0urbancamiopji.jpgUrban Interface Berlin is THE event of the moment i was really looking forward to enjoy slowly under the sunny days. Both an exhibition and research project, it aims to explore the interspaces between public and private urban space. From what i've seen so far, the selection of projects does a fantastic job at showing how broad and multifaceted the theme can be. All the artworks are also very accessible. Although i'm not crazy for all of them (but i'm getting ridiculously picky), i think that anyone --passerby, activist or new media art lover-- can engage with them and go back home with some elements to reflect upon. UIB lasts several weeks. Alas! i am spending most of that time out of Berlin.

I managed to attend the opening but ended up talking with people and didn't see any of the pieces (well, briefly and from afar). That's why i never go to openings. The day after i was off to that Milan design porn event. Today, hurray, i spent the afternoon chasing the UIB installations throughout the city. Tomorrow and next week i'm out of town again but i'll spend Saturday checking out the other installations.

Right! First stop on Ackerstrasse for Niklas Goldbach's fake construction signs.

Installed on two abandonned pieces of lands, they proudly notify passersby that some classy condominiums are going to be built on the land. One with office spaces "right on the pulse of the city", the other being targeted at well-off families. All amenities will be provided to ensure that buyers can enjoy a “safe� and comfortable life: shopping malls, a doorman, private parks, Starbuck cafe and Haagen Dazs icecream parlour on the street level, etc.).

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The images of the "future buildings" are in fact caricatures of existing buildings and city quarters. They are developed by the private sector and are increasingly shaping the cityscape of Berlin.

The headquarters of UIB are on Torstrasse, at the Sparwasser HQ gallery. That's where you can get to see and borrow for a few days The Head. The wearable sculpture, created by Finnish artist Laura Beloff, contains an “eye� which is a camera connected to a mobile phone which is in turn connected to the internet. Images and sounds are automatically recorded as soon as you send an SMS to The Head's phone (just text 0170 5544514.) The recorded files will then be relayed to you via MMS. The public can access all the images generated online.

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The Head has the mission to document public and private spaces throughout the event. However the wearer has no control on this access to her/his life from outside. As you can see on the images, The Head has partially melted. Made of plastic it didn't quite agree with the current sunny weather that Berlin is enjoying for a couple of months.

The image on the top of this post shows Daniel Jolliffe's Berliner Stimmen project. A yellow sculpture with a big red loudspeaker is mounted behind a bicycle. 3 times a week, Jolliffe is cycling through the borough of Mitte, Wedding and Gesundbrunnen, broadcasting previously recorded one-minute calls (digit 0800-7447000, leaving a message is free if you have a German phone number). The past realisations of the project under the name of One Free Minute in San José and Vancouver have shown that the callers use this public platform to utter private statements and stories as well as commercial announcements and political speeches. Listen to the recorded messages.

Images on flickr.

Sponsored by:

Yesterday in Soundbytes - Part 1, i gave a brief overview of the art works installed on the ground floor of the Edith Russ Haus in Oldenburg (Germany) for the Soundbytes - electronic and digital soundworlds exhibition.

Let's just get to the level below:

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Akitsugu Maebayashi's Metronome Piece is one of the highlights of the show for me. The artist went for a walk around Oldenburg bringing along a metronome. The clicks produced by the instrument work as 'sonar' which detects information of spaces, and the echoes of tick-tick were recorded binaurally through microphones in the artist's ears.

In the exhibition room, there's a table, a chair and headphones. As you walk near the chair the light dims and you're left with the sound of the metronome. Take the headphones and the experience becomes utterly strange. While you can still perceive the tick-tick (or people coming down the stairs above your head) coming through headphones, you're suddenly wandering the streets of Oldenburg on the steps of Akitsugu Maebayashi. You hear people walking by and talking under the rain, a truck passing, etc. The first time i even looked behind me to check who was there (no one of course, just an audio illusion). Another layer of space and time was overlapping with what was going on around me.


Harar (annicca), by Thomas Köner (of the Banlieu du Vide fame), is projected in the adjacent room. The work is part of the Péripheriques trilogy which shows patterns in the moves of people in the streets and detects stories in their faces. The videos were shooted in 3 different cities (Harar, Belgrade, and a favela in Buenos Aires), original sounds from the filming location blend with imaginary sounds.

