Thursday, November 11, 2010



Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – it is going so fast and we have got a bit behind on the blog.

We returned to the school on Monday, having finished the data maps, the felt was all glued and the circles framed by an ingenious idea of Silvia’s – hula hoops, that she managed to find in the centre of Rio. As objects, data maps, they are quite beautiful, the colours, layout and style (to use the language of Robin Active Ingredient’s programmer) were simple yet evocative representions of the data they collected as ‘human sensors’.


We went to the school and arrived in the middle of a birthday celebration so we joined in singing Happy Birthday in Portuguese (clapping along) and were treated to some very sticky chocolate cake.

The art teacher Silvia had worked with arrived and took us to set up the exhibition in the entrance to the school. Apart from a small computer room (the size of the one we had in the 1980s in London but of course with up to date computers) there is very little technology in the school and at this time hardly anything on the walls but outside there is forest, a small planted garden that was grown as part of the education programme with the botanical gardens. With 40 children in each class it must be very hard for the teachers, but pretty much all the children we worked with were attentive, focused and thoughtful about their work. Supposedly the school is one of the best state schools in Rio and they certainly have a wonderful resource next door with the botanical gardens.

The kids walking past were very intrigued and the class we seemed quite proud as we attempted to align the 5 data maps on a brick wall. Once we had hung all the data maps and notebooks from the original workshops Sylvia did with them we left, our intervention over - but with plansin place for the longer term exchange project with schools in the UK.


We then went on to the botanical gardens to meet NEA, the education team there in their beautiful resource centre. Carmelita and Marcia showed us the games and activities that they use to introduce the botanical gardens and the biomes of the Mata Atlantica to the groups they work with and then showed us round their inspiring installations about the history of the gardens and botany in Brazil. The gardens themselves are beautifully landscaped and ‘curated’, which is the word they use for the way the plants evolve in the gardens.

After a fantastic conversation with NEA we met Bruno for lunch and were also introduced to Ricardo, the garden’s curator.

And so continues our week of conversation with the people who work with the Mata Atlantica, and with the forest itself through collecting micro data in the locations we visit along our journey in the van.

Despite our growing tiredness, due to the early wake up calls from Luis the fantastic driver and owner of the van, we went out to a launch of a book in a community near the docks.

Walking through the twisted streets with houses built as if they have grown organically interwined and interdependent, up a steep staircase that weaved to the side of the community, to the top of the hill with a large building and watch tower looking over the docks. The group of hackers organising the event are occupying an empty house here and transmitting a pirate radio station over Rio, alongside the launch of their book about their work. The book looks interesting although of course near impossible to read in Portuguese, it will be a good start to improve my vocabulary. They were distributing it as an e-book via pen drives. We met many of Silvia’s peers and collaborators and had some good conversations as people came and went. Standing in the street listening to music from the live radio transmission, drinking beer in the hot sticky night.

Matt ended up doing a DJ slot on the radio and filling Rio’s airways with his own unique DJ ChOw dubstep and two-step sounds of Nottingham.

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