15 Jan 2013

It’s my first Looking Outwards post!

Project I admire: I Love the Internet and the Internet Loves Me, by Jamie Allen. This is a fairly simple project – hook up a digital town crier to the artist’s facebook feed, and have the items on the feed broadcast into the harbor for all the ship passengers to hear. I like this project for a couple reasons, but honestly it first struck me because a status from Golan was read in the documentation video. The town crier reads a status and then inserts the valediction “Love,” followed by the name of the person who posted the status. The beauty of this piece is in its challenging of the appropriate places to share information. What makes sharing information with complete strangers in real life so much more awkward than doing so over the internet? If these are 140-character personal “love” letters, why do we allow them to be owned by a company which will forfeit them to anyone for enough money?

Project that surprised me: Play-A-Grill, by Aisen Chacin. For this project, Chacin took apart an mp3 player, connected a vibrating motor to the headphone jack, and mounted the pieces to a grill (the rapper kind, not the car kind or the barbeque kind). The user can control the music by pressing buttons on the roof of the mouth with his or her tongue, and the sound is transmitted via bone conduction to the ears. If the volume is high enough, though, the user can convert their mouth into a speaker. I was surprised by the fact that Chacin saw a need for such an obscure device, but the novelty of the work did give it some media attention. There are some admitted flaws like a lack of bluetooth support and the fact that a wire must currently stick out of the user’s mouth, but if the completed concept can deliver then I’m definitely getting this for my next white elephant gift exchange.

Project that disappointed me: Alerting Infastructure!, by Jonah Brucker-Cohen. This project is pretty much just a pneumatic jackhammer hanging near the interior wall of a building, which is activated for a second or two every time that association’s website receives a hit. Over time, the jackhammer will deal increased damage to the wall, showing how virtual spaces are slowly replacing and thus destroying their physical counterparts. I thought the concept of the piece was brilliant, but the jackhammer used in the documentation didn’t seem to be doing any major damage to the wall. It was unclear to me that any damage was being done at all until I read the description. In order to communicate with more clarity, I would have liked to see the artist doing more interior damage.