Nokia Trends Lab

( via notcot )

Virtual hub of mobility experiences on Nokia Trends Lab Beta.

Filed under: art, design, fashion, films, graphics, mobility, music, new media, social, space/place, technology

Cell Phone Disco

( via the project’s website )



Cell Phone Disco is an experimental installation made out of flashing cells. By multiplication of a mobile phone gadget, only slightly altered consumer product, we created a space to experience the invisible body of the mobile phone.

Flashing cells basically consist of one or more LEDs, battery and a sensor that detects electromagnetic (EM) radiation transmitted by an active mobile phone. When the sensor detects EM waves it sets off the LEDs to flash for a couple of seconds. In general the flashing cells are enclosed in a plastic casing on a strap and sold as a fashion accessory for a mobile phone.

The Cell Phone Disco installation has two parts:


Flashing cells with sensors of higher sensitivity are used to detect electromagnetic radiation of active mobile phone in a range of approximately a meter. This way a sort of aura appears around the phone, revealing a part of it’s invisible body.

While the user moves around talking on his cell phone, this aura follows the conversation as a light shadow through the space.


Much less sensitive cells are used to create a canvas for an inkless marker. The LEDs get activated only by an extreme proximity of the electromagnetic source. Moving the phone close to the cells therefore leaves a trace of light, an electromagnetic drawing.


At the moment we are developing new variations as well as a modular version which can be used in public space and places such as venues. If you’re interested in applying such installation please contact us at projects@informationlab.org.

Cell Phone Disco is a project by informationlab.org & megla.org

Filed under: architecture, art, design, locative, mobility, new media, physical computing, space/place, technology

Social Media goes Mainstream

( via soa webservices )

While some will dispute what mainstream is defined as exactly — with my own personal favorite being when my grandparents and their grandchildren both are doing whatever is under discussion — the rise of consumer-powered media platforms has all the hallmarks of being something that’s not only here to stay, but something that’s increasingly pushing everything else off the stage. Yes, I’m talking about blogs, but also wikis and every other kind of two-way, user controlled participation tool that is currently proliferating on the Internet in every country and almost all demographics.

Now before I present my case for the mainstreaming of shared, collaborative media, we should more carefully define the term that captures this best: social media. Wikipedia of course has the most easily accessible definition of social media, describing it as “online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. Popular social mediums include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs.” The key here is that people are the ones that use and control these tools and platforms instead of organizations and large institutions. Further, I would add to this that social media platforms tend to work best in networked environments , particularly on the Web, but also behind firewalls though to a lesser degree. Why is the networked aspect so important? Primarily because it’s a powerful democratizing force due to its pervasive, low cost nature; anyone can get in the conversation with only a small investment of their personal time and access to a network. And since communication is essentially free over computer networks today, combining an architecture of participation powered by network effects makes social media platforms almost certainly the most powerful form of media yet created.

The Emergence and Rise of Mass Social Media in the Web 2.0 Era

These todays anyone posting anything on a simple blog lets them automatically reach the 1.1 billion users on the Web today. And with syndication, social media content is picked up and spread throughout Internet via feed engines and the entire syndication ecosystem and can be found by anyone looking for information via Technorati, Google Blog Search, TechMeme or dozens of other innovative discovery mechanisms. At long last, hundreds of years after the invention of the printig press, anyone can truly reach a global audience by spending a couple of minutes of their time creating a blog on one of the hundreds of free blog sites. I’ve highlighted in the past how social media has been used in both emergent and deliberate fashion to do everything from locating the survivors of natural disasters to motivating end-users en masse to create online video advertisements for a major corporation.

Of course, any effective technique or phenomenon has those who attempt to co-opt it or copy it, the latter which is the most sincerest form of flattery. The recent Public Relations 2.0 flap, which ostensibly boiled down to whether or not traditional organizations can even conceive of how these new freeform platforms work, was a good example of how institutions firmly grounded in the 20th century struggle to understand the power shift under way. Because these platforms are no longer under anyone’s control for the very reason that the Web is a system without an owner, except all of us together.

Bounding the Social Media phenomenon

But how significant is this really? What are the compelling datapoints that tell use that social media is changing the landscape of communication, collaboration, and personal interaction? David Sifry’s quarterly State of the Blogosphere, most recently updated in October, is an excellent place to start. Taking a look at this, we can tracking over 57 million blogs, with over 900,000 blog posts a day on just about any conceivable subject. 3 million new non-spam blogs were created in just the most recent 3 months of tracking. But blogs are primarily text and there are many other forms of social media and so it’s worth looking at podcasting and video, two important types of social media that are growing rapidly with the spread of high quality, fast Internet connections. Fortunately or unfortunately, unlike blogs, podcasts or video sharing do not have their own syndication system and for the most part they just ride inside the existing RSS/ATOM feed systems. This makes it hard to discern what is really happening and so we can only pull on some individual data points such as Google Trends data showing the rapid rise of podcasting as a search term.

The video side of social media is a bit easier, which Hitwise and YouTube providing enough hard data on the most recent version of the YouTube Fact Sheet to get a general though unscientific impression of what’s happening there. According to this, YouTube has 60% of all online video viewers with up to 70 million viewers in an evening and over 65,000 videos uploaded every day, making it both the #1 online video site and #1 social video sharing site online. This implies that most video consumption on the Web is already based on social media, and that there are over 115 million online viewers of video overall. At least for video, social media is not an edge case and is they dominant model overall. Note: Yes, one can quibble about whether YouTube is truly a social media site and certainly it skirts the concept but in my book it makes the list.

Why is YouTube considered Social Media though? What aspects does it — any many of the most successful media sites — have that make it social and non-coincidentally so popular? To understand this best, it’s worth creating a list of what exactly must an aspiring social media platform actually have in order to be considered such. Here is my take, culling the capabilities and features of the most popular social media sites as well as the consensus of leading thinkiners in this space such as Stowe Boyd, Tina Sharkey, and others.

