Tuesday, January 9, 2007


Neighborhood Narratives

Instructors: Hana Iverson, Steve Bull, David Gordon

Email: h.iverson@temple.edu

Overview Each of us has a story to tell, experiences to share, a way of looking at the world that is unique. If we consider our experiences in the world as a set of narratives, we can also consider that our narratives develop, merge, and collide with the narratives of the people, places and things around us.

With the urban landscape as both canvas and palette Neighborhood Narratives is an evolving locative media theory and production course that introduces students to the concept of situated storytelling - stories that are tied closely to the environment at hand, which can bring neighborhoods to life. In this course all types of media (analogue, digital, text, sound, image etc) are applied to real places and thus trigger real social interaction. The class researches the relationship between the self and place, the reciprocal action between what we carry with us and how we find our way through the city. We consider loco-motion as the location motion of bodies, technology, place and time.

Students design their own projects, using alternative methods to explore formerly ordered and known forms of narrative and story, and how that can be reinvented in a non-traditional fashion, using all different types of media. The final assignments are presented on location in the city. No prior technological expertise is required.

The course is divided into three themes:

Theme one: Location. The course begins with a close examination of the concept of location. We explore questions such as: What is location? How is location measured? How are locations mapped and shared?

Theme two: Creative Exploration. Next, we practice a variety of techniques and strategies that will help us to explore and engage with the urban landscape. These techniques include movement theory, psychogeography, and urban prospecting.

Theme three: World Changing. Finally, we dissect the fundamental idea that events and processes close to home relate to regional, national and global forces and events, leading to a new understanding of ecological stewardship and community. You will synthesize all the concepts into your final project.

Format The class is 4 hours long with a short lunch break.
The class will introduce methods of collecting data from sources including publication, internet and field observation, mapping and scoring, "show and tell" and the examination of means of project presentation and rigorous discussion. Mobile city wide exploration (Temple bus, public transportation, on foot) will include the performance of the final project on location in the city. The class will also suggest the need for peer dialogue and trans-media team work, in many instances, to extend the breadth of a project through collaboration. Students will keep semester long blogs (beginning w/reaction to first class) including observations, snap shots, video and audio recordings - a personal diary of the Neighborhood Narrative experience.

International Network
Neighborhood Narratives links the Philadelphia main campus of Temple University with its international campuses in London, Tokyo and Rome. In the first half of the semester, we will complete an international assignment that sees you joining forces with Tokyo and Philadelphia students to create a locative media podcast. In the second half of the semester we will videochat with Tokyo or Philadelphia to share our experiences and projects.

Spring 2007: London –Instructor: Siobhan Thomas
Tokyo - Instructor: Ron Carr

Internet Access All students are expected to have frequent, dependable access to the internet. In addition, it is essential that you have an active email account that you ACCESS FREQUENTLY, for email with faculty and with each other. If you have any difficulties with either Internet access or your email account, please see the instructor after the first class.

Technology requirements
You are required to have access to the internet and a working email account. You will also need some form of memory stick to save and transport your work. Access to a mobile phone and digital camera is recommended, but not required. However, if you have technology such as cameras, mobile phones, ipods, laptops or GPS devices it would be advantageous to bring these items to each class.

Course costs
As expected with production courses, you may need to purchase supplies to produce your final project. Also, while it is not required, we would like to encourage you to use the communications features of your mobile phone: costs for voice calls and text messaging will depend on your phone plan.

Instructor Contact
The best way to reach us is by email. If you want to make an appointment to meet, please use email to do so. An appointment will not be confirmed until you have received an email reply from the instructor. You can also contact me via text message or skype.

Attendance and Lateness Policy
Attendance Policy: Attending the sessions outlined in the schedule is a requirement of this course. More than two unexcused absences without the instructors’ permission (medical certificate might be requested) will decrease the overall grade by one unit for each additional missed class. Five absences will result in a failing grade for the course. If you are going to be absent, please inform me by email at least 24 hours in advance. ABOVE ALL: KEEP US INFORMED BY EMAIL OR TEXT. If you are absent, it is YOUR responsibility to contact another student who took notes on that day, and to make up any work in a timely fashion.

Lateness Policy: Three times arriving late will be considered as one unexcused absence. Being more than 10 minutes late will be counted as an absence. If you are late, it is your responsibility to let the teachers know when you come into class that you are here, and to make sure you have been marked as present.

Schedule of Classes and Assignments


Jan. 18 Introduction: What I carry with me. Assignment – Garden of Forking Paths/Pan’s Labyrinth.
Jan. 25 Theme one: location. Walking underneath City Hall to Redding Terminal Station. Annotating place: the cell phone, compass.
Feb. 1 The Situationists. A situation as a revolution. Psycho-geography.
Feb. 8 Theme two: creative exploration. The scores. Create a score of any imagined person in the city during the course of a day
Feb. 15 Response: Share the scores with each other. Cut them up, mix them up. Who are we? Unearthing the hidden stories of people in a community. Krystof Wodiczko’s installations of community narratives on buildings. Assignment – Put Something Here.
Feb. 22 Theme two: creative exploration. Atwater Kent Museum – History of Philadelphia. Historical Assigment
March 1 International Assignment due. Put Something Here due.
March 8 No class
March 15 Historical Assignment due. Discuss final projects, research, locations. If desired, over the next few weeks, students should make office appts with any of us, for individual project development.
March 22 Theme two: Creative Exploration. Loco-motion. Bodies, cars, buses, subways. Riding the public bus… Assignment: Put something here mobile
March 29 Theme three: world changing. Philadelphia related to London, Tokyo, the world… politics/globalization/stewardship.
April 5 Put something here mobile due. Review/preview of final projects.
April 19 Final project due. On-site presentations.
April 26 Final project review, class wrap up

Evaluation and Assessment

Research, attendance and participation 35%
In class assignments 30%
Final project 35%

Late assignments and exercises WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Failure to hand in an assignment by the due date and time will result in a ZERO grade for that assignment.

Research, attendance and participation
The International Assignment, group work, communicating and sharing knowledge through discussions, posting to the class blog, in-class presentations, and overall student participation are an essential part of the process of understanding course material.

Readings, blog postings and the international assignment are mandatory.

Prior to each class you will be required to complete a short reading and make a note of relevant points to bring up in class discussion.

Blog postings
Each week you will be required to a) make one post to the Philadelphia NEIGHBORHOOD NARRATIVES blog and b) to comment on other student’s postings. Your post can be on: 1) a locative media project and your reaction to it or 2) a new media technology and how it could be used for locative media (e.g. bubbleply.com) or 3) if applicable, one of the required assignments.

International assignment
You will be assigned to an international team of students and asked to complete a short exercise. Success of the assignment depends on your ability to negotiate and communicate with fellow team members who are based in different time zones and have varying electronic communication styles. Please keep in mind that working internationally can be incredibly rewarding, but has its frustrations: these frustrations are integral to the creative process!

Assignments and Final project
The remit for the final project is to create an on-site locative media art project that changes how people view the world.

Assignment one and two will provide you with the skills and knowledge required to realise your final project.

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Director of Neighborhood Narratives Project, Drexel University http://www.neighborhoodnarratives.net/