Wednesday, April 19. 2017
Note: the following happened to be a quite fascinating and "spontaneous" collaborative experience recently held in 2d, pixel by pixel as the main expression tool, on Reddit.
It has certrainly the formal flavour of the online community (-ies) the project was first dedicated to ("dick" stuff, fantaisy or game characters, ...). But nonetheless, how much (almost spatial/ "places") "stories" can happen inside a blank online shared 2d space, with 16 colors and pixels, during 72 hours, is quite astonishing.
The project was called Place.
Terminologies used in the post below could certainly be refined and we could also wonder why (kind of sad) the process ends up into so many national flags (when it comes to collaborative design, a flag is certainly something so simple to communicate to many and co-create, due to its basic shapes and identifiable design rules, that it might be a reason - if not the reason - for the large amount of them that are present at the end of the experience (beside the copycat effect) - or why are these what we see at first glance? But that's not the main point about the whole experience.
As a matter of fact, it is undoubtedly a reminiscence and a much more interesting version of this "Million Dollar Homepage" by Alex Tew, on a 1000 x 1000 pixel grid, dating back 2005.
Via & by Sudoscript
Last weekend, a fascinating act in the history of humanity played out on Reddit.
For April Fool's Day, Reddit launched a little experiment. It gave its users, who are all anonymous, a blank canvas called Place. The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one. Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.
From a single blank canvas, a couple simple rules and no plan, came this:
Each pixel you see was placed by hand. Each icon, each flag, each meme created painstakingly by millions of people who had nothing in common except an Internet connection. Somehow, someway, what happened in Reddit over those 72 hours was the birth of Art.
How did this happen?
While I followed Place closely, I cannot do justice to the story behind it in the few words here. There were countless dramas -- countless ideas, and fights, and battles, and wars -- that I don't even know about. They happened in small forums and private Discord chats, with too much happening at once, all the time, to keep track of everything. And, of course, I had to sleep.
But at its core, the story of Place is an eternal story, about the three forces that humanity needs to make art, creation, and technology possible.
First came "the Creators". They were the artists to whom the blank canvas was an irresistible opportunity.
When Place was launched, with no warning, the first users started placing pixels willy-nilly, just to see what they could do. Within minutes, the first sketches appeared on Place. Crude and immature, they resembled cavemen paintings, the work of artists just stretching their wings.
Even from that humble beginning, the Creators quickly saw that the pixels held power, and lots of potential. But working alone, they could only place one pixel every 5 or 10 minutes. Making anything more meaningful would take forever -- if someone didn't mess up their work as they were doing it. To make something bigger, they would have to work together.
That's when someone hit on the brilliant notion of a gridmap. They took a simple idea -- a drawing overlaid on a grid, that showed where each of the pixels should go -- and combined it with an image that resonated with the adolescent humor of Redditors. They proposed drawing Dickbutt.
The Placetions (denizens of r/place) quickly got to work. It didn't take long -- Dickbutt materialized within minutes in the lower left part of the canvas. The Place had its first collaborative Art.
But Creators didn't stop there. They added more appendages to the creature, they added colors, and then they attempted to metamorphize their creation into Dickbutterfly. Behind its silliness was the hint of a creative tsunami about to come.
But it didn't happen all at once. Creators started to get a little drunk on their power. Across the canvas from Dickbutt, a small Charmander came to life. But once the Pokemon character was brought to life, it started growing a large male member where once had been a leg. Then came two more.
This was not by design. Some Creators frantically tried to remove the offending additions, putting out calls to "purify" the art, but others kept the additions going.
Suddenly, it looked like Place would be a short-lived experiment that took the path of least surprise. Left to their own devices, Creators threatened to turn the Place into a phallic fantasy. Of course.
The problem was less one of immaturity, and more of the fundamental complexity of the creative process. What the Creators were starting to face was something that would become the defining theme of Place: too much freedom leads to chaos. Creativity needs constraint as much as it needs freedom.
When anyone could put any pixel anywhere, how does it not lead immediately to mayhem?
Another set of users emerged, who would soon address this very problem.
But like the primitive Creators, they weren't yet self-aware of their purpose on the great white canvas. Instead, they began by simplifying the experiment into a single goal: world conquest.
They formed Factions around colors, that they used to take over the Place with. The Blue Corner was among the first, and by far the largest. It began in the bottom right corner and spread like a plague. Its followers self-identified with the color, claiming that its manifest destiny was to take over Place. Pixel by pixel, they started turning it into reality, in a mad land grab over the wide open space.
