July 06, 2007

[iDC] City as Social Network: Eric Gordon


Participation Equals Surveillance

Hi everyone. My name is Eric Gordon – I’ve been watching this list for some time but I’ve made only a few contributions. Perhaps as a means of forcing my involvement, Trebor has asked me to moderate a discussion on the topic that has lately occupied most of my time – place-based social media and its implications for privacy, public space, and democratic engagement.

Following the recent conversation about Feedburner, I want to consider how that discussion might extend to physical communities (neighborhood, organization, city) that are enabled / bolstered / fortified by social web media. Many community groups and neighborhood organizations are using digital networking technologies to foster community interaction (http://www.ibrattleboro.com/). And of course, what is widely known as citizen journalism plays into this as well – placebloggers and Community Media organizations tend towards hyperlocal networked content (http://www.cctvcambridge.org/) with an aim towards reinforcing existing geographical connections.

The processes that bind non-geographical communities in networks are similar to those that are binding geographical communities – shared interests, practices, goals, etc. However, unlike traditional online communities that have a basis in anonymity, digitally annotated physical communities often rely on the full disclosure of identity for their functionality. For instance, when it comes to neighborhood issues – it is important to know one’s real name and location.

And as city governments are seeking ways to adopt “web 2.0” technologies into their existing “citizen management” projects, the lack of anonymity and the simple traceability of social actions open up new concerns. Social media tools have the capacity to significantly expand participation in local governance, but they also have the capacity to trace citizen behavior and map social trends. Cities are interested in this technology for the same reason that corporations are – it offers valuable user data. Politicians can survey the concerns of their constituency; agencies can identify problems in neighborhoods; and law enforcement…well, there are many scenarios possible. It can also be turned around: citizens can have greater access to their politicians, and government proceedings can at least have the impression of transparency.

While the conversations on this list have devoted considerable time to corporate surveillance, the question not often asked in this context is what should be made of local surveillance – from the people in one’s neighborhood to city governments? In the wake of connectivity, discourse and collaboration, there is always documentation, processing and interpretation. From neighborhood chatrooms to local annotated mapping projects to virtual town hall meetings, participation equals surveillance – for better or for worse.

When I consider a digital future in which I want to live – it includes networked access to my neighborhood services, communities, city government and public spaces. However, there is little possibility for that to take place outside of the proliferation of data that would make communities vulnerable to excessive internal and external management. And as citywide wifi and mobile web devices proliferate, the outlets for that recycled data expand. At the same time, American cities, like corporations, are glomming onto digital media because of its populist resonances. They are paying attention to online neighborhoods and seeking to aggregate that data into meaningful information. The ideology of digital media – as evidenced in the phrases “participatory media” and “user-generated content” – is accessibility. Digital media directly aligns the rhetoric of progress with the rhetoric of populism. Social web media makes explicit what has only been implied in the recent rhetoric of city governments – that anyone, regardless of social position, can participate in the ordering of city experience and politics.

From cities to towns to neighborhoods, the populist promise of social web media is transforming the nature of public space and civic participation. I am referring only to the American context, because that’s what I know, but it would be great to engage in comparative dialogue in order to better understand the scope of how these technologies are being implemented in official or unofficial capacities to change perceptions of cities and city life, not to mention public space and community engagement.

I suppose I’ll leave it at that for now. I look forward to the conversation.


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May 29, 2007



Freedom of Public Art in the Cover of Urban Space

Catharinakapel presents: SHELTER 07: The Freedom of Public Art in the Cover of Urban Space :: Harderwijk, The Netherlands :: June 2 – August 31 :: Artistic Interventions by Lara Almarcegui, Tiong Ang, Ginette Blom, Gijs Frieling, Jeanne van Heeswijk (in collaboration wih Boris van Berkum), Job Koelewijn, Irene Kopelman and Mieke Van de Voort. Curator: Henk Slager

The objective of the Shelter 07 project is to draw attention to the history of the Dutch city of Harderwijk. To achieve this goal, the genealogical significance of the name Harder-Wijk, "an elevated place offering a safe shelter to refugees in troublesome times", serves as the point of departure for the exhibition in public space. That genealogical significance causes notions such as safety and freedom to appear inextricably bound to Harderwijk's history. But how did that connection arise? Is it still linked to a spatial, site-specific concept with phenomenological connotations of physicality? Or does a medial, discursive relationship transform the current concept of "place" into a textual issue, i.e., a notion of place as a platform of knowledge and intellectual exchange?

To investigate these questions further, eight artists have been invited to produce artistic research projects related to a number of significant locations chosen in collaboration with the historical society Herderewich. The artists were asked to develop specific proposals underscoring the above problematics in an artistic form. Interestingly, in their projects, a number of related issues and topics emerged.

In order to understand a location’s specificity, Lara Almarcegui employs an archeological method eliciting that precedes space, i.e., the granting of room. On the Blokhuisplein, a historical location renowned for its straightness and power, she will create a fallow field presenting a temporary autonomous zone as a dysfunctional, undefined, and unfounded space escaping the grid of geography. At the same time, the autonomous zone is able to shelter the experience of a total freedom of interpretation.

As a location for his intervention, Tiong Ang chose the former lodge of the duty officer of the colonial yard depot, the building where volunteers for the Dutch East Indies were recruited. The lodge is situated next to a monumental gate that, thanks to the house of ill repute once situated just outside, seamlessly connects two former literary worlds of bourgeois escapism: the reality of Keetje Tippel, a famous woman of easy virtue, recorded by Neel Doff; and the contours of colonial reality, sketched by Multatuli in Max Havelaar.

Ginette Blom's intervention brings us back to a medieval conception of freedom incorporated to some extent in the double function of the 13th-century Vispoort (Fish Gate). As a crucial element in the fortress structure, this building served initially as a defensive post and lighthouse. However, at the gate’s sea-facing side, there was also a quay where fishermen could freely sell part of their catch. By means of a nighttime light projection on this historical location, a filmic memory of this pre-capitalist free trade site is evoked.

Gijs Frieling rewrites the history of the port as a freewheeling place of leisure in the form of an allegoric mural near the pier. Until the early 20th century, Harderwijk's economic independence relied to a certain extent on the presence of the (fishing) port. With the arrival of the Zuiderzeewerken - turning the greater part of the South Sea into a polder - Harderwijk's economy seemed to run aground. However, the sudden arrival of a group of dolphins at the dock entrance turned out to be the beginning of a new period of economic vigor.

Jeanne van Heeswijk (in collaboration with Boris van Berkum) developed a series of wallpapers placed on the bricked-up windows of old houses around the church square, retelling last century's lingering tales: about the symbolic poet Rimbaud, who lost his identity as a poet during his stay in Harderwijk and vanished in the grand myth of the foreign legion; about the first big stream of (Belgian) refugees who found temporary shelter during World War I in camp Harderwijk; and about the circulating rumors of missing passports popping up during the transformation of the AZC (Refugee Center) Jan van Nassaukazerne into luxury condominiums, as proof of the search for shelter in a new, safe identity for its former inhabitants.

At the spot where, till the late 1970s, the strictly Protestant “church school” (Vismarktschool) was situated, the city of Harderwijk has recently constructed a natural water reservoir. Job Koelewijn considered this an ideal place for his intervention. He put the stream of rising water and all its connotations of Flood, chastening, and eternal return into the liberating perspective of some hundreds of Great Books.

In the City Museum, Irene Kopelman investigates the 18th-century position of the University of Harderwijk as refuge for thought through an artistic interpretation of Linnaeus' botanical classification system. Just because this university did not choose for a dogmatic movement of thought but rather was open to a variety of epistemological perspectives, it was a safe haven for unorthodox intellectuals from all over Europe.

In the context of Shelter 07, Mieke Van de Voort stays temporarily in Harderwijk in the Zeebuurt area, where she develops a new work in a typical 1950s row house, icon of radical mediocrity. Here freedom seems to be entirely reduced to a one-dimensional concept. Yet, inevitably the question arises: could something cooked up in an anonymous row house ultimately prove meaningful for the balance between freedom and safety?

Parallel to the Shelter 07 presentations in urban public space, the Catharinakapel (Klooster 1) will serve as the source of Shelter 07 information during the summer of 2007, supplying information about the participating artists, the artistic research projects, the work processes and the historicity of the chosen locations.

Posted by jo at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

For any reason or no reason


on virtual (extra-)territoriality

"Second Life is an exciting development of the virtual world. A country that wishes to show that it at least has the ambition to be at the forefront of development of course has to be in it." [1] Swedish minister of foreign affairs, Carl Bildt

The 30th of May, Sweden will be the first country in the world to open an official Embassy within Second Life, the online 3D multi user environment owned by Linden Lab. The project is initiated by the Swedish Institute [2] (a culture and marketing department of the Swedish ministry of foreign affairs, and according to the official blog even Sweden's "road warrior for peace" the minister of foreign affairs as well as former head of state, Carl Bildt, himself will attend the opening [3]. But what happens when a specific mode of representation is transferred to a new context? In this case a building for bilateral governmental representation is transferred to a private corporation.

I'll use the Embassy in Second Life as a case study of mediation between global web-based corporations and the notion of participation in a time where privatized service platforms are becoming a standard that most people (in this case even states!) uncritically are subscribing to.

My starting point will be an examination of the embassy and its representation, from an architectural perspective in relation to the Swedish Government's Politics of Architecture on state representation as well as from the point of view of the conflict between conventions of diplomatic missions and the terms of use regulating the virtual world.

P o l i t i c s o n r e p r e s e n t a t i o n

According to the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Missions from 1961 embassies are established on mutual consent [4]. The function of an embassy is to represent one state in another state by negotiation between governments and protecting the interests of the sending state and its inhabitants within the receiving state [5]. This is achieved through reporting on the conditions and the development of the receiving State to the sending State and by creating friendly relations and developing the two States economic, cultural and scientific relations [6].

In 1998 the Swedish government adopted a new policy on architecture politics [7]. The Proposition was the first initiative to establish a politics of architecture with an integrated plan and law on architecture, crafts and design. The changes touched on a variety of levels from the establishment of infrastructure, to city planning and individual buildings.Basically this meant the addition of strings such as 'aesthetically shaped' and 'should be aimed' into the existing laws [8]. One chapter, though concerned the representation of the public sphere and the state, "Public Sphere as Exemplary - the State as Exemplary" [9], focusing on the importance of confirming the role of the State through its representation. This also concerned embassies, which are representations of the State in other States. The new architecture politics added a new aspect to the embassy. It was not enough to be an institution with the main function to represent the State, now the institution itself (including its own representation) had to be representative of the State - the representation of the representation became representative. In this way a Swedish Embassy would have to architecturally express what Sweden stands for [10]- or at least what Sweden would like itself to stand for.

A H o u s e o f S w e d e n

The virtual embassy in Second Life will be a copy [11] of a real world embassy: The House of Sweden, situated in central Washington DC next to a big park and a river. The embassy was developed as a consequence of the new politics on architecture. A competition was announced by the Swedish National Property Board (SVF) in 2002 and the winning proposal, designed by Gert Wingårdh and Thomas Hansen opened 2006 [12].

House of Sweden is a concept developed in collaboration between the Swedish National Property Board and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs [13]. The house is a conglomerate that besides the actual embassy consists of corporate apartments for the business industry and an event center with conference rooms and exhibition space.

The building stands as a postmodern paraphrase of Scandinavian modernism. It is a wooden glasshouse. Its facades consist of backlit opaque glass with printed patterns of pressed wood and the interior a romantic/nostalgic choice of materials associated with Swedish nature and traditional Swedish craft like wood, granite and water [14]. The reception desk is made of glass and a massive wooden door is opened whenever the embassy is open for visitors [15]. Also it is possible for 'anyone' [16] to rent the exhibition center and the conference rooms of the house for events. As House of Sweden describes themselves in a pamphlet with information about the building: "Some have said that this type of open embassy is what the Americans themselves should build, but cannot. [...] modern American embassies are instead usually large, closed-off buildings located a safe distance from everything else. Despite its openness, the House of Sweden has the same level of security as other Swedish embassies, neither lower nor higher." [17] - Open and relaxed, though under control. This is the House of Sweden, the building as well as the concept marks itself in opposition to the traditional embassy with openness, relaxation space and an interweaving of the arts and the business world. Although it is obvious the art is but a layer of the design branding the concept of Sweden and the business environment. As a matter of fact even the diplomatic mission itself seems to be there, in order to brand the corporate apartments which take up most of the space in the whole building [18], with apartments at the size of 70-250 m2 and a rent of 40-60 USD/m2. The renters include Volvo group, Saab and Lars Thunell, the vice president of World Bank [19]. A Swedish embassy's original function was to take care of governmental negotiations, official representation and the protection of Swedish people and their interests within the USA. House of Sweden mirrors a shift in the role of diplomatic missions, where the new embassy is rather an official high end 'tourist bureau'. It serves the function of an exclusive promotion platform - a show room for the darlings of the Swedish business industry.

A S e c o n d H o u s e o f S w e d e n

The original embassy is designed for the human scale in relation to the use of the building, the surroundings, the economical framework and the politics of cultural representation. The final layout of the floor plans and the materiality of the house reflect these conditions [20]: office spaces are situated along glass facades in order for people to enjoy the view of the park and the river, interior stairs are covered with sound absorbent maple [21], elevators are integrated for disabled people and things to move unhindered between the floors, and the exhibition space is especially designed so that big vehicles are able to enter when setting up a new exhibition [22]. In this way the entire building may be seen as a narrative product of human scale and experience interweaved with the above mentioned factors.

By shifting the medium or context from the real world to a 3d simulated environment presented on a computer screen the elements are changing. Even though the user is represented by a (if she wishes humanlike) figure - the avatar, any navigation within the environment is reduced to the four arrow-keys on the computer's keyboard and the world is experienced through the screen with the image of one's avatar's neck in the foreground [23]. One perceives the environment in layers of resolution according to the graphic card and the capacity of the processor of the computer that is being used. Patterns of movements are radically different. The avatar itself doesn't get exhausted, it is rather like a goal-less torpedo in constant pace as long as the arrow-key is pressed down, it is only when the user behind the screen gets tired that it stops and 'falls a sleep'. This makes the planning of experience within the virtual embassy rather different than from its real-world model. In the real House of Sweden, breaks and pauses are implemented in the house according to the function. An example is the sculpture of running water greeting you as you exit the conference space [24], placed there in order to somehow refresh your mind. In Second Life it is not the avatar who would be tired or need a break after a long seminar, but rather the user behind the screen and keyboard. An equivalent break could therefore be an interruption, letting the screen go black and thereby forcing the user to shift perspective from second to first life.

Compared to traditional closed off and mono functional embassies the "real" Swedish embassy in Washington DC surprises at a first glance by its openness allowing new activities to unfold within the house and by being a glass house [25]. The glass house has a strong tradition in modernism. It is an almost supposedly invisible trespass between the outside and the inside. On the one hand it is a monument of building technology's victory over nature's forces and modernism's reaction against Victorian style, but on the other hand it is also implementing an openness that paradoxically signifies control and surveillance. The glass house offers the insider visual access and to a certain degree the illusion of being part of the outside while at the same time being protected from it. It gives the outsider visual access to the inside, stating: "there is nothing to hide here". Using the representation of glass in a virtual world though, is merely pointless. In a virtual world there is no difference between interior and exterior. One needs no protection from any weather situation or nature forces and intrusion is not about closing the access by building a wall or a window, but rather to alter and implement the security into the code behind the representation. As a matter of fact this is very easy in Second Life: Different security options are incorporated into the 'land'. The land owner is able to decide which level of security is active on her property,for instance making it possible for the avatars to 'die', denying other users to build or move objects on the property, or denying any access to the property without permission. So if the owner i.e. wishes to give other users only visual access to at part of her property she doesn't need to build any transparent simulation of glass, but can implement this in the code. A glass building in a 3d world is rather clumsy and annoying: when trying to navigate through it and accessing visible things, you constantly bump into the transparent walls.

One aspect of the original House of Sweden which might have a chance to be more successful in a 3D online environment is concept of making the embassy a platform for different events and activities. This might be a case where the virtual world has an advantage since it overcomes the difference of time-space in information technology by allowing users who are spatially separated to experience the same environment together in real-time. In Second Life most places give an impression of being empty, but by establishing in-world events this is exactly what the Swedish institute wants to avoid [26]. It is worth noting though that the emptiness in Second Life is not only due to a lack of visitors, but rather is connected to the scale of the 3d environment and its relation to the capacity of the servers. Due to server restrictions it is only possible to be 40 people at a time on each island [27]. House of Sweden in Washington DC is 7500 m2 large. The rooftop terrace alone is built to host 200 people at a time - just for a cocktail party [28]. The diplomatic activities takes up 30% of the spatial area of the house which has 50 people are working there daily[29]. But considering the fact that only 40 people is capable of accessing the whole island at a time, all of the employees wouldn't even be able to meet in the virtual embassy. No wonder why SL feels like suburbia - it is suburbia. The low density is exactly the same problem that suburbs are struggling with. Considering the scale of the building, no matter how many events they make the embassy will always feel empty until a solution is found for increasing the capacity of the servers and thereby making it possible for more people to access it at the same time.

T h e D i p l o m a t i c B a g m a y n o t b e o p e n e d

"The premises of the mission" are, according to article 1 of the conventions of Diplomatic Missions" the buildings or parts of buildings and the land ancillary thereto, irrespective of ownership, used for the purposes of the mission including the residence of the head of the mission" [30]. The actual premises of the Swedish mission in Second Life will be a chunk of data stored on Linden Lab's servers. The servers are computers physically placed in the state of California, USA [31]. Visitors of the embassy will be able to access the premises of the Swedish mission, the data on the servers via a viewer (also called the client). This is a piece of software that the users download and install on their own computers enabling them to access data on Linden Lab's servers real time together with other users, and thereby accessing the virtual diplomatic mission and the rest of Second Life. But in order to access any aspect of Linden Lab's Second Life the user has to agree with the terms of service [32] - a virtual layer to the virtual world.

Second Life's Terms of Service consists of a 7000 words document presented to the users as a click and agree contract after having downloaded and installed the viewer and just before accessing the service for the first time. The contract is un-negotiable. If you disagree with parts of the terms you'll have to disagree with all by clicking disagree at the end of the document. This in return means that you are not allowed to enter the service at all. The code behind the world is generating the environment, setting the parameters for it and thus being the world. While the Terms of Service rather is a regulative framework defining what-could-be or what-shouldn't-be, thus governing the company in order not to be able to hold it responsible for anything that might occur within its framework and giving it absolute control of in-world decisions [33]. This is not necessarily to be understood as a police state which wants to keep the control by controlling anybody anytime. The control is rather latent 'in-case-of' control, where the company in case something unexpected happens can wash its hands saying "Oh, no! This is not our responsibility" or "This was not our intention." The Terms of Service text is dense, the document would take an average reader about 35 minutes to read [34], which makes most people skip reading and just agree in order to access the service immediately. General Director of the Swedish Institute, Olle Wästberg describes his idea of establishing the embassy in Second Life as the following: "I got myself a user account, this avatar as it is called and logged in and it seemed to be a good marked place for us. In collaboration with the ministry of foreign affairs we have now decided to open an embassy" [35]. In the process of logging in Olle Wästberg properly skipped reading the terms of service, because if he would have read them he would have been aware that agreeing with the terms of service is to violate the Vienna Conventions of Diplomatic Missions and thus making it impossible to establish any embassy whatsoever in Second Life.

There are three aspects of the Conventions for Diplomatic Missions which are violated by Second Life's Terms of Service: (i) the first regards the inviolability of the Diplomatic Mission itself, (ii) the second is the inviolability of the premises of the Mission including its property, furniture, archives and documents and (iii) the last concerns the inviolability of Diplomatic Agents.

(i) A Diplomatic Mission is inviolable [36]. It means that the receiving state is not allowed to enter the embassy without permission. The receiving state is even obliged to protect the embassy as best as it can. But in Second Life any kind of data stored on Linden Lab's servers (for instance the embassy itself, accumulated items like Linden dollars, content, scripts, objects, account history or account names) are subject to deletion or alteration at any time for any reason or even without a reason in the sole discretion of Linden Lab [37].

(ii) Premises of a Mission are "immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution" [38]. But in Second Life the user must authorize Linden Lab to disclose any kind of information the corporation finds "appropriate to investigate"[39] to "private entities, law enforcement agencies or government officials"[40] Furthermore Linden Lab has the right to follow, track and record any of the user's activities within the service [41] this includes activities taking place within the premises of the virtual embassy.

(iii) "The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity[42]." In Second Life the user is represented by an account name. It is the name of the character that represents the user and whereas the character itself can be changed and remodeled immensely the account name is static. The account name is equivalent to the representation of a diplomatic agent, and "Linden Lab reserves the right to delete or change any Account Name for any reason or no reason." [43]

By being located within the Linden Lab Corporation the Swedish embassy in Second Life is subordinate to the terms of service conducted by Linden Lab and thus breaking with the conventions related to diplomatic missions. This is recursive since any future visitor of the embassy will be forced to do the same[44]. In this way the notion of participation in this kind of virtual world is uncritically accepted and without getting acquainted with the conditions that the users are agreeing with in order to be allowed to participate. There is no consular service provided at the embassy in Second Life, instead it will link to 'real' web-sites where you can get info about how to obtain visa etc. But why do the users need to access second life and subscribe to the terms of service in order to exit Second Life to get the information that the virtual embassy provides?!

F o r a n y r e a s o n o r n o r e a s o n ?

In order "to make sure it [edit: the virtual Swedish Embassy] exudes "Swedishness" [45] the Swedish Institute has hired the design bureau Söderberg A/S to manage the layout of the virtual copy of House of Sweden and its surroundings in Second Life. But is it really possible for a design bureau "to manage the overall look and feel of the sim (or "island")" [46] for it to signify Swedishness? According to the architecture politics the answer seems to be yes, and the initiators are obviously thinking of the look of the Swedish nature. But is Swedishness only a semiotic layer wrapping up the structures by making a realistic simulation of the Swedish landscape? Doesn't the representation go beyond the aesthetical layer and isn't it rather a matter of inscription into context? Let me give an example: In the official announcement the Swedish Institute is motivating the set-up of the virtual embassy by the following:"Reaching out internationally, to an increasingly selective crowd, calls for an inventive and progressive way of working with communication. It is of great importance that we find our target groups where they are most likely to be open to our information, in their own context." [47] But it is certainly difficult to imagine the Swedish government approving any kind of set-up of an embassy within a real world private corporation - a Disney-like amusement park, no matter how well any designers would have managed to give it an overall look and feel of "Swedishness", or no matter how good a market any Disney world whatsoever would be for targeting progressive individuals where they are most likely to be open for Sweden's promotion.

