For the project a special recording device was developed, nicknamed “The Beagle”. The Beagle looks like a normal sling-bag and allows people to go out on their own, and record the city in a special orchestrated way. It takes the participant into a solist, yet shared journey and center stages the role of the individual as a data collecting entity.
The thus edited recordings are experienced by the public as an shared journey that delicately balances between the surveillance, and empathy mode of watching data. Never explicitly mentioning this subject matter, but rather focussing on the personal reactions of people to their familiar or unfamiliar environments, the thematic core “ The human as data collector” is an under current of this experimental documentary approach.
Despite of using one of the major big data collectors platform (Google), the project places itself in an poetic contradiction with… or play with… if you like… the common big-data framework, where generalisation, even on the level of personalised data is core. The Beagle on the contrary collects the participant’s spoken reactions to the city, in a very aware and poetically constructed and media specific manner; triggered by a set of self chosen prompts, and combined with her/his deliberately self-choreographed movements and the contingent appearance of ambient sounds of the city surrounding her/him.
The Beagle was developed in Philadelphia in 2014 as part of the 250 miles project.