The Blue Corner wasn't alone. Another group started a Red Corner on the other side of the canvas. Their users claimed a leftist political leaning. Yet another started the Green Lattice, which went for a polka-dot design with interspersing green pixels and white. They championed their superior efficiency, since they only had to color half as many pixels as the other Factions.
It wasn't long before the Factions ran head-on into the Creators. Charmander was among the first battle sites. As the Blue Corner began to overwrite the Pokemon with blue pixels, the Creators turned from their internecine phallic wars to the bigger threat now on their doorstep.
They fought back, replacing each blue pixel with their own. But the numbers were against them. With its single-minded focus on expansion, the Blue Corner commanded a much larger army than the Creators could muster. So they did the only thing they could do. They pled for their lives.
Somehow, it struck a chord. It ignited a debate within the Blue Corner. What was their role in relation to Art? A member asked: "As our tide inevitably covers the world from edge to edge, should we show mercy to other art we come across?"
This was a question each Faction faced in turn. With all the power given to them by their expansionary zeal, what were they to do about the art that stood in their path?
They all decided to save it. One by one, each of the Factions began flowing around the artwork, rather than through them.
Rebel against Bluegoisie all you want, but let's make one thing clear: THESE THREE ARE OFF ABSOLUTELY OFF LIMITS. THEY ARE NOT TO BE HARMED. from place
This was a turning point. The mindless Factions had turned into beneficent Protectors
Still No Happy Ending
Finally at peace with the ravenous color horde, the Creators turned back to their creations. They started making them more complex, adding one element after another.
They started using 3-pixel fonts to write text. A Star Wars prequel meme that had been sputtering along took a more defined shape, becoming one of the most prominent pieces of art in Place.
Others formed Creator collectives around common projects. Organizing in smaller subreddits that they created just for this purpose, they planned strategies and shared templates.
One of the most successful was a group that added a Windows 95-esque taskbar along the bottom, replete with Start button in the corner.
Another were a block of hearts. They started with only a few, mimicking hearts of life in old bitmap video games, like Zelda, before their collective took off with the idea. By the end they stretched across half the canvas, in a dazzling array of flags and designs.
And of course, there was Van Gogh.
But not all was well. The Protectors who they had once welcomed with relief had become tyrants dictating fashion. They decided what could and couldn't be made. It wasn't long before Creators started chafing under their rule.
Meanwhile, with the issue of artwork resolved, the Factions had turned their sights on each other, forcing followers to choose sides in epic battles. They had little time to pay attention to the pathetic pleas of Creators who wanted approval for ideas of new art.
The fights between the Protectors got nasty. A Twitch live-streamer exhorted his followers to attack the Blue Corner with Purple. There were battle plans. There were appeals to emotion. There were even false-flag attacks, where the followers of one color placed pixels of the opposing side inside their own, just so they could cry foul and attack in return.
But the biggest problem of all was one of the only hard rules of Place -- it couldn't grow. With the Factions engaged in a massive battle among themselves, the Creators started realizing there wasn't space to make new Art.
Country flags had started emerging pretty much from the beginning. But as they grew and grew, they started bumping into each other.
Out in the unclaimed territory of the middle of the canvas, with no Protector to mediate between them, Germany and France engaged in an epic battle that sent shockwaves through Place.
Suddenly, a world that had been saved from its primitive beginnings looked like it would succumb to war. There were frantic attempts at diplomacy between all sides. Leaders form the Protectors and the Creators and met each other in chat rooms, but mostly they just pointed fingers at each other.
What Place needed was a villain that everyone could agree upon.
Enter the Void.
They started on 4chan, Reddit's mangled, red-headed step-brother. It wasn't long before the pranksters on the Internet's most notorious imageboard took notice of what was happening on Reddit. It was too good an opportunity for them to pass up. And so they turned to the color closest to their heart -- black. They became the Void.
Like a tear spreading slowly across the canvas, black pixels started emerging near the center of Place.
At first, other Factions tried to form an alliance with them, foolishly assuming that diplomacy would work. But they failed, because the Void was different.
The Void was no Protector. Unlike the Factions, it professed no loyalty to Art. Followers of the Void championed its destructive egalitarianism, chanting only that "the Void will consume." They took no sides. They only wanted to paint the world black.
This was exactly the kick in the ass that Place needed. While Creators had been busy fighting each other, and Protectors still measured themselves by the extent of canvas they controlled, a new threat -- a real threat -- had emerged under their nose.
Against the face of extinction, they banded together to fight the Void and save their Art.
