Friday, October 07. 2016
I&IC workshop #5 at ECAL: (esoteric) comments about the cloud (about the brief) | #cloud #technology #beliefs
Note: I mentioned last Tuesday an article I wrote last November (2015) on the blog of a research project (Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s)) that develop around the thematic of the "sublime" and its relation to contemporary technology.
In particular, in the frame of this research project, as a source of critical inspiration for a workshop we were preparing to lead with students at that time (critical because "magic" in the context of technology means what it means: tricked and not understanding, therefore believing or "stupefied").
For the matter of documentation, I reblog this post as well on | rblg as it brings different ideas about the "sublime" related to data or data centers, creation and contemporary technology in general.
It may be a bit hard to follow without the initial context (a brief by the invited guests, Random International and the general objectives of the project), but this context can be accessed from within the post -below-, for the ones interested to digg deeper.
As a matter of fact, this whole topic make me also think of the film The Prestige by Christopher Nolan. In which the figure of Nikola Tesla (played by "The Man Who Fell to Earth himself, a.k.a. David Bowie) is depicted as a character very close to a magician, his inventions with electricity being understood at the margin between sciences and magic.
Following the publication of Dev Joshi‘s brief on I&IC documentary blog yesterday (note: 10.11.2015), I took today the opportunity to briefly introduce it to the interaction design students that will be involved in the workshop next week. Especially, I focused on some points of the brief that were important but possibly quite new concepts for them. I also extended some implicit ideas with images that could obviously bring ideas about devices to build to access some past data, or “shadows” as Dev’s names them.
What comes out in a very interesting way for our research in Dev’s brief is the idea that the data footprints each of us leaves online on a daily basis (while using all type of digital services) could be considered as past entities of ourselves, or trapped, forgotten, hidden, … (online) fragments of our personalities… waiting to be contacted again.
Yet, interestingly, if the term “digital footprint” is generally used in English to depict this situation (the data traces each of us leaves behind), we rather use in French the term “ombre numérique” (literally “digital shadow”). That’s why we’ve decided with Dev that it was preferable to use this term as the title for the workshop (The Everlasting Shadows): it is somehow a more vivid expression that could bring quite direct ideas when it comes to think about designing “devices” to “contact” these “digital entities” or make them visible again in some ways.
Philippe Ramette, “L’ombre de celui que j’étais / Shadow of my former self “, 2007. Light installation, mixed media.
By extension, we could also start to speak about “digital ghosts” as this expression is also commonly used (not to mention the “corps sans organes” of G. Deleuze/F. Gattari and previously A. Artaud). Many “ghosts”/facets of ourselves? All trapped online in the form of zombie data?
… or a haunted house?
And this again is a revealing parallel, because it opens the whole conceptual idea to beliefs… (about ghosts? about personal traces and shadows? about clouds? and finally, about technology? …)
What about then to work with inspirations that would come from the spiritualism domain, its rich iconography and produce “devices” to communicate with your dead past data entities?
Fritz Lang. “Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler”, movie, 1922.
Or even start to think about some kind of “wearables”, and then become a new type of fraud technological data psychic?
Fraud medium Colin Evans in levitation, 13 June 1938 (source Wikipedia).
We could even digg deeper into these “beliefs” and start looking at old illustrations and engravings that depicts relations to “things that we don’t understand”, that are “beyond our understanding”… and that possibly show “tools” or strange machinery to observe or communicate with these “unknown things” (while trying to understand them)?
Spiritualism in 1855, author unknown.
J.G. Heck. A plate from “The Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art” published in 1851. Astronomy tools.
This last illustration could also drive us, by extension and a very straight shortcut , to the idea of the Sublime (in art, but also in philosophy), especially the romantic works of the painters from that period (late 18th and early 19th centuries, among them W. Turner, C. S. Friedrich, E. Delacroix, T. Cole, etc.)
Submerged by the presentiment of a nature that was in all dimensions dominating humans, that remained at that time mostly unexplained and mysterious, if not dangerous and feared, some painters took on this feeling, named “sublime” after Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry (1757), and start painting dramatic scenes of humans facing the forces of nature.
