March 7, 2009

Algorithmic Design

Dear all,

I'm looking forward to our workshop upcoming April 16-22. In a broad sense, the workshop will explore intersections between algorithmic design and material organizations. As you begin to sift through the readings and references, I would like you to ponder the following questions: What is algorithmic design today and how is it impacting culture and our built world? How does it situate itself within a broader and perhaps historical trajectory within art, design, technology and society? The increased stores of information available within design technology are insisting on new models for information mediation, collaboration and “seeing” amidst an ever-increasingly complicated information context. What types of models afford new ways of "seeing"? 

I look forward to your questions and comments.


Jenny Sabin Research -- time line

Due to the schedule, we have no Friday class meeting between the Rebar workshop and Jenny Sabin's arrival on April 17. Jenny's schedule doesn't allow for a conference call on our next class meeting.

So we've developed this timeline for blogging:

By Friday, March 13: Review materials below, and post questions on this blog about the workshop. What would you like to ask her to prepare for her workshop?

Sometime before Friday, March 20: Jenny will answer questions.

By Friday, March 27: Post any followup conversations with her.

Between Friday, March 27 and Friday, April 3: 2nd workshop is happening

Friday, April 10: no class, Good Friday.

Friday, April 17: Jenny arrives, workshop begins.

March 6, 2009

Conference call general summary

The group conference-called with John Bela and Blaine Merker on Friday March 6. I'll be posting the transcript of the call on Monday. In general, it was decided that this coming week everyone would visit public spaces on campus to discover how spaces are used and how people interact in them. Take photos of possible sites for intervention, perhaps interview people about use of that space. Think about how a team of 3 to 5 might intervene to design ways for the public to experience improved interaction with the space. Sites are what you'll target for now, and possible materials needed for an intervention. Emphasis is placed on recycled and recyclable materials for projects. Goal by the end of the week is to list possible materials that need to be acquired to make the work. Later in the week, we'll discuss breaking into teams for perhaps 3 different sites.

March 4, 2009

Rebargroup: Mike Droske


With their Inflatocookbook, released into the world in December 1970, Ant Farm, an artist/architect collective, attempted to bring the transformative power of inflatable structures to the general public.

image from Constance Lewallen's Ant Farm, 1968-1978

Inflatables, by their nature, resist rigid forms, structures, and behavior patterns associated with traditional architecture. They open people up to change and experimentation.

The "recipes" contained in Ant Farm's Inflatocookbook were published in a homemade, DIY style, intended for users to easily cook up.
They were low-tech (apart from the use of plastics), easy to do, participatory, and fun. we take back our public space-we need to be sure not to scare anybody away. We need to invite amateurs, non-artists, kids, and everyone else...give them something they can take home with them and pass along to others.
For more on Ant Farm, check this link:

Here's a video of an inflatable by Ant Farm's Curtis Schreier and UC Santa Cruz students for the Intervene/Intercept Festival at the University of California-Santa Cruz in 2008.

Michele Brody: Mike Droske

Here's a pic of one of the seed posts today. The ryegrass seeds have germinated-nothing yet from the radishes and dandelions...

Rebargroup: Katie Smither

Two words:  Wooster Collective.  This is an amazing blog about street culture/art/projects.  If you don't look at it often, you should, cause there's usually cool stuff up.  They recently had a speech bubble post...Talk Back by Ji Lee?  Totally encouraging public dialogue and interaction by leaving the bubbles open for interpretation.

Blog number two:  It's Nice That.  Here's a cool video that was up recently, not exactly applying to what we're talking about with vending, etc.  But oh, enjoy!  I like this idea of interaction/interpretation being a virus that expands and is contagious.  Still looking for other examples of 'vending' as permission to engage, thanks and gig'em!

Katie Smither

Rebar Group: Briana Morrison

On another note, a hybrid between coin-op carts and Bushwaffles was mentioned...

In Germany, all the shopping carts require a 1 euro deposit before you can use them. Unlike in America where you often see the homeless pushing carts around town, this was never the case in Germany. Everyone wanted their euro back!

Anyways, I did once find a missing shopping idea where it came from...but it turned into a make-shift scooter:

A lot of grocery stores now have carts that apparently can't roll out of parking lots. Like a shock collar on a dog, once over the boundary of the parking lot the cart's wheels are locked.

I'm not sure what sort of cart/Bushwaffle mix you're looking for, but the idea of coin-op mini bumper scooters that stayed with a small area, like a plaza, came to mind. Most likely too dangerous, but a cart surrounded by inflatable padding sounds really fun!

Rebar Group: Briana Morrison

I am infinitely excited about this project! Thanks to Rebar Group for the incredibly interesting links and information! Anyways...

Here are some little tidbits I think may add to the collective mind-set:

Txtual Healing (which I believe is involved in the Drip Writing that Barrett linked to):
My favorite projects here are interactive...the artist sets up a projector which displays an image on a public wall (speech bubbles, recently an Obama poster) and invites passers-by to SMS text to fill in the blanks provided...

