VivaCosenza: how to transform a city event into a real-time participatory performance

Realtime VivaCosenza

Realtime VivaCosenza

VivaCosenza Performance Lab is an international event about art and performance that will be held on December 8th and 9th, 2012 in the city of Cosenza, an ancient and beautiful site of the south of Italy.

The event will feature multiple international artists, a city-wide forum engaging the whole population in cultural design and activities dedicated to the creation of public strategies and policies, as well as a series of innovative scenarios dedicated to education, for high school and university students.

At AOS we have been invited to design the digital life of the festival. A first, early version of the website which will host all this part of the initiative can be seen here: 

We decided to create some tools which could be used by students and citizens to enact the real-time, participatory narratives of the event, as fundamental part of all of the education, communication and cultural formats which have been designed for the festival.

Using a series of open technologies which we had developed for the ConnectiCity and VersuS projects, we have setup a system which is able to capture in real-time all of the social network activity of citizens, students, visitors, organizations and institutions of the city of Cosenza and also of the people who will use social networks to communicate about the festival and the city from other locations.

A set of language-based technologies will then be used to classify all this information, in real time, being able to understand the themes, issues and subjects which all this information is talking about.

Special focus will be given to the projects created by high-school and university students, who have been asked to create communication formats for the festival, dealing with arts, food culture and new forms of journalism and storytelling. The contents created in these formats will be given special highlight and the best ones will be awarded a prize and be taken into consideration for further development for next year’s edition.

Even more, all of the emergent communication which will be generated in real-time during the festival will be captured from social networks, and visualized both online, on smartphone/tablet applications as well as using a projection mapping in a public space in the city, so that all citizens will be able to experience the digital life of the city directly from public space.

The objective of the platform is to understand the ways in which these kinds of technologies can be used to transform the life of the citizens of the city, to imagine, design and enact novel participatory approaches.

In this, we suggest a new role for institutions, who become promoters and maintainers of new forms of expression which are available and accessible to everyone.

Justas we used technology to create an infrastructure for expression to be used by students to create their own formats, we imagine a “city as a platform” (for example as we suggested in Trieste a few weeks ago), where ubiquitous infrastructure (both cultural and technological) is made accessible and usable through public policies, enabling citizens and city dwellers to basically have the tools to design and build their own digital, cultural, business, communication, storytelling, envisioning ecosystem.

We will start from scratch with the students and, thus, we have setup a basic set of technologies, for them to be used as building blocks for their communication and storytelling formats.

For example, we have setup a platform which will capture all city relevant public content generated on social networks (relevant either because it was generated in the city, or because it discusses on city-relevant issues).

Here below you can see a visualization of the data in the system being captured in realtime:

Data being captured and visualized in Cosenza in realtime

Data being captured and visualized in Cosenza in realtime

The green dots show topic clusters (larger means “more important”), while red dots show user clusters, being connected to the topics they are discussing.

Data can be analyzed according to time, using timelines such as the one below:

the Digital Days of the city of Cosenza

the Digital Days of the city of Cosenza

And users can be analyzed for their activity (how many contents they produce on social networks) and according to the topics they discuss, as seen in the two images below

Digital Citizens in Cosenza

Digital Citizens in Cosenza


What digital citizens discuss in Cosenza

What digital citizens discuss in Cosenza

For example, topic clusters can be organized into easy to access groups, thus establishing multiple possible participatory communication formats.

Here, for example, we have assembled some for the beginning of the festival (bars are almost empty for now, as the festival has not begun yet), and by simply clicking them people will access what students and city dwellers have produced, shared and communicated in the specific format, across social networks and sites.

some formats, dedicated to the festival

some formats, dedicated to the festival

It must be highlighted how these technologies allow capturing in real-time the public communications which citizens publish on social networks (for VivaCosenza we will be using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube). So we will capture all (and only) those messages which are intended as being public by their publishers (users/citizens).

Yet this is a delicate issue, as the definitions of privacy, public/private spaces are rapidly changing, and many times people have a hard time in understanding the reach and scope of visibility which the messages they post online have.

