Thursday, 30 September 2010

MyTime Interview - Salomé Voegelin on SoundTimeSpace

The urban and the sound are very much one and the same. Noises and tweets, squeaks and bangs, whispers and rattle are constantly present and play an important part in the shaping of the environment. consciously or unconsciously we are attracted or repulsed by certain sounds in specific configurations. But how is it interlinked with time and space, how does it tie in with time and certainly space, the much talked focus in the urban discussion.

In this interview we want to discuss these questions with Salomé Voegelin, an artist and writer who is concerned with the practice and philosophy of sound. Her work has been shown in the UK and Mainland Europe. Most recently her work "Barry Echo" has been included in Playing with Words, the Spoken Word in Artistic Practice, Cathy Lane ed., UK, CRiSAP and RGAP, Cornerhouse Publication, 2008. In 2007 she was commissioned to produce an urban pod-cast for RADAR in Loughborough, UK, and to realise, in collaboration with artist and writer David Mollin, a site-specific work for the Bregenz Kunstverein, Magazin 4, Austria. She is the curator of Clickanywhere, an online sound exhibition featuring sound work that focuses on the voice, Her published writing includes 'Sonic Memory Material as "Pathetic Trigger" ' in Organised Sound international peer-reviewed journal, Cambridge University Press April 2006, and 'Völlig Losgelöst', a chapter in Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment, Angus Carlyle ed., published by Double Entendre in 2007. And a chapter on long duration on the radio for the book ‘Nachtschichten’, Jörg Köppl ed., edition Fink 2008.

Her book Listening to Noise and Silence: Toward a Philosophy of Sound Art
was published by Continuum Press in May 2010.

Since we are talking sound, we wana make use of sound and ditch the predominately visual approach, so turn the volume up and/or put on the headphones.


urbanTick: Is it important to be on time?
Salomé Voegelin: Of course I think it is impolite not to be on time, but I have become rather used to everybody always being late since living in England. However, I have been reminded of the importance of being on time by my son’s Kindergarten teacher, who, to stem off the slow trickle of late pupils every morning, keeps on telling the parents that if we want our children to learn to appreciate being on time we need to bring them to school on time.

urbanTick: We are discussing here three key words with very strong and evocative characters. They can be arranged in sort of a definition triangle, with each being used to describe the next one, let’s try this. What’s the sound of time and what’s the sound of space?
Salomé Voegelin: I want to bring these two questions together, which in many ways also answers the next. In the tradition of Western Philosophy there is a great dialectical urge to keep things apart, to see them as conflictual, defined against rather than through each other. Which is by the way a very visual “deducticism” in the sense that the meaning and status of the one is produced by deducing it from that of the other, rather than through the experience of itself. And so time and space are understood to cancel each other out, negate each other or use each other to the end of their own realization; and they are defined by their purpose rather than their experience. It is the function of the space by which I measure it rather than its experiential time, and it is the purpose of the time by which I read it rather than the experience of its space. Time and space thus exist in a purposeful conflict that seeks a resolution in a higher order synthesis, a better space, a better time, outlining a progressive understanding rather than a place to be. Thereby hinting at continual improvement that renders time and space vehicles only, to propel the subject, who passes through their a prior existence, onwards and upwards, towards always yet another such conflictual place.

Sound, a sonic sensibility, challenges the possibility of such a dialectical differentiation and the consequent imagination of their relationship as necessary progressivity. It sounds space in time and time in space and produces a place that is neither oppositional nor deductional. Instead it presents space and time as extensions of each other, where they exist in a critical equivalence: not the same but not combative either; an agonistic play that defines them both, but never for long in the same shape, inviting the experience of fixedfluidities and fluidfixities that are permanently differently now. Such time and space is a moving realm that changes in the continuous presence of perception. This realm is not functional however, but playful, and neither is it relative since it is generated through the listener’s experience where time and space find their particularity and contingent hold.

This proposition is based on the experience of sound as an invisible formless thing that is not there before its encounter, as is the assumption in a visually orientated philosophy, but is generated in my perception of it, always now.

urbanTick: You remove the dash between time-space in your book, can you explain this and how this relates to sound?
Salomé Voegelin: The dialectical conflict that is born from and leads to this progressive imagination of place is based on the idea of time and space as two autonomous entities (Gesamtheiten). It is, almost paradoxically, their exclusivity that allows us to pitch them malevolently against each other rather than focus on their playful interaction. I call both together through the notion of time-space, but remove the dash to call them timespace in order to avoid the possibility of exclusivity and immanent antagonism. In this way I aim to highlight the need to keep them together while also stressing their equal difference: They are elements of equal significance, they are neither the same nor opposed to each other but are generated through each other in the effort of perception.

urbanTick: Is there a past and a future in sound or is there only the here and now?
Salomé Voegelin: The term timespace allows not only for the imagination of a present place, as produced in the playful agonism between a present time and a present space, but also brings to perception the notion of an over-there and of another-time that are not opposed to or outside this moment of now but that constitute it in its extensionality. What I mean by this is that the now of a sonic timespace is durational. It is a thick slither of now, again a seeming paradox, but an imaginative possibility. Listening is extensive, it generates space in the temporality of its material. And it builds this temporal space not only from what we hear but also from what that audition produces in terms of a generative possibility. Sonic possibilities and memories trigger the present perception and also rush into this present moment to extend its space, which we prise open in the time of our listening to inhabit as place. This thick place of a present timespace allows us to inhabit the now, and at the same time it is our effort of perception, inhabiting that now, that produces the extensity of its place.

This extensity is of course not exclusive to the sonic perception, but a sonic sensibility has the ability to imagine it. In sound we inhabit our perception, we are always part of it; our sounds are as much part of the soundscape as those we perceive to be over-there. And it is this sensibility of simultaneity with one’s surroundings that enables the imagination of an inhabited, agonistically playful and thick now rather than of an exclusive, conflictual and functional now.

Sound by Salomé Voegelin / Lovely.

urbanTick: You are characterising the experience of sound as the here in sort of a thick slither of the present and as evocative. To what extend can we imagine the sound? Almost as in the secondary school physics example, where the excited teacher demonstrates with some fireworks how the light, the smoke, travels faster than the sound, the bang. From experience we’ll already be awaiting the sound as we see the little firecracker blowing up.
Salomé Voegelin: Sound is never an a priori, it is not there before its experience, but is generated in our audition and this audition is what extends its present moment to include all that could sound as well as what does. There is an anticipation to listening, which is particularly forceful when we are in silence; an almost breathless waiting for what might eventually sound. This anticipation is my agency of listening as a pull to generate the heard. Unscheduled radio is a good way to experience this: the formless invisibility of its sound means that our anticipation never leads to the fulfillment of one’s expectations but to the production of the heard, and this heard involves the imagination of ourselves at the moment of its production, inhabiting it. We do not imagine the sound but produce it, as imagined, in our auditory imagination.

urbanTick: In your book you mention Doreen Massey's description of space and time as conventions, as matter of perception as well as believe. To what extend does this conception apply to sound.
Salomé Voegelin: Massey’s ideas of space and time not as dialectically opposed absolutes but as constituted in perception and therefore dependent on the inhabiting subject, has very crucially influenced my own thinking about time and space in sound. Her articulations are in many ways a critique of the theorizations of time-space compression in the networked age where fluidity is generally articulated as crisis and fixity seen as providing the certainty of place. She re-assesses these absolutes and makes any judgment dependent on the subject’s social and political narrative instead.

