Update BOM Fellows: Nikki Pugh

From time to time we like to bring you updates on what our Fellows are working on. This week we look at the work of BOM Fellow Nikki Pugh. Nikki’s work is centred around interactions between people and place, she uses tools and strategies from areas such as pervasive games and physical computing to set up frameworks for exploration.

Nikki is currently working on a new project, Orrery, which explores questions about the physical and emotional experiences of cycling (and of being the person left at home); the frictions of data visualisation; and different practices of finding-out-by-doing.

Work in progress as the Orrery is built

Work in progress as the Orrery is built

Nikki writes, “The Orrery is intended as a device for exploring how our conversations and connectedness change when we have a moving sculptural object constantly communicating progress rather than us occasionally clicking to refresh a map on a webpage. It’s there as a prop for thinking with and also as a physical thing made out of stuff that can be lived with and related to over time. Not an answer, but a tool for asking questions.

Although driven by what’s effectively the same GPS data that services such as Trackleaders and other platforms use, rather than utilising this to give precise location and to draw lines on a map the Orrery gives no information as to the whereabouts of the person you’re tracking. Instead the Orrery uses cams, cranks, pulleys and changing light levels to give cues for envisioning if they are experiencing a grinding uphill slog, the simple pleasure of a tailwind or the liminality of cycling into the dawn.

The Orrery reacts to data as the miles pass by, muscles contract, views are revealed, strangers encountered and trains of thought dance. How on earth do you begin to convey some sort of essence of that to someone on the other end of an internet connection? Should you?”

Nikki will also be recording conversations with a selection of people who have either undertaken significant cycle journeys, or been the person remaining at home wondering how they’re getting on. Uncovering narratives has been a continuing theme in Nikki’s work; Tell Me About A Time installed as part of BOM’s Live R&D exhibition invited people to record their stories on themes of connectedness, journeying and adventure in a series of notebooks with titles like ‘Tell me about a time when you cycled into the night...’ and ‘Tell me about a time when you made a journey that was in some way a little bit epic...’ Nikki’s corner of the gallery became a space filled with animated conversations and the scratching of pencil on paper. Nikki’s aim was to, “celebrate poetic details of the everyday, moments of modest heroism and those tales that remind us who we are or can be.”

In August Nikki will be showing Links & Shifts at BOM. At this event she’ll be joined by Kat Jungnickel and Emily Chappell for an exploration of understanding-through-doing; questions around sensescapes; our relationships to place; the affordances of bodies and technology in motion; and how we tell the stories of the physical, emotional and intellectual journeys we go on.

For more about Nikki’s practice and projects visit her website http://npugh.co.uk/ or follow the build process on Twitter @nikkipugh.