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Japan (2002)

Um… so… the logic of this advertisement is as follows: “Smile, while we bury you alive. You will look nice by the sea, but you will die from our product”

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If everyone took the passwords off their wifi, we'd have a free, citywide wireless network. Sound like a good idea? Then help us make it happen!

Eyebeam's Open Cultures Research Group ran workshops in which participants were trained—in order for them to be able to train others—to open up a wifi network so that it is free, accessible, and secure for others while maintaining your bandwidth.  They also set up a web site to document the process and share the knowledge.

This is a follow up to the Graffiti Fail

Michael Mandiberg tackles the advertising parading as street art at Eyebeam yet again.

for more: mandiberg.com

image from www.mutsugoto.comA project developed by Scottish think tank Distance Lab gives partners a tool for exploring art, intimacy, and the body’s relation to space.  The interactive installation Mutsugoto rigs participants with touch-sensitive rings keyed to cameras and projectors.  The movements of one partner’s hands across his or her body project shifting bands of light onto the other, whose responses project shimmering lights across the miles onto the first.  The participants can see one another’s bodies and reactions, and the light beams change color and form when they cross.

The project transcends text-based flirting–which Mutsugoto’s creators describe as “generic interfaces in business-like venues” and historically has led to crass, detached fantasies–and the too-graphic “sexting” of cell phone cameras.  Giving partners a way to express physical love while separated, the effort stands as both collaborative media art and highly stylized sex.  Touted as “a different kind of synchronous communication that leverages the emotional quality of physical gesture,” the system raises questions about the nature of intimacy and makes partners more aware of the shifting balance of sexual and intellectual attraction.  Mutsugoto also provides an opportunity to explore the spatial limits of the body.  While highlighting the body’s connection to creativity and playfulness, the project uses light to simulate an extended form of touch.  This leads to a dynamic tension as the participant’s sphere of awareness is expanded over distance while simultaneously being focused closely on another lone individual.

Distance Lab plans to present Musogoto at the Edinburgh Art Festival in August 2009.

Inflatable environments are undergoing something of a renaissance today. Not since the 1960's embrace of bubbles in their numerous connotations (lightness, transparency, embrace, equality, difference) have so many projects used air as a medium for shaping enclosures, although they are still on the outskirts of architectural production. Technological and other advances have aided, if not outright negated the disadvantages of "bubbletecture," namely durability and wastefulness.

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[historical bubbletecture, top to bottom: 1960's inflatable by Jersey Devil (source); L: The Environment Bubble, 1965 by Reyner Banham & Francois Dallegret (source) R: Pneumakosm, a pneumatic dwelling unit, 1967 by HAUS-RUCKER-CO (source); Clean Air Pod,1970 by Ant Farm (source); page from Ant Farm's Inflatocookbook (PDF source)]

Of those exploring inflatable architecture in the sixties and seventies, Ant Farm was the most prolific, gearing a number of projects around air and plastic, and even creating an Inflatocookbook (PDF link). Fellow Americans Jersey Devil also explored what they called Inflatables in the early seventies, likewise created as "happenings" that stood out in their urban contexts, like alien crafts landed amongst the stone, glass and grass. In Austria upstarts like Coop Himmelb(l)au and HAUS-RUCKER-CO explored the possibilities of pneumatic dwelling units, yet without clients or sites they failed to get beyond the prototype stage. Even critic Reyner Banham got in on the act, combining the ideas of Bucky Fuller and Marshall McLuhan in a transparent igloo he designed with Francois Dallegret.

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[Michael Rakowitz's paraSITE | image source]

The inflatable trend faded as fast as it started, finding use primarily for temporary stagings and art installations. Michael Rakowitz's paraSITE (1998-ongoing) can be considered part of the latter, though it engages the social, economical and political directly in the use of inflatable structures to house homeless individuals. By hooking the deflated plastic to a building's HVAC vent, a small enclosure is created, with the expelled air inflating the double wall. Importantly, in terms of my exploration of this architectural element here, the air used to shape and heat the space does not come into contact with the inhabitant; it is not part of the space itself, like the Ant Farm and Jersey Devil examples above. The design of the paraSITE's plastic shell is therefore much more complex, with many more seams, and even windows in the one on the left.

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[Alexis Rochas's Aeromads | image source]

SCI-Arc's Alexis Rochas created Aeromads, installations from 2006 that questioned the domestic realm and harked back to ideas from 40 years ago, though Rochas's designs utilize the computer to create more complex forms. He "considers the idea that one’s home is a malleable, movable environment that can be deflated and fit into a suitcase, then travel to a new location with its owner. [source]" Again, air inflates what creates the enclosure.