In sound too the reality, the timespace, of a situation is not absolute but depends on the perceiving subject. Sound does not provide us with representations of a priori situations, but forces us into its timespace place, to inhabit its material and generate it in this inhabiting simultaneity. There is then in sound too not one sensibility of time and space but a multiplicity of possibilities, which reflect back on the particularity of their perception rather than on a stable and absolute reality.

This is a very interesting starting point also to consider sound and a sonic sensibility in relation to art and the acoustic environment not only in terms of its aesthetic appreciation, but also in terms of a political and social consequence of a sonic subjectivity, a sonic community, etc.

Sound by Salomé Voegelin / Oblongs in Square Spaces.

urbanTick: Practically everything has a sound to it. Be it the clicking of the keyboard while typing a text, the whistle of the water boiler or the beep of the scanner at the supermarket till. Would it be possible to classify different sounds according to time?
Salomé Voegelin: Putting aside the notational control over time in conventional music production and its learned appreciation, for me the interest in considering the time of sonic occurrences does not lie in the duration of the sound but in the duration of its perception, and this recalls my answer to your last question, how it involves the aesthetic, social and political situation of the perceiving subject. In other words my interest lies not in classifying sounds as autonomous and abstract entities, but to engage in the time of their perception understood as the moment of their inhabited generation. These moments are not bound to clock time but generate our individual sense of it, as well as the sense of ourselves as sonic subjectivities inhabiting that formless time.

The discussion of this perceptual time and self in sound could grant us access to the reality of the world as a multilayered thing, illuminating “possible worlds”, whose spatiotemporal formation is formless by itself, dependent on the generative perception of its inhabitants, and mirroring their own formless possibility.

urbanTick: Is sound timeless?
Salomé Voegelin: It is not timeless but its time is full of space. It produces space from its time and invents the time of its space. Together they create the thick and complex slither of now that is our listened to environment and it is in listening, through an auditory imagination, that we appreciate the complexity and reciprocity of its time.

urbanTick: Do you think different times exist, take place or could be constructed?
Salomé Voegelin: The sense of now as a thick timespace invites the idea, mentioned already in response to your earlier question about the time of things that sound produces, of “possible worlds”. The suggestion that listening, the auditory perception, is not a receptive mode but a generative effort, which produces the now as a thickset thing that we construct and inhabit in our subjective particularity, might lead us to argue that there is not only the one, visual, world, which we pragmatically refer to as the real world, but that, there are many other, possible worlds that we thus generate. And, in extension that it is through sound, a sonic sensibility that we gain access to those other layers of reality, those possible and even impossible or at least improbable worlds. These other worlds do not cancel out or negate the “real” world, but extend and augment it. These worlds might or might not be indexically linked, thus no causal connection might exist, but inevitably, the imaginative perception of such possible worlds expands the way we experience the “real” world.

As a consequence of the idea that space and time are produced as timespace, and that this timespace is a thickset thing of present, past and future, of an over-there and of other-times, and the related idea that the world, experienced via a sonic sensibility produces possible worlds, we could imagine that equally there are different times, possible times and maybe even impossible times. They are a matter of perception, of invention of experience, but not less real, as it is our perception that generates them, and our subjectivity that guarantees them.

Sound by Salomé Voegelin / Skating.

urbanTick: These soundtimespaces of individual experience and timing, how can we make them sharable as important elements of interaction and social existence?
Salomé Voegelin: Sonic sensibility, in its insistence on contingency and experience rather than permanence and recognition questions the possibility and authenticity of the linguistic exchange. Instead of building on the certainty of language, a visual set of signs and symbols, it suggests a much more fragile and formless exchange. It suggests that communication is founded in principle on misunderstandings with exceptional moments of understanding, “moments of coincidence”, when our worlds overlap momentarily. This is not as frightful as it might sound. It simply means that we have to work harder to be understood and to stay in communication. That we cannot take communication for granted simply because we have the tool, language, to communicate, but that the actual moment of exchange needs my agency of speech, understood as the development of my agency of listening into language, to coincide with your willingness to share in that exchange. Sound elucidates the responsibility of listening and speaking as the basic condition of communication. A sonic exchange is based on the desire to share the heard rather than on a shared order or lexicon.

urbanTick: New media and technologies have questioned the definition of location with real time communication; the physical location of the body might no longer be the only indicator of the local. Did this change timing in sound, across different places?
Salomé Voegelin: Sound in many ways precedes and makes thinkable virtuality long before the technology enabled the production of digital places, virtual communication and multi-locationality of bodies and things. Sound’s invisibility and formlessness engenders an imagination that is not dependent on the reality of places and things but produces places and things and consequently invites us to invent our location in relation to those places and things. The body in sound is always the indicator of the local as it is its inhabiting that generates that local, however, what that body and what that local is, is a matter of imagination rather than of certainty in sound.

urbanTick: This year has seen a number of projects recording sounds to preserve them. On one hand this is part of the technology hype and we do it because we can, but on the other, is there a history of sounds?
Salomé Voegelin: I am fascinated by phonography and aural history, which, in terms of documenting, narrating and extending time and space are closely related, since both, in their own way, play with notions of the “real”. They both use sound to renegotiate reality, how it is constructed and told; what is real time, what is real space. And ultimately both invite us to generate our own sense of time and space.

Aural history of course has been around for a long time and listening to people describing their personal histories of the second world war, say, makes it apparent how very personal, individual and full of stories rather than realities and truths history, its times and places, is.

Phonography used as a strategy to garner material for composition of the patently composed, or to make us aware of the different facets of a visual reality, is very interesting in terms of how it problematises and plays with our ideas of a real space and a real time. Phonography is highly experiential. I am sure we can try to read a phonographic work as much as we read a photograph, but I doubt we would succeed to neatly summarise it. Rather phonography invites a constant re-telling of the scene recorded, a filling-in of the invisible space that is left by the microphone, constantly re-generating it with our own thick and expansive sense of time and space, producing our own timespace place from the heard.

urbanTick: Thinking of everyday practices and experiences, does sound tell the time?
Salomé Voegelin: I don’t think sound tells the time but it fills time, not in the sense of making it pass more pleasantly, functionally or usefully, but in the sense of making it thick with experiential stuff - a clump of sensation - senseable, in the sense of available to sensation, not however as a certain and shareable clock time but as a much more personal pulse by which we generate the world we inhabit at that timespace moment.

urbanTick: Time is often generally thought of as clock time, the continuous ticking sound of the counting of identical units. Is sound linear?
Salomé Voegelin: This personal pulse, which generates the timespace moment, which I mention in answer to your last question, is not linear at all. It draws the past and the future, the over-there, and the other-time and all sorts of things into its space not as a linear construct but as a fragmented constructing that fragments the listener too.

Sound by Salomé Voegelin / Hänsel und Gretel.


