Any Max Experts out there? Slow steps towards a new interactive project

Don’t mind the mess. A lot of the stuff on there is really just old ideas still scattered. These are early stages in using Max to try to figure out how to trigger some audio recording with some basic video tracking, and we’re not sure exactly how best to move forward.

This is a new project we’ve been trying to get off the ground for the window at CIVIC SPACE, but it’s slow going. Essentially, we want to use the window as a big microphone area where passersby can answer questions we ask on the future of Windsor. The questions will appear in vinyl in the window itself, but we want the interface to be buttonless. Basically, when you put your hand on the window in a designated area, it will start recording your answer and keep recording for as long as you keep your hand there. Technically, that mic will be located somewhere below the window and facing up. Sound tests so far have proven that sound quality to be very useable. While we originally wanted to try to work with contact mics to keep all the gear inside and away from the weather, the process of trying to test that has been too arduous. Instead, we’ve found a workable solution to store the small web cam and mic outdoors (yet covered) with a workable stable location looking up to the passerby, but we’re still working away to solve a couple of problems:

1. We need to test more to find the right thing to track to trigger the video. Because the installation would be up around the clock, we need to find the right place on the window and possibly an augmented lighting situation so that the cv.jit.moments object can keep track of what it’s looking for with more acuracy. So far, we can dial in the right numbers for a daylight and nighttime situation, but nothing that can do both — mostly because of the glare on the window during the day.

2. We still have to write the audio recording section. I’ve put together the basic skeleton in another patch, but essentially, we need that big black toggle box with the green X in it to automatically start a recording and then turn off again when it toggles off. That recording would be automatically saved to disk with the current date/time.

Would be happy to hear how you’d solve the problem below in the comments. We had wanted to have this up and running this month, but we’re already halfway through, so unless we can solve this soon, we might push it back to December.

Detroit Emergent Futures Lab

I had to post this so that we could collectively remember to follow up on this in the spring!

Opening Spring 2012 @ 2448 Market Street 

Detroit Emergent Futures Lab: A Learning Kitchen in The Eastern Market 

DEFL will be a year-round art and food lab + workshop, teaching and experimenting with a range of communities in Detroit, centered in the Eastern Market. We will work with local neighborhoods, schools and continuing education communities to learn cooking techniques, share stories about food and families, publish books, and work with the gardeners and farmers of urban Detroit. The school will also feature an annual Summer Intensive located in Detroit, pairing Graduate and scholars from around the world with Detroit communities. The home space will be centered in a professional kitchen – and restaurant, all meals will be prepared onsite sourced from the Eastern Market and urban gardens. DEFL will have a publishing partner, Signal-Return Press, for rapid production of books, research and special projects.

Building an axis between business, the academy, art, and culture, the Detroit Emergent Futures Lab will be a responsive and community-engaged institution. Nimble in its movements and fluid in its boundaries between business and art, urbanism and civic engagement, Detroit Emergent Futures Lab will support partners, participants, students and faculty working in hybrid forms in downtown Detroit.

More information here: http://www.leonjohnson

Also, on Thursday night they’re hosting a bit of an information session, at Cost Plus Wines from 6.00 – 7.30pm. So, if you’re not already heading to the AGW/SOVA talk, “Is it a Hybrid Practice?”, then consider heading across the border to find out more about this and tell us all about it.

[via an email from Etienne Turpin]

Windsor Airport: Slim Future

While researching different spaces for our Make This Better project, I’ve become more and more drawn to the Windsor Airport. This space has been so neglected that major talk for shutting it down is now on the table.

As of 2007, Serco Aviation Services Inc. terminated its contract regarding airport management from the City of Windsor because they’ve been losing money by being there. Now the City of Windsor operates the airport at an alarming deficit. I found all this information by simply typing “Windsor Airport” into Google for a brief history on it. Everything that came up was so negative and discouraging.

It seems, however, that the issue is more heavily connected with our next door neighbours.

With the Detroit Airport as a more internationally known landing area, Windsor Airport’s airspace is controlled from Detroit. This makes me wonder if having an airport in Windsor is even necessary? With the few that I’ve had the chance to discuss this with, their responses have been quite interesting, with the majority of them asking: “Where is the Windsor Airport?”.

