[artinfo] Architecture and Situated Technologies

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Mon Sep 25 13:15:01 CEST 2006

The Center for Virtual Architecture at the University at Buffalo, the
Institute for Distributed Creativity, and The Architectural League of
New York present:

October 19-21, 2006
@ The Urban Center & Eyebeam
New York City


A 3-day symposium bringing together researchers and practitioners
from art, architecture, technology and sociology to explore the
emerging role of "situated" technologies in the design and
inhabitation of the contemporary metapolis.

Organized by Omar Khan, Trebor Scholz, and Mark Shepard

Participants: Jonah Brucker-Cohen, Richard Coyne, Michael Fox, Anne
Galloway, Charlie Gere, Usman Haque, Natalie  Jeremijenko, Sheila
Kennedy, Eric Paulos, Karmen Franinovic, Mette Ramsgard Thomsen,
Kazys Varnelis

Contact: Jessica Blaustein - blaustein at archleague.org

Since the late 1980s, computer scientists and engineers have been
researching ways of embedding computational intelligence into the
built environment. Looking beyond the model of personal computing,
which placed the computer in the foreground of our attention,
"ubiquitous" computing takes into account the social dimension of
human environments and allows computers themselves to vanish into the
background. No longer solely virtual, human interaction with
computers becomes socially integrated and spatially contingent as
everyday objects and spaces are linked through networked computing.

Today, researchers focus on how situational parameters inform the
design of a wide range of mobile, wearable, networked, distributed
and context-aware devices. Incorporating an awareness of cultural
context, accrued social meanings, and the temporality of spatial
experience, situated technologies privilege the local, context-
specific and spatially contingent dimension of their use.

Despite the obvious implications for the built environment,
architects have been largely absent from this discussion, and
technologists have been limited to developing technologies that take
existing architectural topographies as a given context to be augmented.

At the same time, to the extent that early adopters of these
technologies have focused on commercial, military and law enforcement
applications, we can expect to see new forms of consumption, warfare
and control emerge.

This symposium seeks to occupy the imaginary of these emerging
technologies and propose alternate trajectories for their development.

What opportunities and dilemmas does a world of networked "things"
pose for architecture and urbanism? What distinguishes the emerging
urban sociality enabled by mobile technologies and wireless networks?
What post-optimal design strategies and tactics might we propose for
an age of responsive  environments, smart materials, embodied
interactions, and participatory networks? How might this evolving
relation between people and "things" alter the way we occupy,
navigate, and inhabit the city? What is the status of the material
object in a world privileging networked relations between "things"?
How do distinctions between space and place change within these
networked media ecologies? How do the social uses of  these
technologies, including (non-) affective giving, destabilize
rationalized "use-case scenarios" designed around the generic consumer?

Through a combination of presentations, discussions, and performative
design scenarios organized around the notion of "encounter" with the
city, this symposium will explore how architecture might contribute
to the development of situated technologies, and how a critical
engagement with these technologies might extend architecture beyond


Architecture and Situated Technologies is a co-production of the
Center for Virtual Architecture, The Institute for Distributed
Creativity, and the Architectural League of New York, as part of the
League's celebration of the 125th anniversary of its founding.

Architecture and Situated Technologies is supported by the J. Clawson
Mills Fund of the Architectural League and is supported in part by
the School of Architecture and Planning and the Department of Media
Study at the University at Buffalo.


The Center for Virtual Architecture at the University at Buffalo
The Center for Virtual Architecture¼s research is located at the
intersection of architecture, new media and computational
technologies. We are interested in the possibilities offered by
computational systems for rethinking human interaction with (and
within) the built environment. Our focus areas include learning
environments, design environments, responsive architecture and
locative media. Computational technology provides both a means and a
medium for this research: an operative paradigm for conceptualizing
relations between people, information, and the material fabric of
everyday life.

The Institute for Distributed Creativity
The research of the Institute for Distributed Creativity (iDC)
focuses on sociable media and media theory with an emphasis on social
justice. Its mailing list is a vivid discoursive platform for the
social implications of emerging forms of networked sociality. The iDC
is an international network that combines collaborative research,
events, and documentation.

The Architectural League of New York
The Architectural League of New York is an independent forum for the
presentation and discussion of creative and intellectual work in
architecture, urbanism, and related design disciplines. Founded in
1881, the League promotes excellence and innovation in architecture
and urbanism by furthering the education of architects and designers,
and by communicating to a broad audience the importance of
architecture in public life. Through an active schedule of programs,
the League provides a venue for contemporary work and ideas,
identifies and encourages the work of talented young architects,
creates opportunities for exploring new approaches to problems in the
built environment, and fosters a stimulating community for dialogue
and debate. All of the League¼s work is shaped by its ongoing
commitment to interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and international
exchange, and by its concern for the quality of architecture and city
form as critical components of a vital and dynamic culture.

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