In an interview series urbanTick is looking closely at meaning and implications of time in everyday life situations. In the form of dialogs different aspects are explored, with the idea to highlight characteristics. The main interest is circling around the construction and implementation of different concepts of time between independent but related areas of activity, such as leisure and work, private and public, reality and virtual. This interview series will not be continuous, but more adhoc, so you might want to use the interview tag to catch up with the rest.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

TimeLapse is Growing up

TimeLapse has been sort of a niche thing with few geeks loving it and producing seductive clips. However these days seem now over and TimeLapse is becoming widely used and much more sophisticated. Different techniques and ways and subjects have been explored and developed, but now technology is moving in. The big shot cameras are getting more widely used and the built in features bring TimeLapse up to speed. However not only in the high end market but across the boards equipment, including post processing is easier accessible and simpler to handle wich makes the difference.

Now also the gadget are becoming more widely used and here we have two examples showing of the potential of motion controle equipment. The shots are very fascinating and truly take this genre to a next level.

The two videos are using different brands of motion controle equipment. The first one is testing a beta Stage Zero Motorized Timelapse Dolly developed by dynamicperception. and the second one is using a drive cam developed by dotgear. However both are still in development, but should be available for pre order.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Privacy - Aspects of an Ecology of Ownership

With the rise of individual online activity in chat rooms, social networking platforms and micro blogging services new datasources for social science research has become available in large quantities. The change in sample sizes from 100 participants to 100,000 is a dramatic challenge in numerous ways, technically, politically, but also ethically.
In this emerging context, because of its virtual and remote nature, the guidelines have to be reworked to meet the arising implications and establish fair, responsible and ethical management of such large quantities of information, containing potentially largely personal information of individuals.

Issues and concerns surrounding privacy and ethics have been raised recently around the data mining projects develop here at CASA. Most prominently at the CRESC conference in Oxford where it sparked a heated, but very interesting debate.

The questions arise over to what extent the users of online services agree to ‘their data’ being used for further research or analysis; potentially useful information which they often unknowingly generate while online. The lot of Survey Mapper and New City Landscape maps (NCL) generated from tweets sent with included geo location are working with data collected remotely through the internet without a direct consent from the 'user'.

With the NCL maps for example we are working with around 150,000 twitter messages sent by about 45,000 individual twitter users. The data is collected through the public twitter API which is provided as an additional service by twitter. Using the API, twitter packages the outgoing data stream of tweets for third party developers of twitter applications. The data served through the API is believed to be exactly the same as it is used for the main twitter online page.

The implications in the case of twitter, and likly with other similar services lies in the perception of private and public. With twitter the user can set up a personal profile and start sending 140 character messages. These messages are generally undirected statements that are sent out to the world using the twitter platform. To get other peoples messages delivered onto the personal twitter account page one has to start 'following' other users. This needs to happen in order for other users to see one's messages, they have to start 'following'. Each user can manage the list of followers manually.

However, while this setting creates a sense of closed community and could, probably does, lead one to believe the information or data sent using this platform can only be read and accessed by the circle of followers (e.g. friends), this is actually not the case. Every twitter message sent, unless deliberately sent as private message, is public.

For example last week the first person was sent to curt, see the Guardian, because he tweeted a joke to his friend: 'To bow the Robin Hood Airport sky high'. The twitter user was planning to fly out, but the airport was closed because of snow. How this message got him into trouble is not quite clear. The news article only states that an airport staff had by chance found the message using his home computer. Is he a follower of the tweeter or was he searching for the term 'blow' and 'Robin Hood Airport'? However, this sounds a bit set up. But try the search. Now after the media attention the scanners will bring up loads of tweets containing the terms. So this airport staff will be very busy reading all the messages or any investigation unit filtering tweets will face some difficulties.

This is not, however, a unique case to twitter. The issue arises in a number of fields related to user generated data, ranging from Google to facebook, from Microsoft to Apple and from Oyster card to Nectar Card. Information is the basic material this bright new world is built of and the more one leverage it the bigger the value (see for instance ). The data generated by users on the web is constantly being analysed and pored back into the ocean of data. To some extend this is fundamental part of the whole web world.

How does Amazon know that I was searching for cat flap the other week, even if I was not searching it on Amazon? Or why does my webmail show ads for online degrees in the sidebar, while I am reading an email sent from a university account?
The information the user generates on the internet is leaving traces by the click and beyond. Search histories can be accessed and analysed and snippets can be located in the past. However this phenomenon is not limited to the past. It travels beside the user in the present, even arriving before hand at the shores of potential service providers almost like a rippling wave in the ocean of the web.

As described above using the example of twitter, the issue with privacy is that it is perceived in one way and handled in another. Maybe the comparison with public space could make for an interesting case. More and more public spaces are merging into corporate spaces in the city. Shopping malls start to enter the domain of the space perceived as 'public'. Even though this is a privately owned mall and someone is making a lot of money from you being there, it successfully camouflages itself as a public space where people happily spend the money since it is so 'convenient'. They are provided with everything they are demanding, including the selection of the peers thought the target group of the mall as well as a mix of additional factors, such as social group, economic as well as location based aspects. In this 'easy' setting one does not have to deal with the implication and sharing aspects of the real public space, where conflict of interest have to be solved between the parties and cannot be solved by the house rule in the appearance of the private security guard.

It could be argued that the web services are quite similar to what is described above. We are not surfing the 'public' internet a such, even though most websites are free to use, but they are actually private sites owned by someone and often offering a service. And of course the service provider will want to make some money. If not directly from the user, probably through a third party that offers money in exchange for something, mostly the directing of users to certain information.

In this sense the user is provided with a free service in exchange for letting himself/herself be directed to potentially interesting information and adverts.

In economical terms this is a pretty good offer and should be a win-win situation for everyone involve. But, is it?

Facebook has a number of webpages dedicated to the topic of privacy. For example one to explain the different settings categories or one for the privacy policy. The changes over the past years since the launch of facebook in 2004 have always been commented with loude voices of concern, louder more recently. Matt McKeon has put together a personal view of the evolution of facebook privacy over the years.

Image by Matt McKeon, via imgur / the Evolution of Privacy on facebook, Changes in default profile settings over time.It does actually change and automatically jump through the years, you have to be patient with this one.

Twitter also has a privacy page where they attempt to explain the company's privacy guidelines and considerations. It states: " We collect and use your information to provide our Services and improve them over time". In this paper twitter clearly states that the concept of the service is to publicly distribute messages. It further states that the default setting is set to public with the option to make it more private. This is not true however, for the location information as in this case the user has to activate this feature if one chooses to include this information. In this sense every user who's location information is mapped on the NCL maps has chosen to share this information with the word. Nevertheless there is an option to opt out of this and delete the location information of all messages sent in the past: "You may delete all location information from your past tweets. This may take up to 30 minutes".

Twitter makes it - not perfectly - but clear what the implications are with using the service: "What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly".

Image by Diaspora / the project Logo as a dandelion, to symbolise the distribution of the seeds as uses for the basic concept of the new social network.

Sailing on the wave of complaints over the treatment of privacy on facebook and other social networking sites a bottom up project has risen, DIASPORA*. A self acclaimed perfectly personal social networking platform developed by four guys, with funny enough one of the goes under the name 'Max Salzberg?'. It reads all like a spoof as it was published on NYT earlier in May this year. But the project took of with the donation of over $10,000 within 12 days and some $24,000 within 20 days. By now they are fully funded with over $200,000 using KickStarter. This was back in May 2010 and now the developer code was published on September 15 2010. It looks cool and maybe it will bring the change, but this is probably decided by other features other than that the privacy issue. Since the big hype this discussion has dramatically calmed down, but it was definitely a good kickstart for the Diaspora* project and it shows how much people care for their privacy.

