Swiss Design Network Conference 2010:
Designers see the world not simply as it is, but rather as it could be. In this perspective, the world is a laboratory to explore the contingency of the existing and the thinking in options. Imaginations of the contra factual are a key source for the creation of alternative political, technological, social, or economic constellations of artefacts, interfaces, signs, actors, and spaces. At the same time, strategies of materialization are pivotal to shift the boundary between the fictional and the real and to finally bring possible new realities into being. The conference addresses the questions of how fictions are designed and how the multiplicity of possible new futures is negotiated and realized.
Design Fiction, Negotiating Futures October 28-30, 2010.
Notes on two related projects:
1. Time that land forgot
- A project in collaboration with Even Westvang
- Made in 10 days at the Icelandic locative media workshop, summer 2004
- Had the intention of making photo archives and gps trails more useful/expressive
- Looked at patterns in my photography: 5 months, 8000 photos, visualised them by date / time of day. Fantastic resource for me: late night parties, early morning flights, holidays and the effect of midnight sun is visible.
- Looking now to make it useful as part of more pragmatic interface, to try other approaches less about the abstracted visualisation
- info, details, research and source code
- time visualisation
2. Marking in urban public space
I’ve also been mapping stickering, stencilling and flyposting: walking around with the camera+gps and photographing examples of marking (not painted graffiti).
This research looks at the marking of public space by investigating the physical annotation of the city: stickering, stencilling, tagging and flyposting. It attempts to find patterns in this marking practice, looking at visibility, techniques, process, location, content and audience. It proposes ways in which this marking could be a layer between the physical city and digital spatial annotation.
Some attributes of sticker design
- Visibility: contrast, monochromatic, patterns, bold shapes, repetition
- Patina: history, time, decay, degredation, relevance, filtering, social effects
- Physicality: residue of physical objects: interesting because these could easily contain digital info
- Adaptation and layout: layout is usually respectful, innovative use of dtp and photocopiers, adaptive use of sticker patina to make new messages on top of old
Layers of information build on top of each other, as with graffiti, stickers show their age through fading and patina, flyposters become unstuck, torn and covered in fresh material. Viewed from a distance the patina is evident, new work tends to respect old, and even commercial flyposting respects existing graffiti work.
Techniques vary from strapping zip-ties through cardboard and around lampposts for large posters, to simple hand-written notes stapled to trees, and short-run printed stickers. One of the most fascinating and interactive techniques is the poster offering strips of tear-off information. These are widely used, even in remote areas.
Initial findings show that stickers don’t relate to local space, that they are less about specific locations than about finding popular locations, “cool neighbourhoods” or just ensuring repeat exposure. This is opposite to my expectations, and perhaps sheds some light on current success/failure of spatial annotation projects.
I am particularly interested in the urban environment as an interface to information and an interaction layer for functionality, using our spatial and navigational senses to access local and situated information.
There is concern that in a dense spatially annotated city we might have an overload of information, what about filtering and fore-grounding of relevant, important information? Given that current technologies have very short ranges (10-30mm), we might be able to use our existing spatial skills to navigate overlapping information. We could shift some of the burden of information retrieval from information architecture to physical space.
I finished by showing this animation by Kriss Salmanis, a young Latvian artist. Amazing re-mediation of urban space through stencilling, animation and photography. (“Un ar reizi naks tas bridis” roughly translates as “And in time the moment will come”.
Graffiti Archaeology, Cassidy Curtis
Street Memes, collaborative project
Spatial annotation projects list
Nokia RFID kit for 5140
Spotcodes, High Energy Magic
?Mystery Meat navigation?, Vincent Flanders
RDF as barcodes, Chris Heathcote
Implementation: spatial literature
The highlight of the event was a trip to Limbazi, for the opening of Piens the “milk” project, looking at the personal stories around the mapping of milk routes through the EU. It was really good to see GPS being used as a storytelling tool, a way of opening up personal stories in the documentary process.
A big thankyou to the RIXC lot, and everyone involved.
My intention was to avoid the screen for the duration of the workshop, to concentrate on simple interactions between sensors and outputs entirely independent of a desktop computer. But I ended up staring at microprocessor programming languages like PBasic and JAL while making lots of LEDs blink.
A lot of it brought back memories of school; circuit diagrams, resistance calculations, it was great to refresh the memory. We spent a lot of time translating circuit diagrams onto breadboards, and programming both PIC and Basic Stamp microprocessors.