It is obvious that the Swedish Institute is not familiar with the structures they are inserting the virtual embassy into. At the official announcement at their web-page the description of Second Life says: "Second Life is a 3-D virtual world and is built and owned by its residents." [48] It is an exact copy of how Linden Lab describes themselves in "What is Second Life?" [49] on their webpage. But as we have already seen Second Life is not owned by its inhabitants. It is a private space owned by the corporation Linden Lab. The users are able to create content with reserved intellectual property rights within the environment, but any content stored on Linden Labs servers (which every part of the users environment are) are according to the terms of service owned by Linden Lab and subject to deletion. The empty phrase is adopted by the Swedish Institute without reflection. The establishing of a diplomatic mission in Second Life is a continuation of the pattern that the House of Sweden already is a part of - an embassy as a show case for the Swedish brand, the nation state in competition with global corporations. So far Second Life has been the arena of big global corporations as MTV, NIKE, Reuters, but now the state is trying to compete with the corporations as if it itself was a corporation - a brand. From August 2006 to January 2007 the media coverage related to Second Life had increased by "nearly 150%" [50] and when the Swedish Institute in the end of January announced their intentions of opening the virtual embassy they immediately got worldwide media coverage everywhere, from BBC News to India news [51]. But the Swedish Embassy in Second Life is a media stunt with very little critical reflection behind it. Eventually the Swedish Institute is surfing waves of a media attention, which finally most of all is branding Second Life itself.

A kind of excuse for this argument is be found on the blog of Second House of Sweden where Stefan Greens writes: "Ironically, once concern we had was that the decision to go ahead with the project amid the hype might make it look like we were taken in by the hype, when in fact we were going in despite the hype, because we felt we really wanted to figure out now how to use virtual worlds as a place to tell people about Sweden." [52] Virtual worlds have been around for more than 15 years. Already 7 years ago the environment Online Traveler had sound [53], an aspect which Linden Lab is just now trying to develop. If the Swedish Institute was interested in using virtual worlds and had decided to take a political stand point with an awareness of the user's position within these worlds, a non-profit open source version as for instance Croquet [54] would have been an obvious choice. Of course there would not be so many users or so much hype around it, but maybe Sweden could have started a discussion related to the public sphere of information technology. However there is no reason for establishing embassies in an open source network.

A b r i d g e d s o f a r

Second Life is a centralized structure. It is a closed network of servers all under the domain of Linden Lab, much like a state. Second Life and Sweden are separated entities. The usual way for a state to establish relations with another state is for the sending state to create a representation of itself within the otherness of the receiving state - the embassy. But in an open source structure where the servers are connected in a distributed network it would not be necessary for Sweden to enter this otherness and establish a representation there, rather it could create its own server, with its own set of rules interlinked with the other servers - much as a country, but not as an embassy.

Now is a time where standards are introduced, people are inhabiting the net. This should be done not by establishing embassies, but through critical discussion and reflection on and understanding of the public sphere which is possible within the information structures. A sphere which is being hi-jacked by private corporations without anybody noticing. The Sweden which eventually will be represented in Second Life is a state where all critical reflection is put aside on the behalf of elevating Sweden's profile - and no matter how well designed it might be, it is but a brand lacking any content - - since the representation is not representing any thing but the representation itself.

Linda Hilfling - MA Media Design Student Piet Zwart Institute , Rotterdam, May 2007

R e f e r e n c e s:

[1] From Carl Bildt's personal blog from the 30th of January 2007. The blog entry was Bildt's response after for the first time acquiring the news about the Swedish embassy in Second Life via a BBC-news article. The entry is called 'Heja Olle Wästberg" and is aimed at the director of the Swedish institute Olle Wästberg: http://carlbildt.wordpress.com/2007/01/30/heja-olle-wastberg/ [my translation from Swedish]
[2] Official announcement by the Swedish Institute, Jan 2007:
[4] Article 2, Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Missions, 1961: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf
[5] Article 3.1a; 3.1b; 3.1c - Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Missions,
1961: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf
[6] Article 3.1d; 3.1e, Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Missions, 1961: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf
[7] Handlingsprogram för arkitektur, formgivning och design: http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c4/25/65/e36cce6d.pdf
[8] Suggestions to alterations of existing laws Framtidsformer - Handlingsprogram för arkitektur, formgivning och design, pp 5-9 http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c4/25/65/e36cce6d.pdf
[9] "Offentligt som förebild - Staten som förebild" Framtidsformer - Handlingsprogram för arkitektur, formgivning och design, pp 25-3 - http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c4/25/65/e36cce6d.pdf
[10] "New expectations for future embassies" - Background material - House of Sweden, page 2 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[11] Official announcement by the Swedish Institute: http://www.si.se/templates/CommonPage____3052.aspx
[12] "The architecture competition" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 3 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[13] "A new concept is born" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 2 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[14] See photo of facades: http://www.sfv.se/cms/showimage/images/aktuella_projekt/washington_dc/foton_30_maj_06/hos_fasad_mot_flaggstanger_och_grasmatta_.jpeg?mime-type=image/jpeg - more photos from interior to be found at:
http://www.wingardhs.se/php/flash.html | under projects - 2006
[15] "The various parts of the building - a tour" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 4 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[17] "The various parts of the building - a tour" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 6 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[18] All together the house consists of five floors of which 1½ floors belongs to the embassy, 1½ floor belong to the event center and 2 floors makes space for 19 corporate apartments. This means that 70% of the building is reserved for activities related to business and events, and only 30% of the space of the whole house is related to traditional diplomatic activities.
[19] "The various parts of the building - a tour" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 6 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[20] Floor plans: http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/aktuella_projekt/washington_dc/infor_overlamnandet_till_ud/hos_wdc_8_ritningar_maj_06.pdf
[21] "The various parts of the building - a tour" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 5 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[22] "The various parts of the building - a tour" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 4 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[23] If not 'mouse look' is enabled, which is an alternative navigation mode where the mouse is used for all navigation and the user have first perspective view, but this mode is rather difficult to control with a mouse and is probably better suited for a joystick.
[24] "The various parts of the building - a tour" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 5 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[25] Compare for instance with the photos of different American embassies published at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_diplomatic_missions
[26] Stefan Geens at:
[27] Alvar C.H Freude: "Warum Second Life kein Web 3.0 ist" p.24 - a power point presentation
[28] "The various parts of the building - a tour" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 7 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[29] "The various parts of the building - a tour" - Background material - House of Sweden, p 5 http://www.sfv.se/cms/showdocument/documents/sfv/engelska/house_of_sweden/background_material_the_building_the_artwork_etc_.pdf
[30]Article 1, Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Missions, 1961: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf
[31] General Provisions - Terms of Service: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
[32] First paragraph - Terms of Service: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
[33] The string "no liability" appears 3 times, "any reason or no reason" appears six times and "sole discretion" appearing 17 times in the Terms of Service.
[34] According to http://mindbluff.com/askread.htm#5
[35] Olle Wästberg as quoted by in Alexandra Hernadi in Svenska dagbladet - http://www.svd.se/dynamiskt/inrikes/did_14523659.asp [my translation from Swedish]
[36] Article 22.1 and 22.2 - Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Missions, 1961: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf
[37] 5.3 Terms of Service. See also similar statements in 1.4; 1.6; 2.6 and
3.2b: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
[38] Article 22.3 and 24 - Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Missions, 1961: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf
[39] 6.1 Terms of Service: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
[40] 6.1 Terms of Service: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
[41] 6.2 Terms of Service: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
[42] Article 29 (see also 30.2) - Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Missions, 1961: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/9_1_1961.pdf
[43] 2.3 Terms of Service: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php
[44] Second Life's Terms of Use, first paragraph: http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php as of 29th of April 2007 [45] Stefan Geens at http://secondhouseofsweden.com/faqs/
[46] Stefan Geens at http://secondhouseofsweden.com/faqs/
[47] Olle Wästberg quoted at the webpage of the Swedish Institute - http://www.si.se/templates/CommonPage____3052.aspx
[48] http://www.si.se/templates/CommonPage____3052.aspx
[49] http://secondlife.com/whatis/
[50] Factiva: Percentage increase comparisons of media coverage about Second Life between months of August 2006 and January 2007 as quoted by Joel Cere: http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/blogs/ampersand/articles/7359.aspx#footnote1
[51] BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6310915.stm ; India News: http://www.indiaenews.com/europe/20070130/37547.htm
[52] Stefan Geens at: http://secondhouseofsweden.com/2007/03/20/more-faqs-were-in-it-for-the-long-haul/
[53] We used Online Traveler in 2000 as a platform for online access to the electrohype2000 conference in Malmö, Sweden: http://www.electrohype.org/electrohype2000/rapport/rapport.pdf
[54] In croquet both server and client are open source in opposition to Second Life which only has opened the source code to the client - the viewer, but not to the servers: http://www.opencroquet.org/index.php/Main_Page

p d f - f o r m a t:
- ------------------------- http://pzwart2.wdka.hro.nl/~lhilfling/documentation/for_any_reason_or_no_reason_hilfling.pdf

# distributed via

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April 18, 2007



"A memorable event is a dramatic one."

(re)collector by James Coupe – produced in partnership with The Junction for Enter_Unknown Territories, Cambridge, UK, April 2007 :: (re)collector is a public art installation that approaches Cambridge as a 'museum of the mind', using cameras to acquire memorable images that can then be reorganised into ideas. The Greek concept of ut pictura poesis claims that poetry is more ‘imageful’ than prose. In this project, the cameras do not document Cambridge using a simple, straightforward archive of events, but rather seek to record a collection of dramatic moments. The city becomes a tableau for pictura poesis, with events amplified through combinations of framing, movement, and silence becoming more memorable and cohesive as a result.

ENTER_UNKNOWN TERRITORIES is a five-day international festival and two-day conference of new technology arts, taking place throughout Cambridge from Wednesday 25TH to Sunday 29th April 2007. Its three main activities of public art events, workshops and conference, will address, explore, and question the possibilities of making and experiencing new technology arts. Following an international call for submissions three major commissions were chosen to highlight the festivals’ programme. [via]

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April 09, 2007

Urban Interface | Berlin (Olso)


Interspaces of Public/Private Urban Space

Urban Interface Berlin :: A symposium, exhibition and curatorial research project exploring the interspaces between public and private urban space :: April 15 to May 6, 2007 :: Berlin and Oslo :: Some of the works are:

Exposure, by Jussi Ängeslevä (FI) and Richard The (DE), is a spatial art installation combining smart materials, simple sensor electronics and poster design to weave micro narratives for the unsuspecting public as they navigate through the urban landscape. An array of unobtrusive, monochromatic posters is arranged along a segment of a passageway. Adjacent to the individual posters a light gate is watching when a pedestrian passes by the poster. The light gate is connected to a tele-objective camera flash and triggers it, casting the person’s shadow momentarily on the poster. The poster, being covered with fluorescent ink, captures the shadows and retains the glowing silhouette, becoming an integrated element of the poster’s graphics which gradually fade away. The work can be seen as a commentary and counter-reaction to the established disempowerment of the individual. Above and beyond the exhausted Big Brother discourse, Exposure takes a stand also on the new emergent "Participatory Panopticon", or "Little Brother", the ever present prying eye of the neighbours’ ubiquitous camera equipped digital device.


The project series Mitting operates at the interface between the sociologically and culturally different boroughs of Mitte and Wedding. For two days, the area that has been defined for the exhibition acts as a space for actions and as a starting point for mobile and stationary events. Oliver Hangl puts on two “Secret Tours” through public and private spaces that bring the coexistence of these parallel cultures to awareness. The participants, equipped with two-channel wireless headsets that enable them to choose between two alternative streams of information presented by the guides and musical liveacts, will be led through the different areas by two tour guides as well as musicians, actors, artists, DJs and a technical crew. Statements from pedestrians and local residents will flow into the liveact audio streams.

Mitting separates levels of perception while isolating the participants. On the streets, in warehouses, flats, and wherever the groups enter, they appear mute to residents and passers-by. Because of the dialogue that is sent inward through headphones, the action bears a subversive potential. But the participants should also be alert to when reality turns suddenly into fiction.

Oliver Hangl declares spaces, participants and watchers an open field of imagination, an audiovisual energy field that oscillates between performance, demo-protest and communication experiment… „Remember, that it’s all in your head!“ (Gorillaz)


Daniel Jolliffe presents the project Berliner Stimmen in the context of urban interface | berlin. His work is a mixture of mobile sculpture and performance that examines the participatory moment. Visually, Berliner Stimmen is a sculpture mounted behind a bicycle, but its main function is performative. Over a period of three weeks, Jolliffe will cycle through the borough of Mitte, Wedding and Gesundbrunnen three times a week. While he is travelling, the loudspeaker broadcasts previously recorded one-minute calls. It is possible for each caller to have his message broadcast in the public space. The past realisations of the project under the name of One Free Minute in San José and Vancouver have shown that the callers use this public platform for different reasons. The spectrum of the recorded messages includes private statements and stories as well as commercial announcements and political speeches. In times when governments and public agencies are increasingly vigilant of who is saying what and where, citizens and activists can express their opinions in Berliner Stimmen freely and without fear of repression.

Also on exhibit: Laura Beloff's Head; Zone-out of Vision.

ABOUT urban interface | berlin

The project deals with the changing notion of private and public space that occurs due to, particularly, the everyday use of communication technologies. The artworks in the context of urban interface convey the idea of public space as an accessible and contributive sphere and call attention to a more sensitive engagement with the private, physical and digital spheres.

The works are developed for individual spaces by participating artists and if possible realised in cooperation with hosts. Hosts can be private individuals as well as companies, which then communicate the artworks out of their private spaces into the public. Private becomes public, public becomes private. Art space intermixes with urban space.

In responding to selected public and semi-public sites and their inherent qualities, the artworks will become focal points of the shifting conceptions of private and public space. Being often immaterial and digital and located at the difficult-to-define boundaries of private and public space, the artworks challenge all users – perceivers, organisers and the local authorities to formulate and discuss their individual understanding of those spaces. At the same time, the dispersed and temporary nature of the artworks challenges the formula of exhibitions in public space.

This website is conceived as an archive and contributive forum which ideally could serve as a knowledge platform for other art projects dealing with or happening in public space. To that end, relevant processes between the involved parties such as artists, sponsors, organisers and the city administration will be published on this website. Hence this website can be understood as another interface between private and public, theory and practice.

The thematic discourse is extended to presentations and panels accompanying the exhibitions

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April 02, 2007

April 2007 on -empyre- soft-skinned space:


TechnoPanic: Terrors and Technologies

April 2007 on -empyre- soft-skinned space: TechnoPanic: Terrors and Technologies with Horit Herman-Peled (IS), Brooke Singer (US), Paul Vanouse (US), and Sean Cubit (AU); moderated by Tim Murray (US) and Renate Ferro (US).

From surveillance and mobile technologies to fears and public panic, the ambivalent attraction of technologies of terror shifts registers between post-cold war and post 9-11 sensibilities, whether from international or cross-generational zones of engagement. We will discuss how panic, paranoia, critical resistance to, and appropriation of technologies of terror are mediated by the threat and fear of violence in the interlinked networks of mobile media, domestic space, and the public sphere.

Horit Herman-Peled (IS) is a media artist, theorist, and feminist activist in Tel Aviv, who teaches art and digital culture at the Art Institute, Oranim College, Israel.

Brook Singer US) is a Brooklyn-based digital media artist and arts organizer who lives in Brooklyn. A member of Preemptive Media, her most recent collaborations, both as an artist and curator, utilize wireless (Wi-Fi, mobile phone cameras, RFID) as tools for initiating discussion and positive system failures. She is Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY Purchase.

Paul Vanouse (US) makes data collection devices that include polling and categorization (for interactive cinema), genetic experiments that undermine scientific constructions of identity, and temporary organizations that performatively critique institutionalization and corporatization. He teaches in the Art Dept. at the University of Buffalo (SUNY).

Sean Cubitt (AU) teaches media and communications at the University of Melbourne. Among his numerous books on cinema and new media are EcoMedia, The Cinema Effect, and Digital Aesthetics. Sean has curated numerous exhibitions and is Editor in Chief of the Leonardo Book Series for
MIT Press.

Renate Ferro (US) conceptual artist, visiting Assistant Professor of Art, Cornell University, and Timothy Murray (US), curator, the Rose Golden Archive of New Media Art and Acting Director of the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University. Their most recent collaboration has involved Renate's installation "Panic Hits Home" for the The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival in Marchl 2007. (FLEFF) is a one-week multimedia inter-arts extravaganza that reboots the environment and sustainability into a larger global conversation, embracing issues ranging from labor, war, health, disease, music, intellectual property, fine art, software, remix culture, economics, archives, AIDS, womens rights, and human rights. This year's festival will focus on new content streams: Maps and Memes, Metropoli, Panic Attacks, and Soundscaping.

Subscribe for participation at: http://www.subtle.net/empyre/

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Turbulence Commission:


Urban Attractors, Private Distractors

Turbulence Commission: Urban Attractors, Private Distractors by Angie Eng in collaboration with Rich Streitmatter-Tran and a collective of student interns in New York and Ho Chi Minh City.

"Urban Attractors and Private Distractors" is a vlog project about privacy in public space in Eastern culture. It compares the results of dérives (French for "drift," dérive was defined by the Situationists as the "technique of locomotion without a goal") in Ho Chi Minh and New York City. The collective will address questions such as: How is a city constructed in a culture where the inhabitants have little experience of a private physical space? Do they adapt more readily to cyberspace which is both private / public simultaneously? How do Westerners reclaim their 'public space'? Organized dérives in both cities will commence at the most public of spaces--the town square. Participants will submit videos as urban indicators of private and/or public to the vlog until the workshop meetings in June 2007. Angie Eng, the project director, will continue vlogging until the commencement of the physical installation in Fall 2007.

"Urban Attractors, Private Distractors" is a 2007 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation.


Angie Eng is a media artist who works in video, installation, web-based and video performance. In 1993 she moved to New York City to pursue her career in media arts. She co-founded The Poool (1996-1999), a live video performance group, with Nancy Meli Walker and Benton Bainbridge. Her work has been performed and exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, Lincoln Center Video Festival, The Kitchen, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Experimental Intermedia, and Roulette Mixology Festivals. Eng’s videos have been included in digital art festivals in local and international venues in Cuba, Greece, Japan, Germany, Former Yugoslavia, Switzerland and Canada. She has received numerous grants and commissions: New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., Harvestworks Residency, Art In General, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York State Council on the Arts, mediaThe Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and the Experimental TV Center. She was recently awarded an Eyebeam residency to develop the installation component of "Urban Attractors, Private Distractors."

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March 25, 2007



Ideas + Survey

Generic Infrastructures [2] by Rob van Kranenburg: Today we are in the worst situation imaginable. Our global and undisputed computing paradigm posits that computing processes are successful only in as much as they disappear from view. Our design focus is ever more following Philips untenable but seductive ‘sense and simplicity’ resulting in the-bug-as-a-feature-design of the Ipod Shuffle. Our educational system is following this systemic hide-complexity strategy that favors the large industrial labs, IT conglomerates and above all their clinging to notions of IP and the patent that are firmy tied to their notions of doing business and making money. And our users, us? We are YOU, the most influential person of the year 2006, according to TIME Magazine. You fill the Wikipedia entries in your spare time, you blog your daily activities, you co-bookmark on de.l.i.c.i.o.u.s, upload your photos to flickr, you buy mating gear in Second Life, and mark your position on Plazer or Google Earth. You fill out the forms. Isn’t it time you start questioning the principles behind the formats? And, to make matters even worse, your naïve ideas of sharing are corrupting notions of privacy, transparency and informational architecture symmetry.


Ludium II - Synthetic Worlds and Public Policy by Edward Castronova: Synthetic worlds – million-player online environments with genuine markets, societies, and cultures – are exploding in size and significance. Real world governments around the globe are beginning to grapple with their implications in the areas of taxation, intellectual property laws, consumer rights, addiction, violence, and more. Should synthetic worlds be controlled by developers, or by governments, or both? What about the rights of users? What general norms should legislatures and courts follow? More NOEMA >>

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February 22, 2007

Turbulence Spotlight


"Zeno Boundary" by Kevin Hamilton

Turbulence Spotlight: Zeno Boundary by Kevin Hamilton :: "Zeno Boundary" collects portraits of places regarded as public, created according to a prescribed photographic system. Images uploaded by contributors are dynamically animated into a looped sequence of pans and zooms through the space. The project originated in Spring 2006 as part of the Mobile Studios project, in cooperation with curators of the 13 Kubikov collective in Bratislava, Slovakia. After touring with Mobile Studios through Eastern Europe, the project continues as part of the 2007 Depauw Biennial Exhibition, in Greencastle, Indiana.

Kevin Hamilton currently teaches at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he is appointed to the Painting/Sculpture and New Media programs. Recent work has included co-organization of a symposium series about Walking, and the creation of interactive artworks for gallery and public settings. His scholarship includes research on manifestations of absence in contemporary and historical telecommunication technologies, and development of new methodologies for interdisciplinary collaboration. Kevin has exhibited or lectured at festivals and art institutions in Spain, Holland, Slovakia, Hungary, Canada, and the United States.

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December 28, 2006

Mary Mattingly


disturbing beauty

... ok, the threat by mobile phones (to which she refers) just recently has been dismissed as no longer relevant, but nevertheless there are interesting relations and a fantastic worldview to be discovered at Mary Mattingly’s project website. [link to Mary Mattingly: Second Nature – a text on M. Mattingly’s photography.]

She developes a scenario which emerges around a ‘disastrous beauty’ according to an imagination where our actual and eventual technological developments are brought together with to-come-ecological changes. It all together impresses through the beautiful set-up and the quite carefully lay-out of a world to be – combined with changes already happening… Some of her most impressing images relate to the imagination of ‘wearable homes’. In her writings she describes quite clearly the process of thought and procedure of her project development:

In the design of the Wearable Home, I examine the cohesive threads of cultures’ and groups’ clothing throughout the world; from Inuit cultures to saris in India, Muslim, Hindu, Zen Buddhist garments, American Gap, Banana Republic, the Khaki Overcoat, muslin design prototypes, construction uniforms, kimonos, Dockers, safari camouflage, military uniforms, the blandification and brandification of garments spanning cultures worldwide to make one, general look de-emphasizing self and re-emphasizing everything else (collaboration, ideas, survival, modularity, etc.). I think this, over time, is a creative way to think about the outcome of mega-mergers and the illusion of choice, technology and the idea of utopia, as well as wiki-run systems. The result, then, may be that one wearer would be indistinguishable from the other, thus greatly alleviating the threat of the end of privacy. Our distinguishing features would be greatly masked in this context to the naked eye, however the pervasiveness and scrutiny of high-powered networks would still catalog our movements and whereabouts. (link) [blogged by mo on mind the _GAP*?)

