Projects

Protei

Cesar Harada (UK)

“Protei” is a fleet of pollution-collecting sailing drones. Initiated by senior TED fellow Cesar Harada it is a result of collaboration between artists, designers and scientists and as such it belongs to the intersection between fields. It is designed as a low-cost open-source oil-collecting device that semi-autonomously sails upwind, intercepting oil slicks going downwind. It is meant to be hurricane-ready, self-righting, inflatable, unbreakable, cheap and easy to manufacture for immediate response. It appropriates existing technologies so that it is possible to apply them quickly to address the crisis. The machine in development now is “Protei_Oil_Spill” for collecting oil spilled at sea, but being an open-source project other versions may be designed in the future for other purposes: “Protei” for the North Pacific plastic garbage patch, heavy metals in coastal areas, toxic substances in urbanized waterways etc.

“Protei” has multiple facets anchored in art (beauty is vital), design (commodity is good), engineering (technology defines us as human) and science as we came up with this ground-breaking sailing technology.

“Protei” has been developed as open hardware, not only because it is the most ethical, the fastest, cheapest and most fun way, but because it is building a community around the technology, ensuring our leadership to serve environmental purposes.

MERRICK

Daan van den Berg (NL)

“From an unknown location, I break into IKEA’s computer server. In this nerve centre, the CAD files for every IKEA product are stored and downloaded worldwide. By infecting the CAD files with the ‘Elephantiasis virus’ I have just designed, I can hack the entire range of products. The virus causes random deformities, like lumps, cracks and humps, which only show up when the customer prints his product at home with his 3D printer.”

The “MERRICK” originated during a fantasy about the development described above. The “MERRICK” is a digital file infected with the human Elephantiasis virus and then converted into a tangible product by using a 3D printer. Every lamp that is printed will therefore be different. Three-dimensional printing at home might sound like science fiction. But it is far from unthinkable. Consumer 3D printing is still in its infancy, but is expected to touch off a new revolution.

Energy Parasites

Eric Paulos (US)

Energy Parasites are handcrafted objects designed to opportunistically harvest small bits of energy across public landscapes. Agnostic to energy origin or ownership, these artifacts redirect their captured energy through a variety of means, including expressing it or storing it for later re-acquisition and usage. Central to this experience is the materiality of energy.

Energy Parasites foreground energy use and opportunities for re-use. They are both adversarial and helpful as they question concepts of energy ownership and opportunities for energy harvesting. Central to this is the reframing of energy as a material that can be infused and embedded with properties such as when, how, and the texture of the energy production. Can energy be sentimental, emotional, or uncomfortable?

Earth

Finnbogi Pétursson (IS)

In a water-filled basin, Icelandic artist Pétursson creates interference at 7.8 hertz. The sound, which can be heard and felt, becomes visible in the form of waves on the surface of the water. This 7.8 hertz frequency corresponds to a physical phenomenon named the Schumann Resonance that describes the resonation of the Earth’s electromagnetic field. For Pétursson, this is the frequency of our home planet’s pulse.

The Free Universal Construction Kit

Golan Levin (US), Shawn Sims (US)

The Free Universal Construction Kit is a matrix of adapter bricks that enable complete interoperability between ten popular children’s construction toys. By allowing any piece to join to any other, the kit encourages totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems. As with other grassroots interoperability remedies, the The Free Universal Construction Kit uses proprietary protocols in order to provide a public service unmet, or unmeetable, by corporate interests. The Free Universal Construction Kit is not a product, but a provocation. It offers working adapters between Lego, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K’Nex, Krinkles (Bristle Blocks), Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome and Zoob—adapters that can be downloaded free from various sharing sites as a set of 3D models suitable for reproduction by personal manufacturing devices such as the Makerbot (an inexpensive, open-source 3D printer). In so doing, The Free Universal Construction Kit prompts consideration about intellectual property, open-source culture and reverse engineering as a mode of cultural practice.

Think silent, act with noise

EHU ZARATA LAB

The installation space consists of an action space fenced in by two green slate walls like a handball court, where the visitors can use chalk to write or draw their ideas relating to the exhibition proposal: The Artist as catalyst: Find your voice and express yourself. This intervention setting will dialogue with the visitor by picking up the sound when they draw/write on the wall and altering it using a system of various computers controlled/influenced by sensors. The installations system captures the activity using different types of microphones and sensors (cameras, movement sensors). Afterwards the sound which is picked up is returned to the environment as generative music with different feedback times, creating a paradox where the exhibition space and the spectator become material of the same work.

Newstweek

Julian Oliver (NZ), Daniil Vasiliev (RU)

Newstweek is a device for manipulating the news read by other people on wireless hotspots. Built into a small and innocuous wall plug, the Newstweek device appears as part of the local infrastructure. This allows agents to remotely edit news read on laptops, phones and tablets without their users knowing. Newstweek emerges as a symptom of our increasingly corporatized and mediated democratic reality. While news is increasingly read digitally, it still follows a traditional, top-down distribution model and thus often falls victim to the same political and corporate interests that have always sought to manipulate public opinion. Newstweek intervenes in this model, providing an opportunity for citizens to have their turn at manipulating the media, “fixing facts” as they pass across a wireless network. In this way Newstweek can be seen as a tactical device for altering public reality on a per-network basis. Newstweek also signals a word of caution, that a strictly media-defined reality is always a vulnerable reality. Today, as devices and their networks become ubiquitous, ignorance as to how they function increases, offering an opportunity for the manipulation of facts on their journey from source to destination (from server to screen). Hotspots manipulable by Newstweek include cafes, libraries, hotels, universities and city-wide wireless networks.

