Media Architecture Biennale 201



Keynote: Kas Oosterhuis
Keynote: Ludger Hovestadt
Keynote: Maria Aiolova
Keynote: Marco Poletto


Session: N.E.O. - New Esthetic Order
Session: P.U.S.H. - Public Urban Space Hub
Session: M.U.S.E. - Media Urbanism, Smart & Green
Session: Co.Co.On. - Construction, Content, Social Online-Interaction
Session: C.O.P.E. - Catwalk of Project Excellence
Final Discussion


Workshop: The Making Of Yas
Workshop: Consumption, Commercialization, Tactics, and Tracking in Public Space
Workshop: Visualisation, Sensing, Simulation
Workshop: Design Challenges and Software Solutions Behind the Biennale Installations
Workshop: Content Development Strategies for Media Facades
Workshop: Global Energy and Techniques of Green Media Architecture
Workshop: Screening Interaction in Public Space
Workshop: 3D - Displays

N.E.O. - New Esthetic Order
session topic

Media Art and Design, Theory of Technology and Media, Content Iconography In urban public space, the media facade might develop into the new urban mass medium. But all kinds of other interfaces with their pending infrastructures and technologies compete for this leading role. However, that battle might end: the construction of a new urban mass media not only requires the development of context-specific content with its specific iconography, but also a whole new esthetic. At the moment media content in public spaces is lagging behind the potentials made possible by contemporary technology. It seems that the emerging media still imitates its predecessors, print and TV.

Does media architecture start to coin its own specific characteristics or even a style? What would be the catalytic converter for the media facade to develop into that new urban mass medium? Which elements, themes and representations should be addressed by this emergent iconography? What does an esthetic of


Sum-Up and Commentary Session 1: N.E.O. - New Esthetic Order Chair: Kari Jormakka (Text by Julia Steinbauer)

According to session chair Kari Jormakka, we find ourselves confronted with different concepts of esthetics in the discussion evolving around Media Architecture: the 'old' esthetics of perfect harmony, decorum and the issue of the viewer looking at a building from a distance, as well as the concept of 'new' esthetics of interaction, where the possible output is uncertain. Facades are structurally still part of the building, functionally they become more and more understood as part of their surroundings. The pitfalls of an event-based approach to Media Architecture have to be heard as well as the democratic potential of the media itself.

Jens Geelhaar professor for Interface Design at the Bauhaus University Weimar, focused on patterns and mechanisms in communication that developed between the 1990's and today. From 'Mosaic', the first web browser that could display text and graphics at the same time, to the iPhone and other smartphones the services used in the Internet and the frequency at which we use them have changed radically. When Motorola offered their first ‘mobile’ phone at approximately 4000 USD, back in 1983, everyone was still used to fixed landline networks and the phones at home, at the office or in public telephone boots. Back then it was common to be unavailable when not at home or at work, today we live in a 24/7 communication society where most people do have permanent connection and access to networks. This constant access is consistently taken for granted and thus vehemently missed if taken away. From today's perspective, the 'Mosaic' browser may seem very low-end, but in terms of the interface design it was a milestone and an important factor in the success and spreading of the World Wide Web. Interface design - everything between man and machine - is one of the most influential factors in consumer acceptance and thus is among the most crucial elements when it comes to mixing spaces and places with digital media to offer additional qualities.

Hungarian artist and architect Adam Somlai-Fischer talked about his fascination with stories, their openness and “remixability”. Like a story, media offers its user certain possibilities for playing and experimenting. With his team at aether architecture, Somlai-Fischer creates artistic installations that invite people to interact and engage with the system, they try to create spaces that are open to change and reconfiguration through their visitors. In the projects "Reconfigurable House 1.0 and 2.0", thousands of low-tech components are combined to create an environment that can be 'rewired' by the visitor to create new behaviors. Many of the projects are characterized by the use and staging of numerous small everyday items that by themselves are not spectacular, like car mirrors or toys, to create tangible and touchable structures that question so-called 'smart homes', where the user can trigger basic pre-defined functions that do not adapt over time.