Defining Social Media: Some Ground Rules
(as we understand them circa January 2007)

  1. Communication in the form of conversation, not monologue. This implies that social media must facilitate two-way discussion, discourse, and debate with little or no moderation or censorship. In other words, the increasingly ubiquitious comments section of your local blog or media sharing site is NOT optional and must be open to everyone.
  2. Participants in social media are people, not organizations. Third-person voice is discouraged and the source of ideas and participation is clearly identified and associated with the individuals that contributed them. Anonymity is also discouraged but permissible in some very limited situations.
  3. Honesty and transparency are core values. Spin and attempting to control, manipulate, or even spam the conversation are thoroughly discouraged. Social media is an often painfully candid forum and traditional organizations — which aren’t part of the conversation other than through their people — will often have a hard time adjusting to this.
  4. It’s all about pull, not push. Like John Hagel and John Seely Brown observed in the McKinsey Quarterly a year ago or so, push-based systems, of which one-way marketing and advertising and command-and-control management are typical examples are nowhere near as efficient as pull systems. Pull systems let people bring to them the content and relationships that they want, instead of having it forced upon them by an external entity. Far from being a management theory, much of what we see in Web 2.0 shows the power of pull-based systems with extremely large audiences. As you shape a social media community, understanding how to make embrace pull instead of push is one of the core techniques. In social media, people are in control of their conversations, not the pushers.
  5. Distribution instead of centralization. One often overlooked aspect of social media is the fact that the interlocutors are so many and varied. Gone are the biases that inevitably creep into information when only a few organizations control the creation and distribution of information. Social media is highly distributed and made up of tens of millions of voices making it far more textured, rich, and heterogeneous than old media could ever be (or want to be). Encouraging conversations on the vast edges of our networks, rather than in the middle, is what this point is all about.

The rise of social media platforms within businesses, often dubbed Enterprise 2.0 , will place a significant challenge on organizations as they try to grapple with the ground rules above. That’s because not following them will tend to reduce the long-term success and effectiveness of social media in business. Also, increasingly, as more and more time and world-wide attention is given to social media, who really owns the discussions online will become a bigger and bigger deal. YouTube recently announced they will begin paying their users for their video contributions (which are the seeds for often virulent conversation on that site), but they still place far too many restrictions on the content that is uploaded including making it belong to YouTube.

Both of these trends show that when users are in control via the highly democratizing tools of the Web, the fundamental ground rules change. Understand them, follow them, and embrace them, this is the pre-eminent media model for the 21st century.

These aren’t the only rules for social software however, just social media in particular. Be sure to check out my Notes on Making Good Social Software for more good ideas.

What else did I miss? What makes social media uniquely what it is?

By : Dion Hinchcliffe

Filed under: architecture, art, design, mobility, new media, research, social, space/place, technology

Street Level

( via remix theory )

Image source: Youtube

I recently received the following link to a Youtube video about the exhibition “Street Level” taking place at the Nasher Museum of Art:


As great and as challenging the works in this exhibition may be, they do not fall in emerging Remix practice, but rather belong in appropriation art practice following the conceptual art movement from the nineteen seventies. One thing which should be pointed out is that not everything that makes references to pre-existing material is Remix. Appropriating something does not mean one automatically is remixing. Remix relies on sampling–that is an actual part–an actual section of the “thing” must be part of the “remix,” and the projects in “Street Level” are precise allegorical references to the street, or some other source that is connected to the street. Even after making this clarification I urge you to look at the Youtube video, please do take the time to view it.

Below is the brief statement sent by David Colagiovanni (thank you for the forward!):

It’s the work of 3 artists- Mark Bradford, William Cordova, & Robin Rhode for who the streets of their respective cities act as fluid, living sources of inspiration. Found objects, urban vernacular and performative gestures help build a foundation for their art, including painting, works on paper, sculpture, photography, video, installation and other mixed media. Their work explores the ways that cultural territory is defined and space is transformed in urban environments.

Filed under: architecture, art, mobility, space/place, urban

Embodiment in Digital Art

( via artificial.dk )

A little background via their site >>

Welcome to artificial.dk – your news resource for information about net art, software art, and other computer based art forms. Our mission is to promote these art forms to a broad audience because we believe they can develop and nuance our views on advanced technologies and the society they are a part of.

Artificial.dk is now an archive of articles and activities from the period 2001-2007. No new articles will be added, but you are welcome to browse through our previously published articles. Your hosts and editors were Kristine Ploug & Thomas Petersen. Contact us at: artificial at artificial dot dk.

Special: Embodiment in Digital Art

Dan Graham: Body Press, 1970-1972. Photo: Dan Graham, courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery , New York and Paris.

‘[…] the image can no longer be restricted to the level of surface appearance, but must be extended to encompass the entire process by which information is made perceivable through embodied existence. This is what I propose to call the digital image.’ (Mark Hansen: New Philosophy for New Media, p. 10)

In this last special at Artificial we have chosen the theme: ‘Embodiment in digital art’. Inspired by current trends in media art and theory, we take our point of departure in the expanded notion of the digital image in order to have a closer look at the role of the body in contemporary digital art and culture.

Art has always actively involved human beings: whether you read a book, watch a film, visit a museum – or just talk to a good friend. As soon as you engage in the world, a process of interaction and exchange occurs.

In his widely acknowledged book, New Philosophy for New Media, Mark Hansen demonstrates how the embodied spectator is involved directly in the very production of contemporary media art with focus on process, performance and interaction. The ‘image’ can no longer be understood as an external formal thing, e.g. as a canvas hanging on the wall in a gallery. The so-called digital image has to be acknowledged as an open field or terrain of possibilities in-formed or in-framed by physically present human beings in specific situations bound in time and space. The embodied existence is the filter, the nexus and the materiality of the art experience. Following Mark Hansen’s argument means that in order to grasp the new scene for the digital art event, we have to turn our focus from the level of code towards the embodied human experience.

Left: still image from Myron Kruegers Videoplace, 1970. Info and video: www.artmuseum.net/w2vr/timeline/Krueger.html. Right: Nam June Paik: Random Access, 1963. Photo: Manfred Montwé. www.nydigitalsalon.org/10/artwork.php?artwork=13.

This special consists of a number of interviews and articles about international projects – from young talented ideas to prominent research projects – which investigate aspects of embodiment in different art forms supported by state of the art technology. Our focus on this subject is part of a wider theme on ‘body and technology’ which will be launched by the web magazine Turbulens (www.turbulens.net) in March 2007 (the curator group Maskinstorm (www.maskinstorm.org) is also involved in the theme). Keep an eye open this spring for a broad variety of activities within the field.

Continue reading >

Filed under: applications, architecture, art, consciousness, DIY, hack, locative, mobility, new media, research, social, space/place, technology, urban

Psfk_conference london

( via psfk )

PSFK presents a series of presentations and discussions by leading innovators over the course of a day. We have invited some of the most brilliant thinkers who will lead tomorrow’s businesses to speak to an audience from the creative, media and marketing communities.

In the morning our speakers and panelists will explore new trends and ideas in areas like digital media and eco-consciousness; and in the afternoon the speakers will provide inspiration on how to apply the insights gained from looking at trends and ideas and applying them for new marketing, branding and design.

