Monday, June 13. 2016
Note: after a few weeks posting about the Universal Income, here comes the "Universal data accumulator for devices, sensors, programs, humans & more" by Wolfram (best known for Wolfram Alpha computational engine and the former Mathematica libraries, on which most of their other services seem to be built).
Funilly, we've picked a very similar name for a very similar data service we've set up for ourselves and our friends last year, during an exhibition at H3K: Datadroppers (!), with a different set of references in our mind (Drop City? --from which we borrowed the colors-- "Turn on, tune in, drop out"?) Even if our service is logically much more grassroots, less developed but therfore quite light to use as well.
We developed this project around data dropping/picking with another architectural project in mind that I'll speak about in the coming days: Public Platform of Future-Past. It was clearly and closely linked.
"Universal" is back in the loop as a keyword therefore... (I would rather adopt a different word for myself and the work we are doing though: "Diversal" --which is a word I'm using for 2 yearnow and naively thought I "invented", but not...)
"The Wolfram Data Drop is an open service that makes it easy to accumulate data of any kind, from anywhere—setting it up for immediate computation, visualization, analysis, querying, or other operations." - which looks more oriented towards data analysis than use in third party designs and projects.
"Datadroppers is a public and open data commune, it is a tool dedicated to data collection and sharing that tries to remain as simple, minimal and easy to use as possible." Direct and light data tool for designers, belonging to designers (fabric | ch) that use it for their own projects...
Wednesday, April 27. 2016
Note: we blogged last week about automation and funilly, the Jacquard process was mentioned as one of the early stage of automation and computing during an exhibition in Wien. The "Métiers Jacquard" were an inspiration to Ch. Babbage when he started to design his Difference Engine, one of the early mechanic autonomous and programmable computer (in the sense of a calculator). We should also not forget that in reality, "computers" were real persons doing calculations -- often women (in particular during last world wars), which then became the first operators of automatic computers (see the ENIAC girls) -- until back in the middle of 20th century.
So to say, digital computers have already replaced "person computers" and automated, as well as by far quickened their activities... The first purpose of the computer as we know it was automation. It is part of its DNA.
Now, as a wink to this history but also as a possible "return of the repressed", Google literally enters the textile business and brings computing (back) to fabrics! So it is not by chance that they've picked up this name obviously, "Jacquard".
More about it on MIT Technology Review.
Thursday, April 21. 2016
Note: the idea of automation is very present again recently. And it is more and more put together with the related idea of a society without work, or insufficient work for everyone --which is already the case in the liberal way of thinking btw--, as most of it would be taken by autonomous machines, AIs, etc.
Many people are warning about this (Bill Gates among them, talking precisely about "software substitution"), some think about a "universal income" as a possible response, some say we shouldn't accept this and use our consumer power to reject such products (we spoke passionatey about it with my good old friend Eric Sadin last week during a meal at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, while drinking --almost automatically as well-- some good wine), some say it is almost too late and we should plan and have visions for what is coming upon us...
Now comes also an exhibition about the same subject at Kunsthalle Wien that tries to articulate the questions: "Technical devices that were originally designed to serve and assist us and are now getting smarter and harder to control and comprehend. Does their growing autonomy mean that the machines will one day overpower us? Or will they remain our subservient little helpers, our gateway to greater knowledge and sovereignty?"
Installation view The Promise of Total Automation. Image Kunsthalle Wien
The word ‘automation’ is appearing in places that would have seemed unlikely to most people less than a decade ago: journalism, art, design or law. Robots and algorithms are being increasingly convincing at doing things just like humans. And sometimes even better than humans.
The Promise of Total Automation, an exhibition recently opened at Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, looks at our troubled relationship with machines. Technical devices that were originally designed to serve and assist us and are now getting smarter and harder to control and comprehend. Does their growing autonomy mean that the machines will one day overpower us? Or will they remain our subservient little helpers, our gateway to greater knowledge and sovereignty?
