In summary

During the week on ‘Smart Cities’ I quoted Townsend’s (2013) description of “urban space as an irredeemable patchwork”, 2013, p. 3. Over the module this metaphor of a patchwork can be further applied to the multiple academic disciplines that become stitched together in any critical analysis of Digital Cities, consequently leading to diverse responses each week, by the participating students.

Lee tended towards posts focused on the effects of digital technology on people, describing his own recurring theme as “the investigation of a significant opportunity for policy makers to consider how technology can improve the future lives for all citizens.” However, he generally has approached this from a position of caution over the possible outcomes and side effects of technology, commenting during the week on Smart Cities that, “The focus must not be dominated by economic goals of efficiency held ransom to capital mobility; automating proprietary and ubiquitous ‘big data’ at the expense of civil liberty; ultimately emasculating citizenship to be a consumer held hostage.”  He worries that software, “erodes the element of choice on how to engage or function as a citizen.” and describes ‘Layar’ as having “[a]n intimate and almost seamless experience” as it , “seduces the user to engage and share, daring to tell all.” When considering the effects of combining sensors with software and referencing Elliot, A., & Urry, J., (2010)  Lee suggests that when we start to see citizens as data there is no longer “room for affect, emotion or irrational desire for citizens are objectified as scrutinised data subjects, citizen becomes consumer identified by the narcosis of accumulating brands and experiences.”  I have found Lee’s perspective to be a useful one particularly as he has sought to find a global perspective, as a number of his examples highlight the effect of technology on citizenship, particularly those at the fringes of society.

Rachael started from a more optimistic point of view, hopeful for the opportunities facing digital cities. For example she ends the post on Augmented Reality by saying, “With the hope that in the future this might give way to more democratic, diverse uses and forms of engagement.” After investigating Rezone as an example for urban gaming, she exclaims excitement at the “potential for a more democratic and collaboratively built infrastructure between citizens, city planners, and politicians.” however, this excitement is tempered by a consideration of how citizens may make use of new technologies by asking “does this actually ensure a more democratic, connected and collaborative public, which contributes to the development of smart city infrastructures that benefits the needs of all?”.

James provided a number of sensory metaphors for digital space made real in the physical manifestations of technology. Going from “the work of Michelle Teran who used Stephen Flusty’s (1994) taxonomy of “interdictory spaces” to  show the ways that urban space is made defensible, often via code driven devices.”, and identifying that “Flusty’s (1994) account that makes code/spaces “jittery” spaces and in qualifying as “jittery” spaces this probably makes them quite “prickly” too.” through to prickly antennas. This continued into his  ‘jittery’ augmented reality experiments with physical objects and more recently the phone app experiments he demonstrated last week. All of which have led to some really interesting examples.

In re-reading my own posts, I notice that they have generally tended towards a reflection of personal experience based around the various topics. Starting from a position of concern over “the reliance on technology and how technology is used to try add levels of control to an ultimately chaotic system.” and identifying problems through barriers to access and participation, thinking specifically about the week on Smart Citizens and the Smart Citizen example. However, I have tried to find contextual examples that interpret the critical discussion within creative and/or commercial practice to aid a balanced view.

Links to even more projects and articles can be found on my Pinterest page,

I am regularly adding pins whenever I come across something interesting, if you are a Pinterest user you could always follow me 🙂

Bespoke Solutions for Living

Neil Gershenfeld (2012) suggests a future where “[d]igital fabrication will allow individuals to design and produce tangible objects on demand, wherever and whenever they need them.” (p 43). A future where we will use personal fabrication processes to “make what you cannot buy” (ibid p49): bespoke solutions to specific needs rather than ‘off the shelf’ solutions, because, “the ‘killer app’ in digital fabrication, as in computing, is personalisation, producing products for a market of one person.” (Ibid p 46).

