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Space & Spatiality, Napier University, Edinburgh

The conference that took place at the Merchiston campus of Napier University, just beside the tower where John Napier, inventor of the "Napierian Logarithm", was born. Between Sunday December 12th 2004 and Tuesday 14th it started off with the doctoral consortium. It was organised by Fiona Carroll. Thanks, Fiona.

doctoral consortium

Presenting students were Parag Deshpande, Fiona Carroll, Hendrik Jernstrom, Trevor Jones, Sarah Kettley and Michael Hohl. Parag started with his methodology for analysis of public spaces and the activities happening in them. This should lead to a better understanding for the integration of "interactive environments in public spaces". As cities consist of places with their different activities so were apartments defined by their different hierarchical "places". From my point of view this approach was too abstract and too top-down. A better approach would be to understand what kind of "interactive media" already exist in public spaces (from ATMs to Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's installations) - and start my investigation on practical aspects. I also think that Alexanders "Patterns" are fluid (Alexander probably writes about this himself, but i don't know his work well enough) - depending on time of the day, week, month places are different places, with different names, different atmospheres and uses.
In Berlin there are clubs that only exist on a single day of a week. If this is a Tuesday were they play a particular kind of music, drawing a particular kind of crowd; it is called the "Tuesdaysbar".
On some occasions the Tuesdaysbar may have to move to another day - so it is happening on Wednesdays now. After a while it is moving to another space in a different neighborhood. So it is on a different time and at a different space - but the name & "place" stays the same: It is still the Tuesdaysclub. And many places in Berlin have a genesis like this in the last couple of years.

Fiona continued with her presentation of narrative in Virtual Reality Space. She demonstrated how paintings had become more and more spatial over the centuries, and that peoples ability of reading them changed as well. She showed an exciting environment by Bernd Lintermann
where people are in an immersive space similar to a planetarium where the interface is all about the "user". By modifing Roland Barthes "Narration - Action - Function" to "Narration - Engagement - Visual Units" she may be able to look closer at VR as a pictorial medium.

Trevor Jones gave a livly presentation in which he introduced us to his research into gesture and full body engagement. Many of his examples were quite technical and resembled more the kind of input required for heavy gaming.

Hendrik Jernstrom developed a concept of integrating digital media into their university campus. In my opinion this is a typical example of design as an aesthetic superficial commodity happening on the surface. The areas that need to be "improved" because of past architectural failure are seemingly "upgraded" with some playful or entertaining additions. Not a holisitc approach at all. IMHO.

Sarah introduced her application led approach to Networked Jewellery. Two brooches with LEDs and touch sensors. Her background is to understand how a group of friends interact with each other and the necessary "authenticity" of the situation. She presented Scott Snibbes "boundary functions" project as an example for social distances. Especially interesting i found her "grounded theory" approach with interviews and questionnairs which is all just in the beginning. I think for her "interaction analysis' she should take a look at flickr, friendster, FOAF and gaming profiles.

My presentation must have been totally confusing. Because of the time limit of 10 minutes it was stripped of most of the context and examples it resulted in diagrams of "qualities" and "dimensions" that hardly made any sense to someone not familiar with digital artworks that display other places at a local space. I learned a lot from it though. Clear is, that the "hard" sides are covered well by the telepresence research from computer sciences. But how is it possible to "measure" holistic overview, interconnectedness, etc.? How do i cover the poetic and artistic sides? Hopefully through the writings of Ingo Günther (hope he wrote something), Naimark, Paul Sermon, Roy Ascott, Lev Manovich, Jodi Forlizzi? Open for suggestions.

Bernd Lintermann:
Boundary Functions (1998):

Jan Gehl "Life between Buildings - using public space"

Day One, Monday - 2004/12/13

Started with the magnificent Tim Ingold from the University of Aberdeen telling us that he didn't believe - or better rejected - our concept of "space". That there was no "space" as such - but that naturally peoples idea of places was connected to 'ground" and the "earth". I thought this was a rhetorical trick; But in the following hour he provided a multitude of "wayfaring" examples about his idea of Place, Movement and Knowledge, he had collected in different cultures.
In a nutshell it reminds me of the strange change in road signs. Not long ago signs were placed on the crossing where a road diverged of. Now these signs appear miles and miles ahead - because of the increas of travelling speed. A sign that "there is no there there" but that the road simply connect to places - with "nothing" in between.

Richard Coyne spoke about disembodied voices & space. What i missed in his lecture was Glossolalia, Acousmatic Space, Art of Memory, psycholinguistics and psychoacoustics. There could have been many examples of "disembodied" and "transgressive" voices from movies to enlighten the different genres ... But perhaps i just did not get his point.

Ian Graham presented his tracking system developed from simple IR sensors. They are able to track large crowdes in passages and indoor spaces. The system works in realtime and its accuracy and performance are quite impressive. The only problems seems to be that when people don't move for more than seven seconds - they are "forgotten" by the sensors. Impressive work though. The banner image above shows the system in action. Ian is "writing" an "N".

Books & URLs:
Douglas Kahn: Noise, Water, Meat A History of Sound in the Arts
Edmund Burke: On the Sublime

The conference continued but i haven't had time to transcribe my notes. More in the official proceedings: "Proceedings of the second workshop on “Space, Spatiality and Technology”, Edinburgh 2004.

Recommended reading
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My - truncated - presentation (649.8 KB)

My paper (255.4 KB)

My poster (as shockwave, a test) (164.7 KB)

Space & Spatiality impressions
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last update: 8/11/02013 22:26

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