The Promise of Total Automation is an intelligent, inquisitive and engrossing exhibition. Its investigation into the tensions and dilemmas of human/machines relationship explore themes that go from artificial intelligence to industrial aesthetics, from bio-politics to theories of conspiracy, from e-waste to resistance to innovation, from archaeology of digital communication to utopias that won’t die.
The show is dense in information and invitations to ponder so don’t forget to pick up one of the free information booklet at the entrance of the show. You’re going to need it!
A not-so-quick walk around the show:
James Benning, Stemple Pass, 2012
James Benning‘s film Stemple Pass is made of four static shots, each from the same angle and each 30 minutes long, showing a cabin in the middle of a forest in spring, fall, winter and summer. The modest building is a replica of the hideout of anti-technology terrorist Ted Kaczynski. The soundtrack alternates between the ambient sound of the forest and Benning reading from the Unabomber’s journals, encrypted documents and manifesto.
Kaczynski’s texts hover between his love for nature and his intention to destroy and murder. Between his daily life in the woods and his fears that technology is going to turn into an instrument that enables the powerful elite to take control over society. What is shocking is not so much the violence of his words because you expect them. It’s when he gets it right that you get upset. When he expresses his distrust of the merciless rise of technology, his doubts regarding the promises of innovation and it somehow makes sense to you.
Konrad Klapheck, Der Chef, 1965. Photo: © Museum Kunstpalast – ARTOTHEK
Konrad Klapheck’s paintings ‘portray’ devices that were becoming mainstream in 1960s households: vacuum cleaner, typewriters, sewing machines, telephones, etc. In his works, the objects are abstracted from any context, glorified and personified. In the typewriter series, he even assigns roles to the objects. They are Herrscher (ruler), Diktator, Gesetzgeber (lawgiver) or Chef (boss.) These titles allude to the important role that the instruments have taken in administrative and economic systems.
Tyler Coburn, Sabots, 2016, courtesy of the artist, photo: David Avazzadeh
This unassuming small pair of 3D-printed clogs alludes to the workers struggles of the Industrial Revolution. The title of the piece, Sabots, means clogs in french. The word sabotage allegedly comes from it. The story says that when French farmers left the countryside to come and work in factories they kept on wearing their peasant clogs. These shoes were not suited for factory works and as a consequence, the word ‘saboter’ came to mean ‘to work clumsily or incompetently’ or ‘to make a mess of things.’ Another apocryphal story says that disgruntled workers blamed the clogs when they damaged or tampered machinery. Another version saw the workers throwing their clogs at the machine to destroy it.
In the early 20th century, labor unions such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) advocated withdrawal of efficiency as a means of self-defense against unfair working conditions. They called it sabotage.
Tyler Coburn contributed another work to the show. Waste Management looks like a pair of natural stones but the rocks are actually made out of electronic waste, more precisely the glass from old computer monitors and fiber powder from printed circuit boards that were mixed with epoxy and then molded in an electronic recycling factory in Taiwan. The country is not only a leader in the export of electronics, but also in the development of e-waste processing technologies that turn electronic trash into architectural bricks, gold potassium cyanide, precious metals—and even artworks such as these rocks. Coburn bought them there as a ready made. They evoke the Chinese scholar’s rocks. By the early Song dynasty (960–1279), the Chinese started collecting small ornamental rocks, especially the rocks that had been sculpted naturally by processes of erosion.
Accompanying these objects is a printed broadsheet which narrates the circulation and transformation of a CRT monitor into the stone artworks. The story follows from the “it-narrative” or novel of circulation, a sub-genre of 18th Century literature, in which currencies and commodities narrated their circulation within a then-emerging global economy.
Osborne & Felsenstein, Personal Computer Osborne 1a and Monitor NEC, 1981, Loan Vienna Technical Museum, photo: David Avazzadeh
Adam Osborne and Lee Felsenstein, Personal Computer Osborne 1a, 1981, Courtesy Technisches Museum, Wien
Several artifacts ground the exhibition into the technological and cultural history of automation: A mechanical Jacquard loom, often regarded as a key step in the history of computing hardware because of the way it used punched cards to control operations. A mysterious-looking arithmometer, the first digital mechanical calculator reliable enough to be used at the office to automate mathematical calculations. A Morse code telegraph, the first invention to effectively exploit electromagnetism for long-distance communication and thus a pioneer of digital communication. A cybernetic model from 1956 (see further below) and the first ‘portable’ computer.
