Manuals for Public Space (MfPS). This project is a mobile DIY lab and a library of Open Source instructions on bioremediation and space reclamation. This ongoing project was launched in 2011, and it is a starting point for all my ideas concerning Open Source and DIY science culture. It helped me to develop a unique artistic practice, used in my other projects, that connects instructional art with a programming language and implements an Open Source approach to maximize collaboration of all participants. Recently, I am developing for this project an open source urban planning board game that combines environmental data collected using DIY scientific tools with communal urban planning to remediate the impact of pollution and reclaim public space. Some of these DIY science tools were developed together with Public Laboratory for Open Technology, where last year I received a research grant to develop scientific protocols and sampling methods for DIY oil testing and DIY spectroscopy. My work on this issue was featured in the Community Science Forum magazine. MfPS was in 2012 nominated for the prestigious Young Visual Artist Award and exhibited at the Sixth Prague Biennial, Cyprián Majerník Gallery in Bratislava, and Cyberarts Gallery in Boston, amongst others. I was also invited to present the project at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
MfPS is a complex, open, grassroots platform where citizens of different countries all around the world can freely create and exchange user manuals (or guides) on how to improve, change and reclaim public space. Together, these manuals create an open archive full of intervention guides. Besides that, it is also a powerful research tool which mirrors differences between perceptions, issues, and purpose of public space(s) around the world. Each manual is a result of a long workshop where participants of particular communities (including architects, hackers and activists) research urban areas using DIY scientific tools aiming to identify an urbanistic problem in a specific place. Together they create a step by step guide on how to fix that problem, using specially designed cognitive objects which help them to frame the issues. Following the workshops, sometimes participants are making interventions described in the manuals. Rooted in experimental and alternatives to pedagogy Manuals for Public Space is about sharing of public knowledges, and experimenting how to bring knowledge into action.
Each manual represents a blueprint or a model for intervention in public space. Every such manual is developed under the free Creative Commons license that it can be freely used and modified by anybody to fit particular needs of a particular community. Such participatory models (or blueprints) are important because they can be quickly spread through various information channels. They can encourage conception of new participatory forms of art and design. This new participatory model-based approach is crucial for communities facing contemporary public space challenges. Manuals are rather a speculation on how to change things we don’t like. Sometimes they have a real impact, but what is most the most important is the “speculation” itself. In the aftermath of huge modernistic social „top down“ oriented projects we can see that there are no more visions left. We do not know how to fix most of the problems humanity is facing on a large scale. Within this context, each manual represents a new small civic driven possible (and plausible) suggestion. It acts a catalyst for collectively redefining our relationship to the public domain and nature.
Within the workshops, participants are using specially designed cognitive objects. These objects suppose to inspire, but also direct participants within the process of creating a manual. They are collaboratively designed as a physical and symbolic representation of existing manuals (or parts of the manuals). They are collaboratively manufactured or 3D printed with the help of various hacker spaces and local DIY communities. These objects are usually maps, 3D printed models and human scale real objects. In the workshop, they are used within a specially designed board game about public space. These object and game itself are based on psychology, alternatives to pedagogy and neuroscience approaches.
Power of Circulation, Free Sharing and DIY Culture
The whole idea of the project is based on Open Source philosophy. Within this particular project, it means openness of the form, openness of the process and finally openness of the content.
The openness of the form means that the form of the project is readable and modifiable by participants.
An openness of the process means that the process is readable and modifiable by participants.
The openness of the content means that the content is readable and modifiable and shared by participants.