Tesseract – Exploring a cube’s fourth dimension

Tesseract installation © 1024 architectureTesseract is a light installation created by 1024 architecture. It was inspired by the tesseract, a geometrical form often described as a four-dimensional cube. The installation reinterprets the mathematical concept with moving lights that create further geometrical shapes within a cubic structure.

For the installation the artists use common scaffolding structures to build a large cube. The external faces of the cube are covered with translucent fabric. In the inside, a number of robotic lights are attached to the main structure in arrays. This set up allows the creation of complex geometrical compositions, in which angles, depth, and movement create shapes in the air. The the swift movements of the robotic lights produce and deconstruct volumes in the air.

Tesseract was first shown at the New Forms Festival 2013 in Vancouver. It has also participated in the Signal Festival 2013 in Prague as well as in the GLOW festival 2013, Eindhoven.

Tesseract installation © 1024 architectureTesseract installation © 1024 architectureTesseract installation © 1024 architecture
Installation, video & pictures: 1024 Architecture


Fix_My_Street_01FixMyStreet is a pioneer project of the civic tech area. It is basically a web-application that lets citizens report problems with infrastructure in their city. The reports are then sent automatically to the responsible authorities, who should evaluate and eventually solve them. Potholes in the roads, broken street lights, abandoned vehicles can be easily marked in an online map, the web-app takes care of sending it to the local administration.

Unlike a project like Maerker, FixMyStreet was not started by local governments but by a non-profit organization called mySociety. Thus, the website does not take responsibility for resolving the problems reported, it just creates an easy way for the citizens to take action when they see some defect in the city’s infrastructure. This information is then forwarded to the corresponding authorities, who can process the requests and address the issues reported. The system should also prevent the repeated report of a single problem, streamlining the maintenance of infrastructures in the city. The application is now offered as a service to city councils.

As most of the web-based applications, FixMyStreet works across different platforms: desktop and mobile devices are supported and it can be accessed through the browser or through their own app. Since its launch back in 2007 the project has inspired other projects in other cities in all corners of the world. Similar applications have been created in Australia, Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Japan among others. As the code of the application is open source, other cities have continued its development, adding new features and adapting it to the particularities of each administration. For example, the Norwegian Unix User Group (NUUG) implemented FiksGataMi, adding support for openstreetmaps, and making many improvements to the code.

Fix My Street - Civic technology to report infrastructure problems
Screenshots: FixMyStreet


Pipette Installation, King's Cross © John-SturrockPipette is a light installation located at the new subway entrance tunnel of Saint Pancras Square, in King’s Cross, London. The tunnel was built to create a link between King’s Cross and St Pancras stations; a path that is used by 100.000 person per day. The light wall is the main feature of the tunnel, located on the outside of the curve, measuring nearly 100m long. It was conceived by Speirs & Major, with the artwork created by Miriam Sleeman (Cross Kings) and Tom Sloan Design.

The installation was created with the commuter’s day-to-day experience in mind. Instead of provoking hectic or stressing visual effects the team behind Pipette decided to create a calm atmosphere. When the pedestrians walk through the tunnel, they can enjoy a relaxing visual experience that contrasts with the often accelerated pace of urban life. The colors chosen by the team also reflect the concept of the installation.

The technology was provided by The Light Lab, which designed, manufactured & installed the seamlessly jointed glass wall, backlit with LEDs. It is capable of emitting the full RGB spectrum and a white light spectrum from 3.0K to 6.0K. This provides a continuous curved appearance, with no shadow lines throughout.

The tunnel itself was designed by Allies & Morrison architects. The wall was commissioned by Argent.

Pipette Installation, King's CrossPipette Installation, King's Cross
Photography: John Sturrock
Miriam Sleeman & Tom Sloan
Tom Sloan
The cross kings
Spiers & Major
Allies & Morrison
The Light Lab

Ava Fatah Gen. Schieck & Peter Dalsgaard

The conference chairs of the media architecture Biennale 2012, Ava Fatah Gen Schieck and Peter Dalsgaard, talk about the selection process for the conference. They explain how media architecture is a broad field that is being explored by different practitioners and thinkers. “On the one hand, you have traditional media façade papers; people going out and building these things and talking about their experiences. But it actually spans a much broader spectrum. So for instance we also have papers about soundscapes. We have discussions of theoretical aspects; frameworks we see emerging around ways of understanding media architecture, and how people are experiencing it – and also political papers.”

Ava Fatah and Peter are also the conference chairs for the MAB14. This year 39 papers from 23 different countries were submitted. We are looking forward for the 2014 conference!

