Start | Times Square to Art Square

Art initiative to turn nyc time square into a large art space!
Here’s how they progress…

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Media facades: When buildings start to twitter

Very good overview of recent examples of media architecture. However, I personally think that some more earlier examples (e.g. by Nicholas Schöffer (”Mur lumière”), Mischa Kuball (Megazeichen), Christian Möller (Kinetic light sculpture), Joachim Sauter/Christian Möller (Networked Skin) would add to its significance as a “historic overview”.

The timeline depicts international media facades with their different artistic, social or brand messages up to interfaces like iPhone Apps or brain sensors for public participation. The movie is a shortened version of the lecture, „The semiotics of media facades – When buildings start to twitter” that was presented at the Parsons The New School for Design in New York in 2010.

Luminous tweets and retweets
During the day, façade structures with their windows and material combinations grant a specific building image to the public. However, after sunset electrical light is the medium for an architectural image. The light appearance sends an atmospheric signal to the citizens like hang on in front of an asleep structure, look at an inviting but static façade or enjoy a vivid architecture sharing short stories. In the last decade, media facades have become a widespread element for luminous tweets. They establish a network between the building owner and the citizens, sometimes driven by aesthetical debates, other times by commercial intentions to avoid traditional light advertisement.
The pursuit of persuasion by way of big screens gives the impression that size receives a higher relevance than content, comparable with the large amount of trivial tweets in Twitter. Various media facades appear as monumental monologues repeating a fixed animation daily. A few facades use signals from the environment and transform them into a play of light and shadow. Others emerge as urban dialogues when buildings show combined moving pictures. Some even allow people to send messages to the building to receive luminous retweets. They turn the city into a community following the dialogue and with the respective Apps may possibly even gain a following community worldwide.

The historical overview of international projects covers various lighting methods and techniques from lighting designers as ag4, Arup Lighting, blinkenlights, Fusion, LAb[au], Licht Kunst Licht, L´Observatoire International, Mader Stublic Wiermann, Okayasu Izumi, magic monkey, Matthew Tanteri, Onur Sonmez , Qosmo, realities:united, Rogier van der Heide, StandardVision, Urbanscreens, Uwe Belzner, Yann Kersalé and architecture like Asymptote Architecture, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, O.M. Ungers, Peter Cook, Peter Marino, UN Studio, schneider + schuhmacher, Simone Giostra, WOHA architects1. Artists like Doug Aitken, Jaume Plensa, Kurt Hentschläger and Zhong Song are included in the timeline as well.

The clip has been put together by Thomas Schielke
arclighting.de

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Conference Review: Media Architecture Biennale 2010

Meso: Siemens Stern des Südens. www.meso.net

Meso: Siemens Stern des Südens

Conferences in the field of architecture or design sometimes tend to be a bit pretentious. Often, they contain a series of more or less enthusiastic project presentations and rather civilized (if at all) Q&A sessions mixed with a fair bit of self-presentation.

Well, usually.
The Media Architecture Biennale 2010 taking place last week in Vienna was however different to this general notion. Starting with the line-up the organizers Gernot Tscherteu, Martin Tomitsch and Oliver Schürer of the Media Architecture Institute managed to put together, the series of speakers and workshops covered quite a broad range of topics related to the growing field of Media Architecture. The program was structured along diverse conference panels with lectures and follow-up discussions, as well as a series of parallel workshops allowing for focused presentation and conversation. The conference was casual/relaxed in the best sense – good networking opportunities in a friendly atmosphere.

Certainly one of the main and recurring aspects that continuously came into discussion was the question of “content” in a range of facettes and semantic meanings. Obviously, the problem of content creation and civic relevance of media in urban environments was already a centerpiece of earlier discussions in the field (see Media Facades Festival Berlin 2008 ). However, many presenters highlighted the lack of strategies for creating and designing mediated architectural space that is engaging and contextualizing.

During a panel named “P.U.S.H. – Public Urban Space Hub”, Gregory Beck from AIA for example made a point for what he called “experience architecture”. He highlighted that media architecture is communication, not just mere illumination. It is about storytelling, not hardware. And different to many urban screen and billboard applications, media architecture needs to be integrated into physical existence of architectural structures.
Thomas Grechenig from TU Vienna focused on infrastructural aspects of smart cities. “People not only inhabit physical buildings, but live in  connected resource spaces”.Think of smart grids, concepts of power sharing and energy awareness, as well as shared mobility networks etc. This opens up a range of opportunities for ambient interactive environments in urban space, in which the individual is McLuhan’s medium as both a producer and consumer. Of course, this interconnectedness triggers questions of privacy and surveillance. But any new space needs to redefine these privacy borders.

