Debategraph

Think about 10 years time, the real digital future, not this analogue/digital crossover, if you do, that future will come faster, better. @billt at Shift Happens 2.0

There are plenty of really exciting ways of using existing social media and tech-based tools that are beginning to be explored by the arts. We have the National Theatre’s live streaming events, The BBC Prom’s use of Audioboo, C&T’s Living Newspaper, and smaller companies making use of the collaborative and immediate aspect of social media to open up their offices and creative processes.

But part of what I’m going to be pushing for in my work with the arts sector is finding and developing the next tools, becoming a part of the community that innovates and tests the future, as well as the one that works with the present aspects of tech in our lives.

Tech is particularly good at working with data, the whole world trades in it, visualising data and mashing up two or more data sets to makes something more powerful and accessible is an incredibly exciting prospect. The world now is full of information, just lying around, visualisations and mashups make it work, make it more powerful than the sum of its parts.  I also believe the arts are built on information, signals, triggers, scents, subtleties, there are so many layers. And in the same way as facts, they’re driven by questions, but more than facts, the arts dramatise those questions, turning points. Who is this character? What memories, smells, encounters is she built of? Consider the moment of the intricate choice between a highlight or a deeper dark on a painting, or the textures you could feel when you first heard the stirrings of a new song.

Imagine an AR app developed by someone like the National Portrait Gallery that allowed you to see under the layers of paint, to peel back the process, or see other works painted over, or corrected. Imagine using that app to trigger audio clips with facts and context for the work, or reactions that other people like you have recorded whilst standing there.

We can build new ways of exploring and creating art.

I was recently pointed in the direction of Debategraph by @abi281. Debategraph is a web-based, creative commons project which provides an interactive way of mapping wiki debates. I’ve embedded it here for you to play with, which is much easier than my trying to explain it, click, explore, hover, drag, see what you think. For those who want to know every in and out check out the ‘about’ on the debategraph website.

Why am I looking at debate graph?

I would love to see something like this developed for use by arts organisations, if you were to take this bare-bones structure, bring it onto a large touch display, and crucially, allow the addition of video, images and audio, you have a very very powerful tool for representing the artistic process, character development, the context of a play, or the building of a piece of art.

This could be installed in large multi person interactive multi-touch screen displays, similar to the NT ‘Big Wall‘, but created within a wiki environment, a creative commons model that could be released into the wild, that people could truly interract with. An installation  in which people could build new routes, not travel one of several pre-planned ones; drag and zooming, exploring creative questions, contexts, characters through native video/image/audio embeds. Better still  we could use the model to collaborate, to create a huge, sprawling, reactive and interactive piece of audio/visual wiki art in which you could still follow curated paths, or which you could explore  yourself, have it on screens that surround you, covering the walls of a whole room, tailoring your own personal theatre, or working with others to build a specific, live and individual experience.

Where would you start? Do you know people who would be interested in working on projects like this, do you think it’s worth working on, or do you think it invades the ineffability of art? Basically: discuss.

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