We visited LifePatch on 14 December. Although they have a small shared book collection, libraries are not part of their core activity, but we were interested in their approach to sharing knowledge and their DIY attitude, and the ways they are generating and using data. We also really liked their wiki because it is such an open an comprehensive way to document and archive the organisations activities and future directions.
I knew about LifePatch because of their involvement in Festival Mata Air, which I wrote about in my PhD and elsewhere. I use them as an example of ‘citizen designers’ in my interdisciplinary design studies lectures. Andreas Siagian has also visited Sydney several times.
We spoke with Ferial and Timbil over coffee at the lifepatch space. Parts of the space are under construction because they have plans for a residency program, and are building rooms that people can experiment and stay in. The way they talked about hosting people in the space was very inclusive and manifest by the gorgeous pond in the yard. The pond had been constructed by visiting Taiwanese artists from The Open Contemporary Art Centre, ‘Itu Apa Island’ (what island is that?). You can read about it here.
Ferial described Lifepatch as a research and development organisation. They explained that the DIY or DIT (do it together) approach is completely natural to them… Ferial describe Gotong Royong is the predecessor of DIY. They do all kinds of activities, depending on what are members’ interests. Members include: architect, chemist, former public servant, civil engineer, musician, biotech, interior designer.
Their projects are often read by arts organisations and curators as art, but that is not necessarily what they are doing. For two years they have been busy with exhibitions, and now they are saying ‘no’ to a lot of invitations.
These revelations reminded my of FoAM’s program ‘Doing Nothing‘.
Doing Nothing is a practice-based research programme where we investigate what happens when we do nothing at all. We carve out time and space to “be,” without expectations or desires for changing or achieving anything in particular.
And also, Frontyard’s spoon accounting.
One of the projects we were interested in was their citizen science work testing water quality in Kali Code since 2012. They worked with other groups on this, such as SAKI, who we had just been to see that morning.
Timbil said ‘The first step is walking at the river. Because we know its there, but we don’t really know what it looks like and how it works.’ In 2010 after the Merapi eruption and they collected data on pH, temperature, physical mapping, and e-coli. They have heaps of data, which is clear… The river is in bad shape. But how to connect quantitative data to the qualitative information is difficult.
Their activities are complex, but the wiki covers it all. They use wikiforms and everyone uploads. Its like a scrap book. They put absolutely everything on there – and use google translate so it is messy and imperfect. ‘We like it like that’.
We have wiki envy.