A short statement

•Tuesday, October 28, 2008 • 1 Comment



This project is about mapping, presenting Auckland as it is not observed though our eyes, or perceived through our experiences, or even as seen from a satellite.

This project uses crowd-sourcing for data and open-sourcing for code. Between these two things and our interpretation lies the content.

We discovered through surveying conducted in the Auckland CBD area of the public, some of the directions and paths within, in and out of the city. Using a graphical map we were able to accurately collect the information on their current and intended locations. This data was inputted into a data file and read by our program.

The program is based on the work of Johnny Cheung and a number of others interested in the Nintendo Wiimote and it’s applications outside the gaming console with which it is sold. Reading the data collected, the program produces a three-dimensional view of the city and the vectors of different scales as staples into it. As the viewer moves their head (wearing special IR-emitting glasses), in real-time the view is updated to reflect the angle and distance at which they are now viewing the screen. The idea is to be immersive and to present more data that would be possible upon a 2D surface such as paper, and indeed the digital panel we used – a type of filter applied through human haptic interfacing.

Really, the only landmarks visible were the icons we provided such as The Skytower and Britomart, as well as the shoreline. Even with only this sparse amount of information, people were able to identify Queen St, the grid of Auckland and the journeys they themselves usually took. This was our goal, to show this information and make it easy to access without words or instructions.


•Tuesday, October 28, 2008 • Leave a Comment

We took a few pictures during the exhibition, but it was difficult to get photos of people using the interface due to privacy reasons and the internet.

The Gallery

•Sunday, October 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

On the 11th October 2008, a number of planners, architects, children, artists and more came upon a small gallery opening in the Kenneth Myers Centre on Shortland St, Auckland, New Zealand. Here they found a large table with a map of the centre of Auckland and a rather large amount of clay. Claystation is a project led by Chris de Groot and has been shown internationally. Videos for the development of the city in clay will be available in the near future.

Looking up from their feverish work, the de facto designers of New Auckland would have seen some other works – exercises in mapping with a basis somewhat similar to their current activity. Our work (myself and Matt) is an attempt to map the directions and flows of the populous of Auckland CBD, both within the enclosure of the motorway and the tendrils that extend beyond. Through an on-the-stop survey, Matt and I were able to obtain more than 150 individual’s directions – asking simply where they were heading (with the aid of two maps, a smaller and larger scale). Initially we asked them to draw their route on the maps but quickly found peoples’ spacial awareness to be lacking in being presented with a gray map of what seemed to be Auckland. We then took over drawing the path from their current location (the point of survey) to their destination. Of course, some were heading down Queen St, some to lunch, some returning home from a movie and some to Devonport, Waiheke, Howick, etc. These diverse directions produced a linear splatter of black ink on the maps. Obviously mapping this data would require a method of separating the journeys and identifying primary flows without simplifying the data.

For this, we undertook to make the haptic interactive mapping activity program (HIMAP?). Using Johnny’s work as a basis, and my prior programming knowledge applied to this foreign programming language, I was able to roughly assemble a program structure that would present the data in response to movements from the viewer. This system needed to reduce the data to something tangible, understandable without manuals, or even written or symbolic instructions. Upon arriving at the work in a gallery, the viewer must understand intrinsically that this large digital panel required the interaction of it’s viewer.

Placed simply on the wall next to the panel are a pair of odd glasses (those detailed in the video from the previous post). Putting on these glasses (or holding them as some of the more vanity-aware users did) instantly transformed a seemingly paused ‘movie’ into a window high above Auckland CBD. The shock of this wireless, buttonless interaction was seen on many of the user’s faces.

Simply moving left, right, up and down would change the angle of view above the city to observe different areas geographically and different vectors upon the city. The vectors themselves are loaded from a file (generated by a more simple program written in Visual Basic for the purpose of entering these points) and are positioned on the simplified map of Auckland – the heights and scales of each are determined by their length. This means as the viewer moves, the data is separated by the commonly though subconsciously understood method of parallax. This means that data was no longer merely a splatter, but now a web of subtly different paths. The ‘staple’ shape was the result of much testing to provide the simplest understanding of these elevated paths, connected to the city even in their broken elevation.