Confirmed Speakers

Agenda For PSFK Conference London

8.00 Registration

8.30 Welcome – Piers Fawkes

8.45 How Digital Media Screwed The Media Business – Mike Butcher
Journalist Mike Butcher talks about how media owners are on a race for survival now against technology companies that put the power to publish in the hands of the ‘audience’.

9.15 When artists and designers mess around with technology – Regine Debatty (We Make Money Not Art)
Today artists explore electronics, digital bits and even the so-called “emerging technologies” such as biotechnology or nanotechnology. Why should it matter to us?

9.45 The Marketing Gap In Green – Chair: Karen Fraser (Ethical Index) Panel: John Grant (BrandTarot), Diana Verde Nieto (Clownfish), Tamara Giltsoff (OZObrand), Santiago Gowland (Unilever)
Could marketing departments and their agencies get left behind by both the corporations they serve and the consumers they supply?

10.30 Coffee

10.50 Five by Five – Niku Benaie (Naked)
Five themes. Twenty-five ideas, items to inspire and personal gems. One for every minute of the twenty five.

11.20 tbc – Timo Veikkola (Nokia)

11.50 Turning Trends Into Insights – Chair: Steven Overman (Lowe Worldwide / Jack Morton) Panel: Beeker Northam (Bloom), Faris Yakob (Naked), Simon Sinek (Sinek Partners),
Got trends and ideas? Now what do you do with them?

12.40 Lunch

1.30 How To Build Innovation Into A Brand – Jeremy Ettinghausen (Penguin)
Penguin brand marketing – past, present and future. The challenge of reinventing a traditional brand for a digital age.

2.00 Alternative Reality Games – Dan Hon (Mind Candy)
How to serve brand experiences with an injection of adrenalin and fun.

2.30 10 Reasons Why Digital Is Better Than Advertising – Iain Tait (Poke)
Some chap from a digital agency tries to argue that an industry based around a bunch of geeks playing with joined-together computers is somehow more interesting than advertising.

3.00 Can Planners Really Be The New Creatives? Chair: Jessica Greenwood (Contagious Magazine). Panel: Harry Fowler (MajorPlayers), Amelia Torode (VCCP), tbc
Do planners really have the skills, experience and intuition to apply creativity in their work?

3.30 Coffee

4.00 Wine 2.0 – Hugh MacLeod
How a small South African wine company shook up an industry with a web 2.0 approach.

4.30 Visual Business – Martin Cole
Trying to sell visual things to non-visually literate people.

5.00 Change The World – George Parker (Madscam), Russell Davies (OIA), Johnny Vulkan (Anomaly)
What is the future role of the marketing industry? A tool to do good or just more noise?

5.50 Close

(subject to change)

For information visit conference.psfk.com. Questions? sales@psfk.com

Filed under: art, conferences, design, locative, mobility, new media, research, social, space/place, technology

Future Of Learning Is Informal And Mobile

( via smartmobs )

What does the future of learning look like? Robin Good met Teemu Arina in Rome and made an impressing video interview about the future of learning. The video Robin added to YouTube and integrated the chapers creatively in the transcript.

Photo credit: Lotta Viitaniemi
Video chapters: Informal learning, Informal learning inside organizations. Tools to facilitate informal learning. Mobile learning. Mobile learning in the near future. Learning in normal life. Stay ahead of the wave? What is connectivism. What would you change in the world of learning? What is a teacher? Other types of teachers. World beyond learning,

Personally I met Teemu on November 11 2005 in Tampere Talo in Finland at Open Mind 2005. While talking to Teemu I forgot the time and missed the bus of our group to the airport. Believe me, I rather had missed that flight home for the opportunity to be inspired by meeting Teemu Arina.

I fully agree with Robin, when he introduces Teemu as “a young Finnish educational scholar, with lots of good ideas, a fully working brain and a vision for the future as only a few are able to crystallize”.

Master NewMedia Robin Good: “I found Teemu to be a true thinker, and one that does like to stretch the definitions of what is possible and what’s not. Open-minded and capable of evaluating viewpoints different than his, he is also a pragmatical individual understanding the true limits and restrictions we impose on ourselves via the working and social infrastructures we build around ourselves.

Our interaction focus, in this first part of our video interview, is on the future of learning, and on the relevance that terms like “informal learning” and “mobile learning” will come to have in the near future”.

Teemu Arina: Along with social software, wikis and blogs are very often considered informal learning tools by educational technology experts. When I look inside organizations I see these tools as something that counter taylorist technologies like groupware and intranets, where the control is mainly on the management side (for example the IT department).

Teemu Arina continues: It is kind of connecting the virtual and the physical spaces, and that is where I think informal learning is currently failing in the educational technology field: we are not giving enough importance to the meaning of physical spaces and piazzas for meeting. When we see mobile technologies, social technologies and physical spaces intersecting very well, I think that is when we see what true learning is all about.

For more of Teemu’s ‘reflections on networked learning, knowledge and collaboration in organizations’ go to Tarina presentations and writings.

Full article / interview with videos over here >

Filed under: academic, applications, mobility, new media, research, social, space/place, technology

Sonic Jacket

( via twenty1f )

The purpose of the ‘Sonic Jacket‘ is to record sounds from the environment through which one moves during the day or night. By the end of the day/night a traveler will have a collection of an environmental sound experiences.

Time of the traveling is determining different characters of experience. By the time differentiation are concerned distinct periods of the day and of the night.

So ultimately as a traveler can take pictures of places one will be able to take samples of sounds. A traveler is also able to share these sonic experiences through interaction with other people. Instead of using words traveler is going to use a sound to convey his daily or night activities, impressions and experiences. In this way ‘Sonic Jacket’ becomes a personal instrument of an individual creative expression.

Interaction between a traveler and people from his surroundings is obtained through physical contact. In the moment of interaction a random sound is played. The length of a sound is depending upon the intensity of interaction or the duration of physical contact. Intensity of interaction is depending upon the level of personal relation with the individuals involved in interaction.

Beside a sound as a new level of communication, ‘Sonic Jacket’ is also introducing another way of contact between people. Touch is concerned as a body language that can determine a level of personal contact between two people. As such it can also determine at what level is a relationship between two people. In this sense project is playing with a length of a touch. Length of a touch is determining a level of personal.

A project by Michelle Aoolfs.

Filed under: art, fashion, locative, mobility, new media, physical computing, space/place, technology

Mashing / Mapping

( via plugimi )

.: Pdf :.
A little info. on the workshop ( via mediamatic ):

In this new workshop participants will develop prototypes for hybrid world media applications. While the internet is still thought of as a virtual space, it is quickly gaining foot in the physical world.