But the Void was not easy to vanquish, because the Place needed it. It needed destruction so that new Art, better Art, would emerge from the ashes. Without the Void, there was no force to clean up the old Art.
I used to hate the Void but watching the time-lapses I see they're a vital part of the r/place ecosystem. Like a forest fire making way for new life. from place
And yet, this was exactly what Place needed. By destroying art, the Void forced Placetions to come up with something better. They knew they could overcome the sourge. They just needed an idea good enough, with enough momentum and enough followers, to beat the black monster.
That idea was the American flag.
In the last day of Place, a most unlikely coalition came together to beat back the Void, once and for all.
They were people who otherwise tear each other apart every day -- Trump supporters and Trump resisters, Democrats and Republicans, Americans and Europeans. And here they were coming together to build something together, on a little corner of the Internet, proving in an age when such cooperation seems impossible, that they still can.
The Ancients Were Right
Reddit's experiment ended soon after. There are so many more stories hidden deep in the dozens of subreddits and chat rooms that cropped up around Place. For every piece of artwork I mentioned, there are hundreds more on the final canvas. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that on an anonymous, no-holds-barred space on the Internet, there were no hate or racist symbols at all on the final canvas.
It is a beautiful circle of art, life and death. And it isn't the first time in our history that we've seen it.
Many millenia before Place, when humanity itself was still in its infancy (the real one, not the one on Reddit), Hindu philosophers theorized that the Heavens were made of three competing, but necessary, deities that they called the Trimurti. They were Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Protector, and Shiva the Destroyer.
Without any single one of them, the Universe would not work. For there to be light, there needed to be dark. For there to be life, there needed to be death. For there to be creation and art, there needed to be destruction.
Over the last few days, their vision proved prescient. In the most uncanny way, Reddit proved that human creation requires all three.
The Final Canvas
Tuesday, April 18. 2017
Note: following the post about the conference at Bartlett about game design and architecture, I also post this link (show reel) regarding the recent set & prop design for the movie Ghost in the Shell.
We can certainly discuss the quality of the movie indeed, or rather its necessity compared to the original japan anime (a funny remark about it though: if you have the questionable chance to be "reborned" or "ghosted" like the major in the remade movie, you'll transform from asian to caucasian white ... Which is the same fate as the movie in fact, if you have the chance to be "redone", you'll go from japan anime to Hollywood pimped movie...), but we can all agree about the quality of the environment and character design nonetheless. Even if conceptually, this future looks a lot like an "hyper-present" (more networks, more media, more digital, more robots, cyborgs and viruses, more hackers, etc. - that will not happen therefore).
In particular for architects, the urban design of the "Hong Kong++" (or "Blade Runner++" ) style city, full of skyscrapers sized holograms, mostly publicities. A design in a kind of strange and brutal mish-mash with more regular yet buildings. This is the quite 3d graphical work ofAsh Thorp that i link below.
Considering these different exemples, we could wonder why architectural schools don't take more into consideration these kind of works? So as the ones present in literature. Couldn't we start thinking that architecture is a field that indeed and of course, build physical spaces and cities, but not only.
So, it should also take its part in the conceptualization and design of "networked", "virtual" or rather "mixed realities" (whatever further necessary debates we could have about the understanding of those words), environments for games and movies? Possibly also by extension non material spaces in general? And of course, all the probably more interesting "in betweens"? I truly believe architectural discourse could easily consider all these aspects of architecture and widen a bit its educational scope.
But I don't see this coming so much. Do you? (there are some discussion forums on Archinect for example)
Some additionnal information about the conceptual work on the movie.
Another interesting and quite "space-graphical" short anime by Ash Thorp, "Epoch" - in a slightly "2001" style-, can be accessed on his site as well. And interestingly for 3d designers, he has created with fellow industry-artists a teaching platform led by professionals: Learn Squared (they are hosting a talk about the set design on Twitch next Wednesday btw). There can you learn "UI and Data Design for Film", "3D Concept Design", "Motion Design", etc.
Monday, February 20. 2017
Via It's Nice That
“My feeling is that the Bauhaus being conveniently located before the Second World War makes it safely historical,” says Dr. Peter Kapos. “Its objects have an antique character that is about as threatening as Arts and Crafts, whereas the problem with the Ulm School is that it’s too relevant. The questions raised about industrial design [still apply], and its project failed – its social project being particularly disappointing – which leaves awkward questions about where we are in the present.”
