Thursday, August 27. 2015
Long introductory note: we all know how data have become important and how we're currently in need of open tools to declare and use static or dynamic data ...
There was once a community data service named Pachube, but it has been sold and its community commodified... There has been initiatives by designers like the one of Berg around the idea of electronic tools, cloud and data services (Berg Cloud), but it was funded by venture capitalists and went bankrupt, unfortunately bringing down the design studio as well. There are some good, simple and interesting online services as well, like Dweet.io, but these are companies that will finally need to make money out of your data (either ways by targeted publicity or by later commodification of the community), as this is one of their main product ...
So we were in need of a tool for our own work at fabric | ch that would remain just what it is supposed to be: a tool... As we are using a lot of dynamic and static data - any kind of data - in our own architectural & interaction works, we needed one. Something simple to use, that we could manage ourselves, that would hopefully not cost much to keep running ...
Following what we already did for many previous projects, for which we designed soft technologies and then publicly released them - and yet never tried to sell them in any manner, we should stress it in this case - (Rhizoreality, I-Weather v. 2001, I-Weather v. 2009 and related apps, Deterritorialized Living), we've designed our own data service: Datadroppers - http://www.datadroppers.org -, first for our own needs, and then just released it online as well. Free to use ...
We thought of it as a data commune... trying to keep it as "socially flat" as possible: there are no login, no password, no terms of service, no community, no profiles, no "friends", almost no rules, etc., ... only one statement: "We are the data droppers / Open inputs-outputs performers / We drop off an we pick up / Migrant citizens of the data commune", which also becomes the interface of the service ...
It is a data commune, but not a "community". It is from a "market product" point of view "unsocial", almost uninteresting to later commodify. Yet there is still one single rule (so to keep the service simple and costless to handle): once you publish your data on the site, they'll become public (for everybody, including third party services that won't necessary follow the same open rules) and you won't be able to erase them, as they'll be part of the commune and will possibly be used by other "data communards" as well. They'll be online as long as the service will (i.e. I-Weather is online for 14 years now). So just declare on Datadroppers raw data that you consider for yourself public ...
The service, directly developed on the basis of previous projects we did, was first published and used last June, for an exhibition at the Haus der elektronische Künste in Basel (Switzerland). It is hosted in Switzerland / Lausanne under strict laws when it comes to data. There are very few data on the site at this time, only the ones we published from the exhibition (as a test, you can for exemple try a data search using "Raspberry Pi" as a string in the Search data section, which will bring live sensors data as a result). We will now certainly continue to use the service for future works at fabric | ch, maybe will it be also usefull for you? ...
The "communal service" is in fact a statement, the statement becomes the navigation interface. The two main sections of the website are composed by the parts in which you can play with or search for data.
We drop off and we pick up is the area where one can see what can be achieved with data. Obviously, it is either possible to declare (drop off) data and tag them, or retrieve them (pick up) - image above -. You can also Search data following different criteria -below-.
Usual data will certainly be live feeds from sensors, like the one in the top image (i.e. value: lumen). But you could certainly go for more interesting things, either when you'll create data or when you'll use them. The two images above are about "curiosity" data. They were captured within an exhibition (see below) and are already partially interpreted data (i.e. you can leave a connected button with no explanation in the exhibition space, if people press it, well... they are curious). As another exemple, we also recorded data about "transgression" in the same exhibition: a small digital screen says "don't touch" and blinks in red, while an attached sensor obviously connected to the screen can indeed be touched. Childish transgression and slightly meaningless I must admit... It was just a test.
But you could also declare other type of data, any type, while using complementary tools. You could for exemple declare each new image or file within an open cloud service and start cascading things. Or you could start thinking about data as "built" artifacts... like we did in a recent project (see below, Deterritorialized Living) that is delivered in the form of data. Or you could also and of course drop off static data that you would like to store and make accessible for a larger community.
Possibilities seems in fact to be quite large.