Posted by jo at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2006

Eric Kluitenberg


The Network of Waves: Public Agency in Hybrid Space

The Network of Waves: Public Agency in Hybrid Space by Eric Kluitenberg

The office space above which I live, in a corner house in the Indische Buurt, somewhere in Amsterdam East, used to house a local police station. At that time I was not yet living there. The place was briefly in the national news because of a fair-sized riot which took place there. A couple of Moroccan youths were brought to the station for some minor offence. Their friends thought that this was not right, so they followed the police back to the station to besiege the policemen there. It was not just a few friends who ran after the policemen, but a much larger group which suddenly turned up at the station, coming from nowhere at the precise moment when the youths were brought in. At that time this phenomenon, later known as a 'flash mob', [1] was still relatively new. The police on site were unpleasantly surprised, and had to issue a hasty call for reinforcements to negotiate with the besiegers. When it was all over a police spokesman said that it was a disgrace that the Moroccan youths had used their mobile phones to mobilize a mob. How else could these youths all have known at the same time that something was going on at which their physical presence was 'urgently desired'? And exactly where they needed to be? What the spokesman meant was that the youths had compiled mailing lists for text messages and then used texting to get together as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Texting with mailing lists was a popular application, because at that time text messages could still be sent and received free of charge.

A few years ago 'flash mobs' received a good deal of attention from the mass media. Semi-spontaneous public gatherings of groups of people, hardly if at all known to one another, nondescript, with no determining characteristics such as banners, uniform or logo, briefly performed some collective synchronous action, and then dissolved back into 'the general public'. Directions and information about the gathering were sent out by text messages, or e-mails, telling participants where, when and what. These short messages could easily be sent on to friends and acquaintances with the aim of starting a chain reaction resulting in the appearance of an unpredictably large mob at a predetermined time and place.

Reclaim the Mall!!

The 'flash-mob' phenomenon is thought by some people to have originated in a few relatively unmanageable actions in large shopping centres in American towns, disorganizing them temporarily and playfully. These actions generally had no political significance. This all changed at the end of the 1990s. The 'Reclaim the Streets' movement, [2] highly active at the time, which used to organize illegally orchestrated 'street raves' in the public spaces of large towns, made intensive use of text and e-mail address lists to organize quasi-spontaneous street parties. They did however give these street parties a layered political agenda. The parties were generally given concrete political and social themes and were linked to particular actions, such as support for a strike by London Underground staff. The movement's desire to also use these actions to free public space from its economically determined function (for instance transport, shopping or advertising) was succinctly expressed in the slogan 'The streets for people!'. The parties followed a fixed procedure. The evening before, a sound truck with a generator, a DJ kit and a large number of loudspeakers would park in a wide street. Shortly before the start a double collision would be staged at the beginning and end of the street. The crucial factor here was the provision of information for the participants, who were, in principle, unknown to the organizers. Participants therefore received a short message containing simple directions to the place, the date, the time and a few instructions, such as 'wait for the orange smoke -- that's when the rave will begin'. The double collision meant that at the agreed time the street was closed to all traffic. The cars used were fitted with smoke bombs which were set off by the mini-crash, producing enormous plumes of orange smoke, visible for miles around. This was the sign for which the 'Reclaim the Street' mob was waiting. Suddenly the street was flooded with people, sometimes more than a thousand at a time, while music began to boom from the previously parked truck or bus.

These examples demonstrate that we are living in a space in which the public is reconfigured by a multitude of media and communication networks interwoven into the social and political functions of space to form a 'hybrid space'. Traditional space is being overlaid by electronic networks such as those for mobile telephones and other wireless media. This superimposition creates a highly unstable system, uneven and constantly changing. The social phenomena which occur in this new type of space can not be properly understood without a very precise analysis of the structure of that space.

The way the Moroccan youths in Amsterdam East used text message address lists to mobilize themselves rapidly and effectively against what they saw as unjustified police violence provides an interesting example of a social group which finds itself in a socially segregated and stigmatized position appropriating a newly available technology. Mobilization was possible because at that time real-time mobile communication (texting) was available essentially free of charge. Shortly after that incident, texting became a paid service, though the reasons for this were economic rather than political, and its use for this purpose quickly lost popularity. It was simply too expensive to send so many messages at the same time. The specific relationship between time, space and technology, and to a lesser extent simple economics, determined the way in which this social phenomenon manifested itself. More than e-mails, which almost always have to be downloaded from a terminal or laptop (e-mailing on a mobile telephone is extremely laborious and inefficient), the brief phase during which text messaging served as a free public medium provided an important indicator to a changing relationship in the use and organization of public space. The mobility and immediacy of the medium gave birth to new social morphologies, like the 'flash mob', which still seem mostly to indicate a kind of mobile 'just-in-time-community' in physical public space.

The Place of Flows...

The question here is what this new kind of social morphology might mean. What lies behind the gimmick? What social, economic and technological transformations give rise to new phenomena of this kind?

So far the most important sociological theory about this is set out in Manuel Castells' Rise of the Network Society, the first part of his trilogy on the information age. [3] In it he describes the rise of flexible social network connections which resulted from economic and social transformations in late industrial societies and were strengthened by the introduction and wide application of new technology, primarily communication and information technology. Castells postulates that the network has become the dominant form in a new type of society that he calls the network society. He treats the influence of the network form as a social organization in physical and social space and establishes a new kind of dichotomy. According to Castells there are two opposing types of spatial logic, the logic of material places and locations (the 'space of place') and the logic of intangible flows of information, communication, services and capital (the 'space of flows'). [4]

The particularly striking thing about Castells' theory is the strict separation between the two kinds of spatial logic. Whereas the space of places and locations is clearly localized and associated with local history, tradition and memory, Castells sees the space of flows as essentially ahistorical, location-free and continuous. This last mainly because it moves across every time zone and so in some sense is not only location-free but also timeless. [5] Castells believes there is a fundamental asymmetry between the two kinds of space: while the vast majority of the world's inhabitants live, dwell and work in the space of places and locations, the dominant economic political, social and ultimately also cultural functions are increasingly shifting to the place of flows, where they make possible location-free ahistorical network connections, international trends, power complexes and capital movements. Only a very small part of the world population is represented in the bodies which take decisions about the organization and use of new location-free spatial connections. But increasingly the decisions made within such self-contained systems determine the living conditions in those places and locations where the vast majority of the world population attempt to survive and where their knowledge, experience and memory is localized. Castells feels that it is not surprising that political, social and cultural bridges need to be deliberately built between the two spatial dynamics, to avoid society's collapse into insoluble schizophrenia.

The attractive thing about Castells' theory is that it makes it possible to grasp and clarify a multiplicity of asymmetric social developments in a single image -- an image that has certainly not left popular culture unmoved. At the same time Castells' suggested contrast between physical locations and places and the intangible space of flows is misleading and ultimately even counterproductive for his political agenda: the deliberate building of bridges between physical space and informational space. Instead of a strict separation between physical space and informational space, all technological and social trends clearly indicate that these two 'spheres' are becoming more and more closely interwoven. A generic model of the sort suggested by Castells is totally unsuited to the analysis of this closeness and to gaining an understanding of how possibilities for public and private action come about within it, the central question posed in the present issue of Open. What threats to the autonomy and inviolability of the subject, the group, the community or cultural self-determination could possibly manifest themselves here and how can something be done about those threats?

Hybrid Space as a Polymorphous Concept

Against the placelessness and continuity of Castells' ahistorical 'space of flows' stands the discontinuity and multiplicity of hybrid space. The hybridity of this spatial concept refers not only to the stratified nature of physical space and the electronic communication networks it contains, but every bit as much to the discontinuity of the 'connectivity' or degree of connection between the multiplicity of communication networks. After all, even the universal presence of a telephone connection can not be taken for granted. More important still is the connection between local social and electronic networks: who communicates with whom, and in what context, is determined differently from one region to another, sometimes even from one day to the next. Because the space of electronic communication is rooted in local networks, it is also linked with local history. And questions about who controls electronic space or becomes familiar with electronic space are by no means easy to answer. Ravi Sundaram for example, co-founder of the Sarai new media initiative in Delhi, is constantly drawing attention to the coming into being of what he calls 'electronic pirate-modernity', [6] which comes about when local groups or individuals, illegitimately and without permission, gain access to television, telephone or the Internet -- 'Never ask permission, just appear!'.

Hybrid space is never exclusively local, as in the case of the idyllic hippy commune at the beginning of the 1970s. Small local networks, hacked or not, never remain limited to the local bazaar or the vegetable market in the next village. Local networks interweave with the international networks into which they force their way. Thus, says Saskia Sassen, the local is reconstituted as a micro-environment with a worldwide reach. Free-software geniuses in Sao Paulo's favelas find no difficulty in downloading the results of the latest interchange between the Amsterdam Waag (the Society for Old and New Media) and the Alternative Law Forum in Bangalore, but nobody pulls his or her local roots out of the ground.

Diktat of Visibility

The thing that strikes one about current discussion and the associated criticism of the rise of electronic media in public space is the preoccupation with the visual forms in which these media manifest themselves, such as screens, projections and electronic tagging. [7] It is a sort of extended visual criticism, closely connected with a tradition which assumes that the visual arrangement of observable reality is a necessary precondition for any ability to exercise power over that reality. However, the thing that stands in the way of this preoccupation with the visual is a critical analysis of the more invisible processes which are rearranging public space and imposing a different utilization logic. Relatively invisible forms of social compulsion, which bring these processes into play, may well have a much greater significance for the way in which public space can and may be used in future.

The concept of the perfect visual arrangement, expressing a social reality in which power structures are completely unambiguous and transparent, still always refers to Alberti's 'legitimate construction' and Piero della Francesca's ideal city, both of which reflect a visual articulation of daily life suggesting that everything, social and public, is completely controllable and constructible. Although the unifying point of view of a linear perspective has long been rejected, the street screens still stipulate for us a single perspective: a correct viewing distance and direction, while social relationships are radically altered.

The street screen is also the embodiment of spectacle in its most repressive form. Today spectacle is no longer alone in controlling the inner life, the interior of the alienation of the average TV junkie. The street, the classic stage of modern theatre, is overloaded with marching electronic screens and projections, so erasing the public functions of open space. Public functions become blurred by the flow of light and images drenching us in a fetish of alienating desires as we follow our necessary route through the city, from A to B.

Limitations of the Screen

Another point of criticism of the new urban visuality is its inherent limitation. Virtually every screen is rectangular and flat and has limited resolution (the number of pixels which determine the quality of the image). Media artists recognized these limitations years ago and have, with varying degrees of success, developed a multitude of strategies to attempt to overcome those limitations by, for example, a spatial type of installation, interactive media in which the screen itself also becomes an object capable of being moved and manipulated, projection on walls, fabrics, curved screens, screens that are not rectangular, [8] mirrored projections, moving projections, projections on glass materials and so on. Some artists, as for example the members of the Knowbotic Research collective, even leave out screens entirely, replacing them by new haptic interfaces and stereoscopic helmets from the Virtual Reality research laboratory or, as during the 1996 Dutch Electronic Art Festival, an installation on the roof of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, where network manipulations translated into sound and stroboscopic light. [9] Yet another example of the movement to bypass the screen is the Xchange network, in which artists collectively explore the sonic dimension of the Internet. [10]

The new generation of media-architects can learn from media art that the screen is ultimately a dead end. It is interesting to see how these attempts at iconographic liberation keep on recurring. Avant-garde painters carried out endless experiments in their attempts to break away from the frame of the painting and the surface of the canvas, their ultimate aim being to announce the death of the 'retinal' object. This same death announcement is repeated by today's media artists, but this time in relation to the screen. Media architecture again venerates the screen as a window on a space first seen as boundless, but later recognized as being largely subject to limitations and conventions.

Ultimately the screen dissolves into the architecture, becoming less a screen than a membrane between physical and medial reality. Here the 'image' functions less and less as an autonomous object, but increasingly coincides with the architecture itself, its skin, its inner life and its internal processes, finally disappearing from the consciousness of the user of that architecture. The image ecomes subliminal, 'vernacular', commonplace, merged with the environment, self-evident -- in the end the spectacle neutralizes itself. Media theorist Lev Manovich was still positive about this new medially enhanced architecture in his essay entitled The Poetics of Augmented Space, that had Learning from Prada as subtitle and was based on the success of Koolhaas's creation. [11] By now we know that the concept has failed completely, screens have disappeared from the scene or have been cut back to a minimum. The lesson of Prada is that the strategy of visibility can quickly turn into its opposite.

The Problem of Invisibility

In the present phase, the most important change in computer technology and its applications is that they are steadily beginning to withdraw themselves from sight. The European Union has for some years now been subsidizing a wide-ranging programme of multidisciplinary research and discussion with the remarkable title The Disappearing Computer. This title alludes less to the disappearance of computer technology than to its ongoing miniaturization and the way that it is beginning to turn up everywhere. The programme is investigating the migration of electronic network technology into every kind of object, to built environments and even to living beings. The thesis is that miniaturization and steadily reducing production costs are making it simpler to provide all kinds of objects with simple electronic functions (chips containing information, tags that can send or receive signals, identification chips and specialized functions in everyday objects). This is more efficient than building ever more complex pieces of multifunctional apparatus and mean the abandonment of the old idea of the computer as a universal machine capable of performing every conceivable function. [12] In fact, this is how technology becomes invisible. A decisive step, with dramatic consequences for the way people think about and deal with spatial processes.

This assimilation of computer technology in the environment introduces a new issue: the problem of invisibility. When technology becomes invisible, it disappears from people's awareness. The environment is no longer perceived as a technological construct, making it difficult to discuss the effects of technology.

Lev Manovich speaks of 'augmented space', a space enriched with technology, which only becomes activated when a specific function is required. [13] Wireless transmitters and receivers play a crucial role in such enriched spaces. Objects are directly linked with portable media. Chips are incorporated into identity cards and clothing. Even one's shopping is automatically registered by sensors. Screens and information systems are switched on remotely, by a simple wave of the hand. Miniaturization, remote control and particularly the mass production of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags is bringing the age-old technological fantasy of a quasi-intelligent, responsive environment within reach of digital engineers.

Of course these applications are not exclusively neutral. Combinations of technologies of the sort described above make it amazingly simple to introduce new and infinitely differentiated regimes for the control of public and private space. The application to public transport of RFID smart cards, which automatically determine the distance travelled, the fare and the credit balance, still sounds relatively harmless. Fitting household pets with an identity chip the size of a grain of rice, inserted under the skin, has become widespread practice. Indeed most health insurance schemes for household pets prescribe the insertion of such chips as an entry condition. Recently, however, first reports have turned up of security firms in the United States which provide their employees with subcutaneous chips allowing them to move through secure buildings without the use of keys or smart cards. Such systems also allow companies to compile a specific profile for each individual employee specifying those parts of the building or object to which the employer has (or is denied) access, and at what times

It is not difficult to extrapolate these practices to society as a whole. Who has the initiative in such matters? If the initiative lies exclusively with the constructors, the producers of these augmented spaces, and their clients, then the space we are living in is liable to total authoritarian control, even if there is no immediately observable way in which that space displays the historic characteristics of authoritarianism. The more widely the initiative is distributed between producers and consumers and the more decision-making is transferred the 'nodes' (the extremities of the network, occupied by the users) instead of at the 'hubs' (junctions in the network), the more chance there is of a space in which the sovereign subject is able to shape his or her own autonomy. The articulation of subjectivity in the network of waves is also an opportunity for the last remnants of autonomy to manifest themselves.

The Strategic Issue: 'Agency' in Hybrid Spaces

The concept of 'agency' is difficult to interpret, but literally combines action, mediation and power. It is not surprising therefore, to find it applied as a strategic instrument for dealing with questions about the ongoing hybridization of public and private space. Unlike Michel de Certeau's tactical acts of spatial resistance to the dominant utilitarian logic of urban space in particular, the action of this instrument in new ('augmented') hybrid spaces has mainly strategic significance. A tactical act of spatial resistance, which is after all no more than temporary, is hardly comforting to anyone faced by such an infinitely diversified and adaptive system of spatial control. New hybrid spaces must be deliberately 'designed' to create free spaces within which the subject can withdraw himself, temporarily, from spatial determination. Given the power politics and the enormous strategic and economic interests involved, and the associated demands for security and control, it is clear that these free spaces will not come about by themselves or as a matter of course. I would therefore like to suggest a number of strategies to give some chance of success to the creation of such spaces

Public visibility: 'maps and counter-maps', tactical cartography

The problem of the invisibility of the countless networks penetrating public and private space is ultimately insoluble. What can be done, however, is to remake them in a local and visible form, in such a way that they remain in the public eye and in the public consciousness. This strategy can be expressed in 'tactical cartography', using the tools of the network of waves (gps, Wi-Fi, 3G, etcetera) to lay bare its authoritarian structure. An aesthetic interpretation of these structures increases the sensitivity of the observer to the 'invisible' presence of these networks.


Emphasis is always placed on the right and desire to be connected. However, in future it may be more important to have the right and power to be shut out, to have the option, for a longer or shorter time, to be disconnected from the network of waves.


Deliberately undermining the system, damaging the infrastructure, disruption and sabotage are always available as ways of giving resistance concrete form. Such measures will, however, always provoke countermeasures, so that ultimately the authoritarian structure of a dystopian hybrid space is more likely to be strengthened and perpetuated than to be thrown open to any form of autonomy.

Legal provisions, prohibitions

In the post-ideological stage of Western society it seems that the laws and rights used to legalize matters provide the only credible source of social justification. But because a system of legal rules runs counter to the sovereignty of the subject it can never be the embodiment of a desire for autonomy. It can, however, play a part in creating more favourable conditions.

Reduction in economic scale

New hybrid systems of spatial planning and control depend on a radical increase in economic scale in the production of its instruments of control. Thus the political choice to deliberately reduce economic scale would be an outstanding instrument to thwart this 'scaling-up' strategy. [14]

Accountability and public transparency

In the words of surveillance specialist David Lyon, 'Forget privacy, focus on accountability'. It would be naive to assume that the tendencies described above can easily be reversed, even with political will and support from public opinion. A strategy of insisting on the accountability of constructors and clients of these new systems of spatial and social control could lead to usable results in the shorter term.

Deliberate violation of an imposed spatial program

Civil disobedience is another effective strategy, especially if it can be orchestrated on a massive scale. Unlike sabotage, the aim here is not to disorganize or damage systems of control, but simply to make them ineffective by massively ignoring them. After all, the public interest is the interest of everyone, and no other interest weighs more heavily. [15]

The formation of new social and political actors -- public action 'Agency', the power to act, means taking action in some concrete form. The complexity of the new hybrid spatial and technological regimes makes it appear that the idea of action is in fact an absurdity. However, new social and political players manifest themselves in public space by the special way they act, by clustering, by displaying recognizable visuality, by marking their 'presence' vis-a-vis (the) other(s).

The manifestation of concrete action by new social and political actors in public space is 'gesture'. The action, in this case, is the way the space is used, though there is still a difference between the use of a space and more or less public actions in that space. The use of space becomes agency when that use takes on a strategic form.


1. For a description, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/flashmob.
2. Reclaim the streets website http://rts.gn.apc.org/.
3. Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996).
4. Ibid.
5. Consider for example the concept of the 24-hour economy.
6. 'Electronic pirate modernity': see also www.sarai.net.
7. See also www.urbanscreens.org or the Logo Parc symposium held in Amsterdam on 16 November 2005, a cooperative project undertaken by the Jan van Eyck Academy, the Premsela Foundation and the Art and Public Space Lectureship (Rietveld Academy and the University of
8. These 'shaped screens' do incidentally form a curious counterpart to Frank Stella's Shaped Canvasses.
9. Anonymous Muttering: http://www.khm.de/people/krcf/AM/.
10. Website of the Xchange network, http://xchange.re-lab.net. 11. Lev Manovich, The Poetics of Augmented Space: Learning from Prada (2002), see www.manovich.net
12. The so-called Turing Machine, named after the mathematician Allan Turing -- the machine that is capable of simulating any other machine.
13. Manovich, The Poetics of Augmented Space, op. cit. (note 11).
14. The mass production of RFID (radio frequency identification) tags compelled producers to minimize the security provisions incorporated to allow the tags to be applied cost effectively to virtually any conceivable consumer product. A policy of giving priority to the safety and reliability of the chips and the information stored on them would make them much too expensive, restricting their development to specialized 'niche' markets.
15. Examples of a new kind of civil disobedience include deactivating RFID tags with the aid of an adapted mobile phone, hindering the operation of smart cards, regularly swapping client cards, deliberately supplying false information when registering online and using 'anonymizers' on the Internet, 'encrypted' (coded) mobile phones and local gsm blockers.

This essay was written for the new issue of Open (#11), cahier about art and the public domain - "Hybrid Space". The essay introduces the overall theme of the issue, and suggests some strategic considerations on the use of hybrid space.

More information on the issue can be found at the website of NAi Publishers:

and at the website of Open:

The journal was presented at De Balie, Centre for Culture and Politics in Amsterdam, on November 18, with the annual SKOR lecture, delivered this year by Saskia Sassen: "Public Interventions - The Shifting Meaning of the Urban Condition". The lecture is available on-line at: http://www.debalie.nl/terugkijken See also: http://www.debalie.nl/artikel.jsp?podiumid=media&articleid=85601 [via nettime]

Posted by jo at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2006

Saskia Sassen


Essay and Lecture

Open 11 :: Hybrid Space: The influence of digital technologies on the use of the public domain :: Thanks to new wireless technologies (WIFI, GPS, RFID) and mobile media, public space is subject to drastic changes. It is being traversed by electronic infrastructures and networks, and alternative cultural and social domains are evolving, though often invisible from a conventional viewpoint. The traditional physical and social conditions of the public domain are being supplanted by zones, places and subcultures that transcend the local and interlink with translocal and global processes. The question is whether there are also new opportunities for the individual and for groups to act, participate and intervene publicly in this hybrid, seemingly flexible space. How do people appropriate the new public spaces? Where does the 'public' take place in this day and age? Who shapes and moulds it by devising spatial, cultural and political strategies?

With contributions by Drew Hemment, Howard Rheingold, Saskia Sassen, Frans Vogelaar/Elizabeth Sikiardi, Noortje Marres, Koen Brams/Dirk Pultau, Marion Hamm, Kristina Andersen, Ari Altena, Daniel van der Velden, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Esther Polak, De Geuzen and Max Bruinsma. Guest editor: Eric Kluitenberg, Jorinde Seijdel and Liesbeth Melis (eds.)

