week 7:digital city

Lecture by Dr Hank Haeusler-author of Media Facades: History, Technology and Media Content.

Some students after this lecture felt that a digital city was intruding in on our natural world, peaceful and undisturbed. Personally i disagreed that anything now was peaceful and natural until this idea of a “digital city” came around..it is already urbanised, developed, man made, constructed and exploited to suits man kind’s needs and desires.

What i saw in Dr Haeusler’s presentation was impressive and also shocking. I couldn’t imagine using the windows of a building as individual pixels/lights in an image. Yes, it thought, how much power is being chewed up to produce flicker all those blinker lights? I can’t see this as a sustainable way to transform any urban scape, or surface into something interesting and eye-catching. It is also distracting particularly in areas where light was once in small amounts.

The use of light and image was amazing and i can understand how it can be suitable for advertising and vamping up a site. All this talk of different technologies for media facades was new to me;

mechanical facade systems, projection facade systems, illuminant facades, blinker lights, window raster animation, smartslab: http://www.smartslab.com/, mipix 20 technology:  http://www.barco.com/pressrelease/1313/, media mech, metal mesh, illumesh technology,voxel facades..the list goes on. We saw precedents showing how it can be used successfully and in more sustainable ways. These media facades were communicating more than just a brand, or image, they communicate a feeling, explanation or idea.

An impressive example was the tower of wind, in Yokohama, Japan, communicating air movement from the train tunnels below.

http://www.tucamon.es/photos/0000/5595/tower_blog.jpg?1223424019

We also often see fancy examples of media facades and projected installations in movies such as Minority Report (Twentieth Century Fox 2002), they give a futuristic depth to the film, yet these objects exist today and in the past.

We saw images of a crossing in Shibuya, Japan, in 1958 and over time digital diplays gradually increase, as they did in Times square NY and Piccadilly Circus, London.

In these areas there were interesting influences in regulations for buildings such as the needs to have a facade big enough to facilitate a media facade (in Times Square NY)- and also the architectural issues for the building itself and the people in the spaces (structure/building) behind.

The blinding lights of billboards at Piccadilly Circus London (Author 2009)

Digital Media Facades in Times Square, NY (Author 2010)

To bring these technologies closer to home, i can see how it can be incorporated into areas such as Pipehead Guildford as means of deterring vandals. Bringing light into an areas doesn’t mean spotlights, it can be lighting which brings artistic meaning and value to the site. Educational images can be projected onto facades or existing walls of the canal. Digital boards can be installed to electronically show the flow of water through the pipes, the water cycle- opportunities are endless, within reason.

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