A walk in the park with Joseph Paxton

Digital/ networked project

Take a walk in the park with Joseph Paxton

Link to project

This is an interactive conversation and visual story combined. It deals with a controversial, topical and emotive local issue, concerning the development of Crystal Palace park (south London) after long years of neglect. Lots of plans are being put forward, and local people consulted extensively. It occurred to me that one voice is seriously missing from the consultation, that of the master architect and plannner Joseph Paxton, who conceived the original design for the park.

I thought it would be interesting to imagine his point of view. What would he think?

I’ve tried here to make this online interactive story unfold as a conversation, which is often considered the highest form of interactivity. The work is inspired by the ‘Eliza’ project, an interactive psuedo therapist/ counsellor which was built many years ago:


It works by matching user comments to words and phrases stored in arrays, and is sort of AI simulation.

By using the form of a conversation my aim is to make the work more objective, and present an independent view of the situation, avoiding one side or the other, and local politics. The work tries to see above that. I hope the work is more questioning, acting on a deeper level.

January 2008