-- Main.gsteel - 02 Nov 2005

Jon's notes from Monday 31st October 2005

Level 6 Appleton Tower

Our discussions were sparked by two presentations of architectural projects inspired by last year's Future Academy project, placing a project in Constitution Street, or possibly in Narnia. In these sketchy notes, no distinction is made between speakers. I hope they're still useful in some way.

Project 1: a building for people to enjoy the contents of boxes, stored, transported, unfolded.

Project 2: a park-site, shielded from satellite surveillance, filled with boxes above the ground, for people to enter and experience.

Project 1

Boxes of various sizes, stored in a wall. Site specific because the building (containing the wall) would vary, depending on site.

What is in the box? Educational, inspirational objects and activities? Tools? Very small galleries?

Moving the boxes is Real motion in a Real space, quite unlike the way that information flows to our desktop and laptop. A box arrives, unfolds and reveals something else - a type of transformation.

What materials are the boxes made of? How will the materials age?

We can imagine using the boxes for our personal stuff. That's a bit like lockers, storing our things as we move about a building. On a bigger scale, we could have copies of Our Box in different cities. That would be a home from home.

But perhaps having identical cubes is a bad thing?

If it's My Stuff, private property often needs a kind of uniqueness, so identity of cubes (multiple ones for me, or similar ones for all) is bad…

Why would we want to be mobile?

To avoid routine - but somehow remain at home? Think of all those chain hotels, promising a home away from home, familiarity amongst the unfamiliar.

Some people want stability, some people want difference. Some want a mixture of both. Mobility isn't the comfy hobbit hole.

Perhaps we (Studiolab) should meet in different places? After Mark Stefik's Internet Dreams, some of us can be wolves (information foraging out and about), others spiders (stay put, let the information come to us). And we can take those roles in turns.

Learning is not just about readings, and so on as in traditional libraries; it can be about using and generating objects and tools. So the things in the boxes can be catalysts for change.

If things are mobile, they can get lost - you need memory to find things. Sometimes elderly people function well in their own kitchens, but can't function effectively when moved to a new unfamiliar place. Where is my stuff?

A compromise: retain mobility, but create permanent place for plugging in…

Books sent out and read and left serendipitously. Send the book out, and let it be redirected to the next interested person.

How could all your stuff be mobile? A car? A trolley? A caravan – it has wheels, it is a home? Consider the stealth caravan.

The alternative is not to take stuff to different places, but to travel lightly and survive in place. All you need is your passport and your credit card. Just buy everything else when you get there.

Commodities (shampoo, fords) are just the same stuff. Like information and our laptops: anything can be on the same screen - bible, news, pornography, whatever.

Recall the chameleon. It is of the place, but it changes. Its idea of a place is informed by us (our international network, our knowledge of particular places). We don't act the tourist, we start from the people we really have - a personal perspective. The chameleon need not believe the tourist brochures, and turn tartan when in Scotland. Recall macrolab turning from solar to wind power when in the dark windy wilds of Scotland.

Maybe what's special about mobility is the romance. The enviable thing is just passing through.

Is mobility really romantic? Is it sustainable?

The Hopi were mobile for a very long time; they made it sustainable. Romany people are mobile, but not valued by static communities. Why do static communities tolerate tourists? They bring money, that's why.

Make the studiolab a train - a Messerschmitt.

Project 2:

A future academy in a different world - on a different map.

A park filled with cubes. Cubes have things in them, like video, games, toilets. They could be cargo boxes from planes. A library without books, instead download onto your paper device. Mirrored boxes that disappear.

Why would people come there? For experience. For information. For shock. What about the satellites? Closed circuit surveillance, not open circuit. Why is that better? Those who enter the space are choosing to, looking at themselves and each other - narcissistic or exhibitionistic.

We're getting used to seeing ourselves not just in the mirror, not just in frozen images ...

Simple studiolab would be a shed, minimal. Minimal isn't primitive, whatever that is. The key point is: no prior rules for use? A designated space where you don't have to meet all health and safety regulations. A shed without rules. Unhealthy and unsafe space.

Hakim Bey temporary autonomous zones http://www.hermetic.com/bey/taz3.html

In some eastern cultures, we can accommodate the old and the new. We would be better not to look out and make new places all the time. Keep the house the same, add gadgets on top of the home.

We need to get out to avoid solitude. Left to our own devices, we'll tear ourselves apart. We must escape and engage.

For next time, we'll be bees from a hive. Split into subgroups, work, re-unite, (dance?) and compare notes. Our own catalysts: conversations pieces. They can start discussion, they can capture a part of the discussion, they are part of the process but a product themselves, and something we can show people and talk about, even if they missed a meeting.

Topic revision: r1 - 02 Nov 2005 - 16:26:17 - GrahamSteel
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