Freespace is an online repository of place and memory allowing the public to experience, collect, and respond the contemporary landscape.
Through a Rhizome Commission, Freespace wishes to develop a website that is a platform for community participation about the ways memory and narrative are connected to place.
Freespace is a project that is interested in place. Though not places that are tourist destinations or commercial enterprises, but sites that have unique meaning to you. Those intimate places that have resonance in your memory. Maybe it’s a chair in your back yard or the site of a first kiss, these are the places freespace wishes to document and understand.
While the location is primary, Freespace is also interested in the stories that reside in those spaces. We are interested to hear about what it was like to have that first kiss or what you think about when sitting in that chair. You are even welcome to create a new way of experiencing a site. This information, along with a photo and details of the site, are then posted to the website.
Freespace is a platform upon which you can post, collect, situate and share these places online. Is serves as a repository for the everyday space, the space that once was and the space that is constantly in between. Our goal is to make these places accessible to the broader public, becoming a park system of micro sites, where a wealth of experience is made tangible. In the end what will be defined is a breadth of perspectives that shows the vitality of peoples connection to place.
Beyond the virtual, Freespace will also create a series of events, flags, and field kits that allow for a physical experience of place. These will allow interested individuals to visit each site and build upon the initial narrative. Those that have donated content will also be able to make themselves and their sites accessible to further enhance this experience.
A native of Wisconsin, Matthew Slaats completed his MFA and MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005 and his BA in Archaeology from the University of Evansville in 1999. His artistic career has a vast array of interests focusing around community engagement, performance, installation, video, and sound. This has led him to pursue various media based projects that explore the relationship between people and place. In 2009 he completed a community image archiving project in Hyde Park, NY and a mobile gaming project in Poughkeepsie, NY. In 2010 he started working with Middle Main Revitalization to support the development of cultural assets in Poughkeepsie. This has lead him to start PAUSE, a non profit that partners artists, local organizations and residents to collaborate on rebuilding decaying communities.
Full CV - Link
Spring 11 – Research and Prototyping
As freespace has been in development for several months, this initial stage will focus on refining our idea and seeing examples of the ways in which media and place can be organized together via a website. We will research the ways in which other websites are incorporating this information (Pinterest, Facebook, Google) and begin to develop a design for the site that reflects the conceptual interests of the project.
Summer 11 – Production of Website
Over the summer of 2011 we well begin production of the website using Drupal as our interface. This will focus on reaching out to several designers and programmers with extensive knowledge of the software to implement the design.
Fall 11 – Testing and Events
Later in the year we will begin to roll out the site for testing with specific galleries and groups around the US. We will produce a series of events (alla Avon or Tupperware) that will initiate Freespaces and then look to build a community around the site. Once we are comfortable with the design the site will go live.
Winter 11 – Redevelopment
Growing out of the responses from our testing, we will being to redevelop the site to address any issues that might have become apparent. Our efforts here will focus primarily on ease of adding content to the site.
Spring 12 – Testing, Roll out and Building Community
At this point our hope is that the website will have build enough support that we can being to partner with larger arts organizations to promote the site and get the larger public involved with the effort. We will continue to organized a series of meetings and challenge users to being their own meetings.
Developer – $50 x 60 = $3000
Server – $300
Design – $50 x 30 = $1500
Media – $600
Events – $1000
4 x $250
Products – $1500
Field Kit – $1000
Cards/Posters – $500
Hyde Park Visual History Project - http://thehydeparkproject.com
Complete in 2009, the Hyde Park Visual History Project as a community effort to understand how media connections people and place together. The project asked the residents of Hyde Park, NY to donate images, video and audio that they felt defined where they lived. This material was then used to create a series of video installations where the media was resituated back in the the landscape to explore the complexity of place.
Powers that Be - http://powers.matthewslaats.com/projects/
In 2010, I collaborated with youth involved in the Youth Build program and Nubian Directions in Poughkeepsie, NY. Youth Build is a program chartered by Congress that supports at risk youth who have dropped out of school to get their GEDs and job skills. For this project I worked with the youth to understand how they connected to where they live. They documented those connections using video, which were then projected onto buildings throughout the city.
Walking History - http://www.childrensmediaproject.org/article.asp?showid=196
Walking History is a location based mobile game developed in collaboration with the Childrens Media Project, middle school students and myself. Over the summer of 2009 we worked together to explore the complexity of urban space. Out of this we created a narrative that explored themes of culture, history, and the environment tied together by fantasy. At the same time the youth produced media (audio, video and images) that was used to drive the story forward. This was made available for youth and families to play at the Mid Hudson Childrens Museum in the Spring of 2010.