The data of interest for a whole range of commercial and academic or political bodies is not confined to only the actual message or information sent. Each account or profile contains a lot of additional information, such as name, age, gender, address, contact details, interests, birthday, shoe size. All of which can be extremely valuable, not just for marketing purposes. In addition, the very big things are the connections and networks that can be constructed from the data. Who knows who is contacting whom, when, how often and where. This is the real aspect of change with these personal information – known in internet law and policy circles as Personal Identify Information (PII). For the first time we can actually observe large-scale social interaction in dramatic detail in real time.

Even more so it becomes an implication with now almost all services integrating actual location data, either by using the integrated GPS module if used on a smart phone or for example IP or Wi-Fi access point data. Service providers know not only with whom one is connected but also where one actually is physically.

The biggest discussion around this was stirred up by Google at the launch of its Google Latitude service, discussed HERE earlier, and the Google Privacy Statement can be found HERE. The service would offer the option to distribute one's location to a list of friends who could follow one's movement in real time.

Concern rose over the possibility that a jealous husband could potentially log in to the service and activate the service on his wife's mobile without her knowledge and get his wife's position in real time delivered onto his screen. This would be actually possible but is a ridiculous scenario. There are numerous providers of such a service to be found on the internet who have actually specialised in this sort of service. However, the Google service is one for the masses and freely accessible for everyone with internet. Google reacted by sending a scheduled reminder email every week once the service is activated.

The implications of the detailed knowledge of private information and especially location information is that the identification of individuals for third parties becomes possible and potentially this information can be used to harm the individual.

This issue was brought to the pubic attention by the online platform '' which displayed information collected from social networking site of people who stated that they are actually not at home. Implying that it would now be the opportunity to burgle their house. This was made possible through the message embedded location information.

One major factor in this discussion is the scale of resolution. Having the information is not the same as being able to use it. It is a question of accessing, or making it available. There might be a degree of anonymity in the fact that the data pool is so vast that the individual personal information is actually no longer visible. This is game deciding when the actual output of the private information are visualisations.

For example with the NCL maps, even though they are based on individual twitter messages because the data has been aggregated and the resulting visualisation is a density surface generated from the tweets, the individual tweet no longer features in this data. And even if, for example, we show the location of an individual message as in the LondonTweet clip, the resolution of the clip in pixel is so low that it becomes nearly impossible to determine a definite location. The blurred pixels display more of a potential area. In addition, we are also dealing with the inaccuracy of the GPS of between 5 to 20 - maybe 100 - metres in a dense urban environment. It becomes impossible to pinpoint the exact location of an individual. Combine this with a population density as we have here in London and it is impossible to identify an individual.


Images by urbanTick / This shows a zoom (part 1) in on a animation of tweets in Google Earth as to demonstrate how tricky it is to read an actual location from this, even more so if one takes the GPS accuracy into account.

In conclusion it can be said that new guidelines clearly have to be developed for the changing nature of data availability in the digital age. Both commercial companies and academic researchers have to take extra care in handling and using digital personal data. They need to be aware that just because it is accessible this does not mean it can be used. However, there also has to be a change of mindset on the user side. They cannot just make use of services provided to them without contributing anything. If the service is based on public sharing and they want to use it they have to buy in to this information economy. Similarly with good search results. If people want the best possible service to quickly find something relevant to them in the ocean of data they might have to provide a little bit of information about themselves and what they are looking for. Economies - information no less than traditional - operate upon an exchange.

As discussed above in relation to physical public space, recently people seem to be very willing to accept corporate provisions and probably the discussion has to start there with the question of how dependant on these dominating private service providers do we want to be, both virtual and real and how much of our personal information in this context is actually still really private and how much do we just want to make it private.

However these aspects and links only touch on the topic and there are a lot more aspects that need to be discussed in detail, please feel free to comment and/or contribute.

Suggested Reading:

Dutton, William H. and Paul W. Jeffreys, editors. 2010. World Wide Research. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rogers, Richard. 2004. Information Politics on the Web. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Light Painting

It has featured widely across the web and been picked up by many blogs, but it is still worth publishing because the work is so awesome. It is once more work developed and realised by Berg and Dentsu London with Timo Arnall, the same guys who ruled the internet with the RFID work last year. For example the digital version of 'Der Lauf der Dinge' by the artist duo Fischli Weiss in the clip Nearness.

Now they are working with iPads and create stunning light paintings of hovering 3D writings and small objects. The project is called the 'Making Future Magic'.It is a sort of manual-digital creation process that involves digital 3D development of objects but also the manual movement of the iPad by individuals. For me this merging of techniques makes the result the more special, enjoy!

Network Included - The GeoTime 5.1 Update

The folks over at Oculus have been very busy developing the GeoTime software. Version 5 was released in the beginning of 2010 and they are going to released the latest update GeoTime 5.1 these days.
It includes some very interesting new features. The two major ones are the Network feature that allows the user to visualise the data as a network besides the time-space visualisation and the second major change is the support of the macOSx platform (see earlier post on mac adventours using GeoTime). This is in a sense a clear statement of independence, if there was critique that GeoTime integrates too closely with ArcGIS. However of course it continues to integrate well with Arc and support for the new ArcGIS 10 comes with the new GeoTime update.

The software is perfectly fitted for the UrbanDiary project that works with GPS tracks of individuals, investigating the spatial extension of everyday routines in the city. It is basically a purely spatial-temporal dataset. In a few easy steps it is possible to see the data visualised in a simultaneously temporal and spatial way, animate it as well as start analysing it.

Image by urbanTick / A view of different GPS tracks over the period of one month, using GeoTime and an OSM base map pulled in via ArcGIS.

The move away from a secondary software import via ArcGIS or Excel was a good move that came with version 5.0. The importing formats have been extended and redesigned with the release of version 5.0 to include CSV, XLS, and SHP file formats as well as the in version 4.0 existing KML. It is now handled directly by GeoTime through a functional assistant. With version 5.1 the import of GPX file format is added. Data from the GPS exported in this format can be loaded and added to a project directly.
The new dialogue allows to filter the data at import. This is useful especially for my crappy overloaded tables in which I tried to record way to much. The selection of just the five essential columns makes for a much more slik workflow.
GeoTIme focuses on temporal data, however the integration with realtime data has only be introduced recently with the 5.0 release. Now users can import live feeds via Geo RSS that automatically updates.

The data is initially visualised in the 3d view as a time-space cube. To interact with time one finds the tools on the left hand side vertically arranged. On the right hand side the menu provides a range of other tools including representation settings, pattern analysis, reporting tools and the new network tool.

Image by Oculus / An example using the new network tool in GeoTime visualising a computer network.