We will use this occasion to also explore these important issues: we do not wish to promote a novel form of Panopticon, but a cultural approach according to which individuals and groups can freely decide what and how to communicate, to whom it should be visible and accessible, and to use this information to create opportunities for collaboration, sustainable business, social innovation and art.

So heads up and come at VivaCosenza Performance Lab!

ELMCIP, in Edinburgh, discussing Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice

Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice (ELMCIP) is a collaborative research project funded by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) JRP for Creativity and Innovation. ELMCIP involves seven European academic research partners and one non-academic partner who are investigating how creative communities of practitioners form within a transnational and transcultural context in a globalized and distributed communication environment. Focusing on the electronic literature community in Europe as a model of networked creativity and innovation in practice, ELMCIP is intended both to study the formation and interactions of that community and to further electronic literature research and practice in Europe.

read write reality

read write reality

The partners include: University of Bergen, Norway (PL Scott Rettberg, Co-I Jill Walker Rettberg), Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland (PI Simon Biggs, Co-I Penny Travlou), Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden (PI Maria Engberg, Co-I Talan Memmott), University of Amsterdam, Netherlands (PI Yra Van Dijk), University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (PI Janez Strechovec), University of Jyväskylä, Finland (PI Raine Koskimaa), University College Falmouth at Dartington, England (PI Jerome Fletcher), and New Media Scotland.

We took part in this project as case studies in the research “Digital Manual: Authority, Authorship and Voice” by Dr Penny Travlou (PI), a cultural geographer, and Dr Smita Kheria (Co-I), a legal scholar in intellectual property law and copyright.

We will present our point of view at the ELMCIP Conference “Remediatng the social” on November 1st 2012.

Here below are the links to the e-book which is among the results of the project:

In the book you will find the article “Rhizomic ethnographies” by Penny Travlou, which gives more details about the parts of the project we have been part of.


updates: here below are our slides at the conference

Here below a slideshow describing the story and results of the overall project.

Layers, a workshop on ubiquitous publishing at Ualuba

layers, a workshop un ubiquitous publishing

layers, a workshop un ubiquitous publishing


We will be at Ualuba, in Brescia, Italy, on May 19th-20th for LAYERS, an intensive workshop on Ubiquitous Publishing.




May 19+20 2012
16 hours / 2 days / 1 week
from 9am to 6pm
intensive workshop (registration needed)


Cen­tro Arti&Tecnologie
via Forcello 38/a
25124 Brescia



The spaces of contemporary cities are covered by membranes of digital information.

The wide and ubiquitous availability and accessibility of digital technologies and networks transform our perception of spaces.

Ubiquitous publishing technologies and methodologies – such as augmented reality, location based applications, digital tagging and near-field computing – allow to design natural interaction systems in which content, information and experiences become accessible through bodies, objects and architectural spaces.

In the workshop we will design and build an ubiquitous cinematographic experience: an augmented reality movie, disseminated in the city and accessible by traversing its spaces.


Minimum requisites:

The workshop is designed in order to be accessible even for people who never had experience in technological design and development.

Main requirements: curiosity, desire to learn and, most of all, to work in collaborative groups.

The workshop is also designed to provide insights about novel uses for technologies to people who already have previous experiences in Java, C++/Objective-C, graphics, animation, mathematical models, environmental and architectural design.


  • augmented reality context: design methodology for physical spaces which include ubiquitous interactive experiences;
  • interactive ecosystems: design of interactive ecosystems which traverse media and physical spaces;
  • content management systems: how to transform a plain content management system (we will use a WordPress installation during the workshop) into a system which allows to manage ubiquitous content (location-based, tag-based, augmented reality), optimized for use on multiple devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, tablet computer);
  • design of ubiquitous narratives: what is an ubiquitous narrative and how is it possible to design one; non-linear, emergent, multi-author, disseminated in space;
  • accessibility and usability: digital inclusion and alternative strategies; how to include in experiences people who do not possess smartphones;
  • technologies: cocos3D, cocos2D, Android SDK, iOS SDK, OpenGL ES, OpenFrameworks, Processing, QUalcomm AR SDK, PHP, SQL
  • implementation of an ubiquitous cinematographic experience

RWR – READ/WRITE Reality deadline extension and a short video

Many people have asked us to extend the deadline for registration to the RWR Read/Write Reality workshop on ubiquitous publishing.

