Thursday, October 29. 2009
Sergej Hein: "It´s kind of a parody about the former socialist building style. They use to build whole cities, without any change in House design or room layout to create cheep housing for workers (we call them Blocks). In Soviet times you could easily wake up at a friends place in another city and still feel like you are in your flat as the furniture was the same as well...
I was living in a Block on the opposite side of the street in Berlin 2 years ago. Living there remind me of my early childhood in Riga where we had nearly the same Blocks.
I think Alexei Paschitnow, the inventor of Tetris, had kind of the same Idea as me in spring 1984. I bet he was looking out of the window of his Block in Moscow and thought how do soviet architects actually plan this buildings?"
So to say, a bad score at the "Belin Block Tetris" game produces a Koolhaas, MVRDV (or Dutsch architecture) building. Just a Wink...
Wednesday, October 28. 2009
Publisher Princeton Architectural Press says: Over the last few decades, a rich and increasingly diverse practice has emerged in the art world that invites the public to touch, enter, and experience the work, whether it is in a gallery, on city streets, or in the landscape. Like architecture, many of these temporary artworks aspire to alter viewers' experience of the environment. An installation is usually the end product for an artist, but for architects it can also be a preliminary step in an ongoing design process. Like paper projects designed in the absence of "real" architecture, installations offer architects another way to engage in issues critical to their practice. Direct experimentation with architecture's material and social dimensions engages the public around issues in the built environment that concern them and expands the ways that architecture can participate in and impact people's everyday lives.
The first survey of its kind,Installations by Architects features fifty of the most significant projects from the last twenty-five years by today's most exciting architects (...) Projects are grouped in critical areas of discussion under the themes of tectonics, body, nature, memory, and public space. Each project is supplemented by interviews with the project architects and the discussions of critics and theorists situated within a larger intellectual context.
You probably saw many examples of architects installations if you attended the latest Biennale of Architecture in Venice. They provide new platforms for innovative perspectives, ideas and experiments in the field of architecture. Some of these installations will remain at the experimental stage, others might later be implemented into built work. Installations, especially when temporary, enable architects to work outside the constraints dictated by clients and city regulations. The main purpose of installations is not necessarily to be useful but to generate conversations, to invite viewers to reflect on the role and essence of architecture. Installations are also vehicles for teaching and research as the Bauhaus was one of the first schools to demonstrate. Finally, young studios can find in installations a fantastic opportunity to advertise their talent.
I expected Installations by Architects: Experiments in Building and Design to be one of those fancy volumes you open to find big, glossy photos and little text to comment on them. I was expecting a beautiful book that lingers on the coffee table for your guests to admire. There are loads of images in the book indeed but there are even more essays by critics, by theorists and by the authors (Bonnemaison is an associate professor of architecture at Dalhousie University and Ronit Eisenbach is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Maryland). Architects get to give their own view as well. The book is divided into five chapters that explore a different area of discussion. Each of them is illustrated by 8 to 10 architectural installations (this post picks up one of them for each chapter):
1. Tectonics: by exploring new modes of assembly and materials, this section reminds us that architecture doesn't stop at the facade.
Mette Ramsgard Thomse's Vivisection is a spatial experiment that explores how a techtonic surface can embed a capacity for sensing and actuation. The silk and steel fabric is conductive thereby allowing the architects to pass electronic signals through it. By using antenna based sensor chips the fabric "feels" the presence of the audience. The sensors inform a network of distributed micro-computers, that in turn control the fans, inflating and deflating internal bladders in the structure.
2. Body examines the relationship between human body, spatial experience and design.
Thom Faulders covered with pink Memory Foam (as used in the earplugs that expand to fill the cavity of the ear) the floor of his Mute Room, a temporary listening environment for experimental electronic music. The foam's surface operates as a sound baffle to enhance acoustical clarity. Similar to the way that musical notes 'decay' in the air before dissipating, this surface has a transitory quality - impressions linger until fully erased by the slowly acting foam.
3. Nature might help shape a more responsible attitude towards nature.
The Prairie Ladder was commissioned by the Connemara Conservancy (Texas) to preserve, protect, and honor the prairie landscape.
The ladder introduces a veritcal axis, making a departure from the natural horizontal axis of the prairie. The ladder also proclaims human defiance of the horizontal limitations of the earth.
4. Memory engages with the collective memory and its relationship with space.
24260 in "art and Economy at Deichterhollen, Hamburg, 2002
Since 1960, Detroit has lost half of its population and demolished over 200,000 housing units. Kyong Park's 24620: The Fugitive House (2001-), is an abandoned house from Detroit that has been dismantled and reconstructed in several European cities. 24620 is looking for a new home in a 'kinder and gentler" city than Detroit. Europe, however, is becoming just as neo-liberal and neo-con as in the USA
With its pieces misplaced and their incisions permanent, the house, when re-assembled, replicates the condition of a dysfunctional city in the violence of dismembered spaces. Wherever it may go, the house takes the ideals and failures of modernism with it, creating discourses on the cultural state and destiny of each community.
5. Public Space offers citizens new ways to inhabit or relate to the city.
Sky Ear, by Haque Design + Research, contains miniature sensor circuits that respond to electromagnetic fields, particularly those of mobile phones. When activated, the sensor circuits in the clouds co-ordinate to cause ultra-bright coloured LEDs to illuminate thousand glowing helium balloons.
Want to spy, er, keep track of your kids? Best Buy’s house brand, Insignia, recently released a new device that can help you do just that.
The device, known as the Little Buddy Child Tracker (available here) is a small portable GPS tracker that can be stored (or snuck) into a backpack, lunchbox, or pencil case. Parents can then log onto the web and see where their child is at all times, or receive SMS alerts if they leave a designated area.
