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— urbantick

Tag "technology"

The landscape is many things and indeed a big topic in architecture and art at the moment. Far from the sustainable and eco discussion, landscape has become a more approachable term taking over from a very technical system sort of term. It essentially means the same – things working in interconnected ways – and are not entirely to be framed in one single way.

From early Dutch landscape painters quite literally bring the view of the surrounding nature into the house it has evolved to a very intellectual construction of everything that surrounds us. Artists ha a hand in the terms development from the beginning and still do chiefly influence the direction its interpretation develops.

Image taken from Zimoun / 435 prepared dc-motors, 2030 cardboard boxes 35x35x35cm. Zimoun 2017. Installation view: Godsbanen, Aarhus, Denmark. Curated by Marie Koldkjær Højlund and Morten Riis.

Landscape is however not less technical than its predecessorial term and in the work of the Swiss artist Zimoun this is fascinatingly illustrated and heightened. I stumbled on this via inverses. The mesmerising work develops a multitude of landscapes from object to technology, flows and not least sound.

Video by Zimoun / 127 prepared dc-motors, sticks 30cm, 2015

Video by Zimoun / 240 prepared dc-motors, cardboard boxes 60x20x20cm, 2015

The installation was part of the exhibition What Lies Beneath Installation view: Borusan Contemporary Istanbul Exhibition: “What Lies Beneath”, September 5, 2015 – February 21, 2016, Curator: Christiane Paul. The exhibition «What lies beneath» strives to capture one of the current conditions of our culture: an atmosphere of increasing alienation and decaying trust resulting from factors that often lie beneath the surface of the visible. The show comprises four room-size installations — by Krzysztof Wodiczko, Michal Rovner, and Zimoun — that create a contemplative space for reflecting on cultural and social conditions and visceral forces that may not be easily perceivable and create feelings of uncertainty.

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Animals have featured on this blog mostly in connection to technology in some form and always in regards to movement. Studying these patterns are especially fascinating as they complement snapshot impressions one normally has if just observing the animal occasionally. It is however also a reminder that movement pattern are much less structured and determined than is generally believed. Movement is goal oriented, but in order to maximise performance it is extremely flexible and opportunistic behaviour.

Movement is therefor very expressive, it tells the story of desire and emotion and is the basis of many art forms, foremost dance, eg. this old post on the movement of the body and creation of space.

Image taken from The Guardian / Snails of the gros-gris (fat greys) species saved from the plate.

snail ballet

An upcoming art work has mixed these aspects together and come up with a brilliantly mistifying snail ballet. Elizabeth Saint-Jalmes and Cyril Leclerc have created a dance of the animals supported by live music. It is also a live event that is coming to London’s Kings Place on Fri 20 & Sat 21 April – booking here.

Pixel lent / slow pixel from Cyril Leclerc on Vimeo.

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In a new book Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space Mark Shepard presents a discussion on the current state of the art of ubiquitous computing showcasing a range of five projects together with a series of essays around the topic of the sentient city in the sense of a responsive and ‘intelligent’ city. It is published by MIT Press with the Architectural League of New York.

The book grew out of an exhibition ‘Towards the Sentient City‘ presenting a whole range of investigative projects. This was supported by the Architectural League New York. For the exhibition the curator Gregory Wessner summarised the aims as: “For many, it is a leap of the imagination to think that a microprocessor the size of your fingertip, or the mobile phone in your pocket, can meaningfully affect the shape of the room you’re sitting in, let alone a city’s skyline. At a moment when new digital technologies seem to be dematerializing more and more of the world around us (think books, CDs, photographs), what impact can they possibly have on the insistent materiality of buildings and cities?”

The book offers a range of five case studies which each have a specific focus and of course essentially build on concepts of pervasive technologies. They are:
Amphibious Architecture by the Living with Natalie Jeremijenko on visualising water quality.

Natural Fuse Haque Design+Research
Image taken from SentientCity / Project Natural Fuse – Experiment with wilting plants by intermittent/PWM water delivery.

Natural Fuse by Haque Design+Research on sourcing plants for energy. The plant in this project acts as a sort of distributor to encourage energy sharing. Energy is distributed through the plant, but only if consumers share it nicely the plant is happy and can grow letting the consumers use more energy. If they don’t share the energy use kills the plant and consumers can use less energy.

Trash Track‘ by the MIT on tracking trash’s end-of-life journey. Using smart tags the team tracked the route of trash, from the point of deployment, a bin presumably, all the way though the cities waste management system. This is how it works: “TrashTrack uses hundreds of small, smart, location aware tags: a first step towards the deployment of smart-dust – networks of tiny locatable and addressable microeletromechanical systems. These tags are attached to different types of trash so that these items can be followed through the city’s waste management system, revealing the final journey of our everyday objects in a series of real time visualizations.”

