Category Archives: News

Layers of the Old Dock

Lord Mayors' visit to Layers of the Old Dock, Liverpool ONE

image by Gareth Jones

This is an interactive artwork I made with Tim Shaw and was one of the several pieces that resulted from the Sound Spaces project with John Bowers and Stefan Kazassoglou. Sound Spaces was an investigation, through making, of various intriguing locations across Liverpool in 2015. One of the places we visited was Liverpool’s Old Dock, which is largely unseen to passersby being underground in the foundations of the Liverpool ONE leisure and retail development. Anyone can visit The Old Dock by booking onto one of the free guided tours offered by National Museums Liverpool, but I wondered whether 360-degree spherical photographs, layered with images and sounds evoking the site’s past and present, could engage passersby above ground. I worked with Tim Shaw to create a first prototype, which attracted sponsorship from Liverpool ONE to develop and install the piece for two years. The artwork went live in April 2017, some of the first visitors being a convention of Lord Mayors!

The piece is intended to be viewed on location in Liverpool ONE. But the image below gives a flavour of it.

Screenshot from Layers of the Old Dock

Panoramic Yorkshire book now available

After much of my usual prevarication I’ve finally created a book of 21 of my panoramic photographs of Yorkshire. I’ve used BobBooks rather than iPhoto. We normally use Apple’s iPhoto for our annual  books of family photos because the layouts are easy to populate and elegantly designed. However I wanted lay-flat pages for wide panoramic images spread over two pages (that is when you can open the book and not get the image squeezed in and out of the spine at the fold line). BobBooks offer this and printing on photographic lustre paper, which yields better contrast and deeper colours than traditional printing. The layout tools provided are a little clunky (compared to intuitive iPhoto), but worth persevering with to get the image quality.

I wrote the introduction and captions to the book for an interested audience, rather than just the family so that I could offer the book for sale, too (no profit taken – these books are expensive enough as it is). You can check it out here.

Panoramic Yorkshire, book cover

Critical Artefact Methods on tour: Belgium

I will be giving a guest lecture on my use of critical artefacts within participatory design in Hasselt, Belgium on 9th February 2010. I will present examples from the projects where I have employed critical artefacts to foster innovation and discuss the rationale for my methods (the subject of my PhD research). This lecture is part of the A-Z series of lectures presented by the Z33 Centre for Contemporary Art and Design, more details on the Z33 website and the A-Z lectures website.

Critical Artefact Methods on tour: Denmark

I’ve just spend an enjoyable two days working with the students on the IT Product Design masters course at the University of Southern Denmark in Sonderbørg. I ran a tutorial on the Critical Artefact Methods developed in my PhD, and we explored the use of critical artefacts in developing novel product ideas around the theme of indoor climate. The masters students came up with some great “crazy ideas” to stimulate debate with their groups of users and I look forward to seeing the end results of their project.

A critical artefact exploring ideas of personal and social spaces in a canteen.

Bubbles: exploring ideas of personal and social spaces in a canteen, one of the critical artefacts produced by the group

The visit also provided an opportunity to hear more about the work of the SPIRE research centre. Their focus on participatory innovation drawing is interesting, drawing as it does ideas from the Scandinavian tradition of Participatory Design and notions of innovation from business management such as Lead Users.

Thank you to the students and staff in Sonderbørg for their hospitality, enthusiasm and stimulating discussions.

Critical Artefact Methods on tour: Norway

I ran a one-day workshop on my Critical Artefact Methods during the Nordic Design Research Conference. Seven people participated from a variety of backgrounds in both academia and industry including industrial/product design, interaction design, and ceramic art.

The aftermath of a busy workshop...

The aftermath of a busy workshop...

We had a busy day of presentations, discussions, making and role-play and debated the limitations of participatory design approaches when applied to innovation and the use of critical artefacts (and other designer-led interventions) for engaging people in creative thinking about novel product ideas.

Thank you to everyone who took part.

Critical Artefact Methods workshop at Nordes ’09

I am running a one-day workshop on my critical artefact methods at the Nordic Design Research conference in Oslo at the end of August. Through this workshop I intend to disseminate and develop the design methods I have been developing in my PhD research, and stimulate debate about the role of ‘critical artefacts’ (the products of critical design and related practices) within human-centred and participatory design processes.

The workshop will include practical exercises applying critical artefact methods in ‘mini’ design projects alongside a discussion of their underlying methodology to enable designers to explore how they could utilise similar techniques in their own practice.

Participation in the workshop is open to all conference attendees (at an additional small cost). Register for the conference first then contact me directly (s [dot] bowen [at] shu [dot] ac [dot] uk) to sign up for the workshop. Early registration discounts end on 1st August.

See the Nordic Design Research website for further details about the conference and my workshop.

We did it!

The end! A nice sit down and a cup of tea.

The end! A nice sit down and a cup of tea.

Joanna and I got ourselves around the 30 miles of the Patterdale Parish boundary in a very respectable 12 hours and 45 minutes. We had a grand day out and raised money for the local Lakeland community at the same time. Thanks to everyone who supported us, and there’s still time to donate for those that want to at our Justgiving page.

We also made the (very) local news website.

Turkey photographs online

Harem window, Topkapi palace, Istanbul

Harem window, Topkapi palace, Istanbul


I’m slowly getting through my backlog of photographs that need either scanning (for those I shot on 35mm transparency film) or RAW-conversion (for those I shot using a digital camera), then post-processing (colour balance, contrast and the odd bit of dust-removal) and keywording (for picture sales via Alamy) before making them available online. The latest images to get finished are a set I took in Turkey in April 2007. This was Joanna and my first trip to Turkey, ostensibly so I could attend the European Academy of Design conference in Izmir, but we also travelled a few days ahead so that we could explore Istanbul. We weren’t sure what to expect but Turkey was a revelation: a beautiful, vibrant country steeped in history with some stunning architecture, the friendliest of people and lip-smackingly fresh and fabulous food. Click on the image to browse the full set on Flickr.