Thomas Cole, “The Voyage of Life: Old Age”, 1842. National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
It is not by chance of course that I’ll end my “esoteric comments about the brief” post with this idea of the Sublime. This is because recently, the concept found a new life in regard to technology and its central yet “unexplained, mysterious, if not dangerous and feared” role in our contemporary society. The term got completed at this occasion to become the “Technological Sublime”, thus implicitly comparing the once dominant and “beyond our understanding” Nature to our contemporary technology.
“American Technological Sublime” by D. E. Nye, published in 1994 (MIT Press) was certainly one of the first book to join the two terms. It continues the exploration of the social construction of technology initiated in his previous book, “Electrifying America” (MIT Press, 1990). More recently in 2011, the idea popup again on the blog of Next Nature in an article simply entitled The Technological Sublime.
So, to complete my post with a last question, is the Cloud, that everybody uses but nobody seems to understand, a technologically sublime artifact? Wouldn’ it be ironic that an infrastructure, which aim is to be absolutely rational and functional, ultimately contributes to creates a completely opposite feeling?
Quotes are from Dev Joshi’s brief, “The Everlasting Shadow“.
Posted by Patrick Keller in fabric | ch, Culture & society, Interaction design, Science & technology at 08:10
Defined tags for this entry: artificial reality, conditioning, culture & society, data, fabric | ch, immaterial, interaction design, networks, presence, science & technology, scientists, speculation
Tuesday, August 02. 2016
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
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.
Monday, April 04. 2016
On Algorithmic Communism - Ian Lowrie on Inventing the Future : Postcapitalism and a World Without Work | #algorithms #future #postcapitalism
Note: in a time when we'll soon have for the first time a national vote in Switzeralnd about the Revenu de Base Inconditionnel ("Universal Basic Income") --next June, with a low chance of success this time, let's face it--, when people start to speak about the fact that they should get incomes to fuel global corporations with digital data and content of all sorts, when some new technologies could modify the current digital deal, this is a manifesto that is certainly more than interesting to consider. So as its criticism in this paper, as it appears truly complementary.
More generally, thinking the Future in different terms than liberalism is an absolute necessity. Especially in a context where, also as stated, "Automation and unemployment are the future, regardless of any human intervention".
By Ian Lowrie
January 8th, 2016
IN THE NEXT FEW DECADES, your job is likely to be automated out of existence. If things keep going at this pace, it will be great news for capitalism. You’ll join the floating global surplus population, used as a threat and cudgel against those “lucky” enough to still be working in one of the few increasingly low-paying roles requiring human input. Existing racial and geographical disparities in standards of living will intensify as high-skill, high-wage, low-control jobs become more rarified and centralized, while the global financial class shrinks and consolidates its power. National borders will continue to be used to control the flow of populations and place migrant workers outside of the law. The environment will continue to be the object of vicious extraction and the dumping ground for the negative externalities of capitalist modes of production.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. While neoliberal capitalism has been remarkably successful at laying claim to the future, it used to belong to the left — to the party of utopia. Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’s Inventing the Future argues that the contemporary left must revive its historically central mission of imaginative engagement with futurity. It must refuse the all-too-easy trap of dismissing visions of technological and social progress as neoliberal fantasies. It must seize the contemporary moment of increasing technological sophistication to demand a post-scarcity future where people are no longer obliged to be workers; where production and distribution are democratically delegated to a largely automated infrastructure; where people are free to fish in the afternoon and criticize after dinner. It must combine a utopian imagination with the patient organizational work necessary to wrest the future from the clutches of hegemonic neoliberalism.
Strategies and Tactics
In making such claims, Srnicek and Williams are definitely preaching to the leftist choir, rather than trying to convert the masses. However, this choir is not just the audience for, but also the object of, their most vituperative criticism. Indeed, they spend a great deal of the book arguing that the contemporary left has abandoned strategy, universalism, abstraction, and the hard work of building workable, global alternatives to capitalism. Somewhat condescendingly, they group together the highly variegated field of contemporary leftist tactics and organizational forms under the rubric of “folk politics,” which they argue characterizes a commitment to local, horizontal, and immediate actions. The essentially affective, gestural, and experimental politics of movements such as Occupy, for them, are a retreat from the tradition of serious militant politics, to something like “politics-as-drug-experience.”