Annina RĂĽst was showing Rock 'n' Scroll, a sound remixing system which allows anyone to use the computer as an acoustic instrument for interventions into wifi-equipped public space. Both mobile phones and computers are connected using a VOIP software. The sound itself is a combination of standard macintosh and windows sounds, as well as sounds included in the Skype software, and pre-made drumloops. There's also a delay effect that depend on how good the connection is.

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There were free softwares to take away!

The person who starts the performance has the most control (over the drum loop and the right mouse-button to turn on the microphone while turning off the rhythm.) Other participants function mainly as triggers. But no one has a total control over the whole performance.


Image fluctuat

A computer was showing the website of micromusic, a low-tech music community initiated by carl (Gino Esposto), wanga (Paco Manzanares) and bacon (Michael Burkhardt), famous for their performances and compositions that use Gameboys or vintage Atari consoles. The micomusic.net website reflects their objective to build an online community where visitors can listen to and download music and chat.

There are two other projects which i like a lot but i'll pass rapidly on them as i've blogged them before:

Jens Brand is showing G-Turns, the online version of the G-Players series, in an IKEA setting complete with price tags and a carpet with a wave-like pattern.

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Visitor can lie in Kaffe Matthews' Sonic Bed and enjoy the sound properties of experimental electronic music throughout their body. There is also a video of the "making of" of the piece.

In conclusion i'd say that the exhibition is really good. There's the fun, the loud, the introspective, the obscure, the aesthetically absorbing. It is not meant to be exhaustive but it gives an adequate overview of the many ways in which artists engage with sound materials these days. I guess i've been very lucky to visit the show on a quiet Thursday afternoon, i was able to enjoy each piece on my own without having to queue to be able to lay on the bed or having any sonic experience interrupted by other noises.

Flickr set.
At the Edith Russ Haus in Oldenburg, extended until April 29.

Related: Invisible Geographies: New Sound Art from Germany, an exhibition about the "physical" topography of sound at the Kitchen in New York.

0lephonono.jpgLast week in Oslo, i attended a very inspiring talk that Tom Igoe gave at the Oslo School of Architecture. He presented open source ideas and explained their impact on the way we think about space.

Among the projects he showed was Participatory Urbanism, a work by Eric Paulos, Ian Smith and RJ Honicky that turns the mobile phone into a “networked mobile personal measurement instrument."

On the one hand, there's a sophisticated device, the mobile phone, which provides us very little insight into the actual conditions of the terrain we traverse with it.

On the other hand is the fact that we must defer to a handful of civic government installed environmental monitoring stations that use extrapolation to derive a single air quality measurement for an entire metropolitan region. Such data doesn't reflect the dynamic variability arising from daily automobile traffic patterns, human activity, and smaller industries.

Carbon Monoxide readings made with taxicabs across Accra, Ghana

The goal of Participatory Urbanism is to provide mobile devices with new “super-senses� by enabling sensing technologies such as noise pollution, air quality, UV levels, water quality, etc. to be easily attached and used by anyone, especially non-experts.

Integrating simple air quality sensors into networked mobile phones promotes everyday citizens to uncover, visualize, and collectively share real-time air quality measurements from their own everyday urban lifestyles. This rich people-driven sensor data leverages community power imbalances, and can increase agency and decision maker understanding of a community's claims, thereby potentially increasing public trust.

Other projects Tom Igoe presented: Public Air Quality Indicator, Area's Immediate Reading and i'll add Neighbourhood Satellites.

0enjoyyyyy.jpgLike probably many people i wouldn't think of using a phone booth anymore but i feel a pang of nostalgia each time i see an old-style one. Many artists have created performances, installations or games around public booth. One of my favourite performances is Sophie Calle's adoption of a phone booth in Greenwich Village back in 1994.

When Paul Auster suggested that the French artist contribute to the improvement of life in New York City, she spent a week sitting on a chair next to a public phone booth in TriBeCa. She replaced the Nynex logos with Have a Nice Day and Enjoy, stocked the booth with snacks, cigs, drinks and flowers, listened to conversations, chatted with people and got comments on the notepad left at the booth.