Everything that I have been learning and researching about the airport in Windsor makes me feel like it would be a perfect site for Make This Better.

What do you guys think?

Serendipitor & the Sentient City Survival Kit

Mark Shepard in collaboration with V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media and as part of a joint artist residency withEyebeam Art+Technology Center developed Serendipitor — an alternative navigation app for the iPhone that helps you find something by looking for something else. The app combines directions generated by a routing service (in this case, the Google Maps API) with instructions for action and movement inspired by FluxusVito Acconci, and Yoko Ono, among others.

From the project description:

Enter an origin and a destination, and the app maps a route between the two. You can increase or decrease the complexity of this route, depending how much time you have to play with. As you navigate your route, suggestions for possible actions to take at a given location appear within step-by-step directions designed to introduce small slippages and minor displacements within an otherwise optimized and efficient route. You can take photos along the way and, upon reaching your destination, send an email sharing with friends your route and the steps you took.

And, Serendipitor has also been nominated for the 2011 Transmediale Award.

This is all part of the Sentient City Survival Kit, a design research project that explores the social, cultural and political implications of ubiquitous computing for urban environments. It takes as its method the design, fabrication and presentation of a collection of artifacts, spaces and media for survival in the near-future sentient city.

While more paranoid than my own concerns, Shepard’s larger Sentient City Survival Kit certainly provides some contextualizing reference points for the iPhone apps I’m working on. It’s funny how this language around survival is somehow being tethered to mobile computing in both projects. We saw Shepard give a presentation last year when we were at Conflux, and it’s very cool to see some of his ideas being finally realized. I’m hoping for some time to download the Serendipitor this weekend.

I showed this in my Ways of Knowing class this morning — lots of fun!!

[via Pop-Up City]

Listen to the City: an Overview

Back in January, we asked nearly 40 people two questions: Why did you first come to Windsor? and Why are you still here? We asked those questions at an event called, Listen to the City, which was the first part of the five-month long project, Save the City. It was an incredible night.

The answers we got over the hour and a half we spent together at Phog Lounge in downtown Windsor presented not just answers to those two questions, but sprawling conversations about what it means to live in Windsor, how we’ve shaped this city, and how it’s shaped us.

The five-minute edit you can listen to below is just a slice of everything that was talked about that night. Initially, we thought we might be able to cut a lengthier audio documentary together, but there were pragmatic implications that kept us from doing that. Hours of audio with conversations that covered more ground than we could have ever imagined meant that it was a lot more difficult to piece something much larger together.

There were many voices that we unfortunately couldn’t include in the edit below, but only because of the amazing conversations those folks had, which in turn didn’t offer the kind of brief samples similar to those that we cut together. We added some music and tried to capture a general direction of conversation that we gathered from gradually listening to all of the conversations (Danielle took on the considerable task of doing just that and creating the assembly edit of this excerpt– hours and hours and hours of work, but we’re so excited to finally be able to share this).

So, while this excerpt in no way does justice to the range of conversations that we had that night, we hope it might be a good introduction, or a good marker in time, of what a group of 40 Windsorites thought about this city at the start of 2010.

Listen to the five-minute excerpt: (updated – thanks to Stephen Surlin for finessing our mix)


Or you can also download the MP3 of Listen to the City.

For good measure, we can also provide the original recordings in their entirety in a zip file if you’re interested. We make no promises about the audibility/legibility of every minute of these recordings, but if you have the time, they’re worth listening to as a whole. However, the zip file is over 700mb and so not easily uploaded to our servers. However, as promised, we will be officially handing over a copy of the five-minute excerpt and the raw audio files to the Windsor Archives soon.

We need to sincerely thank everyone who came out that night and shared with us.

Broken City Lab: Save the City was generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

…and then the city, a book

A little while ago, we were trying to think through how to wrap up Save the City with a pair of billboards. We spent an evening really working through some ideas and came up with two statements that we felt articulated the end of a certain way of thinking about Windsor.

Something about those statements really struck me. While we had come up with a number of other instances of “…and then the city” lines, we could only get two of them up on the billboards and it seemed like these statements were actually the beginning of a larger idea.

So, I put together a book of 100 statements. You can see some of the pages after the break.

If you’d like a copy, you can order it from Blurb.

Continue reading “…and then the city, a book”