UVA at the Serpentine Gallery

Serpentine Gallery intervention © United Visual ArtistsIn 2013 the Serpentine Gallery commissioned architect Sou Fujimoto to design a temporary structure in the surrounding areas of the gallery. The Pavillion was constructed from 20mm steel poles arranged in a complex latticework that created a cloud-like structure. The structure occupied an area of 350 square-meter, yet its delicate structure blended itself with landscape of the gallery. The architect described this free-flowing space as a transparent terrain.

United visual artists (UVA) temporarily transformed the Serpentine Gallery’s summer pavilion, bringing the structure to life with lights installed in the matrix designed by Sou Fujimoto. The performative installation of UVA aims to make the architecture “breathe” around the people, as the light patters slide rapidly through the structure. The installation of UVA explores thoroughly the 3D possibilities offered by the pavilion, highlighting and deconstructing volumes with light. For this piece UVA reference their past works which, similar to Fujimoto’s, rely on geometric foundations and interests.

To create the installation, LED strips encased in plastic tubes were attached with magnets to the temporary pavilion’s steel grid. The performance was accompanied with thunder-like sounds, created by the artists by mixing samples of the hums and buzzes of electric power stations and synthesised sounds.

Serpentine Gallery intervention © United Visual ArtistsSerpentine Gallery intervention © United Visual ArtistsSerpentine Gallery intervention © United Visual Artists
Video & Pictures: United Visual Artists

Motor city mapping – Rescuing Detroit from urban decay

The aim of the Motor City Mapping project is to support the renaissance or the creation of strong neighborhoods. Many buildings and homes in Detroit have good structural conditions, often with remarkable architecture and beautiful features, yet they are abandoned because of the blight that surrounds them. When the inhabitants realize that there is no future for their neighborhood’s they are simply forced to move somewhere else.

To counteract this trend, it is crucial to accelerate the process of demolishing the vacant buildings in poor conditions. However, identifying such buildings is an enormous task, that requires man force, inventiveness and a bit of technology. The Blight Removal Task Force was created to provide the City of Detroit with a blight removal system that use all the existing resources in Detroit and suggests new recommendations to set up a scalable, efficient, and environmentally safe strategy. As part of this strategy the Task force teamed up with Data Driven Detroit and Loveland Technologies to create a system to report, store and process the data related to structures in poor conditions.

Motor city mapping project ©
The team rapidly realized that the city didn’t have a comprehensive database that accurately presented the characteristics of blight in Detroit. As a result the Task force started the Motor City Mapping project, a large effort to collect information about the condition of every property in the city. The process was designed to be repeatable and updatable to ensure that the database will be kept up to date and deliver fresh information for decision-making processes.

The Motor City Mapping project created both an online map and a mobile application to undertake the colossal, yet crucial task of reporting blight. During a period of ten weeks a team of more that 150 surveyors and volunteers navigated the city streets to document properties in poor conditions. The application allowed the surveyors to take pictures and answer questions related to the characteristics of each property. For example they could provide information about lot vacancy, occupancy, presence of dumping, fire damage, and the actual use of the structures (residential, commercial, etc.)

When the surveyors finished their questionnaire the information was sent automatically to the central database, where the submissions from the field were reviewed by associates. In this way they created a database and an online map, that allow to identify the areas that are more affected by blight. While the tool by itself does not magically solve the blight problem it certainly does deliver the information needed to take decisions that could save entire areas from decay and create lively and strong neighborhoods.

Motor city mapping project © Motor city mapping project ©
Video & Screenshots: Motor City Mapping

Light barrier – Floating light shapes

light_barrier_kim_and_chips_01Light Barrier is an art installation by Kimchi and Chips (Elliot Woods and Mimi Son). The installation premiered on 4–6 June 2014 at the New Media Night festival, a digital arts event including experimental music and workshops in Russia.

The installation crosses millions of light beams to create phantoms of light in the air. The rays are coordinated and directed towards single points. The combination of points generates shapes which float within its environment. This creates the impressive, ephemeral effect of the installation, where shapes magically appear, wander around and fade away. With this installation the artists explore the light barrier as a metaphor; a universal law which stops anything from travelling faster than a photon. The installation exposes exotic phenomena which serve to reinforce these fundamental laws.

light_barrier_kim_and_chips_02The duo designed a system that creates truly volumetric projections and can define 3-dimensional forms in space. This is different to ‘hologram’ and fog screens which are planar images. To achieve this they intersect 2 or more light beams in a smoke cloud to generate bright spots. Based on this simple principle they created a complex system that can cross large amount of light beams in different spots, allowing the creation of 3D shapes in space.