In the end representatives of the telephone company threw all of Calle’s improvements into a trash basket (via).

More recently, Ryan Holsopple launched a public pay phone who-dunnit that invites people to make a toll-free call from any public pay phone in Canal Street Station and solve a murder mystery.

Set in the maze of tiles that make up the station, the Canal Street Station game puts participants in the shoes of a private investigator, as he searches the depths of Canal Street Station for a young French woman that may have committed a murder, or may be a figment of his own imagination.0fileletelef.jpg

The game uses a Trixbox server, a phone application platform based on Asterisk™, to collect caller ID from payphones in the Canal Street Subway, and pinpoint where the player is located.

Players are asked one simple riddle that can be solved by refrencing a subway map on the platform, the answer has to be entered into the keypad when they hear Niki (alias Tajna Tanovic) say the words, "Canal Street Station."

"If you answer the clue correctly you hear her say, "Great Work Detective!" Niki then tells you a more difficult riddle that takes you to another platform in the station. The riddles become increasingly difficult as you walk the creepy corridors of the Canal Street Subway station finding the answers," explains Ryan Holsopple. "You can start on any payphone, but no matter where you begin you will eventually end up on the same platform in the end of the mystery, when you answer the final question, you are told which train to exit the station on to take you to the last stage of the mystery."

It's not the first time that the artist works with payphones: one project recorded subway Buskers, busker dial up (in collaboration with John Schimmel) and Peter Stuyvesant's Ghost, a self-guided walk through the area of Peter Stuyvesant's farm utilizing pay or cellphones to access soundworks.

I asked Holsopple a few questions about his latest project:

Why payphone? Are you still using them to make phone calls? Were you interested in working with them for some nostalgia-related reason?

I love payphones and with the growing number of mobile phones, it seems that payphones are on their way out, but I feel they are still essential to the makeup of the city.

Payphones in the NYC subway are the only way to communicate with the outside world, so that puts a boundary on users in a piece such as this, which is great when it comes to a game/theater piece.

I also love the nostalgia theme and much of the work that 31 Down does is based in nostalgia and the technology of the past and how it relates to the present.

0canalstreeeeeee.jpgThe theater company centers around the ideas and cliches of the 'Private Investigator', so this became extremely relevant when I started working with Asterisk, which is an open source PBX created by Mark Spencer. Asterisk (and the voyeuristic possibilities that it offers) has a very 'seedy' side to it and seems to me to be the perfect fit for a private investigator obsessed with surveillance and eavesdropping.

I was also interested in a report by the Straphangers about the state of payphones in the NYC subway.

When i first read about your project i immediately thought about some old films noir. Are there movie scenes that influenced the scenario or any other elements of your project?

31 Down's work is heavily influenced by film-noir. In this pay phone mystery, the audience gets to play the character of a private detective, Mike Sharpie. For clues along the mystery, you hear the inner voice of the detective through the phone handset, this convention has a direct relationship to the film-noir voiceover narrative, which I love.

You also hear the voice of a young lady who speaks with a heavy French accent (played by Tajna Tanovic), she may have killed someone in the station and she is leaving mysterious clues for the detective; this device is mostly based on the work of film director Krzysztof Kieslowski (Dekalog), and the use of obsession and voyeurism in his work.

Thanks Ryan!

The work is co-produced by free103point9 Transmission Arts and 31 Down radio theater and will be running until October 31, 2007. Photos of CSS by Christina Latimer.

0bogotrax.jpgPaving the way for more news about Bogota...

Erik Sandelin and Magnus Torstensson from Unsworn have presented at the Bogotrax festival in Bogotá their new Ophonine Pophorn software.

The Ophonine is the first in an upcoming series of applications that transform your mobile phone into various musical instruments. With the Ophonine you can record and play sound loops with a press of a button.

First you have to download the Ophonine Pophorn software which will be available for free in May 2007. After that it works like this: press and hold the button to record a sound loop, using the microphone of the handset. When you let go of the button the loop is played back repeatedly - through the phone speaker or via an audio cable - until another sound has been recorded. Demo.