Nike 3D Football Boots

Nike Vapor Laser Talon: Football’s First 3-D Printed Shoes

We are all different shapes and sizes with individual needs, tastes and appetites, therefore we want products manufactured based on our individuality. Perhaps clothes or footwear printed based on our exact measurements, because “The most compelling possibility of such a new process is customization” (Wilson, 2014, no page)

The medical industry is one field where the individuality of 3D printing solutions is central to the technology. As treatment can be specific to a specific case and again “the biggest advantage is that everything is customizable,” Markus Fromherz, (Xerox’s chief innovation officer in healthcare) as quoted by

3D Printed Cast

Conceptual project for bespoke casts by Victoria University of Wellington graduate Jake Evill.

Currently 3D printing is offering personal solutions to those who can access it, afford it and know how to use it. Therefore, having an specific, individual solution can be socially exclusive to those without access to the technology, creating a new digital divide? Take as an example, the 3D printed hearing aid: CAMISHA, (‘Computer-Aided-Manufacturing-for-Individual-Shells-for-Hearing-Aids’), by Widex, a specialist hearing aid manufacturer.

3D Printed Hearing Aid

CAMISHA: 3D Printed Hearing Aid

“the premium sound and comfort comes at a premium price. While you can get a conventional hearing aid for a few hundred dollars, the CAMISHA produced models range from about $1,000-$3,000 per device.” (, 2013, no page)

MIT believe that, “the most sustainable way to bring the deepest results of the digital revolution to developing communities is to enable them to participate in creating their own technological tools for finding solutions to their own problems.” (Mikhak et al, 2002, no page) Their solution is for communities to have Fab Labs, containing collaboratively owned digital fabrication technology, with which community groups can be self-sufficient by starting small manufacturing businesses.

Fab Labs are described as a utopian idea to the small business ideal, by Eric Smally, who says they are “a gleaming vision of a sustainable and prosperous future that also turns the clock back centuries to a time when cities were self-sufficient and people had the means to build what they needed.” (, 2014, no page)  Using a Fab Lab communities have the ability to create solutions to local problems rather than having products forced upon them by global businesses.


Gershenfeld N. (2012) How to Make Almost Anything: The Digital Fabrication Revolution Foreign Affairs Vol. 91, No. 6 Accessed 12/05/14

Mikhak B, Lyon C, Gorton T, Gershenfeld N, McEnnis C & Taylor J. (2002) Fab Lab: An Alternative Model of ICT Development

Smally E, (2014) Do-it-yourself Manufacturing, Spectrum, MIT Press, Winter 2014, Accessed 12/05/14

Wilson M. (01/03/2013) Nike Vapor Laser Talon Football’s First 3D Printed Shoes Accessed 12/05/14 03/01/2013, Accessed 12/05/14 Accessed 12/05/14



Emotional Media: Tracking how we feel

De Lange (2013) suggests that to optimise smart city technologies and urban processes we need “to be more sensitive to affect” (no page). Because  “[t]he smart city does not appeal to the emotions and as a result insufficiently engages citizens” (ibid). Added to this Fors and O’Dell (2014) state that, “Techniques for monitoring the body is in a phase of digitalization that makes new ways of measuring the self both possible and accessible” (p3)

Leading me to look for some examples of how technology be used to measure emotion by collecting data in various ways.

1. Mood Panda  uses a mobile app to allow the user to actively track their mood through a regular input of data and can produce graphs, calendars and shared maps of moods.MoodPanda Features

There are various similar services, all of which suggest a link to personal health monitoring, where mood is directly related to mental health and that these apps could “empower millions of people to improve and take control of their health and well-being.”

Fors and O’Dell (2014) are sceptical about the usefulness of body monitoring stating that these technologies “merit a reflection over the degree to which technology guides individuals and in the process deprives them of agency” (p14) suggesting that people may not be impartial when using these technologies, placing too much trust in the data.

2. People often write about their mood on social media, and tag their posts with  geolocative technology. The Hedonometer and Urban Sensing’s ‘Twitter Sentiment Analysis Tests’ attempt to show patterns of emotions using Twitter over time and distributed by place. As “tweets can be regarded as temporally-authentic microscopic instantiations of public mood state.” (Bollen, Pepe and Mao, 2009, no page)

HedonometerHowever, these projects gather data from a limited source i.e. those who have access to particular technology, therefore excluding many from being measured.