An Internet-of-Things is under construction, with RFID as a key technology. Unique digital identification and GPS tracking devices link digital media to places and objects. Mobile phones and urban screens allow the media to be everywhere people are.

This workshop explores the role of media makers (content creators) in the context of the increasingly intimate fusion of digital and physical space.

The Day of the Figurines – Locarno – Show by BlastTheory

Reader for Hybrid World Lab >

.: A collection of projects, theory and criticism on Hybrid World developments and RFID :.

Filed under: applications, art, DIY, locative, mobility, new media, research, situationist, space/place, technology

OFFF Day 3

A little background on Offf (through their web-site)>

Since 2001, OFFF is exploring software aesthetics and new languages for interactive and visual expression.

Every year, the festival features digital artists, web and print designers, motion graphic studios and avant-garde electronic musicians. But OFFF is more than an event about any of these disciplines. More than a design conference, a multimedia trade fair, or a digital animation festival. OFFF is an enthusiastic celebration of a new visual culture.

OFFF is spreading the work of a generation of creators that are breaking all kind of limits. Those separating the commercial arena from the worlds of art and design; music from illustration, or ink and chalk from pixels. Artists that have grown with the web and receive inspiration from digital tools, even when their canvas is not the screen.

From exercises in interactive synesthesia that excite all our senses to stage performances made of lines of computer code. All this, and much more, is shown every year at OFFF; one of the essential meeting points for the international scene of postdigital creation.

Past participants in OFFF include legends of graphic design and visual communication like Neville Brody, Tomato, Kyle Cooper or Stefan Sagmeister; acknowledged software artistssuch as Jared Tarbell, Lia, Casey Reas y Ben Fry, or Daniel Brown; innovators of the moving image like We work for Them, Tronic Studio, D-Fuse or Renascent; explorers of advanced interaction like Soda, James Paterson, Amit Pitaru or Craig Swann; and the most important names that have defined the aesthetics of the experimental and creative side of the Web: Joshua Davis, Yugo Nakamura, Hi-Res!, Josh Ulm, or Erik Natzke. The festival has also a special spot for the main names in the Spanish scene (Area3, Vasava, Innothna, Cocoe, Dani Granatta, La Mosca…) and for creators of surprising new kinds of sonic landscapes: Tujiko Noriko, The Vegetable Orchestra, Sutekh, Taylor Deupree, System, Daedelus, Stephan Mathieu, Kenneth Kirschner


Coverage by, (who else ?!) Regine

On the last day at OFFF in Barcelona, Matt Pyke gave a little walk-through of his work at the Designers Republic and especially all the things he has been setting up (from a lovely garden in Sheffield) with his multidisciplinary studio Universal Everything since he has left there.


Especially nice were the 20.000 generated characters for the Lovebytes festival which instantly became the subject of collecting and their installations for the Nokia store in NYC. On its screens you see people which are basically flocks of pixels which interchange parts of each other when calling – creating a simple yet poetic visualization of the company’s “connecting people”-mantra. They also have a blog called Everyone Forever on which Universal Everything collect stuff that inspires them.

Later that day, it was John Maeda’s turn which put me in a similar position to Régine when Bruce Sterling was talking at IFID since it was more of an eclectic lecture to inspire his numerous audience which is naturally difficult to write up. We’ll try anyway:

Actually, John Maeda never wanted to talk about his work in front of audiences like this again ever since an illustrator told him that his computer-based work “is so empty”. It’s much better to talk about ideas anyway. One of his latest ideas was Simplicity but he’s already getting tired of that by now. When he got really tired, he went on a vacation at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He needed to get khaki shorts, so he went to a GAP store and there was even more simplicity (“Keep it simple”), switch on the TV and you see Paris Hilton living “The Simple Life” and the list goes on. But maybe we just love complexity too much to make everything simple. Take the MIT media lab, a place which, thanks to I.M. Pei‘s architecture, looks very simple from the outside. Yet, it’s a very complex place. While at Google, you get free smoothies (and accumulate the dreaded Google 15), in academia there’s no such thing. Instead they give people titles, lots of them, making their lives ever more complex with growing responsibilities. As he also describes in his book Maeda@Media, John grew up in a family-run tofu factory in Seattle. Tofu also is simple food, but the edamame beans it is made of need to go through a complex process to become the final product. This was a very spartan education and made him thoroughly enjoy studying at school. When it was time to choose a college, he went for MIT’s media lab, which, from above, coincidentally also resembles a chunk of tofu. He met Muriel Cooper who told him to go to art school which is what he did and where he met more mentors like Paul Rand and Ikko Tanaka who were all very advanced in their careers and focussed more on humanizing their students than anything else.

John Maeda (sort of) and his Apple II

Early in John’s own professional career, Japanese cosmetics-company Shiseido had him working “like Batman, teaching by day, arting by night”. Yet, many would consider his work to be “eye candy”, a term which he would like to see replaced with “eye meat” since it tries to get to the core of the question about how to create with computers. Back in those days, Maeda got an Apple 2-computer for $1500 and it did nothing. In 1995 in Kyoto, he built the “Human Powered Computer” which replaced all the mysterious inner workings of the machine with people. Quite funny and it lead him to better understand the spirituality of the machine. Many said that “the computer is nothing more that a pencil”, a statement which made many designers and artists feel comfortable with great changes already on the horizon. It is indeed a great tool, but we’re still trying to find out what kind of tool it really is. Every today’s software works a bit like a tree with alternatives branching out everywhere. Problem is, when you try to make art you always get stuck on that tree. And: paradoxically, true art will always be off that tree entirely.

Read full article here >

Coverage by Regine >

Filed under: architecture, art, DIY, films, graphics, hack, locative, mobility, new media, physical computing, research, social, space/place, technology, urban

Mobile Asia Competition 2006


Mobile Asia Competition 2006

MOBILE ASIA COMPETITION 2006: ORGANIZED BY ART CENTER NABI, SEOUL, KOREA :: The progress of mobile technology characterized by mobility, connectivity, and dispersion seems to resonate with the diasporic experiences of Asians who are mobile, dispersed yet connected with each other through socio-cultural dynamics and relations. With the mobile market and its culture expanding beyond Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan to the Southeast Asia, the need should be raised for reflecting upon the currency of culture and the urgency of new identities that are evolving with mobile technology in Asian region.