The Ophonine Pophorn is based on Unsworn’s installation, the Four Ophones.

After Bogotrax (which ends today) Unsworn will continue its Colombian Pophorn Tour with events in Medellin, as part of the Pixelazo festival.

Top image by Bogotrax' photos.
More mobile phone as a musical instrument: musical tones played depending on how far away the hand is from the camera; the HandyDandy, Dialtones, Sinfonietta ringtone concert.

mushon_ps_big.jpgI met Mushon Zer-Aviv at ars electronica last year where he was presenting two projects: Upgrade!, an international network of gatherings around new-media, and ShiftSpace, an open-source meta-layer built above the web. A few weeks later, Mushon's path crossed mine again. He was presenting You Are Not Here at Conflux, a festival of psychogreography held in New York each year.

Mushon is a guy who never stops and makes us all feel lazy and useless. He designs, teaches, writes for mags, acts and netarts within new media. He is interested in particular in challenging the perception of territory and borders and the way they are shaped through politics, culture, globalization and the world wide web.

He lives with his wife and cat in New York and i'm really happy that he found some time to answer my questions.

Mushon, i first met you in Austria, you were presenting (between others)the activities of Upgrade! The Upgrade! network is growing and getting more active as time goes by. What motivated its creation? How did it develop? What are its objective?

Upgrade! started in 1999 by new media artist Yael Kanarek when she and three more friends got lonely and decided to meet in a bar in the East Village to discuss each other's works, these unofficial meetings developed and expanded and Yael started holding these meetings at Eyebeam Center for Art & Technology. In 2003 Upgrade started to expand when participants in the New York node and other friends of Yael opened similar nodes in Vancouver, Montreal, Boston, Seoul, Munich and at all more than 20 cities around the world. In 2005 I started the Tel-Aviv node, currently run by the Sala-Manca group. Since I moved to New York I have been more involved in the international level.

At the end of November 2006, we've met for the second Upgrade International gathering in Oklahoma City where we all exhibited, presented, held workshops and lectures around the theme of DIY. This was one of the most exciting events I've been to and I kept saying to myself how proud I am to be a part of this (I was also fortunate to work on the catalog). Every morning for the 4 days of the event we would meet for breakfast and discuss the network. We would learn about each other's nodes and think of ways to develop the international level.

0aupdgrade.jpgEach node works a bit differently and reflects the culture and interests of its local community. For example, the Scotland node invites both artists and other specialists to present back-to-back it also moves every month between Glasgow and Dundee, the Chicago node holds its meetings at restaurants and acts as a meeting point for different new media academics, the Belgrade node serves as an umbrella to different art organizations, the Boston node is very tied to the practice and artist-base of Turbulence, the organization that runs it and the Salvador and Tel-Aviv/Jerusalem nodes are very interested in media activism and social change, and so on...

On the larger perspective it seems like Upgrade is going through the three classic models of networks, it started as a centralized network, with Yael's original NY node, continued to a decentralized network with different organizers networking between themselves and running local nodes and communities. One of our goals right now is to reach that third model of the distributed network (the same one behind the internet protocol that allows us to communicate) meaning - peer to peer communication and collaboration between artists from different nodes.

On the last day of the International gathering last month, Dan Phiffer, my partner on many projects, have presented his Postnational Foundation project where he attempts to challenge nationalistic approaches to politics through small local interventions. I think we were all very inspired by his presentation and sympathized with the 'think global/act local' approach. It is not accidental that the nodes are named by cities and not nations, we do see ourselves as a postnational network. Upgrade is a great platform for us to challenge globalization and offer better models of global networking.

Can anyone set up an Upgrade! in his or her own city? What are the rules? Any condition to fulfil?