FACELESS

Manu Luksch (AT/UK)

Austrian artist Manu Luksch shot her film “Faceless” without the slightest cinematography on her part. The filming was done exclusively by public surveillance video cameras. London was the location of this unusual shoot. Once the filming was completed, the artist sued to obtain all footage in which she appeared. The faces of all other—unintentional—cast members were erased or concealed in consideration of their right to privacy. The end product is a film well worth seeing, one that focuses on increasingly pervasive surveillance in public spaces.

Light is time, folds are space

Matthew Gardiner (AUT)

As artists we learn to follow our instincts, but often writing statements places our work into a critical frame that requires a level of logical thought that negates the instinctual aspect of making the work in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t want to translate the artwork with words this time, rather with this statement, I want to explain in a personal voice what I was thinking about before and when making the work. It’s impossible to transfer the moments of inspiration and discovery to you, but perhaps I can lead you through the intuition that drives my creative process.

I wanted to make a work that expressed an impossible to realise scale–the nano scale–and make it so large that it would totally encompass the viewer’s frame of view. This was inspired by my research into recent scientific developments in nano fabrication, particularly an area called DNA Origami which in scientific circles refers to the folding and binding of DNA into programmed shapes, an unnatural engineering approach to using natural material.

I wanted the viewers sense of time to be accelerated, and so the lighting cycle reflects a solar orbit that is far faster than the earth day. And to make a departure from Oribotics, a series of works that move folds, and rather move light across folds to cause a shift in the tonal perception of the folds over time.

I wanted to express a sense of calculated mathematical precision through formal accuracy of the folds, and through a continuous change in height of the peaks and shape of the folded form. I wanted to use the same DNA – the same fundamental pattern – for each fold as interlocking units. I wanted it to be systematic, and to have the work derived from one mathematical model, and use a laser to precisely score the folds.

From these wants, the work arose from late night studies of the fold; from folding countless sheets of paper, to revisiting vector mathematics to calculate the angles between folded planes, to visualisation of 3D software generated arrays of the units to see the effect of light. I concluded the work after arriving at a geometric formula, signifying an understanding of this fold’s DNA, it’s possible expressions and ideal system. Then I could stop thinking, and begin making: the meditation of making hundreds of pieces, fabricating part-by-part, transforming digital formula into form.

In some ways the work is monotonous, not only in the colour range, but also formally. I imagine the surfaces of new materials will be like this: precise and calculated. The work reminds me of the grayscale of electron microscope imaging. However the movement of light makes all the difference, it creates shadows that grow and shift in form, making highlights in the monotony through subtle formal changes.

Afterwards, I reflected on the use of the term DNA Origami, that it makes more sense to me to refer to Origami DNA, as in the program, or composition of folds, that construct a given shape and it’s variations.

Face to Facebook

Paolo Cirio (IT), Alessandro Ludovico (IT)

To conclude their “Hacking Monopolism” trilogy, Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico took aim at big game online: Facebook. Using a home-brew computer program, they harvested a million Facebook profiles, filtered them with facial recognition software, and then grouped them according to similarities of the data as well as the faces.

Finally, the profiles reordered in this way were displayed on a dating site the duo set up, and the profiled individuals were introduced to each other via e-mail. Within the very first week of its existence online, “face to facebook” was already making one hell of a splash, ranging from coverage in media worldwide to death threats and lawsuits. Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico were ultimately forced to take their project off the internet.

Street Ghosts

Paolo Cirio (IT)

In international areas for Street Art, life-sized pictures of people found on Google’s Street View were printed and posted without authorization at the same spot where they were taken. The posters are printed in color on thin paper, cut along the outline, and then affixed with wheatpaste on the walls of public buildings at the precise spot on the wall where they appear in Google’s Street View image. Street Ghosts has been a rigorous hunt for the most visible people on spooky buildings with walls available for art interventions. The physical evidence of the ghosts’ appearance may vanish quickly, but its documentation will remain forever.

DESIRE OF CODES

Seiko Mikami (JP)

Seiko Mikami’s large installation “Desire of Codes” demonstrates how the boundaries between the body of data in the virtual world and the physical body in the real world are becoming blurred in the context of Information Society. The nightmarish setting of this interactive work consists of three parts: a white wall on which 90 insect feeler-like objects with build-in surveillance cameras are mounted (Ninety Wriggling Wall Units); six giant robot arms equipped with video cameras and laser projectors hanging from the ceiling (Six Multi-perspective Search Arms); and a round projection surface 3.5 meters in diameter. This Compound Eye Detector Screen resembles an insect’s multifaceted eyes.

Visitors become cognizant of being in the viewfinder of a perfect piece of surveillance machinery. Highly sensitive cameras and microphones register the slightest movement and sounds beyond the range of human hearing. Whatever is registered is stored in a high-performance databank that is the actual core of “Desire of Codes.” On the large screen, installation visitors experience the real-time projections of their own images; these sequences are interspersed by older footage within the system as well as images from surveillance cameras in public places worldwide.

Desire of Codes is a commissioned work by YCAM//Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (JP) and has been exhibited at ICC Tokyo, Dortmund Center for Art and Creativity, and Künstlerhaus Wien.
Kazunao Abe (Curator, YCAM/Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media / JP); Satoshi Hama, Soichiro Mihara, Richi Owaki ( YCAM InterLab / JP), Norimichi Hirakawa (JP), Ryota Kuwakubo (JP), TAKEGAHARASEKKEI, Tama Art University, Course of Media Art (JP)