Petuel Park in Munich: a park which incorporates the work of 13 invidual artists. It reminds me almost of the Parc de la Villette in that many of the art pieces were designed for specific purposes, but when I visited I didn't see many people using them. Either way, these permanent and interactive pieces are interesting!

The Musical Folly is a piece with immovable chairs, all facing different directions, placed inside a wall of hedges from which music plays once a day. It's meant to be interactive, but doesn't leave much to interpretation by the visitor.

I don't know if this counts as a permanent flexible infrastructure...but it certainly creates an open-ended spacial experience: this public building in Munich uses images on the glass walls to create the effect an oversize curtain exposing balloons, and large books. Even the shadows of trees are an illusion.

March 2, 2009

Michele Brody: Briana Morrison

So this is pretty belated...but I posted pictures of the seed posts on my Flickr account!

Click on the AiR- Artist in Residence collection...then click on Michele Brody.

Permanent Flexible Infrastructure

In the third category of spacemaking typologies are permanent flexible infrastructures. These are full scale customizable environments built to last. These spaces are characterized by features that are interactive or open ended or are built to take advantage of a specific anticipated and sanctioned use.

The Schouwburgplein (12.250 square metres) is situated in the heart of the city of Rotterdam and is surrounded by shops and flanked by the City Theatre and the City Concert Hall. The design emphasizes the importance of a void, which opens a panorama towards the city skyline.
The square is designed as an interactive public space, flexible in use, and changing during day and seasons. Its appearance is a reflection of the Port of Rotterdam. All of the necessary ingredients were present; it only had to be brought to life. By raising the surface of the square above the surrounding area, the void was retained and the "city’s stage" created.
One of the major features of the square are the four hydraulic lighting elements that can be interactively altered by the inhabitants of the city.

The Parc de la Villette is a park in Paris at the outer edge of the 19th arrondissement, bordering Seine-Saint-Denis. It was designed by Bernard Tschumi. It was built on the site the former national meat market and slaughterhouse as part of an urban redevelopment project. At 25 hectares, these former grounds constitute the largest park in the city of Paris and its second largest greenspace (after the Père Lachaise cemetery). The park houses public facilities devoted to science and music, playgrounds for children, and 35 follies.

The park has received a great deal of criticism and has made it on the Project for Public Space's Hall of Shame list.

Both of the above projects illustrate the difficulty of creating permanent flexible infrastructures that attempt to create or fulfill very specific programmatic objectives. These projects have received some of the same criticism leveled at many public art projects. The sites are welcomed for their adventurous design and temporarily fulfill contemporary needs , but before long, as tastes and user needs change and they lose their utility and meaning.

On a smaller scale, if you have not experienced the work of master manipulators of space / object / meaning exploration, you must check out the groundbreaking work of Droog.

One of my favorite pieces is the Do Hit Chair and their recent Space to Take Place project

Also check out the brilliant work of INOUT .

So...with these topics we've attempted to lay the groundwork and outline the scope of the investigation for the workshop, and there is more to come. This is an exciting, expanding field and its great to be able to explore it with you all in the coming weeks.

Rebargroup: Katie Smither

Because I know no one will see it....I posted in the comments section of the last post from Rebar on coin-op/vending public interaction.  I would like to know what people think and figured I would have to direct attention to the existence of the comments section, ha ha,  as we haven't really used it yet.  See y'all soon.

Katie Smither
A second category of spacemaking devices are the Vending Machine/ Franchised spacemaking types of solutions. A sort of Coin-Op urbanism.

While underfunded public spaces in the US typically cannot support flexible street furniture that is not connected to some type of commercial franchise, its commonplace in the elegant civic spaces 0f Paris, like the Tuileries Garden.

The green chairs above are some of the hundreds of chairs that are distributed throughout the garden. Park users routinely drag them to a favorite spot or assemble them to accommodate groupings of various sizes.

Here in the US the way this is accomplished is usually by attaching the chairs to a commercial enterprise like a cafe, the familiar outdoor cafe seating. Another approach, such as that used by the recently constructed Mint Plaza in San Francisco, is to set up a Community Benefits District to provide and manage the seating.

A recent example of Coin-Op urbanism is what the French call "la Vélorution". The city of Paris rolled out a citywide bicycle program involving 10,600 bikes in a bid to cut gridlock and give citizens a greener way to get around town.

JCDecaux, the world's second biggest outdoor advertising company, has established 750 computer-aided rental stations throughout Paris and that number is expected to almost double this year to 1,460. (In comparison, the Metro has just 300 stations.) The company designed rock-solid bicycles and had them built in Hungary, and it operates the entire network at its own expense. In return, JCDecaux gets the exclusive rights to sell advertising on the city's 1,628 urban billboards for the next 10 years.

This sort of operation may have started with the luggage cart rental in the airport, which like outdoor seating, was once provided for free as a matter of course.

Part of what we're hoping to explore during the workshop is a hybrid between the Bushwaffle and the Smartecarte as a potential solution for creating outdoor creature comforts in public space.

March 1, 2009

Rebargroup: Sloan Springer

Its not exactly on the subject, per se, but Zorbing is an extremely popular adventure in New Zealand and Europe, but is also growing in the US. Just thought it was an interesting idea to look at.