Kapos discovered the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm, or Ulm School, through his research into the German manufacturing company Braun, the representation of which is a specialism of his archive, das programm. The industrial design school had developed out of a community college founded by educationalist Inge Scholl and graphic designer Otl Aicher in 1946. It was established, as Kapos writes in the book accompanying the Raven Row exhibition, The Ulm Model, “with the express purpose of curbing what nationalistic and militaristic tendencies still remained [in post-war Germany], and making a progressive contribution to the reconstruction of German social life.”
The Ulm School closed in 1968, having undergone various forms of pedagogy and leadership, crises in structure and personality. Nor the faculty or student-body found resolution to the problems inherent to industrial design’s claim to social legitimacy – “how the designer could be thoroughly integrated within the production process at an operational level and at the same time adopt a critically reflective position on the social process of production.” But while the Ulm School and the Ulm Model collapsed, it remains an important resource, “it’s useful, even if the project can’t be restarted, because it was never going to succeed, the attempt is something worth recovering. Particularly today, under very difficult conditions.”
Foundation Course exercise
Foundation Course exercise
Foundation Course exercise
Max Bill, a graduate of the Bauhaus and then president of the Swiss Werkbund, arrived at Ulm in 1950, having been recruited partly in the hope that his international profile would attract badly needed funding. He tightened the previously broad curriculum, established by Marxist writer Hans Werner Richter, around design, mirroring the practices of his alma mater.
Bill’s rectorship ran from 1955-58, during which “there was no tension between the way he designed and the requirements of the market”. The principle of the designer as artist, a popular notion of the Bauhaus, curbed the “alienating nature of industrial production”. Due perhaps in part to the trauma of WW2, people hadn’t been ready to allow technology into the home that declared itself as technology.
“The result of that was record players and radios smuggled into the home, hidden in what looked like other pieces of furniture, with walnut veneers and golden tassels.” Bill’s way of thinking didn’t necessarily reflect the aesthetic, but it wasn’t at all challenging politically. “So in some ways that’s really straight-forward and unproblematic – and he’s a fantastic designer, an extraordinary architect, an amazing graphic designer, and a great artist – but he wasn’t radical enough. What he was trying to do with industrial design wasn’t taking up the challenge.”
Foundation Course exercise
In 1958 Bill stepped down having failed to “grasp the reality of industrial production simply at a technical and operational level… [or] recognise its emancipatory potential.” The industrial process had grown in complexity, and the prospect of rebuilding socially was too vast for single individuals to manage. It was no longer possible for the artist-designer to sit outside of the production process, because the new requirements were so complex. “You had to be absolutely within the process, and there had to be a team of disciplinary specialists — not only of material, but circulation and consumption, which was also partly sociological. It was a different way of thinking about form and its relation to product.”
After Bill’s departure, Tomás Maldonado, an instructor at the school, “set out the implications for a design education adequate to the realities of professional practice.” Changes were made to the curriculum that reflected a critically reflective design practice, which he referred to as ‘scientific operationalism’ and subjects such as ‘the instruction of colour’, were dropped. Between 1960-62, the Ulm Model was introduced: “a novel form of design pedagogy that combined formal, theoretical and practical instruction with work in so-called ‘Development Groups’ for industrial clients under the direction of lecturers.” And it was during this period that the issue of industrial design’s problematic relationship to industry came to a head.
In 1959, a year prior to the Ulm Model’s formal introduction, Herbert Lindinger, a student from a Development Group working with Braun, designed an audio system. A set of transistor equipment, it made no apologies for its technology, and looked like a piece of engineering. His audio system became the model for Braun’s 1960s audio programme, “but Lindinger didn’t receive any credit for it, and Braun’s most successful designs from the period derived from an implementation of his project. It’s sad for him but it’s also sad for Ulm design because this had been a collective project.”
The history of the Braun audio programme was written as being defined by Dieter Rams, “a single individual — he’s an important designer, and a very good manager of people, he kept the language consistent — but Braun design of the 60s is not a manifestation of his genius, or his vision.” And the project became an indication of why the Ulm project would ultimately fail, “when recalling it, you end up with a singular genius expressing the marvel of their mind, rather than something that was actually a collective project to achieve something social.”
An advantage of Bill’s teaching model had been the space outside of the industrial process, “which is the space that offers the possibility of criticality. Not that he exercised it. But by relinquishing that space, [the Ulm School] ended up so integrated in the process that they couldn’t criticise it.” They realised the contradiction between Ulm design and consumer capitalism, which had been developing along the same timeline. “Those at the school became dissatisfied with the idea of design furnishing market positions, constantly producing cycles of consumptive acts, and they struggled to resolve it.”
