Thursday, November 29, 2007


"Surveillance cameras by necessity record interzones, the hot spots where crime might breed or deviance might spontaneously generate, in locations beyond the reach of our unenhanced optic nerves, or where everything and everyone has simply shut up shop. Business parks at night, city squares cast in gloomy shadow, empty swimming pools, the hooded entrances of hospitals, the city-like scale of airport perimeters, motorway feeder roads where human interaction is factored out of the landscape and the only transaction occurs between speed and machinery. Ballard’s work precisely records such territory, a rich topography inset with mysterious ley lines, weaving a grid to support shadowy lifestyles enacted far away from mainstream thought." Simon Sellars , SurveillanceSaver

Monday, November 19, 2007


"Researchers and security companies are developing cameras that not only watch the world but also interpret what they see. Soon, some cameras may be able to find unattended bags at airports, guess your height or analyze the way you walk to see if you are hiding something..... "If you think of the camera as your eye, we are using computer programs as your brain", said Patty Gillespie, Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md. Today, the military funds much of the smart-surveillance research." Associated Press, msnbc

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

big shadow

"Shadows of the participants movements are projected upon a massive wall of a building, 7-stories high. When participants perform particular actions such as raising their arms over their heads, a giant dragon shadow appears out of the participants' shadows."

Sunday, November 11, 2007


"A surveillance camera being used to monitor public space was hijacked and reinstalled in a subway station. The camera was used intentionally to broaden consciousness concerning the problem of increasing lack of privacy. People entering and exiting the station were tracked by the camera,and their “capture” was projected on a station wall. The action was illegal." Roch Forowicz, via rhizome

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

palestine urban infrastructure

"Palestine’s crumbling infrastructure presents a major challenge for a new Palestinian state. Yet it also provides an opportunity to plan for sustainable development and to avoid the environmental cost and economic inefficiencies of haphazard, unregulated urban development that might otherwise result from the need to accommodate a rapidly growing population. The Arc, RAND’s concept for developing the physical infrastructure of a Palestinian state, provides such a plan."

[In partnership with Suisman Urban Design]

Sunday, October 28, 2007

sensual body

"The sensual body finds itself living amidst an expansive set of technologies. In this ever-evolving computational world we encounter texts of varying forms and functionalities -- visual, sonic, and code-related. Text may also take physical and/or environmental form. The continuum that bridges distributed bodies with the recombinant communicative and associative functionality of technology is charged with the potential of extending humankind's ability to experience, generate, operate on, store, edit, and disseminate meaningful patterns of experience."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

single page net map

"What is this? It's a map of the entire Internet. At the moment we're displaying the owner of each IP address (grey boxes), and which IP addresses are listed on the Spamhaus XBL blacklist (red dots), but we should be able to show other things in the future.

A map? Yes, we map all 4,294,967,296 IP addresses onto a huge image and let you zoom into it and pan around. Just like google maps, but more internetty."

The problem of creating cognitive maps of contemporary landscapes and territories poses significant challenges, but at the same time tech advances move so rapidly that new map interfaces crop up day by day. As more and more of these are available to a general population, the agency of the crowd [with both predictable and unpredictable results] grows exponentially.

Friday, October 26, 2007

ambient music

"Writing in the 1960s, Serge Chermayeff and Christopher Alexander argued that: Under present conditions men are beginning to lose the capacity to discriminate between sound and noise - between the desirable and the irrelevant...The problem of isolating undesirable sounds is technically so hard to solve that acoustics engineers now recommend the simpler expedient of providing artificial background noise in one's own domain as an acoustic cushion or muffler. Making more noise is the only economical way, apparently, of drowning out unwanted noise and of not being overheard. It seems that the illusion of quiet can only be maintained in noise."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

panoptic fantasy

"The design of social networking and internet dating sites, showing all your friends faces in an array, seduces us with a kind of panoptic fantasy, being able to see many at once.... Just like the panopticon embeds tiny theaters in an array, these social technologies embed so many small panopticons in a matrix of connectivity. Each cell is now its own theater and watchtower."

red wind

"Named after Southern California's Santa Ana Canyon and a fixture of local legend and literature, the Santa Ana is a blustery, dry and warm (often hot) wind that blows out of the desert. In Raymond Chandler's story Red Wind, the title being one of the offshore wind's many nicknames, the Santa Anas were introduced as "those hot dry [winds] that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen."

locative media

"What is it about place that runs so deep and holds so tight? Take a minute to think about one of your treasured places. And yes, you should probably close your eyes... Jeremy Hight, one the first locative media theorists, coined the term, "Narrative Archeology," a concept which became a corner stone of locative media. It refers to the process of peeling back layers of a place, and finding the stories underneath."