Released in 1981 by Osborne Computer Corporation, the Osborne 1 was the first commercially successful portable microcomputer. It weighed 10.7 kg (23.5 lb), cost $1,795 USD, had a tiny screen (5-inch/13 cm) and no battery.
At the peak of demand, Osborne was shipping over 10,000 units a month. However, Osborne Computer Corporation shot itself in the foot when they prematurely announced the release of their next generation models. The news put a stop to the sales of the current unit, contributing to throwing the company into bankruptcy. This has comes to be known as the Osborne effect.
Kybernetisches Modell Eier: Die Maus im Labyrinth (Cybernetics Model Eier: The Mouse in the Maze), 1956. Image Kunsthalle Wien
Around 1960, scientists started to build cybernetic machines in order to study artificial intelligence. One of these machines was a maze-solving mouse built by Claude E. Shannon to study the labyrinthian path that a call made using telephone switching systems should take to reach its destination. The device contained a maze that could be arranged to create various paths. The system followed the idea of Ariadne’s thread, the mouse marking each field with the path information, like the Greek mythological figure did when she helped Theseus find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. Richard Eier later re-built the maze-solving mouse and improved Shannon’s method by replacing the thread with two two-bits memory units.
Régis Mayot, JEANNE & CIE, 2015. Image Kunsthalle Wien
In 2011, the CIAV (the international center for studio glass in Meisenthal, France) invited Régis Mayot to work in their studios. The designer decided to explore the moulds themselves, rather than the objects that were produced using them. By a process of sand moulding, the designer revealed the mechanical beauty of some of these historical tools, producing prints of a selection of moulds that were then blown by craftsmen in glass.
Jeanne et Cie (named after one of the moulds chosen by the designer) highlights how the aesthetics of objects are the result of the industrial instruments and processes that enter into their manufacturing.
Bureau d’études, ME, 2013, © Léonore Bonaccini and Xavier Fourt
Bureau d’Etudes, Electromagnetic Propaganda, 2010
The exhibition also presented a selection of Bureau d´Études‘ intricate and compelling cartographies that visualize covert connections between actors and interests in contemporary political, social and economic systems. Because knowledge is power, the maps are meant as instruments that can be used as part of social movements. The ones displayed at Kunsthalle Wien included the maps of Electro-Magnetic Propaganda, Government of the Agro-Industrial System and the 8th Sphere.
I fell in love with Mark Leckey‘s video. So much that i’ll have to dedicate another post to his work. One day.
David Jourdan’s poster alludes to an ad in which newspaper Der Standard announced that its digital format was ‘almost as good as paper.’
More images from the exhibition:
Magali Reus, Leaves, 2015
Thomas Bayrle, Kleiner koreanischer Wiper
Juan Downey, Nostalgic Item, 1967, Estate of Joan Downey courtesy of Marilys B. Downey, photo: David Avazzadeh
Judith Fegerl, still, 2013, © Judith Fegerl, Courtesy Galerie Hubert Winter, Wien
Installation view The Promise of Total Automation. Image Kunsthalle Wien
Installation view. Image Kunsthalle Wien
Installation view. Image Kunsthalle Wien
More images on my flickr album.
Also in the exhibition: Prototype II (after US patent no 6545444 B2) or the quest for free energy.
The Promise of Total Automation was curated by Anne Faucheret. The exhibition is open until 29 May at Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna. Don’t miss it if you’re in the area.
Wednesday, February 24. 2016
Note: j'aurai le plaisir d'être en entretien --en français-- ce vendredi 26.02 à 20h avec le journaliste Frédéric Pfyffer, de la Radio Télévision Suisse Romande, dans le cadre du programme Histoire Vivante qui traite cette semaine du sujet des "Big Data".
