A wide angle on 2014

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So here we are, 2015 – the fabled year of Marty McFly’s journey into the future. Apart from the blessing that in our universe Jaws sequels didn’t see episode 19, the reality of 2015 in the Back to the Future context remains largely underwhelming.

No hover boards, no flying Delorean’s (no Delorean’s of any sort on my driveway for that matter…), and no fortune-securing almanacs.

But the downbeat attitude ends here! My intention is to point out some faves of the last 12 months while looking forward to amazing developments in the year ahead!

So here goes, five highlights of 2015 (excluding family of course, cos’ they would take up three slots straight-a-way) in no particular order, as they appear in my head at this moment (while I also reserve the right to change my mind later…)

GoPro: I’ve always loved taking pictures and have a history of digital cameras that goes back to 2000 and a 3.4MP Fuji. Things have moved on considerably of course and despite the current convenience of a very powerful camera on my phone I’ve had a lot of fun with this camera over the past eight months – not least of which was taking 240FPS videos of sycamore leaves (helicopters) and slowing it right down.

Pixies: The new album did not disappoint and neither did their live set at T in the Park (Scotland).

 

Gairloch: …is a small town on the west coast of Scotland. We went as a family for the first time this year (my wife had been before) and what a location. We took a trip 30 miles out to sea on a RHIB and saw dolphins, a Minke whale, seals, puffins… it was a stunning morning, some of which you can see in the film below… I also got to try out my sea kayak (I’m going to cheat and include here as another fave of the year) in some serious surf. Can’t wait to get back…

Games: This year has been a real eclectic mix of games in the family. The kids really got into Monopoly and love using my Star Wars original trilogy edition – they both beat a couple of times. We also downloaded Need For Speed: Most Wanted which is a huge guilty pleasure for me. And then on a short break to Edinburgh I introduced my boy to Games Workshop which he got quite interested in so we are currently painting Warhammer 40K figures and learning the game. Finally, my boy also had a chess set for Christmas which he has now taught me to play… so despite the number of devices available to play games on in the house we have a pretty healthy balance of non-digital interests too…

University: 2014 was the year that saw my wife graduate with the same Masters in Design for Services that I completed in 2011. IT was like a refresher course for me, which was great, but also it’s given us the opportunity to collaborate on some great projects together and moving forward I’m sure there’ll be lots more – exciting times!

So, what hit the spot for you in 2014? While you think have a quick squiz at my 2014 in wide-angle, mostly courtesy of my GoPro. Watch out 2015!

Sense of Place – part three

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I started using QR Codes in 2010 – firstly to see if I could add any value to advertising. I then became more interested in education and developing the ‘game’ element (of what were essentially digital treasure hunts) to engage children in learning activities.

Conveniently, in the middle of this diversion from advertising in education I was asked to create a trail for an eTouirsm PhD Summer School at the School of Computer Science at St Andrews University. One of the lecturers had been watching the NEoN Knights QR Game unfold on Twitter and got in touch.

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His brief was for my trail to achieve two things: 1) An example, on day one, of technology enabling tourism that would prompt discussion and encourage the students to design their own ‘products’ throughout the remainder of the week. 2) An ice breaker, an introduction for the students (most of whom would be travelling from across Scotland) to St Andrews and to each other.

The aim of the eTourism trail, from my perspective, was a combination of both advertising and education. For a city like St Andrews those tow things are inseparable because the majority of the tourism is heritage and history.

St Andrews Space Hop

It was also an opportunity to engage with a Twitter/Social Media active community of independent traders across St Andrews who would value the interaction with tourism in a technological way and boast about it through their online channels.

The combination of these three opportunities has prepared me with the experience to create at least two other trails (though their have been more) that both educate and entertain:

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Dighty Water – A vital stretch of water in Dundee’s history; rich with stories that have been gathered and tagged to QR Codes that will be dotted along portions of the walkway that follows the water.

And now:

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Sense of Place (SoP): The McManus, Dundee

The McManus has a fantastic permanent collection, curated under the title of The Making of Modern Dundee (MoMD). This collection is situated down stairs at The McManus includes remnants of the original Tay Bridge that collapsed in 1879, through to video games from the 1980s created in the city. Many of the objects in this collection inspired work created for Sense of Place. Without moving them, we wanted to acknowledge them as part of our exhibition. QR Codes were the simple solution.

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Throughout the SoP exhibition programme visitors will find QR Codes alongside project descriptions. These codes deliver additional content and help visitors understand the connection to MoMD – you may even find a sample hide here…

However, should you wander into MoMD knowing nothing about SoP there are QR Codes on the display cases that point you to the relevant work in our exhibition.

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For me, it is the richest combination of physical and digital artefacts that I have worked on and another accomplishment in the image of the model I established with my Masters ‘Mystery Boxes’ project during 2011.

As if this wasn’t enough, the content behind some of the QR Codes are pieces of work that could constitute an exhibition for themselves. Trips across the Tay Bridge replicating a journey made, captured and shared over 100 years ago. Besides that you can share in the tour of MoMD that we made as a group with Brian Cox and hear him recounting memories of growing up an living in 1950s Dundee.

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The thread through all of this is a desire to preserve memories, stories and experiences. While this feels very new, because the technology is so ubiquitous in 2013, we learned that our capturing and sharing activity is no different, in practice, to that of 1897. More people have access to the tools but the majority of them are filming the mundane processes of daily life as the pioneering filmmakers of the late 19th Century had. Train journeys. People at work. Children at school.

So, I am very grateful to ‘Sense of Place’. As I’ve said before, working with the young people was rewarding/entertaining enough. But in addition to that, together we’ve worked on projects that we will talk about for the rest of our lives – Tay Bridge journey, SmallPetitKlein, Brian Cox, the BIG Print, and so on… Finally, the fact that we’ve had the opportunity to bring it all together for the exhibition is the icing on the cake. But not just any old icing. Elaborate, swirly, multicoloured icing with adornments of sweet decorations covering a beautifully hand-made cake. That’s what it’s like.

Go along. Have a look. Let me know what you think.

Thanks :)

Find out more about:

NEoN Knights (Digital Arts Festival) – St Andrews Space Hop (St Andrews Uni PhD Summer School) – Balmullo Primary School (Permanent Heritage Trail)
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