Whatever their problems with the psychodynamics of such actions, Srnicek and Williams argue convincingly that localism and small-scale, prefigurative politics are simply inadequate to challenging the ideological dominance of neoliberalism — they are out of step with the actualities of the global capitalist system. While they admire the contemporary left’s commitment to self-interrogation, and its micropolitical dedication to the “complete removal of all forms of oppression,” Srnicek and Williams are ultimately neo-Marxists, committed to the view that “[t]he reality of complex, globalised capitalism is that small interventions consisting of relatively non-scalable actions are highly unlikely to ever be able to reorganise our socioeconomic system.” The antidote to this slow localism, however, is decidedly not fast revolution.
Instead, Inventing the Future insists that the left must learn from the strategies that ushered in the currently ascendant neoliberal hegemony. Inventing the Future doesn’t spend a great deal of time luxuriating in pathos, preferring to learn from their enemies’ successes rather than lament their excesses. Indeed, the most empirically interesting chunk of their book is its careful chronicle of the gradual, stepwise movement of neoliberalism from the “fringe theory” of a small group of radicals to the dominant ideological consensus of contemporary capitalism. They trace the roots of the “neoliberal thought collective” to a diverse range of trends in pre–World War II economic thought, which came together in the establishment of a broad publishing and advocacy network in the 1950s, with the explicit strategic aim of winning the hearts and minds of economists, politicians, and journalists. Ultimately, this strategy paid off in the bloodless neoliberal revolutions during the international crises of Keynesianism that emerged in the 1980s.
What made these putsches successful was not just the neoliberal thought collective’s ability to represent political centrism, rational universalism, and scientific abstraction, but also its commitment to organizational hierarchy, internal secrecy, strategic planning, and the establishment of an infrastructure for ideological diffusion. Indeed, the former is in large part an effect of the latter: by the 1980s, neoliberals had already spent decades engaged in the “long-term redefinition of the possible,” ensuring that the institutional and ideological architecture of neoliberalism was already well in place when the economic crises opened the space for swift, expedient action.
Srnicek and Williams argue that the left must abandon its naïve-Marxist hopes that, somehow, crisis itself will provide the space for direct action to seize the hegemonic position. Instead, it must learn to play the long game as well. It must concentrate on building institutional frameworks and strategic vision, cultivating its own populist universalism to oppose the elite universalism of neoliberal capital. It must also abandon, in so doing, its fear of organizational closure, hierarchy, and rationality, learning instead to embrace them as critical tactical components of universal politics.
There’s nothing particularly new about Srnicek and Williams’s analysis here, however new the problems they identify with the collapse of the left into particularism and localism may be. For the most part, in their vituperations, they are acting as rather straightforward, if somewhat vernacular, followers of the Italian politician and Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci. As was Gramsci’s, their political vision is one of slow, organizationally sophisticated, passive revolution against the ideological, political, and economic hegemony of capitalism. The gradual war against neoliberalism they envision involves critique and direct action, but will ultimately be won by the establishment of a post-work counterhegemony.
In putting forward their vision of this organization, they strive to articulate demands that would allow for the integration of a wide range of leftist orientations under one populist framework. Most explicitly, they call for the automation of production and the provision of a basic universal income that would provide each person the opportunity to decide how they want to spend their free time: in short, they are calling for the end of work, and for the ideological architecture that supports it. This demand is both utopian and practical; they more or less convincingly argue that a populist, anti-work, pro-automation platform might allow feminist, antiracist, anticapitalist, environmental, anarchist, and postcolonial struggles to become organized together and reinforce one another. Their demands are universal, but designed to reflect a rational universalism that “integrates difference rather than erasing it.” The universal struggle for the future is a struggle for and around “an empty placeholder that is impossible to fill definitively” or finally: the beginning, not the end, of a conversation.
In demanding full automation of production and a universal basic income, Srnicek and Williams are not being millenarian, not calling for a complete rupture with the present, for a complete dismantling and reconfiguration of contemporary political economy. On the contrary, they argue that “it is imperative […] that [the left’s] vision of a new future be grounded upon actually existing tendencies.” Automation and unemployment are the future, regardless of any human intervention; the momentum may be too great to stop the train, but they argue that we can change tracks, can change the meaning of a future without work. In demanding something like fully automated luxury communism, Srnicek and Williams are ultimately asserting the rights of humanity as a whole to share in the spoils of capitalism.