The network tool is a whole new field that has been added to GeoTime with this functionality. This is particularly interesting for the analysis of complex structure that include spatial and non spatial data, such as for example phone call data or financial transaction. In the context of the UrbanDiary project for which GeoTime is used here this new tool becomes interesting for the investigation of combinatory data from GPS and mental maps, as for the analysis of interrelationships between landmarks and actual route. For the visualisation different present network settings are available. Furthermore it integrates with the 3D visualisation of the spatial data and the network graph is directly linked to the time-space cube and highlighted areas correspond across the two visualisations. So specific sections identified for further investigation at one end can be look at from a different perspective at the other end.

For the data analysis in the spatial-temporal section, one of the new features in this 5.1 release is the stationary detector. The data can now be queried for events that have not moved in space over a longer period of time. This is useful for the data verification as well as detection of move and rest patterns.

One of the remaining points of critique is still the graphical representation of the visualisation as well as the range, simplicity and of possible manipulations of it. There have been however, some changes made and for example the colour palette has been extended. But still both the interface and the results are still very technical thought of and rendered. It would not ne a mater of just making it all fancy and colourful with rounded corners, but it would need one strong design direction as a well as an overall visual simplification.

Image by urbanTick / Applying the stationary finder to a track imported via GPX directly into GeoTime. This highlights the areas where the GPS device has not moved more than 100 metres over a period of more than 8 hours. It uses the OSM base map pulled in via the ArcGIS link.

In an comment on GeoTime 4.0, I hade described it as an end-of-the-line analysis tool. This was because the data could not be directly exported to other software packages. This has changed with this most recent update, now CSV export is supported in addition to the KML and screenshot export. The analysed file can be passed on to other software or users which dramatically enhances the usage and the integration of GeoTime.

Image by Oculus / The GeoTime 5.1 Logo.

In this sense the spaceTime aquarium has become a lot more sophisticated with this GeoTime 5.1 release. At the same time, though, it ha become accessibel for a much broader range of specialised fields through the extended palette of tools. It can now integrate in a workflow, be run as stand alone analysis software as well as operate across platforms. GeoTime is a very specialised tool and definitely offers the quickest and most comprehensive set of visualisation and analysis tools for temporal data.

For demos and further information on the GeoTime project use the inks or go HERE or HERE for earlier posts about GeoTime on urbanTick.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Twitter the Fact Sheet

The stream of data in twitter is massive. Some 55 million tweets per day. The CASA Tweet-O-Meter is measuring the speed, the landscape maps are an attempt to visualize the active locations in urban areas and many more such as the twitter steam graphs are visualising the actual online activity. Newly sprung up tool such as the tweetmetrics are trying to summarize and characterise profiles, but there is overall relatively little knowledge on twitter usage and demographics. YOu can find some overall details on techcrunch or more temporally-local infos on events such as the NY fashion week on mashable.
A comprehensive overview was put together earlier this year in April by website-monitoring with a focus on overall facts.

twitter facts 2010

Monday, 20 September 2010

Book - Urban Interventions, as the Space is Used

Urban spaces are public space, one presumes. Yes? Who owns the space and what does public actually mean in relation to oneself as an individua? How much authority is imposed on the route we travel daily?
In general public space is for everyone, but only in general. In detail this means it is for certain groups acting and behaving in a certain way. Excluding can take many forms and ranges from physical barriers, economical hurdles to social aspect.
The unwritten moral rules are formed in different layers and dependant on numerous factors. Often a temporal aspect is involved to make things more complicated. As a preliminary conclusion space and especially the ruling of is extremely complicated and often near impossible to interpret a the potential user.
However, maybe the question is not the right one, maybe it is not about the rules or regulations. Maybe it is about the agency of the user? What if te question were, what do you want to use it for, could it be used for this? To make a proposa instead of asking how, completely changes the dimension and the dialogue and unlocks a potentially very fruitful conversation between different groups of actors.

Image taken from regardsdusoir / Urban Interventions, 2010, Cover by Gestalten.

The dilemma goes back quite a bitin history and it could be argued that is in parts a child of the modernist city planning. The city is designed as a machine that runs and functions. Its main purpose is serving the residents and visitors, which in turn makes them user. However, the clear lines of the functional city and the meticulous designed links and connections have reached not far enough. The 'Junkspace' (Koolhaas, R., 2002. Junkspace. October, 100, 175-190.) produced in between is taking over and users can't cope with 'Junkspace', they are trained to function in transit only.

To navigate in the modern urban environment creativity is needed and especially action is needed. It has to be an proactive approach, no longer as users citizens have to commute, but a actors. Space is no longer what it looks like but it is what it's used for.

In an awesome new Gestalten publication 'Urban Interventions' the editors Robert Klanten and Matthias Huebner outline exactly how this 'acting' in urban spaces could look like. And from page one (actually page 8) an incredible 'tour d' urbanism' takes you on a journey through other peoples reinterpretation of space. The mere density and variety of the projects presented makes you wane stand up and go out there into the streets and have some fun. It is one of those reading experiences that creap into your mind and things are no longer what they used to be.

Harmen de Hoop
Image by Harmen de Hoop / Sandbox, Amsterdam, 1996. Paving stones removed with sand and toys added to create a child's play area.

The book is organised in seven thematic areas that are: Urban Canvas, Localized, Atachments, Public Privacy, Advertised and Natural Ways. Within this structure you can find gems such as Brad Downney's Spontaneous Sculptures - Broken Bike Lane, 2008 Berlin, Slinkachu's Little People, earlier blog post HERE, or Tazro Niscino's temporary rooms usually featuring a public sculture as for example in 'Engel', Basel, 2002.
Other works are more practical like Harmen de Hoop's public space add ons that quip spaces with additional functionality. Similarly practical or transformative is Oliver Bishop-Young's 'Skip Conversions: London, 2008.

One of my favourites is the 'Urban Camouflage' reinterpreting the dimensions of activity in the (public)spaces of hardware stores.

Urban Camouflage
Image by Urban Camouflage / 'Lappen', performed in Stockholm in 2007 /

The book actually doesn't provide the reader with the normally introductive 'rules of the book' and the table of content. Also each project is documented only with the basic project information, but not with any sort of interpretation. Very much in the sense of the introduction it is an explorative approach and how one reads the book is up to each individual. You can read it from front to back though if you desire.

A must read for every urbanist! Go out and have fun, you are the city.

Klanten, R., 2010. Urban Interventions: Personal Projects in Public Places, Die Gestalten Verlag.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

New City Landscape - San Francisco and Sydney

We are updating the the collection of New City Landscape maps and add two new world cities. The earlier maps can be found HERE and HERE. The new data comes from San Francisco and Sydney. In terms of physical Landscape they both have the Ocean as a defining element of the urban area, together with large water bodies enclosed by the urban area. In both maps these features come through in topography generated from the tweet locations.

Image by urbanTick / New City Landscape also available in the flickr pool NCL

San Francisco New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / San Francisco New City Landscape - Use the Google Maps style zoom function in the top right corner to zoom into the map and explore it in detail. Explore areas you know close up and find new locations you have never heard of. Click HERE for a full screen view.

San Francisco on the other hand shows similar to New York multiple centres that grow together. Beside San Francisco, also Oakland and some other sub centres show up. A strong point is of course the airport again.

Sydney has a very strong island characteristic, with downtown showing up strong on the right hand side. The Sydney map was developed in collaboration with 'The Works Sydney'.

