Artist Karolina Sobecka gave me a ride in her car yesterday, which she is driving around as part of her performative installation Wildlife. On the backseat of the car there is a powerful projector which is beaming a tiger on whatever happens to be parallel to the car. The animation of the cat is directly linked to the speed of the car, so when Karolina hits the throttle, the tiger starts running along as if on a leash, leaving behind baffled pedestrians. There are also sensors for cars that pull up in direct proximity which will also be represented by smaller animals.

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To her, the tiger is like an avatar to the car which creates a poetic juxtaposition between the "grittiness" of the city and and the luminescent figure of the cat on the wall. She wants to remind people of how much most technologies draw both their inspriration and (quite literally) power from nature. Another aspect is the fact of our relation to nature within the cities and potentially predatory animals that are coming to the cities, like the coyotes of Los Angeles or the bear that recently appeared in Germany. How much of nature would we really want to have around us?

Being one of the recent drive-by-projection projects (see related links) and being exhibited in California, it's almost ironic that the animals return through cars to San Jose.

Related: Light Attack, Parasite, Safari, Urban Monsters

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4swirewwess.jpgConflux, the annual New York festival for contemporary psychogeography, will take place in Brooklyn, NYC, September 14-17.

At Conflux, participants turn NYc into a playground, a laboratory and a space for the development of new networks and communities. All events are free and open to the public. They include walks and tours, lectures, workshops, street games and tech-enabled expeditions, interactive performance, public art installations, movies, etc.

I've spotted a few interesting projects in the programme:

2.4GHz scape (image on the left), by Sawako Kato, will let audiences experience the realtime sonification of 2.4GHz signal (spectrum used for WiFi, microwave ovens, bluetooth, baby monitors, cordless game controllers etc.) around the place. People will also be invited to join the soundscape using their laptop or bluetooth devices such as the mobile phones to make the signal interference.

The Anti-Advertising Agency's Portable Sound Units are small sound-systems triggered only when pedestrians pass by them. They playback on-the-street interviews with the public about their opinions on outdoor advertising. Sara Dierck, Michael Dodge, and Steve Lambert from the AAA conducted hours of audio interviews about issues surrounding outdoor advertising with the public but also with selected individuals in the fields of advertising, conservation, and social criticism. They compiled and edited down the interviews into very short clips that raise questions about the role of advertising in culture. During Conflux, the units will be temporarily installed in various locations around the festival and area streets.

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AAA Portable Sound Units

Also on the programme: Sue Huang's Street Cut-ups that uses text found on the street and remixes it to find surprising new meanings; Caroline Woolard will affix “seats� into the u-channel of the no parking and stop sign posts implanted in the sidewalk; Toby Lee and Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga will invite you to freeze for 5 minutes; etc.

Another Glowlab production: The Drift Relay , a collaborative psychogeographic experience in the form of a 24 hour relay-style exploration of San Jose, will kick off next week at ISEA: Tuesday, August 08, 10am - Wednesday, August 09, 10am.

Nicoline van Harskamp has done an extensive research on both public and private security guards and police forces in Amsterdam, Glasgow, Berlin, The Hague, Istanbul, London, and Rotterdam. Her project was different for each city.

The Istanbul version addressed issues of (the privatisation of) street surveillance with a group photo shoot of different private guards, a video piece and a "Little Guide to Istanbul guards" booklet.

In the Turkish city every street is ‘owned’ by the people that live and work there. Many Istanbulites pass the time waiting and watching. This system of urban social monitoring makes the city with 15 million people virtually street crime and vandalism free. Nevertheless, (military) police officers, municipal guards and soldiers also have a strong public presence.

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An unusually high number of private security people is present around public spaces like parks and bridges. There is no formal legislation restricting the privatisation of public safety and the guards themselves have no more rights or power than any other person in the street.

Her Istanbul video documented an experiment for which van Harskamp employed two men to spend 12 hours in the streets doing nothing. The team was dressed in special uniforms and wore false I.D. cards. They became traffic police on busy crossings, Zabita officers on Galata bridge, tourism police in Sultanahmet, boat attendants on the ferry, etc. and the public reacted to them accordingly. The team surprisingly easily made friends with other uniformed people. Hands were being shaken with police officers, soldiers and ‘colleagues’ from special security companies. Some of them just wanted to know how much they were earning and if they could get a job with the company.

More on private guards
, but in Mexico this time:

00casita.jpgThe Casitas: mexico city security huts series examines the structures built to provide shelter for the security guards Mexico City's wealthy neighborhoods (Lomas de Chapultepec).

