Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

Just back from the event held yesterday at the Circolo degli Artisti in Rome, called “Love and Kill Your Own Town”. The event was created by the guys and girls at CityVision Mag in the Wi-Fi Art series of events.

ConnectiCity, cities tell storiesConnectiCity, cities tell stories

The event featured an incredible set of international projects being showcased using the style called Pecha Kucha, with each presentation being shown using 20 slides automatically moving to the next one after 20 seconds.  My personal favourites of the night were maO, featuring some interesting thoughts on interactivity and on letting people define the borders of spaces, Michael Caton, a young designer who presented a software/photography project showing the “backstage” of the colossal architectural building grounds in Dubai and the rough condition of their workers, Weekend in a Morning, who presented a beautifully surreal and poetic project in which the traffic situation in Rome was confronted by designing an air transportation system using hot-air balloons from the borders of the city, and 2A+P/A, with their wonderful project about the productive condos in which a housign system was integrated with facilities for urban gardening, energy production and all sorts of activities that implement a sustainable living scheme. But all the projects were really interesting in proposing views on the city that created alternative interpretations of given reality, discovering how architectures could describe new forms of life either by suggesting – through spaces, materials and what you can do with them – different ways of living – more sustainable, more sensible to people and the environment and, most of all, intriducing the possibility for people to decide what to do with their spaces – or by doing it first-hand, following processes in which human beings, their self determination and their expression, are the most valuable thing that is taken into account.

At the event we presented two things: a project featuring wide sensing techniques to publish the stories of cities, and what we called the Atlante di Roma.

The first: Cities tell stories

this are the presentation slides we used:

As you can see by following the slides we told the story of how we gave thousands of people electronic devices capable of generating info and bio feedback, and combining this information with other sources to generate visual narratives of the city.

We chose 3 persons among the thousands and we created a story. On each person’s callout you can see the red bar, showing heartbeat rate, the blue bar showing stress conditions as gathered from galvanic skin response feedback, and the green bar showing emotional arousal information as collected from the interface of a mobile application that was given to them together with the devices.

The story followed the life of the three characters, describing a little urban love story, in which the sensors, traffic conditions, CO2 production, and mobile traffic profile of the the characters effectively created a time-based infoaesthetic tale.

The project was fake.

Together with FakePress we did similar projects and many people all over the world are currently creating and researching on these themes, making them more and more actual and feasable every day. So the fact that we presented a fake project is not really a big deal :) (and, halfway through the presentation we actually told people, and justified using the argumentation that I will use in a coule of lines or so)

We presented a fake project because it was probabily more real than any project presentation that we could have made.

Project presentations can be done in several ways: be them poetic, minimalistic, corporate… But, mostly, they represent only a single point of view. A single, incomplete, point of view.

So they do not represent, in any way, reality (or, at least, some indefinable, absolute “thing” that some people may have the temptation to call “reality”) which is, by definition, an interactive cohexistence of multiple points of view.

So we decided that it would be more significative to tell a lie, to describe a fake project, but, while doing this, to describe our perspective on the world and to delegate the discussion of our peojects to the projects themselves, that can be experienced online, used on mobile phones and even worn, in the case of our wearable technologies.

The second thing that we did during the event was to present one of these projects, in total adherence to what we described in the fake project presented with the slideshows. So, after all, it was not a fake. or, better, the presentation was a fake that described a real thing, so that the real thing could be more understandable. And, actually, it was fantastic how people believed more in the fake than in my expanations of the real project presented, which I will give you all a few lines below.

the project was presented as Atlante di Roma, but, after the presentation, it should actually be called “ConnectiCity“.

Let’s see why.

Atlante di Roma was an extraordinary architectural installation that we have been invited to create by Paolo Valente, the curator, for the Index Urbis Festa dell’Architettura in Rome. The installation featured a large-scale urban screen (about 35 meters long) that enacted a series of generative interfaces through which the visions on the city produced by institutions, organizations, studios and single individuals could be navigated using multitouch technologies, across space, time and subjects. The installation was though as something that could remain persistent, with an information system feeding its information that in a first phase (the one for the event) would have been fed by the responsibles of the organizations involved, but that would have been opened to public access so that anyone could express their vision on the city by uploading text, multimedia and their own voices.

Apart from the ever-present technical problems and some adjustments and changes in the interactivity that, after seeing it in action, we all agreed, together with Paolo, were needed, the Atlas perfectly did its job. And the online version is still working (if quite unattended, while we gather our forces and funds to keep the project going), and ready to be reproduced here in Rome and in other parts of the world.

What we presented at the event was something different.