3. Surveillance technology with the capability to predict emotion through facial recognition software.Realeyes Facial Tracking

Realeyes is a commercial company who believe that “The more people feel, the more they spend.” They offer a service which tracks people’s facial expressions via webcam allowing businesses to track customer behaviour alongside their emotions. Turning tracking technologies into opportunities for increasing profits, and using webcams like web based cookies because, “emotions can profoundly affect individual behavior and decision-making.” (Bollen, Mao and Zeng 2010, no page)


Bollen J., Pepe A. and Mao H. (2009), Modelling public mood and emotion:Twitter sentiment and socio-economic phenomena. accessed 04/05/14

Bollen J, Mao H. and Zeng X.J. (2010), Twitter mood predicts the stock market. accessed 04/05/14

Clifford S and Hardy Q (14/07/13)Attention Shoppers: Store is Tracking Your Cell. The NY TImes, USA

de Lange, M. (2013) The smart city you love to hate: Exploring the role of affect in hybrid urbanism. In The Hybrid City II: Subtle rEvolutions, edited by D. Charitos, I. Theona, D. Dragona and H. Rizopoulos. 23-25 May 2013. Athens, Greece. accessed 30/04/14

Datoo S. Friday (4/04/14), Smart cities: are you willing to trade privacy for efficiency? The Guardian, UK accessed 04/05/2014

O’Dell, T and Fors, V (2014) Body monitoring: on the need to put culture into the quantifying equation. Submitted to Culture Unbound. accessed 30/04/14


Linked to the topic this week is the subject of ‘Big Data’, therefore, I have also included Jonathan Harris’ manifesto of the promises and perils of big data, commissioned by the NY Times

Jonathan Harris Big Data Manifesto

Smart Citizen: Sensing the city

Smart Citizen is a project started by the Barcelona FabLab and is in the process of being extended to other places globally. Most recently launched in Manchester during the Future Everything conference. Funding for the project is a mix of bottom-up and top-down partners, initial funding was through crowdfunding (Kickstarter), now they have sponsorship by Intel and individuals can purchase sensors direct from the website.

The project aims to engage citizens in gathering environmental data through the use of an Aurduino sensor, open software and geolocation. The eventual goals of the project are quite open and ambiguous, as they want to encourage citizens to become active participants in their cities by observing and monitoring their immediate environment by producing big data from global cities.

“In an age of Big Data, some suggest we have an opportunity to connect, aggregate analyse and integrate information about the urban environment in ways that enable us to better visualise, model and predict urban processes, simulate probable outcomes, and lead to more efficient and sustainable cities.” Shephard & Simeti, 2013, p 13

To be useful the data gathered will need to to be taken beyond an observation project, which although “has the potential to uncover meaning; it does not identify problems or solutions” Smyth, 2013, p40.  The hope is that individuals will make use of the global data productively by designing and making solutions to environmental problems within cities. As smart citizen projects are not “just about local innovation. It is also about global collaboration.” Hemment & Townsend, 2013, piii However, solutions are not the start point for this type of project instead the data collected could feed into a process of critical design, as “a catalyst or provocation for thought rather than the presentation of complete solutions. Here it is a means of opening dialogues.” Smyth, 2013, p41. Allowing citizens to become active in the process of city design and building enabling “‘bottom-up’ innovation and collaborative ways of developing systems out of many loosely joined parts” Hemment & Townsend, 2013, p2 (where I imagine the citizens are included in the definition of ‘loosely joined parts’ as well as technology and data).

Although ambitious the project as has barriers before it can successful, for example how can it become widely known about and used as there is the danger that it will “merely provide another platform for proactive citizens already more likely to engage within the community” Shephard & Simeti, 2013, p 15, seeing as it requires specialist equipment to gather information and technical knowledge to make the data meaningful and useful. Having open source information might create a bottom-up approach, however “[o]pen source movements only care about who participates, not those who don’t. But cities can’t afford to neglect those who lack the means to participate” Hemment & Townsend, 2013, p3. Currently the solution offered is an open source, citizen centred approach and this is not without problems.

