Projects

Valley Vibes. The Vibe-Detector

East London, Jan 1998

Duration: 1998 - 2003
Location: Public Space, East London
Participants: 3,000
Visitors: 7,000
Number of Events: 100
Additional Presentations: Democracy!, Royal College of Art, Londen, (14.04.2000- 12 .05.2000)

Valley Vibes (1998) was inspired by questions raised by Amy Plant, a London-based curator, about finding different ways of documenting people's feelings regarding the radical regeneration processes being implemented on various social housing estates and areas in London. She was specifically interested in working with an artist towards discovering ways, over a long period of time, of gathering information, which could function as a mediating tool between members of a community and those in charge of these regeneration schemes.
Valley Vibes was part of a larger research scheme initiated and staged by London's CHORA Institute for Architecture and Urbanism. The Vibe Detector assisted CHORA in mapping London Sector A, a large demarcated strip within East London, stretching from Greenwich in the south to the northern outskirts of Greater London. The Vibe Detector was not devised as a work of art but as an instrument, designed to investigate different kind of lives connected to the area. It was a cross between a big ghetto-blaster and an ice cream trolley, of simple design, made of gleaming aluminium, small enough to fit in a domestic doorway, tall enough to stand or sit behind. Four trolley wheels ensured that it could travel through the streets to people's private parties, the local hairdressers, the market place, the night-club, the latest poetry reading, school events, official meetings and debates, local festivals or wherever was desired. The machine was filled with sound equipment and could serve as a karaoke machine, conference set, a DJ booth, a recording studio and a radio station. The 'detector' automatically made a DAT copy of the sounds it produced. So that a broad public could really benefit from the detector, a complete service was offered, providing advice and publicity material for their events and a technician. The Vibe Detector was advertised through the base venues and other local channels. It was free of charge to people living and working in the area, to encourage them to map how they experienced their neighbourhood and what they thought was important.

As an instrument, the Vibe Detector hoovered up information as it moved through the area and was taken by local people on an urban journey. Local people were encouraged to do their own 'research' by staging events in their own neighbourhoods, engaging and creating new dialogues, thereby allowing them to control the nature of the information. The Vibe Detector assisted in manifesting their personal views of the area in new and imaginative ways in order to reach an understanding of urban experiences, giving them a voice and also enabling them to influence a historical reading of their area and its image.

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