Public Lab Research note

Public Lab River Rat Pack -- St. Louis -- Katie Haas

by Kahaas10 | May 09, 2016 20:35 09 May 20:35 | #13095 | #13095

At the start of the seminar course, we looked to the Public Lab for strategies and procedures for capturing and then documenting the work we would collect. Mapknitter became an interesting tool for stitching together photographs we had captured at each of the sites.

My role in the exhibition was introducing Public Lab and giving them credit for the inspiration behind this seminar. Their balloon mapping kit provided all the necessary materials for which we needed to make successful flights and capturing the work needed for an even more successful exhibition about our crazy adventures out on the Mississippi River. The kit of parts and the actual supplies were arranged during the exhibition to showcase the materials, and show how inexpensive and easily accessible they are.

From the seminar, I learned a great deal about the Mississippi River, it's tributaries and it's accessibility (or lack there of). Growing up in Chicago my whole life, I was aware that the midwest region was to thank the river for it's beginnings in industry and the founding of many important trade connections from the Gulf Coast up to its source in Minnesota. However, since my move to St. Louis, the river remained uncharted territory to me as a student and as a civilian. The city, although situated directly on the river, is highly inaccessible due to industry, and just lack of access. The opportunity to explore many different conditions of the river was enlightening to me as a designer, to see the different river edge conditions, how the land and ecology react to each particular condition and also the access to civilians. In general, I found that the areas in which the river is highly controlled by human interaction in the form of dams and locks, the land and the rivers edge are generally harder to access as civilians and generally there are restrictions on what can be photographed.

This course also brought up a very interesting topic of discussion in "unseen" aerial objects such as drones. The idea that drones could be flying above our heads anywhere and anytime is quite a startling realization, but the seminar taught us and any other bystanders that aerial photography and methods of learning and understanding our environment can be attained through cheap, DIY, methods. The balloon made our group approachable and made others aware of what we were doing.

In general, the course was a great example of alternative field exploration and documentation that is often missing from courses and course objectives. The opportunity to learn and understand the environment in which we live via hands on methodology was more important than any research done online or through books.


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