Public Interventions: The Shifting Meaning of the Urban Condition by Saskia Sassen :: De Balie, Amsterdam :: Saturday, November 18, 2006 :: Start: 20.30 hrs (CET) :: Live-stream webcast.

This year’s SKOR lecture (Fourndation for Art and Public Space) is delivered by Saskia Sassen, who will talk about the ‘making’ of public space by means of architectural and artistic interventions. The evening includes the presentation of Open 11, which takes hybrid space as its theme and includes an essay contributed by Sassen.

Human experience is threatened by the massive architecture of world cities and the density of infrastructures – digital and otherwise – that exist to serve international capital and the global economy. Sassen argues that there is a need for the production of subversive narratives as a counterbalance to this, to make the local and what has been silenced manifest and to generate new forms of ‘modest public spaces’.

Saskia Sassen is Ralph Lewis Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago and Professor at the London School of Economics. She has gained worldwide acclaim for studies such as The Global City and Cities in a World Economy. Her most recent publication is Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press, 2006).

Panelists: Arnold Reijndorp, urban sociologist; Willem van Weelden, artist and theorist; Moderator: Bahram Sadeghi

Language: English

Organised by: SKOR / Open / De Balie

SKOR is the Netherlands Foundation for Art and Public Space.

Open, a cahier about art and the public domain, is published twice a year by NAi Publishers in association with skor.

ADDRESS: De Balie, Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10, Amsterdam.

RESERVATIONS: De Balie t 020-5535100, or via >>

Admission: 12,50 (students: 7,50)

Posted by jo at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2006

From Here to There


Under an Umbrella

From Here to There Under an Umbrella by Chris Barr: The "Under an Umbrella" project stems from an experience that I had as a freshman in college, in which a younger version of myself offered a young lady a spot under an umbrella during a rainstorm. From that rainy two-block walk and the conversation that it allowed, an exuberant yet naive relationship developed.

For three days during Conflux I will offer to escort local residents and festival participants to their desired location under an umbrella, as a sort of umbrella taxi. Our walk and conversation will be recorded via an "umbrellacam" and will be uploaded to the project website. With this experiment I am interested in how a shift in spatial experience, i.e. a space designed for one being used for two, can shift other relationships such as communication. And how something such as our vulnerability to our environment can offer us unique (and sometime intimate) human experiences.

Participants can sign up for a walk at UnderAnUmbrella.com or call (716) 512-9254. The project will run Friday September 15 through Sunday September 17 from 8am - 4pm with documetation available on the project website.

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August 18, 2006

Upgrade! New York: We Passion Power and Control


The Dark Desires of Art Under Surveillance

Upgrade! New York presents We Passion Power and Control : The Dark Desires of Art Under Surveillance :: Thursday, August 24th, 7:30pm :: Eyebeam, 540 W. 21st Street, New York City :: This time we'll attempt to take on the dark desires beyond the basic art / privacy / surveillance discourse. Through three projects exercising different modes of surveillance we will discuss artists jealousy of authoritative powers and the desire to posses these powers themselves.

in(security) - 31Down's Online Surveillance Drama This is a live online theater piece that uses surveillance cameras as a playing space for actors and audience members as you become part of a security team policing the streets of New York. devised and developed by: Ryan Holsopple and Mirit Tal.

Little Feet - Little Feet Bureau International brings privatization to government surveillance. Four dot-matrix printers comb internet traffic. Upon finding words that threatens a client nation, the machines use the intercepted "evidence" to draft letters accusing and questioning the offenders. Obsessed with uncovering secrets, the final product of the system is a culture of paranoia. As such, the installation stands with one little foot planted in hysterical paranoia and conspiracy theory and the other in denial and the claim "it can't happen to me". Developed by: David Nolen, Toshiaki Ozawa and Mushon Zer-Aviv.

Generative Social Networking® - Taking advantage of Bluetooth security flaws in cellphones, Generative Social Networking® unlocks the hidden potential of mobile contact lists to automatically connect people. GSN® is an artistic experiment in urban hacking instigated by Christian Croft and Andrew Schneider, a critical media partnership currently researching at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU.


Ryan Holsopple, founder and director of 31 Down radio theater, has worked as an actor with directors: Richard Foreman, Pavol Liska, Tea Agalic and DJ Mendel, among others. He co-created the website Buskerdu.com with John Schimmel, a website that allows you to record and post your favorite subway buskers to the Web. Ryan is a graduate of the Interactive Telecommunications Program.

Mirit Tal is an Israeli media artist and a software engineer. Intrigued by the powers of technology on our life, her work deals with issues such as surveillance, paranoia, unconscious interaction and mind control. Soon after arriving to New York in 2004 she joined 31 Down and have since presented in venues such as the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Rhizome, Spark Festival 2006 and White Box/Performa 05.

David Nolen is an artist whose work incorporates both analog and digital processes and he enjoys playing at the blurry boundary between the intellectual rigor of code and the intuitive free play of the pencil. He now knows far too many programming languages for his own good though in a past life he studied film and curated an avant-garde music festival in Austin, Texas. Currently he’s writing his own software to analyze and animate his drawings. This project arose from his thesis work at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunication Program where he just received his masters.

Toshiaki Ozawa was born in Tokyo and has spent a great majority of his time ever since playing with light, shadow, emulsion and liquid-solutions. His work, screen based and otherwise, reflects this compulsively tactile approach to subject matter. He has collaborated on the work of many artists including Isaac Julien, Laurie Anderson, Leandro Katz, and Matthew Barney. As a cinematographer, he has photographed many films. One of them won the cinematography and best film awards at Sundance 2002. Another was reviewed by Roger Ebert in 2004 as "the worst film in the history of the [Cannes Film] festival. "Current projects include, 'Quixotic Unmeanings,' a robotic wire sculpture broadcasting Cervantes in semaphores, 'Pikadon Seoul,' a multimedia performance opposing the worldwide atomic arsenal, and 'Scar,' a slasher horror movie filmed in 3D.

Mushon Zer Aviv is an Israeli designer, a media-activist and a net artist. He is the co-founder of ShiftSpace (.org) – a new Open Source platform seeking to extend the current borders of the web and to allow the creation of public spaces within it. For that Mushon has recently won the Swiss Projekt Sitemapping new-media grant. Mushon is a new-media lecturer in the Shenkar college in Tel-Aviv and is the co-founder of Shual (.com) design studio. He has curated the BD4D Tel-Aviv and the Upgrade! Tel-Aviv New-Media events series. Mushon currently lives with his wife and cat in New York, studying for his masters degree in ITP, NYU's new-media program.

Christian Croft is a new media artist and interactive designer from Athens, GA currently doing research at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. He works both collaboratively and individually on projects that revolve around such themes as info glut, technological ritual, and recombinatory language. He has received grant funding from Ideas for Creative Exploration (ICE) at the Univ. of Georgia and was chosen to participate in The Kitchen 2003 Summer Institute. He has shown work at the Georgia Museum of Art, ICE, Athens Institute of Contemporary Art (ATHICA), Rhizome Artbase, AskTheRobot Festival, Sony Wonder Technology Lab, and the Bushwick Arts Project Festival. More of his work can be explored online at xncroft.com.

Andrew Schneider is a performer and video artist. As a founding member of the Chicago-based multimedia performance ensemble bigpicturegroup, he has just recently completed an artist-in-residence program at the University of Chicago where the group has been developing their latest work TRUE+FALSE. His work has also been seen at P.S.122 as well as part of the New York International Fringe festival.

All three projects have been developed at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU.

Upgrade! is an international network of gatherings concerning art + tech + community.

About our partner: Eyebeam supports the creation, presentation and analysis of new forms of innovative cultural production. Founded in 1997, Eyebeam is dedicated to exposing broad and diverse audiences to new technologies and media arts, while simultaneously establishing and demonstrating new media as a significant genre.

Posted by jo at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2006

Data bodies


Re-Gaining a Sense of Privacy in Public Space

The Super Vision performance (via Grand Text Auto), by the Builders Association and dbox, was presented last week at ISEA and it looks taps right into my interests of the moment (which are roughly about artists/hackers' guerilla tactics to re-gain a sense of privacy in public space.)

Even before we are born, our personal electronic data begins to accumulate and to circulate. From our first sonogram, to birth certificates, academic records, dental records, credit card purchases, passports, and emails – as we grow, our “data body” grows with us, and becomes an integral part of our identity. In the age of information, we have come to accept, allow, and depend upon this new identity. How do we relate to the growing cloud of data that surrounds us and others?

Super Vision explores the changing nature of our relationship to living in a post-private society where personal electronic information is constantly collected and distributed. These bodies exist in a “data space” which remains mostly invisible. Super Vision makes that space visible.

SUPER VISION tells three stories:
1. As he crosses borders, a traveler gradually is forced to reveal all of his personal information, until his identity becomes transparent, with no part of his life left outside the bounds of dataveillance.
2. As a woman tries to digitally archive her Grandmother’s past, the grandmother slips into senility. The woman is left to discover what remains of her Grandmother’s life – and her own – outside the realm of data.
3. A father covertly exploits his young son’s personal data to meet the demands of the family’s lifestyle. This ploy escalates beyond control, until he is compelled to disappear. His wife and son are left with a starkly diminished data portrait, and his escape is shadowed by the long reach of the datasphere.

The artists will perform again on Thu–Sat, Aug 17–19 at the Yerba Buena, San Francisco.

Reading about this work made me think about a couple of projects that i'll introduce with a quote from Futurologist Ian Pearson: "[In the future] there will be chips all over the high street relaying information and you will be bombarded with digital information everywhere you go," said Pearson. "You will need a digital bubble force field — a shield that lets through what you want and blocks everything else." (via)


First project is the floatable jellyfish-like vessels, by Usman Haque. The vessels would drift around cities to create ephemeral zones of truly private space: an absence of phone calls, emails, access of GPS devices, TV broadcasts, wireless networks and other microwave emissions. They can also provide shielding from the gaze surveillance systems.


A second project is Freezone. British artist Stanza imagined that information free zones could become the holiday destination of the future. All mobile phones, passports, id cards or chips would be left outside the pod.

Katherine Moriwaki has also explored the data that follows us like a shadow with Recoil. Powerful magnets sewed into suits allow the wearer creates a data-free zone, by erasing the data contained in memory devices like credit cards.


These garments can also serve to heighten awareness in the wearer and others as to the high penetration of digital technologies into our everyday lives and reasserts awareness of bodily presence in the environment.

Last work that sprung to my mind was Chris Oakley's video The Catalogue which envisions humanity as a series of trackable units whose value is defined by their spending capacity and future needs. [blogged by Régine on we-make-money-not-art]

Posted by jo at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2006

From Dusk Till Dawn


Visualizing Communication in Urban Space

From Dusk Till Dawn will begin at sundown on August 19, 2006 and run until early morning at the Kiosk "Akuna Matata" (subway station Eberswalder Strasse), Berlin. From Dusk Till Dawn is a visual, interactive installation of mobile communication technologies in urban space.

Mobile communication networks have become a prominent part of our daily lives stretching all around the globe, linking people from all continents and accompanying us in every move we make by laying their complex framework over our cities like virtual worlds. But how do people react to ubiquitous communication? How is it used and how is interaction accomplished? What consequences arise concerning the environment we live in? Today, every mobile user alters through mobile communication or data exchange actively but invisibly his surrounding space and his spatial relations.

From Dusk Till Dawn makes mobile communication visible and creates awareness for the openness, transparency and possible exploitation of users employing these technologies.

Posted by jo at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2006



Artistically Sensitive Ecosystems

The SKIN-PÔ project--by Mark Fournel--seeks to bring the creative process into the public forum and allow citizens to reclaim their community spaces through technological works of art that spur spontaneous creation. The artist offers an interactive environment within an urban space, such as a public square. Passers-by are able to interact with the work's audio and visual components via wireless interfaces that control video projections on surrounding buildings and create and distribute sound in the venue. SKIN-PÔ challenges urban structures, disputes their composition and reconstructs them where they stand. We are impelled to scrutinize and confront the urban reality imposed upon us, the conventions that rule it, and the acceptance of these conventions by the key stakeholders of our urban spaces, the passers-by.

With SKIN-PÔ, Fournel reaches out to passers-by and strives to change how they look at their surroundings. He destabilizes them and in doing so forces them to call into question what they have previously accepted as fact. The project seeks to create distance — both critical and playful — between us and our role as urban players. In this vacuum between reality and fiction, the artist creates a type of "escape," which he sees as essential if we are to truly explore our rapport with the urban space around us.

This void fascinates him, as it represents a respite that allows us to relax, take a deep breath, and reconnect with our imagination.

The project incorporates the implementation and use of a highly accurate, quick response, spatial positioning system and a number of video and audio control software applications and modules. SKIN-PÔ promotes an open source philosophy, with all of the modules, tools and software developed for the project made available to the community.

SKIN-PÔ is the second phase of the Transduction project, a body of research and production work begun in 2000 that explores and confronts the various methods we use to take ownership of our architectural space and the integration of these methods into the construction of "artistically sensitive ecosystems." SKIN-PÔ evolved directly from the Tontauben installation, the first phase of the Transduction project. [J.P. © 2006 FDL]

Posted by jo at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2006

Mirjam Struppek


The Social Potential of Urban Screens

"...The emergence of the internet culture has brought new ways of participation and exchange to challenge hierarchical authorship. The 'new forms of creation mediated by networks more and more remote, fast and wireless' (Beiguelman, 2006) derived from this culture, influence new productions of public space. Artists are exploring the potential of the growing interconnections between online and offline worlds, and between social experiences in virtual and physical space. Wallace (2003) sees the internet connected to screens 'as a delivery mechanism to inhabit and or change actual urban spaces'. We can find various community experiments in the growing field of social computing: friend-of-a-friend communities; participatory experiments in content creation in the mailing list culture; and more recently, the wiki websites (where users can add and edit content) and blogging systems that serve an increased need for self-expression. By connecting large outdoor screens with digital experiments in online worlds, the culture of collaborative content production and networking can be brought to a wider audience for inspiration and engagement..." From The Social Potential of Urban Screens by Mirjam Struppek, Visual Communication, Volume 5, No. 2, Sage Publications June 2006, p 173-188.

Posted by jo at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2006

[iDC] Participation


Embodiment/Disembodiment :: Privacy/Publicness

"In an earlier post I suggested the need to think through privacy, if we were to come to terms with publicness, i.e., that the two shouldn’t be unhooked. This, where privacy might be the ground or condition of entering into publicness: one factor to be considered, and we certainly don’t even need the current discussion to make this clear, is gender. But the discussion seems to be falling back on pretty familiar generalizations (and sometimes essentializations): women do A, men do B, etc. Not sure how far that gets anyone. Statistical tendencies for such a small sample group would probably require more detail: if we took only the instance of academics (forgive me, everyone else, but it came up in a post), wouldn’t we need to know how many of what genders, what age groups, what class backgrounds, how many single/heterosexual/gay, how many with dependents, how many with what kind of rank and workload? How many in each category have posted how often, who spends how much time reading the list? Not sure anyway that such a survey wouldn’t end up confirming pre-existing positions.

Am interested to note that individual accounts of relations to participation so far emphasize embodied—often very uncomfortable—positions, and while my sense is that these have mainly come from women, I’m fairly sure that many men would identify with them (I know I do). This might suggest that relations to this kind of list—and maybe the technology more generally?—rely on a complex of relations between embodiment and disembodiment, which I think occur along the border of privacy and publicness, or, more dynamically, represent their intertwining. Given that there’s a traditional pair of equations between privileged disembodiment (the disembodiment of the unmarked, the white male) and publicness, on one hand, and embodiment (typically seen as marked, feminine) and privacy, on the other, then perhaps the agitation that’s evident around participation is a sign that a) the private conditions of entry into publicness have become unstable (which may be at once liberating and alarming, for both men and women, and which is likely to be intensified by the temporal disjunctions of this mode of communication), and/or b) that new technologies cannot guarantee new cultural and ideological formations." - Frazer Ward, Department of Art, Smith College [posted on Institute for Distributed Creativity]

Posted by jo at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2006

GLOWLAB 09: july :: august 2006


Networks, Mobility, Interventions

The projects in Glowlab 09 examine urban architecture by investigating the social spaces enabled by public networks, mobile communication devices and direct intervention. In viewing the work, one might re-imagine the city as space which is defined through the nature of the interactions that take place within it.


Public Broadcast Cart by Ricardo Miranda Zuñiga: Transforms a shopping cart into a mobile radio station, transmitting via miniFM and the Internet. The Public Broadcast Cart is designed to enable any pedestrian to become an active producer of a radio broadcast by reversing the usual role of the public from audience to producer.


Hundekopf by Brian House and Sue Huang (Knifeandfork): A location-based narrative project utilizing SMS text-messaging to explore the experience of riding the Berlin Ringbahn.


Relay: Toronto by Germaine Koh: An architectural intervention that turns a building into a sort of urban lighthouse, relaying text messages received on a mobile phone by flashing the building lights in Morse code.


Lee Walton's Western Shift by Allard van Hoorn: An open-environment collaboration between researchers, architects, designers, artist, curators and all kind of cultural producers. Its aim is to stimulate fresh ways of looking at urban living and discover alternative solutions.


SpeedWave by Otino Corsano: A photographic based performance piece inspired by the established location of a regularly monitored Toronto speed trap. A camera on a tripod replaces the laser gun to document waves of local traffic.


Talking Cities [magazine review] by Krista Jenkins: A review of the recently published Talking Cities magazine, the print accompaniment to the exhibition of the same name, taking place at Zeche Zollverein in Essen, Germany.

Glowlab is an artist-run production and publishing lab engaging urban public space as the medium for contemporary art and technology projects. We track emerging approaches to psychogeography, the exploration of the physical and psychological landscape of cities. Our annual Conflux festival, exhibitions, events and our bi-monthly web-based magazine support a network of artists, researchers and technologists around the world.

Posted by jo at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2006

Turbulence Commission


My Beating Blog by Yury Gitman

My Beating Blog is an attempt to take the journaling aspect of blogging into a surrealistic future in which the author literally and metaphorically bares his heart. For three weeks, a series of posts contextualizing heart-rate visualizations, GPS-maps, and personal journal entries will give online users a rare entrance into personal medical-grade statistics, stalker-level location tracking, and the private thoughts of the blogger. Inevitably, issues regarding privacy, exhibitionism, and voyeurism playfully emerge as the blogosphere is infused with biofeedback and location technology. Rather than play into a dystopian or Orwellian future, blogs and biofeedback are given poetic license, reframing our awareness of our own and each others' beating hearts.

My Beating Blog is a 2005 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence web site. It is supported by the Jerome Foundation in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial and in recognition of the valuable contributions of artists to society.

Yury Gitman is a designer, inventor, and award-winning artist. He has exhibited at the Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth, Australia; Isle de France, Paris; Ars Electronics, Austria; and Eyebeam, among others, New York City. Gitman was one of the first people to use the Internet from inside the New York subway. He did this by employing a network of his "Magicbikes" ("wireless bicycle hotspots"). He was awarded the Ars Electronica Golden Nica for Net Vision in 2003. In 2005 he opened Banana Design Lab, a product design company focusing on lifestyle designs to entertain the soul.

Gitman has worked with non-profits such as NYCWireless, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Downtown Alliance to promote open Internet policy and New Media Art practice in New York. He teaches an Electronic Toy Design class in the Design Technology MFA program at the Parsons School of Design. He received a Masters degree from New York University's Interactive Telecommunication Program and a Bachelor of Science in Science, Technology, and Culture from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Gitman's work has featured in local, national, and international media including BBC, The New York Times, Newsweek, NPR, New York 1 TV, Tech TV, CNET, ID Magazine, Readymade, Village Voice, Adbusters, and Utne Reader. [Related networked_performance posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

Posted by jo at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

Digital Cartographies:


From Metageography to Locality in Online Navigation

"Abstract: When Internet technology entered into popular culture in the 1990s, the virtual dominated the discourse with talk of cyber-worlds, fragmented communities and disembodied individuals. Today, location and social connection define the parameters of the media. This new orientation has redirected network activity away from early predictions of virtual isolation and towards a social connectivity that is decidedly located and contextual. In this essay, I examine changes in the popular understanding of digital space and digital subjectivity. I begin with a discussion of the metaphor of mapping in postmodernism and cyberspace and I suggest that such metaphors, premised on the conceptual distinction between real and virtual, have given way to the localized and embodied mapping of Web 2.0. Technical, industrial and cultural changes in digital culture over the past several years have created a distinct digital social space wherein the virtual world is anchored by the growing and persistent visibility and parallel commodification of everyday life." From Digital Cartographies: From Metageography to Locality in Online Navigation by Eric Gordon.

Posted by jo at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2006



Container Culture

Panel Discussion: RHYTHMS OF URBANITY: MAPPING THE PUBLIC SPHERE THROUGH SOCIO-POLITICAL FORCES--Thursday, May 25 at 7 pm; Room 403, Vancouver Art Gallery.

This public discussion among artists Kate Armstrong, Bobbi Kozinuk, M. Simon Levin, Laurie Long, Leonard Paul, Manuel Piña, Jean Routhier, and curator Alice Ming Wai Jim will speak to “container culture” and the idea that the public sphere is rapidly being privatized and now reflects more on the movement of goods and capital than on the expression of individual rights. in[ ]ex, their interactive, city-wide media art project, will first be exhibited in connection with Centre A and the World Urban Forum in Vancouver, Canada in June 2006, and then in San Jose, California in connection with the Container Culture exhibition at ISEA in August.

In[ ]ex is an audio sculpture which creates a mesh network by releasing thousands of embedded wooden blocks into the world. The mesh network collects and processes data to form a sound environment in the space of a shipping container. This project takes place in the context of shipping and distribution of goods and the movement of people in the two port cities of Vancouver, British Columbia, and San Jose, California. In[ ]ex engages both the subject of things and the mechanisms by which things are distributed in the global economy.

Posted by jo at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2006



The Domestication of the Ambient Intelligence Space

"[...] By defining digital borders, the vision of digital territory creates a continuum between the physical world and its digitised counterpart. The construction of digital boundaries consolidates the gateways already established between these two worlds. This paradox will be catalysed by the implementation of a growing number of bridges between the two environments. Location-based services, radio frequency identification tags, body implants, ambient intelligence sensors, etc. will permit the implementation of a trustworthy environment and therefore the domestication of the ambient intelligence space by the individual. The vision will facilitate the transition through a traditional society that coexists with an information society, to a single society whose citizens have accepted and adopted the fusion of physical and digital realities. In this future society, people will still be able to control and manage distance from others with new tools provided by ambient intelligence space technologies." From DIGITAL TERRITORY: BUBBLES by Laurent Beslay and Hannu Hakala.

