The Story So Far

Saturday Night’s Pecha Kucha at the Cooperative (part of Mercy’s Midnight Special Series) proved a good point to take stock and tell the story so far of the Open Source Swan Pedalo – 20 slides:20 seconds each – here goes…

Introducing the worlds first Open Source Swan Pedalo – the “People’s Pedalo” – whose provenance can be traced to the “Canal &” project which Re-Dock developed with Alan Dunn in North Liverpool during 2008 at the behest of Liverpool Biennial.

“Canal &” traced and mapped people’s personal and subjective memories of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.  We collected, documented and archived hundreds of people’s memories and stories.  Everything from tales of childhood adventures, tragedies long forgotten and swimming in the polluted water.  Several of these memories were of romance: “I remember kissing the fellas” / “I had my heart broken by the canal”.

We used these starting points as stimuli and asked that people make suggestions for the future of the canal.  Somewhere along the line somebody proposed “A Tunnel of Love” and, along with two dozen others ideas, we created photo-montages to share the ideas further.  The montages were intended for signage installations (later realised with “Constellation of Signs”) and they eventually ended up on a billboard in Linacre.

And here is where a bizarre feedback loop began. Liverpool Biennial went out and purchased four beautiful Swan Pedalos for an unrelated project which they called “Urbanism”.  The Swan Pedalos were managed for the day but, during the night, children came and liberated them – they took them for a ride along the canal and left them stranded there (after much boisterous play).  When the pedalos were discovered the following day one was partially sunk and, in the process of being recovered, it had to be cut to pieces.  The remaining three were heavily chastised for their part in the escape… and many feared they too would never be seen again.

Then, completely unexpectedly, after two years in a storage container in the Eldonian Village the Swan Pedalos showed up on Ebay!  After a couple of days of twitter banter with @biennial we decided to make an offer on the one remaining Swan (its brethren having already made their way to Cornwall.)

Committing £100 was the easy part.  But – rousing a collective infrastructure to transport, store and manage this unweildy beast – that is The Challenge.  On November 16th a group assembled to move the Swan (with assistance from Mal from International Business Supplies) and much of what followed is already well documented on this blog.

Projecting on a Swan

Last week as part of the Long Night, I offered people the chance to ‘skin the swan’, by giving it a new look. Using just a projector, photoshop, and a wacom tablet, people were able to project their illustrations and ideas onto the swan pedalo.

Below are some of the illustrations created and how they looked once upon a swan. (note: by this time, the swan had spent a couple of days in the Hack Space and had aquired some LED eyes!)

Swan in Love

I have been a bit slow writing my first post on the Swan Pedalo blog & now I have two backed up, but I’ll write this one first as it is just a quick link really.

I went to the “Howduino”  event at the weekend, which was brilliant, I felt like a 9 year old boy, being actually encouraged to invent and build robots. Not often you get fun learning atmospheres like that with adults.

Anyway, I was working alongside a guy called Martin, who is a really interesting bloke, & when I asked him what he thought about the Swan Pedalo, he said to me…

“Well you know there was a story where I come from a couple of years ago, in a lake in a park, just near Munster, a swan actually  fell in Love with a Pedalo.”

“A Real Swan?”


“What !!! ” I said, “No way, what kind of pedalo was it?”

” It was like you have there, a Swan Pedalo…”

Click the image below to read an article about this at ‘Spiegel – Online’

Come and see our Swan!

The hackspace on Renshaw Street officially opens to the public tomorrow so why not pop along?  We’d love to hear your ideas for where the Open Source Swan Pedalo should go next (and we’ll be listing some of the best ones ALL OF THEM here at the end of day.)  See you there!

Super Swan

A couple of suggestions for the continuing life of this magnificent beast, now its in the hands of the Re-Dock posse.

A year ago this swan was stolen from its moorings and went on a jaunt up the canal. It has a thirst for freedom. Two suggestions;

1. add wheels, and free this beast from its water borne life and let it explore the land within the city

2. go on, start an epic journey along the full stretch of the leeds and liverpool canal – we will welcome you in Lancashire - prehaps buy another and start the journey that one’s journey from leeds , meeting in the middle for  a pennine lancashire swan jamboree…. go on, you know you want to.

What would you do with a Swan Pedalo?

“Search for a flock of swans and try to infiltrate their community.”

- @PhilKiel

What would you do with a Swan Pedalo?  Above is one of the first suggestions – Can you do any better?

This is the question that we are asking all week at the Cooperative Hackspace on Renshaw Street Liverpool and on twitter – hashtag #swanpedalo

We really want to hear your proposed projects, curious suggestions and madcap ideas!

Maiden Voyage

Today’s the big day that our Swan Pedalo makes it’s maiden voyage from the Eldonian Village in North Liverpool to the Soundnetwork Hackspace at the Cooperative (former Rapid Paint Shop on Renshaw Street.)  The Swan Pedalo will be there all throughout this week to stimulate peoples ideas and curiosity and, in-keeping with our Open-Source credentials the Swan Pedalo will remain during the weekend when the Cooperative plays host to Howduino – Liverpool’s homegrown electronic tinker-athon!

The full dates for this Open Source Swan Pedalo residency are Tuesday 16th November to Sunday 21st of November and after that who knows where the Swan Pedalo will go next…

Big thanks once again to the Sound Network, all at the Co-operative and the HOWDUINO folks for playing host to the Swan Pedalo this week.

You can keep track of the future whereabouts of the Swan Pedalo by clicking on the “Where” tab above – and if you do have any ideas, or if you would like to host the Open Source Swan Pedalo in the future, then please just write a comment.

Like a rolling stone!

When we say that we have a swan pedalo people’s eyes light up – they are delighted by the idea of such an elegant and leisurely vessel – however, sadly, this initial enthusiasm is almost immediately overcome by harsh and mundane practical matters and the first question which is often nervously asked is “where are you going to  store it?

The answer to this question is that there is no master plan – this is a “see where it goes” project.

Our desire is that we are able to sustain the state of imaginative possibility which is presented in the  idea of the Swan Pedalo.  Can we keep the dream alive?

We are hoping to find the right individuals, groups and communities who  might be able to temporarily ‘host’ the pedalo for short periods of  perhaps a week or perhaps a month.  We are not looking for ‘storage’ because we think that putting the Swan Pedalo into storage is akin to keeping an animal in a cage – and our Swan Pedalo is free range!

Could you be a host to the Open Source Swan Pedalo?

Looking for a Home

Looking for a potential longer term home for the Open Source Swan Pedalo (OSSP) a couple of options have been suggested:

What do people think? Anyone have any other suggestions? Add comments below!