(my words = 306)


Hemment D. & Townsend A. (2013) Smart Citizens – Introduction in Hemment D. & Townsend A. (2013) Smart Citizens, FutureEverything Publications p.iii accessed April 2014

Hemment D. & Townsend A. (2013) Here Come the Smart Citizens in Hemment D. & Townsend A. (2013) Smart Citizens, FutureEverything Publications pp.1-4 accessed April 2014

Shephard M. & Simeti A (2013) What’s so smart about the Smart Citizen? in Hemment D. & Townsend A. (2013) Smart Citizens, FutureEverthing Publications pp.13-18 accessed April 2014

Smyth M. (2013) Critical Design: A Mirror of the Human Condition in the Smart City in Hemment D. & Townsend A. (2013) Smart Citizens, FutureEverything Publications pp.39-42 accessed April 2014

Commercial Urban Treasure Hunting

Treasure hunts are games that require players to follow instructions to find something hidden. “The act of traveling to new locations specifically because of gameplay closely resembles the behaviours encouraged in Geocaching” Frith, 2013, p 251, and with more complex technologies available urban treasure hunting has responded with the inclusion of other forms of social and locative media along with GPS. Locative technology, such as GPS has “allowed for multiple cartographies of a sense of space in which the geographic and physical is overlaid with the electronic, the emotional and the social” p357, a situation well suited to remediate treasure hunts into location-based mobile games (LBMGs)

The examples I want to highlight are both by the Australian agency ‘One Green Bean’: Firstly, “I Love Levi’s” 2009, was an integrated promotional campaign, in the form of a multi-modal treasure hunt. Social media coupled with locative technology was extremely important to the game play as players utilized Twitter to find/share clues as to the whereabouts of a person wearing a specific pair of jeans, if they were the first to find them then the person gave you their jeans.

and secondly “Game of Phones” 2014, a Virgin Mobile location based alternate reality mobile app played out in Perth, Australia, where players had to follow clues and get physically close to a prize, then defend it from other players who might steal it. The goal for the brand is for increased awareness and engagement through game play.

However treasure hunts can fit into a number of the subsets of urban gaming as well as being LBMGs, such as  ‘big games’ (Hjorth), because “the game space interrupts the flows of everyday urban life” (Hjorth, 2011, p361) and the game approaches “the role of people and the importance of place in the navigation of co-presence” (Ibid), where the “forms of co-presence include: virtual and actual, online and offline, cerebral and haptic, delay and immediacy.” (Ibid). The instructions or clues are accessible, and the ‘treasure’ is discoverable, if the player has engaged with the appropriate (digital and non-digital) technologies, geographies, activities and communities.

Souza e Silva and Sutko suggest that the “tropes of urbanity emphasize the activity of knowing urban spaces by exploration”p8 Treasure hunts allow for consideration of “the relationships among urban spaces, playful behavior and mobility” p6. They also ask “[h]ow does this merged physical / digital reality influence the way we move through cities and access information while on the move?”p8, which is a particularly good question when you consider the opportunities of integrating urban games into marketing.

My words = 291


de Lange M. (2009) The Mobile City Project and Urban Gaming, Second Nature 2: 161-169

Frith J. (2013) Turning life into a game: Foursquare, gamification and personal mobility, Mobile Media & Communication 1: 248-262

Hjorth L. (2011) Mobile@game cultures: The place of urban mobile gaming. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17(4): 357-371

Souza e Silva A. & Sutko D. eds (2009) Digital Cityscapes: Merging digital and urban playspaces

Whitson J. R. (2013) Gaming the Quantified Self. Surveillance and Society 11(1/2): 163-176

locative sound

Engaging with this weeks subject was problematic; I do not have much direct experience of locative sound projects to be able to discuss them in any critical depth and I could not get the ‘sonicmaps’ app to work or find the app very intuitive, with very little guidance included over how to upload/link to sound files, this wasn’t helped by the app crashing numerous times.