Trash Track by the MIT
Image taken from spatiallyrelevant / A track of a plastic bottle in New York City through the City’s waste management system.

Too Smart City‘ by Davis Jimison and Joo Yoon Paek on ‘intelligent’ street furniture. The street furniture is equipped with a lot of technology and robotics and set to augment the context they are acting within. They are however, programmed to surprise and interrupt and with it chalenge our expectation of what furniture should be doing. They have for example developed a bench that can trow people of or a sign that changes direction.

Breakout!‘ by Anthony Townsend on the city as office. They are injecting light wight structures into the urban realm providing essential working infrastructure and with this allowing for impromptu meet-ups through social networking software.

In the second part of the book the topics around the sentient city are explored in a series of 10 essays. There is a very interesting group of people contributing with for example Saskia Sassen and Kazys Varnelis who wrote the Infrastructural City book.

The discussion around the role of ubiquitous computing in urban design and the present of a possibly sentient environment is definitely something that is going to influence the debate on cities and urban environments for the next years. This book picks up from where it experimenting stands today and leads thoughts towards how this could be substantially integrated in future practice of urban design.

Trash Track by the MIT
Image taken from archleague / Book cover showing the heat sensitivity of the colour used.

Shepard, M., 2011. Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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The future is probaby the topic of the month here. Not only on the blog but deeper. We started the last week already with a vision of the future, so it goes in the tradition to continue on this.

Was the ‘We are the Future’ a more social one, this one here is material based. Its all about glass. Well this is not new, have we already had this back in the nineties, the big boom in the glass industry with new products and a new acceptance in architecture. Glass and with it light was desired in single family homes, but in housing in general.

This new vision takes on the consumer electronic industry and combines it with the built environment. This combination functions via the material, glass as the omni present element. As the hero of the story wakes up the glass turns from dark to transparent and only then he steps up to the massive tv screen, to check the latest news, actually he looks at the traffic camera, presumably on his way to work. A classic, his wife (or is it partner in this case?) is still in bed and he goes into the kitchen makes breakfast. Note the large red pepper he takes out of the fridge, what sort of breakfast is he gona cook? Also keep an eye on the pan, at some point it looks like a soup. Anyway, the story takes an interesting twist starting with the two girls, his daughters (or her daughters) an one of them carrying the pink football boots. This is the hint that in this commercial the producers have worked very hard on the role models. Just after that, and the video call to gran, actually this reminds definitely of the new iPad clip currently playing on apple.com, the wife, partner, whatever enters the kitchen and waves good by, she is off to work. She takes the car, she is navigate the traffic, actually the car does and communicated it via some glass panel (sort of transparent Knight Rider). So things are slightly different, before everything falls back into place, she is working in fashion, guess an generally aceptable profession for females.

This has now brought us slightly off track from the actual vision. Even though these social role models are an important part and on the way we have touch up on a series of other ones. In parallel there are some hints and references to earlier attempts at at the same technology implementation. There is the iPhone echoing through most of the interactions, but there is aso the windows table, the surface project.

As pointed out on Archidose two of them are ‘An Eco-House for the Future‘ by Dillier Scofidio and the Kramlich Residence and Media Collection (1997) by Herzog and de Meuron. Maybe in terms of the setting we could even get further back into the sixties and quote Superstudio, but the spatial interaction combination is definitely related to a whole bunch of science-fiction movies such as Blade Runner with the large billboards.

Is it a sort of back to the future thing? As archidose puts it: “Just because we can make something doesn’t mean it should infiltrate our lives.” In this context maybe it is a fun because it coud be a dream come true, but not quite yet, still dreaming and this could turn into a nightmare.

Note at the end, he is waiting in bed for her to finish watching some astronomy documentation in HD 3D with the girls. He is reading glass obviously as she turns the glass of the window dark and switches off the lights. And the roles are reversed, he sleeps in the front and she is at the back. Not into routines and habits this couple, everything very flexible and spontaneous representing the ultimate freedom and independence. However, the overall tone of the clip transports a rather different tone, everything is highly connected, organised and clean – routine pure.

Via Archidose

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Something like this is what the future will hold. Maybe but most likely not. Somehow there are just a few too many words leading the trend table currently. Who will be talking social network in ten years time? Who will be making money or do something over night?