Mobile Asia Competition 2006 hosted by Art Center Nabi pays attention to the role of media makers and artists in articulating and expressing the Asian mobile cultures. Artists and media makers always appropriate and challenge the given technology through creative ideas and critical practices to broaden the space of possibilities. Especially, the recent emerging ubiquitous mobile environments requires both popular sentiment and critical thoughts. Mobile Asia competition 2006 investigates the new forms of Asian identities and cultures in the creative works of artists and designers who dare to experiment, play, and wrestle with the mobile technologies.


1. Works made to be viewed and experienced on mobile devices
(1) Game, Interactive Art
(2) Screen-based arts : Animation, Motion Graphic, Documentary, Music Video, Narrative film, etc.

2. Works made by mobile phones such as camera phone, video phone.

3. Idea proposal for wireless art projects on the theme of ‘connectivity and social network’. Art project that expresses the theme of social network and connectivity while exploring new and artistic ways of using diverse personal media such as mobile phones, laptop, PDA and internet network.

PRIZE: The total award money is US $20.000 and the selected works will be exhibited in various on and offline venues.

Category 1 & 2 (Mobile content): US $10.000

– One winner from each category will be awarded with $5000.
– The works by winners and other selected works will be screened and exhibited at Art Center Nabi, ResFest Korea 2006 (digital film festival), and Korean mobile phone service including DMB channel.

Category 3 (Wireless art proposal): US $10.000

– One winner will be awarded with $5000.
– Additional $5000 and technical support will be offered for the realization of the proposal if the work is decided to be realized for the exhibition at Art Center Nabi.


.Category 1 & 2 seek for completed works, and Category 3 for project proposal.
.Projects that are under development will also be considered for Category 3.
.Project proposal should relate to the theme and topics of the Award
.The works that are already presented or won in other competitions are not eligible for entry.


.All submissions should be processed through the official online platform.
.Biography, project proposal, and other supporting materials (image, sound, movie files) should be uploaded in appropriate format indicated in each section.
.However, the works applying for Category 1 & 2 should be sent via registered mail in the format of CD-Rom, DVD, Mini DV tape with a copy of filled-out online registration form printed from the website.

Please go to http://www.nabi.or.kr/pages/submission.asp to complete your submission. (all submissions)

Mail address (Category 1 & 2 only):
Art Center Nabi [Att: Mobile Asia Competition 2006]
99 Seorin-dong, Jongro-ku, SK bldg. 4th fl.
Seoul, Korea


Deadline for Submissions
.Category 1 & 2: August 31, 2006
.Category 3: August 31, 2006 (*date has been extended from July 31)

Notification of winners September 15, 2006

CONTACT: For more information, please visit http://www.mobileasia.org.
Or contact at mobileasia[at]mobileasia.org

Art Center Nabi
99 Seorin-dong, Jongro-ku, SK bldg. 4th fl.
Seoul, Korea

Filed under: conferences, locative, mobility, new media, research, social, space/place, technology, urban

Reconfiguring Place and Space in New Media Writing

Editor’s Introduction: Reconfiguring Place and Space in New Media Writing

Jay David Bolter titled his influential study of the history of writing, the computer, and hypertext Writing Space [1991] in part because he believed that computers present us with a fundamental shift in the nature of the conceptual and material space of writing. Bolter wrote that while the writing space of medieval handwriting and modern printing was the printed page, the computer’s writing space is “animated, visually complex, and to a surprising extent malleable” and that electronic writing offers a new conceptual space “characterized by fluidity and an interactive relationship between writer and reader” (11). It is perhaps emblematic of the progression of the field of new media writing that among Bolter’s more recent projects is Four Angry Men, [2003] a “single-narrative, multiple point-of-view augmented reality experience,” in which the user sits at a table in a physical space while experiencing an abridged version of Twelve Angry Men from the point of view of one of four jurors. The other characters appear as texture-mapped video in the other three chairs at the table. The multimedia writing space has extended from the computer back into the physical world.

From the earliest hypertext fictions written in Storyspace and the interactive fictions of the Infocom era, space and place have had distinctly different and in many ways more prominent roles than setting typically plays in the structure of print narratives. From the spelunking of Adventure and the Zork series onwards, interactive fictions are always in a fundamental sense about the description of imaginary spaces, and the readers’ role is to navigate from one space to the next, solving riddles as they proceed. Hypertexts written in Storyspace software, such as Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl [1995], used that program’s capacity to visually represent hypertext nodes as configurations of boxes connected by links to present visual maps of writing spaces. Patchwork Girl and Jackson’s webwork My Body & — a Wunderkammer [1997] both also integrate woodcut imagemaps of the protagonists’ bodies, which the reader can click through to stories describing or related to each organ or appendage.

In most hypertext fiction, the role of chronology in structuring the narrative is greatly diminished in comparison to print fiction conventions. In the absence of chronology, the authors of fragmented multilinear narratives need to offer their readers other tools for navigating the text. In an environment described as cyberspace, developed with home pages on web sites, geographical metaphors make almost intuitive sense. Any textual link is of course itself a means of navigation, but authors of web hypertext typically offer readers other orienting strategies as well. In addition to a calendar and character-based means of navigation, Bobby Rabyd a.k.a. Robert Arellano’s network novel Sunshine 69 [1996] also provides a map of the San Francisco Bay area, enabling the reader to organize their reading geographically. The reader traverses Matthew Miller’s “Trip” [1996] by first choosing a state in the US and then by choosing specific interstates to change course. The collaborative hypertext novel The Unknown [1999] likewise used geography as an organizational strategy, and the road trip as a trope. Stuart Moulthrop’s Reagan Library [1999] can be navigated both by textual links and by moving through a three-dimensional Myst-like Quicktime VR world. In Moulthrop’s most recent work Pax [2003], the user clicks on bodies rising and falling through space, momentarily visiting each avatar’s consciousness in the process of assembling a patchworked story of American consciousness during the war on (or in) terror. The collective narrative project Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood includes hundreds of individual contributions of short fiction and nonfiction set in specific locations all over New York City. The reader can navigate to stories by selecting a New York neighborhood or by zooming in on a satellite map of Manhattan to the specific street address where the story takes place.

