Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Architecture, space and informatics (Pt II)

Following the lengthy post below on the theoretical aspects of Brian Lonsway's lecture, I wanted to add two ways he - and his partner Kathleen Brandt - are mobilising these ways of thinking in architectural and technological practice.

The first project is not online *, but really caught my fancy: Blue-Screen Activism. Imagine you are in a mall, surrounded by people wearing branded clothes and carrying branded bags. Video of these passersby is being captured in real-time and wirelessly transmitted to a van in the parking lot. In this van, computers are busy replacing the surfaces of clothing and bags with bluescreens that can display any message you desire. These modified scenes are then broadcast to large public displays in-and-around the mall. Imagine the GAP sweatshirts replaced with child-labour statistics, or the Apple Store bag that says SHOPPING ≠ FREEDOM. Nice.

The second project is called Prudent Avoidance:

"The Prudent Avoidance Device consists of a sensing apparatus worn by a participant, and a data modeling and web broadcast system for data analysis and presentation. The sensing device detects exposure to a wide range of electro-magnetic frequencies in the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) range that are suspected of having harmful effects on human life. In laboratory and field studies, the health effects of these frequencies have not been proven to be either benign or dangerous; thus, national and international regulating agencies have suggested 'Prudent Avoidance' of them for individuals. Without knowledge of where they exist and how they are dispersed, however, such avoidance becomes impossible.

To help make such effects more evident, the Prudent Avoidance Device collects a variety of information on exposure durations and frequency levels that are then correlated with a user's physical location. The data is subsequently uploaded to a publicly accessible website and presented as a kind of interactive 'documentary.' Visitors to the web site are able to follow the lives of the participants (represented by images, geographically mapped exposure data, and correlations of exposure levels with international standards) as they navigate a public space filled with ELF emissions. As the prototype is advanced, we desire to make the device sharable, and collect these 'data-driven' narratives from multiple participants. In this way, the website will act as a repository of these logged testimonials, allowing visitors to even situate their own spatial experiences within the context of the represented data and better understand the collective impact of this invisible phenomenon."

I like wearables projects that seek to render the (dangerously) invisible visible, like Katherine Moriwaki's Inside/Outside bag and Urban Chameleon clothing, or Play Research's reach in bag and Davide Agnelli et al.'s Fashion Victims bag.

What distinguishes Prudent Avoidance, I think, is the web component and collective, subjective data analysis. Very interesting.

* As a side-effect of constantly blogging my research, I find myself increasingly irked by academics who don't post their projects and papers online. Sigh.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been looking for sites like this for a long time. Thank you!


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