Datadroppers as a commune could even be considered as a micro-society or nation. It comes with a dowloadable "flag", if you desire to manifest your attachment to its philosophy or plant it in your datacenter!
Some views of Datadroppers in first use during Poetics and Politics of Data exhibition at the Haus der elektronische Künste in Basel (Switzerland), as part of the scenography designed by fabric | ch. Many Raspberry Pis were installed inside the space that captured exhibition's data and feed the service. They can now be retrieved from http://www.datadroppers.org/index.html#search as the exhibition will end this week-end > search with string "H3K" or "Museum".
Finally, I must mention the project that initiated Datadroppers, both because we developed the rules of the data sharing service during this latter project (Link > follow "Access to open data feeds"), but also because it is probably one of the most interesting use of Datadroppers so far...
Deterritorialized Living is an artificial, yet livable troposphere that is delivered in the form of data. Just like if we indeed install atmospheric sensors in a real environment, unless the environment doesn't exist in this case (yet), it is the project. The process is therefore reversed within this almost geo-engineered climate that follows different rules than our earth/cosmos driven everyday atmosphere. We have the open data feed to later set it up. fabric | ch or another designer as the feed is open. We plan to use this feed and materialized it through different installations, like we already started to do.
So, for now, this fictive data flow of a designed atmosphere is also delivered as a feed (again: Search data > Deterritorialized), among other ones (some "real", some not), within the webservice offered by Datadroppers .
Wednesday, August 26. 2015
Hippie Modernism exhibition at the Walker Art Center to celebrate design's trippy side | #radical #experiments #counterculture
Note: In parallel with the exhibition about the work of E.A.T at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, another exhibition: Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia that will certainly be worth a detour at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis later this autumn.
The architecture and design of the counterculture era has been overlooked, according to the curator of an upcoming exhibition dedicated to "Hippie Modernism".
Yellow submarine by Corita Kent, 1967. Photograph by Joshua White
The radical output of the 1960s and 1970s has had a profound influence on contemporary life but has been "largely ignored in official histories of art, architecture and design," said Andrew Blauvelt, curator of the exhibition that opens at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis this autumn.
"It's difficult to identify another period of history that has exerted more influence on contemporary culture and politics," he said.
Superchair by Ken Isaacs, 1967
Women in Design: The Next Decade by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, 1975. Courtesy of Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
While not representative of a formal movement, the works in Hippie Modernism challenged the establishment and high Modernism, which had become fully assimilated as a corporate style, both in Europe and North America by the 1960s.
The exhibition, entitled Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia will centre on three themes taken from taken from American psychologist and psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary's era-defining mantra: Turn on, tune in, drop out.
Organised with the participation of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, it will cover a diverse range of cultural objects including films, music posters, furniture, installations, conceptual architectural projects and environments.
Hendrixwar/Cosmococa Programa-in-Progress, 1973. Courtesy of the Walker Art Center collection, Minneapolis
Jimi Hendrix, Ira Cohen, 1968. Photograph from the Mylar Chamber, courtesy of the Ira Cohen Archive
The Turn On section of the show will focus on altered perception and expanded individual awareness. It will include conceptual works by British avant-garde architectural group Archigram, American architecture collective Ant Farm, and a predecessor to the music video by American artist Bruce Conner – known for pioneering works in assemblage and video art.
Tune In will look at media as a device for raising collective consciousness and social awareness around issues of the time, many of which resonate today, like the powerful graphics of the US-based black nationalist party Black Panther Movement.
Untitled [the Cockettes] by Clay Geerdes, 1972. Courtesy of the estate of Clay Geerdes
Drop Out includes alternative structures that allowed or proposed ways for individuals and groups to challenge norms or remove themselves from conventional society, with works like the Drop City collective's recreation dome – a hippie version of a Buckminster Fuller dome – and Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison's Portable Orchard, a commentary on the loss of agricultural lands to the spread of suburban sprawl.