Since the 1980s, there have been a number of installation-based new media writing projects, including Jeffrey Shaw’s Legible City [1989], which had the user navigating a labyrinthine city of words by riding a stationary bicycle. Installation-based forms of new media writing typically utilize the user’s body as an instrument in revealing, uncovering, arranging, or modifying the text. In Camille Utterback & Romy Achituv’s Text Rain [1999], users catch and play with letters as they fall like rain on the users’ mirror images in the projection in front of them. In Noah Wardrip-Fruin et al.’s Talking Cure [2002], the user’s face or body is projected as a text field that reveals one layer of a three-layer text centered on Anna O, Joseph Breur’s patient that gave him and Freud the idea of the talking cure. Another layer of the text is created by the user’s voice translated by a text-to-speech engine. Recently, Robert Coover has led a series of CAVE writing workshops at Brown University, which have produced a number of literary pieces designed for that fully immersive three-dimensional environment, including Noah Wardrip-Fruin et al.’s Screen [2002-2005] and William Gillespie and David Dao’s Word Museum [2005]. CAVE installations give the user the sensation of being inside a computer-generated environment. Words and graphics become material forms that can peel off the wall and fly at your head, or can be approached from many angles like a sculpture in a museum.

While installations and VR environments have increasingly liberated the user’s body from the seated-in-front-of-screen-at-keyboard position and brought the body inside the ontological space of the work itself, mobile computing and communication technologies are increasingly powerful and pervasive. Writers, artists, performers and “puppet-masters” are employing network writing strategies to deploy a variety of projects that extend from the network into the real world. Projects such as Teri Rueb’s Itinerant [2005] make use of mobile and locational technologies including GPS and RFID to create narrative experiences affected by the user’s movement through the physical world. In the case of Itinerant, as users walked through Boston Commons and surrounding neighborhoods they experienced an interactive sound work that re-framed Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Projects such as Yellow Arrow [2004-Present] pair coded stickers with text messaging, enabling users to write and read brief personal narratives about locations tagged in the physical world. Implementation [2004] is a fragmentary novel published on stickers that was deployed and photographed by participant readers around the world. Surrender Control [2001] utilized SMS as a performance medium, sending its users a series of directions as text messages, ordering them to perform a variety of absurdist actions during the course of their everyday lives. Similarly, the phenonmenon of flash mobs makes use of text messaging to assemble groups of people for alternately absurdist and political activities. Extensible web technologies such as Google Maps paired with GPS coordinates also offer narrative possibilities, as evidenced by projects such as the “Memory Maps” group on Flickr, whose users have created personal narratives of places through coordinate-tagged photographs accessed through interactive maps.

This installment of the Iowa Review Web explores the function of place and space in recent new media writing. Each of the four interviews concern works that in some way attempt to reconfigure our understanding of the relationship between space and storytelling. Each of the primary works discussed in these interviews also pushes space in another sense, in that each attempts to explore a new “possibility space” on the boundary between different forms and fields of multimedia experience: between story and game, between game and drama, between literature and conceptual art, between game and performance.

Nick Montfort and Jeremy Douglass discuss Montfort’s new interactive fiction Book and Volume [2006], a work that casts the player character as a kind of cross betweeen a flâneur and Pavlovian functionary, a computer tech completing the quotidian tasks of working life in the grid city of nTopia. The work explores the nature of the phenomenological experience of life in the city, among other aspects how the idle chatter and white noise of city life affect our experience of the polis as place. Montfort says “These things are sort of irrelevant to you as a human being in an ontological world, but nevertheless are going on all around you in the city, and reminding you of the existence of city life. So, in addition to there being a literary purpose for wanting these amusing texts to appear once in a while, there is also a connection to the atmosphere and experience of a city.”

Andrew Stern and Michael Mateas discuss with Brenda Harger the process of writing and programming their groundbreaking interactive drama Façade. The 2006 Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Award-winner, Façade [2005] is a game in the form of an interactive one-act play. The player character, an avatar in a partially three-dimensional environment, arrives one night at the apartment of two old college friends, now married, in the midst of a fairly tense argument. You as the player become embroiled in their argument, cast into the role of referee. Insofar as there is a goal in Façade, it is to moderate a therapy game and manage the intractable marital discord of your hosts, as you navigate the anxious and awkward spaces of both Grace and Trip’s small urban apartment and the crumbling edifice of their relationship. Mateas highlights Façade’s inversion of the commercial gaming conventions of vast virtual environments that players wander having shallow interactions with “objects and non-player characters–dodging, jumping, running, shooting, etc.” to a more intimate environment that fosters “deep interaction.”

Shelley Jackson offers a discussion of her recent work in print, electronic, and epidermal media. Jackson is the author of the print fiction collection The Melancholy of Anatomy [2002] and the forthcoming novel Half Life, electronic works including the canonical hypertext fiction Patchwork Girl and the webwork The Doll Games [2002], and most recently the story “Skin,” [2004-Present] which is being published on the skin of 2,095 volunteers in the form of single word tattoos. The interview focuses in particular on the various ways that Jackson has thematized the intimately alien space of the human body. Jackson writes “I am feeling my way through some sort of impossible topological figure here, probably a Klein bottle, to explain the outside-inness of my sense of self, but there are other ways to put it. Let’s see if this is simpler: there are some parts of me that are permanently unknowable, and one of those things is the very basis of knowing: the body.”

Jane McGonigal is a designer and practictioner of alternate reality games. McGonigal provides a discussion of massively collaborative play and performance in everyday spaces. Alternate reality games such as I Love Bees [2004] and the Go Game are cross-media experiences, typically played both via the web and other communication technologies and in physical real-world environments. Players perform the games based on the clues and prompts of “puppet-masters.” In navigating the path of challenges laid by the puppetmasters, players uncover and in a sense help to author a controlling narrative, while simultaneously developing the emergent narrative of their own experience of the game. McGonigal writes that “Stories linger in the places after we experience them. And the stories we tell about our personal experiences in a place help us own that space, to feel comfortable there, to make others comfortable there, to feel alive there. I believe the job of the designers of reality-based games like big urban games and alternate reality games is to figure out: What kind of story would players want to be able to tell about this space?”

Montfort’s Book and Volume and Mateas and Stern’s Façade are both featured works in this installment of the Iowa Review Web and are available for your download, play, and interaction. I hope that these new works and interviews will give you a window on four very different ideas of the function of place and space in new media writing and will perhaps inspire some other writers to take advantage of some of the vast potentialities of creating new writing spaces at the intersection of virtual environments and real-world geography.

Filed under: academic, architecture, art, locative, mobility, new media, research, situationist, social, space/place, technology, urban


networked_performance: MOBILE/ IMMOBILIZED: Art, biotechnologies & (Dis)abilities

Call for Papers

MOBILE / IMMOBILIZED: Art, biotechnologies & (Dis)abilities :: Call for Papers for the colloquium :: Montréal, October 2007 :: Please submit, to the Centre Interuniversitaire en arts médiatiques :: gram[at]uqam.ca :: a short biography (15 lines) :: an abstract of 250 words maximum :: before September 1, 2006.