And so here it is! A deadline extension!

3 more people will be able to register until the 8th of September!

And, in the meantime, here is a short video quickly made while preparing the workshop.

Read/Write Reality, An intensive workshop on Ubiquitous Publishing

RWR, Read Write Reality logo

RWR, Read Write Reality logo



WHAT: 3+1 days of intensive workshop on the possibilities offered by Ubiquitous Publishing techniques and technologies

WHEN: from 13th to 16th September 2011

WHERE: Cava de’ Tirreni (Amalfi Coast, Italy)


Do you want to learn about new business models, new forms of expression, new possibilities for culture and knowdledge?

Are you looking for new tools for freedom of communication, expression and for knowledge or content diffusion?

Would you like to discover what will be the next possibilities for e-books and digital publishing, starting from the opportunities offered by our present times?

Do you want to learn and acquire the “new ways of writing on the world” that are turning our bodies, architectures, spaces and objects into publishing surfaces?


READ/WRITE REALITY (RWR) is an intensive and visionary workshop created to pragmatically explore the methodological, technical and technological possibilities offered by Ubiquitous Publishing.

A 3+1 days hands-on and minds-on program in which we will follow you through the creation of a full ubiquitous publishing project, starting from scratch and ending up at product release. Participants will learn the methodologies, the conceptual and technological frameworks which will enable individuals, organizations, companies or collectives to use ubiquitous technologies to enact new forms of communication and expression, new business models, new ways in which you can activate your strategies and observe their effects.

Out of the monitor, in the spaces of our cities, bodies, objects and products.

RWR will be held on September 13-14-15+16 in Cava de’ Tirreni, at the Ostello “Borgo Scacciaventi”, a beautiful setting in a 15th century building near to the famous Amalifi Coast. The workshop will fill 3+1 days of intense activities, visionary discussions, engaging hands-on practices, on-the-field explorations and content-production, an “ubiquitous movida” to be discovered, great food, wine and scenery, in contact with the rooted traditions of the beautiful South of Italy.

During the last day (Sept. 16th) a big party and a city-wide event will mark the achievement of your work: the result of the RWR workshop will be exposed in a prestigious building in the center of Cava de’ Tirreni, at the presence of internationally known academics and researchers.


The workshop is addresed to:

  • designers (wishing to know,understand and use Ubiquitous Publishing technologies);
  • communicators (who want to understand and learnhow to bring digital information out of the monitor, into the city, in people’s pockets, on objects and in the places we traverse in our daily lives);
  • developers (who want to learn how to build engaging ubiquitous interactive experiences);
  • artists, journalists, scientists and researchers (wishing to add ubiquitous technologies to their toolset for expression, information, knowledge, education and research practices);
  • and strategists (with the desire to gain knowledge and insights to confront with the next step of digital communication).


Technologies you will use:

  • iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets
  • location based, GPS, digital compass
  • accelerometers for gesture-based interactions
  • augmented reality: location-based, marker-based, computer vision based
  • mobile tagging: QRCode, barcodes
  • HTML5, CSS3, WebGL
  • multimedia of all sorts, 3D, 2D, sound, immersive sounds and visuals
  • projection mapping for architecture-based content and interaction


Deadline for enrollment & Conditions

20th August 2011

Only a limited number of 35 people will be accepted:


ATTENTION! Students, artists, researchers, people working in educational or non-profit sector, young (less than 26 years old) and old (over 70), benefit from special conditions!


The Program for RWR

The Program for RWR







RWR is a project by

FakePress and Art is Opensource

in collaboration with:

Cantro Studi di Etnografia Digitale, Ninja Marketing, Ostello “Borgo Scacciaventi”


supported by:

LiberLiber, MELTINGPOT – Cantiere Creativo per la New Media Art, Piemonte Share Festival, StoriaContinua


More info at: