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
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Monday, May 19. 2014
The internet will have almost 3 billion users by the end of the year, UN report says | #infrastructure #global
The internet will have nearly 3 billion users, about 40 percent of the world's population, by the end of 2014, according to a new report from the United Nations International Telecommunications Union. Two-thirds of those users will be in developing countries.
Those numbers refer to people who have used the internet in the last three months, not just those who have access to it.
Internet penetration is reaching saturation in developed countries, while it's growing rapidly in developing countries. Three out of four people in Europe will be using the internet by the end of the year, compared to two out of three in the Americas and one in three in Asia and the Pacific. In Africa, nearly one in five people will be online by the end of the year.
Mobile phone subscriptions will reach almost 7 billion. That growth rate is slowing, suggesting that the number will plateau soon. Mobile internet subscriptions are still growing rapidly, however, and are expected to reach 2.3 billion by the end of 2014.
These numbers make it easy to imagine a future in which every human on Earth is using the internet. The number of people online will still be dwarfed by the number of things, however. Cisco estimates the internet already has 10 billion connected devices and is expected to hit 50 billion by 2020.
Thursday, April 03. 2014
Wednesday, October 24. 2012
Tony Dunne & Fiona Raby would certainly produce a far less slick scenario for this type of robotic product (they would probably rather even not design such a functional robot at all ;)). But still, it is now the third time that I see an ad for this type of product and I find it interesting to envision streets of cities filled with "ghosts" of remote citizens from distant cities or countrysides (that won't be the countryside anymore therefore) hanging around in the form of robots. Therefore, we'll have to design cities and architectures for its many inhabitants including now, robots.
Friday, May 11. 2012
Feel Me is a project by Marco Triverio that explores the gap between synchronous and asynchronous communication using our mobile device in attempt to “connect differently” and enrich digital communications. Whereas we draw lines between phone conversations and sms messages, Feel Me looks for space in between that would allow you to be intimate in realtime, non-verbally using touch.
Feel Me first appears to be a text messaging application. When two people are both looking at the conversation they are having, touches on the screen of one side are shown on the other side as small dots. Touching the same spot triggers a small reaction, such as a vibration or a sound, acknowledging that both parts are there at the same time. Feel Me creates a playful link with the person on the other side, opening a channel for a non-verbal and interactive connection.
“Feel Me” was awarded honors at CIID. Marco is currently working as an interaction designer at IDEO.
See also concept development videos below.
Thursday, April 26. 2012
In the "tele-present" environments serie and after the water, here comes the wind, by David Bowen:
See also his previous work, "Tele-present water" that has been published a lot already.
PS. Thanks Sinan Mansuroglu for the link.
It is a very direct translation of the source, very readable and therefore quite efficient (but also possibly too direct, like a roboticized reproduction). In this case, we are confronted to a kinetic sculpture, which makes it works, especially in the case of the water. It is, literaly, a kinetic sculpture in the abstract realism tradition.
Thursday, February 17. 2011
By Joshua Noble on Wednesday Feb 16th, 2011
”Between the ubiquity of Internet access and the fact that data has no objective tangible form, internet users have long been plagued with the problem of determining the value of the content they are ingesting.” - Zach Gage
Seen in a certain light, the core of technological mediation has always been presence, absence, and distance. Writing established the possibility of presence during absence, arrows and gunpowder created force at a distance, the telephone created presence at distance, and network computing fundamentally altered the nature of being “absent” or “present” to an almost unrecognizable degree. No small surprise then that contemporary “media art” practice seems to return to these questions as being fundamental investigations. The question of what “presence” could be was explored and expanded throughout the dawn of the internet age: Ken Goldberg’s TeleGarden, Eduardo Kac’s concept of Telepresence, Sven Bauer, Heath Bunting, to grab but a few names. Each possibility of a new field of entry, a new method of retaining, mapping, signifying, and storing, opened a rich possibility. Now fast forward fifteen years and ever-presence is exhausting, a nuisance that forever asks and returns only the vague rewards of a slot-machine and seems to fray our sense of privacy, meaningfulness, boundary, and perhaps even self. So how then to artistically respond to this? Exhibit: Zach Gage.