Posted by jo at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2006

TXTual healing


Interactive Text Messaging Enabled Public Performance

Using public space to engage a performative, open dialogue. In Paul Notzold's current work "TXTual Healing uses a cell phone a computer and a projector to create a mobile public performance by posting a person's text messages into speech bubbles that are strategically placed on the facades of buildings."

more from the project site:

"Using 'always on' technology, cell phones with SMS messaging allow an audience to interact with large speech bubbles projected onto a flat surface, like the facade of a building. The bubbles are positioned near windows and doors to encourage an audience to create the conversations happening inside. The audience receives a flyer with the number and simple instructions. A participant sends a text message to the provided phone number and it is then displayed inside the speech bubble. Multiple bubbles may be used and the audience can direct their input to a specific bubble.

The piece explores the use of mobile technology to trigger dialogue, action and create content in a staged public performance. By using the facade of a building the intention is to engage an audience to think about the spaces we move through, live in and share. I'm trying to address public vs. private space and what kind of dialogue might transpire if we publicised our private thoughts. The piece was designed to encourage play, idea sharing, thought, discourse, and entertainment."

Paul mentions he is exploring the use of silhouettes in his performance dialogues as the project evolves.

Posted by michelle at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2006

Eyebeam Exhibition and Event


The Aphrodite Project: Platforms

The Aphrodite Project: Platforms is an integrated system of shoes and online services that combines the rich mythology of Aphrodite with the safety and advertising concerns of contemporary sex workers on the street. On view in Eyebeam's gallery May 2-13 will be a prototype of a silver-leather platform sandal with integrated LCD screen, speakers, internet connection and GPS tracking system. On May 13 visitors to the gallery will be able to track a model in real-time as she traverses the city wearing the platform prototype and join in a panel discussion between artists, technologists and sex work advocates. This event will conclude with a reading by Tracy Quan, performance by Ana Voog, Echo Transgression, and Melissa Gira, and live music by Natural Sphere. This event is open to the public free of charge with a suggested donation and will take place at Eyebeam, 540 W. 21st Street between 10th & 11th Aves.

Platforms--byNorene Leddy with Andrew Milmoe--is designed to question moral attitudes and value judgments, especially with this marginalized section of the population: Who gets new technology and when? What is the true value of sexual services? Using an archetypal model, is it possible to reclaim the profession for modern women? What are the ethics of surveillance and tracking? Is it possible to ensure that this information will empower and not endanger sex workers? Is it ever possible to guarantee that knowledge will stay within the hands of those who it is intended for?

The shoes address creativity and art making as well as practical issues of design and marketability. It is my hope that in addition to creating beautifully crafted objects; the project will contribute to the current international debate over the regulation, decriminalization, and legalization of prostitution.

Posted by jo at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2006

PLENUM at NodeL.


Poly-Independent Systems

PLENUM at NodeL is a plenary meeting session in 12 hours, 5 acts , 2 interludes; plus the optional epilogue. When: 7pm, March 25 to 7am, March 26, 2006 (door opens 6pm). Where: Lime House Townhall, East London. Admission by a piece of raw (meat, fish, veggie +++++++++++). PLENUM is a + xxxxx collaboration in association with Open Congress and Boxing Club. Call for participants and Pd-ers, please register and sign in.

PLENUM is a novel event format governed by a live-algorithm that can variably be adapted to a number of issues affecting communities, groups and initiatives within the independent, self- organising framework of net culture today.

PLENUM refers to the space of open public meetings and public speeches/debates as a commons. The project relates to the current discourse on open source software and open culture practice. It strives to probe consensual and participatory organisations, hold to account notions of transparency, shared commons and the underlying power structures.

PLENUM comes out of KOP's ongoing research project Commons/Tales and its "RULE OUT: Autonomy takes on Openness" workshop session at Open Congress, Tate Britain 2005. PLENUM at NodeL takes into account the media funding initiative and self-organizing efforts that produces this citywide London media season of March, 2006. On a larger scheme, PLENUM is concerned with the poly-independent system that we operate within.

In collaboration with , XXXXX orchestrates five expanded software acts with readily extendible Pd (pure data), SuperCollider patches or any networked OSC-enabled code. The software is concerned with an interface which operates in two directions - from the realm of speculative or expanded software (aka. the social) to the reduced yet equally effective realm of codified software and (as output, as interference, as noise) the entry of executed results back. A repetitive return trip. A two way street.

We invite media practitioners , cultural workers , Pders and all speculative coders in any chosen language, who are part or not part of NodeL as speakers, moderators, performers, and participants for PLENUM's 12 hour tour de force. With an aim at developing a working module for agenda setting and self-organization, PLENUM further explores the tension between the individual and the group voice, the human material and machine factor, the coming together and the falling apart, ultimately, the potential escalation of arguments leading to the (un)aviodable crash of self-made social units. Hopefully, a final walk out to River Thames at sunrise would revive the drained codes and souls.

Posted by jo at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

For All Audiences


Defying the Perverse Machinery of "Audience Dictatorship"

For All Audiences: 2 March to 7 May 2006; Opening: Thursday 2 March 2006 at 8.00 pm; sala rekalde, Alameda de Recalde, 30 Bilbao 48009 (Spain).

In this group exhibition, curated by Xabier Arakistain, 28 artists from the Basque Country, Spain and elsewhere in the world redefine the traditional concept of the public space. From the very beginning, publicity and the mass media have radically enlarged the idea of the public square, as the complex control mechanisms that regulate them have reached new levels of sophistication. A new panorama in which the intention to keep the invisible control nevertheless persists.

The exhibition informs of the new critical discourses that have been questioning in recent years the uses and abuses imposed on citizenship by marketing strategies, particularly delving into the revolutionary feminist theorisations of the division between the public and the private spheres. At the same time, the show proclaims sexist contents and other interests, both economic and ideological, that prevail in publicity messages today and shape these hegemonic spaces very often. brings together the work of 28 young artists which, being concerned about these issues, defy the perverse machinery of the so-called "audience dictatorship" that would want us to believe that critical contents are of no interest to a wider audience.

In the 60s of last century, the International Situationist - probably the most important artistic movement influenced by marxism - developed a series of artistic strategies in order to oppose to the traditions of the 19th century, that used to defend the "innocence" of art. Among those situationist strategies, the détournement prevails as a way to distort the meaning of different elements that have been gathered in order to reach a completely new meaning. The works of art showed in this exhibition can be considered as contemporary examples of détournement, as the world of publicity, urbanism, cinema, writing and the mass media are distorted through them.

Taking part in the exhibition are works of artists of the stature of Txomin Badiola, Cecilia Barriga, Anat Ben-David, Bene Bergado, Blami, Daniele Buetti, Minerva Cuevas, Kajsa Dahlberg, Tracey Emin, Chus García-Fraile, Miguel Ángel Gaüeca, Guerrilla Girls, Immo Klink, Jakob Kolding, Chris Korda, Elke Krystufek, Matthieu Laurette, Cristina Lucas, Mateo Maté, Carmen Navarrete, Itziar Okariz, Pripublikarrak, PSJM, Jill Sharpe, Carly Stasko, Zhou Tiehai, Mark Titchner and Li Wei.

The show will be accompanied by a catalogue published in Basque, Spanish and English, and extensively illustrated with works from the exhibition and installation shots taken by Begoña Zubero. The publication will also include essays written by Xabier Arakistain, the exhibition curator; and by the art critics Eduardo García Nieto, José Luis Brea, Itxaso Mendiluze, Beatriz Herráez, Emma Dexter and Leire Vergara. The catalogue published by sala rekalde will be designed by Rosa Lladó and distributed at an international level by Revolver Verlag.

For All Audiences has received the support of Bilbao City Council’s Department for Women’s Affairs and Development Co-operation, Biscay Provincial Council’s Department of Gender Policies and the Institut Français of Bilbao.

For further information, please contact:
Constanza Erkoreka, Press and Communication
Tel. +34 94 406 87 07
Fax. +34 94 406 87 54

Posted by jo at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006




What is rejected and refused in the symbolic order, reappears in reality. Specters, ghosts and phantoms haunt the world. (Peter Weibel on Jacques Lacan)

TANGENT_FEAR presents Inviting Horror, an artistic research project by Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat which investigates the experience of fear in public space. In a world in which daily activity is monitored through electronic technologies marked by networked surveillance systems, biometric scanning and profiling mechanisms, people are required to surrender access to their personal spheres of privacy and movement. Under the guise of community safety and anti-terror security a demand for ultimate transparency is made. Suspense is created and the urban space becomes a phobic zone, a horror-scape, in which an explosive mix of aggression and desire results in an irrational need to remove one’s self from the public sphere, a desire for the incognito.

To invite horror, and offer it a safe haven within our personal realms of well being and spheres of desire, implies both an obvious impossibility and a potential to counter the loss of control of our public domain. Using the movie related notion of horror, we search artistic strategies and scenarios in which the transition from desire and fear to a social phobia can be (re)constructed as a real-time and real-space action occurring live in the public sphere. Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat have invited a group of artists and researchers whose work centers on notions of fear, the body and perception to engage a broader public audience to discuss and explore these issues to bring horror ‘inside’ from within the public sphere.

V2_, Eendrachtstraat 10, 3012 XL Rotterdam
Friday 3 March 2006, 19:00-22:00 hrs
Admission: 2,50 EUR
Live stream & IRC chat: http://www.v2.nl/live

Inviting Horror: KPN Media Facade 'City Mobile Monument'

In conjunction with TANGENT_FEAR Rotterdam citizens are invited to upload short statements on urban experience to the running text display of the KPN Communication Tower. The City Mobile Monument forms part of Inviting Horror’s experiential archive which travels through and connects numerous urban centres worldwide. To upload a statement, please send a mail with your short text to info[at]invitinghorror.org KPN Telecommunication Company / Erasmus Bridge Tower, Rotterdam from 25 February to 5 March 2006.


Jordan Crandall, media artist and theorist, UC San Diego, recently completed Homefront, a video installation exploring the psychological dimensions of the new security culture.

Dennis Del Favero is a Sydney based artist and researcher, presents his video piece Pentimento, and will discuss the aesthetics of trauma through Nachtraglichkeit, a work in which he introduces the work of Pierre Janet.

Jill Magid, both performer and director, she engages the systems of discipline in society, such as police, CCTV, and forensic artists by exploiting the dormant possibilities of their services. She employs the system, via its latent qualities, to establish an intimate and poetic experience.

Marc de Kesel, Lacanian philosopher and researcher, Jan Van Eyck Academie Maastricht, will talk about the violence which is inherent to people, and the incapacity to deal with violence lucidly. An impossibility that makes violence only more malicious.

Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat experiment with new art forms for social cohension using electronic communication devices. In their performances and installations Lancel and Maat use a combination of online and offline media in which they invite the audience to participate. They design projects for urban public space such as those found at train stations, airports, museum lobbies, theaters, universities, construction sites, and city squares. Much of their work is developed in collaboration with V2_Lab
(Rotterdam) and Montevideo / TBA Netherlands Institute for Media Art (Amsterdam).

Special thanks: EYEBEAM New York

V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media
Eendrachtsstraat 10, NL-3012 XL Rotterdam
PO Box 19049, NL-3001 BA Rotterdam, NL
Tel + 31 10 206 72 72 | Fax + 31 10 206 72 71
E-mail info AT v2.nl | URL http://www.v2.nl

Posted by jo at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2006

First Monday, Special Issue #4:


Urban Screens

Urban Screens: Discovering the Potential of Outdoor Screens for Urban Society, Pieter Boeder, Geert Lovink, Sabine Niederer, and Mirjam Struppek, eds. Table of Contents: Introduction: Discovering the potential of outdoor screens for urban society by Pieter Boeder and Mirjam Struppek; Urban screens: The beginning of a universal visual culture by Paul Martin Lester; The politics of public space in the media city by Scott McQuire; The poetics of urban media surfaces by Lev Manovich; Interpreting urban screens; by Anthony Auerbach; Story space: A theoretical grounding for the new urban annotation by Rekha Murthy; The urban incubator: (De)constructive (re)presentation of heterotopian spatiality and virtual image(ries) by Wael Salah Fahmi; Urban screens: Towards the convergence of architecture and audiovisual media by Tore Slaatta; Towards an integrated architectural media space by Ava Fatah gen. Schieck; Art and social displays in the branding of the city: Token screens or opportunities for difference? by Julia Nevárez; Hijacking the urban screen: Trends in outdoor advertising and predictions for the use of video art and urban screens by Raina Kumra; For an aesthetics of transmission by Giselle Beiguelman; Intelligent skin: Real virtual by Vera Bühlmann; Programming video art for urban screens in public space by Kate Taylor; Augmenting the City with Urban Screens by Florian Resatsch, Daniel Michelis, Corina Weber, and Thomas Schildhauer.


Welcome, gentle reader, to this First Monday Urban Screens special issue, the first publication of its kind. With the advent of digital media, the global communication environment has changed dramatically. In the context of the rapidly evolving commercial information sphere of our cities, especially since the 1990s, a number of novel digital display technologies have been introduced into the urban landscape. This transformation has intersected with other major transformations of media technology and culture over the last two decades: the formation of distributed global networks and the emergence of mobile media platforms such as mobile phones. Their cumulative and synergistic impact has been profound. Convergence of screen technologies with digital communication technologies such as GSM, RFID, Internet and database technologies has lead to the emergence of a new, interactive and increasingly pervasive medium: Urban Screens.

Urban Screens can be defined as interactive, dynamic digital information displays in urban environments. Their genesis is the consequence of two parallel technological developments: evolution and subsequent growth in magnitude of the traditional display screen, and its subsequent convergence with other digital media technologies. Forms and appearances range from large daylight compatible LED billboards, plasma or SED screens, information displays in public transportation systems and electronic city information terminals to dynamic, intelligent surfaces that may be fully integrated into architectural façade structures. Their introduction in the urban environment poses new, unparalleled challenges and opportunities, which we will explore
and document in this issue.

Currently, the primary purpose of this new infrastructure appears to be the management and control of consumer behaviour through advertising. Commercial companies are starting to realise that digital billboards are a powerful medium to communicate their goals and missions, in line with the new paradigms of the digital economy. Interconnected Urban Screens have tremendous potential to serve as a platform for information exchange. Such large networks are already being developed Russia, China, USA and South America, where Urban Screens are rapidly becoming a key element in commercial and government informational infrastructure. The implications for the public sphere are profound. Information density per square metre is increasing, yet at the same time individuals have less control than ever over the actual format and content of that information.

Public space has always been a place for human interaction, a unique arena for the exchange of rituals and communication. Its architecture, being a storytelling medium itself, plays an important role in providing a stage for this interaction. The ways in which public space is inhabited can be read as a participatory process of its audience. Its (vanishing) role as a space for social and symbolic discourse has often been discussed in urban sociology. Modernisation, the growing independence of place and time and individualisation seem to devastate traditional city life and its social rhythm. The Urban Screens project explores the opportunities for opening this steadily growing infrastructure of digital screens, currently dominated by market forces, for cultural content, along with its potential for revitalising of the public sphere.

Urban Screens 2005 was the first international conference that was solely dedicated to the emerging Urban Screens phenomenon. Presentations covered a broad spectrum of topics and issues, ranging from critical theory to project experiences by researchers and practitioners in the field of art, architecture, urban studies and digital culture. It addressed the growing infrastructure of large digital moving displays, which increasingly influence and structure the visual sphere of our public spaces. Urban Screens 2005 investigated how the currently dominating commercial use of these screens can be broadened and culturally curated: can these screens become a tool to contribute to a lively urban society, involving its audience interactively?

A new medium that is digital, interactive and pervasive

What we are seeing is the emergence of a new medium that is digital, global and local, interactive and pervasive at the same time. What happens if the convergence of new technologies such as Internet, database and mobile technologies suddenly enable interactive access to the visual streaming of these digital surfaces? Can it revitalise the public sphere by creating an information-dense urban environment or is it a major threat? How does the growing infrastructure of digital displays influence the perception of the visual sphere of our public spaces? Metaphorically speaking, can or do Urban Screens already function as a mirror, reflecting the public sphere?

The Urban Screens project aims to address these questions in a transdisciplinary debate and present new approaches to answering the most pushing urgent questions, exchange experiences and create and maintain a thematical network around the subject for initiating future collaborations. The Urban Screens 2005 conference in Amsterdam addressed the existing commercial predetermination and explored the nuance between art, interventions and entertainment to stimulate a lively culture. Other key issues were mediated interaction, content, participation of the local community, possible restrictions due to technical limits, and the incorporation of screens in the architecture of our urban landscape.

Urban Screens 2006: Demonstrating the potential of public screens for interaction

Building upon the results of Urban Screens 2005, the 2006 Urban Screens 2006 conference (Berlin, October 5-6) will elaborate on the discussion and develop the broad spectrum of possible formats and usage of this emerging new media infrastructure. Urban Screens 2006 will be a platform for demonstrating the potential of public screens for interaction in a trinity of infrastructure, content and cooperation models. Interconnected topics will be the politics of public space, multimedia content as a service for an array of portable devices, urban neighbourhood reactivation, interaction design of urban screens, standardisation and integration in the urban landscape. Using existing screens infrastructure as well as future 'Urban Screens furniture' in the urban space of Berlin, we will demonstrate the impact of Urban Screens, their contextualisation and situatedness. This unique accumulation of projects will serve as a playground and research field for practical observations on the interplay of screen technology, content, location and format.

Urban Screens 2007: Expanding the potential of content for community

Urban Screens 2007 is currently under preparation in collaboration with BBC Public Space Broadcasting. While Urban Screens 2006 will have 'brick & mortar' accents, Urban Screens 2007 will have a distinct focus on the potential of journalistic content: issues surrounding the production and display of media content for Urban Screens, as well as adaptive reuse of 'old' content for new media will be explored in detail. Key issues and topics will include Public Space Broadcasting (PSB), the politics of public space, mediated interaction and participation, as well as experiments with new participatory formats. PSB can energise the hearts of cities by bringing together communities to share events and broadcasts, creating public news and information points that double as local meeting places. Largely due to the innovative work of the BBC, PSB is starting to prove its potential to provide an outlet for community and educational activities, public service information, visual arts, digital innovation and local content production, revitalising the public sphere.

We hope that you will share our excitement.

Posted by jo at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2006



Inbox/Outbox Call for Participation

Inbox/Outbox is an e-mail institution operating and establishing connections between virtual and real public spheres as a means to propelling public access. Characterized by its temporary function as an agent, I/O avoids institutional incorporation of its subjects, thus removing itself from the final context, as well as allowing internal institutions and contexts to occur. I/O is based on a division into two binary functions, Inbox and Outbox, Inbox being the receiver of virtual data, which in turn is processed by Outbox and "forwarded" to public spaces.

Inbox/Outbox is currently channelling its activities through Centrifug, an exhibition space within Konsthall C in Stockholm, Sweden. The selection of exhibitions at Centrifug is based on a public booking list, released once every year. The Inbox/Outbox exhibition period is February 22nd - March 5th. I/O is for this occasion calling for participation. Admission will not be limited in any way, neither by amount of data, number of participants nor by any other criteria for selection, given the condition that submitted content doesn't infringe upon laws or regulations.

Submitted data must be suited for printing onto plain (A4) paper or for writing to audio-CD. Deadline is set for February 20th. Submit your data to inbox[at]inboxoutbox.org

Posted by jo at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2005

blubox + fotobox


networked public art

"my current research title explores public art as a playful mediated urban environment. to clarify my terminology, I use >playful< to refer to a game-based situation. playing is fun, interactivity can be playful, playfulness mostly experienced by two or more people. i was cautious not to use the word >game-based< or as to describe my art practise as game design. i am however interested in addressing the notion of >game-play<, a term which was mainly used within the context of gaming during the development of video game design in the early 1980’s.

whereas the term >mediated< is not only referring to a space that has been modified such as by the installation of a variety of media tools but also in establishing a mode of >social interaction< that can be generated by such tools. referring to >public art< in the title is aiming to drive forward the debate of >new genre public art<. this development comes out of the more traditional practise of public art, concerning itself not only with the site-specificity of a public place but addresses the significance of audience in the development of the artwork. the emphasis is to widen and define a more >inclusive< mode of public art practice.

my >blubox< artwork is piloting an example of the above mentioned terms and practises and sits amongst 4 other case studies of artists using mobile and wireless media devices. >blubox< which is a systems-based art project, enables the public to network together via bluetooth to play with various designed mobile applications in a coordinated city environment. i am now inclined to change my research title to outline exactly what my art practise is researching: public art as a wireless network." [blogged by Maria N. Stukoff on mobilebox]

Via Locative:

"blubox is a unique bluetooth software and hardware application designed and developed by Maria N. Stukoff and Jon Wetherall for the creative use of mobile phones via bluetooth. as part of this development we are invited to trail the first phase of blubox technology - called fotobox an interactive installation with a public LED screen display - at the 3rd Salford Film Festival in
salford/manchester tonight...

...the next phase of blubox will platform a 3D game environment controlled and played via bluetooth technology. we aim to release the framework for this mobile phone game by march 2006..."

Posted by jo at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2005

A conversation between...


José Luis Barrios and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

* This is the edited transcription of a teleconference which took place in the Sala de Arte Público Siquieros (SAPS), Mexico City, on the 20th of April 2005, and which was moderated by the director of SAPS, Itala Schmelz. Translation from the Spanish original by Rebecca MacSween.

JLB: The distinguishing factor that defines modernity has to do with self-awareness, or the ability of the subject to both represent and represent self-reflexively his activities and relationships with the world. An important aspect of this is expressed in the Foucaultian concept technologies of the gaze. Throughout the history of art and visual culture various strategies of the gaze have existed. How do you distinguish and conceptualize those strategies that belong to the present and how are they manifested in your work?

RLH: New visual experiments have always been aided, or even initiated, by technological advancements. For example, perspective during the Renaissance, anamorphosis as part of Mannerism, or Eugène Chevreul's color theory for the Impressionists. In this context my contribution is the following: Walter Benjamin spoke with great clarity about the birth of modernism. For him the image is that which can be reproduced mechanically, a condition that eliminates the aural quality from a work of art. Mechanical reproduction democratizes art, popularizes it, and takes away that privileged point of view born of singularity. However, with digital technologies I believe that the aura has returned, and with a vengeance, because what digital technology emphasizes, through interactivity, is the multiple reading, the idea that a piece of art is created by the participation of the user. The idea that a work is not hermetic but something that requires exposure in order to exist is fundamental to understand this "vengeance of the aura".