Inventing the Future emerged to a relatively high level of fanfare from leftist social media. Given the publicity, it is unsurprising that other more “engagé” readers have already advanced trenchant and substantive critiques of the future imagined by Srnicek and Williams. More than a few of these critics have pointed out that, despite their repeated insistence that their post-work future is an ecologically sound one, Srnicek and Williams evince roughly zero self-reflection with respect either to the imbrication of microelectronics with brutally extractive regimes of production, or to their own decidedly antiquated, doctrinaire Marxist understanding of humanity’s relationship towards the nonhuman world. Similarly, the question of what the future might mean in the Anthropocene goes largely unexamined.
More damningly, however, others have pointed out that despite the acknowledged counterintuitiveness of their insistence that we must reclaim European universalism against the proliferation of leftist particularisms, their discussions of postcolonial struggle and critique are incredibly shallow. They are keen to insist that their universalism will embrace rather than flatten difference, that it will be somehow less brutal and oppressive than other forms of European univeralism, but do little of the hard argumentative work necessary to support these claims. While we see the start of an answer in their assertion that the rejection of universal access to discourses of science, progress, and rationality might actually function to cement certain subject-positions’ particularity, this — unfortunately — remains only an assertion. At best, they are being uncharitable to potential allies in refusing to take their arguments seriously; at worst, they are unreflexively replicating the form if not the content of patriarchal, racist, and neocolonial capitalist rationality.
For my part, while I find their aggressive and unapologetic presentation of their universalism somewhat off-putting, their project is somewhat harder to criticize than their book — especially as someone acutely aware of the need for more serious forms of organized thinking about the future if we’re trying to push beyond the horizons offered by the neoliberal consensus.
However, as an anthropologist of the computer and data sciences, it’s hard for me to ignore a curious and rather serious lacuna in their thinking about automaticity, algorithms, and computation. Beyond the automation of work itself, they are keen to argue that with contemporary advances in machine intelligence, the time has come to revisit the planned economy. However, in so doing, they curiously seem to ignore how this form of planning threatens to hive off economic activity from political intervention. Instead of fearing a repeat of the privations that poor planning produced in earlier decades, the left should be more concerned with the forms of control and dispossession successful planning produced. The past decade has seen a wealth of social-theoretical research into contemporary forms of algorithmic rationality and control, which has rather convincingly demonstrated the inescapable partiality of such systems and their tendency to be employed as decidedly undemocratic forms of technocratic management.
Srnicek and Williams, however, seem more or less unaware of, or perhaps uninterested in, such research. At the very least, they are extremely overoptimistic about the democratization and diffusion of expertise that would be required for informed mass control over an economy planned by machine intelligence. I agree with their assertion that “any future left must be as technically fluent as it is politically fluent.” However, their definition of technical fluency is exceptionally narrow, confined to an understanding of the affordances and internal dynamics of technical systems rather than a comprehensive analysis of their ramifications within other social structures and processes. I do not mean to suggest that the democratic application of machine learning and complex systems management is somehow a priori impossible, but rather that Srnicek and Williams do not even seem to see how such systems might pose a challenge to human control over the means of production.
In a very real sense, though, my criticisms should be viewed as a part of the very project proposed in the book. Inventing the Future is unapologetically a manifesto, and a much-overdue clarion call to a seriously disorganized metropolitan left to get its shit together, to start thinking — and arguing — seriously about what is to be done. Manifestos, like demands, need to be pointed enough to inspire, while being vague enough to promote dialogue, argument, dissent, and ultimately action. It’s a hard tightrope to walk, and Srnicek and Williams are not always successful. However, Inventing the Future points towards an altogether more coherent and mature project than does their #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO. It is hard to deny the persuasiveness with which the book puts forward the positive contents of a new and vigorous populism; in demanding full automation and universal basic income from the world system, they also demand the return of utopian thinking and serious organization from the left.
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.
Wednesday, August 26. 2015
Hippie Modernism exhibition at the Walker Art Center to celebrate design's trippy side | #radical #experiments #counterculture
Note: In parallel with the exhibition about the work of E.A.T at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, another exhibition: Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia that will certainly be worth a detour at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis later this autumn.