His works are at once sophisticated and remarkably simple, both in presentation and concept in a way that might be recognizable to Joseph Kosuth or Lawrence Weiner, rather than the Baroque conceptual complexity on display in much media art in the 90’s. Computational art or interactive art has generally taken two tacks in dealing with the complexities of technology itself -- unabashed celebration and dystopian anxiety. At either extreme is the grandiose challenge of prediction: this possible or actual relationship to technology will lead to this consequence or benefit. The reality of living with technology is not only simpler but is often much more banal. The most refreshing element of Gage’s work is how it asks us to do nothing more than consider what is. Working with the instantly familiar data sources, Twitter, Google, chat servers, at their simplest, his work often resembles a refreshingly sharp Occam’s Razor taken to notions of the richness of data and networked experience.
His thesis show, “Data”, is an extremely visually and thematically understated installation comprised of several pieces. Small wooden boxes, wires, and simple placards: none of the forced estrangement, hand-waving interactivity, or spectacle that one associates with computer arts. In particular, one of the pieces in the show, Hit Counter stands out as particularly poignant: a simple measurement of the number of times someone has stood in front of the work. Face recognition software is used to keep track of the actual viewers and the number is displayed on an old-fashioned mechanical counter. Gage states “with no other means to judge it, Hit Counter demands to be assigned a worth based solely on its popularity.” But then, Hit Counter is not merely asking to be judged on popularity. It, like so many things in our media culture, is popularity. It’s nothing else, and it’s not any kind of popularity other than actual physical presence; a sharp reminder of the relationship between presence and popularity. No matter how many people hear about it online, what is written about it, what buzz is generated, it’s a simple box that generates a number based on how many unique people have stood in front of it. I’m not sure whether I’m more struck by the concept itself or that I am so struck by the concept as an ontological exercise: something that simply is actual physical presence. It’s odd that it is odd and, in that oddness, it is a stance closer to Sol Lewitt “Sentences on Conceptual Art” than many other re-interpretations of his legacy and ideas. Reformulating the simplest data object imaginable in the simplest terms has a markedly clarifying effect and in clarification is a rare kind of beauty. I spoke with Zach Gage about Hit Counter, as well as his larger practice.
More about it HERE.
Wednesday, December 01. 2010
Via Networked Performance
Distance versus Desire* by Eric Kluitenberg:
Clearing the ElectroSmog
The desire to transcend distance and separation has accompanied the history of media technology for many centuries. Various attempts to realise the demand for a presence from a distance have produced beautiful imaginaries such as those of telepresence and ubiquity, the electronic cottage and the reinvigoration of the oikos, and certainly not least among them the reduction of physical mobility in favour of an ecologically more sustainable connected life style. As current systems of hyper-mobility are confronted with an unfolding energy crisis and collide with severe ecological limits — most prominently in the intense debate on global warming — citizens and organisations in advanced and emerging economies alike are forced to reconsider one of the most daring projects of the information age: that a radical reduction of physical mobility is possible through the use of advanced telepresence technologies.
ElectroSmog and the quest for a sustainable immobility
The ElectroSmog festival for ‘sustainable immobility’, staged in March 2010 , was both an exploration of this grand promise of telepresence and a radical attempt to create a new form of public meeting across the globe in real-time. ElectroSmog tried to break with traditional conventions of staging international public festivals and conferences through a set of simple rules: No presenter was allowed to travel across their own regional boundaries to join in any of the public events of the festival, while each event should always be organised in two or more locations at the same time. To enable the traditional functions of a public festival, conversation, encounter, and performance, physical meetings across geographical divides therefore had to be replaced by mediated encounters.
The festival was organised at a moment when internet-based techniques of tele-connection, video-telephony, visual multi-user on-line environments, live streams, and various forms of real-time text interfaces had become available for the general public, virtually around the globe. No longer an object of futurology ElectroSmog tried to establish the new critical uses that could be developed with these every day life technologies, especially the new breeds of real-time technologies. The main question here was if a new form of public assembly could emerge from the new distributed space-time configurations that had been the object of heated debates already for so many years?
There was a sense of unease when looking back at the bold promises of remoter life and work in the ‘electronic cottage’ that futurologists such as Alvin Toffler spelled out for us in the early 1980s, in books such as “The Third Wave” (the ‘coming information age’ as the third wave, after agricultural and industrial society) . As part of his near-future explorations conducted well before the rise of widespread internet use, Toffler enthusiastically embraced the suggestion that a radical reduction of (physical) mobility would become possible by the rise of ever more sophisticated communication and information technologies and the integration of home and workplace in the electronic cottage. Not only would this transformation, in Toffler’s vision, reap great ecological benefits, it would also initiate a grand revitalisation of the ‘oikos’, the household and the family unit.