Thinking about the right sort of sound to attach to place, allowing people to experience it while on the move would require multiple sounds. I considered creating a street of soundscapes, documenting the inhabitants, where sounds could overlap and play concurrently, to allow the cacophony of family life to spill out into the street.  I wondered if the app allowed sound to get louder the nearer the listener was to the centre of the circular area defined, so that people would know how close to source they were, highlighting the locative nature of the sound, as “sound always travels over space in time, emanating from the source, distributed over space and eventually fading.” Behrendt, 2012, p288. Perhaps, allowing sounds to ebb and flow in volume and hierarchy if played concurrently, remixes the sounds on the move, considering how “movement – often walking – acts as remixing” Behrendt, 2012, p286

The idea was to externalise internal sounds, breaking through the walls of the house to experience the soundscape of the occupants within. Where sound creates the space inhabited by the family, a house becomes a home due to the occupants and the noise they make whilst using the space. That my ‘quiet’ sub-urban street is not as quiet as it seems to be, that sound spills out of spaces. However, home is also a very private space where occupants may not want their everyday behaviour documented for anyone to access.

My intention had been to first have a trial run at uploading a recording of the everyday sound created by my family, therefore I had recorded a sound file on my phone, ready to upload to sonicmaps, however, I am yet to make this work!


Behrendt F. 2012 The Sound of Locative Media. Covergence: The International Journal of research into New Media Technologies, 18 (3), pp.283-295

In other news –

AIAIAI Presents the Sound Taxi from AIAIAI on Vimeo. The Sound Taxi is equipped with a microphone to record its surrounding noise. Specially designed software written in Max analyses the frequencies of these noises and uses them to generate unique music in real time. The music/sounds will change and evolve as it is driven in different parts of the city. Further info can be found at:



Augmented Reality and Wikitude

Holding the device up, after a few moments, images/information appear, hovering over the camera image. With a compass marking further accessible information Wikitude allows you to view Flickr or Instagram images, Wikipedia entries or Tripadvisor ratings by location. Uricchio, 2011, looks to Culler and Heidegger, to define the “algorithmic construction of the image” p25, saying that “the modern social order can be defined through a representational system characterised by precisely defined subject-object relations (the world as a picture), a metaphysics of exactitude and an underlying spatiotemporal grid” p26. Suggesting that digital media, in the form of location-aware technologies and augmented reality (AR) systems, are affected by “algorithmic interventions between the viewing subject and the object viewed” p25 Where, “the algorithmic domain ultimately determines what we see and even how we see it” p33 (their italics) “In the case of location-based AR applications, meanings are as precise as the viewing position.” ibid

My office is adjacent to the hospital, which offers me a Flickr image of an x-ray and another of a sleeping baby, it feels rather intrusive or even voyeuristic, as these images feel private to someone else, they were not intended for me.

Picture 3

Screenshot of flickr content discovered through Wikitude

Picture 2

Screenshot of flickr content discovered through Wikitude

Holding up the device, to view through, feels cumbersome and not particularly intuitive as I am constantly aware of the technology. As are the other people in the room, with a camera between us, I can see that they feel uncomfortable.

Anne Friedburg (2009) defines modern media through the use of multiple windows, or frames, through which we perceive images. Saying that “our new mode of perception is multiple  and fractured. It is ‘postperspectival’ – no longer framed in a single image with fixed centrality; ‘postcinematic’ – no longer projected onto a screen surface as were the camera obscura or magic lantern; ‘post-televisual’ – no longer unidirectional in the model of sender receiver.” p194. The ‘window’ metaphor suggests realism of visual content, a clear transparent view of the world, however AR gives content overlaid with multiple frames/windows of further information.