A human being would lack nothing, if one were to admit that there are a thousand ways to live. – Canguilhem :: Following the activities that took place within the framework of two colloquia, “Interfaces et Sensoralité” (2003) and “Arts & Biotechnologies” (2004), and based on the work with the handicapped conducted, over several years, by the group at Cyprès in Marseille, we believe it is opportune to provide a site for insightful reflections on questions relating to (dis)abilities. At the intersection of several contemporary art projects, bioscientific research and technological innovations, the notion of deficiency seems to be one of the most fertile and troubling forces. It certainly has a pronounced affect on the experimental art scene, where it generates a significant array of creative, phantasmagorical and symbolic artworks.

Redesigning the Human

Indeed, it seems important, at the present time, to evaluate how technologies and biotechnologies affect the condition of viability, of autonomy and disability of people, and to observe any signs of evolution that signal an increase in cognitive, mental, imaginary and symbolic capabilities. All disciplines involved in the redesigning of the human being are included within the framework of this colloquium. On the one hand, these disciplines occupy the central stage, determining and illuminating the orientation and objectives of the project Mobile / Immobilized, and on the other hand, they serve as a gauge, allowing one to evaluate the techno-anthropological and political impact of practices exerted by humans on humans.

The Augmented Body

Increasingly, technological developments give the impression that human beings are inadequately equipped. This section of the colloquium concentrates on artistic works whose orientation and experimental factors open up conceptual possibilities as well as practical applications for people with deficiencies or constraints (Virtual reality, biofeedback, motion captures, interactivity, synthetic voices, sound, technological extensions, implants, etc.) Artworks will also be presented by people with disabilities who have, because of their deficiencies and their differences, strengthened their sensorial capabilities, and so produce unique poetic and phantasmagorical worlds with technological tools (images, digital photographs, video…). Since such works are adapted to particular disabilities, in certain cases they may result in technical or technological solutions that offer potential uses for the broader

Art as a Life Laboratory

The question here is the study of artistic approaches that propose an important slippage towards a centre of gravity different from the site of current art practices. It is a matter of considering new artworks and artistic processes as cognitive tools, charged at one and the same time with an emotion and with indissociable cognition, artworks that permit one to conceive of strategies for inventive learning and adaptation in order to try to find new symbolic and sensory forms. These approaches permit one to redefine artistic activity in terms of the laboratory of life by actively participating in the development of tools that work for, and in concert with, handicapped persons. This can be done by considering specific imaginaries, unique forms of creations and creativity, and modes of global communication.

Artists, theorists, (bio)scientists, and (bio)engineers) working in related fields are invited to present their artworks, ideas and research, as well as certain developments and applications in this domain.

Filed under: architecture, art, conferences, locative, mobility, new media, research, social, space/place, technology

CALL FOR PAPERS_Transubstantiate



Call for Submissions

Transubstantiate: a peer-reviewed, online journal for performance technologies praxis :: Call for submissions :: Deadline: November 1, 2006 :: Transubstantiate welcomes submissions for its inaugural issue on the theme of Disruptive Innovation. We seek examples of new thinking and practice that overturn and / or reassess existing performance technology praxis. Submissions may be presented as papers, reviews, audio, visuals (stills / video) and code. Authors may use multiple formats in a single submission.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to: * Networked performance * Disruptive innovations & discourse * Pedagogy, ontologies and epistemologies * Choreography for iPod. Choreographies for iPod must be specifically devised works and may take the form of: * Video / stills * Audio description / instructions * Text description / instructions * Soundscore with text description / instructions.

Transubstantiate encourages submissions that take an alternative stance on established modes of mediated performance. Submissions should be equivalent to 3000 – 8000 words in .doc, mp3, .jpg or .mp4 (video) format.

The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2006. For more information or to submit please contact the editorial & curatorial board via curators [at] transubstantiate [dot] org.

The liminal is limited; transubstantiate

via turbulence.org/blog

Filed under: academic, art, conferences, locative, mobility, new media, physical computing, research, social, space/place, technology

Theory of the Dérive

The Library at nothingness.org/Theory of the Dérive_Guy Debord

One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.

But the dérive includes both this letting-go and its necessary contradiction: the domination of psychogeographical variations by the knowledge and calculation of their possibilities. In this latter regard, ecological science — despite the narrow social space to which it limits itself — provides psychogeography with abundant data.

The ecological analysis of the absolute or relative character of fissures in the urban network, of the role of microclimates, of distinct neighborhoods with no relation to administrative boundaries, and above all of the dominating action of centers of attraction, must be utilized and completed by psychogeographical methods. The objective passional terrain of the dérive must be defined in accordance both with its own logic and with its relations with social morphology.

In his study Paris et l’agglomération parisienne (Bibliothèque de Sociologie Contemporaine, P.U.F., 1952) Chombart de Lauwe notes that “an urban neighborhood is determined not only by geographical and economic factors, but also by the image that its inhabitants and those of other neighborhoods have of it.” In the same work, in order to illustrate “the narrowness of the real Paris in which each individual lives . . . within a geographical area whose radius is extremely small,” he diagrams all the movements made in the space of one year by a student living in the 16th Arrondissement. Her itinerary forms a small triangle with no significant deviations, the three apexes of which are the School of Political Sciences, her residence and that of her piano teacher.

Such data — examples of a modern poetry capable of provoking sharp emotional reactions (in this particular case, outrage at the fact that anyone’s life can be so pathetically limited) — or even Burgess’s theory of Chicago’s social activities as being distributed in distinct concentric zones, will undoubtedly prove useful in developing dérives.

If chance plays an important role in dérives this is because the methodology of psychogeographical observation is still in its infancy. But the action of chance is naturally conservative and in a new setting tends to reduce everything to habit or to an alternation between a limited number of variants. Progress means breaking through fields where chance holds sway by creating new conditions more favorable to our purposes. We can say, then, that the randomness of a dérive is fundamentally different from that of the stroll, but also that the first psychogeographical attractions discovered by dérivers may tend to fixate them around new habitual axes, to which they will constantly be drawn back.

An insufficient awareness of the limitations of chance, and of its inevitably reactionary effects, condemned to a dismal failure the famous aimless wandering attempted in 1923 by four surrealists, beginning from a town chosen by lot: Wandering in open country is naturally depressing, and the interventions of chance are poorer there than anywhere else. But this mindlessness is pushed much further by a certain Pierre Vendryes (in Médium, May 1954), who thinks he can relate this anecdote to various probability experiments, on the ground that they all supposedly involve the same sort of antideterminist liberation. He gives as an example the random distribution of tadpoles in a circular aquarium, adding, significantly, “It is necessary, of course, that such a population be subject to no external guiding influence.” From that perspective, the tadpoles could be considered more spontaneously liberated than the surrealists, since they have the advantage of being “as stripped as possible of intelligence, sociability and sexuality,” and are thus “truly independent from one another.”