The electronic cottage should ideally be a real-time connected living and working space, allowing a new kind of digital artisan / entrepreneur to emerge who would be absolved from rush hour-traffic while being ultimately flexible in making his or her own work and private arrangements. The main advantage of the new work/life unit was its inherent efficiency, where meetings would be arranged solely when strictly necessary and flexible according to need and availability of everyone involved in the process. The main element won back from the congested systems of collective work and travel was time. Time that could instead be invested in the ‘oikos‘, the home, family life, and local social relations, that could help to restore the psychic fabric of society, which had become unravelled through the brutal forces of ‘second wave’ grand scale industrial modernisation. Work and life at home could now be brought into unison again.
Today, however, more than 25 years after these all bold claims, we can observe exactly the reverse trend: Never before have wo/men travelled more and farther. Not least because of their improved capabilities to keep in touch with the ‘home base’ from afar. With advanced communication techniques work has entered the sphere of private life and mostly diminished the space and time for the oikos. The simultaneous exponential innovation of transport technologies and logistics, in particular in the automobile and aviation industry, have had a cataclysmic effect on this ‘fatal’ trajectory. The system of hyper-mobility has quite literally overheated itself, and seems unstoppably heading for a crash. Even more so, it seems to exhaust itself at an exponential rate.
While most people do enjoy living in a global village, few appreciate a forced life in the local village. Rather than moving towards a sustainable immobility, we seem to be heading towards a global ecological disaster scenario. The crucial question for ElectroSmog was whether a critical reconsideration of this idea of a sustainable immobility was possible, both in theoretical and practical terms.
Necessity and failure
The urgency of the search for alternatives for the current crisis of hyper-mobility was illustrated graphically by the opening conversation of the festival “Global perspectives on the crisis of mobility”. In our first video chat with the crew of Sasahivi media in Nairobi we talked about the daily commute in Kenya’s capital. The city has seen a sharp increase in motorised travel in recent years, leading to over-congested roads and unbearably intense rush hour traffic. To avoid the worst the people at Sasaivi traditionally would leave their homes early in the morning, before rush hour, and return only late, often very late at night. During the day roads were simply too busy.
So, how long would a daily commute take? - “about two to three hours”, and what distance would they have to cover? - “about 2,5 to 3 kilometres” (!).
Next we connected with Dutch architect Daan Roggeveen who is conducting the research project Go West together with journalist Michiel Hulshof about the development of new metropolises in Central and Western China . They had just come back from a field trip in Wuhan, and Roggeveen explained that they had found that about 500 new cars were entering the streets of Wuhan every day. We then asked him how many cities of similar size were currently present in China, and he replied about 30, not counting Shanghai and Beijing. In short, by a (very) moderate count some 15.000 new cars were entering Chinese roads daily as we spoke.
We then listened to a short video message by Partha Pratim Sarker from Dhaka, Bangladesh relating similar experiences and being hopeful that new communication technologies could do something to alleviate the stress of the streets. Next up film maker Aarti Sethi from Delhi told us that by her estimate some 1000 new cars entered Delhi roads every day, especially intensified by the introduction of the Tata, the low cost automobile that obviously replaces many polluting motor-ricksha’s, but still.
In a nutshell we received a chilling summary of a global exponential rise of motorised mobility through these first hand reports. With car use, air travel and motorised transportation not diminishing in the developed economies this system of hyper-mobility out of control seems to approach its limits rather sooner than later, and virtually all counter-strategies so far seem entirely ineffective.
The Spectre of Imaginary Media
Imaginary Media are machines that mediate impossible desires. Imaginary media typically emerge in situations where the living environment imposes inherent limitations that one cannot transcend. The desire to exceed these limitations produces beautiful phantasies, and in the case of imaginary media they are projected onto technological systems — both existent and inexistent — that are supposed to realise what an ordinary human existence is unable to deliver. Imaginary media are the techno-imaginary constructs that populate the domain of impossibility.
One manifestation of this desire to transcend the limitations of living experience is the longing for immediate contact across any distance or divide. And it is this desire for a ubiquitous telepresence, replacing the actual presence here and now, more than anything else, that has fuelled the development of new media and communication technologies. This desire is in fact so strong that even in lowest bandwidth environments tremendous investments of mental and emotional energy can be observed, across different technological and historical settings (recent examples are for instance the IRC text chat or SMS text messaging). ‘Signal’ in these case is interpreted as ‘contact’, and a phantasmatic projection of connection and interaction is projected onto the faintest of signals, aided further by the curious emergence of synaesthetic perceptions where minute changes in tone, rhythm or even wording can produce intense bodily sensations and responses.
