Monday, April 28, 2008

Proposal for the Final Project

Some of the characters of urban life, such as the disconnection between proximity and friendship, is closely related to the concern about the negative effect such as potential danger. The fear of the potential danger again increases the indifference and ignorance about the neighbor and disconnects the proximity and friendship more. This fear can be diminished by getting rid of the dangerous factor and by acquainting the neighbor more. In order to diminish the fear, and to increase the friendship in the close proximity, more sociable and safe situation in the location-specific context is needed. This situation will help people to share the common experience and increase the amount of communication within the neighborhood, which bears the opportunity of forming the new relationships. My question is that what context could invite the people to the local and sociable situation and what reward the people would get from the attempt of communication, being free from or trading with the potential danger. I explored this question in two different levels of directness of the communication and the relationship.

#1: Atlas
The first approach leads the indirect communication in the semi-outside space like the courtyard that can hold up to large number of people.
*The great court roof covering the inner square of the British museum

The courtyard has the mesh structure which is hung loosely from the roof top of the surrounding building. This mesh structure is responsive to the presence of a person on the ground level. The small part of the mesh structure rises forming a small peak, following the trajectory of a person as if a person is carrying invisible stick on his/her head, which extends slightly beyond the height of the building. The second person will add another peak, and so on. The small peaks will moving around the roof level of the courtyard separately, creating the kinetic representation of the indirect communication. When more than two peaks collide, they form explosive volume and stay still for a while. And, when the people move around more fast, the peaks also rise more until the entire mesh structure will rise fully like an inflated dome. When there are more than a certain number of people under the mesh structure, the mesh will also rise fully. When it rises fully, the illusive impression of carrying the sky on the heads will be amplified, and this experience of collective achievement will make people who are involved in the location feel more familiar and attached to each other.
The realization of the mesh structure can be either (1)having the mechanical actuator as the mesh structure which is directly controlled by the system or (2)actuating the fans arranged in a matrix underneath the mesh, and having the wind from the fans to blow the mesh structure which is made of soft material. The second approach seems easier to install, but it requires the further consideration of maintaing the visibility to the mesh.

#2: Seesaw
The second approach delivers more direct communication between people. In this approach, the shared place and goal become the medium, leaving the system as the motivation and catalyst for the communication.

When the battery of mobile communication device is out, it becomes the frustrating situation even for the people who are not in a very urgent situation. People often gather around the place like a cafe for a power supply. The power supply can invite people within a close proximity and has the potential of creating the opportunity for face-to-face communication.

I would like to suggest a seesaw which can generate the emergent electricity for mobile phone or laptop. The seesaw has the outlet for the power plug, and it generates the electricity when the board starts to move up and down. To play the seesaw, it requires two people on each tip of the board, which is shorter in length than the conventional seesaw. The shorter board will position the two people physically closer and would make more chances for them to have the conversation during playing the seesaw. If the two people do not converse, the seesaw will still work as the generator. However, the conversation between the two people will trigger the stronger electricity. The conversation is detected by the microphone which is located in the center of seesaw and the amount of conversation is also indicated by the number of LEDs turned on. The seesaw should be located in an open and visible space in order to protect the players from the potential danger from a stranger.
The seesaw will embrace more frequent communication among the strangers than not having it, because of the following reasons. (1)At least one of the people is not connected through mobile phone or laptop, and this situation tends to make people to feel more interested in the surroundings. (2)The two people are sitting on a seesaw facing each other. The eye contact makes a person to perceive the other one as a real personality which has a “name,” so a facing sitting makes it harder to ignore each other. (3)Especially when both two people need the electricity and they share the common goal and concern, the situation will make it easier to start the conversation. (4)The efficiency of producing the electricity, which can be indicated by the LED, will drive more conversation.

*I found this image on the internet and could not remember the original link.

*see/saw(2001), Camille Utterback & Adam Chapman used the seesaw as the trigger for text and audio response.

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