Bolter and Grusin (2000), defined contemporary media through the concept of remediation, consisting of two logics: immediacy and hypermediacy. Wanting to highlight “the twin preoccupations of contemporary media: the transparent presentation of the real and the enjoyment of the opacity of media themselves”, p21. Suggesting that the goal of a media designer should be to create a transparent interface, “so that the user is no longer aware of confronting a medium, but instead stands in an immediate relationship to the contents of that medium” p24. Linking this through the history of visual culture, to the addition of linear perspective to painting, to mathematise space. Hypermediacy is represented by screens containing heterogenous windows, “a medium that offers ‘random access’; it has no physical beginning, middle or end” p31. These multiple windows bring the interface to the foreground, working against the desire for a transparent medium.

My screen creates a frame/window through which I can view the augmented information, the image has become an interface, overlaid with further information, which is floating, detached from three dimensional space. When I view via the map, the location-based information feels rooted somewhere more concrete and space regains dimension once more.

(331 of my words)

Other related links

Sight from Robot Genius on Vimeo. A film that imagines a future, where reality is augmented through contact lenses. Suggesting that even mundane everyday tasks  will become a gamified experience, through the permanent inclusion of digital graphics into our field of vision. It is rather pessimistic about the augmented-human condition, suggesting that technology will form an emotional barrier with an inability to form unmediated relationships. However the aesthetic quality of the augmented imagery integrated into our perceived reality is seductive and makes current examples look underdeveloped.

Immateriality | The Future Human from jenny lee on Vimeo. With available technology, will we want to augment our own appearance in the future? I can imagine people might want to appear more attractive or younger, however, the ‘digital skins’ offered by this artist may be to far removed from current realities to seem currently feasible.

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo. Another slightly pessimistic view of AR, suggesting that we will surrender our cognitive abilities to technology and need the help with even simple tasks, such as how to make a cup of tea.


Bolter J.D. and Grusin R. (2000) “Remediation: Understanding New Media” MIT Press, US

Friedburg A. (2009) “The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft” MIT Press, US

Uricchio W. (2011) “The algorithmic turn: photosynth, augmented reality and the changing implications of the image” Visual Studies, 26:1, 25-35


Foursquare Eastbourne

Gordon & Souza e Silva define ‘Net Locality’, 2011, in terms of, “a ubiquity of networked information”, (p2), by investigating behaviour that is dependent on, or created by, locational data, which is discoverable by mobile technologies. Their intention is to see “what happens to individuals and societies when virtually everything is located or locatable”, (ibid). However, the marketing industry currently refer to these technologies as ‘SoLoMo’ (Social, Local, Mobile), where the focus is primarily on the possibilities for commodification of location-based services.

In an attempt to better understand how it is to be visible and locatable through mobile technology, I signed up to the mobile, location-based app. Foursquare with the intention of experiencing and interacting with the app. within my everyday routine and local area. The territory covered generally fell within what Humphreys and Liao refer to as the “parochial realm”, public yet familiar and contextual, “along routes and patterns of our everyday lives”. However, Foursquare does not appear to be well used in my locale and I did not experience “social exchanges through the network” in the small time with the app so far, meaning I have not had significant opportunity to see how parochialisation is affected by location based technology.  Through further and continued use there might be opportunity to feel part of a Foursquare community, seeing as this was not really possible over the few days I used it.

I found myself surprised at how place is organised within the app. for example, my parish church, which was built around 1080 AD, and I consider to be a significant local landmark was not featured on Foursquare, giving me opportunity to create an entry. I contrast, the café in my local park had three slightly different entries and the local zoo had an main page, along with a number of separate entries for zones containing different activities, such as the play park and one of the food outlets, even though none of these are separate franchises.

Gordon and Souza e Silva (2011) discuss specific location based mobile games generally as specific events, however since their book was published many non-game apps have become gamified, i.e. utilising game elements and mechanics to a non- game situation. Foursquare has gamified elements added, as I gained points,  a couple of badges and became ‘Mayor’ of my workplace (with just two check-ins). With further use I can imagine these game elements “potentially create user motivation to engage” (Gordon & Souza e Silva, 2011 p65.), creating an incentive to return regularly to the app.