The school’s project had been to make the world rational and complete, industrially-based and free. “Instead they were producing something prison-like, individuals were becoming increasingly separate from each other and unable to see over their horizon.” In the Ulm Journal, the school’s sporadic, tactically published magazine that covered happenings at, and the evolving thinking and pedagogical approach of Ulm, Marxist thinking had become an increasingly important reference. “It was key to their understanding the context they were acting in, and if that thinking had been developed it would have led to an interesting and different kind of design, which they never got round to filling in. But they created a space for it.”
Foundation Course exercise
Foundation Course exercise (detail)
“[A Marxian approach] would inevitably lead you out of design in some way. And the Ulm Model, the title of the Raven Row exhibition, is slightly ironic because it isn’t really a model for anything, and I think they understood that towards the end. They started to consider critical design as something that had to not resemble design in its recognised form. It would be nominally designed, the categories by which it was generally intelligible would need to be dismantled.”
The school’s funding was equally problematic, while their independence from the state facilitated their ability to validate their social purpose, the private foundation that provided their income was funded by industry commissions and indirect government funding from the regional legislator. “Although they were only partially dependent on government money, they accrued so much debt that in the end they were entirely dependent on it. The school was becoming increasingly radical politically, and the more radical it became, the more its own relation to capitalism became problematic. Their industry commissions tied them to the market, the Ulm Model didn’t work out, and their numbers didn’t add up.”
The Ulm School closed in 1968, when state funding was entirely withdrawn, and its functionalist ideals were in crisis. Abraham Moles, an instructor at the school, had previously asserted the inconsistency arising from the practice of functionalism under the conditions of ‘the affluent society’, “which for the sake of ever expanding production requires that needs remain unsatisfied.” And although he had encouraged the school to anticipate and respond to the problem, so as to be the “subject instead of the object of a crisis”; he hadn’t offered concrete ideas on how that might be achieved.
But correcting the course of capitalist infrastructure isn’t something the Ulm School could have been expected to achieve, “and although the project was ill-construed, it is productive as a resource for thinking about what a critical design practice could be in relation to capitalism.” What’s interesting about the Ulm Model today is their consideration of the purpose of education, and their questioning of whether it should merely reflect the current state of things – “preparing a workforce for essentially increasing the GDP; and establishing the efficiency of contributing sectors in a kind of diabolical utilitarianism.”
Ulm Journal of the Hochschule für Gestaltung
Foundation Course exercise (detail)
Foundation Course exercise
Foundation Course exercise (detail)
Foundation Course exercise
Foundation Course exercise (detail)
Tuesday, November 01. 2016
Note: posted a few weeks ago on It's Nice That, those pictures by photographer Philippe Jarrigeon about mazes.
Via It's Nice That
More about it HERE.
Tuesday, September 13. 2016
Note: what about starting again after the Summer #farniente with some "illusions and science"? "Amazing" that's for sure.
Would have certainly been a useful resource for the research workshop we led around "the cloud" with Random International, about ghost data presence (and to develop Ghost Data Interfaces). Especially as I pointed out the "sublime" dimension of technology in a related post.
Via brusspup (channel on Youtube)
with some gyroscopes:
(remember that btw?)
or with some magnets:
or even with some hammer!
Tuesday, August 02. 2016
By fabric | ch
As we lack a decent search engine on this blog and as we don't use a "tag cloud" either... but because August is certainly one of the best period of the year to spend time reading and digging into past content and topics:
HERE ARE ALL THE CURRENT UPDATED CATEGORIES TO NAVIGATE ON | RBLG BLOG:
(to be seen below if you're navigating on the blog's page or here for rss readers)
Posted by Patrick Keller in fabric | ch, Architecture, Art, Culture & society, Design, Interaction design, Science & technology, Sustainability, Territory at 17:01
Defined tags for this entry: architecture, art, culture & society, design, fabric | ch, interaction design, science & technology, sustainability, territory, toorop
By fabric | ch
As we continue to lack a decent search engine on this blog and as we don't use a "tag cloud" ... This post could help navigate through the updated content on | rblg (as of 07.2016), via all its tags!