We always try to make up rules, yet we keep deciding not to. Up to now we have a thriving network with only one case of a node loosing contact after one event, as much as it is not desirable we have decided it is ok, nodes will naturally have various lifespans. We decided to try not to make rules. If it breaks, we'll fix it. The way Upgrade started, the way it evolved and the way we would like it to keep growing is through the social networks of it's members, we're all friends of friends of friends. This narrows it down to one simple rule - you want to start an Upgrade? First become our friend :)

Do you see the internet as a public space? And how does ShiftSpace -that you developed together with Dan Phiffer- fit in the picture?

shiftspace_300x225.jpgDan and I met in ITP, I come from a design background and he from creative web hacking. We both really love the web and see it as the most important model for a future postnational world. That's why we're also very concerned about the main paradigm of the web, namely privatization. While the discourse about the web is full of superlatives implying freedom and sharing, we find ourselves constantly bouncing into new walls and boundaries online. The web is built as a huge set of private spaces - while the internet protocol is indeed distributed, the DNS (Domain Name System) protocol is totally centralized - meaning the control of the page content (no matter how interactive or web 2.0-ish it is) always in the hands of a single private power holder.We are trying to challenge this approach and make a point by not just questioning the web's power structures, but prove that we can build an interesting and useful tool.

ShiftSpace is an open source platform for the social extensions of websites. It is if you will, a transparent layer above any website where users can leave notes, discuss, protest, create art, and deeply explore the interactive potential of the web.

By installing the plug-in's current public beta version 0.07 (which we launched for the first day of 2007) users can use the 'Notes' space (application for ShiftSpace) to leave post-it notes on websites, use the 'ImageSwap' space to switch any image on the web with any other image, and use the latest addition 'SourceShift' to modify the html source of any page. We call these modifications shifts. When a user browse to a shifted page, she gets notified by a little icon, she can then click the + keys to launch the ShiftSpace console and browse the shifts.

We are currently working on many new spaces and on a feature called 'trails' which would allow users to link shifts together and create information-maps on the web.ShiftSpace challenges the privatized interface paradigm and hopes to become an attractive platform for net artists, researchers, activists, poets, technologists and the everyday users. The Meta-Web concept has not managed to 'catch' yet, though many attempts have been made on it from the days of Third-Voice through GreaseMonkey to the proliferation of meta-web 2.0 annotation tools that are available out there.

ShiftSpace is a very young and ambitious project, we try to learn from the successes and mistakes of our predecessors and provide a true public space on the web. It is a Wild Wild Web out there and we're trying to make the platform as stable and yet as open as we can.

Has the shiftspace project evolved since I first heard the presentation you made at Ars Electronica in September 2006?

Definitely! First of all, we had four more releases since then (with v0.08 is coming soon too) and have just launched the new ShiftSpace.org which is wider and more comprehensive than the previous site. The new site also allows users to watch and subscribe to RSS feeds of shifts created by the vast user community.

We have been giving more presentations to spread the word and have been throwing 'installation parties' where participants were invited to install a public spaces on their laptops. We are currently working with Turbulence to start a unique commission program to support artists creating new parasitic net art and using ShiftSpace as a platform. This can become the moment we've been working towards, where ShiftSpace becomes an open-ended creative platform, shared and developed by a wide community.

We are looking for more people to join us in working on it. It can be as simple as using the system, being creative with it, and also reporting bugs from time to time when they appear (and bare with us while they will most certainly appear...). You can also join by developing new spaces for ShiftSpace, or best - for the web gurus out there, we are looking for developers to help us work on the core system itself. We are pretty serious about the open source model and are inspired by the Wikipedia foundation. We hope to achieve a stage when we could hold elections for the lead of the project. We will then hopefully compete with peers who are as enthusiastic and committed as we are to the future of the (meta)web.

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You Are Not Here during the Conflux festival

You Are Not Here invites people to a touristic tour of Baghdad throughthe streets of New York. What was the impetus for this project? What doyou think New Yorkers can learn about their own city and about Baghdad with this project?

For me YANH has a lot to do with ShiftSpace. While ShiftSpace adds an information layer above the online space, YANH adds one above the urban space. We were generally dissatisfied with the way mainstream media communicates terms like 'Baghdad' and 'Iraqis', we were feeling these terms have lost their human scale. YANH attempts to allow a one-to-one scaled experience of Baghdad.