The architecture and design of the counterculture era has been overlooked, according to the curator of an upcoming exhibition dedicated to "Hippie Modernism".
Yellow submarine by Corita Kent, 1967. Photograph by Joshua White
The radical output of the 1960s and 1970s has had a profound influence on contemporary life but has been "largely ignored in official histories of art, architecture and design," said Andrew Blauvelt, curator of the exhibition that opens at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis this autumn.
"It's difficult to identify another period of history that has exerted more influence on contemporary culture and politics," he said.
Superchair by Ken Isaacs, 1967
Women in Design: The Next Decade by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, 1975. Courtesy of Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
While not representative of a formal movement, the works in Hippie Modernism challenged the establishment and high Modernism, which had become fully assimilated as a corporate style, both in Europe and North America by the 1960s.
The exhibition, entitled Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia will centre on three themes taken from taken from American psychologist and psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary's era-defining mantra: Turn on, tune in, drop out.
Organised with the participation of the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, it will cover a diverse range of cultural objects including films, music posters, furniture, installations, conceptual architectural projects and environments.
Hendrixwar/Cosmococa Programa-in-Progress, 1973. Courtesy of the Walker Art Center collection, Minneapolis
Jimi Hendrix, Ira Cohen, 1968. Photograph from the Mylar Chamber, courtesy of the Ira Cohen Archive
The Turn On section of the show will focus on altered perception and expanded individual awareness. It will include conceptual works by British avant-garde architectural group Archigram, American architecture collective Ant Farm, and a predecessor to the music video by American artist Bruce Conner – known for pioneering works in assemblage and video art.
Tune In will look at media as a device for raising collective consciousness and social awareness around issues of the time, many of which resonate today, like the powerful graphics of the US-based black nationalist party Black Panther Movement.
Untitled [the Cockettes] by Clay Geerdes, 1972. Courtesy of the estate of Clay Geerdes
Drop Out includes alternative structures that allowed or proposed ways for individuals and groups to challenge norms or remove themselves from conventional society, with works like the Drop City collective's recreation dome – a hippie version of a Buckminster Fuller dome – and Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison's Portable Orchard, a commentary on the loss of agricultural lands to the spread of suburban sprawl.
Environment Transformer/Flyhead Helmet by Haus-Rucker-Co, 1968. Photograph courtesy of Haus-Rucker-Co and Gerald Zugmann
The issues raised by the projects in Hippie Modernism – racial justice, women's and LGBT rights, environmentalism, and localism among many other – continue to shape culture and politics today.
Blauvelt sees the period's ongoing impact in current practices of public-interest design and social-impact design, where the authorship of the building or object is less important than the need that it serves.
Payne's Gray by Judith Williams, circa 1966. Photograph courtesy of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, The University of British Columbia
Superonda Sofa by Archizoom Associati, 1966. Photograph courtesy of Dario Bartolini, Archizoom Associati
Many of the exhibited artists, designers, and architects created immersive environments that challenged notions of domesticity, inside/outside, and traditional limitations on the body, like the Italian avant-garde design group Superstudio's Superonda: conceptual furniture which together creates an architectural landscape that suggests new ways of living and socialising.
Hello Dali by Isaac Abrams, 1965
Blauvelt sees the period's utopian project ending with the OPEC oil crisis of the mid 1970s, which helped initiate the more conservative consumer culture of the late 1970s and 1980s.
Organised in collaboration with the Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive, Hippie Modernism will run from 24 October 2015 to 28 February 2016 at the Walker Art Center.
Friday, August 14. 2015
Note: While being interested in the idea of the commune for some time now --I've been digging into old stories, like the ones of the well named Haight-Ashbury's Diggers, or the Droppers, in connection to system theory, cybernetics and information theory and then of course, to THE Personal Computer as "small scale technology" , so as to "the biggest commune of all: the internet" (F. Turner)--.
The idealistic social flatness of the communes, anarchic yet with inevitable emerging order, its "counter" approach to western social organization but also the fact that in the end, the 60ies initiatives seemed to have "failed" for different reasons, interests me for further works. These "diggings" are also somehow connected to a ongoing project and tool we recently published online, a "data commune": Datadroppers (even so it is just a shared tool).