HERE ARE ALL THE CURRENT TAGS TO NAVIGATE ON | RBLG BLOG:
(to be seen just below if you're navigating on the blog's page or here for rss readers)
Posted by Patrick Keller in fabric | ch at 16:58
Defined tags for this entry: 3d, activism, advertising, agriculture, air, animation, applications, archeology, architects, architecture, art, art direction, artificial reality, artists, atmosphere, automation, behaviour, bioinspired, biotech, blog, body, books, brand, character, citizen, city, climate, clips, code, cognition, collaboration, commodification, communication, community, computing, conditioning, conferences, consumption, content, control, craft, culture & society, curators, customization, data, density, design, design (environments), design (fashion), design (graphic), design (interactions), design (motion), design (products), designers, development, devices, digital, digital fabrication, digital life, digital marketing, dimensions, direct, display, documentary, earth, ecal, ecology, economy, electronics, energy, engineering, environment, equipment, event, exhibitions, experience, experimentation, fabric | ch, farming, fashion, fiction, films, food, form, franchised, friends, function, future, gadgets, games, garden, generative, geography, globalization, goods, hack, hardware, harvesting, health, history, housing, hybrid, identification, illustration, images, information, infrastructure, installations, interaction design, interface, interferences, kinetic, knowledge, landscape, language, law, life, lighting, localization, localized, magazines, make, mapping, marketing, mashup, materials, media, mediated, mind, mining, mobile, mobility, molecules, monitoring, monography, movie, museum, music, nanotech, narrative, nature, networks, neurosciences, opensource, operating system, participative, particles, people, perception, photography, physics, physiological, politics, pollution, presence, print, privacy, product, profiling, projects, psychological, public, publishing, reactive, real time, recycling, research, resources, responsive, ressources, robotics, santé, scenography, schools, science & technology, scientists, screen, search, security, semantic, services, sharing, shopping, signage, smart, social, society, software, solar, sound, space, speculation, statement, surveillance, sustainability, tactile, tagging, tangible, targeted, teaching, technology, tele-, telecom, territory, text, textile, theory, thinkers, thinking, time, tools, topology, tourism, toys, transmission, trend, typography, ubiquitous, urbanism, users, variable, vernacular, video, viral, vision, visualization, voice, vr, war, weather, web, wireless, writing
Monday, July 18. 2016
Note: published a little while ago, this article from Time magazine ("The Next Revolution in Photography Is Coming") makes a fascinating point about the changing nature of photography. Even so the article mostly talks about journalism photography.
An interesting analysis by Stephen Mayes that shows how far photography is becoming data capture (sensing)... as much --or even more-- as it is visual capture. We should certainly discuss further around this question with the scientists that are writing the algorithms of photography. Yet as stated in the paper, a camera is slowly becoming primarily a "data-collecting device" and the image reconstructed from these data (by algorithms then) a last "grip on the belief in the image as an objective record".
This comes in resonance with our scholar understanding of photography as the media that was once believed or phantasized of being able to "capture reality", as it is. The early cinema carried later the same kind of beliefs. And we could then think again about this fantastic novel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (The Invention of Morel, 1940) that was extrapolating around these myths (of being able to fully record and register the "present", then replay it, entirely).
Today, this belief in our ability to "fully record the real" or digg into its recorded past (some big data projects) has a tendency to be transferred into data capture (and I obviously publish this post on purpose just after the presentation of an architecture project by fabric | ch that largely used and played around this idea of recording the present and that followed an installation around the same idea, through data).
So the connection that is made in this paper between photography and data capture is full of epistemological interests!
In the future, there will be no such thing as a "straight photograph"
It’s time to stop talking about photography. It’s not that photography is dead as many have claimed, but it’s gone.
Just as there’s a time to stop talking about girls and boys and to talk instead about women and men so it is with photography; something has changed so radically that we need to talk about it differently, think of it differently and use it differently. Failure to recognize the huge changes underway is to risk isolating ourselves in an historical backwater of communication, using an interesting but quaint visual language removed from the cultural mainstream.
The moment of photography’s “puberty” was around the time when the technology moved from analog to digital although it wasn’t until the arrival of the Internet-enabled smartphone that we really noticed a different behavior. That’s when adolescence truly set in. It was surprising but it all seemed somewhat natural and although we experienced a few tantrums along the way with arguments about promiscuity, manipulation and some inexplicable new behaviors, the photographic community largely accommodated the changes with some adjustments in workflow.
But these visible changes were merely the advance indicators of deeper transformations and it was only a matter of time before people’s imagination reached beyond the constraints of two dimensions to explore previously unimagined possibilities. And so it is that we find ourselves in a world where the digital image is almost infinitely flexible, a vessel for immeasurable volumes of information, operating in multiple dimensions and integrated into apps and technologies with purposes yet to be imagined.