Monday, October 22, 2007

los angeles

"No matter what you do in L.A., your behavior is appropriate for the city. Los Angeles has no assumed correct mode of use. You can have fake breasts and drive a Ford Mustang – or you can grow a beard, weigh 300 pounds, and read Christian science fiction novels. Either way, you're fine: that's just how it works. You can watch Cops all day or you can be a porn star or you can be a Caltech physicist. You can listen to Carcass – or you can listen to Pat Robertson. Or both. That's how we dooz it." by Geoff Manaugh

Friday, October 19, 2007

computer vision

"Messa di Voce, created by this article's author in collaboration with Zachary Lieberman, uses whole-body vision-based interactions similar to Krueger's, but combines them with speech analysis and situates them within a kind of projection-based augmented reality. In this audiovisual performance, the speech, shouts and songs produced by two abstract vocalists are visualized and augmented in real-time by synthetic graphics."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

immigration museum

"It’s hard to say who will go to the National Center at the moment, save for bored schoolchildren on compulsory field trips, although the place has the potential to be a constructive troublemaker. Mr. Toubon promises, in time, a program of events to add meat to the bare-bones display, which he says will also change. Clearly the place needs to do more than cheerlead, feign scholarly impartiality and make vague noises about past injustices to have any impact. It needs to try to steer a debate that is reshaping France and the rest of Europe."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

geo tagging photography

"The easiest way of linking photos to locations is to combine the time-stamps from both a digital camera and GPS receiver or other location-aware device. If this data is available (over the same period of time) it’s possible to process a series of images and location tracks to stamp each image with location metadata."

Friday, October 12, 2007


"listen! do you smell something?"

"Sites relevant to the original 'Ghostbusters' compose the tour path, with video content relevant to the film, geography and history of New York comprising the tour. Watching film footage on a portable media device, while standing in the site of its creation some 20 years ago, 'media memories' become real memories and mediated experience becomes actualized. ghostbustour is an attempt to re-attach "media memories" with our real experience of space and time."

Friday, September 28, 2007

One Voice Movement: One Million Voices to End Conflict


"Jericho/Tel Aviv, September 19, 2007 —Today, the OneVoice Movement, a youth-led mainstream nationalist movement with parallel operations in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, announced that it had exceeded its original goal of recruiting half a million Palestinian and Israeli citizens as signatories of a mandate demanding a two-state solution. The OneVoice Mandate calls on Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to start immediate, uninterrupted negotiations until a comprehensive two-state solution is reached.

As of the latest audit on September 17, 2007, 536,443 Israeli and Palestinian signatories (262,008 Israelis and 274,435 Palestinians) have joined the movement. Having exceeded its goal of recruiting half a million Palestinians and Israelis in roughly equal numbers four months earlier than planned, OneVoice aims to get to One Million citizen signatories by the end of 2007."

"OneVoice aims to amplify the voice of the overwhelming but heretofore silent majority of moderates who wish for peace and prosperity, empowering them to demand accountability from elected representatives and ensure that the agenda is not hijacked by forces of militant absolutism."

Urban Adverts + Cycles

This is a fascinating nexus between advertising space, the ways that urban fabrics become increasingly monetizeable [ to their detriment?] and the provision of what many might argue should be a basic urban infrastructure: the bicycle. Here we see the financial tradeoff between the rental of the bikes, the use of the billboard spaces, and the initial investment on the part of the developer/advertiser. Perhaps there would be other ways to create the capital for the creation of such infrastructure.
- Ed Keller
Vive la Vélorution!- Sep 20th 2007 From The Economist print edition

JCDecaux and Clear Channel Outdoor battle over urban bike-schemes
OUTDOOR advertising has become fiercely competitive and highly political. America's Clear Channel Outdoor and France's JCDecaux fought for months in negotiations with the office of the mayor of Paris, and in court, to snap up the contract for panneaux contre vélos—setting up a bicycle-rental scheme in Paris in exchange for exclusive rights to the French capital's 1,628 billboards. Although Clear Channel claims to have won “technically”, the French firm, whose founder, Jean-Claude Decaux, has close ties to the political establishment, emerged as the victor in practice this spring. JCDecaux set up the bike-rental system in record time and launched it on July 15th.