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[OMA's Serpentine Pavilion, 2006 | image source]

OMA and Cecil Balmond's 2006 Serpentine Pavilion in London can be taken as a purely symbolic attempt at reintroducing inflatables into architectural discourse. The inflatable enclosure sits above the main space, inaccessible and indirectly visible from below. But from afar the enclosure stands out, visible from a distance. The possibilities of using inflatable walls for architectural enclusre is not explored here, but like a moored hot-air balloon, the pavilion marks a space and place with minimal means, one of the advantages of air as a medium for architecture.

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[Raumlabor's Spacebuster under the BQE | image source]

Raumlabor
's Spacebuster has been in the news a lot lately, when it made its way around New York City on a ten-day tour. Spacebuster is part of the German architects' ongoing investigation of unused urban spaces, which started with inflatables in 2006 with the Kitchen Monument and includes last year's Glow Lounge.

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[Raumlabor's Spacebuster under the BQE | image source]

Their truck-towed events in New York included film screenings, performances and community meetings, the last under the BQE in Brooklyn the day before Spacebuster left town. Situated in a typically unused space, the community meeting used the opportunity to investigate other ways of doing the same. The possibilities of guerilla engagement with urban sites is certainly clear in Raumlabor's latest undertaking; one need only drive the truck to a parking lot, underpass or some other un/underused site and take advantage of the bubble until the cops arrive. The fact that the air and inhabitants occupy the same space, a la Ant Farm's and Jersey Devil's inflatables, makes this design suitable for these temporary happenings, but not necessarily a good precedent for further architectural investigation beyond the engagement of urban sites.

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[mmw's kiss the frog | image source]

mmw architect of norway's 2005 kiss the frog was a temporary art pavilion linking four institutions in Oslo. The aptly-titled design is structured in parts like a tire, with powerful fans pushing fresh air into the spaces. The pressure difference between inside and outside air means the former pushes out on the PVC skin, giving the pavilion its shape. In designs like this, which require a constant supply of air and the energy to do so, necessitates a well-sealed skin and hatch-like access points to keep as much air inside as possible.

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[Kengo Kuma's Tea House | image source]

The Tea House Kengo Kuma designed for the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt (yes, that one) a couple years ago is a double-wall membrane embedded with LEDs for nighttime use. Rooted in similar design investigations in his home country at the same time as Americans and Austrians were doing the same, most notably in the Fuji Pavilion at Expo 1970 in Osaka, the small yet complex project is documented in a book. This product that might be as or more influential than what is once again another temporary inflatable enclosure. The refinement of Kuma's design, filled like a 3d air mattress, points to an elevated level of sophistication possible with air as supporting structure. The double-wall enables openings to have free access, without worry and energy expended on keeping the air inside, and the high-tech skin provides for longer durability.

The above projects continue the temporary nature of inflatable architecture, but they point to their continued use in the coming years. Perhaps we'll see their longevity increase, as techniques of using air as a structural medium and membrane technologies improve.

While i was in Los Angeles ealier this month, i had the opportunity to visit the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and chat with some of the students. The department educates responsible designers and artists for the information age by teaching the fundamentals of Design, Media, and the Arts, and encouraging experimentation and innovation. Providing an extensive education in Design and Media Arts practice, history and criticism, the department fosters a critical and creative exploration of emerging forms of visual communication, typographies, interaction and interface design, ubiquitous computing, virtual environments, information spaces, networked agents and all other pertinent areas of research.

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I was impressed beyond words by the mix of lightness, playfulness, critical minds, audacious ideas, social relevance and a great attention to details and aesthetics.

Because I met only 5 students from the course, i will focus on their work while inviting you to check out the project gallery on the DMA website.

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I'll start with Nova Jiang whom i left a few days ago in cold Milan where she was participating with the project Alternate Endings to the Milan Public Design Festival. Standing in a little pink open house in the street, she invited passersby to leave one piece of garment with her. Using a different coloured fabric each day, she and her team of costume designers and makers replicated exactly the cut and style of the garment and later gave it as a present to the person.

Another of her pieces, the Figurative Drawing Device invites two people to get in close and sometimes disturbingly intimate contact with each other. One of them uses the device to 'scan' and draw the outlines of the other person. The imperfect lines preserve not only the presence of the model but also the idiosyncratic movement of the tracer.


Figurative Drawing Device from Nova Jiang on Vimeo

Each drawing can be read as a graph which records the subtle interactions between the two. The drawings can also be multiplied and become a flip book. The process of creating a flip book this way is a performance in endurance for both the subject and the tracer where new psychological patterns emerge.


The Flytrap/Hull Loss from Nova Jiang on Vimeo

Hull Loss --which she just exhibited in The Netherlands-- invites participants to make paper airplanes and launch them through a series of mechanically animated scissors.

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Nova Jiang & Michael Kontopoulos, Objects for Enhancing the Experience of Being Lost

The Objects for Enhancing the Experience of Being Lost, in collaboration with Michael Kontopoulos, address ideas of disorientation in a foreign city, in their case, Singapore. A traveler may tote the objects around in a briefcase, using them to enhance the experience of being lost. One of these objects is a pair of blinders that simulate the experience of tunnel vision at any given location.


