From the outset, dataflower is meant to be a practice based research project. My main motivation for it came from the experience of many years developing digital art installations with diverse teams, noticing many recurring technical and soacial patterns and thinking "there has to be a better way to approach these problems". Most of my research on this project so far has involved creative practice, but mostly in a non-participatory way, through observation, interviews and questionnaires. To actually get involved in creative projects and use practice as a way to shape the development of dataflower, I first need to have a minimal working version which actually does something interesting and useful.
I now have such a prototype of the whole system which I can use as a foundation for more active practice-based research, but I still need people to experiment and to try building projects with it and give me feedback, so I need to start meeting and working together with them more regularly, so i came up with the idea of organizing data gardens.
A data garden is an open collaborative development event for all those interested in learning, working with and improving the dataflower tools and on reflecting about the issues related with parallel, heterogeneous and distributed computing in digital art practice. The focus of each event will depend on the participants interests, but my plan is to have a specific topic to discuss or a new feature to test for each session, which should happen at least once a month.
Last saturday, July 19, I got together with a group of digital artists and researchers at Audiência Zero in Matosinhos, Portugal, to perform a pilot test for these sessions. Since this was a first and the tools are still a bit rough around the edges, I started with a small presentation to present the project and its motivation and to elicit feedback from the participants. I then presented a brief tutorial of FBP concepts using microflow and gave a brief overview of the upcoming libflow library. Next I presented a prototype of the dataflower environment and we had a brainstorming session on mental models for complex systems and collaboration tools.
Many thanks to Audiência Zero for hosting the meeting and to all who participated for their interest and wonderful feedback. The next data garden session is scheduled to take place in Coruña, Spain, from 17 to 21 of September as a work node part of the Artropocode residency, and you are most welcome to join us.
If you want to host or participate in a future data garden event, get in touch.