Today digital art, -actually all art-, has awareness. This has always been true, but we have now become aware of art's awareness. Pieces listen to us, they see us, they sense our presence and wait for us to inspire them, and not the other ay around. It is no coincidence that post-modern art emphasizes the audience. In linguistic theory Saussure would say that it is impossible to have a dialogue without being aware of your interlocutor. Exactly the same thing was said, almost 100 years ago in the art world by Duchamp, for example, when he said, "le regard fait le tableau" (the look makes the painting). What we see happening is that this concept of dependency is reinforced by digital technology. Pieces of art are in a constant state of becoming. It's not that they "are" but that they are "changing into". I think the artist no longer has a monopoly over their work, or an exhaustive or total position over its interpretation or representation. Today, it is a more common idea-an idea that I defend-that the work itself has a life. The work is a platform and yes the platform has an authorship, but it also has its points of entry, its loose ends, its tangents, its empty spaces and its eccentricities. In this sense, artworks tend to be eclectic which for me signifies the liberation of art, the freedom to reaffirm its meaning.

In contrast to the idea of creation through the gaze of the public, the other side of the coin should also be mentioned; the panoptic computerized gaze. Artistic interest in criticizing the predatory gaze of the surveillance camera is nothing new; there is for example the work of Dan Graham, Bruce Nauman or Julia Scher, to mention a few. What is new is the degree of computerization that the new surveillance systems, which invade our public and private spaces, possess. Stemming directly from the American "Patriot Act" is a wide variety of computer-vision techniques that, for example, are intended for identifying suspicious individuals or classifying them based on ethnic traits. It is literally about technologies designed to discriminate based on a series of innate prejudices. This new intensification of surveillance is extremely problematic because, in the words of Manuel DeLanda "it endows the computer with the power of executive decision making". What is also new is the amount of memory that these systems have thanks to ever-smaller storage units and increasingly efficient compression-decompression algorithms (codecs) that allow for the recording and reproduction of events from the distant past. Lastly, the widespread popularization of cameras by reality shows and the penetration into public and private spaces by means of things like web cams should be mentioned. I have no doubt that a new type of art is emerging in order to confront these technologies of the panoptic and post-optic gaze. The Institute for Applied Autonomy, Harun Farocki and the Bureau of Inverse Technology are some examples of this new line of inquiry.

JLB: A fundamental aspect of the connection between technology and language is that which is linked, and this is particularly important in your work, to society. If the machine is language and a space for play, how can we understand its function or connection with social bodies? Let me clarify; in a large part of your work, interventions into the space of the subject are obvious, whether these spaces are public or private. This is interesting because at the same time that you link technology with language (society), you also introduce a type of "principle of intrusion of technology" to both the subject and their space. What imaginary social space do you believe your work opens? Above all I am asking about those pieces that have a direct link to public spaces.

RLH: It depends on the project and how it is received. Often the response to the work is very different from what I had imagined. For example, my installations using giant shadows; the first time I used the projected shadows of pedestrians in a public art piece was when transforming the fa?ade of a military arsenal in the Austrian city of Graz. It happened that in the arsenal there was a painting entitled "The Scourges of God" depicting the three primary fears of the people of Graz in medieval times: a potential Turkish invasion, the Bubonic plague and infestation by locusts. For this installation I invited dozens of artists and thinkers from all over the world to participate in an on-line debate on the transformation of the concept of fear. Perhaps the Turkish threat had been replaced with a fear of an invasion of Yugoslavian war refugees, or instead of Bubonic plague, the current day AIDS epidemic. The debate was projected in real time onto the facade, but I thought I could use the shadows of the pedestrians as a kind of "window" or "scanner" linking the public to the text. I assumed that the shadows would give an expressionistic and lugubrious touch to the piece-I was thinking of Murnau. Also, I wanted the shadows to function as metaphors for fear: for instance fear of the Turkish invasion that never happened but was only a menacing specter. I was totally wrong! As soon as people passed by and noticed the installation they would start to play with their shadows and perform humorous pantomimes. The huge dimension of the shadows allowed, for example, for school children to step on their teachers, or that a man in a wheelchair could roll his twenty-five-meter-high shadow over the others deriving great pleasure from squashing them with his giant wheels. The installation was converted into an ad hoc carnival and nobody thought for one minute about fears, plagues or invasions. This was one of the most entertaining errors of my career. The piece, which was called "Re:Positioning Fear", opened a Bakhtinian carnavalesque space where the environment was artifice and game, an environment that was completely outside of my control, literally and poetically.

My projects with shadows since then have benefited greatly from this lesson. "Body Movies", the piece in which shadows reveal enormous photographic portraits, precisely invites people to play with their representations in a public space and to play at being the "other", like a kind of inverse puppetry. The plastic potential of the shadow is used not as an absence, loss or darkness, but as a window to an artificial reality. We were trying to interrupt convention, routine, the predominant narratives of power that the buildings represented. Cicero said, "We make buildings and buildings make us". Our situation in the globalized city says the opposite: the urban environment no longer represents the citizens, it represents capital. Architects and urban developers build with the priority to optimize cost, and from there to the homogenization of globalization, and from there to the unfortunate reality of contemporary architecture which fetishizes the modular, the formula. It has reached a crisis of representation that carries with it a tremendous avidity of connection. In my work I try to encourage exceptionalism, eccentric reading of the environment, alien memories (meaning, those that don't belong to the site). don't want to develop site-specific installations but rather focus on the new temporal relationships that emerge from the artificial situation, what I call "relationship-specific" art.

JLB: In understanding public space as a carnivalesque space it is also understood why communities developed where-and this also happens with Relational Architecture-there is no subject identified as autonomous and independent. Bakhtin explains in his text on the forms of the carnivalesque in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance that in order for the carnival to succeed there has to be an overflowing beyond the limits of the subject's identity and body. It seems to me that in the examples you provide you reconstitute the carnivalesque condition by means of shadows, not as theatre but as pantomime. What you do is create a carnivalesque space in which the user can intervene and symbolically create a collective body. This is noticeable, for example, in the fact that you intervene facades or the Z?calo Square in Mexico City; by doing so certain symbolic connections to power are deconstructed. In this manner you open a ludic space and deepen the potential of the social body, but you do this via interactive technological supports, reinforcing the imaginary-fantastical aspect of the game. Seen this way, and to delve more deeply into the relationship between the public space and that of the carnivalesque, what place does the orgiastic body have in this game?

RLH: My projects vary so it is difficult to generalize. There are pieces where the body is amplified on an urban scale (Displaced Emperors, Body Movies, Two Origins), others where the body is the canvas (Subtitled Public), and others where it becomes the target of extremely predatory electronic detection (Surface Tension, Standards and Double Standards). There are also others in which the body plays no highlighted role (Amodal Suspension, 33 Questions Per Minute, Vectorial Elevation).

I'd like to make a clarification on a term you used and that is the idea of the collective. I run away from this idea. In the world of electronic art there are two competing trends. On the one hand the unbearable utopian vision of Pierre Levy, amongst others. He proposes a "collective intelligence", virtual communities that form a global village, the idea that we are facing the emancipation of the human race all thanks to inter-connectivity. To me this vision, which is promoted by publications like Wired, is corporative, colonial and naive. I am amongst the ranks of those that reject the notion of community and the collective when it comes to acts of interpretation or perception. I think that we have seen truly disheartening agendas produced in the name of collectivity. In contrast, I really like the concept of the connective -a much less problematic word because it joins realities without a pre-programmed approach. What's interesting is that this concept doesn't convert realities into homogeneity. What Derrick de Kerckhove calls "Connective Intelligence" seems more useful as a concept for linking planes of existence that may be extremely disparate even if they coexist at times. I would even go so far as to define the connective as those tangents that pull us out of the collective.To return to the connection between carnival, body and public space, "Body Movies" is a piece that inspired different behaviors depending on where it was presented. When it was to be shown in Lisbon I thought of the stereotype of the "Latino" who loves to be out on the streets, partying and hugging affectionately so I expected a lot of this type of interaction with the piece. However what we saw was people trying their best not to overlap or interfere with another person's shadow. In contrast, when we presented the piece in England, where I had thought we would see considerable modesty and moderation, people got drunk, took off their clothes and acted out a variety of orgiastic scenes, which was a lot of fun to watch. This anecdote points out the difficulty of making generalizations about the body in a public space, which seems to me like quite a healthy difficulty.

JLB: In your work you make a distinction between "Relational Architecture" and "Subsculptures". Does this distinction correspond to certain connections that you maintain or establish with specific aesthetic systems-architecture or sculpture-or perhaps to formal concepts, for example, scale, or is it more about two arbitrary concepts that allow you to explore diverse issues?

RLH: They are more about arbitrary concepts. They are neologisms designed precisely to avoid being classified with other existing concepts. I first used the term "relational" in 1994 in describing my telepresence installation "The Trace". I found the word in the neurological essays of Maturana and Varela, although I was also aware of pioneering artists like Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticia and their work with relational objects. As well, I was interested in the relational functions of database programs that wove multi-dimensional webs for connecting various fields, a valuable concept when applied to the word "architecture" that for so long has signified solidity and permanence. Lastly, it was a good word in counterpoint to the term "virtual", which emphasizes the dematerialization of experience and asks us to create in simulacra. "Relational" emphasizes the dematerialization of the real environment and asks us to question the dissimulation. Today the term is already dated, partly because of the popularization of the term "relational aesthetics" by Nicolas Bourriaud, which by the way has little to do with my work and was published a number of years after I used the term. For the sake of coherence with my earlier work, I will probably continue to make Relational Architecture pieces maintaining the two grotesque definitions that I gave to the field: "technological actualizations of urban environments with alien memory" (1994) and the newer "anti-monuments for public dissimulation" (2002).

I started the series of Subsculptures in 2003 with the motorized belt piece "Standards and Double Standards". I have already added another three to the series: the kinetic sculpture "Synaptic Caguamas", the interactive screen piece "Glories of Accounting" and the neon piece "Entanglement". It's true that in the majority of cases these are more portable and nomadic pieces than the Relational Architecture installations are, -however I think that at some point I will make huge Subsculptures... so, the scale isn't the difference. I don't yet have a definition of what "Subsculpture" is but I think it has to do with contagion matrices. All of the installations consist of two or more interconnected robotic or virtual entities. The rules of behavior for these entities are relatively simple, but they are dependent on and influenced by the status of neighbouring entities or other inputs, for example the surveillance of the public (my installations almost always "watch the watchers", as Daniel Garcia And?jar would say). In this way, they achieve an unpredictable and emergent global behavior, where turbulence and other phenomena that are products of non-linear processes are found. For example, in "Standards and Double Standards" there are between 10 to 100 buckled belts hung from interconnected robots. A computerized camera system detects a visitor and instructs nearby belts to rotate on their own axis until the belt buckle faces him or her. This local movement then spreads in a process of chain reactions that travel throughout the matrix until the entire field of belts has been affected. If a second visitor enters, then those belts closest to this second presence will be influenced and begin to rotate in the same manner described spreading and influencing the orientation of the entire field. The resulting effect are patterns of interference very similar to those that can be seen, for example, in a tank of water into which various drops fall; some belts remain still, others turn constantly (eddies) and others follow the spectators.

Another aspect of Subsculptures is my interest in Barbara Liskov's "Substitution Principle" that says, in object-oriented programming, that an object of one class can be substituted for another in an inherited class without changing the properties of the program. It's something like the concept of metonymy in psychoanalysis or linguistics and like the categorical syllogism in philosophy called the "minor premise" or "subsumption". Liskov's Substitution Principle is, for me, extremely useful when it comes to making symbolic transferences between disparate or copresent realities. For example in "Standards and Double Standards" the belt substitutes the figure of masculinity, the father, authority. I'll give you other examples: in "Synaptic Caguamas" beer bottles play at being neurons in an algorithmic simulation of cerebral connections; in "Glories of Accounting" the raised hands are both metaphors of the Fascist salute and of the Spanish anti-terrorist gesture of "manos blancas" ("white hands"), -the hands also simultaneously signify distance (as in a "stop" gesture) and inclusion (as in the expression "show of hands"); and a last example, Entanglement, in which the neons connected to the Internet substitute for the photons linked by quantum mechanics.

Contrary to what the Substitution Principle asks for, in my Subsculptures substitution has a formal impact: it leaves a symbolic residue and destabilizes equivalencies. This residue is the strength of the piece, its poetry and its absurdity. For this reason I propose anti-modular strategies for artwork. I like breakdowns, the remainder in a division, and rounding errors. I find modularization boring and homogenizing. Modularization is promoted by:

* Computer science, through object-oriented programming, or plug-ins
* The art world, through the idea of authorship and bienialism
* Capital, as an instrument of control and quantification
* Architecture, using the formula as a solution (see Norman Foster)
* Education, through the modernist idea of specialization

No doubt my work is often quite modular, above all in its fabrication and sale, and it's better to confess it even though it is a contradiction, because one cannot live outside of the zeitgeist.

I think that Relational Architecture, like Subsculpture, can exhibit the anti-modular, symbolic inequalities or develop itself in the matricial space of rules of contagion. So there is no definite line that separates the two series. It is true that the Subsculpture series is slightly more personal; perhaps it is more an investigation of psychological spaces than of urban ones. I have been doing psychotherapy for four years now and maybe that explains that!

JLB: I would like to go back to the problem of non-linear mathematics and its relationship to "Synaptic Caguamas". When information is flow, a multi-perspectival flow that unfolds in various dimensions, it introduces the notion of "possibility" as a form of construction. It's interesting to me that this piece is not built on random relationships but that it is more about variables and vanishing lines configuring the system of representation. Keeping this in mind, I would like you to explain how this flow of information operates aesthetically as a system of self-management and self-configuration.

RLH: Recursive algorithms, chaos theory, cellular automata, digital genetics and other descriptions of complex dynamic processes are fascinating because they appear to be alive, to have life. Some exhibit evolution, others morphogenesis, and still others management and self-control. Mathematics associated to this field originate from various places, one of them being Weiner's postulation of the theory of Cybernetics in Mexico City in 1946, -it's definitely not something new. If during the Renaissance perspective and Fibonacci's series were used as media to legitimize the production of representation, today we can and should make dynamic mathematics our media. The Renaissance subject emerges precisely from the privileged vision of the vanishing point. What might be the equivalent impact as we contemplate, say, a fractal pattern? These mathematics shatter humanism, fortunately. They allow artists to design work that disobeys us (and the critics).

Until these mathematics reached the art world one of the only strategies that the artist had to create unexpected processes, for example a kinetic sculpture or automatic poetry, was chance. The people whom I most admire worked with chance in a very serious way -like John Cage or Marcel Duchamp- but I think that randomness is not that interesting anymore. Not even the greatest computer in the world could generate numbers that are truly random. Today we accept that the occurrence of a hurricane isn't due to bad luck but due to the consequences of a non-linear system of energy distribution (Lorenz's famous "fluttering of the wings of a butterfly on the other side of the planet"). Of course this doesn't mean that there is a destiny or that everything is predictable, it's exactly the opposite. These mathematics show us that uncertainty is inseparable from the system being observed, and artists love to work with uncertainty.

Today it is possible to create art from seeds, which actually is called "seeding the initial conditions" for a process, and then the work unfolds via mathematics in ways that you cannot control. You'll notice that every three minutes the bottles in "Synaptic Caguamas" line-up and reset themselves. This is done to give new initial conditions and to generate a variety of behaviors because on occasion the emerging patterns are boring or the bottles remain locked in what is referred to as "dynamic equilibrium".

Complexity describes processes like neuronal connections, genetic mutations, and the variegation of leaves. There is an infinity of examples of how non-linear mathematics permeate almost all of our natural and social history. Manuel DeLanda writes about how this dynamic flows can be used to understand history in a non-linear way, - -it's not about the selective recording of facts, dates and heroes, but rather it's about understanding history in terms of fields of attraction, of isobars, of influences, which is how non-linear math works. We want to visualize these flows, animate them, and evoke them so that they can help us give shape to our work.

JLB: "Subtitled Public" is a piece that isolates chance. When we were speaking about the piece a while ago, you said that it was a little like Mallarme's roll of the dice. One roll of the dice, as in this piece, puts in motion a mechanism where poetry, theatricality, technology and non-linear mathematics construct a complex space of meaning. A space where language names me and, at the same time, the body is interpreted as a shadow. How do you explain the connection between intrusion and evasion in this piece when it is a metaphor for the society of surveillance? What importance does the interaction of the spectator have with the piece as a sort of "subversion" of the fact that in the contemporary world "I am named"?

RLH: Chance is present in "Subtitled Public": A visitor is detected by a computerized surveillance system and the computer randomly selects a verb, conjugated in the third person, and is then projected onto the visitor's body. The visitor cannot get rid of the word that will follow him or her throughout the entire exhibition space, unless physical contact is made with another visitor, in which case they swap verbs. The use of chance in this piece has an important ironic component. Here we have a display of surveillance technology detecting the public's presence with great precision. The system pretends to have the ability to identify moods, gestures, desires and actions, but in the end it is chance that takes this to an absurd level. It's a comment on identification technologies that I spoke about in the beginning of this interview. I use chance, a throw of the dice, when criticizing the ridiculous systems used for example by the Department of Homeland Security in the USA that are trying to identify suspicious individuals.

Surveillance never tires of taking possession of our words and images. In my recent work I ask what would happen if all the cameras became projectors and gave us words and images rather than take them away from us?

In a piece such as this one I like the public's rejection to "being named". When we enter a piece of art or a public space, we all have certain values that are given to us by what we read, who we know, who we have seen etc. What I want is to shake up those values and create something dysfunctional, a moment of resistance and of rejection of those preconceived mantras. I look for the "special defects" that allow me to activate the imperfections, the disruptions; "to disrupt" seems to be the most precise term for describing what I want to do. The system projected the words "se mea" ("she urinates") onto a friend of mine who came to the opening and the words chased her through the exhibition space until I finally showed her how to rub them onto someone else. For me it's valuable that there is a moment of resistance to the assigned label, that people don't accept the subtitle nor see it as an oracle, that they are always conscious of the lie. I loved the comment of one visitor who said, "I got the word 'inv?lido' (handicapped), and maybe I am handicapped but I don't exactly know in what way" and there was another person who said, "you put on a psychological outfit depending on the word you get".

I think we are not done with exploring the culture of paranoia. I don't feel happy having to make art that works on that level, however I think it is extremely important to do so. What has been happening since September 11th is very, very serious. The authorities believe in the huge fallacy that the solution to terrorism should be technological. I react against that. We must use the distortions of the camera, and underline the innate prejudices of our media, of ourselves. Next time a person stops in front of a surveillance camera they might expect to have words projected on his or her body, and know that it is highly likely that they will not agree with the subtitle assigned to their public body.

Posted by jo at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2005

Virtual Raft Project + Regrets


Two from UC DARNet

The Virtual Raft Project is a multidisciplinary undertaking seeking to create communities of believable autonomous characters that inhabit heterogeneous networks of computational devices. In particular, the project is interested in allowing the characters to break the plane of the traditional desktop screen. To this end, we have designed an interactive installation featuring a novel tangible paradigm for interacting with the characters. This paradigm involves the use of a mobile device, such as a Tablet PC or handheld computer, as a “virtual raft” by which a character may be transported among several virtual worlds. By enabling the character on the raft to react in real time to the raft’s motion in real space, this installation encourages participants to become physically engaged with virtual characters. We believe that this physical engagement can lead to an increase in the believability of the characters.


Share the Burden

Regrets consists of six to ten purpose-built mobile computer stations publicly located in and around Cambridge collect anonymously submitted regrets from the public to comprise a sociological database of contemporary remorse. Instant feedback to the individual user based on other contributors' similar concerns is algorithmically generated and calculated to 'share the burden'. Random selections and groupings of the regrets are made public across the city through existing signage and broadcast facilities. By engaging users in revelations of a problematic but constructive nature, we aim to bring specificities of individual lives, in this case personal regrets, into the realm of public debate, shared learning, and community.


The UC Digital Arts Research Network (UC DARNet) is an interdisciplinary Multicampus Research Group of University of California faculty who utilize digital media for cultural and theoretical research and in their creative production. As an ad-hoc planning group, UC DARNet has been meeting since 1997 to lay the foundation for a UC-wide program to facilitate collaborative research and teaching within a distributed digital arts and humanities community.

Culture is in the midst of an increasingly rapid shift to computer-mediated forms of creative production, distribution and communication. The role of digital media is fundamental to this shift. Digital Artists create a natural bridge across the traditional disciplinary divide between the humanities and the sciences. Interdisciplinary dialogue geared toward creative production and programmatic development will be facilitated by UC DARNet, providing an opportunity for critical engagement and conceptual dialogue between humanists, scientists, and those in the digital arts. A rotating group of UC digital arts and new media faculty act as principal investigators of UC DARNet and as the group's advisory committee.


UC DARNet will, over a five year period, work to:

Serve to bridge counterproductive gaps between the arts, humanities, and sciences;

Enhance students' educational experience by providing access to faculty across the entire UC system;

Engage in experimentation and prototyping of distributed network environments which will be of value to a range of research interests and educational models; and, finally;

Help to establish UC as a leading institution for developing the new modalities of digital culture. UC DARNet will establish a strong UC presence outside of California through conferences, events, workshops, exhibitions, and ongoing online and offline dialogues. It is also actively planning to have research and development activities facilitate distance learning, and technology access to underprivileged middle school and high school children in the Southern California.

Funded by the University of California's Office of Research, UC DARNet pursues its programs and research activites with matching funding from the participant campuses, partner institutions and organizations, industry sponsors, corporations and foundations.

Posted by jo at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2005

i m P A C T 05:


Tracing Translation

i m P A C T 05 - Tracing Translation is an interactive symposium in three episodes over three days, From October 30 to November 2, 2005, at PACT Zollverein, Choreographic Centre NRW, Essen, Germany. i m P A C T 05 will be led by four artists who each renegotiate through their work the scope and perimeters of the performing and visual arts. Taking decidedly individual approaches, Xavier le Roy (FR/D), Antoni Muntadas (ES/US) and Miranda Pennell/John Smith (GB) not only address subtle shifts in the relationship between public and private spheres but are also concerned with investigating artistic translation strategies between the fields of documentary and fiction.

The symposium opens on Sunday evening with a performance of Product of circumstances by Xavier Le Roy and a film programme of works by Antoni Muntadas, Miranda Pennell and John Smith. Thereafter, lectures, live and multimedia presentations as well as group discussions and actions held in spaces both in and around PACT Zollverein combine to generate a conducive atmosphere for experimenting and reflecting.

The working language is English.

i m P A C T 05 is aimed at artists/theoreticians, journalists and advanced students of theatre, dance and media arts.

i m P A C T 05 also offers participants an opportunity to present and discuss examples of their own work.