Cet entretien, qui a été enregistré en fin de semaine passée, nous verra évoquer la façon dont les artistes ou designers abordent aujourd'hui --mais aussi un peu hier-- cette question des données. En contrepoint ou complément peut-être des approches scientifiques. Pour ma part, aussi bien dans le contexte de ma pratique indépendante (fabric | ch où de nombreux projets réalisés ou en développement s'appuient sur des données) qu'académique (projet de recherche interdisciplinaire en cours autour des "nuages"... entre autres).
À noter encore qu'au terme de la semaine d'émissions thématiques sera diffusé sur la TSR (dimanche 28.02) le documentaire Citizenfour, qui relate toute l'aventure d'Edward Snowden et du journaliste Glenn Greenwald.
Ces cinq émissions seront également disponibles en mode podcast à la même adresse, suite à la diffusion de cette semaine.
Une semaine d’Histoire Vivante consacrée à l’histoire de la recherche scientifique à la lumière de l’émergence de l’internet et des big data.
Dimanche 28 février 2016, vous pouvez découvrir sur RTS Deux: CitizenFour, un documentaire de Laura Poitras (Allemagne-USA/2014):
"Citizenfour est le pseudonyme utilisé par Edward Snowden pour contacter la réalisatrice de ce documentaire lorsqu'il décide de révéler les méthodes de surveillance de la NSA. Accompagnée d'un journaliste d'investigation, elle le rejoint dans une chambre d'hôtel à Hong Kong. La suite est un huis-clos digne des meilleurs thrillers."
Thursday, January 28. 2016
Note: I'll move this afternoon to Grandhotel Giessbach (sounds like a Wes Anderson movie) to present later tonight the temporary results of the research I'm jointly leading with Nicolas Nova for ECAL & HEAD - Genève, in partnership with EPFL-ECAL Lab & EPFL: Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s). Looking forward to meet the Swiss design research community (mainly) at the hotel...
Christophe Guignard and myself will have the pleasure to present the temporary results of the design research Inhabiting & Interfacing the Cloud(s) next Thursday (28.01.2016) at the Swiss Design Network conference.
The conference will happen at Grandhotel Giessbach over the lake Brienz, where we'll focus on the research process fully articulated around the practice of design (with the participation of students in the case of I&IC) and the process of project.
This will apparently happen between "dinner" and "bar", as we'll present a "Fireside Talk" at 9pm. Can't wait to do and see that...
The full program and proceedings (pdf) of the conference can be accessed HERE.
As for previous events, we'll try to make a short "follow up" on this documentary blog after the event.
Tuesday, December 08. 2015
Note: We've been pointing out several exhibitions on fabric | rblg recently. Here comes a new one, early next year in London (Whitechapel Gallery), that will undoubtedly become one not to be missed, at least for the media/electronic art community interested in its own art history, but certainly for the art community in general (at a time when the intertwinings between arts and sciences become hot again and as there have note been many such initiatives -- not one that broad in fact, to my knowledge). We will have the pleasure to see again works from E.A.T. exhibited (after the exhibition in Salzburg early this year), so as by N.J. Paik that become a bit hard to see recently (is this due to lawsuits between its inheritor and apparently not too sympathetic gallerist?)
Interestingly, as many of these artists are part of a theory/history course I give to ECAL students, it will become very interesting teaching material for me as well! Great that this will exist, so as the catalogue that I''ll be very curious to read.
Looking forward to meet friends and ghosts in London early next year then!
29 January – 15 May 2016
Media view: Thursday 28 January, 10:00-12:00
Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) - E.A.T. News. Volume 1 (B. Klüver, R. Rauschenberg).
In January 2016 the Whitechapel Gallery presents Electronic Superhighway, a landmark exhibition that brings together over 100 artworks to show the impact of computer and Internet technologies on artists from the mid-1960s to the present day.