THe thing with the futre is, I guess that as soon as you have projected it its already the past. Since the ideas and concepts are rooted in the present at most its unlikely they can capture the future. But then it i a way to talk through the current trends and at least be aware of them. The future is a better now one could argue.

Not sure, but the add is great and quite impressive. Its a bit creepy actually. The way these not even quite teens talk to you, its more like they are already rather deep in it. There isn’t much with – in ten years – actually this is now, I would say.

Clip by PHP a an media agency. Interestingly the feedback to this clip has been overwhelmingly negative and the company apologised on their website and on youtube, where they have now posted the clip. Almost as if the cat bit its own tail. On youtube the clip counts 199 likes and 1466 dislikes.

Not sure what to make of it now. Why are they not standing by their product, why apologise for a vision? Of course to use the kids to talk about this and imply they want this and live it, reduced them to puppets of the agency and the technology, not a very ice picture, but hey it could be worse. Maybe we should tag them, the whole population I mean, get them tracked and chipped which all the personal details downloadable at all times, maybe not.

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The Internet of Things (IOT) is taking shape. Idea and practice, applications and concepts, as well as discussion and writings are shooting out of the ground like mushrooms, great. A term old enough for most of too old to be around, the vision seems finally to grow into an actual practice.

It is no only the line up presented earlier at the be2awards, the sort of pachube and TalesOfThings, but many more like ioBridge, the NabazTag or also IBM’s ‘Building a Smarter Planet’ project largely builds on networked things.

NAi Publishers bring with ‘Check In / Check Out, the Public Space as an Internet of Things’ one of the first books on this topic in relation to the use of space. The authors Christian van ‘t Hof, Rinie van Est and Floortje Daemen clearly focus on the public real in urban areas in connection to this new technologies. This connection is quickly established with the authors describing the move from ‘on the net’ to ‘in the net’ via the gadgets increasingly used in public spaces and on public transport. On the other hand also the public space as such is wired up with CCTV cameras, RFID and NFC chips, pollution sensors, temperature sensors or weather stations. All linked to the net for remote sensing and data gathering for evaluation and decision making.

The book itself is using tag to extend the content into the virtual dimension and link external content such as sound and video files to particular paragraphs in the book. For this the Microsoft Tag is used. A self acclaimed next generation of QR code. MS also offers tag readers for mobile patforms such as the iPhone and Android. Use this LINK from your mobile to download the corresponding tag.

Image taken from urbanTick on flickr / Customised Microsoft Tag 15 from the book. To scan it you can download the reader at http://gettag.mobi

The first tag let you check in, to the book I presume, but for the content of the book you have to read on conventionally. In six chapters the publications discussed the most important fields IOT is increasingly active. Those are ‘Gated Stations’ on the rise of chip card in public transport, ‘Networked Cars’ on linking cars to establish intelligent traffic, ‘Money Mobiles’ on paying by phone, ‘Street Imges’ on CCTV and surveilance, ‘Geoweb’ on live mapping and ‘Living Maps’ on a scenario of total real time data streems.

A lot of these systems are already quite established in the western world and people have started to accept their presence. We are using the chip card, Oyster Card in the case of London or Octopus Card in the case of Hong-Kong, on a daily base, being tracked forexample for the game Chromaroma. Paying using alternative methods, not cash, is widely established with changing technologies and tools, networked cars is something researchers and developers are already talking for quite a while, so it seems familiar even though it has not been realised to a large extend. Automobile industry is again painfully slow integrating innovations. And of course the Geoweb and to some extend the Living Maps are both practices we are in the middle of at the moment.

The book offers a very clear structured approach to discussing these topics both overall and within each chapter. At times it is a facts book, at time an experience report and then a outsider perspective. However the structure is always clear and informative if at times with a few too little references. But hey, its early times and things are completely flowing.

What is extremely appreciated, is the critical distance and the book establishes through out and within each chapter it self. It is not a selling text for the IOT, but a critical discussion raising concernes equally to praising benefit and potential.

“Big Brother, once a warning against totalitarianism, now has become a symbol of the importance of being known” (P.112)

In this sense the final chapter the ‘Conclusion’, on identity management, makes these points once more very clear in a summary and outlines avenues for future practice whilst employing these emerging technologies. A must read for network-developers, and urban-computer-programmers, digital-interaction-designers, virtual-data-architects and sensorist-planners to keep up with the discussions.

Check In / Check Out
Image taken from the Mobile City / Check In / Check Out Book cover by NAi Publishers 2011.

Hof, C.V.’., Daemen, F. & Est, R.V., 2011. Check in / Check out – Public Space as an Internet of Things, Nai Uitgevers/Publishers.

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