an audio/photographic tool for conveying
minimally-mediated impressions of everyday life
Joëlle Bitton, Stefan Agamanolis, Matthew Karau
Records and accounts of everyday life in our pasts and presents are
often mediated by numerous third parties (researchers, producers,
editors, and so on). We feel this mediation degrades the full sense
of awareness and appreciation we could achieve of other peoples and
places. The goal of the RAW project is to develop a new kind of
recording tool, together with a method for processing and presenting
the material captured with the tool, that enables a more direct,
minimally-mediated relationship between its user and the later
audience, possibly in a far away place or time.
What happened in that minute before you took a picture?
RAW is a system combining a tool and a process for capturing and
conveying audiovisual impressions of everyday life. The project aims
to enable a relationship between the user of the tool and an audience
in a different place or time with an absolute minimum of editorial
mediation by a third party.
The RAW tool consists of a digital still camera and a high-quality
digital stereo audio recorder that captures the minute of sound
before and after a picture is taken. The relationship created
between sound and image forms a disjoint flow and opens a new field of
audiovisual expression. These previously uncaptured moments in time
can be kept as personal artefacts or archived for later study.
Audio is recorded binaurally using high-quality miniature microphones
that are placed in the user's ears. The apparatus strives for the
closest possible recording of what the user of the tool is hearing
while they are taking pictures. This design was chosen in an attempt
to enable the later audience to immerse themselves "into the shoes" of
the person who originated the content they are experiencing, and to
place greater emphasis on the subjective point of view of this
We chose the African country of Mali as a starting point for thinking
about the RAW project because we feel this country has a particularly
rich and diverse culture that is not well recognized or understood
within Western societies. We conducted a large scale workshop over
three weeks in August 2003 in three locations in Mali: Bamako,
Timbuktu, and Ségou; and worked with 23 people. The content
gathered by these and other participants from other workshops is
presented in an interactive installation.
We are currently working on further prototypes of the RAW recording
tool as well as refinements of the archiving and presentation process.
We also plan additional workshops for capturing new RAW content, as
well as exhibitions of this content, in different areas of the world.
Please contact us if you or your organization would be interested in
hosting such a workshop or exhibition.
We wish to thank the Association pour le Dialogue et
l'Orientation Scolaire (Paris), African Refugee Network (Dublin),
Mauro Cherubini, and Alison Wood for their participation in initial
trials of RAW. Special thanks to the Everyday Learning group at Media
Lab Europe for Matthew Karau's involvement in the project.
Publications and Links
Visit the RAW web site for more details
on the project, videos, and a full list of acknowledgements.
Joëlle made a presentation about RAW in a session called
"Narratives, Subjectivity, and Interaction", part of the "Critical
Interaction Design" sub-theme at the ISEA 2004 12th International Symposium
on Electronic Arts, Baltic Sea, 14 - 22 August 2004.
Joëlle Bitton, Stefan Agamanolis, and Matthew Karau, RAW:
Rethinking the editing process and mediation in audiovisual narrative
experience, ISEA 2004 12th International Symposium
on Electronic Arts, Baltic Sea, 14 - 22 August 2004. (link)
Joëlle Bitton, Stefan Agamanolis, Matthew Karau, RAW:
Conveying minimally-mediated impressions of everyday life with an
audio-photographic tool, Proceedings of CHI 2004
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Vienna, 24 - 29
April 2004, ACM Press. (PDF)
View a RAW experience
sample (Quicktime, 27 MB, 3 minutes). This video dub of the RAW
presentation screen is of a medium quality to allow web publishing and
is not interactive. We advise you to listen to the sound with a pair
of stereo headphones.
RAW exhibitions have been mounted at:
- Darklight Film
Festival, Dublin, 17 - 21 November 2004
- Collision Six: Senses,
presented by the Collision Collective and
Cambridge, MA, USA, 29 October - 7 November 2004
- New Forms
Festival, Vancouver, 14 - 28 October 2004
- Batofar, Paris, 3 June
2004 (presented together with other works from Joëlle Bitton and
- ICHIM 2003 International Cultural Heritage
Informatics Meeting, Paris, 11 - 12 September 2003
- Atelier du Bogolan, La Maison des Jeunes, Bamako, Mali, 26
- Association pour le Dialogue et l'Orientation Scolaire,
Paris, 20 June 2003