Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Wireless City Amsterdam

Professor Martin Rieser spoke at a Conference organized by the Mediafonds in collaboration with the Sandberg Institute at the state theatre in Amsterdam: 
Wireless Stories. New Media in Public Space
A review of the day is below. In addition he participated in a one day masterclass with 8 potential teams for the Mediafons awards (€100000 per project ) at the Sandberg institute


Symposium Review
By: Anja Groten

The symposium was opened by the director of the Mediafonds Hans Maarten van den Brink, followed by an introduction of the program by Annelys de Vet, director of the design department at the Sandberg Institute and moderator of the day. Annelys gave a brief insight in the current use of locative media. She spoke about physical spaces that become digital and digital spaces that are empathized more and more with the physical. As well she pointed out the current urge of the topic, which was proofed by the huge amount of visitors attending the conference (600 participants). 

The first speaker of the morning block about publicness, Michiel de Lange just finished his PHD about " Mobile Media and Playful Identities". Lange gave a rather abstract and theoretical view on "narrative" and the importance of storytelling, publicness and wireless media".
He explained the narrative relates to human identity as human life can be seen as a stage. Publicness, the physical or media space furthermore is the space for similarities, the space where we can share our stories. But publicness is also a space of differences, which provides the possibility to remain private and individual. 
With his last point wireless media as the new way of storytelling, Lange presented some actual examples, like Esther Polak's project about tracing the milk trade (milkproject.net) or the well known GPS city game Pac Manhattan. (pacmanhattan.com)
Especially Polak's project shows well how very complex and abstract content, such as the milk trade from Latvia to the Netherlands, can be translated by the use of locative media to something visual and accessible .

Dick van Dijk of the Waag Society showed as second speaker how locative media can actively involve users and how it is able to change behavior in public space. 
One of the projects he showed was 7 scenes, a city game that makes the history of Amsterdam accessible by actual experience. With this hands-on project van Dijk demonstrated that apart from research and experimentation, advanced technology can actually relate to society and is able to add value to learning processes. The idea of 7 scenes is very simple. By actual walks with the historical map of Amsterdam children could understand and remember information better than only by reading or hearing about it.

Helena Muskens and Quirine Racke were introduced by an expressive performance of Annelys de Vet who suddenly collapsed on the stage quite theatrically and apparently very convincing. Some people were hearable shocked and shouted the light should be turned on. Parts of the audience instead were less surprised and rather amused, since they were already introduced to Annelys' extra ordinary presentation methods.
Eventually the light went on again and the happening was dissolved by a movie about groups of people collapsing in public space as flashmob-actions.

Following Muskens and Racke showed their (less dramatical) movie Diamond Dancers, which is about invisibility in public space. 
The movie showed elderly ladies who are dancing together some kind of square dance on Dam Square in Amsterdam. Although the action of the dance was presented as a flash mob, the question was to expect why this was considered a flash mob since the action was rehearsed and staged and didn´t involve the use of social media. Unfortunately the question remained unanswered. 

Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen (lust.nl/lustlab.net), started as the first speaker of the second block of lectures which had the focus of Audience and Interaction. He gave a brief historical and anthropological tour of The Digital and showed amongst other examples the known Lust-project where they turned the city of The Hague into an airport. 
The question came up how the audience reacted towards the highly visible intervention, which I thought was quite an interesting question. "The pedestrians were more pleased than the shop-owners and elderly people were afraid a war would start", was the response with a little ironic undertone. The discussion of ethics, responsibility unfortunately did not occur.

After the Danish PHD student Tobias Ebsen gave a more than detailed insight in the institution he is operating in, the Center of Digital Urban Living (DUL) and the Media Facade Research Group of the University of Aarhus, Denmark. The works he showed all contained very big facades, which were transformed into interactive platforms for self-expressions of the pedestrians. The impact of the projects remained hidden behind rather sober explanation.

Matthijs ten Berge talked about Illuminate Outdoor Media and showed the Moodwall which was a 24 meter long interactive media wall installed in the Bijlmer, Amsterdam. 

Michael Epstein, CEO of Untravel Media (untravelmedia.com) as well as Martin Rieser, professor of digital creativity, (martinreser.comthirdwoman.com) introduced a focus on storytelling, playfulness and gaming by using mobile technologies.

Epstein showed with three projects how crime plots and dystopian fiction can literally become real. In "A Machine to See With" the user is player and actor at the same time. Guided and followed by a voice, which could be the voice of some kind of "Big Brother melted with your therapist", the users was physically involved in a bank robbery and sometimes even met other players/actors on the same mission.

Rieser gave some insights in The Third Woman, a dynamic crime story with three alternative scripts which the user could choose from. The scripts are written in fragments of about a minute. The more fragments watched the closer a resolution of the mysterious "Third Woman".

While most of the talks were showing new media as a playing field of experimentation in a creative but very abstract way, the last talk A sense of Place by Bregtje van der Haak changed the perspective on the subject matter to a very personal and observing one.
Coming back from six month of teaching and living in Hong Kong she presented images and small videos of her observations. Those images were selected in a way they were telling not only the story of her stay, but a story of a society which functions and behaves totally different than our western society does. She spoke about people she met and their stories, about the world as their stage, about the believe in the after-life as an actual place and part of the whole, about the story of migrant workers and their networked life and about the new center of the world, China.

It seemed the previous talks created a consent as they all embraced technologies such as locative media as an exciting and new field to explore. Hence the similarity of the lectures sometimes gave the impression of repetition. 
The personal approach of the last talk instead added new perspectives and insights to the subject matter and was the perfect ending of the whole event.

No comments:

Post a Comment