Loving this cat - a shadow above the #RiverMole. A Heathrow tube passes through the trees on its way to Boston Manor.

What is the #FutureOfLocal?

I’m very pleased to be working with InterContinental Hotels & Resorts to explore how globalisation is changing local places. It’s an innovative project to understand how the unique and complex interdependencies between people, countries and global brands are changing destination, including those that we call home.

This video introduces the project and is an invitation to join the TED conversation or share your opinion on Twitter through the hashtag #FutureOfLocal. I’m excited to be part of this investigation into the relationship between travel, sense of place, local needs and global brands. Please do contribute your thoughts, ideas and opinions as well as spread the word about this valuable and open conversation.


Exploration Revolution

 

I’m looking forward to speaking at a National Geographic event at the Wellcome Collection tonight ahead of the 125th anniversary of the organisation. The evening for commercial supporters of National Geographic in the UK is called the “New Age of Exploration”. In my short presentation I plan to (re)frame what ‘geography’ is (much like in this recent interview with Geographical Magazine) and then touch on an ‘exploration revolution’ that is taking place. Technology is not only changing how we conceive, plan, organise, conduct, share and review our explorations, but the number of people who can engage in them.

I love this short video by ito! showing four years of edits on Open Street Map. It’s an awesome example of collaborative and open exploration that involved over 750,000 registered users and shows collaboration at its best. For me, some of the most exciting cartographic ‘events’ in this video are where sparks of activity appear in countries, regions and neighbourhoods that were otherwise left uncharted or unpublished by governments and other organisations. It all demonstrates that places are not just discovered once, they can be discovered and rediscovered millions of times as they change and new people and other animals visit them. It’s a video that shows an Exploration Revolution that you are unavoidably part of…


Have you met Danbo?

I spent last weekend in Dublin. My cousin is getting married in a couple of weeks and so a pile of us spent the weekend drifting around the city engaged in (un)important and (un)traditional cultural activities. In addition to poisoning our bodies and dancing to R&B in the passive aggressive Sin bar, we had a great time trying to find Ireland’s biggest indoor Go Karting arena in a challenged industrial estate and visiting the Dogs with the stag dressed as Lady Luck.

Over the weekend I learnt many things. One of which is that Danbo isn’t just a Danish furniture store or a semi-soft cow’s cheese from the same country… I’m not sure if the furniture is made of the cheese. Danbo is also “possibly the cutest little guy you will ever see in the world…” and a cardboard box toy robot that was being carried around by another member of our party. A semi-professional photographer, he was taking pictures of his Danbo in much the same way as Slinkachu’s Little People Project (which I take inspiration from in my work with kids) and these beautiful bug memorials by the Carmichael Collective, placing him the robot in clever situations.

This picture is a picture I took on my phone of a picture that he had on his phone of a picture on Flickr.

Since my first encounter with Danbo in Dublin I’ve been enjoying amusing and intelligent pictures of him all around the world. Check out these on Flickr, the Facebook group and if you’ve got £30 to spare you can join the party and buy one on eBay.

Danbo walks an interesting line between guerrilla street art and consumerist consumption. The Danbo project reminds me of the inspired Yellow Arrow project in the sense that it nurtures alternative thinking, supports new creative practices, builds social networks and encourages people to explore. They’re also both global art projects that disrupt guerrilla practices with competitive commercial strategies and prices that have significant financial barriers to participation. This is perhaps part of the appeal for some of those who join in. I did buy Yellow Arrow stickers but I think think I’ll wait for a Danbo to cost 90% less and get another Lego person for my son instead (have you seen The Brick Testament!?).


PESCO

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to visit NGTE Pyestock. Near where I spent a chunk of my childhood in Fleet (Hampshire, UK), Pyestock was a major site for testing jet engines. Concord, Royal Navy and many other engines were tested across various ‘cells’ on site. For the last 10 years Pyestock has slowly faded after it was closed. When we visited the site Tesco had been planning to turn the site into a major  distribution centre (and may still be). This got me thinking about liminal ideas and (re)presentations as Pyestock continued to be threatened by a form of impending form of topocide…  The signs were upcycled from a Tesco supermarket and then carefully placed in and around Pyestock’s rooms, cells and equipment.


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