Alex Haw, AtmosStudio, in this sense likes to refer to the term “Ambiveillance”, which he has explored artistically in LightHive, an interactive installation mapping real-time activities across the AA and its potential for productive community building. In their projects, Atmos focus on an artistic staging of interactive experiences: “If spaces resist instant comprehension, they stay more interesting in a permanent context”. For him, many public installations stay too blunt and shallow. Atmos is involved in “The Cloud” project, the London 2012 Media Zone and “pixel accumulation”, mapping many aspects of the site of the olympic games, such as weather, traffic, demographic info etc.

Dietmar Offenhuber of MIT’s Senseable City Lab presented the Labs vision of how the digital networks and infrastructures of our cities have value that goes beyond their original purpose. In anticipatory research projects, the Lab uses cellular networks to reveal social and economic patterns ( CurrentCity ), miniaturized location tags to highlight global flows of trash ( TrashTrack ),autonomous self-organizing light objects to create freeform objects ( FlyFire ) and hybrid electric bicycles with environmental sensors to address a city’s pollution and traffic problems ( Copenhagen Wheel ). For Offenhuber, the city is a civic body – and institutions should adopt and invest in digital infrastructure and smart tech as means for community services and communication.

The second panel on friday (M.U.S.E. – Media urbanism, smart & green city, environmental sustainability) Norbert Streitz shed some light on what he called “smart hybrid urban environments”. For him, many projects in the field of digital urban environments lack human representation or participation. He suggested a re-conceptualization of the idea of sustainability, that might shift from media as spectacle to media as collective system to control macro scale responsive environments. Small, bottom-up projects instead of top-down approaches will develop user-adoption of an urban digital environment that is moving from mobile devices to becoming the interface itself. The question stays however how much feedback we want.

Terreform One: Smart DOTS + Soft MOBS: NY 2028 Environmental Mobility

Terreform One: Smart DOTS + Soft MOBS: NY 2028 Environmental Mobility

Maria Aiolova of Terreform One showed scenarios of how the metropolis of the future could be built on symbiotic strategies and how design, computer science, structural engineering and biology can from new processes to define urban ecology and mobility of the future.
Zumtobel’s Bernd Clauß presented the company’s current solutions in integrative lighting technology, being able to be incorporated seamlessly into a complete building’s architectural facades while using less energy than a hairdryer.

StandardVision: City of Dreams, Macau

StandardVision: City of Dreams, Macau

The reactive architectural light installations of Adrian Veliescue of StandardVision, such as the City Of Dreams (Macau), the first installation using multiple buildings as a canvas, were impressive in scale and technology. However, they seemed a bit de-placed in a session on sustainability and smarter green cities.

Personally, I was quite curious on the CO.CO.ON session ( Construction, Content, Social Online Interaction). Hosted by Stefan Hofmann of Lichtwerke, which included engineering and artistic design methods and media usability / users as some of its main topics.

AEC Facade Terminal from Dan Wilcox on Vimeo.

Stefan Mittlböck-Jungwirth-Föhringer presented some of his work at the Ars Electronica Future Lab, specifically on external and internal signage and information systems ( Unit M for WIFISAP Source Code ) as well as simulation tooling and interfacing with media architecture, e.g. the new Ars Electronica Center Media Facade. Interfacing simplicity: people can manipulate the “pulse” of the facade with their own heartbeat, or simply use their ipod/iphone’s music / camera to interact with the architectural visualizations. “People find out how it works by themselves.”

Public interactive landscape ‘Dune 4.2′ from Daan Roosegaarde on Vimeo.

Daan Roosegaarde, interactive artist, creates interactive sculptures adressing the dynamic relations between architecture, people and e-culture. In his presentation, he eloquently stressed the term “techno poetry” as a concept to use (social) technology as a tool to engage with people. They need to be able to plug into the concept of an installation. For Roosegaarde, such engagement can only happen if installations are both mirror AND display, reactive AND communicative. An interesting side note on two reasons why for example his “dune 4.2” project in Rotterdam worked as a piece:
1. There was a maintenance contract. 2. It was built on the participation of civilians.

Adaptive fa[CA]de from marilena on Vimeo.

Marilena Skavara of Microhappy used her recent “Adaptive Fa[ca]de” to talk about how context awareness and concepts of mimicking can be applied to create sustainable aesthetics. Based on cellular automata and parametric processes, she suggested these concepts as a form of relational contextualization and abstraction of surfaces, being an ambient and responsive regulator between outside and inside.

In terms of social relevance, identification and adaption of mediated architectural structures, for me the Indemann project by Mark Maurer and ag4 represented an interesting focal point of the continuous discussion about media architecture, relevance and content. As an intentional landmark and object of identification for not only a community, but a whole multinational region, the Indemann shows that Media Architecture can be more than lighting technology, or ornament, or sensation. It is about communication, including the immediate environment, but also aspects of regional culture and identification.
During the closing panel discussion, Kas Oosterhuis questioned if media architecture could/should be regarded as a soundtrack. Personally, I doubt this, as “soundtrack” implies a somehow passive and consumerist attitude in perceiving urban media. I am convinced that media architecture needs to be inclusive, not sensational in the first place. We need to work on sets of tools, systems and techniques to understand and operate architecture and media as a compound entity. So Oosterhuis’ suggestion of staging diverse aspects of users, use and content as the subject of the next Media Architecture Biennale seems more than welcome to me.

