Creative Dundee

Small Society Lab 2014

The Small Society Lab 2014 is an open project exploring the development and understanding of the small city of the future; it is led by DCA in partnership with University of Dundee.

Focused on the intersection between art, community and technology, it works to develop a range of projects, interventions and events which aim to support a sustainable future for the post-industrial urban environment.

Since its inception as a project at DCA, the Small Society Lab has worked with partners from NCR, the National Institute for Design in India, Mozilla, V&A London and NASA; as well as individuals from community centres, social housing projects and care homes in Dundee.

Embodying the maxim coined by Patrick Geddes, the Small Society Lab is ‘thinking global and acting local’, to build a vision for the city which uses this insight.

The Small Society Lab is an open space for inspiring creativity, innovation and collaboration.

The focus this year is ideas of value. Digital value, democratic value, cash value, cultural value, and the value of making.

Irini Papadimitriou, curator of Digital Futures at the V&A, joined the Lab to lead a workshop exploring notions of digital value. People are invited to join us in an open show-and-tell-and-discuss workshop with artists, designers, creative technologists alongside some industry, practice and academic communities. In a time where we’re questioning the very nature of the security of the much loved digital assets in our lives, we want to tease out what digital means to you and what it could mean to our society in the future.

Digital Futures is an open platform for the display and discussion of work (in progress or finished) by students, researchers, creative practitioners and other professionals working with digital media, interactive art, digital design, science and more.

The programme offers participants opportunities to show and discuss their work with fellow artists, technologists and the public, but also a platform to network and nurture discussion and future collaborations between participants.

What to bring: Do you have a prototype that you’d like to share? Is it screen-based or physical digital? They’d love to see what you’re working on and share ways of working across our city.

Thursday 5th June 12-5pm
 – Panel talk with digital practitioners: 12.30-2pm.

“Money makes the world go around” or “the love of money is the root of all evil” no matter which of these is closer to the truth, money – how we get it, how we carry it and how and where we use it is part of our everyday lives.

In this session we will explore the ways in which alternative methods of accessing, managing and using money are developing globally and specifically in Dundee and what role there might be for alternative forms of banking and new and emerging technologies in responding to these changes.

Friday 13th June 2-4pm

With the Scottish Independence referendum fast approaching, the country is talking about politics like never before. In this session, we will explore how we might re-shape democracy in a way that is more participatory and focused on the issues that matter to cities and communities.

We’re particularly interested in the role that technology can play in building a more participatory democracy. From the printing press to Twitter, disruptive technologies have always played a large role in shaping the way we engage with politics. We want to find the next disruptive idea that changes the way we determine how our country, cities and communities are run.

Join us for a panel discussion, followed by an exhibition of work by DJCAD MSc Product Design students exploring how innovative digital products can collect information, challenge opinions and encourage participation around the referendum.

What to bring: 
Strong opinions and new idea. What matters in your community that isn’t being discussed? Do you have examples of technologies being used in innovative ways to enable participation?

Monday 16th June 12.30–1.30pm panel discussion/1.30pm onwards workshop.

Over the past six months DCA has been working with artist Aidan Moesby to explore how we might create a reflexive representation of the mood of the city. The project is now at an advanced stage and this session will be an opportunity to see the first manifestations of the outcomes, which involve analysing how Dundee feels, based on social media and news-feeds. Aidan has developed Sagacity – The Periodic Table of Emotions.

This commission is in partnership with Project Ginsberg is an NHS project researching methods through which technological innovation may assist with mental health in Scotland.

Fri 20th June 12-2pm


Aidan Moesby’s Sagacity – The Periodic Table of Emotions.

We all value the culture of our city – the public response to the recent bid by Dundee to be City of Culture 2017 demonstrated how important the culture of Dundee is to thousands of us. But do we really understand what we mean when we say that we value culture?. How does this idea of value connect with all those other, harder, notions of value that drive our daily lives. In this session we will have the opportunity to hear from three people who are seeking to address this question.

As a keynote to this entire month of Small Society Lab activity, we’re pleased that we have the opportunity to hear a presentation; ‘Culture Cities and Urban Renaissance’, from Graeme Purves, former Assistant Chief Planner for the Scottish Government and a specialist in the work of Frank Mears – one of Scotland’s first official city planners, the inventor of the modern parachute, and the son-in-law of Patrick Geddes.

In addition, there will also be a chance to hear about two live research projects being taken forward in this area by Lorenzo Pergola and Ciaran MacDonald, who are each exploring comparative notions of the value of culture in Dundee and Edinburgh. This session will be dipping into the tricky territory of how we value things that cannot necessarily be monetised – or can they…?

Fri 20th June 2.30-4.30pm

Clive Gillman of DCA has written about Scotland’s cities and our culture, in this guest feature for Creative Dundee, Scotland’s Radical Cities.

“Where are things made in Dundee?”
This question was put to us when we invited Praveen Nahar to visit Dundee from the National Institute of Design in India. In India, making is everywhere. From food, to kites, furniture, to electronics – there is an incredible amount of visible making happening all across the cities.

In Dundee? Well. There’s a question. We know that making is out there and we want to make it visible. To do so, we need your help – we want to make a physical map of the city that highlights the making and types of making activity. Whether you’re a potter (or know where pottery is made), joiner, knitter, graphic designer, a hacker, stone mason, electronics engineer, artist or jeweller . We want to create a public map of where things are made. So that next time, where a visitor to our city asks us “Where are things are made?”, we can say “Here, and here and here and here and here”….

What to bring: 
If you’re a maker, we’d love to mark the map with the material you work with. It might be clay, bronze (yes we’ll find a place for you to sandcast!), paper, silicon, code (hmm, we’ll think about that), wool or a sheet of plastic – bring them all!

Mon 23rd June 12-5pm 
Panel discussion with local makers 12.30-2pm.



Mapping Dundee’s maker communities.


“Casino and Queenie used to be hedge fund managers. Before the financial crisis of 2008, that is. Now, in an inspired – or desperate – career move, they’ve turned to performance art to share their stories of how to make (and lose) billions from economic downturn.

Playing with £10,000 in real pound coins, you are invited to bet long, short and hedge, as Casino and Queenie challenge you to play a series of high stake games that demonstrate how the world’s economic system came to the brink of collapse.

Risk takers to the front, risk averse to the back. Welcome to MONEY the game show.”

To celebrate the opening of Money The Game Show in Dundee, we’re inviting Unlimited Theatre to tell lead a discussion on the value of community to theatre. So join us hear Unlimited’s director, Jon Spooner, take us on a journey through his world and the world that he brings us all into through the work that he does.
Monday 24th June 12.30-2pm for a panel discussion with Jon Spooner.
Money the Game Show opens at the Rep on Monday 24th June.


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