Following this interest, I came accross this latest online publication by uncube (Issue #34) about the Commune Revisited, which both have an historic approach to old experiments (like the one of Drop City), and to more recent ones, up to the "gated community" ... The idea of the editors being to investigate the diversity of the concepts. It brings an interesting contemporary twist and understanding to the general idea... In a time when we are totally fed up with neo liberalism.
"One year after our Urban Commons issue, we're returning to the idea of the communal, this time investigating just how diversly the concept of "commune" can be interpreted - and not always with entirely benevolent intentions or successful results.
Wether trying to escape a broken economy or an oppressive system via new forms of existence or looking to break the system itself via anarchic methodologies, forming a commune traditionnaly involves segregation or stepping "outside" society.
But no matter how off-grid and back-to-nature the contemporary communities that we investigate here are, it turns out they are far more connected than we think.
Turn on, tune out, drop in.
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
Tuesday, April 28. 2015
In other words, why just rely on aftermarket home alterations such as WiFi-blocking paint, when you can actually factor the transmission of signals through architectural space into the design of your home in the first place?
Space Caviar call this "a new definition of privacy in the age of sentient appliances and signal-based communication," in the process turning the home into "a space of selective electromagnetic autonomy."
As the space of the home becomes saturated by “smart” devices capable of monitoring their surroundings, the role of the domestic envelope as a shield from an external gaze becomes less relevant: it is the home itself that is observing us. The RAM House responds to this near-future scenario by proposing a space of selective electromagnetic autonomy. Within the space’s core, Wi-Fi, cellphone and other radio signals are filtered by various movable shields of radar-absorbent material (RAM) and faraday meshing, preventing signals from entering and—more importantly—escaping. Just as a curtain can be drawn to visually expose the domestic interior of a traditional home, panels can be slid open to allow radio waves to enter and exit, when so desired.
Thursday, April 09. 2015
Corporate Dystopia: Liam Young Imagines a World in which Tech Companies Own Our Cities | #smart? #commodification
What if the manufacturers of the phones and social networks we cling to became the rulers of tomorrow’s cities? Imagine a world in which every building in your neighborhood is owned by Samsung, entire regions are occupied by the ghosts of our digital selves, and cities spring up in international waters to house outsourced laborers. These are the worlds imagined by self-described speculative architect, Liam Young in his latest series of animations entitled ”New City.” Read on after the break to see all three animations and learn more about what’s next in the series.
Viewers watching “The City in the Sea” at full size. Image Courtesy of Liam Young.
Liam Young’s London-based think tank Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today explores the “consequences of fantastic, speculative and imaginary urbanisms” through techniques of fiction and film, with extremely high definition animations accompanied by short stories written by Jeff Noon, Pat Cadigan and Tim Maughan. The imagery produced seeks to “help us explore the implications and consequences of emerging trends, technologies, and ecological conditions,” exploring emerging trends across media, technology, and popular culture in order to exaggerate them and better understand our own world alongside our future. The think-tank is being developed as a model for an architectural practice informed by research and speculation as products in and of themselves rather than buildings as final products. Animation is often employed by the think tank, as Liam Young tells ArchDaily:
“The skyline animations have been developed to be shown as super large scale projections, larger than the body so the audience has to move across the panorama, inhabiting it as they would do a city or building. Each animation is loaded with detail so as each time it is watched you might discover something different. The scale of the projections mean you are able to fully immerse yourself in the imaginary city and consumed by the soundscape you can sit and read the short story set in the city.”
From “Keeping up Appearances”. Image Courtesy of Liam Young
This latest series epitomizes many of the goals of the think-tank by looking at cites on a macro-scale and exaggerating trends across various stages of industry. The animations produced in the series thus far focus mainly on the technology sector and take existing cities as precedents for an exploration of themes and subsequent social commentary. For example, in the animation entitled “Keeping Up Appearances” (see top video) a future city is imagined in which almost every visible sign in the urban skyline is an advertisement for Samsung and the glowing logo represents the ownership of that particular piece of real estate. Based on a phenomenon occurring in many South Korean cities in which Samsung has begun to move into property development, in this exaggerated scenario the idea of corporate entities as driving forces behind real-estate development and growth becomes disturbingly plausible, while highlighting the real-world fact that many corporations have revenues which surpass the GDP of some countries. Young comments:
“The branded skyline is just the most visible consequence of our gadget allegiances. What I am suggesting is that our relationships to technology are in fact generating entirely new forms of city, and new notions of place or site itself. Where we are in the world matters far less now than how we are connected and who we are connected to. We now see new forms of city generated around operating system choices, who we like on facebook, our twitter network and so on. I am much closer to my virtual community than I am to my physical neighbors. The network has allowed ‘non state’ actors to permeate every aspect of our lives.”