Vélib' (for vélo, or bicycle, and liberté, or freedom) has since taken Paris by storm...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Profile: Manhattan

In the dialogue on profiling the idea taxonomy seems essential. "How the thing works, " what are the mechanisms and materials, where are the hidden yet essential relationships to the lifeline of the profile. How does this organism function? As a sort of latter day assemblage of Delirious New York, Brian McGrath and the folks producing the Manhattan Timeformations project, present a beautiful and comprehensive taxonomy of the Manhattan profile.

Institute for the Future

The Institute for the Future is an independent nonprofit research group. We work with organizations of all kinds to help them make better, more informed decisions about the future. We provide the foresight to create insights that lead to action. We take an explicitly global approach to strategic planning, linking macro trends to local issues in such areas as technology and society, health and health care, and global business trends.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Profile: 105/110

Traffic; the ubiquitous medium of life for the Angeleno, what better stage for a protest, a greeting to the city, an academic discussion point, an afternoon’s entertainment, or perhaps your own death.

As reports indicate, on April 30th 1998 at approximately 3pm a hotel worker by the name Daniel Jones staged a protest at on one of the overpasses at the 105 and 110 freeway interchange. The protest was reportedly a result of recent diagnoses of cancer and HIV and the subsequent refusal for services by his HMO. The fifty minute protest, which included the unfurling of a banner reading the words, "HMO's are in it for the money!! Live free, love safe or die," and an attempt to self-immolate, stopped traffic in four directions for nearly four hours during the early rush hour. Ultimately, the protest ended when Jones, half naked and pick up truck on fire stood a shotgun against the median and ended his life.

On September 12th 2007 at approximately 3pm ten students from the SCI_Arc, mediaScapes program followed a brief geo-tagging exorcise which lead them to one of the overpasses at the 105 and 110 freeway interchange. The trip was arranged as a quick response to some of the initial conversations carried out during the group’s first meetings and an afternoon in exile. The group was initially given a set of coordinates and a time. The three hour meeting began atop one of the over passes when the first six arrivals pulled on to one of the interchange medians. There the group discussed the implications of layering multiple information sets and ideas of profiling. Ultimately, the meeting ended after meeting in the parking lot of a Valero gas station and a snack at McDonalds.

Monday, September 24, 2007

mediaSCAPES channels

MediaSCAPES is launching several channels to
deploy research, video links, and content.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mesh Networks

An interesting problem that many are trying to solve, including
the Viral Communications group at MIT Media Lab: the question
of infrastructure free communications.
-Ed Keller

February 4, 2007
Wireless Internet for All, Without the Towers

THESE still are early days for the Internet, globally speaking. One billion people online; five billion to go.

The next billion to be connected are living in homes that are physically close to an Internet gateway. They await a solution to the famous “last mile” problem: extending affordable broadband service to each person’s doorstep.

Here in the United States, 27 percent of the population lacks access to the Internet, according to a study completed last year by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Among those who do have access, about 30 percent still rely on slow dial-up connections. The last mile for households with no or slow connections may be provided by radio signals sent out by transmitters perched atop street lights, as hundreds of cities have rolled out municipal Wi-Fi networks, or are in the process of doing so.

The impulse behind these projects is noble. It’s a shame, however, that lots of street lamps and lots of dollars — a typical deployment in an urban setting will run $75,000 to $125,000 a square mile, just to install the equipment — do not really solve the last-mile problem.

If you’re sitting with your laptop at an outside cafe, you’ll be happy with the service. But if you happen to be at home, you realize that service to the doorstep is not enough: you still need to buy equipment to bolster the signal and solve the “last mile plus 10 more yards” problem — that is, getting coverage indoors.

Wi-Fi signals do not bend, and you usually can’t get much of a useful bounce from them, either. Because Wi-Fi uses unlicensed bands of the radio spectrum, by law it must rely on low-power transmitters, which reduce its ability to penetrate walls. Travel-round-the-world shortwave, this ain’t.