Environment Transformer/Flyhead Helmet by Haus-Rucker-Co, 1968. Photograph courtesy of Haus-Rucker-Co and Gerald Zugmann
The issues raised by the projects in Hippie Modernism – racial justice, women's and LGBT rights, environmentalism, and localism among many other – continue to shape culture and politics today.
Blauvelt sees the period's ongoing impact in current practices of public-interest design and social-impact design, where the authorship of the building or object is less important than the need that it serves.
Payne's Gray by Judith Williams, circa 1966. Photograph courtesy of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, The University of British Columbia
Superonda Sofa by Archizoom Associati, 1966. Photograph courtesy of Dario Bartolini, Archizoom Associati
Many of the exhibited artists, designers, and architects created immersive environments that challenged notions of domesticity, inside/outside, and traditional limitations on the body, like the Italian avant-garde design group Superstudio's Superonda: conceptual furniture which together creates an architectural landscape that suggests new ways of living and socialising.
Hello Dali by Isaac Abrams, 1965
Blauvelt sees the period's utopian project ending with the OPEC oil crisis of the mid 1970s, which helped initiate the more conservative consumer culture of the late 1970s and 1980s.
Organised in collaboration with the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive, Hippie Modernism will run from 24 October 2015 to 28 February 2016 at the Walker Art Center.
Friday, August 14. 2015
Note: While being interested in the idea of the commune for some time now --I've been digging into old stories, like the ones of the well named Haight-Ashbury's Diggers, or the Droppers, in connection to system theory, cybernetics and information theory and then of course, to THE Personal Computer as "small scale technology" , so as to "the biggest commune of all: the internet" (F. Turner)--.
The idealistic social flatness of the communes, anarchic yet with inevitable emerging order, its "counter" approach to western social organization but also the fact that in the end, the 60ies initiatives seemed to have "failed" for different reasons, interests me for further works. These "diggings" are also somehow connected to a ongoing project and tool we recently published online, a "data commune": Datadroppers (even so it is just a shared tool).
Following this interest, I came accross this latest online publication by uncube (Issue #34) about the Commune Revisited, which both have an historic approach to old experiments (like the one of Drop City), and to more recent ones, up to the "gated community" ... The idea of the editors being to investigate the diversity of the concepts. It brings an interesting contemporary twist and understanding to the general idea... In a time when we are totally fed up with neo liberalism.
"One year after our Urban Commons issue, we're returning to the idea of the communal, this time investigating just how diversly the concept of "commune" can be interpreted - and not always with entirely benevolent intentions or successful results.
Wether trying to escape a broken economy or an oppressive system via new forms of existence or looking to break the system itself via anarchic methodologies, forming a commune traditionnaly involves segregation or stepping "outside" society.
But no matter how off-grid and back-to-nature the contemporary communities that we investigate here are, it turns out they are far more connected than we think.
Turn on, tune out, drop in.
Thursday, August 06. 2015
Note: we remain in history for a little more time... It's now Ken Isaacs' turn to be praised for his work around micro inhabitable spaces and living structures! I post this with the iodea in mind that his work could serve as reference for a future workshop next November at ECAL, probably with rAndom International as guests and when we'll continue to work around "cloud computing" and its infrastructure (datacenter), looking for counter-proposals or rather "counter-designs".
Via Object Guerilla
This week at work I picked up an old book, How to Build Your Own Living Structures, by Ken Isaacs, to read at lunch. I didn't finish it, so I brought it home. A little internet-ing revealed this book was out-of-print, rare, and selling for a good bit at various outlets. However, I think the copyright has lapsed, because it is available online as a PDF.
Isaacs was born in 1927 in Peoria, Illinois, and served in the military as a young man. After Korea, he studied architecture, and then began to craft a career as a designer, architect, and educator. In the late fifties, he became Head of Design at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts, birthplace of much notable mid-century modernism, including Eliel and Eero Saarinen Charles and Ray Eames, and Harry Weese. He also spent some time teaching at the Illinois Institute of Technology, founded by Mies van der Rohe as a sort of Bauhaus West.
Cover, via Pop-Up City.
