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<eyebeam><blast> CLOSING SUMMARY 10

<eyebeam><blast> artistic practice in the network 


Keller Easterling wrote on how her work as an architect and writer has
involved, among other things, direct relationships between networking
technology and the physical arrangements of urbanism.  "I have also been
interested in technology distributed by mind, the ways in which we
reciprocally respond to our new tools and use them as models for
thinking and making physical arrangements.  I have been interested in
the ways in which organizations of physical development and production
mimic network organizations even when they are not entirely reliant on
the actual hardware of new technologies." Keller is interested in the
various ways in which development for landscapes, offices, suburbs,
shopping malls etc are "formatted" by network protocols embedded within
business organizations. She wants to pay attention to how invisible
protocols have enormous physical and material consequences. The shifting
scales of retail development, she writes, familiar to everyone, perhaps
dramatize these kinds of changes.  "SKU number tracking,
mass-customization and new network models for global shipping/freight
hubs are partly responsible for increased scales of production and
larger warehouse, price-club, superstore buildings. Most of these
congregate around the outer ring of the old shopping mall feeding off
the lulls in parking volume generated by the central formation. And now,
almost overnight, they are actually making that enormous, distributed
mall format obsolete." Keller writes that new so called "power-centers"
made up of only superstores actually turn the mall format inside out by
locating parking in the center of a ring of stores. 

In treating the network organization as itself a site, Keller wrote how
she tries to draw "site plans" for "cultural habits or production
protocols in an attempt to impact the real spatial changes which occur
-- to find points of entry and partial adjustment." I asked Keller to
give us examples of these site plans. Keller responded by giving
examples of the plans that her students are developing. "Each is
compiling specifications for, for instance, 1) the way Hertz uses GPS
technology 2) a merger between the componentry format of computer
peripherals and an automobile restoration/hybridization 3) golf as a
game and as a format for developing housing tracts 4) bulk or surplus
retailing and packing or 5) GlobalEx shipping which uses aerospace
technology." Each one, Keller writes, is able to uncover very specific
temporal and physical dimensions which are associated with each of these
protocols/procedures/formats.  "Some of them borrow a commercial format
for presentation. Some of them are like those funny dials which plumbers
use to figure out pipe width and pressure ratios. Some are like a ruler
for a set of actions. Franchises and offices are simple, familiar
examples."  Keller points out that there are so many orange hamburger
booths per structural bay, per parking space etc., so many desks,
flourescents, and partitions that can fit with the typical dimension
between elevator core and glass skin in an office. "If you shift a
dimension in this protocol, you have changed thousands of spaces. Most
of this is familiar, but it starts to get interesting when compiled with
other kinds of temporal dimensions and unfamiliar market organizations."
How are the "circles of draw" explicitly calibrated? Each of these
procedures also has a psychic profile in culture that becomes part of
the site plan. 

Keller writes that she thinks about empowering her own work and her
student's work by finding sites in any realm which are amplified through
production or persuasions in culture. 

In the context of her examples of the relationships between the
protocols, formats, and systems of technology/commerce and those of the
built retail environment, I mentioned the differences between the "power
center" of superstores that she describes and the example of the urban
entertainment center, where these stores are "bundled" with specialized
entertainment attractions, especially new-generation cinema complexes,
theme restaurants, and rides.  I write that what is curious is how the
shopper is figured, how it becomes part of the feedback loop in terms of
both presence and telepresence.  The urban entertainment center (UEC)
tracks physical movements of shoppers and patterns of commercial
transactions including buying habits.  It is part of larger consumer
research circuits that produce endless volumes of realtime and delayed
demographics, continually fed back into the structure of commerce
itself, intersecting with physical space in diverse ways.  And the
bundled building-interfaces (garish, photoshopped constructions) ensure
a multitasking activity that we've gotten used to through the computer
interface and the TV channel-switcher, ensuring that we're never bored
because nothing is only one thing for long. They are multi-use
constructions for short attention spans, activated through
ever-narrowing time frames and new patterns of movement that correspond
to this. How do people move through these, how to they see and activate
these spaces? How is perception formatted and aligned with buying
modes?  How is the buying body seen and figured through statistical

Knowbotic Research presented their project "IO_DENCIES questioning
urbanity," which "explores the possibilities of intervening and acting
in complex urban processes taking place in distributed and networked
environments. The project looks at urban environments, analyses the
forces present in particular urban situations, and offers experimental
interfaces for dealing with these force fields." The aim is not to
develop advanced tools for architectural and urban design, but to create
events through which it becomes possible to rethink urban planning and
construction. Through their work, Knowbotic Research aims to challenge
the potentials that digital technologies might offer towards connective,
participatory models of planning processes and of public agency.

Knowbotic Research described the project's development as follows. "In
Tokyo, the central Shimbashi area was analysed in collaboration with
local architects. Several 'zones of intensities' were selected:
Ginza-Shopping Area, Imperial Hotel, Fish Market, Highway Entrance,
Hamarikyu garden + Homeless Area, Shimbashi Station, Hinode Passenger
Terminal, JR-Appartment House, World Trade Center. In these zones,
several qualities of urban movements (architectural, traffic, human,
information, economic) were distinguished. These movements and flows and
their mutual interferences are represented by dynamic particle flows
which can be observed and manipulated through an Internet interface."
Users can deploy a series of specially designed movement attractors,
each of which has a different function in manipulating or modifying
those processes. Examples of these functions are confirming, opposing,
drifting, confusing, repulsing, organizing, deleting, merging, and
weakening. "Participants can collaboratively develop hypothetical urban
dynamics. As soon as one participant starts working on and modifying the
urban profile by changing the particle streams with movement attractors,
a search engine in the background starts looking in the IP-space for
other participants with similar manipulation interests and connects to
them. They become present for each other, as the activated movement
attractors of connected participants appear." Some of these can be
"absent" users whose activities are remembered and reactivated by the
system for some time after the intervention takes place. If another
participant (or more) is found, the characters of the data movements can
be changed collaboratively "in tendencies" -- they can be made stronger,
weaker, more turbulent, denser, and so on. "Streams of urban movements
can shift between dynamic clusters of participants, chains of events are
passing through. Participants can develop new processes or react to
already existing, ongoing ones. The streams of the manipulated movements
are visualized in the activated segment of each participant; however,
each participant will work on and experience a singular and different
segment. The software modules allow for the variation and transformation
of data clusters by connective activities." 

The project is intended to create "a topological cut through the
heterogeneous assemblage of physical spaces, data environments, urban
imaginations, connective agencies and individual experiences, and forms
a model for the complex way in which network topologies will have to be

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