At the opposite pole from such imbecilities, the primarily urban character of the dérive, in its element in the great industrially transformed cities — those centers of possibilities and meanings — could be expressed in Marx’s phrase: “Men can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is alive.”

One can dérive alone, but all indications are that the most fruitful numerical arrangement consists of several small groups of two or three people who have reached the same level of awareness, since cross-checking these different groups’ impressions makes it possible to arrive at more objective conclusions. It is preferable for the composition of these groups to change from one dérive to another. With more than four or five participants, the specifically dérive character rapidly diminishes, and in any case it is impossible for there to be more than ten or twelve people without the dérive fragmenting into several simultaneous dérives. The practice of such subdivision is in fact of great interest, but the difficulties it entails have so far prevented it from being organized on a sufficient scale.

The average duration of a dérive is one day, considered as the time between two periods of sleep. The starting and ending times have no necessary relation to the solar day, but it should be noted that the last hours of the night are generally unsuitable for dérives.

But this duration is merely a statistical average. For one thing, a dérive rarely occurs in its pure form: it is difficult for the participants to avoid setting aside an hour or two at the beginning or end of the day for taking care of banal tasks; and toward the end of the day fatigue tends to encourage such an abandonment. But more importantly, a dérive often takes place within a deliberately limited period of a few hours, or even fortuitously during fairly brief moments; or it may last for several days without interruption. In spite of the cessations imposed by the need for sleep, certain dérives of a sufficient intensity have been sustained for three or four days, or even longer. It is true that in the case of a series of dérives over a rather long period of time it is almost impossible to determine precisely when the state of mind peculiar to one dérive gives way to that of another. One sequence of dérives was pursued without notable interruption for around two months. Such an experience gives rise to new objective conditions of behavior that bring about the disappearance of a good number of the old ones.[1]

The influence of weather on dérives, although real, is a significant factor only in the case of prolonged rains, which make them virtually impossible. But storms or other types of precipitation are rather favorable for dérives.

The spatial field of a dérive may be precisely delimited or vague, depending on whether the goal is to study a terrain or to emotionally disorient oneself. It should not be forgotten that these two aspects of dérives overlap in so many ways that it is impossible to isolate one of them in a pure state. But the use of taxis, for example, can provide a clear enough dividing line: If in the course of a dérive one takes a taxi, either to get to a specific destination or simply to move, say, twenty minutes to the west, one is concerned primarily with a personal trip outside one’s usual surroundings. If, on the other hand, one sticks to the direct exploration of a particular terrain, one is concentrating primarily on research for a psychogeographical urbanism.

In every case the spatial field depends first of all on the point of departure — the residence of the solo dériver or the meeting place selected by a group. The maximum area of this spatial field does not extend beyond the entirety of a large city and its suburbs. At its minimum it can be limited to a small self-contained ambiance: a single neighborhood or even a single block of houses if it’s interesting enough (the extreme case being a static-dérive of an entire day within the Saint-Lazare train station).

The exploration of a fixed spatial field entails establishing bases and calculating directions of penetration. It is here that the study of maps comes in — ordinary ones as well as ecological and psychogeographical ones — along with their correction and improvement. It should go without saying that we are not at all interested in any mere exoticism that may arise from the fact that one is exploring a neighborhood for the first time. Besides its unimportance, this aspect of the problem is completely subjective and soon fades away.

In the “possible rendezvous,” on the other hand, the element of exploration is minimal in comparison with that of behavioral disorientation. The subject is invited to come alone to a certain place at a specified time. He is freed from the bothersome obligations of the ordinary rendezvous since there is no one to wait for. But since this “possible rendezvous” has brought him without warning to a place he may or may not know, he observes the surroundings. It may be that the same spot has been specified for a “possible rendezvous” for someone else whose identity he has no way of knowing. Since he may never even have seen the other person before, he will be encouraged to start up conversations with various passersby. He may meet no one, or he may even by chance meet the person who has arranged the “possible rendezvous.” In any case, particularly if the time and place have been well chosen, his use of time will take an unexpected turn. He may even telephone someone else who doesn’t know where the first “possible rendezvous” has taken him, in order to ask for another one to be specified. One can see the virtually unlimited resources of this pastime.

Our loose lifestyle and even certain amusements considered dubious that have always been enjoyed among our entourage — slipping by night into houses undergoing demolition, hitchhiking nonstop and without destination through Paris during a transportation strike in the name of adding to the confusion, wandering in subterranean catacombs forbidden to the public, etc. — are expressions of a more general sensibility which is no different from that of the dérive. Written descriptions can be no more than passwords to this great game.

The lessons drawn from dérives enable us to draw up the first surveys of the psychogeographical articulations of a modern city. Beyond the discovery of unities of ambiance, of their main components and their spatial localization, one comes to perceive their principal axes of passage, their exits and their defenses. One arrives at the central hypothesis of the existence of psychogeographical pivotal points. One measures the distances that actually separate two regions of a city, distances that may have little relation with the physical distance between them. With the aid of old maps, aerial photographs and experimental dérives, one can draw up hitherto lacking maps of influences, maps whose inevitable imprecision at this early stage is no worse than that of the first navigational charts. The only difference is that it is no longer a matter of precisely delineating stable continents, but of changing architecture and urbanism.

Today the different unities of atmosphere and of dwellings are not precisely marked off, but are surrounded by more or less extended and indistinct bordering regions. The most general change that dérive experience leads to proposing is the constant diminution of these border regions, up to the point of their complete suppression.

Within architecture itself, the taste for dériving tends to promote all sorts of new forms of labyrinths made possible by modern techniques of construction. Thus in March 1955 the press reported the construction in New York of a building in which one can see the first signs of an opportunity to dérive inside an apartment:

“The apartments of the helicoidal building will be shaped like slices of cake. One will be able to enlarge or reduce them by shifting movable partitions. The half-floor gradations avoid limiting the number of rooms, since the tenant can request the use of the adjacent section on either upper or lower levels. With this setup three four-room apartments can be transformed into one twelve-room apartment in less than six hours.”

(To be continued.)


A slightly different version of this article was first published in the Belgian surrealist journal Les Lèvres Nues #9 (November 1956) along with accounts of two dérives.

Filed under: architecture, art, ethnography, locative, mobility, new media, research, situationist, social, space/place, urban