Taking a more theoretical approach to the question of a new esthetic order, media philosopher Vera Bühlmann from ETH Zürich tried to shape and clarify the term of 'cultivating mediality'. Information has no tangible shape or structure but still has a great impact. Referring to ancient Greece, Bühlmann explained that the emergence of the phonetic alphabet transformed the cultural climate at large. Suddenly speech was perceived as something that could be learned, cultivated and even crafted. Speech was no longer used unconsciously but became a powerful medium, thus being somehow de-naturalized. Bühlmann stated that if we claim that with the rise of new, digital media and its introduction into the realms of architecture we are experiencing the rise of a new rhetorical power, we have to ask ourselves what, through all the digital analysis, through computer simulations and modeling is being de-naturalized today. As a conclusion, Bühlmann suggested that we might perhaps regard media surfaces as 'acres' for an urban, digital agriculture where design means farming by valuations and learning to grow and harvest the codes and symbols as the key to domesticating mediality.

Tim Edler, co-founder of realities: united, a studio for art, architecture and technology, knows the temptations of today's rising availability of new technologies due to sinking costs. In his speech he claimed the new media today to be one of the blows of original city structures, comparable to the motorization in the 1920's. Marking the concepts of the visible, outstanding event and the generic 'invisible' urban architecture as traditional antipodes, Edler identified interactivity as a possible link between the characteristics of architecture and the concepts of an event. With their team at realities: united, the brothers Tim and Jan Edler develop and support architectural solutions, incorporating new media and information technologies. Their work regularly branches out into art and technology research while the major focus of their projects is architecture's outward communicative capacity but they concentrate as well on the quality of the users indoor experiences. In their projects, realities: united usually try to create spaces, which in function and appearance are changed and augmented by additional layers that carry information, communication and media content. Since the completion of the media facade ‘BIX’ for the Kunsthaus Graz in 2003, the studio has realized numerous international projects. In 2006, they created 'Museum X' in Mönchengladbach, a temporary camouflage facade that faked the apparent use of a building, thus trying to change the way the building was perceived. In 2009 the Iluma building complex in Singapore was equipped with 'Crystal Mesh', a system that combines aspects of a traditional curtain facade with those of a light installation. Most of these and other projects by realities: united are detecting, combining, enhancing and transforming existing potentials of a building and its location. Although most of their work is shaped by the use of experimental approaches and the latest technology, Tim and Jan Edler always aim to affect reality, not virtuality.

Els Vermang is one of the four members of LAb[au], a Brussels based art studio mainly concerned with a transdisziplinary approach on the construction of (urban) space and the way it can be planned, experienced and conceptualized in an information age. Among their many projects are works like 'fLUX - binary waves' and 'framework f5x5x5', both working with elements of light, sound and kinetics representing certain flows like traffic and electromagnetic fields or movement of spectators tracked by infrared sensors. These active, reactive, interactive as well as performative structures try to translate input and information into symbols, forming a certain code that everybody might understand or at least comprehend and interpret.

Kari Jormakka | Vera Bühlmann | Tim Edler | Jens Geelhaar | Adam Somlai-Fischer | Els Vermang | Discussion

Thu | Oct 7 | 16:30 - 18:30

Session Chair: Kari Jormakka

Speaker: Els Vermang

artist, belgium LAb[au]

Title: binary waves

LAb[au] ( = laboratory for architecture and urbanism) is an art studio found in 1997, based in Brussels, Belgium, and constituted of Els Vermang, Manuel Abendroth and Jerome Decock. LAb[au] is concerned with the construct of ’space’ and the way it can be planned, experienced and conceptualised in an information age. The group name merges a phonetic and a written meaning; that of the French / Dutch pronunciation ‘labo’ and that of the German word ‘bau’ referring to its projects’ experimental approach (labo) and construct (bau). This double me- aning crossing oral and written media, stands for a conceptual, methodological and artistic framework examining the influence of advanced technologies on art; its stands for an artistic thinking of art as media. LAb[au] qualifies its practice as MetaDeSIGN, which is characterised by the setting of systems, among which LAb[au] is today mainly active within the interactive, reactive, generative and performative realm. LAb[au]’s art is part of public (f.e. Itau, Sao Paolo) and private art collections worldwide and has been exhibited in some of ’s worlds most prestigious art venues, among which BOZAR (Brussels, 2009 + 2010), Witte de With (Rotter- dam, 2006), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, 2004 + 2005), New Museum (New York, 2003), Louvre (Paris, 2000) and many more.
Their work has been numerously published worldwide. Their monography ‘MetaDeSIGN’ (ISBN: 978-2-84066-404-8) came out in September 2010 on the French art books publishing house ‘Les Presses du Reel’. LAb[au] is currently executing a permanent artwork ’silo.scope’ foreseen for 2011 on Ile-de-France, Paris, a 24m high light and sound reactive sculpture.