[YASMIN] Of Flashmobs, Foursquare and Facades…..

[YASMIN] Kartharine S. Mills wrote:

In the discussion on hybrid spaces, an earlier post from Martin and Dimitiris (20 July) talked about The synchronous experience of a mobile spatial interface and of the non-mediated physical environment, a hybrid spatial experience, material (space determined by material elements) and immaterial space (determined by digitally produced representations) are merging. This is a useful starting point and there is no doubt that the physical spaces we inhabit and move through are now mediated with technologies; they are hybrid spaces. Yet it seems to me that we are finding it difficult to move beyond the rhetoric and to really respond to the challenge of how to engage with these hybrid cities as designers and how to understand the new behaviours that are emerging in these layered spaces. Below I introduce some of my own thoughts and questions on this topic.

of flashmobs, foursquare and facades….

It puzzles me that when I look and move around I notice very few obvious changes in the physical nature of urban space (maybe I expect too much?). For sure I carry a device with me that augments the space. But the screen is still my interface; it rarely spills out into the city. In fact the city and the built space itself remains surprisingly neutral and passive. I may look at the city through a digital lens, but the physical world rarely responds to my passing or presence. When I try to grasp how space has been changed, it is summed up in these three areas:

flash mobs.
These highly choreographed performances in public space show how media and technology can inform new ways of behaving in public space that’s moved way beyond rheingolds smartmobs. They come into being through a whole plethora of media platforms, twitter, facebook and sms and demonstrate a temporality that the physical space of the city cannot (will not?) respond to. It can only be a passive observer or stage. How can the static nature of out built environment and space start to respond to these forms of serendipity and micro-coordination of social behaviour? Can hybrid space start to perform, to come together and disperse when its use is over?

love it or hate it the use of foursquare represents a new practice of recognising and naming presence in space on technology’s terms. Take a look at foursquare listings at any place and you will find as diverse a set of descriptions for places as you could imagine. It documents the sociality and mobility of places we are present in, where people pass through and encounter others; train stations, airports, sandwich bars, stores and nightclubs. These are places of shared experience, not addresses or locations, and our presence our physical environment is a presence in this hybrid space. So as locative media re-values the sociality of presence with strangers in urban public space how can the spaces start to allow for these passing encounters? Do we simply need a few more places to be ‘slow’ and to stop (without having to pay for a coffee), where we can be present in both digital space and the physical space without causing disruption due to our civil inattention. Is it as simple as more benches, more meeting points with wifi and a power supply?

As I move through transit spaces there is a growing number of screens showing digital images, sometimes they respond to my input. Whole facades are superimposed with images and sometimes projections or even screens. Do we need windows in public buildings any more? probably not. So how do we design for spaces that need not look out, but that offer other ways of both enclosing and making interfaces between one space and the next? Mirjam Struppek’s work on highlighting the important issue of urban screens starts to reclaim the screens as a creative design problem. But on a broader level how do we connect our physical spaces with our digital spaces. How do we make a less diss-jointed hybridity, drawing together the physical requirements of the built space to connect outside and inside, and the media spaces which demand a different kind of accessibility; one which is only concerned with non-visual, unbroken links to the network?

Although this is my personal perspective on some of the issues facing us in the design of hybrid spaces I also introduce them in the context of the 2010 Mediacity conference in Weimar, Germany which will take place at the end of October. This will also provide the opportunity to consider and discuss some of the challenges of the hybrid city in a co-located panel discussion, which I will be moderating. It would be great if list members were also able to contribute to this discussion in some way either by responding to some of the topics or above or by introducing their own questions and comments. I will do my best to include these in the debate.



Oct 16, 10:14
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