Matrix-based "super chair." Nowadays, most of that stuff can be replaced with an iPad... The next iterative leap in the Matrix was to do away with the framing altogether. Isaacs developed rigid stress-skin structures, using plywood and "L" brackets to make cubes. The cubes were built in modules: 16", 24", and eventually, 48". Smaller units were used for storage; mid-size ones could serve as desks and chairs; and the large units became the first Micro-Houses.
The Micro-House, circa late 60s, via Pop-Up City. Isaacs had the same idea, but he designed a modular, flat-pack, lightweight, re-configurable system. Combining the original beam-based Matrix and the stud-less panel structures, he built 8-foot modules out of 1" steel pipe and inserted plywood volumes into the matrix. Taking the classic modernist approach -- divorcing structure and skin -- he came up with a cheap, versatile house. The First Microhouse, built with a Graham Foundation grant in Groveland, Illinois, (near Carbondale, home of fellow light structure pioneer Buckminster Fuller), looks dated in the photos, but also startlingly fresh. I love the raw, stark geometry of it, everything stripped down to the margins.
Another variation on the Microhouse -- it is infinitely reconfigurable. His 8' Microhouse is very of its era, but has nonetheless managed to inspire at least one modern imitator, in Glasgow. It creates an 8' volume based on a matrix of eight 4' volumes bolted together. The canted sides, tetrahedral feet, and hatch doors give it a real Apollo feel, minus the silvery skin.
The plywood stress-skin Microhouse. Throughout, wrapped in some seventies slang and general architectural hooliganism, Isaacs stresses pre-fabrication, modularity, simplicity, and off-the-shelf parts. None of the projects are particularly difficult to make with simple tools(a little time-consuming, perhaps). The book itself is a bit shambling, combining personal narrative, philosophical inquiry, and DIY instructions. In many ways, it seems like a blog, written with no caps and little editing. Some of the book sale listings I found online show the original as spiral-bound, in keeping with its guerilla nature.
They were eventually able to replace the department-store albatross with this number.
Wednesday, July 29. 2015
Note: after the recent post about E.A.T. and while we are into history, here is also an intersting article by Phyllis (Gershuny) Segura, one of the founders of the 1970's journal Radical Software, where she explains the birth and motivatiosn behind the magazine. It was a journal about the then very young video art, but exceeded this thematic by far, including avant-garde thematics such as cybernetic, information theory or networks.
Creating Radical Software: A Personal Account
By Phyllis (Gershuny) Segura
What can be analyzed in my work, or criticized, are the questions that I ask…my composition arises out of asking questions.
— John Cage
Radical Software Volume I, Number 1: the Alternate Television Movement (Spring 1970)
Radical Software Volume I, Number 2: the Electromagnetic Spectrum (Autumn 1970).
As rare as it is for something to be an instant success, this is what happened with Radical Software, a journal started in 1970 to bring a fresh direction to communication via personal and portable video equipment and other cybernetic explorations. Its intention was to foster an alternative to broadcast media and lessen the impact of its control. I was the co-founder.
When I began conceiving of the journal, no one really knew precisely what I was getting at because my ideas about it were at an inchoate stage of development, making for loose coherency. The idea was for individuals to be able to communicate interactively without the filters of broadcast media. Even at a more formalized stage the process superseded any formulaic views. Perhaps asking non-hierarchical questions could materialize the structures leading to a two-way network for communicative exchange. Our choices were no longer determined by traditions and customs.
I don't often look, but when I do, I notice so much misinformation, both printed and online, about the origins of Radical Software. I‘d like to clarify what my role was then and what my inspiration was in conceiving of it. It is important to set the background and tone of events. In order to accurately tell the tale I will weave in some personal life anecdotes from the time. It's all one story to me, as the vicissitudes of life often direct our fates.
Read more about it HERE.
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fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
Most articles concern the intertwined fields of architecture, territory, art, interaction design, thinking and science. From time to time, we also publish documentation about our own work and research, immersed among these related resources and inspirations.
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