New and rarely seen multimedia works, together with film, painting, sculpture, photography and drawing by over 70 artists feature, including works by Cory Arcangel, Roy Ascott, Jeremy Bailey, Judith Barry, James Bridle, Douglas Coupland, Constant Dullaart, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Vera Molnar, Albert Oehlen, Trevor Paglen, Nam June Paik, Jon Rafman, Hito Steyerl, Ryan Trecartin, Amalia Ulman and Ulla Wiggen.
The exhibition title Electronic Superhighway is taken from a term coined in 1974 by South Korean video art pioneer Nam June Paik, who foresaw the potential of global connections through technology. Arranged in reverse chronological order, Electronic Superhighway begins with works made between 2000 – 2016, and ends with Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T), an iconic, artistic moment that took place in 1966. Spanning 50 years, from 2016 to 1966, key moments in the history of art and the Internet emerge as the exhibition travels back in time.
As the exhibition illustrates, the Internet has provided material for different generations of artists. Oliver Laric’s painting series Versions (Missile Variations) (2010) reflects on issues surrounding digital image manipulation, production, authenticity and circulation. Further highlights include a series of photographs from conceptual artist Amalia Ulman’s four-month Instagram project Excellences & Perfections (2014-2015), which examines the influence of social media on attitudes towards the female body. Miniature paintings by Celia Hempton painted live in chatrooms go on display alongside a large scale digital painting by Albert Oehlen and manipulated camera-less photography by Thomas Ruff.
The dot-com boom, from the late 1990s to early millennium, is examined through work from international artists and collectives such as The Yes Men who combined art and online activism in response to the rapid commercialisation of the web.
Works by Nam June Paik in the exhibition include Internet Dreams (1994), a video-wall of 52 monitors displaying electronically-processed abstract images, and Good Morning, Mr. Orwell (1984). On New Year’s Day 1984 Paik broadcast live and pre-recorded material from artists including John Cage and The Thompson Twins from a series of satellite-linked television studios in New York, West Germany, South Korea and Paris’ Pompidou Centre to an estimated audience of 25 million viewers worldwide. Paik saw the event as a counter response to George Orwell’s’s dystopian vision of 1984.
The birth of the World Wide Web in 1989 provided a breeding ground for early user-based net art, with innovators such as Moscow-born Olia Lialina adopting the Internet as a medium, following earlier practices in performance and video. In My Boyfriend Came Back from the War (1996) the artist presents a love story enacted via an interactive black and white browser screen.
The emergence of net art is explored through a curated selection of interactive browser-based works from the Rhizome archive, a leading digital arts organisation founded online in 1996 by artist Mark Tribe, and affiliated with the New Museum in New York since 2003. In 1999, Rhizome created a collection of born-digital artworks which has grown to include over 2000 and in recent years, it has developed a preservation programme around this archive.
One of the first ever major interactive art installations, Lorna (1979-1982) by Lynn Hershman Leeson presents a fictional female character who stays indoors all day watching TV and anticipated virtual avatars. Also on show is Judith Barry’s video installation Speed flesh (1998), which lures viewers into an interactive computer-generated world.
A proliferation of experiments from the 1960s – 70s pushed the boundaries of technology. Artists such as Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Frieder Nake and Stan VanDerBeek adopted computer programmes to create abstract and geometrical works while Roy Ascott, Allan Kaprow, Gary Hill and Nam June Paik used various new media to connect across multiple sites globally.
The exhibition concludes with artefacts from the formation of Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) in New York in 1966 which saw performances over nine evenings from artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage and Yvonne Rainer working together with engineers from American engineering company Bell Laboratories in one of the first major collaborations between the industrial technology sector and the arts.
To coincide with Electronic Superhighway a series of related special projects/displays, commissions and special events include:
Harun Farocki – Parallel I–IV (2012–4)
Luke Fowler and Mark Fell: Computers and Cooperative Music-Making
Artists’ Film International: Rachel Maclean
For more information on events and displays visit whitechapelgallery.org
Notes for Editors
For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses, dining room and bookshop, the Gallery is open all year round, so there is always something free to see. It is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.