With the support of the Kunststiftung NRW, there are seven scholarships available for i m P A C T 0 5 covering the symposium fee and hotel costs.

Applicants should submit a CV, letter of motivation, and, where applicable, a summary of a current project they would like to present during the symposium. The closing date for applications is 15 October 2005

Fee: 100,- EUR0, which includes: The 3-day symposium, 1 performance and 6 meals.

Further information, programme details and application forms under:
http://www.pact-zollverein.de A printed leaflet/poster will be available from mid September.

PACT Zollverein
i m P A C T 05
Ulrike Boecking,
Bullmannaue 20
D-45327 Essen
Fon: +49 (0)201 289 47 26
Fax: +49 (0)201 289 47 01

Posted by jo at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2005

Wireless London


Addressing Creative Possibilities

In the last five years usage of wireless networks worldwide and in the UK, especially in London, has grown enormously. Community networks, commercial providers and public sector initiatives have been turning to this now-generic technology to provide themselves with local, low-cost networks. As this technology hits the mainstream, expanding the potential scale and utility of these networks, Wireless London addresses the creative possibilities, policies, practicalities and potential of Wireless London.

We see that mobile, pervasive computing will fundamentally change how we work, play and communicate. We want to be able to modify that environment creatively, adapting and customising it as a public space. By researching and developing open systems and tools, and providing models for how these technologies can be deployed, we aim to create a demand for high technical and social standards by raising people's expectations and understanding. See Wireless London: NodelSoftArchitecture...

Posted by jo at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2005

Displacing Identity and Privacy

An Analysis of Jenny Marketou's "Translocal: Camp in my Tent"


Displacing Identity and Privacy: An Analysis of Jenny Marketou's "Translocal: Camp in my Tent" by Amanda Beattie [PDF] [via Sousveillance]

Posted by jo at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

Aware Community Portals:


Shared Information Appliances for Transitional Spaces

People wish to maintain a level of awareness of timely information, including presence of others in the workplace and other social settings. We believe this provides better exchange, coordination and contact within a community, especially as people work in asynchronous times and distributed locations. The challenge is to develop lightweight techniques for awareness, interaction and communication using 'shared information appliances'. We have developed an exploratory responsive display projected within a shared workspace at the MIT Media Lab. The system uses visual sensing to provide relevant information while constructing traces of people's activities and shared interests over time. Such 'aware portals' may be deployed in casual workplace domains, distributed workgroups, and everyday public spaces." From Aware Community Portals: Shared Information Appliances for Transitional Spaces by Nitin Sawhney, Sean Wheeler and Chris Schmandt.

Posted by jo at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

Ars Electronica


Regine Blogs Ars

TEMPEST is based on the surveillance technology known as Van Eck Phreaking - computer screen content can be reconstructed remotely by picking up the emitted EM-field of the screen. TEMPEST utilizes this technique to transform purely generative graphic into a composition of noise which again is fed back into the image generating process. Several AM receivers are tuned into different frequencies of a screen and plugged into an audio mixer for further sound processing. The graphics on the screen become a means of producing sound and it is only the graphics which determine the different timbres and rhythms. By Erich Berger.

Interface Culture at the Linz University of Art was founded last year by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau. The programme deals with human-machine interaction to develop innovative interfaces. Went to see their works yesterday.

SoundToy, by Christina Heidecker, Harald Moser and Timm Oliver Wilks, is a 3D environment you navigate as if you were a racing car driver. During the ride you use the steering wheel to create and compose 3D sounds. You place in the space sound objects assigned to electronic beats. The speed, pitch and volume can be individually adjusted using the steering wheel and the accelerating pedal. The composition is generated by the movement and position of the sound objects with respect to one another but also by the route you select.

Recipe Table, by Istvan Lorincz, Hanna Perner-Wilson, Thomas Wagner and Andreas Zingerle, is an interactive workplace built into a kitchen countertop that enable users to intuitively search for recipes. You place the tins and bottle, vegetable and other ingredients and in return the system makes you recipe suggestions. These culinary suggestions are also depicted graphically as finished dishes on the workplace.

Blow, by Taife Smetschka, is a breath-controlled video installation. There's a microphone and a projection of a clip from Billy Wilder’s film *The Seven Year Itch*, the scene in which Marilyn Monroe stands on the grate above the subway ventilation shaft. At first she is stationary, smiling at viewers from the screen. She doesn’t begin moving until she feels a cool breeze. In *blow!* the breeze has to be provided by the installation visitors who must blow as hard as they can into the microphone. Marilyn’s skirt flutters in the breeze as long as the visitor blows into the microphone.

Mika Satomi's Gutsie is a cyber android filled with “guts.” Peeping into its interior through its eye-like hole, you can observe its intestines in motion. It will show you the places you want to see by tracking your eye gaze, but at the same time, your gaze may infect it. The interior of our body is something very private, often disgusting, and thus prohibited to be seen or to be shown. In media, visual images of our insides are often used to induce feelings of violence or disgust. Ironically, this is something that is stuffed inside everyone’s body without exception.

The G-Player (Global player), by German artist Jens Brand, works like a CD-player. But instead of playing CDs, it plays the globe. The device knows the postion of more than a thousand satellites and enables you, by the use if a virtual 3D planetary model, to listen to an imaginary trace of a selected flying object. Like a needle on a record, the satellite follows the Earth's surface. The G-Player transforms the different elevations units course directly into sound. The simple display shows the selected satellite's name, type, altitude and position over the planet (thus the latitude and longitude). Topographic data are interpreted as audio data. "Noise sounds" result from the high density of the data. Pictures.

[via we-make-money-not]

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September 01, 2005



RFID Enabled Mirror

Hitachi announced yesterday a new mirror that functions as a computer display. It will be available for purchase in Japan on September 30. It combines a half mirror and a diffusion film to directly display digital information (text, photos, video, tv shows, websites, flash movies etc.) on a mirror surface using a LCD projector. This technology, called Miragraphy, also integrates sensors, RFID readers, barcode readers, cameras, etc. So, the mirror can automatically respond when people are around and personalize digital contents based on their sensed identities.

The Miragraphy device could potentially be used at restaurants, bars, hotels, trainstations, airports, sports clubs, show windows, designer clothing shops, and accessory shops. [blogged by konomi on RFID Japan]

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August 31, 2005



Global Headphone Festival

[Though it looks to be quite dysfunctional, this sucker sends the streaming Plug signal around the globe [Photo: Keith Axline].] "...In some ways Plug, held here Saturday, is just what you'd expect from a music fest: rotating performances in front of a live audience, socializing and plenty of beer. But the headphones (bring your own) replace a traditional concert's amplified speakers, and much of the socializing happens over a computer terminal linked to an IRC chat room, populated by members of the global audience listening to the performances over the internet...

The 13 hours of performances represented San Francisco's turn at the global le placard headphone festival, which hits cities all over the world, including London, Montreal, Paris, Brussels and Nagoya, Japan. Each city hosts a headphone party for a given period, in this case one day, before handing off the feed to the next location. Theoretically, this continues for 97 days in the hopes of providing one nonstop experience, though there are gaps in the schedule." From Fest Rocks With BYO Headphones by Keith Axline, Wired.

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August 30, 2005



A Walking Tour for Multiple Voices and Portable Phones

Pedestrian: A Walking Tour for Multiple Voices and Portable Phones--by Geek Ink--is a performance piece that takes New York audiences on walking tours in groups of ten on three separate routes led by three actresses through the East Village. It allows the participants to "eavesdrop" on cell phone conversations exploring the topic of loss - from lost tempers and lost loves to lost identities. Pedestrian explores the public airing of private speech, which occurs daily on the streets of New York. Connected by cell phones, the actresses invite the audience to overhear their conversations, confessions, and revelations; in fact, all participants are connected by a conference call service, allowing each tour participant to hear all three tour guides simultaneously. The audience follows these women through the streets, taking a journey through the emotional lives of the tour leaders, while interacting with many East Village landmarks that may have gone unnoticed until now.

Geek Ink is a not-for-profit company dedicated to producing challenging, high-quality entertainment by presenting an examination of ideas with a liberal dose of irreverent humor. It seeks to nurture a diverse theatrical community that includes people of all backgrounds on both sides of the curtain. Toward this goal, Geek Ink is committed to making the cost of theater-going within reach of all New Yorkers.

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When Bricks Become Pixels

"When bricks become pixels, the tectonics of architecture becomes informational"- Marcos Novak: Screen-Wall--by Ruth Ron--challenges the conventions of public and private spaces in a museum. The 'service' or 'private' parts of the museum, such as the archives, offices or the guard booth, which are traditionally closed to the public, become the subject of the display, reversing the relationship of 'watching' and 'being watched'. Influenced by the expending presence of surveillance in our daily life, we appropriate the panoptic gaze onto concealed parts of the museum to become the content of the exhibition display.

The opaque solidity of physical architecture is challenged by multiple layers of the screen, the image of the wall and the transition to live video feed. The distance between remote spaces in the museum collapses, and digital and visual continuity is created. The network portal extends beyond the properties of the flat digital screen to become a reactive 'window' to unexpected places.

System: Parts of the gallery walls are replaced by small flat monitors. At first, the screens perform as mute, still images of their supporting walls. Once an observer draws near, the image transforms into a live video feed of a remote 'service' location of the museum, streaming via the internet. [via]

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August 18, 2005



How Space Affords Socio-Cognitive Processes during Collaboration

"ABSTRACT: This paper reviews the literature about social and cognitive functions of spatial features used when collaborating in both physical and virtual settings. Those concepts come from various fields like social, cognitive as well as environmental psychology or CSCW (Computer Supported Collaborative Work). We briefly summarize the social and cognitive affordances of spatial features like distance, proxemics, co-presence, visibility or activity in the context of physical and virtual space. This review aims at grounding in an explicit framework the way human beings use space to support social interactions. This review can be used as a starting point to design efficient applications that take spatial context into account." From A Review of How Space Affords Socio-Cognitive Processes during Collaboration by Nicolas Nova, Space, Place & Technology: Presence in Mediated Experiences (#2),

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August 16, 2005



Exploring Digital Technologies in the Context of Public/Shared Spheres

MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES is Cardiff’s inaugural festival of creative technology - a three-day programme of events being held across the capital. The festival is being developed between Chapter and Bloc (Creative Technology Wales) and includes a two-day conference, new commissions, residencies, screenings, and artists’ projects in public sites across the city.

Artists are increasingly engaged with or inspired by digital technology - exploring consumer and communication technologies such as the worldwide web, mobile networks, file sharing, and computer gaming. Because digital technology is a participatory medium with global reach, artists tend to explore digital technology in the context of public and shared spheres. Often digital art is situated somewhere between public art and street culture where the technology itself is used as a ‘site’ for the production and presentation of art works. Although digital technology is often claimed to go beyond physical limitations, engagement with technology is always embedded in real spaces, whether this is explored from a user or network perspective.

Artists include: Blast Theory, Anri Sala, Grennan & Sperandio, TJ Wilcox, Jen Southern & Jen Hamilton, Scanner, Sarah Morris, Michelle Teran, Eddo Stern, Stefhan Caddick, Nina Pope & Karen Guthrie, Tim Davies, Rosalind Nashashibi, Tenant Spin, Andy Fung, Paddy Jolley, Mircea Cantor, STAR Radio, Valérie Jouve, Chris Evans, Mike Mills, Artstation, and many more.

Conference day 1: 28 October - Locative media and emplacement Speakers include: Prof Michael Corris, Head of Art & Photography, University of Newport; Claire Doherty, Director, Situations; Nina Pope, artist; Heath Bunting, artist; Giles Lane, Proboscis; Steve Benford, Professor in Collaborative Computing, University of Nottingham; Dr Sarah Green, Social Anthropologist, University of Manchester; Jen Southern & Jen Hamilton, artists.

Conference day 2: 29 October - Gaming Speakers include: Ju Row Farr, artist, Blast Theory; Stuart Nolan, researcher; Christopher Sperandio, artist; Eddo Stern, artist; David Surman, Lecturer in Computer Games Design, University of Newport; Alex Mayhew & Emma Westecott, Games Producers & Directors.

Conference Prices: £50 per day / £90 weekend ticket – organisations; £30 / £50 – early bird booking before 7 October £20 per day / £30 weekend ticket – individuals /concs; £15 / £25 – early bird booking before 7 Oct Party, The Point, Cardiff, 29 Oct, 8pm: Special Guests Scanner, Michelle Teran, Proober Glombat, Cymbient, Christopher Rees DJs.

The site will feature live streaming, artists’ projects, downloads, full biographies and images, conference booking and travel details, press section and the chance to receive regular updates on festival activity.

For further information about the programme and conference please contact: Gordon Dalton, Festival Coordinator: gordon@mayyouliveininterestingtimes.org 44 (0) 29 2031 1059 / 0779 234 1654

The festival is a Cardiff 2005 event and is presented with the support of: Cardiff County Council, Millennium Commission, the Arts Council of Wales, WDA, Cywaith Cymru . Artworks Wales, BBCi, Creative Mwldan, Millennium Stadium, Mute, G39, The Big Sleep, Elfen, Zenith Media, UWN, National Museums and Galleries of Wales, Sequence, Coolpants, Ping Wales, Oriel Mostyn and @Wales. http://www.bloc.org.uk/cgi-bin/showbig.cgi?id=55

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July 09, 2005



Navigating the Isolation of Others

StalkShow--by Karen Lancel and Hermen Maat--deals with threat of unsafety and isolation in public spaces. The performer carries a backpack, containing a laptop with a touch screen. It is a wearable billboard, with an attached webcam that records the face of the user of the touch screen.

Passersby are invited to touch the screen and navigate through statements about insecurity and isolation. The statements were written by asylum seekers, nuns, prisoners, digipersonas and others who live an isolated life. The user can identify her/himself with one of these persons and navigate through his/her statements. The navigation is displayed by a video projection on a large screen located in the same space (train stations, museums, squares, airports, etc.) The projection shows the portrait of the person that is using the touchscreen, together with the statements superimposed over the portrait. The user "watches" through a technically created, social-psychological frame of mind which seems to have a life of its own. [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not]

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July 01, 2005

Single Story Building


Mocking Interactivity

As part of Tate Online’s 40 artists, 40 days – a project in support of London’s Olympic and Paralympic Bid to bring the Games to Britain in 2012, Blast Theory is presenting a new phone based work: Single Story Building. In this interactive work, the participant drills through two thousand either/or questions. Starting with the question ‘Urban or Rural?’, the piece moves from the expansive into the cloistered, finally arriving at a secret and private space. Reminiscent of ‘10×10’ by Charles and Ray Eames, it uses this swoop in scale to explore the taste of the participant, whilst gently mocking the notion of interactivity itself.

Single Story Building can be accessed anytime of day by phoning 0871 504 3987. Use your phone's keypad to navigate through the work. Calls are charged at the national rate (8p/min from a landline). [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not]

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June 28, 2005

Yellow Chair Stories


Free Access

With the Yellow Chair Stories, Anab Jain opened her WiFi network to neighbours and passers-by. She placed a sign "advertising" the offer and a yellow chair outside her house, extending the boundaries of her home to encompass the boundaries of my wireless network. Both the sign and the chair defined a "real world blog space" which challenged the idea of "open network".

This "grass roots" design approach illustrates how wireless technologies could become interfaces to recreate transient spaces for conversations at the threshold of the public and the private, the physical and the electronic. Anab and Viktoria Klinker are also showing Sketch-a-move. [blogged by Regine on we-make-money-not]

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June 06, 2005

Trans:it. Moving Culture through Europe

NowHere Europe

NowHere Europe is the event for the final presentation of the project Trans:it. Moving Culture Through Europe: Opening: Friday June 10, 6 pm, Laboratorio Scientifico della Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo, Museale Veneziano, Cannaregio 3553.

Curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, NowHere Europe recognizes creative practices in arts, architecture and urban practices that are re-defining the concept of public space. Initiated from direct field study, the project has produced a publication entitled The (Un)Common Place. Art, Public Space and Urban Aesthetics in Europe--published by Actar-Barcellona in English and Italian--which documents more than fifty artistic and urban projects and interventions realized or in the\process of realization in Europe; a cycle of three documentary films Invisible Communities, Ruins for the Future, Fluid Cities realized along three itineraries in eleven European cities and including interviews with artists, curators, architects, critics and intellectuals, depicting the context in which the interventions were realized and offering an introductory panorama of the themes dealt with in the book; and an exhibition that gathered, in the form of an archive, materials documenting a selection of the artist's projects.

From Norway to Turkey, from Spain to Bulgaria, from Cyprus to Romania, a "common feeling" has emerged, along with a shared context where artists, institutions and civil societies try out new relationships within which to seek new forms of co-habitation, comprehension and vision of the urban space. A common feeling that underlines a European specificity which, to quote Etienne Balibar, "has the capacity to speak/listen, teach/learn, understand/make understood (in short, to translate), a capacity that can be extended from a strictly linguistic one to a broader cultural level."

The "European specificity" which emerges from the artists' projects seems to be articulated in themes that deal with the dichotomy between public and private space in geographically and culturally distant contexts where the boundaries between social, individual, intimate and shared tend to blur. Artistic practices arise that call into question the traditional institutions of the art system, oscillating between political activism, manifestoes of intentions and direct action in the territory. What emerges from this specificity of approach is a redefinition of the meaning of community through a rediscovery of the urban experience as a learning practice that produces new visions and representations and an exploration of the collective symbols and memories. In terms of both artistic practice and theoretical reflections, NowHere Europe focuses on a new definition of the European cultural identity characterised by openness and by the constant redefinition of the Self in the r elation with the Other.

For the occasion it has been produced the site specific project of Cesare Pietroiusti, 10,000 unique art works distributed for free that will be presented during the opening.

Curator: Bartolomeo Pietromarchi

Mario Airò; Can Altay; Patrick André; An Architektur; Atelier van Lieshout; Baktruppen; Shigeru Ban; Massimo Bartolini; Matei Bejenaru; Irina Botea; Luchezar Boyadjiev; Eva Brunner-Szabo; Campement Urbain; Mircea Cantor; Monserrat Cortadellas Bacaria; Matali Crasset; C?lin Dan; Esra Ersen; Gelatin; Ion Grigorescu; Gülsün Karamustafa; Kimsooja; Iosif Király; Athanasia Kyriakakos; A.P. Komen & Murphy; Aydan Murtezaoglu; Lucy Orta; Osservatorio Nomade; Maria Papadimitriou; Cesare Pietroiusti; Oda Projesi; Bülent Sangar; School of Missing Studies; Škart; Sean Snyder; Simon Starling; Socrates Stratis; Anne-Violaine Taconet; Krassimir Terziev; Barthélémy Toguo; Gert Tschögl; Urban Void; Jeanne van Heeswijk; Erik van Lieshout; Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor; Zafos Xagoraris; Edwin Zwakman

Trans:it. Moving Culture through Europe
a project by
Fondazione Adriano Olivetti - http://www.fondazioneadrianolivetti.it/
in collaboration with
European Cultural Foundation - http://www.eurocult.org/
Fondation de France - http://www.fdf.org/
Fondation Evens - http://www.evensfoundation.be/
The J.F. Costopoulos Foundation
Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Veneziano



Francesca Limana
Press & Public Relations
Fondazione Adriano Olivetti
Via G.Zanardelli, 34
00186 Roma
tel. +39 06 6877054
tel. +39 06 6896193?

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May 11, 2005

Collective Subconscious


Reverberating Thoughts

Collective Subconscious--by Zehao Chang--is an installation that imprints reverberating thoughts on a public space as people move through it. Traces of one's thoughts are left behind in the gallery and "collaged" with other people's thoughts. New messages are prominently placed while older messages slowly fade away. Words that are repeated by many people will become larger and brighter. As such the display becomes a visual representation of people's state of being.

Each person has a unique RFID tag that has a personal message associated with it; the message can be modified at any time through a web page. When a visitor places the tag near the RFID sensor, the data is sent to a computer and the new message is added to the collage with a short highlight. If a word in the new message is already present in the collage, each instance of that word would highlight and reverberate, echoing in unison the idea they are trying to convey. The message would then slowly fade into the background, waiting for repetition of its words. The collage generated is then projected onto a wall. [via]

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May 10, 2005

Public Sphere_s


Public Discourse>>Public Space

"Various ideas of ‹the public› have been theorized at least since the Greeks, but whether it is Socrates confronting Callicles about mob rule in Plato's Gorgias or Jürgen Habermas' «public sphere,» Walter Lippmann's «big picture» or Mouffe's agonistics, this public has almost always been intimately connected with a parallel notion of public space. From the agora to the piazza to the commons to the park, in some sense robust public discourse can only flourish in public space. In part this is an issue of audience. What makes discourse public is having an audience. With the rise of the printed press, radio, television, and now Internet-enabled communications, the potential public expands beyond physical space into the virtual spaces of communications systems.

In contemporary culture, a number of spheres of activity intersect: speech, art, identity, communications systems, economic and legal regimes. In the so-called public domain, these activities increasingly conflict. This is not necessarily a new development, but with the increasing mediatization and hybrid virtualization of each of these spheres, the boundaries between public, private, commercial and government are in flux." From Public Sphere_s by Steve Dietz

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May 04, 2005

Public Spaces; Shared Places?


Mono-cultural to Inter-cultural: the networked public domain

Public Spaces; Shared Places? examines how and why public spaces are shared and valued in different ways. Public space as a policy idea has come of age over the past five years. But there’s nothing new about sharing space in cities. By its very nature urbanity has always been an experiment in spatial membership. Contact with others is both part of the appeal of living in cities but also determines how, why and where we move within them. This project starts from the standpoint that public space isn’t something that is simply created on the architect’s drawing board, but develops over time as a result of the interaction of complex social relationships.

The research process will widen the understanding of public space from something that exists in squares and parks, to a prism through which an entire city can be viewed. Rather than selecting specific spaces in a city to study, we seek to uncover the collective spaces that people value and how they are shared.

Related Pages:

Public Spaces; Shared Places? WHY?
Public Spaces; Shared Places? DIARY
Public Spaces; Shared Places? OBJECTIVES
Public Spaces; Shared Places? PLACES
Public Spaces; Shared Places? PROJECT PEOPLE

[via Gerrit on Smart Mobs]

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April 07, 2005

Social Residue


Online/Offline Hybridity

Social Residue--by Hyunjoo Oh and Noah Shibley--is a project that explores the relationship of online/offline hybridity to social connectivity, the mapping of complex social growth and the spread of ‘memes,’ that are brought and transmitted by artists and audiences during the show. By using a nontoxic invisible contamination simulation powder, Noah & Hyunjoo creates a gesture and organizational logic of mapping and cartographic spread vectors of social networks that develop during the show.

