My project took the form of a thought exercise and preliminary digital and web-hosted proof of concept for a front-facing digital archive and curation tool for New Urban Arts. I thought about what an archiving and exhibition tool might look like so as to be relevant to the needs and everyday operation of the organization, its staff, and the students and families it serves. Centering on a test run of the Omeka interface, I thought specifically about the types of users who will interact with the tool, as well as the kinds of information they would find most useful in an accessible, searchable presentation.
This past summer, I drove around the country for six weeks, attempting to meet and hang out with as many women and girls who skate as I possibly could, with the intention of conducting interviews and eventually producing a film with the resulting material. Instagram became a crucial means of connecting, communicating, and building a reputation as a legitimate and well-meaning outsider to the community I was aiming to connect with and document. In the process, I discovered the active and growing social media communities built up around women and girls’ skateboarding, a community whose online dimension illustrates a hopeful side of social media’s potential both for building supportive and connected communities, and for gaining knowledge and insight about how those communities function.
The landing page of Walking Cinema’s website displays a slick two-and-a-half-minute video which, without much informational text and no spoken words, introduces the viewer to the Boston-based organization’s specific brand of mobile documentary productions. The video’s framing moves in and out of reproduced mobile app interfaces and the real-world locations that the app-based storytelling projects correspond to using charming but perhaps overly-gimmicky 3d animation tools, all to a soundtrack of royalty-free deep house music. My curiosity is piqued, but this introduction inspires a degree of skepticism as I proceed to the website’s “Projects” tab, where the organization’s portfolio is on more detailed display.