The exhibition is curated by Omar Kholeif, Curator, Whitechapel Gallery with Séamus McCormack, Assistant Curator, Whitechapel Gallery.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue edited by Omar Kholeif which includes contributions by Iwona Blazwick, Omar Kholeif, Ed Halter, Erika Balsom, Sarah Perks, Judith Barry, Nam June Paik, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Séamus McCormack, Jonas Lund and Ulla Wiggen. Price £29.99.
The exhibition’s development has been supported by a curatorial advisory committee which includes, Erika Balsom, Lecturer, Film and Liberal Arts, King’s College London; Heather Corcoran, Former Executive Director, Rhizome; Ed Halter, Co-Director Light Industry, Assistant Professor, Bard College; and Sarah Perks, Artistic Director, Cornerhouse and HOME, and Professor at Manchester School of Art.
The full list of artists included in Electronic Superhighway are: Jacob Appelbaum; Cory Arcangel; Roy Ascott; Jeremy Bailey; Judith Barry; Wafaa Bilal; Zach Blas; Olaf Breuning; James Bridle; Heath Bunting;Bureau of Inverse ;Technology (B.I.T.);Antoine Catala; Aristarkh Chernyshev; Petra Cortright; Vuk Ćosić; Douglas Coupland; CTG (Computer Technique Group); Cybernetic Serendipity ;Aleksandra Domanović; Constant Dullaart; Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.); Harun Farocki; Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige; Celia Hempton; Camille Henrot; Gary Hill; Ann Hirsch; Nancy Holt and Richard Serra ; JODI; Eduardo Kac; Allan Kaprow; Hiroshi Kawano; Mahmoud Khaled; Oliver Laric; Jan Robert Leegte; Lynn Hershman Leeson; Olia Lialina; Tony Longson; Rafael Lozano-Hemmer; Jonas Lund; Jill Magid; Eva and Franco Mattes; Model Court; Vera Molnar ; Mouchette (Martine Neddam); Manfred Mohr; Jayson Musson; Frieder Nake; Joshua Nathanson; Katja Novitskova; Mendi + Keith Obadike; Albert Oehlen; Trevor Paglen; Nam June Paik; Jon Rafman; Evan Roth; Thomas Ruff; Alex Ruthner; Jacolby Satterwhite; Lillian F. Schwartz; Peter Sedgley; Taryn Simon; Frances Stark; Hito Steyerl; Sturtevant; Martine Syms; Thomson and Craighead; Ryan Trecartin; Amalia Ulman; Stan VanDerBeek; Steina and Woody Vasulka; Addie Wagenknecht; Lawrence Weiner; Ulla Wiggen; The Yes Men; YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES
Admission £13.50 (including Gift Aid donation) £11.95 (without Gift Aid). Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Nearest London Underground Station: Aldgate East, Liverpool Street, Tower Gateway DLR. T + 44 (0) 20 7522 7888, firstname.lastname@example.org, whitechapelgallery.org
Wednesday, October 21. 2015
Note: suddenly speaking about web design, wouldn' it be the time to start again doing some interaction design on the web? Aren't we in need of some "net art" approach, some weirder propositions than the too slick "responsive design" of a previsible "user-centered" or even "experience" design dogma? These kind of complex web/interaction experiences almost all vanished (remember Jodi?) To the point that there is now a vast experimental void for designers to tap again into!
Well, after the site that can only be browsed by one person at a time (with a poor visual design indeed), here comes the one that self destruct itself. Could be a start... Btw, thinking about files, sites or contents, etc. that would self destruct themsleves would probably help save lots of energy in data storage, hard drives and datacenters of all sorts, where these data sits like zombies.
By Isis Madrid
Former head of product at Flickr and Bitly, Matt Rothenberg recently caused an internet hubbub with his Unindexed project. The communal website continuously searched for itself on Google for 22 days, at which point, upon finding itself, spontaneously combusted.
In addition to chasing its own tail on Google, Unindexed provided a platform for visitors to leave comments and encourage one another to spread the word about the website. According to Rothenberg, knowledge of the website was primarily passed on in the physical world via word of mouth.