Digital capture quietly but definitively severed the optical connection with reality, that physical relationship between the object photographed and the image that differentiated lens-made imagery and defined our understanding of photography for 160 years. The digital sensor replaced to optical record of light with a computational process that substitutes a calculated reconstruction using only one third of the available photons. That’s right, two thirds of the digital image is interpolated by the processor in the conversion from RAW to JPG or TIF. It’s reality but not as we know it.
For obvious commercial reasons camera manufacturers are careful to reconstruct the digital image in a form that mimics the familiar old photograph and consumers barely noticed a difference in the resulting image, but there are very few limitations on how the RAW data could be handled and reality could be reconstructed in any number of ways. For as long as there’s an approximate consensus on what reality should look like we retain a fingernail grip on the belief in the image as an objective record. But forces beyond photography and traditional publishing are already onto this new data resource, and culture will move with it whether photographers choose to follow or not.
As David Campbell has pointed out in his report on image integrity for the World Press Photo, this requires a profound reassessment of words like “manipulation” that assume the existence of a virginal image file that hasn’t already been touched by computational process. Veteran digital commentator Kevin Connor says, “The definition of computational photography is still evolving, but I like to think of it as a shift from using a camera as a picture-making device to using it as a data-collecting device.”
The differences contained in the structure and processing of a digital file are not the end of the story of photography’s transition from innocent childhood to knowing adulthood. There is so much more to grasp that very few people have yet grappled with the inevitable but as yet unimaginable impact on the photographic image. Taylor Davidson has described the camera of the future as an app, a software rather than a device that compiles data from multiple sensors. The smartphone’s microphone, gyroscope, accelerometer, thermometer and other sensors all contribute data as needed by whatever app calls on it and combines it with the visual data. And still that’s not the limit on what is already bundled with our digital imagery.
Our instruments are connected to satellites that contribute GPS data while connecting us to the Internet that links our data to all the publicly available information of Wikipedia, Google and countless other resources that know where we are, who was there before us and the associated economic, social and political activity. Layer on top of that the integration of LIDAR data (currently only in some specialist apps) then apply facial and object recognition software and consider the implication of emerging technologies such as virtual reality, semantic reality and artificial intelligence and one begins to realize the mind-boggling potential of computational imagery.
Things will go even further with the development of curved sensors that will allow completely different ways to interpret light, but that for the moment remains an idea rather than a reality. Everything else is already happening and will become increasingly evident as new technologies roll out, ushering us into a very different visual culture with expectations far beyond simple documentation.
Computational photography draws on all these resources and allows the visual image to create a picture of reality that is infinitely richer than a simple visual record, and with this comes the opportunity to incorporate deeper levels of knowledge. It won’t be long before photographers are making images of what they know, rather than only what they see. Mark Levoy, formerly of Stanford and now of Google puts it this way, “Except in photojournalism, there will be no such thing as a ‘straight photograph’; everything will be an amalgam, an interpretation, an enhancement or a variation – either by the photographer as auteur or by the camera itself.”
As we tumble forwards into these unknown territories there’s a curious throwback to a moment in art history when 100 years ago the Cubists revolutionized ways of seeing using a very similar (albeit analog) approach to what they saw. Picasso, Braque and others deconstructed the world and reassembled it not in terms of what they saw, but rather in terms of what they knew using multiple perspectives to depict a deeper understanding.
While the photographic world wrestles with even such basic tools as Photoshop there is no doubt that we’re moving into a space more aligned with Cubism than Modernism. It will not be long before our audiences demand more sophisticated imagery that is dynamic and responsive to change, connected to reality by more than a static two-dimensional rectangle of crude visual data isolated in space and time. We’ll look back at the black-and-white photograph that was the voice of truth for nearly a century, as a simplistic and incomplete source of information about what was happening in the world.
Some will consider this a threat, seeing only the danger of distortion and undetectable fakery and it’s certainly true that we’ll need to develop new measures by which to read imagery. We’re already highly skilled in distinguishing probable and improbable information and we know how to read written journalism (which is driven entirely by the writer’s imaginative ability to interpret reality in symbolic form) and we don’t confuse advertising imagery with documentary, nor the photo illustration on a magazine’s cover with the reportage inside. Fraud will always be a risk but with over a century of experience we’ve learned that we can’t rely on the mechanical process to protect us. New conventions will emerge and all the artistry that’s been developed since the invention of photography will find richer and deeper opportunities to express information, ideas and emotions with no greater risk to truth than we currently experience. The enriched opportunities for storytelling will allow greater complexity that’s closer to reality than the thinned-down simplification of 20th Century journalism and will open unprecedented connection between the subject and the viewer.