Erich is now setting up a Physcomp lab at Atelier Nord to support art/design projects in Oslo, maybe alongside some regular meetings (entitled Atelier Nerd :). There are many projects that I would like to pursue, this should be a great resource.
There’s a really good writeup of the installations and artwork at Grandtextauto.
Exploring the space of narrative, images and personal geography. For three months I recorded every walk, drive, train journey and flight I took, while photographing spaces and places from daily life.
The project is the first step towards a visual language for spatially located imagery, looking at ways in which personal travelogues can become useful as communication and artefacts of personal memory.
Nine boards, four images each, sit above maps that provide spatial context. Each image is captioned with location information and a key linking it to a point on the map below. The images show spatial transition from one country to another, and a change of season.
The maps are GPS tracks, visualised as simple lines. The scale of the map is decided by the extents of the image locations. This effectively shows a transition from London to Oslo, over the period of a few months. The maps give an interesting sense of transition, scale and movement are emphasised.
About the exhibition
AFAR is an exhibition where 25 international artists have been asked to produce work in accordance with the word ‘afar’. The initial intention was to establish a connection between diverse artistic and creative forms that the invited originate from: architecture, dance, street art, design, audio, photography, VJ’ing, video art, fashion design, painting and creative writing.
The exhibition was in Råhuset, Copenhagen, Denmark, from 8 – 23 July 2004.
Outside In is a forum for involving new voices, media and practices in a discourse about the use and design of public space. It took place from 14 – 15 June 2004.
Roda Sten is amazing, below a suspension bridge, with huge concrete creations. Really windy, but calm inside the lecture space. Here are my notes and a few pictures.
Session 2: Hacking the streets (I missed the 1st workshop)
- Putting memories in spaces: spaces arent the same after having been disrupted. after ‘reclaim the streets’ or a ‘circle line party’ you can’t see the space in the same way.
- Distinction between public and private. What is it?
- Public space doesn’t exist anymore.
- Ken’s new city hall is half private half public (private investment was involved in the building, so protests cannot happen outside)
- Do we need institutions in order to do events, is that the only way to do it legally?
- What’s stopping people from doing these things is not necessarily capitalism, but the fear of looking like a pillock: self-regulation is a big factor. Can spark things to let down inhibitions or shackles. Uses example of the scooter, became a kids toy and then it wasn’t cool anymore.
- What’s the connection between anarchism and these spontaneous events. Emergent order is interesting, so much control over actions, and the ways people move through the city. How does this relate to anarchy? Is this anarchy?
- The city is a workshop: not just walls to tag
- Shadows of urban furniture: really good
- Visual kidknapping: Lavazza woman gets cut out of the frame
- Big poster with bleeding eyes
- Uses a high pressure water jet to clean the city, but also write at the same time.
- Digs at the notion of authorship, a site where people find work on the streets
- The work is anonymous, but there is the projection of authorial control behind it, its individual and definitely authored
- Would be interesting to explore more about Graffiti authorship: how do public artists want to be recognised?
- Managing the mystique around the work and the author.
- Difference between author/instigator
- Visual kidknapping
3D bombing: Akim
- Polystyrene models, matched to fit specific city spaces
- City of names: what if the writers are the ones who build the houses?
Session 3: Network experience
- Wants to deconstruct network context
- Context: physical and social situation in which computation sits
- How does the network affect the output and experience
- Companies are claiming ownership of space because of signal
- WiFihog: saps out all wifi bandwidth
- LAN party versus Flash Mob
- Simpletext: collaborative sms image searching on large screens
- re-mapping and changing the context of interfaces: what about
- Simpletext project: assigns an image search to inputted text
- Steven Levy quote on hackers
- Altering space by altering the body
- character of a space
- remnants of things, people, individuals
strength: strengthening signals to drown out free competion
shifting consequences: changing the input/output relationship.
messages, and displays via jitter/max on a large screen.
- put magnets on wrists and fingers and bodies to reveal the proximity of electronic devices: unexpected connections to other people and lampposts. Nice.
Data Climates: Pedro Sepúlveda Sandoval
- Living in a scanscape city
- electronic space, synthetic city
- Congestion charge as walled city, in electronic space
- London: highest density of cctv in the world
- will we decide to travel to areas based on the quality of electronic space
- A new architectural language for electronic space
- Houses without windows, just cameras. Can start to control life inside. Can also choose to use the weather channel as windows
- Pay a fee for personal surveillance: ask them to watch you all the way to the supermarket.