In thinking about location based technologies this week, I also wanted to draw your attention to a few interesting links and examples:

twitter map

The geography of Tweets: Visualisation Europe
Copyright Twitter, Inc. (@twitter)

Twitter has a Flickr page with visualisations of billions geo-tagged Tweets organised onto corresponding maps (Every dot is a Tweet, and the color is the Tweet count.) uses information gathered from Instagram for you to select and area and then view where people are taking the most pictures. They call this a ‘heat map’, under this images are displayed, grouped by specific locations (bars, shops, scenic places etc) Although, location does not define content as many of the images are not of the places they were uploaded from.



Herefeed ‘heat map’ example.

Filip, is a “wearable smart locator and phone for kids”, its a watch and a pre-programmable phone (can store 5 numbers and only these numbers can call the phone), with location-based technology, so you can find where the child/device is. greenfilip




Humphreys L & Liao T (2013) Foursquare and the parochialization of public space. First Monday Vol. 18, No, 11

Gordon E & Souza e Silva A (2011) Net Locality. Wiley Blackwell, UK

Reed R. (2011) The SoLoMo Manifesto accessed 10/03/14

‘public’ spaces, technologies and art

What it means to be in a public space, or part of the public or even what constitutes public behaviour are constantly challenged, contested and negotiated. Thompson, 2011, references Hannah Adrent 1958: 50ff, when he states that in the past the public realm could be seen as, “a space of appearance in which things that were said and done could be seen and heard by others as well as by ourselves” p55, and that this meant that the behaviour of individuals was visible by others.

He goes on to ask what it means to be visible now, in an age of new media technologies? Technologies that afford us “mediated visibility” p56, which is “freed from the spatial and temporal properties of the here and now.” ibid. Technology has brought into question our understandings of what it means to be ‘public’, where place, people and behaviour are in a perpetual state of possible flux, interrelated, hybridised and co-produced. Any distinctions between it what it means to be public or private are now a “fluid situation”, where boundaries are “blurred and constantly shifting”, “porous, contestable and subject to constant negotiation and struggle”, Thompson, 2011, p 64. This fluidity is also expressed by Lange, in her 2008, ethnographic study of investigating online behaviour and specifically the “varying degrees of publicness” p361, demonstrated by users.

Many artists and designers are inspired to investigate and question our understanding of what is meant by public and private by utilizing place, audience and technology. Forlano, 2013, concentrates on the opportunities for the co-production of place by making digital media and urban technology visible through art and design, by describing a number of works. Taking up her use of empirical investigation, I present below a number of examples, which I feel highlight negotiations of place, behaviour and technology.

Many works are site-specific making the public space a constituent part of the work and a large number of these of these draw attention to places that we do not consider of any importance until their context is changed or challenged by the installation of an artwork.

Public spaces, such as pedestrian walkways between buildings or underpasses, are often used for installations of light and/or sound. Particularly if they allow for darkened space for projections and interesting acoustics. e.g. ‘Lowlands’ by Susan Philipsz the Turner Art Prize Winner 2010


Strømer, a Dobpler interactive LED wall, 2008

The artist may question, augment or transduce the space through the addition of art. The facades of buildings can become screens for projection mappings and media experiences, which may also include user interaction, like the Dobpler interactive LED wall called ‘Strømer’, installed in a pedestrian tunnel in Oslo in 2008 as part of the European City of Culture.

Some artists/designers/advertisers look specifically at high traffic areas, particularly ones where a potential audience lingers rather than just passing through, therefore may make of use public spaces such as airport terminals, railway concourses and the following work uses the pavement beside a busy road, in Montreal.

21 Balançoires (21 Swings) 2013, from Daily Tous Les Jours on Vimeo is a giant instrument made of 21 musical swings. Swinging triggers different notes so that all the swings together create ‘music’. The designers say that it “stimulates ownership of the public space”, by transforming what was previously an unloved space, into a community space for spending time in, rather than just traversing through.