Trying to cover a broad area with Wi-Fi radio transmitters set atop street lights brings to mind a fad of the 1880s: attempts to light an entire town with a handful of arc lights on high towers. But overeager city boosters around the country soon discovered that shadows obscured large portions of their cities, and the lighting was not as useful as had been expected. Municipal Wi-Fi on streetlamps, another experiment with top-down delivery, may run a similarly short-lived — and needlessly expensive — course.

WiMax, which will be a high-power version of the tower approach, comes in two flavors: mobile, which has not yet been certified, and fixed, which is theoretically well suited for residential deployment. Unfortunately, it’s pricey. Peter Bell, a research analyst at TeleGeography Research in Washington, said fixed WiMax would not be able to compete against cable and DSL service: “It makes more economic sense in semirural areas that have no broadband coverage.”

An intriguingly inexpensive alternative has appeared: a Wi-Fi network that is not top-down but rather ground-level, peer-to-peer. It relies not on $3,500 radio transmitters perched on street lamps by professional installers but instead on $50 boxes that serve, depending upon population density, more than one household and can be installed by anyone with the ease of plugging in a toaster.

Meraki Networks, a 15-employee start-up in Mountain View, Calif., has been field-testing Wi-Fi boxes that offer the prospect of providing an extremely inexpensive solution to the “last 10 yards” problem. It does so with a radical inversion: rather than starting from outside the house and trying to send signals in, Meraki starts from the inside and sends signals out, to the neighbors.

Some of those neighbors will also have Meraki boxes that serve as repeaters, relaying the signal still farther to more neighbors. The company equips its boxes with software that maintains a “mesh network,” which dynamically reroutes signals as boxes are added or unplugged, and as environmental conditions that affect network performance fluctuate moment to moment.

At this time last year, two of Meraki’s co-founders — Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket — were still Ph.D. students at M.I.T., pursuing academic research on wireless mesh networks in the course of building Roofnet, an experimental network that covered about one-third of Cambridge, Mass., and offered residents free service.

Last year, Google invited Mr. Biswas to give a presentation about his experience providing wireless Internet service to low-income communities. At the time, Google was testing its first municipal Wi-Fi network in its hometown, Mountain View, Calif., using transmitters attached to street lamps.

After Mr. Biswas’s talk, a Google engineer told him that people using Google’s network said they could get online at home only by holding their laptops against a window. Mr. Biswas said he was not surprised. Using municipal Wi-Fi for residential coverage, he said, was “the equivalent of expecting street lamps to light everyone’s homes.”

Mr. Biswas and Mr. Bicket realized that their mesh-network gear designed for residential use could avoid that problem, and hasten the extension of Internet access worldwide. They founded Meraki, took a leave of absence from M.I.T. and, along with a third co-founder, Hans Robertson, moved to Silicon Valley. In short order, Google and then Sequoia Capital, one of Google’s original venture capital backers, invested in Meraki.

Moore’s Law, with its regular doubling of transistors on a single silicon chip, makes possible the miracle of a Meraki “mini,” as the company calls its basic product for the home. It contains a Wi-Fi router-on-a-chip, combined with the same microprocessor and same memory that formed the heart of a Silicon Graphics workstation 10 years ago. These components are now cheap enough today to be included in a box that sells for $49.

The fact that 200 million Wi-Fi chips will be manufactured this year leads to economies of scale that will drive down the price of extremely intelligent network equipment. Meraki’s products are still being tested, but word-of-mouth has attracted 15,000 users in 25 countries.

One early adopter was Michael Burmeister-Brown, a director of NetEquality, a nonprofit in Portland, Ore., that provides free Internet access to low-income neighborhoods. He had not been impressed by Portland’s municipal Wi-Fi service. Because the Wi-Fi transmitter has to be both close and within unobstructed view, the limitations brought to Mr. Burmeister-Brown’s mind the sign on the back of 18-wheel trucks: “If you can’t see my mirror, I can’t see you.”

In Portland, the access points were installed only at every other intersection in residential areas — creating an “I can’t see you” problem. MetroFi, the service provider, advises residents who are not close to a transmitter to buy additional equipment to pull in the signal, with a starting price of $119 — and that is without the “professional installation” option.