During the transmission process, there are many different kinds of social interaction involved consequentially or inconsequentially. It symbolizes that artists and audiences’ ‘presence’ and participation as performers whether they know or not. As a result of this performance, the visual map of spread vector will show the a multilayered spectrum of physical/virtual or online/offline networked systems through which social interaction is taking place in real time. [via Rhizome]

[d.t.t.e.d.q.u.a.d] a new media artist, technologist group that is co-founded by noah shibely / hyunjoo oh in 2002. Their works involve Virtual Reality, interactive storytelling, surveillance technology, improvisational network sounds, cartographic sciences, distributed social softwares, kinetics, database art and Networked sound synthesis. They are currently working on several virtual reality projects, such as Inside/Outside System II and Nodule Resonance and had joined the post-production team of the Chicago Millennium Park Fountain Project. Noah and Hyunjoo's work has been shown in Versionfest>04 (Chicago, IL), IMMEDIA (Ann Arbor, MI), OpenEnd Art, Polvo, Buddy, 1926 gallery and Chicago Tourist Center (Chicago, IL). Hyunjoo holds a B.F.A (2002) in Philosophy and Art Education from the SungKyunKwan University in Seoul, Korea and M.F.A (2005) in Art and Technology studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Noah received a BFA degree in Art & technology studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently in the graduate studies, Interactive Telecommunication Program (ITP) at the New York University.

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March 23, 2005



Urban Action

Crosswalk --a Providence Initiative for Psychogeographic Studies (PIPS) publication--is dedicated to further investigations in psychogeography, experimental public art, critical architectural theory, and all practices inbetween. Crosswalk v1.1: Psy-Geo Provflux 2004 was published to coincide with the first annual Psy-Geo Provflux, a two day event investigating how the urban landscape in Providence (Rhode Island, USA) affects its social and artistic community. A call has just been issued for Psy-Geo Provflux 2005.

Crosswalk v1.2::Space Ships includes "Collective Practices," "Interventionist Diaries," "Contemporary Nomadism," "Free Culture," and "Public vs Private."

Posted by jo at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2005

How to Disappear


Don't Disappear!

Hidden in pornography vending machines on the street, the whole game of buying the How to Disappear kit personifies the dilemma of gaining attention when wanting to hide. It is a practical do it yourself kit containing all the tips and gadgets you need to fight surveillance. Packaged in anonymous video cassette cases you will find a selection of 'disappearance-articles' along with usage instructions, a catalogue with more gadgets and tips, and of course, a lot more information on the subject.

We hope, that by making this extreme kit, we can provoke the visitor, NOT to disappear, but to take part in the debate and demand the respect for their own private life we feel is an essential part of a democratic society. [via Guerilla Innovation]

Posted by jo at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005

IN Network


Sleep Webcast

April 15, 2005: From their bedtime at 11PM in Los Angeles, and 2AM in New York, until they wake eight hours later, the artists Michael Mandiberg and Julia Steinmetz will sleep together on the phone. Separated by three time zones and 3000 miles, they curl up in the same sonic space. Connected via cell phone, they will hear the sound of each other breathing, tossing and turning, snoring, etc. This audio will be webcast in real-time as they sleep.

IN Network Sleep Webcast Schedule:
Tuesday, April 15th, roughly 11PM PST to Wednesday, April 16th, roughly 7:30AM PST; Wednesday, April 16th, roughly 9PM PST to Thurs, April 17th, roughly 5:30AM PST; Tuesday, April 22nd, roughly 11PM PST to Wednesday, April 23rd, roughly 7:30AM PST; Wednesday, April 23rd, roughly 9PM PST to Thurs, April 24th, roughly 5:30AM PST

This sleep webcast is part of IN Network their month long extended cell phone life-art performance about distance, communication, intimacy, telepresence, and living together while apart. In August 2004 Michael moved to New York; Julia remained in Los Angeles, postponing her move until the end of April because of commitments to her job and her collaborative art practice. Faced with most of a year apart, one of the things they did was switch both of their cell phones to a provider with free "IN Network" service.

Michael and Julia started out having normal conversations, giving each other updates about their days, and sending cameraphone pictures back and forth, etc. As they switched to using hands-free microphones, they began using the phone differently. What began as a pragmatic attempt to make their relationship last the separation through good communication, turned into something less about communication and more about intimacy and presence through technology, and sharing sonic-virtual space.

During the month of March the artists are presenting this cell-phone life-art performance via a Photo Moblog and Podcast on Turbulence.org. In addition to these webcasts, the IN Network site will host a Podcast of recordings of their phone conversations, and all of their text and picture messages.

IN Network Sleep Webcast:

Free Real Player (Required for webcast):

IN Network Website

IN Network Podcast (RSS 2.0 Feed)

Contact Info
juliasteinmetz -at- yahoo -dot- com
michael -at- mandiberg -dot- com

IN Network is a 2005 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation.

Posted by jo at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2005

Questioning: a reflection on the Demonstrate Project


Found Questions

"ABSTRACT: This reflection on the Demonstrate project, a public and collaboratively-controlled state-of-the-art robotic web camera installed in historic Sproul Plaza, features a selection of user-generated questions, taken directly from the captions of user photos and from the user comments that appear below photos in the Demonstrate archive. They have not been edited, and they appear in the same chronological order in which they were originally asked. Together, these “found questions” are intended to evoke the sense of playful inquiry, practical curiosity, political engagement, sense of audience, and self-reflexivity that developed within the Demonstrate community. Their unfolding over time captures the shifting dynamics that emerged among users, and between the watchers and the watched." From Questioning: A Reflection on the Demonstrate Project, written for Making Things Public, an art-technology exhibition at ZKM Karslruhe (March 2005). Collaborators on the Demonstrate project and exhibition: Ken Goldberg, Dezhen Song, Andrew Dahl, Jeremy Schiff, Irene Chien, Jane McGonigal and Kris Paulsen.

Posted by jo at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2005



Spaces of Absence

Haque Design and Research asks the question "in an urban environment that is so data-saturated can a distinction between public and private space really claim to exist"? It is the contention of (Floatables) that private spaces are increasingly scarce. All spaces are public, except spaces of absence. If privacy once existed in the home, now such a space no longer needs to be tied to a particular location."

"...The aim of the floatable jellyfish-like vessels that drift around cities is to create temporary, ephemeral zones of privacy: an absence of phone calls, emails, sounds, smells and thermal patterns left behind by others. Through various electrical systems they are also able to prevent access of GPS devices, television broadcasts, wireless networks and other microwave emissions. Finally, by creating a "blurry barrier" and a ground-plane camouflage pattern, they provide shielding from the unembarrassed gaze of security cameras and surveillance satellites." [via]

Posted by jo at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2005

A r/c tivism in Physical and Virtual Spaces


Free Communication

"Reclaiming the streets, producing an emancipatory public sphere - how does that work in a society that many call the information society, in which it seems that the spectacle has taken the place of political debate, in which urban space is progressively trimmed to neoliberal/economic imperatives. What has thrust itself onto the stage of a globalized public sphere since the protests against the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle[1], politically ambiguous[2] yet unmistakable in the potpourri of forms of expressions, represents a practice of dealing with these kinds of questions.

What happens behind the scenes of the colorful video images of protest, which, in fact, largely still adhere to thoroughly traditional patterns in terms of form, mode of production and discourse? What is going on in the virtual and physical workshop spaces of the globally networked movements?[3] How does the virtual space of the Internet relate to geographically definable, "real" locations? Can they still be clearly distinguished, how do they merge? How is the understanding of space and communication changing within the relatively small, relatively privileged[4] group of those active in alternative media with the rapid appropriation of information technology?" From A r/c tivism in Physical and Virtual Spaces by Marion Hamm.

Posted by jo at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005



Reflecting the Virtual Back Into the Physical

UTILITY WORKS seeks to acknowledge the importance of the mundane physical spaces where we play out our lives and provide new ways for the population to inscribe themselves into these informal public spaces. In an effort to draw new connections across our cities, UTILITY WORKS perverts existing municipal street furniture which will become points of mediation between disparate physical urban environments and the people that inhabit them. With these new urban experiences UTILITY WORKS seeks to provoke a renewed awareness of self and environment through a reexamination of familiar civic objects that we interact with every day. Just as a mirror reflects our bodies back to us, this project becomes a way of reflecting the virtual back into the physical urbanscape. Existing parking meters, post boxes, and garbage bins - the furniture of the mundane - will be activated to shape and articulate the informal public spaces of the city. Parking Meter | Post Box | Garbage Bin [via]

Posted by jo at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2005

Breathe On Me


Breath as a Fundamental Form of Communication

Breathe On Me is an installation/internet work consisting of a three-walled space with a number of hybrid fan/webcam devices affixed to the walls. The fan/webcam devices are modified netcams such that Internet users can control the direction of a fan from the remote webcam view combined with pan and tilt controls. Internet users can choose one of the devices in the space, log onto the "FanCam," visually locate visitors in the physical space and then turn on the fan and "breathe" towards the person. Visitors in the physical space are invited to enter a space where they will be remotely seen and will not know who is telepresent. Once seen by internet participants, they will receive an offer of fan "breath" as a fundamental form of communication. Visitors who enter the space are asking to receive a telepresent stranger’s glance and touch in the form of wind. Internet users reach out to physical visitors in the simple offer of moving air.

To visit in telepresence: Links will to the live performance will be available at the live site within 24hrs. Opening Telepresently and in Situ: Friday, February 4, 2005; 8.00-9.30 PM, Pacific Standard Time, Continuing live through February 6; INTERACTIVE FUTURES 05: Technology in the Life World, Victoria, BC @ Open Space Artist-Run Centre

Posted by jo at 09:35 AM | Comments (1)

January 25, 2005

In Conversation


From Street to Chatroom

When live and located, In Conversation provided the means for individuals in the street and on the Internet to engage in a live dialogue with each other. This work by British artist Susan Collins aimed to examine the boundaries and social customs of distinctly different kinds of public spaces - the street and the Internet/chatroom-each with its own established rules of engagement.

Passers-by encountered an animated mouth projected onto the pavement and, through loudspeakers, could hear voices triggered by internet users trying to strike up a conversation. When the pedestrians responded, a concealed microphone and surveillance camera transmitted the responses to the website via a live video stream (webcast). Through the website, online visitors could view the surveillance video and hear the people on the street. They could type messages and send them 'live' to the installation where they were converted into speech and broadcast to the street through loudspeakers.

Posted by jo at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2005

Digital Shelters



A new landscape is emerging in the urban space, a SCANSCAPE that transgresses the boundaries and protocols of public and private space due to the extensive use of surveillance apparatus and telecommunication systems in the urban realm. How can we define these Scanscapes? How can we create Digital Shelters that will protect us, isolate us or allow us to live within these Scanscapes?

Digital Shelters, a PhD project by Pedro Sepulveda, explores how critical responses to the surveillance apparatus and telecommunication systems in the city landscape can inform the development of aesthetic possibilities for electronic spaces.

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January 20, 2005



Transparent Borders

"Where are the borders between public and private? Between art and life? Between urbanity and individual? - The project Tele-tap by the Amsterdam women artist group CUT-n-PASTE connected its listeners with a number of personalities active in Amsterdam's nightlife: a member of the Salvation Army, a harbour worker, a musician, a woman strolling through the pubs. Each of these personalities went into his urban environment, in his auditory-communicative hunting ground, lived there his life, played his role, provoked encounters. This was transmitted live by the permanent open mike of their mobile phones. Each of them could be wiretapped by the audience via radio, Internet or at the performance venue. Tele-tap showed how undefinable the borders can become between intimate and public space in a mobile communicating society. The technical »heart« of the project is the Internet, where the mobile phone sound inputs were converted into live audio streams and were audible all over the world. These streams also went on air as radio signals, and were accessible by headphones and loudspeakers at the performance venue itsself. The last time Tele-tap was live aired and live performed was on August 31 and September 1, 2001 on the Dutch radio channel VPRO and at »De Balie«, an Amsterdam cultural center. New technologically and dramaturgically extended versions of the project are in preparation. [via AudioHyperspace]

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January 19, 2005



GPS+Video/Audio+You=Mobile Art

Transfers--by Matt Roberts--is a project exploring real-time generation of art and user participation in a mobile environment. Transfers allows a passenger of a taxi to generate a unique piece of art by giving the taxi driver directions. As the taxi moves through the city the passenger experiences a real-time manipulation of live exterior video and audio taken from a camera and microphone mounted in the taxi. The taxi is also equipped with a GPS that feeds an onboard computer data such as speed and direction. This computer is running custom audio/video manipulation software and uses GPS data to make decisions about how the live video/audio feed is manipulated and seen by the passenger. The manipulations of the live feed is displayed on two LCD screens and heard through the cars stereo system. As the user tells the driver where to go the passenger becomes both performer and viewer as they experience a unique piece of art generated by their decisions. The software also records this performance and at the end of the drive the passenger receives a CD with a QuickTime movie file of his or her recorded performance. [via Rhizome] Related >>

Posted by jo at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2005

Sound Mapping


Sound Sense of Place

Sound Mapping is a participatory work of sound art made for outdoor environments. The work is installed in the environment by means of a Global Positioning System (GPS), which tracks movement of individuals through the space. Participants wheel four movement-sensitive, sound producing suitcases to realise a composition that spans space as well as time. The suitcases play music in response to nearby architectural features and the movements of individuals. Sound Mapping aims to assert a sense of place, physicality and engagement to reaffirm the relationship between art and the everyday. Paper; Images; Video; mp3.


Posted by jo at 06:51 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2005

OptionalTime/Public Expanse


Between Reality and Fiction; Before Meets After

OPTIONALTIME/Public Expanse, by Joes Koppers and Susann Lekås, uses new new media to make a non-linear experience tangible in public space...It appears as a big mirror that in fact is an interactive movie...OPTIONALTIME/Public Expanse is a layered projection visually blended into one 'real' image. One layer is pure fiction and has been filmed by the artists, forming their most direct (personal) contribution...(It) uses cameras with full transparency; what is recorded is shown and nothing is archived. All images are processed in real-time by a computer, resulting in playback that sometimes is 'live' (a normal mirror image), sometimes buffered (delayed or accelerated image) and sometimes spatially manipulated. The playback 'mode' of the projection is directly controlled by the actions of the public.

Posted by jo at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

Surface Patterns: Walking Tours


10 People. 10 Walks. 10 Stories Told.

Walking Tours and Audio Tours are two new works by artist Jen Southern commissioned by centrifugalforces and the media centre for Surface Patterns. Both works use a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to explore how memory is linked to urban and domestic places. The GPS device can only describe latitude, longitude and altitude: however, when used to trace the route that someone walks through a place, it can reveal the pattern of the path taken, allowing us to share knowledge of hidden locations and unexpected vantage points along the path.

Traditional maps tell us where landmarks are, what streets are called and where to find the centre of town, whereas the subjective histories and stories explored in this work are played out over time and rely on very different 'memory maps'.

The installation Audio Tours at the media centre uses contributions of unwanted wallpaper, pasted on the gallery wall and threaded or punctuated with GPS patterns of 10 walks. Traces of audio recordings made in conversation with the walkers are manipulated and played back in the gallery, recalling the simple flipping, mirroring and inverting techniques employed in the patterns of the wallpaper. Reflecting different perspectives on the town, the walkers include members of the artists family who grew up in Huddersfield in the 1940s and 50s, as well as a previous Artist in Residence at the Digital Research Unit in The Media Centre who lived in the town for three months. Memories range from the last Sex Pistols gig to architectural history (both public and domestic) and personal freedoms of walking in urban space.

Walking Tours consists of 10 PDFs to download and print, each using a wallpaper pattern, a walked route, and a story about Huddersfield.

Jen Southern is an artist who lives and works in Huddersfield. Her process-based practice investigates everyday journeys between virtual and physical spaces, using socially embedded technologies such as video games and mobile phones. She has been working with global positioning devices for the past two years; recent projects using GPS: Area Code (www.areacode.org.uk) with exhibitions at Magna, The Museum of Science and Industry and Artranspennine 03. Jen's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in public spaces galleries and festivals.

Posted by jo at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)



Absolute immobility installation

Displaced_Persons, by Christin Lahr, explores the interfaces between physical and virtual spaces, as well as interhuman communication.

In a room, one finds 8 loudspeakers and 8 red signs with the words engraved: north, south, east, west, up, down, in, out. A multi-voiced polylog of synthetic characters can be heard, discussing absence, truth and lies, sex, appearance, identity, and detection.

When people enter, the polylog abruptly breaks off until they either leave the space or remain completely motionless. Only the total immobility of everyone triggers the sound installation. In this way, a situation of interdependence(net_working) develops. Every individual influences the entire happening, and the result is a joint expression of everyone involved.

Visitors become fixed in the space as living sculptures and thus, at the same time, exhibits themselves.

Through 4 spyholes, events in the space inside can be monitored. The observer notices that the distance is only a relative one if he becomes, by observing, the one observed. All of this can also be tracked on the web via surveillance cameras. The cameras of all logged-in users are also collectively controlled so that every individual can influence all in-coming video. This is projected parallel to the exhibition via beamer. The arising 'cuts' result directly from the user's clicking behaviour and also document their activity. Likewise, texts can be fed into the website and immediately be heard through a loudspeaker found in the room, thus furthering the "polylof of fictitious identities". (Posted by Régine Debatty)

Posted by Regine at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2004

Space and performativity

Alan Read's edited volume, Architecturally Speaking: Practices of Art, Architecture and the Everyday. (Feel free to contact Routledge about that path!)

Ewan Forster and Christopher Heighes: innovative and unusual theatre events in and about intriguing and neglected architecture in Britain.

e-state.org.uk - "a site for research into performance, architecture and location. an encounter between performance, urbanism and the everyday."

Archaeology & Performance - "irrevocable acts" of archaeological space and place (and material agency)

Michael Shanks, Towards an archaeology of performance. And Brith Gof - practicing site specific art.

originally from Space and Culture, posted by Anne | January 14, 2004 | 20:43 | permalink

Posted by jo at 07:27 AM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2004

Work by Usman Haque

Usman Haque designs interactive architecture systems and researches how people relate to each other and their spaces. "The domain of architecture has been transformed by developments in interaction research, wearable computing, mobile connectivity, people-centered design, contextual awareness, RFID systems and ubiquitous computing. These technologies alter our understanding of space and change the way we relate to each other. We no longer think of architecture as static and immutable; instead we see it as dynamic, responsive and conversant. Our projects explore some of this territory." Performative works include:

spread2.gifSky Ear, 2004: This non-rigid "cloud", made up of several hundred glowing helium balloons will be embedded with mobile phones. As visitors to the event call into the cloud to listen to the distant electromagnetic sounds of the sky (including whistlers and spherics), their mobile phone calls will change the local hertzian topography; these disturbances in the electromagnetic fields inside the cloud will alter the glow intensity of that part of the balloon cloud. Quicktime video: 19 MB

phoneloop2.gifJapanese Whispers, Tokyo (2000): Similar to the children's game known as "Chinese Whispers" or "The Telephone Game," this project looks at how a message is changed by being passed from one mechanism to another--in this case the cellphone.

Cellphones are laid in a circle and calls are initiated from one phone to another in a variety of patterns with differing results. The sound degrades at each step as it is transformed from analog to digital and back again, emphasising the circular nature of communication. The iterative process of the feedback loop amplifies miscommunications inherent in the transmitting of information. Quicktime video: 9.2 MB

ian4.gifInfinitum Ad Nauseam, Tokyo (2000): The project is a video/audio performance installation which requires the explicit participation of the audience. Essentially, the system uses video and audio feedback to create sounds (from images and movements) and images (from sounds and movements). 4 video cameras, 4 video projectors, 2 video mixers and an audio mixer are used to initiate a massive feedback loop of video-video, video-audio, audio-video and audio to audio. This creates dynamic real-time images and sounds in "conversation" with the visitors or performers. There are no pre-recorded images and no computerised images used in the installation. Videos>>

ian1.gifChanging Faces of Gesture, Tokyo (2000) with Charlotte Boye-Christensen (Choreographer/Dancer): The performance consists of one person and 2 to 4 large video projections. Using a simple video feedback system (where a video camera is pointed towards the screen upon which its image is being projected) coupled with an audio feedback system, complex images are created in realtime which are manipulated by the performer's movements. Images created resemble reflections in a puddle; these can be coloured using filters on both the cameras and the video-projectors. Furthermore each projector can be separately controlled to multiply the effects and simulate everything from a solitary dancing figure to a bustling crowd of people. Videos>>

Posted by jo at 11:42 AM | Comments (2)

August 25, 2004

The Relational Aesthetic

From an essay written for Camerawork: A Journal of Photographic Arts by Matt Locke:

[A story about Uncle Roy All Around You by Blast Theory; A story about Surrender Control by Tim Etchells; and A story about Audit by Lucy Kimbell]

"Those stories describe three interactions. Or performances. Or moments in the production, or consumption, of an artwork. Or perhaps they are descriptions of how the production and consumption of an artwork can be reduced to the same act, the same moment. They operate within, to use Nicholas Bourriaud's term, a 'relational aesthetic' - these artworks don't rely on an encounter with a traditional art object, nor do they substitute that with some transcendent concept of a dematerialised art object. In Bourriaud's definition, these works exist within "the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space". They are moments to be experienced, not viewed, reaching out and enmeshing themselves in the messy network of conversations and relationships that make up your life." Continue reading.

Posted by jo at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2004

play that city


Sonic City

Sonic City, the artists write, is a project exploring mobile interaction and wearable technology for everyday music creation. We have designed, implemented and evaluated a system that creates electronic music based on sensing bodily and environmental factors. Mapping these to the real-time processing of concrete sounds, Sonic City generates a personal soundscape co-produced by physical movement, local activity, and urban ambiance. Encounters, events, architecture, (mis)behaviours – all become means of interacting with or 'playing the city'.

In this project, our intention is to break out of traditional contexts for music creation to explore creative possibilities within local surroundings and mundane activities. Wearing Sonic City, anyone can experience a simple walk down the street as an expressive act, a path through the city as a personal composition. As a complement to lived urban experience, it is an intimate soundscape intended to enhance perception and encourage new uses of the urban landscape.

Posted by newradio at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

dennis crowley


networks, mobile play & big brother

In the press a lot lately, are the works of dennis crowley, focused on 'finding the intersection between location-based services, social software and user-generated content on mobile devices.' His work includes dodgeball.com, a live, mobile-based friend finder, Pac Manhattan, where physical players do the PacMan thing around Washington Square Park, and Big Brother Foosball, a foosball game that displays your SS number while you play. [Posted by Nathaniel Stern]

Posted by at 05:41 AM | Comments (0)