Accompanied by a two-sided NY/Baghdad map, the participants find the situated YANH signs in the streets of NY and call the YANH Baghdad tourist center to get the audio tours. Ubiquitous computing and specifically cellphones merges physical presence with mediation, and that's it's power, YANH is built around a tension between the two. Specifically, the guide for these Baghdad locations is very American. While you get to "walk in Baghdad", to experience information in human scale, this western guide reflects again the way we're all guided through information in mainstream media. This also adds a certain repulsive preview of culturally colonized Baghdad. The tension of tourism/colonialism is an inherent part of the project. I hope you got to experience this when you participated in the Conflux tour last September. NY based readers can try it too by downloading the map from the website and simply go out and enjoy Baghdad.

Can you tell us something about the new version of YANH: a tour of Gaza through the streets of Tel-Aviv?

Definitely. As an Israeli, this is something I'm specifically excited about. Four members of the original YANH team members (Kati London, Thomas Duc, Dan Phiffer and myself) are currently working on this second YANH project. This time reflecting Gaza and Tel-Aviv in a similar manner. Though geographically close (only two hours ride) these two cities are both emotionally and politically detached. This political and emotional detachment is a complicated issue, with some history. While the disengagement of Israel from the Gaza strip in the summer of 2005 was thought to open a new hope for Gazan civilians, it has practically turned Gaza to the biggest jail in the world. Where once Gazans used to work in Israel, now that the borders are closed the situation in Gaza deteriorates every day. It's a vicious circle in which the Israeli air-force keeps shelling the city to 'retaliate' for rocket launching from Gaza to Israel. You see... most Israelis are tired from the 40 years long occupation and want to see it end. Yet, in Tel-Aviv the general mind-frame is that after the disengagement we are not IN Gaza anymore and therefore are no longer responsible for it. This is something we want to address through the new YANH.

One thing we're doing differently this time is that we are not going to have an American or an Israeli narrator, but rather work with people from Gaza. We have just started working with Laila El-Haddad the talented writer of the fascinating blog Raising Yousuf, Unplugged: diary of a Palestinian mother. It is too early to say where would this collaborations lead the project, but we have high hopes for it. We are interested in the potential to turn Tel-Aviv into a situated media platform for geolocated audio blogging from Gaza. You Are Not Here: A Tour of Gaza through the Streets of Tel-Aviv will be launched in April, and the map will be printed in the 4th issue of Block Magazine. We are thinking of future episodes for YANH and are in contact with our Korean Upgrade friends trying to promote a tour of P'yongyang through the streets of Seoul.

0littleffet23.jpgHow about the Little Feet Bureau? What did you try to achive with that project? Did you intend to raise the attention to online surveillance? Which kind of audience did you have in mind when you developed the LFB?

By now you can probably pick an overarching theme I'm working with. You know, growing up in Israel I always had regional maps around me, each one of them looked different... I managed to reach quite a grow up age without knowing what are the borders of my country. In a way I still don't. It has become my own private border conflict. That is why I'm so drawn to the internet and that is why I'm so interested in Postnationalism.

The Little Feet Bureau is concerned with exactly that - the tension between the Postnational tendencies of the web and the paranoid tendencies of national information agencies. Governments and national ideologies secretly surveil innocent internet traffic trying to project and justify their fears and construct fantastic narratives of terrorism, extremism and instability through bundeling of 'dangerous keywords'. For me this is the peak of the tension the core of the digital border conflict.

Toshi Ozawa, David Nolen and myself have created the Little Feet Bureau, an independent agency providing surveillance services for different governments. LF's dot-matrix printers are personalized to the client's ideology and print accusation letters to suspect users based on these paranoid keyword narratives. Essentially, these are paranoia machines - embodying national fears and cultural segregation into computer algorithms.

Did we do it to inform and raise attention about online surveillance? I'm not sure. Actually, Little Feet was launched in an Upgrade! New York event we held in Eyebeam. The title of the event was: We Passion Power and Control: the dark desires of art under surveillance. We also had presentations by of in(security) and of Generative Social Networking (both worth a WMMNA post). When we opened it to discussion we asked exactly that - did we do that to educate? to inform? to raise attention? or was there another thing? There is a constant love/hate relationship between artists and power. On one hand we want 'to protest against them', 'to raise awareness', 'to reveal the injustices' but on the other hand we simply envy that power, we WANT to posses the power of surveillance, we protest against it both because we think it's wrong and because we actually wish WE had this enormous power at our disposal.