For NetEquality, Mr. Burmeister-Brown decided to try out the Meraki equipment in several neighborhoods. In the largest, consisting of about 400 apartments, five DSL lines were used to feed 100 Meraki boxes, which cover the complex with a ratio of one box to every four apartments. Each box both receives the signal and passes it along, albeit at diminished strength. For an initial investment of about $5,000, or $13 a household, the complex can offer Internet access whose operating costs work out to about $1 a household a month.

The bandwidth can match DSL service, but here it is throttled down a bit to deter bandwidth-hogging downloads. Nonetheless, Mr. Burmeister-Brown says everyone is able to enjoy Web browsing with what he describes as “really snappy response.” The sharing of signals among neighbors does not compromise privacy if standard Wi-Fi security protocols are switched on.

Meraki’s products are not yet for sale, and its networks have not been tested with extensive deployment across a large city. Nonetheless, the intrinsic advantages of its grass-roots approach, with next-to-nothing expenditures for both equipment and operations, are impossible to ignore.

MR. BISWAS says there are about 800 million personal computers in the world, but only 280 million are connected. The rest are “stuck in the 1980s” — close to being connected, but not quite.

Meraki does not wish to go into the Internet service provider business itself, but it aspires to equip any interested nontechnical person to become a “micro” service provider for his or her local community. If the provider wishes to use advertising to cover costs rather than charge an access fee, little would be needed in order to cover the minimal outlays for equipment and operations.

This low-cost network model offers the prospect of broadband service reaching inside many more households. One billion and one. One billion and two. One billion and three ... .

Randall Stross is an author based in Silicon Valley and a professor of business at San Jose State University. E-mail:

Sunday, February 11, 2007

MediaSCAPES launch

SCI-Arc launches MediaSCAPES, a new postgraduate program for 2007–08 academic year, with a focus on media production and theory in the context of today’s highly technologized cities, landscapes and architecture.

In the five years between 2007 and 2012, the world will experience greater technological advances in the mediascapes which form our everyday life than in the entire previous fifty years of progress. In Fall 2007, SCI-Arc will launch a new one-year postgraduate program as a response to these massive changes, as an academic platform defining a new paradigm in curriculum, research and design that critically responds to contemporary technologies and emergent geopolitical systems. Founded and directed by Ed Keller, MediaSCAPES leverages significant emerging relationships within technology, software, media, film and game spaces to produce new content and ideas in a “thinktank R&D” environment. The curriculum blends an intensive design studio culture with theory, research and practice, preparing students for thought leadership in design, research and theory work across the fields of new media, architecture, landscape, and digital film. A cutting edge faculty drawn from academia and professional practice worldwide provides students with training as well as a vital global network in both academic and professional contexts. In 2007–08, this faculty will include Alisa Andrasek (BioThing), Juan Azulay (AiB Matter Management), Ben Bratton (The Culture Industry), Manuel DeLanda, Ed Keller, Carla Leitao (a|Um Studio), Jean-Michel Crettaz, Nick Pisca (Gehry Technologies), George Showman, and Roland Snooks (Kokkugia). The program has research and technology partnerships with local and international media, game design, and technology companies. Students graduate with a Masters in Architecture.

Ed Keller is a designer, professor, writer, and musician/multimedia artist. He is a member of the Design and Cultural Studies faculty at SCI-Arc, and has taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), the University of Pennsylvania, Pratt, and Parsons Schools of Design. In 2000–01, he was acting director of Columbia University GSAPP’s Advanced Architectural Design program. Ed Keller is a founder (with Carla Leitao) of a|Um STUDIO ( an award-winning architecture and new media firm, whose recent work includes residential projects and new media installations in Europe and the US; the installation SUTURE at the SCI-Arc and TELIC galleries in Los Angeles; and script, concept and design work for ORNAMENT, an online multiplayer game/film/graphic novel. They have participated in urban design and architecture competitions such as the MAK Vertical Garden, Turku Finland, UIA Celebration of Cities (National Award), House for Andrei Tarkovsky (first prize) and Museum for Nam June Paik. a|Um STUDIO presented their installation Time Flow Control at the 2004 Beijing Biennale NY Hotspot event.


For more information, contact the SCI-Arc Admissions Office on 213.613.2200 x320,