By using 180 curved mirrors, the artists created an array of sub-projectors, allowing the control of the intensity, direction and origin of light as it travels through space. The mirrors redirect the light beams of projectors that are placed above them. This set-up creates a light-field projector, capable of controlling the large amount of light beams required to create the floating images.


Light barrier credits:

Project by: Kimchi and Chips
Pictures by: Elliot Woods, Mimi Son, Alexander Delovoy and Tom Higham.

Dangerous by design

dangerous by design © Smart growth americaDangerous by design is a report created by Smart Growth America that addresses pedestrian safety in the roads of the U.S.A. Along with the statistics of each state and the nation-wide numbers, it includes a couple of interactive maps that let the visitor explore the statistics about pedestrian fatalities in the U.S.A.

dangerous by design © Smart growth america North american communities are ready to see a renaissance in walking. People in the U.S.A are walking more often, for fun and to get to places in their neighborhoods. Many of the most walkable places in the U.S.A are also some of the most economically active in the country. Hundreds of cities have adopted policies that place walking at the forefront of decision-making processes.

Yet the american roadways have inherited the results of design practices that were not focused on pedestrians. The safety of the streets in america makes them, as the report’s title say, “Dangerous by design”. In the years between 2003 and 2012 more than 47.000 people died walking in north american streets. Alone in 2012 pedestrians accounted for almost 15 percent of all deaths related to traffic accidents.

Dangerous by design analyses where the fatalities happened, who is more exposed to dangerous roads, and presents data from every state, metropolitan area and county in the U.S. Pedestrian fatalities can be prevented through better design practices, policies and regulations. Just as such instruments prepare cities for natural catastrophes, they can also be used to design urban spaces that keep the pedestrians safe. With the report and the interactive online tools, Smart Growth America brings to the table a bold argument for human cities.

Interactive map: DataMade

Ninety Six – Inflatable pixels

Ninety Six installation © Nils VoelkerNinety Six is a site specific installation created by Nils Völker for the exhibition Höhenrausch at the OÖ Kulturquartier in Linz, Austria. It comprises 96 plastic arranged in a matrix. The plastic bags can be individually inflated and deflated in different rhythms that create wavelike animations in the wall. While each bag is mounted in a fixed position, the sequences of inflation and deflation create the impression of lively movements. Forms appear from the plastic bag matrix and disappear back into the surface. In this way shapes and the boundaries of the installation itself start to dissolve.

Ninety Six installation © Nils VoelkerNinety Six installation © Nils VoelkerEach module has eight cpu cooling fans that inflate and deflate each bag at the speed sent by the system. The whole installation has more than 700 fans that can move 30 cubic meters of air. A single arduino connected to shift registers sends the data to all of the pixels. This allows to control each plastic bag independently and create low-res patterns.

Installation, Video & Pictures: Nils Völker

Sentiment mapping – Feelings about transport infrastructures

Sentiment mapping, feelings about public transport. © commonroute.commonplace.isCommonplace is developing a web-based sentiment mapping application that monitors social networks to identify the citizen’s feelings in regard to public transport, road traffic, commuting nodes and other transport infrastructures. It is being developed in collaboration with the Royal College of Art, a leader in the application of design led thinking.

The goals of the project are ambitious. The idea is to combine information of different sources, like weather stations, social media, and official reports to help the passengers plan their journeys in an efficient and stress-free way.

The project is still in a very early phase of development. However, a simple prototype that fetches, stores and displays tweets concerning multiple transport modes is already available. The current version shows an area between London and Milton Keynes, where the passenger’s sentiments are shown in red and green blobs. Another graphic shows the evolution of the mood during the day, including those about trains, buses and tubes.

Sentiment mapping, feelings about public transport. © commonroute.commonplace.isAccording to the developers, sentiment mapping will also provide transport operators a better understanding about the needs of their customers and give them an extra tool to respond to emergencies. The project, however, aims to be more than a mood measuring tool. Sentiment mapping can help to diagnose frustrating issues for the passengers that would be difficult to identify with conventional methods. The information delivered by sentiment mapping can help the responsible authorities to plan or adjust public transport schemes to increase the satisfaction of their customers.

The developers are talking with interested parties to take the project forward. They see in the project opportunities for both authorities and citizens. Through sentiment mapping they can open a simple, yet powerful channel of communication that will help to improve public transport.