You can see a scaled down version of the software used for the installation here at ConnectiCity: the City tells its stories

The concept shows a prottype for an urban screen that collects in realtime all the information generated by citizens on social networks and discussing their city, radiating outward from its geographical position. Imagine the screen placed in a neighborhood: walking by, you would could read what the people there, in that instant are saying about their city.

It is a way to communicate the multiple perspectives that effectively build the city, creating an architecture on top of it made from emotion, imagination, desires, ambitions and fears, and to make them part of the architectural landscape.

We decided to call this new concept using another name: ConnectiCity.

Atlas and ConnectiCity are two different things, thay have different objectives: the Atlas is a system that allows to create an environment with a specific form that is used to represent the visions on the city in which it is placed (as the Atlas of Rome does for Rome); ConnectiCity is a stream of consciusness, a situated collective stream of ideas, projects, visions and emotions emerging in a specific area thanks to whoever decides to express. While the Atlas focuses on the creation of a form, ConnectiCity focuses on the creation of a process.

Both share a vision: to create architectural spaces in cities that are dedicated to expression, emotion, and self-determination, tolerance, multi-culturalism.

rel:attiva presenza

November 8th, 2008

while in Mexico we did quite a few things.

possibly the most difficult one was the creation of an architectural installation called rel:attiva presenza.

attiva presenza in Mexico City

rel:attiva presenza in Mexico City

the installation constituted a practical example of the theories we exposed at this congress and it was created in the beautiful cloister of the Italian Cultural Institute in Mexico City, in the colonia Coyoacan.

The concept behind the installation was a contextualization of an architectural intervention we designed by the same name, transforming a public square into an interactive location for mixed-media urban dialogue.

The installation show/performance took place together with the inauguration of the exhibit “El viaje en la mirada: dibujos italianos de dos arquitectos mexicanos” from which some drawings were taken and virtually re-interpreted for the installation’s components.

The installation was built using the openframeworks programming libraries, and it featured 2 network synchronized computers handling the sides of the visuals and the spatialized sound.

A narrative was created by juxtaposing 7 scenes projected on a cylindrical artefact hanging on top of teh cloister’s fountain.

Each of the 7 stages featured a methodology for layering virtual and physical domaind of reality.

The sounds from other spaces/times that were recreated in spatialized form in the environment.

The images from various locations of Mexico that were morphed into each other together with their localized sounds, to form new, virtual places.

The drawings exhibited, taht were used to create narrative voyages that superimposed the palces that inpired teh drawings with fantastic, non-existing ones.

Virtual architectures that were projected onto real ones, creating hybrids.

Interaction was assured by means of teh environental sound and by a simple cloister-wide motion capture system that used people’s movement to generate sounds and parameter values for the various algorithms involved in the software.

A special thanks must be given to the people at the Italian Cultural Institute, especially to Franco Avicolli, the institute’s cultural expert and responsible for inter-universities relationships, appointed by Italy’s Ministry for Foreign Relations, and to his assistant Valeria Ricci Apiròz: their enthusiasm was probably the most enabling technology that we used for this installation. :)

An enormous “thank you” goes to the Institute and to its director, prof. Marco Bellingeri, and to Felice Scauso, the Italian Embassador in Mexico, who gave us an incredibly warm hospitality.

check out the review on ArtsBlog

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architettura rel:attiva

November 8th, 2008

just back from Mexico where me and penelope.di.pixel performed quite a few activities: a congress on the revitalization of the historical centers, a panel on virtual, participative and interactive architectures and on innovation, and an installation performance called rel:attiva presenza.

attiva in Mexico City

architettura rel:attiva in Mexico City

The Seventh International Meeting on the Revitalization of the Historical Centers (27-28-29th of October 2008) was organized by the INAH in collaboration with the Spanish Cultural Center in Mexico, with the Italian Cultural Institute in Mexico and with the Italian and Spanish embassies.

This year’s edition of the congress focused on the theme “today’s  architecture as mediator of the historical and contemporary city“.

Many illustrous and international participants attended the meeting: Guillermo Vázquez de Consuegra (Spain), Teodoro González de León (Mexico), Felipe Leal (Mexico), Mario Coyula (Cuba), Maria Elisa Costa (Brasil), Augusto Quijano (Mexico), and an incredibly significative Carlo Aymonino, a central figure of Italy’s and international’s architectonic neorealism, providing for an incredible set of professional competences and personal histories.

We were infiltrates, just as usual, and were the only not-architects making a presentation. :)

The congress took place at the beautiful Franz Mayer Museum, with its incredible cloister, showing the evident signs of 1985’s earthquake.

What emerged from these intense 3 days of discussion was a really live debate on the conception of the city.

While most architects had no problems in conceptualizing a definition of architecture that includes the concepts of form and function, the impact of a our “little” semantic shift proved out to be quite a surprise, provoking deep interest and deep oppositions. It sure didn’t leave people unresponsive.