These photographs depict the architectural/cultural dichotomy of having a 10 sq. ft structure in front of a 2000 sq. ft. mansion and where both serve the same function of a ‘house’. The men who work/live (they often work 24 hour shifts) in these casitas decorate them with photos of women (the virgin of Guadalupe and pinups) and fill them with amenities, such as radios, televisions, hot plates for cooking tortillas and, in some, even toilets. Very personal spaces placed in a public setting.

Jeremy Clouser

Via artbbq and subtopia.

Third project from the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea final show (see dedicated category).

Chia Ying Lee's Sonic Graffiti invites urban artists to collaborate and create music together, while allowing the passersby to enjoy it as well.

A system of devices enables graffiti artists to create and geo-tag music in the urban space with real spray cans:

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- The sound cap has to be snapped on the top of spray cans to spray out sounds and do simple sound manipulations with gestures. Users create music by overlaying/remixing various paint/sounds from the caps. Each cap can store up to 4 sounds in its memory card. They can be loaded from computers or portable devices like iPod, mobile phone, etc. Gestures to manipulate sound include fade in/out and scratch. Several artists spraying at the same time can create a sound composition.

- The controller is used for listening to the music with earphones when creating, and positioning sounds. It also comes with a recording part can be used for collecting sound samples from the city.

- The Boom box provides a shared listening experience for a group of creators in the public. Collaborations can be achieved both synchronously and asynchronously.

- Audiences can download a dedicated software player to install in mobile devices. Each graffiti is a small radio station. The player tunes into the music of the nearest sonic graffiti automatically while you go through the city. You can also mark the locations of music you like, hence make a personal sonic graffiti map.

This project gives graffiti audio meanings. It may change people’s viewpoint about graffiti. The music can also serve as the soundtrack reflecting the vibes of the city.

More details on Chia-Ying Lee's thesis blog. My images of her installation.

Related: spatial graffiti, Wearable inkjet printer for street art, Audio messages left in space, Graffiti Analysis projections, Hektor the graffiti machine, emergency spray can, Bench'Mark

Yesterday i visited the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea final show in Milan. Good stuff as usual. And even some excellent stuff here and there. I might post a bit slowly about the projects because i'd rather wait till the students have published some documentation about their work online.

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Aram explaining his project

Aram Saroyan Armstrong's final project is called Pooptopia and it's all you can expect from such a title (briefly mentioned in March.)

Pooptopia pushes the boundaries of the rising service economy and joins a new breed of games that reclaim the urban environment for play, while struggling to become economically self-sustainable.


Pooptopia LBS is a pet waste removal service for city neighborhoods. It utilizes location-based technology to locate, monitor, and respond to problem areas. The service incorporates stakeholder action into the solution by empowering dog owners, poo-haters, and poo-hunters to easily mark the location of pet waste for pick-up by the Pooptopia service and municipal sanitation workers.

The goal of the Dark Treasure (Tesoro Scuro) game is to discover dog poo, make a picture of it and email it, with the location of the finding and your name or the name of your team. The claim will earn you points. You can earn double point if you also mark the exact location of your discovery on Pooptopia's Tesoro Scuro Map. This "treasure map" is used to create nightly pick-up routes for the Pootectors, Pooptopia’s pet waste removal squad. Over time this data helps define zones as "Pooptopias" and "Puptopias", which affects the cost of dog ownership and rewards responsible canine-loving communities: the poorer the rating, the higher the service fee.

Images on flickr.
Related story: Dog Poo Spray.

(P) LOT, an ongoing project by Michael Rakowitz (of the notorious paraSITE), questions the occupation of public space and encourages reconsiderations of "legitimate" participation in city life.

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Instead of using municipal parking spaces to store vehicles, P (LOT) proposes to rent them for alternative purposes. The acquisition of municipal permits and simple payment of parking meters could enable citizens to, for example, establish temporary encampments or use the leased ground for different kinds of activities. A first initiative turns ordinary car covers into portable tents, available for loan at the MUMOK, the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna. Interested citizens have the choice to use one of five covers ranging from a common Sedan to a luxurious Porsche or motorcycle.

Correction: The project was exhibited at MUMOK in Vienna way back in October 2004, and is currently on view as part of the "Beyond Green: Toward a Sustainable Art" at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City until 7 May and also in "Mind The Gap" at Smack-Mellon in Brooklyn until Sunday, 30 April, where Michael Rakowitz will hold a small, drawing-based workshop on creating "Flexible Architecture."

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