Sydney New City Landscape

Image by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / Sydney New City Landscape - Use the Google Maps style zoom function in the top right corner to zoom into the map and explore it in detail. Explore areas you know close up and find new locations you have never heard of. Click HERE for a full screen view.

The maps were created using our Tweet-O-Meter, in association with DigitalUrban and coded by Steven Gray, this New City Landscape represents location based twitter activity.

Earlier maps cover London, New York, Munich, Paris and Moscow.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Book - Behaviorology - Architecture and Time

Behaviorology is the title of the new Atelier Bow-Wow book. It is published by Rizzoli International Publications and contributors include Terunobu Fujimori, Meruro Washida, Yoshikazu Nango and Enrique Walker. A monograph one could say, summarizing most of the architecture projects they have realised. Bow-Wow is well known for their indepth research resulting in a series of books an use of diverse media, methods and techniques to investigate and create. In this sense a monograph is a bit a surprise.

It is almost, as is pointed out at A Daily Dose of Architecture, it seems as if this book has to be read together with the previous Bow Wow book Graphic Anatomy. In contrast to this most recent publication the focus of the previous publications lay on the representation of the projects in drawings. In this sense the drawings and te now published photographs could be read together. How they could fit together was beautifully demonstrated in the earlier reviewed book 'Portrait from Above' wich does employ a very similar 'research' strategy as the earlier Bow Wow 'Guide Books'.

However, there is more to this publication that a first impression might reveil and it starts with the title: Behaviorology, what does that mean?

For one, as the introduction explains, the term summarises the range of interests the Bow-Wow team has investigated and continues to investigate. This includes the focus on the interrelations between people and architecture, the architecture and the city and the city and people.
The second and probably more dramatic aspect to the term is the clear intention to establish an alternative to 'function' as the traditional modernist term. Modernist practice and definitions are critiqued and through out the work of Bow-Wow the wrestling with the omnipresence of this universal term of 'function'.

To create a new term and trying to establish it is a bold move, but the intentions are clear. It proposes an activity and subject centred new perspective. Probably a move so many practitioners and offices could buy into. This new perspective is of course something that is of course highlighted in this 'monograph' in all the project presented. And the introduction also outlines how te term can be applied on to three different areas of human beings, natural elements and buildings.

How this could work is the core of the introduction and the fundamental structure are the above mentioned three groups as areas of separate interests that will be tied together by the new term. Surprisingly these three groups could probably also be found in the modernist description of 'function' as a conception of the matter at hand.

Nevertheless, the term implies a new dimension of time at a much more dramatic scale than function ever did. Moreover function, probably intended to freeze time where behavior incorporates temporalas an active aspect. This in it selve is a paradigm shift and opens new dimensions for architecture and its positioning or role in everyday culture.

As an fundamental aspect Bow-Wow characterises this temporal aspect as a rhythmic repetition, very similar to what was proposed in 'Cycles in Urban Environments'. It proposes to use the routine and the cycle as a standard overarching the here proposed three main groups. This conception places the subjective and individual at the centre and establishes a 'bottom up' perspective. This conceptions could mark the departure from old practices and fuel the ongoing debate with a new term that ties in with a new understanding.

As described in the beginning and highlighted by others hoever, the book reads a bit in a rather confusing way, especially when it come to the presentation of the projects. We have been trained over the years by a flood of glossy monographs to read these marketing statements as a cultural contribution (which it was in some cases) and in this sense it is difficult to make an exception for the book a hand. The story is great and very convincing and we are all dreaming of this, a word, a term that would finally open the chains and lead on to new horizons.

Somehow the project documentation can not really live up to this promis. It is a good monograph, but it is still at large a glossy documentation of architecture. The photographs are very good and bring the objects across in vivid colours with shadows and lively materials. However, the settings are standard as are the situations. There are a handful of images that incorporate the behavior idea, but at large the images are standard architecture photography.

In this sense it remains unclear how this theoretical positioning of the approach ties in with the documentation of the body of work. The approach to integrate the two aspects is of course the best way to go about it, but at the same time the most problematic.

Nevertheless, it becomes clear while reading the texts that accompany the different chapters that this is definitely more than a simple monograph, but it is a process. I this sense this could be an actual milestone. An clearly the process will role on and might need further departures from terminologies, but could definitely lead on and in many sense it has already managed to incorporate the important dimension of time into the discussion and this could proof as a vital first step.

It is an unlikely contribution but things are not as they seem. It offers a lot of material for discussion and thought.

Image taken from Amazon / Front cover of the book Behaviorology by Atelier Bow-Wow published by Rizzoli International Publications

Bow-Wow, A., 2010. The Architectures of Atelier Bow-Wow: Behaviorology, Rizzoli International Publications.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Seattle Tilt Shift

"I'd like to be under the sea in an octopus's garden in the shade ..." Actually this great timeLapse has neither to do with the sea nor with an octopus, but the music used with it is great. This line of text and the tune might follow you through the day though, so be careful.
However, the clip gives you a peep preview of Seattle and as one of the comments on the Vimeo page in respons to the clip goes: "This has that real Seattle light to it..."
I especially like the sequence with the two boats and the pier rocking in the waves, probably only visible in the timeLapse replay.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Book - Hong Kong's Rooftop Villages.

A city is built in many layers. Layers in the temporal sense, but also in layers in the physical sense. The two often go hand in hand. A new area brings a new layer, a new style develops a new typology or new technology allows for a change in usage.

In addition to time more factor can influence the type and number of layers. With more and more people living in cities, the density and pressure in certain areas can be one such factor. Unplanned or ilegal settlements can form spontaneously at different fringe locations. However even in innercity locations, if there is room.

In dense inner city locations however, very seldom one finds an unused spot, at least not on street level, but maybe on roof tops.

Image by Wu/Canham taken from "portrait fro Above' / A view onto a rooftop village from across the road. The building dates from 1958 and is a Cantonese-style shophouse.

A new Peperoni Books publication with the title 'Portraits from Above: Hong Kong's Informal Rooftop Communities' by Rufina Wu and Stefan Canham portraits and documents a series of roof top communities in Hong Kong. The authors work with photographs, drawings and personal stories to tell the story of little villages that exist in the density of an urban mega city, hidden away in the sky.

At least they used to be far away from the streets, hidden on the flat roof of a fifties building, plugging into its infrastructure. Nowadays high rise buildings overshadow these roof tops by far and investment and land speculation threatens there base layer, the original building.

Image by Wu/Canham taken from "portrait fro Above' / A view onto a rooftop village from across the road. Six staircases provide access to this 8 story building that hosts another three stories on the roof.

Wu and Canham provide insight into a very personal documentation of these villages. Very soon it becomes cear that these are actually a lot more than just slums. These houses or units are tiny and improvised, not in very good condition, uncomfortable, but they are homes. Almost all of them are carefully decorated and organised, as far as this is possible.

The documentation uses the three different methods, drawing, photographs and textual description, very cleverly and manages to put together a good, at times almost too clean, picture of these small communities. Each technique can develop its very own angle and helps to shape a very particular whole. For example the drawing, in architectural terms and very dominant in this publication, a acclaimed objective, clean and clear method to represent the ultimate truth. Being used in this context of improvised housing is at first glance a farce, develops however, in cooperation with the other elements of the photographs and the texts a very specific role and can play to its strength. Similar the photographs, because it is used alongside the drawing, the photograph can focus on the documentation of the in between, the mess, the colour, the lighting, the style and the vibrancy of the place. The introductory text that portraits in a few sentences the owner or tenant of each place documented, provides the clues and the hints to piece together a narrative and spin a story between the different elements of the documentation.