Our architettura rel:attiva discussed the point of view of the hybridization of practices and of disciplines, of the integration of the immaterial domains of reality brought on by the digital technologies and cultures, on collaborative practices applied to urban design and intervention, and on a general conception of a live metropolis, built from concrete and steel just as it is built on people, relationships, emotion and an active, collaborative way of life.

What we proposed, thus, was the idea of an architecture that was not only about the shapes of buildings and about their historical values, but also about the possibility for them to become tools, mediators and enablers of new social, anthropological, economic, relational, sensorial and emotional practices enabled in the contemporary era by digital technologies.

We talked about an anthropological, communicational, interactive, relational architecture. Which, for most of the classically architects was a shock.

In most cases the immaterial and virtual domains of reality enabled by technology are perceived just as tools to reconstruct and re-enact historical artifacts, to virtually rebuild, for example, the Roman Forum of the Templo Mayor in Mexico city so that people can walk through them and see/hear the “things of the past”.

Which is, by the way, a perfectly honest and interesting thing to do :)  but it leaves out all of the other possibilities in terms of social, business and relational models that could be enabled by the metropolis itself if spaces integrated technologies to create a truly ecosystemic environment in which interaction possibilities could turn into instruments for politics, culture, inspiration and expression.


THIS is the PDF of the architettura rel:attiva theories. It is only in italian for now: we will translate it into English, Spanish and French in a bit, stay tuned.

check out the rewiew on artsblog.

here below are some pictures from the event. Stay tuned for the report of the installation of the rel:attiva presenza, coming up next.

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Urban public space – understood as open, civic space – is a key element in the development of European urbanism. It is based on a well-balanced mix of functions and the idea of the inhabitant as active citizen.

We currently face a transitional period of restructuring social networks in a globalised world. This is resulting in various experiments with new types of relations and exchange processes, supported by the developing interactive new media tools. In order to maintain the social sustainability of our cities, it is important to connect this new virtual space for development of public sphere and social exchange with the acquisition and reactivation of urban public space.

A spreading feeling of fear in public space connected with a notion of being disconnected from ones surroundings reminds us that virtual spaces cannot alone function as alternative spaces for exchange and production of identity in a modern society.

The content of media facades and digital moving Images in public spaces should not only be determined by market forces, yet should follow urban necessities. Therefore we aim to transform the growing number of digital architectural surfaces in our cities into experimental visual zone on the threshold of virtual and urban public space, contributing to a liveable urban society.

The changing architectural relationship between image, structure and representation has been long predicted by Architecture and Media critiques such as Paul Virilio und Robert Venturi.

Media façades can combine aspects of lighting and graphics in formats determined by the architecture, these might differ fundamentally in format, resolution and dimension from the rectilinear media image. Moving imagery has increasingly become interactive and emergent and often have to work without sound, so they question narrative storytelling known from other traditional media. Content can be synthesised from or driven by information from the environment, whether it be from within the building or from the outside world, or through channels such as the internet. In connection with locative and mobile media, new forms of content production can develop that create through participatory approaches new relations between the imagery and the surrounding urban space and its citizen.

There’s a growing need for the research of different creative contents that are able to make these new media for urban space vivid and attractive. Creatives in the different areas of media and culture are confronted with entirely new challenges in respect to resolution and distribution of pixels; there are also new forms of interaction arising from the specific dimensions of size and distance that differ basically from classical media formats. And how can we experiment with the element of audio, without constantly showering the open public space with sound?

It is very likely that new job descriptions and creative practices will emerge out of the new field of media architecture. It is still undetermined how roles for the production of content and displays will be distributed, and what standards can be applied for assessing projects. Building with media facades are a challenge for architects, creatives and planners, as they require a profound knowledge of the technical aspects, offer new design objectives and lead to new possibilities for communication in urban space.

The fact that the surface of a building and hence its character is subject of permanent change enables new relations with the local environment and the involvement of citizens in content manipulation.

The MEDIA FACADES FESTIVAL BERLIN is an important contribution for the emergence of a discourse among actors in the field and the development of trend-setting projects in order to avoid undesirable visual overload and to achieve a better acceptance.

The event will promote a lateral trans-disciplinary approach to exploring the growing appearance of moving images in urban space and the global transformation of public culture in the context of large new multi media precincts such as Federation Square and various networked forms of urban screens. It will build on the successful events held in Amsterdam in 2005 and Manchester in 2007 and will be the first Urban Screens held in the Asia-Pacific region.

Through an integrated program of keynote lectures, panel sessions, workshops, curated screenings and multimedia projects, it will bring together leading Australian and international artists and curators, architects and urban planners, screen operators and content providers, technology manufacturers, software designers and public intellectuals.