This intermingling of imaginary and actual qualities of connection-media has obscured the discussions about the benefits and limits of telepresence technologies thoroughly. Regardless if one is talking about mobile phone use, deep technological experimentation in telepresence labs, on-line virtual environments of the Second Life type, high powered tele-work centres, or more regular real-time web applications and video chat systems, it seems very difficult to escape this aspect of the phantasmatic. Critical scrutiny, however, needs to cleanse itself from these phantasmatic distortions if it is to get anywhere with its task of establishing clear boundaries and areas of possibility.
For ElectroSmog the central question was, can we convene a public event, a festival, with everything you might expect from it, where audiences and presenters from a host of different countries and regions of the earth can meet, interact, encounter, exchange without having to travel outside of their locale? Or in even more mundane terms, can an international festival be staged without anybody travelling and still be a viable public event? And while the technologies used worked fine most of the time, the answer to this central question was clearly “No”. However, this ‘failure’ became clear in a rather surprising way.
What the festival showed through its radical approach to this question is that remote connection works excellent in an active network. In situations where connections were established between active contributors to a discussion or project, exchange was often very productive and the experience rewarding for all participants. But when attempts were made to integrate a public of relatively passive observers, the traditional ‘audience’, the experience broke down.
Remote connection also did not bring people together locally. The overwhelming sense of all festival events was that in the (remote) communicative process all nodes of the network must be active ‘throughout’. No real sense of co-presence between local audiences in different sites (even though they were often visible and audible to each other) came about, while locally audiences seemed little inspired to physically show up at the networks nodes to witness a process they could also follow from the comfort of their home via the webcast.
The interesting question here is why?
Could playful interfaces, allowing audiences to interact across different localities have helped to create this sense of co-presence? Certainly it would have helped to create this sense in situations where audiences were actually present in different connected spaces. However, curiously, exactly those programs were generally well visited that showed strong local participation and a minimum (the ‘at least one’ rule) of connected localities. Much can be done to improve the experience, but even in the deliriously transmediated environment of the ElectroSmog central connection node, the theatre space of De Balie in Amsterdam, the energy never entirely seemed to materialise.
The rather inevitable conclusion that must be drawn from this is that the idea of a replacement of physical encounters by mediated encounters is simply an illusion. First of all, this mediated encounter denies the unspoken subtle bodily cues that shape actual conversation.The experience of co-presence in the same space is determined by so many perceptible and sub-liminal incentives that digital electronic media do not capture, that the idea of an immersive experience relies more on the phantasmatic cover of these absent cues and the curious human capacity for synaesthetic perception, than on the performative capabilities of the medium. A digital video-link certainly does not replace these subliminal cues.
Still, more important for the ultimate failure of the telepresence ideology is that it denies the libidinal drive for encounter, belonging, and identification that is so important for a successful staging of a public event such as an arts and culture festival.There is also a sobering lesson for curators that excellent content and contributors as such do not translate into public success. The desire for sharing the space with others and with the influential in a particular social circle or figuration, is a much stronger motor it seems for public appeal. Remoteness, one of the themes in the festival, cannot be so easily transcended in the telepresence scenario as hoped for.
It is this libidinal drive for connection, identification and belonging that propels the development of new media and communication technologies. These technologies are greeted with great enthusiasm as long as they are able to conjure up a phantasmatic image of connectedness that is able to cover (u)p the lack of actual presence and (physical) contact. However, this phantasmatic projection is never able to displace the feeling of a lack entirely, and thus a surplus desire remains that needs to be satisfied by other means. The consequence is that an intensified use of communication technology does not lead to less, but instead to an increased desire for physical encounter.
This observation is also remarkably concurrent with what mobility researchers have concluded about the actual behaviour of people in environments deeply saturated with advanced communication technologies. While some effects can be observed that can lead to a moderation of certain forms of travel and transport (tele work, on-line and phone conferences and so on), the indirect generative effects of these communication media tend to create intensified mobility patterns in these same regions (i.e. not necessarily work of profession related).
