MAP-it

Mapping Report

FoAM, Participatory methods in Luminous Green (Singapore) by mapit

Used kit: Media Arts Practice

Project: Luminous Green (Singapore)
Organisation: FoAM, Brussels – B
Moderator: Thomas Laureyssens, Priscilla Machils, Jon Stam, Kim de Bisschop
Date: 12/12/2008

According to its website, “FoAM is a transdisciplinary laboratory and a research group committed to developing a holistic culture, by actively propagating resilient cultural forms. FoAM's members include artists, gardeners, cooks, technologists, designers, writers and scientists from all walks of life.” FoAM's activities include a creative research programme, professional development and knowledge preservation & dissemination in the field of transdisciplinary culture. “FoAM is dedicated to advancing and supporting a community of generalists, people who live and work in the interstitial spaces between professional & cultural boundaries, operating under the motto “grow your own worlds”.” For more information, see: http://fo.am/.

Download the high resolution map here.

For this mapping, a predecessor of the "multitouch table" was used. The group set up two, wooden pedestals and placed a plate of Plexiglas on top of them. Underneath the plate of glass, the group positioned a lamp. The actual mapping took place on chalk paper placed on the plate of glass. This allowed the participants to still see the writings and icons on the first sheet of chalk paper while other sheets were put on top of it. This mapping was one in a series of mapping of media art and design organisations in 2008-2009 (being Constant vzw, FoAM, Frederik De Wilde and Thomas Lomée). These were mainly done by Priscilla Machils, Kim De Bisschop, Jon Stam, Thomas Laureyssens and Liesbeth Huybrechts. Kim was a student, writing her thesis at the University of Brussel (VUB) in collaboration with the Media & Design Academy (association K.U.Leuven).

The group continued by explaining the icons – also printed on chalk paper – to the participants. The icon kit contained icons to indicate persons, groups of persons and organizations, icons that represented (clusters of) work packages and icons that symbolized used methods or tools (such as post-its, maps and shared documents). The kit also included lines that could be used to indicate collaboration and communication. A symbol of a hand could be used to show how "networked" a specific person was. There were also some icons left blank: these could be used by the participants to fill in persons, work packages or methods and tools that were not on the existing icons.

Usually, a project is divided in four phases: concept development (1), preparation of the project (2), the day itself (3) and the output of the project (4). For each phase the following topics will be discussed and mapped: all the people that were involved in the organisation of the project (1), the quantity and frequency of their collaboration (2), the physical distance during the collaboration (3) and the materials, methods, tools and technology used to facilitate conversations and exchange (4).

The key people involved in the first, conceptual phase were Nik, Maja and Maggie (of  FoAM) and Guna, Swee Leng and Shirley (of ISEA, the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts). The project started when Nik and Maja of FoAM went to Singapore and introduced the “Luminous Green”-project to Guna of ISEA. This contact was face-to-face and mainly involved fitting “Luminous Green” into the ISEA-festival. The participants pointed out that that the conceptual phase consisted mainly out of two parts. First, the people involved here decided that the workshop would make use of Open Space Technology. This lead them to form ideas on which people they were going to invite and which goals the workshop should set. Second, when they received funding later on and were sure that the workshop could take place, they focussed themselves on the concrete details of the design of the workshop. Communication via e-mail was extremely important in this phase of the project. Finally, the icon displaying a hand (which showed how "networked" a specific person was) was placed next to the icons symbolizing Nik and Maja: they appeared to be a very close team and communicated a lot (for example, face-to-face during lunch or dinner).

The participants have split up the second phase in two parts: the planning of the workshop and taking care of its design in Brussels (1) and the preparative activities in Singapore during the last week before the workshop (2). The first part took about three months and included activities (or tasks) such as:

  • Requesting funding and filing the dossier. Nik and Maja were responsible for this task and Swee Leng played an advisory role here. This activity consisted mainly of  writing.
  • Designing the event. Maggie and Maja were involved in this activity which entailed spacial design, facilitating methods and techniques, catering, external communication with the press, etc. The communication here was done mainly by telephone and Skype, but also via post-its, chat and wiki’s. Shared documents such as Google Docs were not used, since some of the key people involved did not like working with them.
  • Selecting the participants. Almost all of the key people (Nik, Maja, Shirly, Maggie and others) were involved here. Nik and Maja invited potential participants via e-mail, invitations and an open call and during the mapping this was symbolised by using a thin, dotted line from Nik and Maja to the potential participants. From this group of people, several participants were selected. During the mapping, Nik and Maja used a thick line to indicate the complexity of this activity.
  • Composing the reader. The reader consisted of texts by the selected participants. The communication between Maja, Nik and the participants all took place via e-mail.
  • Logistics. This acitivity entailed taking care of the catering, production, equipment, transport, space, etc. Key people involved here were Maja, Nik, Shirley and Swee Leng. A thick line from Nik and Maja was used to indicate the complexity of this activity. Due to the time difference, communication happened only via e-mail and not via telephone. At a certain time, the communication between FoAM and ISEA failed here. In the map, this was symbolised by using a thin line from ISEA to the icon for this activity.

