps and be rewarded with an elevated view of the city. Traveling up the narrow, winding staircase was a hefty task, but once at the top the panorama was breathtaking. The sense of detachment from the lived in, street level, as the strong wind whipped across the tiny viewing platform, was poignant and surreal. 160 feet high, looking down at rooftops and across to spires, we saw London as a bird might, the human element below seeming very far away.

Thoroughly deserving of lunch, we had a rest, ate and further explored Simon’s photo essay, starting to pick up on themes and possible idea’s for the eBook we would produce back at the studio. Once there, we discussed the day and compared photos, as well as a GPS account of the route we took, from Katharine’s phone, and some amazing drawings by Martin, from a previous trip to the Monument. The concept of looking up, and down, rather than purely across at a skyline, really interested us, and inspired the format of the eBook we are currently creating as a result of the event. Look out for it soon on Diffusion, and keep track of the discussion online with the #cityasmaterial hash tag on Twitter. You can also view all our photos from the event on the City As Material Flickr page.

The next Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, “Underside”, will be on the 26th of November, and will include Alexanda Deschamps-Sonsino as our special guest. Book a place here.