Communication media serve all kinds of practical purposes, obviously, and also those that can replace the necessity of physical encounter, movement, travel and its associated hassles. There is, however, a point at which the lack presence and contact brings the phantasmatic projection of the technologically enabled communication process to a point of crisis. And this is the moment when people start up the engine of their cars - the moment when the imaginary medium and the libidinal drive meet in a frontal crash.
Dilemmas after the crash of media and before the crash of hyper-mobility
In all this the urgency of our quest for a sustainable immobility is not lessened. The apparent failure of telepresence technologies leaves us stranded with a huge dilemma. Not to act is really not an option given the intensified pressures of a mobility system out of control. But are there any solutions?
Unfortunately there are as yet not too many reasons to be hopeful. The first step forward towards a new more sustainable regime of mobility and connectivity, and a new balance between mobility and immobility, would be not to believe in linear narratives, neither positivistic nor fatalistic. More communication technology does not automatically lead to less physical mobility. But equally, the current systems of hyper-mobility cannot grow at an exponential rate indefinitely. They will encounter new energetic, ecological, and with that also increasingly economic limits. The other observation that mobility researchers generally point to (next to the failure of communication technology) is that price is about the only mechanism that does seem to have a discernible effect on actual (mobility) behaviour.
As currently widely used energy systems (fossil fuels) become increasingly scarce, their price will inevitably go up. This will transform mobility from a right (or a perceived right) into a privilege, constructed along the traditional lines of socio-economic segregation (income, profession, class). The struggle over the privileges of mobility and movement will create a new consciousness about their spatial deployment (who is allowed to travel where and by which means?). This new consciousness of segregation will undoubtedly spark conflict and critical debate.
The second step would be to accept the need for hybrid and therefore ‘messy’ solutions. The economics of mobility will undoubtedly play an important role in shaping future mobility regimes. The exploration of alternative sources of energy and alternative transportation systems and technologies provide another avenue to look for viable escape routes. The on-going refinement of communication tools, media environments, tele-work arrangements and 21st century electronic cottages and other models of sustainable immobility will also play a role in those situations where practical advantages take priority over the libidinal drive for encounter. (Tele-)Presence researcher Caroline Nevejan emphasises that the new communication technologies do not offer us ideal solutions at all, but they will in the future become increasingly indispensable. 
The least desirable scenario is that of the crash, the ‘accident-catastrophe’ preprogrammed in current systems of hyper-nobility. Given the tidings from a confused planet rushing at high-speed into a global traffic jam, reported at ElectroSmog, this scenario cannot be excluded from our considerations for now.
1 - An overview of documentation resources from the festival can be found at:
* This text was written for the upcoming issue in the Acoustic Space series (No.8), co-published by RIXC centre for new media culture in Riga and the Art Research Lab of Liepaja University: “Following the theme of ENERGY this issue will look at different social and cultural aspects of energy in the contemporary human society. It will also investigate the notion of ’sustainability’ from various perspectives - artistic, scientific, technological, architectural, environmental.” (More info soon at the RIXC on-line store: http://rixc.lv/kiosks/)
The text is an extended version of a talk given at Impakt Festival 2010 “Matrix City”, in Utrecht as part of the Superstructural Dependencies Conference, October 15, 2010.
We already published around this question of "mediated mobility" or "immobile mobilities" within the frame of the sustainable approach on | rblg. John Thackara is on this question too and it interests us quite a lot in the context of future projects. We published on this particular event some time ago and this is an interesting, yet nuanced follow-up by Eric Kluitenberg about the "ubiquity" and/or "tele-" concepts.
Monday, November 08. 2010
Friday, October 22. 2010
Ludlow 38 is pleased to present the exhibition Maryanne Amacher: City-Links. Between 1967 and 1981 the pioneering sound artist produced 22 City-Links projects in total, connecting distant microphones to installations and performances using dedicated FM-quality analog phone lines. Areas of downtown Buffalo, MIT, Boston Harbor, the Mississippi River, the New York harbor, studios in various locations, and other sites in the USA and abroad were transported, sometimes integrating performers near the microphones (such as John Cage and George Lewis for City-Links #18 performed at The Kitchen in 1979). The exhibition at Ludlow 38 brings together a number of documents, images and sound samples selected and reproduced from the nascent Amacher Archive as a first look at this important series of early telematic art works about which little has been published.
Sound telepresence. Sounds "usual" today, but it must be underlined that Amacher's works, City-Links (this could be the title of one of our work today!), date back from the 70ies. And where one more time, we see the Name of John Cage pop up...
(Page 1 of 2, totaling 11 entries) » next page
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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