 

The other activities in this phase concerned the preparations in Singapore, which lasted for a week. The key people involved are Maja, Nik and Maggie. The activities (or tasks) here involved:

  • Printing the reader.
  • Financial management. Key people involved here were Maja and Swee Leng and communication took place face-to-face and via the telephone.
  • Logistics (on location). Swee Leng, Shirley, Nik and Maja were responsible for this task, which appeared to be very complex. One, important face-to-face meeting took place which made clear that Swee Leng was not going to take care of production-related activities. During a second, face-to-face meeting, Shirley took here assistant Shermeen with her, whom later on communicated a lot with Maja via e-mail and telephone (indicated by a thick line in the map). Chwan was also an important key person here: he rented the furniture, equipment, plants, etc. The communication between Maja and Chwan happend via telephone.
  • Catering. The communication between Maja, Nik and three companies of caterers (Enso, Rendez-vous and Blue Ginger) occurred face-to-face (during dinners), via e-mail and via telephone.
  • Showing around the participants. Maja and Maggie were responsible for this task.
  • Preparing the documentation of the presentation. The people involved in this task were Maja, Azril (who took photographs during the workshop) and Thomas. The communication between them took place face-to-face, via e-mail and via photographs.
  • Preparing the facilitation. Maja, Nik, Maggie and Drew (a staff member on location) were the main people involved here. On the map, the communication between Maggie and Maja was indicated by a very, thick line. Both of them stayed in the same hotel and the communicated face-to-face, via e-mail or via telephone. The communication between Nik and Maja was symbolised by a thick line as well. A thin, dotted line was used to pinpoint Drew’s contribution to this task, since te communication between Drew and the others did not go very well.

During the third phase of the project – the actual workshop – there were about 110 participants to visit the workshop. Other important key people were Nik, Maja, Maggie, Drew, the volunteers and the people who took care of the coffee. They all communicated with each other via post-its and the Open Space Technology, allthough not all of the communication went well. In this phase, the participant distinguished nine seperate tasks: during the introduction of “Luminous Green” (1) communication took place over some coffee. By the “appreciative inquiry” (2), the participants of the workshop got to know each other and got acquinted with the Open Space Technology. Communication here took place via post-its and flipcharts. Next, Maja introduced the Open Space Technology (3). Again, post-its and flipcharts were used here. During the so-called “market place”-event (4), the participants could all make suggestions for the workshop-sessions by writing them on post-its and attaching these to a schedule. The actual sessions (5) took place on six different places and were moderated by the participants themselves. Means of communicaton used here are photographs, video, face-to-face, drawing, discussion and maps. “Ethical protein”, “Our world as a body” and “Social software to generate change” were some of the titles of the (almost thirty) sessions that took place. For the lunch (6), the participants of the mapping put a line on the map to the catering company Enso. The sessions that took place after the lunch (7) were more relaxed; the participants took things a bit less serious. Via post-its and flipcharts, the session-moderators presented the findings of their sessions in a feedback- and debriefing moment (8). For dinner (9), the participants of the mapping put a line on the map to the catering company Blue Ginger.

The “output phase” of the project entailed a wiki; the participants and the people who had worked on the workshop received an e-mail that a “Luminous Green Singapore wiki” was created. These people were also informed that they could contribute their photographs of the workshop to the Flickr-account FoAM had set up for the event. A call by FoAM for a publication of the sessions to the participants did not receive much input. On the map, this is symbolised by a very thin lijn from the participants to the publication and by many thick lines from FoAM to the participants. FoAM is still thinking about future “Luminous Green” events. Debriefing and evaluation of the workshop took place via shared docs, telephone, e-mail and over diner. The people involved here were Maja, Nik, Maggie and Swee Leng. Finally, FoAM was planning to put a “Luminous Green” kit online. This kit could be used to facilitate a “Luminous Green” event without the presence of FoAM. Documents, papers, manuals and photographs will be published on the website. 

The mapping session showed interesting results on how FoAM’s project “Luminous Green” (Singapore) evolved over time and it was a nice opportunity for the staff members of FoAM to look back on it. During the mapping they admitted that they were very critical of themselves and saw many things that they would have done different if they were to organise the event again. This mapping shows how MAP-it is a perfect tool for reflection and has offered FoAM insights on how to organise a future event like “Luminous Green” (Singapore). The session was also an important input for Kim de Bisschop’s thesison instruments and tools for e-culture creations (called: Inventarisatie en casestudies van instrumenten en tools inzake e-cultuurcreaties).