Image by Wu/Canham taken from "portrait fro Above' / A living unit documented as a drawing showing the interior and some of the context. Forms part of the previous roof top landscape.

It is a publication with relatively little text and for one this is a good thing. There is however, a longer essay on the topic of roof top village and informal housing in Hong Kong by Dr Ernest Chui, is placed at the end of the book and provides a good context for the wholes story.

The design of the book is as simple, clear and effective as the methods used. The slightly gray paper used fits nicely with the black line drawings and the black and white photographs. It even works well with the few colour photographs.

Image by Wu/Canham taken from "portrait fro Above' / Same livign unit as before. Here a view into the kitchen living room part.

The project won an award at the 5th International Bauhaus Award in 2008 and is now available as a book. It documents an urban world that is reality to many people in urban areas, the hard reality of finding a place to stay, making it a home with very little. The book also documents the multiplicity of the city and fits in well with other publications such as Pet Architecture Guide Book
or Made in Tokyo: Guide Book by atelier Bow-Wow. Portraits from above does however provide more context and more detail beyond the pure architectural or spacial interest.

In this sense it is a beautiful book for every library or tea tabel not only for architects, but also for everyone else with an interest in the city.

Canham, S. & Wu, R., 2009. Portraits from Above: Hong Kong's Informal Rooftop Communities, Peperoni Books.

Friday, 10 September 2010

TimeLapse Story - Little Dramas

dolphiners is a Korean movie and animation company who produces brilliant stuff. One of the lates works is the series Small Earth, a loose sequence of everyday stories focusing on the little pleasures in urban live. It does however also include the drama and twist of a real thriller, amazing.

The series is produces as stop motion animations using a tilt-shift effect to guide the focus.

Have a look at the most recent one 'The Race' and watch out for the blue and the yellow racers, they will take you on a journey with a rather dramatic finish. Catch up on the previeous three and a bit prequels HERE.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

IgotU - the New Logger

Mobile Action have introduced the third generation of their GPS logger series iGotU. Alongside the GT-120 and the GT-200/e there is now newly available the GT-600.
It is however in the tradition of the 200e larger than the GT-120 which really is tiny. However it boosts more storage, it is up from 16MB to 64mb and now also has a motion sensor. This was in earlier version of the 200 available but discontinued. It is back now with this new product.

Image by urbanTick / the all new GT-600 including accessories as you will find it in the shop.

More storage is great and with 262'000 points you will not run out of memory any time soon. This is up from about 65'000 points with the GT-120. So it's a lot more storage space and is suitable for long trips with infrequent access to a computer to download the data.

The other improvement that the new product brings is the battery. Instead of a 230mAh Lithium-ion battery that the GT-120 has, it has a 750mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. This probably also partly explains the slightly large dimension of the GT-600. A longer lasting battery is of course very much appreciated by every user, since this provides the freedom to stay out just this little bit longer.

Not only the battery life has improved, but also the GT-600 is now able to manage its sleep wake time automatically. It has got a Motion Sensor built in, hence the 'MD' sign on the device. With this technology the device is able to distinguish between time of motion and times of rest. If it doe not move, it automatically goes into sleep mode to save energy. It will of course also wake up if movement is detected and automatically starts recording again.

This automatic battery management system is believed to improve the battery live dramatically. This would be about 80hours at a log interval of 15 seconds. So in this sense last for a 10 day trip. And certainly this will be good enough. Compared to for example some of the Garmin products, reviewed a 405 HERE, or a 201 HERE, where a Forerunner 405 last only for about eight hours. Of course this is a tricky comparison since the two products do completely different things and the Garmins for example all have a display which the iGotU series doesn't have. This is only to say that for the purpose of simply logging location data this iGotU GT-600 tool is perfect.

Lets have a quick look at how the GT-600's SiRF StarIII 65nm GPS chipset performs. Actually all the three iGotU devices are using the same low power chipset and it can be said that it works pretty well. Give that central London is a tricky location for GPS devices the results are very good. There are here and there some glitches and stay points as we are used to from using for example a Foretrex 201, but that really depends on the terrain and environment.

Image by urbanTick / The GT-600 draws the ORANGE line as compared to the Forerunner 405 drawing the WHITE line. It can be a little bit noisier at times, especially if not switched off indoors as it keeps trying to record something.

In comparison to the Forerunner 405 (WHITE line) which manages inner city locations extremely well the GT-600 (ORANGE line) draws nice lines and at time even better than the 405. It depends really on the location and how it is held or worn. If used on the bike, attached to the handlebar makes for a really good reception, but even in the bad or pocket it perform very well.

In case it becomes necessary, depending on the use, the track can be easily edited using either the mobile action package or other free software available on the internet, for example directly in Google Earth.

Image by urbanTick / The GT-600 draws the ORANGE line as compared to the Forerunner 405 drawing the WHITE line. Here the Orange line is actually more accurate than the 405. It was used on the handle bar of the LikeABike in this case.

The data handling and device setup is managed thought he PC suite provided by Mobile Action. No setting other than on/off can be handled directly by the device. This simplifies the whole process, but of course puts a lot of pressure on the desktop software. It is easier, though to navigate on a large screen and manage the different settings than it is on a small screen directly on the device. However changes on the go are not possible. Also the software only really supports Windows machines unfortunately leaves all the mac users unsupported. There is an open source project on launchpad that will enable mac users to load and delete data from the device. You can download the igotu2gps version 0.3.0 HERE. However, it can not change any of the device settings, so is only really for the simple data management. For a lot of users this will be good enough and they can just leave the settings be the factory defaults.

The GT-600 comes out of the box with general factory settings that will allow the user to start logging straight away. This is really useful and given the simple device user interface, one button and two colour LEDs, one literally can start logging while walking out of the shop. The box also contains the USB cable that connects the device to the computer and is at the same time the cable to charge the GT-600. As with previous models the 600 also comes with a silicone case, now transparent instead of the previous characteristic blue case, and a very basic strap to attache the device to something or even wear it around the wrist. A note on the case. Given the flexibility of the material and the larger size the device does not sit as tight as the smaller brother GT-120. I got it caught in the bad and the bus door and the case slid of the actual unit. Generally though it works perfect and give it a good grip for the handling of the unit.

To conclude on this very exciting new GPS logger as the latest one in the Mobile Action iGotU series, the GT-600 is definitely one of the very few GPS units of choice for travel and location loggers. The large storage and the dramatically improved batterie life combined with the Motion Detection technology will serve you very well on any trip. The one button to save waypoints or the location of a photograph is as simple as it gets to use and will help to organise and arrange your photo collection after the trip. If you start using it you will probably find yourself tracking constantly and not only for trips it is really interesting to review the record of movement one does even day to day. With this you can start your log book today.

Image by urbanTick / The GT-600 with cable.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Poster Time Lapse - the Story Continues

It has been a bit more than a year that the great timeLapse short story produced by Olympus for the PEN cam featured HERE. You might recall it, the life told in thousands of images taken printed and retaken as a stop motion animation, lovely.