- The city of Yokohama was brought down by the coming of age party for 40,000 teenagers: the networks were overloaded with messages, because the teenagers didn’t want to talk face to face.
- Palm trees as cell towers (seen in south africa)
- Looked at a community in Hackney that were campaigning to not have a cell phone tower.
- Designed a house for them that would shield them from the signals, but they would have to give up cell phone connectivity. Designed it so that windows would open and close based on calls being made, or would give them 10 minute windows in which to make calls every 2 hours.
- Digital shelter: stand inside the line
- These presentations all use the strategy of showing ‘hypothetical products’ that are really non-products. They are doing this, rather than providing platforms or design methodologies, or distributing resources and infrastructures for people to design their own systems. I understand the need for designers as visionaries, but this could be made more valuable and useful.
- specialists in electronic space could be similar to lighting design specialists in the ‘70s. Will grow into a general field of understanding.
- Platforms and inftrastructure for technology is beyond architects, but understanding of the use and consequences is really important.
- Skateboarding as adaptive design: difference between skate parks and the street, skate parks become designed over time to mimic certain aspects of streets, but also according to innate, human skaters needs. A combination of factors go into making a good skateboarding space: free, alcohol, quality, location.
- New to NY: wanted to work outside gallery space, was inspired by collage of city streets. Not from a graffiti background, being a female, can do certain things outside the norms of graffiti.
- Changes billboards during the day, looks official.
- Open democratic visual space
- a visual direct democracy…
- Cuba used to have street art as a means of free expression, but outlawed by dictatorship
- Makes lightboxes with imagined cities, and mounts on the reverse side of construction site walls, with peepholes ‘peer here’
- Interesting mix of opportunism and ‘designed intervention’
- Sometimes driven purely by visual interest.
- Mike Davis: Public is phantom
- Bedouin as a model of sustainable nomadic communities
- Homeless use waste air from air conditioning (airvac exhaust ports) to stay warm and dry
- Homeless have receded to the peripheral vision of the public. Want to see and be seen.
- Seeing is important for living nomadically in the city.
- Started to map the heat and the power of the exhaust fans in the city. Found a high one at MIT plasma lab.
- Re-routed smell from from a bakery to an art gallery, to subvert a ‘high art’ re-appropriation of space
Workshop ‘Loop City’
- Dietmar Offenhuber & Sara Hodges
- Showed Rybczynski’s film New Book using 9 frames: a good way of mapping space in the city. Starts off and the viewer is not sure if each frame is occurring synchronously, or in the same space, but a bus passes between all of the frames and the spatial link is made immediately. There is also a point where a plane flies overhead and all the actors look up: showing time synchronicity too.
Looking at the city
- as a set of repeated actions
- as a playground: situationists
- as a balance of social as well as physical architectures
Barcodes for spatial markup and control
- Requires a small application running on a Series 60 phone to scan barcodes with the built in camera
- Each barcode can currently store 42 bits of data using technology modified from iris tracking and wavelet technologies (as far as I understood)
- Potential for more data by increasing the number of rings, but current setup is a compromise for low quality cameraphone cameras
- The mobile phone application can determine position of phone relative to barcode by the elliptical distortion of the circle, could perhaps be used for quite accurate tracking with multiple spots
- The phone application communicates via bluetooth or gprs, using the barcodes as triggers for interactions
- It’s coded ‘close to the hardware’ to use the video input to do barcode calculation in realtime: Java/Symbian apps don’t have an API to realtime video input
- In use commercially via Bango
Reverend Rat demoed his 10 Watt bluetooth receiver, 10 times more powerful than a 35 mile 802.11b receiver, and 100 times more powerful than a Bluetooth dongle.
Not particularly interesting in itself, but using it from a high vantage point he might be able to map out usage patterns in urban areas, or track the flow of people and devices.
Some of our ambitions were:
- Investigate transformative use of space and place
- Address gaps in infrastructure: access to standards, material frameworks and technology
- Instigate a triangular network: tried and trusted network practice
- Pursue research and practice, less engineering
- Explore relationships between media, gaming, locative, mobile, visual media
The discussion is continuing, and the next informal meeting of participants is happening at ISEA 2004.