It looks like you can track where your child is using a Google Maps Street View type feature, designate a perimeter that your child is supposed to stay in, and make a note of different destinations. The end result supposedly is that your kids are safer (assuming they don’t chuck the device onto the kid next to them on the bus or clip it to the family dog), because you can always know where they are.
In reality, the idea — while attractive for the paranoid parent — is also a kind of creepy. I mean, what fun is it to be 14 and skip going to the library after school and instead hang out at Taco Bell with the high schoolers if your mom is going to be trying to track your whereabouts from her BlackBerry?
Is this good or is this bad? Hard to say isn't it?
Forearm electrodes could enable new forms of hands-free computer interaction.
By Kate Greene
Now, researchers at Microsoft, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Toronto in Canada have come up with another way to interact with computers: a muscle-controlled interface that allows for hands-free, gestural interaction.
A band of electrodes attach to a person's forearm and read electrical activity from different arm muscles. These signals are then correlated to specific hand gestures, such as touching a finger and thumb together, or gripping an object tighter than normal. The researchers envision using the technology to change songs in an MP3 player while running or to play a game like Guitar Hero without the usual plastic controller.
Muscle-based computer interaction isn't new. In fact, the muscles near an amputated or missing limb are sometimes used to control mechanical prosthetics. But, while researchers have explored muscle-computer interaction for nondisabled users before, the approach has had limited practicality. Inferring gestures reliably from muscle movement is difficult, so such interfaces have often been restricted to sensing a limited range of gestures or movements.
The new muscle-sensing project is "going after healthy consumers who want richer input modalities," says Desney Tan, a researcher at Microsoft. As a result, he and his colleagues had to come up with a system that was inexpensive and unobtrusive and that reliably sensed a range of gestures.
The group's most recent interface, presented at the User Interface Software and Technology conference earlier this month in Victoria, British Columbia, uses six electromyography sensors (EMG) and two ground electrodes arranged in a ring around a person's upper right forearm for sensing finger movement, and two sensors on the upper left forearm for recognizing hand squeezes. While these sensors are wired and individually placed, their orientation isn't exact--that is, specific muscles aren't targeted. This means that the results should be similar for a thin, EMG armband that an untrained person could slip on without assistance, Tan says. The research builds on previous work that involved a more expensive EMG system to sense finger gestures when a hand is laid on a flat surface.
The sensors cannot accurately interpret muscle activity straight away. Software must be trained to associate the electrical signals with different gestures. The researchers used standard machine-learning algorithms, which improve their accuracy over time (the approach is similar to the one Tan uses for his brain-computer interfaces.)
"We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the user to calibrate the device in an appropriate way," says Tan. The software learns to recognize EMG signals produced as the user performs gestures in a specific, controlled way.
The algorithms focus on three specific features from the EMG data: the magnitude of muscle activity, the rate of muscle activity, and the wave-like patterns of activity that occur across several sensors at once. These three features, says Tan, provide a fairly accurate way to identify certain types of gesture. After training, the software could accurately determine many of the participants' gestures more than 85 percent of the time, and some gestures more than 90 percent.
Especially in the early stages of training, a participant's gestures need to be carefully guided to ensure that the machine-learning algorithms are trained correctly. But Tan says that even with a small amount of feedback, test subjects "would fairly naturally adapt and change postures and gestures to get drastically improved performance." He says that having users trigger the appropriate response from the system became an important part of the training process.
"Most of today's computer interfaces require the user's complete attention," says Pattie Maes, professor of media arts and sciences at MIT. "We desperately need novel interfaces such as the one developed by the Microsoft team to enable a more seamless integration of digital information and applications into our busy daily lives."
Tan and colleagues are now working on a prototype that uses a wireless band that can easily be slipped onto a person's arm, as well as a "very quick training system." The researchers are also testing how well the system works when people walk and run while wearing it.
Ultimately, says Tan, full-body control will lead to fundamentally new ways of using computers. "We know it has something to do with gestures being mobile, always available, and natural, but we're still working on the exact paradigm," he says.
Copyright Technology Review 2009.
Tuesday, October 27. 2009
The Hamiltonian path is the shortest route between city A to city B along several other cities and at which every city is visited only once. This sounds easy, however this has caused a lot of problems to the navigation systems. If you want to go from Amsterdam to Rome and visit some other European cities, there are millions of possible routes and the system will have to calculate all the separate routes to come to the final solution of the Hamiltonian path. Now the researchers have used bacteria to get a direct overview, in which the bacteria consider all the routes simultaneously.
In the research, they have modified the DNA of the bacteria and let them find the shortest route between three cities. Each city has its own combination of genes, which causes the bacteria to glow red of green. The possible routes between the cities were explored by the random shuffling of DNA. The bacteria that had found the best route fluoresced green and red, resulting in yellow colonies.
Problem solved! Althought this is just a small test and it will be difficult to program a complex computer this way, the researchers are convinced this a proof that demonstrates the possibilities of using bacteria to solve these kind of mathematical problems. According to the researchers their results validate synthetic biology as a valuable approach to biological engineering. Having a computer infected with a virus will not quite be the same anymore.
The study was published in the Journal of Biological Engineering. Related: Crash course on synthetic genomics, Bacteria that eat waste & shit petrol, Bacteria that turn CO2 into energy, Google tracks flue spread via sick searchers, Conversations at the doctor.
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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.
This website is used by fabric | ch as archive, references and resources. It is shared with all those interested in the same topics as we are, in the hope that they will also find valuable references and content in it.
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