• ( egoistic ) • activistic • architectural • audible • cinematic • conceptual • graphic • strategic • surface • urban • wireless
'Goodbye Privacy' was the theme at this year's Ars Electronica festival and perhaps not so surprisingly, there were a handful of projects and exhibitions dealing with the presence of web and surveillance cameras in public spaces.
One of them, 'Self Portrait With Webcam' by the Austrian artist Josef Klammer, is a series of photographic images seen through the eyes of webcams at different Austrian locations.
Klammer himself appears on every image with his laptop, which he used to position and capture himself. Each self portrait in the exhibition is accompanied by a photograph of the webcam along with information about its physical location as well as its webadress.
Related entry: Surveillance Camera Players
Wanted! by Harvey Loves Harvey (Matthew Nash and Jason Dean) is a collaborative game-like performance where the two artists (players/performers) seek neighborhood help to catch each other.
The artists will start in two different predetermined locations within a narrowly-defined area in Williamsburg. To locate each other, they will begin posting wanted-flyers that show the other artist's face, a short description and a phone number.
Both artists will be guided by calls from people who have seen the flyers, with the goal of eventually helping one of them catch the other.
There is no price for the winner, but the loser will be required to go take down all the flyers when the game/performance is over.
It was the Italian team that won the Young Creatives Competition:Film 2007.
The competition - sponsored by Nokia Nseries - took place between Wednesday June 20th and 22nd in conjunction with the International Advertising Festival in Cannes.
Twenty young creative teams was given the same creative brief and 48 hours to create a 20-second TV commercial using the Nokia N93i.
The brief is not available from the website ('page not found') but from watching some of the films, it appears that it was politically correct and had something to do with creating an MTV-ad that promotes ecologically responsible living.
(From those I watched, my favorite is the Canadian submission)
Here is a brilliant work by Tad Hirsch that I came across when looking through a ppt presentation by Swiss researcher Nicolas Nova.
Tad Hirsch is a researcher in the Smart Cities Group at MIT's Media Lab, where his work focuses on the intersections between art, activism, and technology.
In 2006 he made the site-specific installation Tripwire, which responds to the relationship between San Jose International Airport and downtown San Jose in California
Hirsch custom-built sensors, placed them inside coconuts and hung them from trees at several public locations to monitor noise produced by overflying aircrafts.
Detection of excessive aircraft noise would cause the sensors to trigger automated telephone calls to the airport's complaint line on behalf of the city's residents and wildlife.
A few years ago, the American artists Tyler Jacobsen and Nathan Martin created the online application Barcode Generator that could be used to adjust the barcode on products in chain-stores (exemplified as Wal-Mart). The idea being that people should only pay what they felt was right, rather than paying the (over)price determined by the stores.
Barcode Generator was available at the website www.re-code.com but it didn't take long before the artists came under attack from Wal-Mart attorneys who forced them to remove it from the site.
Now the London based product designer Bahbak Hashemi-Nezhad has come up with a (slightly related) hack called Shiv Card, which can be used to evade the fare on London buses.
Shiv Card is made from a recordable greeting card that mimics the feedback sound of an Oyster Card when waved at the electronic reader, thereby fooling the bus driver into believing that the card is real (Oyster Card = electronic ticket/smart card).
Bahbak is a designer who experiments with the boundaries of product design, but since his website only contains limited information it's hard to tell precisely what the artistic motivation behind the project is. From my point of view, the interesting thing about Shiv Card is not the free rides that you get but the anonymity that it provides. Oyster Cards are embedded with RFID chips, meaning that the users' movements within the public transportation grid is likely to be tracked and stored somewhere.
I don't know exactly how the Oyster system works, but another way - and without cheating anyone - of avoiding being tracked, could perhaps be to meet up with other commuters and agree to swap Oyster Cards thereby jamming the data and preventing it from being (mis)used. At least, that's what people in The Netherlands (including myself) did a few years ago when they found out that supermarket-chain Albert Heijn was spying on their customers by data mining the discount cards that they so generously gave away for free.
Jan Chipchase is Principal Researcher in the User Experience Group of Nokia Research Center. A part of his fascinating job is to observe and describe how different cultures use mobile technologies differently - often in ways unintended or unpredicted by the industry that he represents.
He has carried out ethnographic fieldwork around the world, such as in Uganda where access to electricity and mobile phones is limited and the user need thus quite basic.
As a consequence of these limitations, people have developed an alternative solutions and service economies, such as phone-sharing systems and battery-charging services (photo) where batteries can be recharged for a relatively small price.
Documentation of this and other of Jan Chipchase's interesting findings are available for download at Nokia Research Center.
• Street Charging Service Uganda (PDF file)
Posted by Sebastian on Feb 18, 2007
GylleSMS ("ManureSMS") is a new Danish SMS service designed to optimize the relationship between farmers and their neighbours.
The popular service enable farmers to send their neighbours an SMS containing information about where and when they are spreading manure (the smelly fertilizer stuff that can spoil a beautiful day at the countryside).
The service-friendly farmers are now pondering whether to extend the service to include a voting system that allow neighbours to have a say about when the farmers should/shouldn't fertilize their fields.
• www.gyllesms.dk (in Danish only)
RFID is often associated with highly practical and somewhat ordinary functions such as tracking and identifying products (e.g. consumer goods) as well as people (e.g. ID cards).
However within the last few years media artists have begun playing around with RFID and introduced much more creative and sensorial ways of using the technology.
One of these artists is Mogens Jacobsen who was recently commissioned by The Museum for Contemporary Art Roskilde, to come up with an new way of presenting the Museum's vast archive of sound-art.
From this brief, the artist created Audiobar (Hørbar), a physical bar-like social environment that enable visitors to interact with the sounds via RFID tagged bottles.
Each bottle in Audiobar is labeled with different keywords such as 'slow', narrative', 'noisy' etc. and by moving the bottles around, visitors can play sounds that match the keywords.
Audiobar is currently on exhibit at the Museum for Contemporary Art Roskilde Denmark.
In addition to the tons of other things you can already do or buy at Schiphol Airport, now you can tank up your mp3 player or telephone with digital content.
Fuel for Travel is a new store where passengers in transit can buy and download music, audio books and videos for almost any mobile device.
The store is finansed by Samsung but apparently they happily tank up other platforms as well.
On a side note, the concept reminds me of a research project that I carried out with Fiat Centro Stile in Turin in 2001 which investigated how to stimulate Fiat travellers by offering them mental fuel shaped as a social highway service.
If you're the lucky owner of a video-enabled iPod you can now watch video art anywhere, anytime.
The Danish Artnode foundation has launched the artPOD website, which offers an interesting collection of video art for the iPod, free of charge.
The idea behind the initiative is to create a new context for the distribution and experience of video art as an alternative to the immobile and institutional boundaries of art galleries and museums.
In the spirit of Xmas and free software culture, artPOD encourages people to share the videos with friends.
So far, 8 renowned video artists have contributed to artPOD. In case you don't have a an iPod with video, you can also watch the art from the website.