“Part of the goal with the project was to create a sense of unease with the participants—if they liked it, they could and should share it with others, so that the conversation on the site could grow,” Rothenberg told Motherboard. “But by doing so they were potentially contributing to its demise via indexing, as the more the URL was out there, the faster Google would find it.”
When the website finally found itself on Google, the platform disappeared and this message replaced it:
If you are interested in creating a similar self-destructing site, feel free to start with Rothenberg’s open source code.
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 .
Monday, July 20. 2015
Note: an interesting handmade book initiative by Garnet hertz around the makers movement, from their critical point of view. Not critical thinking or design therefore, but critical make. I would even prefer to say "make thinking"!
Via Critical Making
"Critical Making is a handmade book project by Garnet Hertz that explores how hands-on productive work ‐ making ‐ can supplement and extend critical reflection on technology and society. It works to blend and extend the fields of design, contemporary art, DIY/craft and technological development. It also can be thought of as an appeal to the electronic DIY maker movement to be critically engaged with culture, history and society: after learning to use a 3D printer, making an LED blink or using an Arduino, then what?"
The entire collection can be downloaded on the website.
Friday, June 26. 2015
I&IC within Poetics and Politics of Data, exhibition at H3K, scenography. Pictures | #data #research
By fabric | ch
Note: last end of May was the opening of the exhibition Poetics & Politics of Data at the Haus der elektronischen Künste in Basel. This was the occasion to present the temporary results of the design research I'm leading at ECAL/University of Art & Design Lausanne, in collaboration with Nicolas Nova from HEAD - Genève, EPFL and EPFL-ECAL Lab. But for that matter, fabric | ch realized the scenography of the whole exhibition, in particular the "hidden" part hosting the presentation of the design research itself.
The whole spatial display we designed looks like some sort of "heterotopy": an archive and (computer) cabinet of curiosities within the white cube. A little bit like the "behind the scenes" of the exhibition, occupying its center, yet articulating it. It is basically made out of the modular elements that constitutes the "white cube" itself. Just that we maintained the hidden parts of these walls open and visible, widen and turn them in a pathway and an archive.
Also present in the space and scenography are different works from fabric | ch: Deterritorialized Daylight is used to drive the lighting of the inner part of the cabinet, a new work Datadroppers --an online data commune, reminiscence of the now dead Pachube-- is used to collect and re-use random data from the exhibition, several Raspberry Pis in their dedicated 3d printed casing are collecting these data (which includes, in addition to the traditional ones more surpising ones like "curiosity", "transgression", etc.) and "dropping" them on the online service. They are then searchable and be used in third parties applications.
The exhibition will still be on view until the end of August in Basel, with works by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Moniker, Aram Bartholl, Jennifer Lyn Morone, Rybn and several others.
Pictures by David Colombini and Marco Frauchiger
Intro text to the exhibition and credits:
Inhabiting & Interfacing the Cloud(s) is an ongoing design research about Cloud Computing. It explores the creation of counter-proposals to the current expression of this technological arrangement, particularly in its forms intended for private individuals and end users (Personal Cloud). Through its fully documented cross-disciplinary approach that connects the works of interaction designers, architects and ethnographers, this research project aims at producing alternative yet concrete models resulting from a more decentralized and citizen-oriented approach.
Project leaders: Patrick Keller (ECAL), Nicolas Nova (HEAD)
Students (ECAL): Anne-Sophie Bazard, Benjamin Botros, Caroline Buttet, Guillaume Cerdeira, Romain Cazier, Maxime Castelli, Mylène Dreyer, Bastien Girshig, Martin Hertig, Jonas Lacôte, Alexia Léchot, Nicolas Nahornyj, Pierre-Xavier Puissant
Scenography: fabric | ch
ECAL director: Alexis Georgacopoulos
ECAL/University of Art & Design Lausanne, HEAD – Genève, EPFL-ECAL Lab, HES-SO
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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