Here comes no the second take on the same product comes as a XXXXXL version - PEN Giant.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Disruption - Closed Stations and Crowd Messages

In the serie on cycle disruption here is a new one on the latest tube strike in London today. It is the first morning into the tube strike and chaos is rolling into the city. Some earlier posts on the subject in the past can be found HERE (following the disruption), HERE (disruption second take) and HERE (every year). There are only very few tube line actually running a service, Northern Line being one of them. However this might not mean that you can get a train on this line and it aso does not mean you will arrive at the desired destination as many stations along the line are closed.

For the latest updates on the open stations please see the official TFL website.

Image taken from the BBC London Tube Strike Map - September 2010 / a platform for crowd sourced real time travel information.

But even there you might not get the most up to date information. If you put more trust in real time crown sourced information you can go to the BBC test mashup-crownsource-tubestrike-map and click around for infos on our local area.

There are a number of ways you can participate: a) Sending an email to, b) Sending a text to 81333 starting your message LONDON STRIKE, c) Sending a tweet with the hashtag #tubestrike, d) Uploading an audioboo with the hashtag #tubestrike or directly to the BBC London stream, e) Filling in the form on the site

The page is set up to log incidents over a longer period of time. The timeline is set for a whole year. There is even a play back feature integrated that wil replay the information logged and can potentially visualised the ebb and flows of the system. Currently there seems only data available from today so no point replaying it, but in a month time this might be very interesting already. The project could grow into a valuable alternative to the official information.

Reports are logged on the site and can be accessed. In this sense everyone has access to the source data and can verify the accuracy of the information. This a note in the light of the recent discussion about the validation of the crowd sourced data at the CRESC conference in Oxford. Making the data available is one way of dealing with this issue. However if the amount of data grow too large, and hopefully it will in the case of crowd sourced real time transport information, it becomes impossible for individuals to crawl through the mountain of snippets and verify individual pieces.

Image taken from the Oliver O'Brien's cycle hire visualisation / London Cycle Hire Dock Status Map taken on Tuesday 07th September 2010 09h30.

Since there is little progress to be made today on public trasport the London Cycle Hire scheme would be a perfect alternative. A quick look at the viualisation map over at Oiver O'Brien's page draws a rather pessimistic picture. The scheme has sort of come to a lock down too with all bikes being parked in the centre and empty station in zone two. People who have planned ahead managed to grab one this morning and traveled in by bike. There will be the big run this afternoon to catch one of the central bikes to ride it back out again to avoid the long queues at the crowded bus stop.

On twitter the tube strike is a big topic with alo Steven Fry taking to it linking this 2006 clip on frustrated commuters and the perceived incapability of TFL to meet their needs. This is linked without comment, this discussion is too complicated and personal. I believe, from past experience, the staff working today are doing quite a good job given the extend of the shutdown.

Of Foxes and CCTV Cameras - Afterlife of Urban Areas

Every now and then one walks into a piece of art that is really fascinating. Usually this happens when lest expected or one expects nothing at all. So it happend only this weekend upon a visit to the Tate Modern.

While the large Turbine Hall is currently empty awaiting the upcoming installation of the Unilever Series by Ai Weiwei to open on 12 October 2010, there was (last day on the 05.09.10) an exhibition on by the Belgian artist Francis Alys. The exhibition was under the title 'A Story of Deception'.

Image by urbanTick / The video installation 'Nightwatch' by the artist Francis Alÿs. Francis Alÿs’ The Nightwatch was made by releasing a fox into London’s National Portrait Gallery and following its movement through the galleries using the museum’s CCTV system.

As the Tate introduces the artist: "Alÿs’s work starts with a simple action, either by him or others, which is then documented in a range of media. Alÿs explores subjects such as modernising programmes in Latin America and border zones in areas of conflict, often asking about the relevance of poetic acts in politicised situations. He has used video projection and film but also spreads his ideas through postcards. Painting and drawing remain central to his work too."

For me the surprising moment came with the work 'Nightwatch', a video installation with 20 monitors all showing recordings of different surveillance cameras at the British National Gallery. It is quite a arge installation, but at the same time very simple and quite. The empty rooms the calm after the daily storm of thousands of visitors. It was not so much the 'Night at the Museum' type of reference that came up, but more the sort of 'A Dogs Night' type of idea.

And yes there it is a fox enters one of the rooms. It sniffs here and there tries this corner, sneaks round the bench and off in to the next room. It appears on the next screen where it goes straight through into the following room, exploring. Quite exciting this must be, not only for the fox but for the director and the insurance representative.

Image taken from the Guardian / A fox on a London street: the highest density of foxes is now found in our cities. Photograph: BIGPICTURESPHOTO.COM

The work is explained as a piece to comment on the rising numbers of CCTV cameras that watch our every moves. There are now more cameras installed in London than anywhere else on earth and counting. The discussion is ongoing, but as the artist righty points out this sort of 'urban infrastructure' has already grown into our experience so much as a certain acceptance level is reached. It is no longer questioned or discussed, it is taken for a fact or only raised if it is not present. The promised security that comes with it as a label is enough of a promis.

For me this is one side of the work, but there is another more poetic side to the fact that the fox has come to see and there i something going on while we are not there. It is not just left empty, clean and tidy awaiting the next mornings bus load of tourists. The gallery has an afterlife, something hidden, beautiful and promising. Instead it points at a more complex whole where the view the individual has is only part of the picture. It needs at least twenty views and even then we loose track of the fox as it trails of into not displayed spaces of the house.

Image taken from askbiblitz / Reynard the Fox at the court of King Noble, celebrated Biblitz forebear, by Wilhelm von Kaulbach, from Geothe's Reineke Fuchs, 1846, the frontispiece of a new Biblitz favorite, In Praise of Flattery by Willis Goth Regier.

The fox also stands for a number of things, not only as recently here in the local and national news portrayed return of the wile animals to the urban desert. This aspect of the adjusting wild animals is one side, but the fox also stands for a clever and very sly animal character. It has both wily and villain sides to it. THat it survives or even thrives in urban areas is not at a surprising. already in very old stories of fables the fox character often coexists or even overtakes the humans if not destroyed with brut force as in for example fox hunting.

The discussion around the private or public domain and the 'public observation' of space as in CCTV, in this sense makes perfect sense in combination with a fox. As a quote form (Robert Darnton, "Peasants tell tales: the meaning of Mother Goose" in The great cat massacre and other episodes in French cultural history. N.Y.: Vintage Basic Books, (1984)) demonstrates: "Some historians argue that the fox came to symbolize the survival strategies of European peasantry from the Medieval period to the French Revolution. Peasants admired guile and wit needed to outmaneuver the powers of aristocracy, state and church, just as they saw the fox use these same qualities to raid their livestock under cover of darkness." Maybe this is a strategy to adopt in urban spaces a lot more. Instead of adjusting our lives to the omnipresence of the 'public' observation the secondary, tertiary live/perspective of the city has to be activated as a call for more responsibility and negotiation.

Watch the full 18min fox clip HERE, unfortunately on a single screen all cut into one. Movie description: A fox named Bandit, was let loose by Belgian artist Francis Alys as the gallery's surveillance cameras recorded his every move for his latest work. 18min video installation.