The next video in the series, entitled “The City in the Sea,” looks at the very real issue of outsourced labor and industrialized cities in the developing world. Taken to its extreme in this animation, the imagined city is completely detached from any kind of nationalistic identity and only exists to provide a corporate haven for manufacturers that is devoid of regulations and taxes. According to Young:
“The City in the Sea is a multicultural city collaged from photos taken on expeditions through the outsourcing territories of India and China. The floating corporate city is built on the Pacific Ocean garbage patch and drifts in international waters, outside of national labor laws to become a free trade zone supporting the mega companies based on land. It is a city that connects to a long tradition of free states, from the traditions of pirate utopias, islands that existed with their own laws and governance to the speculations of offshore data havens on the abandoned naval fort Sealand or Google’s mysterious barges. We also see the same desires to escape jurisdiction playing out on land with the formation of special economic zones and free trade regions. These forms of territory are forcing us to reimagine what a border might mean in the age of the network.”
The third video in the series takes on a much more ephemeral quality and symbolically represents an element that is vital to our everyday lives, yet invisible to most. The idea of our online identity has become increasingly tangible to anyone that uses Facebook or surfs the web. Each of us possesses vast amounts of important information that is stored in “the cloud” but this notion has very little physical connection to our lives. Most are probably not aware of where their data is stored, but it is usually held in large data banks in places such as the city of Prineville, Oregon. These unassuming cities hold some of the world’s most sought after goods: personal identity stored digitally. Young also foresees data centers such as this as a new architectural frontier and describes its significance:
“This part of New City is built for machines, it is the physical landscape of the cloud, our generation’s cultural landscape. I am really interested in what these physical sites of the internet actually mean, they are a completely new cultural typology and architects need to take the data center on as a project. Is the internet a place to visit, are they sites of pilgrimage, spaces of congregation to be inhabited like a church on Sundays? Would we ever want to go and meet our digital selves, to gaze across server racks, and watch us winking back, in a million LEDs of Facebook blue? Every age has its iconic architectural typology. The dream commission was once the church, Modernism had the factory, then the house, in the recent decade we had the ‘starchitect’ museum and gallery. Now we have the data centre, the next forum for architectural culture.”
“The City in the Sea” on display at full size. Image Courtesy of Liam Young.
It is clear that the technology sector has already played a transformative role in our global economy, and Liam Young’s work gives us a glimpse at how technology may finally influence our built world. By illustrating these potential future scenarios and exaggerating them, Young opens a platform for discussion on how to take control of our own built world. But what is next in the series? What other pressing cultural issues require attention if we are to understand our built environment? Young tells ArchDaily:
“I am interested in continuing to look at the new types of ‘city’ that are emerging out of the network. Cities are increasingly being designed not for the people that occupy them but for the technologies and algorithms that are being built to understand them and manage them. Cities developed based around the logic of machine vision, satellite sight lines, Wi-Fi weather systems and so on are all of interest. These technologies are fundamentally changing what cities mean and these types of speculative projects are critical to play out possible scenarios for discussion.”
Viewers watching “Keeping Up Appearances” at full size. Image Courtesy of Liam Young
Readers can view all three animations accompanied with short stories by Jeff Noon, Pat Cadigan and Tim Maughan, at Liam Young’s Vimeo profile.
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fabric | rblg
This blog is the survey website of fabric | ch - studio for architecture, interaction and research.
We curate and reblog articles, researches, writings, exhibitions and projects that we notice and find interesting during our everyday practice and readings.
Most articles concern the intertwined fields of architecture, territory, art, interaction design, thinking and science. From time to time, we also publish documentation about our own work and research, immersed among these related resources and inspirations.
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