Explore a large city drawn in pencil. Pick one of the lit windows and listen to a recording. A stranger who could be in Budapest or Adelaide, London or Copenhagen has stopped their bicycle at a specific spot. On this corner or in this cemetery, under this awning or behind this pub they have a story to tell. It may be about a party that got out of hand or this might be a place that their Dad once loved. Whatever they tell it is personal and exact, part of a palimpsest of intimate reflections.
Riders Have Spoken is an interactive archive of selected recordings from Rider Spoke.
As Rider Spoke toured the world, we collected tens of thousands of recordings. We listen to each recording on the day it is made and place it into one of five categories. Each category is summed up by a description, of which the most positive is “I would love to listen to this: exceptional, hilarious, moving, surprising, unique”. For a while we had been thinking of how to re-present these most treasured recordings. The format needed to be engaging to an audience who had no experience of Rider Spoke while being sensitive to the specific context in which the recordings had been made. Each recording was made alone, in the evening, while cycling. Most importantly, the speaker had chosen a specific spot in the city to stop their bike and make that recording.
The finished work is shown on computer screen. Scroll across the city and click on an illuminated window to hear a recording. The first presentation of Riders Have Spoken was at the British Library as part of an exhibition called Growing Knowledge, the Evolution of Research.
Riders Have Spoken was developed in 2009-2010 with funding from Horizon led by Gabriella Giannachi from the University of Exeter and Duncan Rowland, Steve Benford and Dominic Price from the University of Nottingham. As part of this work, two approaches to archiving mixed reality performances were begun. In one Duncan Rowland, Dominic Price, Gabriella Giannachi and Steve Benford, in partnership with British Library and Stanford Libraries, worked on an interactive archive for scholars that combined video, transcripts and annotations called CloudPad. This work was supported by a significant piece of archiving work in Linz by Gabriella Giannachi, Duncan Rowland and Katja Kwastek at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute when Rider Spoke was presented at Ars Electronica in 2009.
A subsequent grant led to further development of the CloudPad archiving tool. In 2010-11 Jonathan Foster from the University of Sheffield, Gabriella Giannachi from the University of Exeter and Steve Benford of the University of Nottingham collaborated on a research project called Riders Have Spoken: Designing and Evaluating an Archive for Replaying Interactive Performances funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.