Network Architecture Lab Established

Why has this blog been so barren lately? Am I giving up on the Net? No! Far from it. I have, however, been a little busy lately. Now that the project is safely established, we can announce that…

AUDC Establishes Network Architecture Lab

@ Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

Formed in 2001, AUDC [Architecture Urbanism Design Collaborative] specializes in research as a form of practice. The AUDC Network Architecture Lab is an experimental unit at Columbia University that embraces the studio and the seminar as venues for architectural analysis and speculation, exploring new forms of research through architecture, text, new media design, film production and environment design.

Specifically, the Network Architecture Lab investigates the impact of computation and communications on architecture and urbanism. What opportunities do programming, telematics, and new media offer architecture? How does the network city affect the building? Who is the subject and what is the object in a world of networked things and spaces? How do transformations in communications reflect and affect the broader socioeconomic milieu? The NetLab seeks to both document this emergent condition and to produce new sites of practice and innovative working methods for architecture in the twenty-first century. Using new media technologies, the lab aims to develop new interfaces to both physical and virtual space.

The NetLab is consciously understood as an interdisciplinary unit, establishing collaborative relationships with other centers both at Columbia and at other institutions.

The NetLab begins operations in September 2006.

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Networked Publics Book Draft On-Line

As a culmination to the Networked Publics program, the faculty research group that I have been working at for the last year, we will be publishing a collaboratively written group book with the MIT Press. Three of drafts of our essays are finished (on place, culture, and politics) and available online at the Networked Publics site.

Throughout the Networked Publics program, we have tried to employ collaborative scholarship whereever possible and effective. Readers, colleagues, and friends are invited to to contribute by posting comments at the end of each essay (note that easier to read versions of the essays can be also be downloaded from the appropriate pages). Our hope is to take the comments that we receive and append them to the essay in a virtual symposium to follow each chapter.

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Power Mapping

Even as network culture displaces postmodernism, Jameson’s aesthetic of cognitive mapping is flourishing. Critical spatial practice has gathered a huge collection of critical mapping projects and essays about mapping today. And if you haven’t seen it, of course you should visit the essay that Marc Tuters (one of the coiners of the term ‘locative media’) and I wrote for the Networked Publics group, Beyond Locative Media.
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Sonic City

The Future Applications Lab at Vikktoria Institute in G?ɬ?teborg, Sweden built Sonic City a project that’s a sort of cross between an iPod (in which sound comes from a unit you carry) and Mark Shepard’s Tactical Sound Garden (in which sound comes from your surroundings via wifi). Users wear a garment with an integrated laptop that takes sounds from the user’s surroundings, senses the user’s context and actions as they walk through the city to create music to blend with these sounds and outputs the results through headphones.

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Thoughts on the Urban Long Tail

Stephen Johnson, author of Interface Culture and Emergence, is now writing on the Urban Long Tail and lecturing widely on the Urban Web. In Discover Magazine he suggests that the Long Tail is a sort of antidote to the indifference and withdrawal that Richard Sennett identifies in the contemporary city. Johnson argues that as our tastes become more eccentric, the diversity of taste cultures that we can find in dense cities will appeal to us more and more. Forms of locative media and such as dodgeball or even will facilitate this. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the urban has itself greatly changed during the last thirty years. You may seek others like yourself, but as this USA Today report on the work of demographic corporation Claritas demonstrates, the earth is now blanketed in a posturban terrain of discontinuous microcosms, clusters of communities organized by similar taste, culture, and ideology. The kind of urban infrastructure (40 year old suburb, brand new 80 story condos on the beach, exurban loft, ultra-dangerous urban renaissance skid-row housing) we choose for ourselves, then, is a product of our position within a cluster. So is this really an antidote to the condition of disconnect Sennett identifies? Not in my book. But this post isn’t intended as a lament. We can’t recuperate the city any more than we can recuperate the pre-industrial village. Instead, architects and urbanists need to find strategies for working in this new landscape.

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Tactical Sound Garden

The Tactical Sound Garden rewrites the idea of locative media. This project intrigues me since it adds an aural, not visual, layer to the city. Most projects that propose a geospatial web or other virtual superimposition over an urban condition run aground due to the problem of attention. As Walter Benjamin points out, we apprehend architecture””?and cities””?through a state of distraction. Adding some kind of PDA-style visual interface to the city is a fruitful strategy, but fails to engage with this dominant, distracted way by which we experience cities. On the other hand, thanks to the Walkman and the iPod, millions of individuals are thoroughly accustomed to détourning their urban environment with sound on a daily basis. Mark Shepard’s proposal for the Tactical Sound Garden suggests that this is something that urbanists will be able to directly engage.
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Beyond Locative Media

Marc Tuters and I recently completed a draft of an essay for Leonardo and thought we should share it with you. In true netPublics fashion, we wrote the essay collaboratively on Writely.


Locative Media has been attacked for being too eager to appeal to commercial interests as well as for its reliance on the Cartesian mapping systems and the United States military-controlled Global Positioning System. If these critiques are well-founded, they also nostalgic, invoking a notion of art as autonomous from the circuits of mass communication technologies. This essay begins with a survey of the development of Locative Media and its distancing from Net Art, looks at some of the critiques launched against Locative Media, discusses how Locative Media may address these critiques, and explores possible futures for how the field might develop.

Read more at the netpublics site.
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