Some more interesting links, topics, workshops:

Content Development Strategies for Media Facades
Sebastian Oschatz – Meso

Face to Face. The Rhetoric Functions of Media Architecture
Vera Bühlmann – ETH Zurich
Susanne Seitinger – MIT Fluid Interface Group
Michael Shamiyeh – DOM Researchlab Kunstuniversität Linz
Jens Geelhaar – Bauhaus University Weimar

The event’s official press review can be downloaded here

Live interactive mega billboard against agression

Design against crime using an augmented reality scenery on a digital billboard.

“Public service employees in the Netherlands face aggression and violence on the streets more and more often. Onlookers unfortunately do not intervene often enough when they encounter a situation like this. A live interactive billboard in Amsterdam and Rotterdam is used to place people in a similar situation witch confronts them with their inactivity.”

via @themobilecity @nielshendriks

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Playhouse – Liberty Hall, Dublin

Participative media facade project as a hommage to blinkenlights. Good range of tools for creating content for the facade: 1.) a standalone AIR app 2.) a video importer/converter 3.) a processing library to build own p5 sketches

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Pulse – by Electroland

Pulse is a 45 meter LED facade display being activated by passing traffic. It shows light patterns based on the passing vehicles.
2009, Los Angeles, California

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Feature Project – Vancouver 2010 – Thought-controlled computing – Interaxon

“Thoughts are turned into light patterns instantaneously as their brain’s digital signal is beamed over the Rocky Mountains, across vast prairies all the way to three major Ontario icons – a distance of 3000 km.” (via dasymetric )

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Open Up Workshop – projects for the LED FACADE at the MediaLab-Prado

Open Up is an advanced project development workshop for the digital facade of Medialab-Prado. From February 9 through 23, working groups will develop selected projects in a collaborative way.

The event includes theoretical activities February 9, 10 and 16 with lectures by the teachers of the workshop and also Erkki Huhtamo and Jennifer Steimkamp.

Tutors include Jordi Claramonte, Chandler McWilliams, Casey Reas and Víctor Viña. Directed by Nerea Calvillo.

The selected projects that are currently being developed in the workshops can be found here. Also, the working process is being documented through the workshop blog.

About the facade

Langarita–Navarro Arquitectos‘ Led wall at the Medialab-Prado in central Madrid is an interactive façade that aims to be a space for exchange and communication with both visitors and locals, a commission by the Madrid Town Council to develop social interaction and to offer a new digital landmark for their city which is often so closely guarded from development. 144m2 of wall space is covered with some 35,000 Led nodes that are configured to allow both still and moving imagery, allowing the wall, with it’s simple traditional madrileño definition to come alive with psychedelic imagery.

More technical info on the digital facade can be found here.

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Augmented Advertising

Virtual-digital advertising in Minority Report (2002)

Virtual-digital advertising in Minority Report (2002)

We know concepts of urban augmented-reality scenarios and their use for personalized advertising at least since they have been predicted in various hollywood blockbusters…
However, a project that proposes an inversion of such a usage, placing it into an art context, is currently being developed by Spanish LaLaLab:

The Artvertiser: Augmented Billboards. from Julian Oliver on Vimeo.

The Artvertiser is an urban, hand-held, augmented-reality project exploring on-site substitution of advertising content for the purposes of exhibiting art. The project was initiated by Julian Oliver in February 2008 and is being developed in collaboration with artists Clara Boj and Diego Diaz.

The project proposes an interesting take on the use of mobile augmented reality, reclaiming advertising space in your individual surroundings and virtually replacing marketing content with visual/digital works of art. Through a mobile WiFi internet connection, the individual experience of the substitution in a particular place will be made directly available on social platforms such as youtube or flickr.

weather-proof digital binoculars currently being developed. © theartvertiser.com

weather-proof digital binoculars currently being developed. © theartvertiser.com

The Artvertizer is currently in the software development stage, based on the Linux platform. Apparently it is planned to port it to mobile Android or Symbian handheld devices. There are also conceptual ideas for outdoor hardware, featuring off-the-shelf mobile technology for running, displaying and storing the software and assets.

Stereoscope at Nuit Blanche 2008

Stereoscope at Toronto City Hall

Stereoscope at Toronto City Hall

Some impressions of Stereoscope, a recent project remake by Project Blinkenlights for Nuit Blanche 2008 in Toronto (October 4th to 12th). It also won the People’s Choice Award there.