A participative, ongoing project about local memory, promoted by filmmaker Chus Domínguez and developed, in first plece, by Fundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia.
Cultural institutions are constantly redefining their targets and their praxis in order to face the fast evolving scenario we are living in.
Many of them have already adopted a “user centered” approach, not only in the way traditional consumer marketing have always done, but rather with the perspective of empowering “users” in order to allow them to take full advantage of contemporary cultural, social and technological resources.
I had the chance to collaborate in this project in threes different stages, between 2011 and 2014.
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Back in 2011, FCAYC invited Chus Domínguez, a no-fiction movie maker based in León, to start working on a local project. What may have started, as a conventional documentary production, soon evolved into a much more complex and articulated set of activities to generate a memory archive.
During Territorio Archivo’s (Archive Territory) project, the inhabitants of six small villages in the region of Condado-Curueño were invited to share their family albums.
The ones who accepted the invitation soon became “domestic curators” and were filmed and recorded, house by house (kitchen by kitchen) while showing and explaining their own family photographs.
This photographic archive was intended, since the beginning, as a pure “trick” to trigger and evoke community’s memory. FCAYC organized other collective activities where volunteers were invited to rediscover the pleasure of sitting and chat together about the past as well as a first public exhibit (in the autumn of 2012).
A few years later the project expanded involving others areas; in Peñaranda de Bracamonte (Salamanca), another foundation, Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez, organized a new round that lead to a second exhibit and severals related events in 2014.
The data viz
I have been involved in the TA’s projects in three different steps.
First, I was asked to produce a 4 by 4 meters diagram of relations as part of 2012 exhibit in Cerezales del Condado. The aim was to produce a kind of an “index”, an overall picture, of all the people, the photographs and the places involved at that stage of the game.
Later, during the summer of 2013, I had the chance to briefs a group of students during an Animation Workshop and help them in creating a short intro about the project.
And more recently, in novembre 2014, I created an animated diagram projected as part of a second exhibit, in Peñaranda de Bracamonte and aimed to display the intangible value of the initiative through some row figures.
In this project we were not “mining data” looking for patterns or behaviors, but rather trying to evoke and show the poetic of a process.
The wall diagram
The diagram displays the title of every single picture collected during the first edition of Territorio Archivo. Titles are placed close to the name of the “domestic curator” who contributed to the exhibit, beside the name of one of the six villages involved.
The result is a kind of a “map”, made by texts and dots, that can be read as an overall index.
A simple force directed technique was used to produce the first “row” output. This first result showed a big mass of information at the center of the canvas around the main village so that we decided to slightly modify the algorithm, written in Processing, in order to be able to “drag”, manually, the connected items and place them in a visual arrangement more “equally distributed” and closer to the visual identity of the exhibit.
Does data visualization admit this kind of “poetic license” ? We think it does.
The teaser trailer
This motion graphic animation was created in 2013 by a group of students, during the third edition of Informanimation, an international summer workshop organized by the Alghero School of Architecture and founded by the Erasmus IP Program.
It’s not a work of mine and i can’t get any credit for the result; I have been part of the teaching stuff of the workshop and I suggested FCAYC to be involved in the initiative as “content provider”.
During the workshop I had the chance to brief the students several times, I was supposed to be the one who already know something about the project but it turned out that I discovered, with them, much more about the initiative.
Territorio Archivo is not about results, is not about looking at the past with in a nostalgic mood, is about the present of a community and the process of sharing memories. The photographic archive and all the rest of the documents gathered during the process are just an excuse … to get the process started.
The animated diagram
The animated diagram was projected in a loop sequence as part of the exhibit of the second edition of T/A in Peñaranda de Bracamonte.
I tried to display some of the thinks I’ve learned about T/A.
I liked the idea of representing the collective effort using the metaphor of a cloud of dots moving in all directions on the screen. All this “potential energy” is the stand by mode that may, eventually, create some more mindful shapes.
Dots sometimes moves to an ordered configuration that represent the halftone version of one of the images belonging to the archive. Not the image itself, just something that reminds to the image, the same way the photographic image refers to some memory.
Some other time dots behaves like a multicellular organism and pack together according to the relations among them. As in the first force directed diagram, they represents places, people, pictures and tags and create some kind of topography.
And finally, every once in a while, they became icons in a modular, isotype style, matrix, to give some idea of the magnitude of the initiative.
Fundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia
FCAYC is a private foundation, located in Cerezales del Condado, in a rural area close to Leon, in the north of Spain. Started six years ago as an Art Center, is now dedicated to the local development and the transfer of knowledge through two channels: cultural productions and ethnological education.