I saw a similar thing happen at the Three Cities Against The Wall exhibition (where Less Rain studio and myself presented Graffiti Studio: Separation Wall). Artists both cried against the separation wall Israel is building in the west bank but many works actually longed for that power. There was a certain hidden desire kind of saying "I wish I could build such an extraordinary spectacle".

Atlas Gloves is a DIY physical interface for controlling 3D mappingapplications like Google Earth. Why did you and Dan decide to open the code and let people re-create the gloves. Which kind of improvement do you think other users can bring to the gloves?

This is actually a funny story. Dan and I were in our first semester in ITP in Tom Igoe's Introduction to Physical Computing class. Both of us spoiled software brats were a bit afraid of electronics and searched a way in the realms of the physical away from all these scary electrifying breadboards. Plus we are both very much about distribution, and have decided to build a cheap video tracking based hand gesture interface for Google Earth. The fun part is that it's just two ping-pong balls and keychain lighters - about $8 worth of a fancy Minority Report'ish interface.

Opening the source was an obvious decision for us, first of all we did it in the Processing programming language which is in itself opensource so it seemed only fair to make our software open too. But we were trying to make a point for low-tech as well. A lot of the spectacle of electronics involves how much it costs, these high-end interfaces demonstrate both control and wealth. Atlas Gloves is a free software and almost free hardware, and it works well. And if it doesn't work for you, you can fix it yourself, and if you're not into Google Earth or you want to use it for something else, than the code is yours to play with. Actually John Craig Freeman, an artist from Upgrade Boston is currently trying to see if he can use Atlas Gloves for his Second Life based artworks. That's exactly the beauty of open source.


Are there researchers or artists whose work you find particularly inspiring? Why?

As you probably noticed I am constantly inspired by the Upgrade network and the loads of talent, inspiration and leadership it has to offer. My professors are a great inspiration, Clay Shirky is very supportive of ShiftSpace and was there from the beginning, Raffi Krikorian was in the background of Little Feet, Frank Lantz, Nancy Hechinger, Alex Galloway, the list is long... For better or worse I am inspired by what's going on in the world and specifically by the way it is mediated. I enjoy some magazines, such as Bidoun: Art and Culture from the Middle East, that have inspired You Are Not Here a lot. I have designed and am involved in Maarav, an Israeli art, culture and media magazine that is a great inspiration for me. It is very politically involved and like Bidoun is dedicated to art from the middle east (English version coming very soon). I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately, Adam Curtis's 'Century of the Self' and 'The Power of Nightmares' are both must sees, John Pilger got me quite depressed, some Israeli documentary movies like Avi Mograbi's 'Avenge But One of My Two Eyes' is very strong, so is Juliano Mer-Khamis' 'Arna's Children'.

I am extremely inspired by my good friends the Sala-Manca group. They are inspiring artists that have managed while maintaining total independence to become a leading force in the Israeli contemporary art scene. They publish a magazine, curate exhibitions and art events, run no-org.net where they publish net art exhibitions, hold workshops, run Upgrade! Tel-Aviv/Jerusalem and lately have also become parents. They are truly amazing, you should definitely check them out!

I really can't figure out how you do it all: study at itp, have a webdesign studio, create cool project and follow Upgrade! Do you have timeto dedicate to anything else?

My wife would love this question (did she write it?). The truth is that I get by with a little help from my friends. All the projects I mentioned are at least 50% the work of the super talented people I have got to work with. First of all Shual studio is also in the good hands of my partner (and great inspiration) Guy Saggee. I always work with more people, for me that's the best way to work. That's what Upgrade is all about, that's also why I went to ITP, collaboration is ITP's secret. I only can't believe it's almost over. We're graduating really soon and I still have a huge list of ITPers I would have loved to work with... Andrew Schneider, Christian Croft, Ariel Efron, Chetan Mengat, Zach Layton, Britta Riley, Stefan Hechenberger, Jenny Chowdhury, Josh Klein, Heather Dewey Hagborg... it's a long list of people I have not collaborated with yet. I hope we will get the time for that too, after all, we are (comparably) young, right?

Thanks Mushon!

Podcast of the presentation of Upgrade at ars electronica.

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