The twist is that new forces will be driving the process. The clue is in what already occurred with the smartphone. The revolutionary change in photography’s cultural presence wasn’t led by photographers, nor publishers or camera manufacturers but by telephone engineers, and this process will repeat as business grasps the opportunities offered by new technology to use visual imagery in extraordinary new ways, throwing us into new and wild territory. It’s happening already and we’ll see the impact again and again as new apps, products and services hit the market.
We owe it to the medium that we’ve nurtured into adolescence to stand by it and support it in adulthood even though it might seem unrecognizable in its new form. We know the alternative: it will be out the door and hanging with the wrong crowd while we sit forlornly in the empty nest wondering what we did wrong. The first step is to stop talking about the child it once was and to put away the sentimental memories of photography as we knew it for all these years.
It’s very far from dead but it’s definitely left the building.
Tuesday, June 14. 2016
Note: the architecture (of atmospheres) could become atomized into fine particles that aggregate in different manners along time, following different "rules" (these "rules" being the ones to be designed by the architect).
While we digg into sensors than monitor elements of the atmosphere (physical and non physical elements), we're definitely looking for a kind of architecture that would "deal" with these elements/particles and recompose them.
Via Cabinet (Spring 2001)
By David Gissen
In the history of architecture and design there have only been a few "effects"—electric light, forced air—that have had the capacity to cause massive environmental and behavioral shifts. Last year at Barcelona's annual design fair, the Catalonian designer Marti Guixe presented another—breathable food. "Pharma-food, a system of nourishment by breathing," is an appliance that was developed by Guixe to explore the transformation of food into pure information.
Dust Food Muesli. Photos: Inga Knölke.
Pharma-food joins the work of other, primarily European, designers who are exploring alternative regimens for such activities as washing or eating. One of Guixe's Catalonian contemporaries, Ana Mir, is exploring a technology that allows one to wash without water. Like Guixe's approach, this project would allow washing to occur anywhere. In their work, these designers not only free regimens from their fixed location in relation to certain products; they also free these activities from their traditional engagement with the body. Unlike designers such as Philippe Starck or Richard Sapper, who strive to revise traditional technologies, Guixe has discovered that the problem of eating does not involve the design of a new type of stove, sink, or refrigerator—the problem of eating requires finding a new mouth.
Pharma-BAR. Photo: Inga Knölke.
Guixe, who has been studying alternative forms of eating for several years, realized that the breathing of "food" already occurs via the inhalation of dust that hangs in the air at work and at home. Guixe hypothesized that this form of eating, from which one gains a miniscule amount of minerals and vitamins, could be trans-formed into a more potent meal, a "dust-muesli," that would supply a powerful dose of nutrients. The Pharma-Food appliance, which sprays this ærosolized nutrition, connects to a computer and requires Microsoft Excel to enter exact values for such things as riboflavin, vitamin C, and protein. The combination of these nutrients are saved on the computer as documents with names such as "SPAMT," which has the nutrient "language" of tomatoes and bread, and "Costa Brova," a "seafood" dish that is heavy on the iodine and light on carbohydrates. Guixe imagines diners composing these "meals" and sending them as e-mail attachments to other owners of the Pharma-food emitter. "Like MP3," says Guixe.
David Gissen is associate curator for architecture and design at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. He is currently developing an exhibition on human conveyance (elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks) and one on flying buildings.
Friday, January 15. 2016
Note: it is not too late to wish everybody a happy '16, so, here I do! ... even so the year started in such a sad way with the disappearance of this shiny artist called David Bowie.
Maybe is it then already the right time to bring back our good old '16 resolutions, so to conjure these bad vibes? For my part, some of them were about reading... like always (or adding books on my already too big pile I can guess) and while I was wandering here and there on the Net late last December, I stumble upon this interesting initiative of curated lists of books related to design and art. Curators of books include readers such as Peter Eisenman, Tonny Dunne, Sou Fujimoto, Massimo Vignelli, John Maeda and many others (177 designers to date, 34 commentators, 73 guests, etc.).
Well... interesting line up I must say! Have a good '16 reading ...
" Designers & Books is an advocate for books as an important source of inspiration for creativity, innovation, and invention. The main way we do this is by publishing lists of books that esteemed members of the international design community identify as important, meaningful, and formative—books that have shaped their values, their worldview, and their ideas about design. This provides the direction for our focus on books about architecture, fashion, graphic design, interactive design, interior design, landscape architecture, product and industrial design, and urban design. "
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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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