Machines that Almost Fall Over from Michael Kontopoulos on Vimeo.

Which brings me to the work of Michael Kontopoulos. Watching his Machines that Almost Fall Over is akin to being in the same room as someone whose favourite hobby is to scratch their fingernails on a blackboard. His wooden sculptures are constantly on the brink of collapse. They swing dangerously, slowly and endlessly but never crash.

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Justin Lui (together with Andrea Boeck and Jihyun Kim) created an amazing installation on the facade of the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) gallery in Hollywood.

OPENINGS is made of system of modular vacuum-formed panels, LCD displays, and LED lights built into both the interior and exterior sides of the storefront wall. White LEDs glow in intensity according to the motion and proximity of pedestrians on Hollywood Blvd's 'Walk Of Fame'. LCDs on the exterior side of the wall show animated text describing art exhibits culled from the archives of LACE, while LCDs on the interior show text derived from artist Douglas McCulloh's project '60,000 Photographs in Hollywood' describing and quoting various characters encountered on Hollywood Blvd.

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OPENINGS functions as the active membrane between two seemingly at odds zones on either side of the storefront wall, pulling Hollywood Blvd. into LACE gallery and LACE gallery onto the street.

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Water Clouds of Light. Discarded water jugs are re-contextualized into a light installation. Objects that used to be cheap and very mundane has been ennobled and seem to float and 'breathe' with light. What i like best about the installation is that it is NOT interactive. Why should everything techy be interactive? Video.

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Human Powered Chatbot was a workshop headed by David Elliott and FutureFarmers in Baltimore. 17 people who were given simple rules for processing text and working together. This system created a writing machine that was connected to the internet. Source material was programatically mined from the Twitter and New York Times APIs based on feedback from the participant's input. The result was a chatbot running on twitter that could interact and respond to conversations online under the guise of a "computer simulating intelligence".

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Inside the Fake Computer people are hard at work entering messages into the internet

Reduced to mere automata in the system, the participants could nevertheless chose to be either Computational Processors (whose job is to extract keywords) or Subjective Processors (who make a text using the keywords). After a message has been passed through the Computational and Subjective Processors, it gets uploaded to the internet where keywords are used as search terms on the New York Times and Twitter websites. The results of the search are returned along with any replies from people trying to talk to the Human Powered Chatbot and everything is copied down onto pieces of paper... and then redistributed to the Computational Processor to complete the loop.

Inspired by A Mathematical Theory of Communication, an article written in 1948 by mathematician Claude E. Shannon.

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The messenger takes the cards and circulates them back into the system

To be continued...

guest post by Burstein!

These vintage PSA’s from the 1976 swine flu outbreak is everything we love about retro PSA’s. Quotes like “Swine flu? I’m too fast for it to catch me!” Or “Betty’s mother gave it to her best friend, Dotty. But Dotty had a heart condition and she died.” I just love the messaging of “Get a swine flu shot or you you will kill your grandmother’s best friend.” They are like trailers for a 1970’s horror film.

via Scot Hampton

This is a blog post from Laughing Squid.



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Retro PSA’s From The 1976 Swine Flu Outbreak, Get A Shot of Protection

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car1

There’s a new show coming to the Discovery Chanel called Weaponizers. Brought to you by the same people who brought you Mythbusters, this show centers around weaponizing and remote controlling cars. They’ll be building them with several different types of competition in mind, including defense of an object and all out warfare. You’ll note in the press release that they keep mentioning their special effects backgrounds. Judging by the picture above, we should expect to see them shooting lots of fireworks, maybe some flame throwers thrown in. Generally, we think we’ll see lots of flashy stuff that really isn’t effective at destroying an unmanned car. They do mention live ammunition, so maybe they’ll actually try to make these things able to harm each other. Let’s hope they don’t let us down.

The information superhighway was not meant to be controlled by any one company.

FuckTwitter is the latest part of the F.A.T. Lab’s ongoing efforts to cloud off the grid — Fuck 2.0, host your own.

Do you know what Big Web2.0 is doing with your data?

* AOL Hometown suddenly closed up shop, without warning all the people who had websites there

* Facebook wants to own anything you post, ever

* even friggin’ Geocities is going offline

… who can you trust these days? That’s right. Nobody.

we’ve now entrusted Twitter alone with a huge information pipeline. We live at the whim of their downtime, and they can do whatever they want with what you’re saying… e.g. narcing you out to the Chinese gvmnt (FREE SHI TAO)



FuckTwitter is powered by the free laconi.ca microblogger, which supports federation between installs. Like an open source voltron we can build a mesh communication network, more akin to IRC than to the current Napster-esque model.

When yr fucktweetin you can even setupa automatic crossposting to a regular ol’ TOS-bound twitter.com account… you know, 4 the famo.

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Working with Rebecca Bray and Britta Riley.