We Feel Fine

Screenshots from

However, work does not need to be situated in a physical location to comment on the changes to what it means to be public or private. We Feel Fine (2005 – ongoing) is a web-based infographic installation, by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, a crowd-sourced artwork that, makes use of public networked space to display online comments, which are, “publically private and privately public” Lange, 2008. The site data-mines blogs for comments relating to feelings and collects these along with information about age, gender, geographical location and even the weather conditions when the blog post was written. The original bloggers have not specified that they want their comments to be relocated and republished, however the technology doesn’t require their permission, questioning both the potential for the web to tell peoples stories and the opportunities for others to manipulate this information for their own means.


Forlano L. 2013 Making Waves: Urban Technology and the co-production of place in First Monday Vol 18 no 11. accessed 26/02/14

Lange P. 2008 Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on YouTube, in Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 13 pp361-380‎ accessed 01/03/14

Thompson J. 2011, Shifting Boundaries of Public and Private Life, Theory Culture Society, Vol. 28, pp49-70, Accessed 01/03/14


code/space and digital cities

This week was half term, therefore a large amount of time was spent entertaining the kids, however, I found time to reflect on this weeks topic during a visit to the British Museum. We took the train and so many aspects of the journey were facilitated by software even before we reached the station, seeing as the tickets were purchased online. We relied on the signalling technologies to ensure our train was located appropriately and then the space within the train carriage was transformed by our use of electronic devices. Once at the museum much of my sons experience was mediated through technology, as I let him use my digital camera and he took so many pictures that I would guess that he looked more at the objects on the camera screen than he did without it.

Manovich (2011) places software at the centre of the study of contemporary media seeing as most of us experience digital code via software interfaces. He describes code as the “universal intermediary” (p8) as viewing code on its own is meaningless to most people, instead we need technology to translate/repackage it into easily understandable formats.

Again this week I found my thoughts straying to Hollywood sci-fi representations, however this time it is ‘The Matrix’ 1999, as an metaphor for the intermediary position of software in society, as ‘real life’ was just an interface created by code.

The cultural impact of this is that we are reliant on software to interact with code and that software defines everything created by code, however this is an active relationship as these interfaces illicit an active response by the user. As Manovich says, “today you can’t simply ‘access’ media without automatically being offered some ways to modify it” (ibid).

Kitchen and Dodge (2011) state that their principal argument is “that an analysis of software requires a thoroughly spatial approach” (p13), as everything is interconnected, nothing is independent of space and that space and software are actants on societal behaviour. Where, “software matters because it alters the conditions through which society, space and time and thus spatiality are produced” (ibid).

They suggest the term ‘code/space’ to describe the mutual relationship that can occur through the interrelationship of space and code because, ‘spatiality is the product of the code and the code exists primarily in order to produce a particular spatiality. (p16) Space can be transduced by code, i.e. the functionality of space can be transformed by the inclusion of software. This tranduction can take place in fixed or mobile spaces, and the transduction itself is not necessarily fixed as can be dependent on how people are using the software and the space.  Space is “always in process, constantly being created in the moment as a collective manufacture composed of hundreds of recursive, interconnected relationships between people and place…. It is endlessly remade, never the same, ceaselessly reterritorialized.”(p69). Therefore, as we move through and interact with cities we experience many different spaces and technology mediates this by through affecting our sensory experiences and our behaviour within those spaces.

I am continuing to collect relevant artifacts on my Pinterest board, for example this is a Ted Talk by Carlo Ratti, who talks about “the real time city”. This is a wide ranging talk dealing with a number of projects. For example he is interested in using data to record and track objects (such as what we throw away), as he believes that if we are more aware of our behaviour then we will be more motivated to do something about it. He also talks about a building with walls of water that parts when you approach (similar concept to the Rain Room by Random International) however what was most interesting was how people used it when it went wrong as they started to play with the building.



Kitchin, R. & Dodge, M., 2011. Code/space software and everyday life, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press

Manovich, L., 2011. Media After Software.  Accessed 16/02/14