Moving forward and backward changes the scope of the map (as if moving rapidly up or down a tower on in a helicopter) to view more of the wider region or zoom in to the smallest street. Upon this map the data is filtered to show the relevant journey lengths – a longer journey to Waiheke would appear when at a higher altitude and the journey of the person getting to the Ferry Building from Queen St would appear at lower altitude. This allows a study of short journeys within the city AND a study of the paths in and out of the city to farther destinations independent of each other yet on the same surface, in the same experience.

In addition to these filtering methods, one can observe individual paths as part of a greater directional flow by matching their vector – moving on the same angle as a single path will illuminate it from blue to white and then fade. Interestingly, this shows the viewer how many other paths in the city match this direction – Queen St is a prime example of a unified direction of many journeys.

The program is a complex collection of data, code and display but with the simplest of human interaction – movement, like looking through a small window to a vast landscape.

[Pictures of the gallery and interactions will follow.]

Initial Testing

•Sunday, October 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Working together with Matt, we have been able to produce an interactive haptic computer interface – the project is written in C# for Windows with a lot of help from a great programmer, Johnny Cheung Lee. Our code is built on his examples using the WiiMote library and Managed DirectX library.

A lot of changes have been made since our initial testing and the final product is ready for the gallery, but first we would like to invite you to view a short video which outlines the basis for our work:

Collaborating with Dr. Chris de Groot

•Tuesday, September 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Design, is easy.

We are looking to shift the culture of a business, partnership, network… Because as the function shifts people providing the function are of course changed, willingly or not.

So you have to address how you want to make your mark in your field – how to change with the tides but stay in the same place?

Chris is an Innovation Consultant – throwing wildly divergent companies together to produce things neither could have done alone.

What is collaboration? Co-labour, dialogue, emergent perspective. A function of dialogue IS to gain another perspective, probably the result of more than one mind: creative. All meaning is the result of difference. Collaboration is not cooperation or competition or any combination of the two. “Co-opertition” established a market.

The text book tells us that collaboration requires shared values, goals and perceptions, trust and a cooperative frame (a way to operate).

Collaboration models are either Vertical or Horizontal. Traditionally most businesses are vertical (supply chain mentality). Radical collaboration requires a horizontal approach.

A phrase we don’t often hear in the creative disciplines is ‘opportunity cost’. But to advance, unlikely partnerships can be created, at a cost, which hopes the return will be greater.

Few projects are the work of a single mind.

Complexity is not complicated, they are not the same.

We build upon previous hundreds of years of legacy systems – people expect certain frameworks to be in place, certain arrangements and configurations.

Innocentive is a website that allows seekers like businesses to find solvers like professionals. It is collaboration in the form of out-sourcing, often referred to as farming.

Co-forecasting in our case is to explore the fertility of ground between architecture and planning.

Community of Practice, the peers learn more from each other, from working together, than from the master. What is the difference between what the teacher is doing and what you are doing?

Understanding the systemmic elements of any group is fundamentally amoral. It is not about being nice, it is doing what is right. Causing trouble so that people defend themself or are faced with what could be right. This is not PC – not everyone is right about everything.

What is the DOT?

•Tuesday, August 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

When you make a map, you need to know what it is mapping, not it’s value or answer or holistic total, but what it exists upon the basis of. Beyond that, it must be universal, or at least understandable to the audience you propose the diagram for. That is what a diagram is, a method of conveying understanding to those who would be interested in the information it contains. And a map is a diagram.

Semiotics in symbols make diagrams make sense – where these symbols are placed in relation to others, how they are applied, layered, labeled.

Tangental mapping is my proposal. To find vectors, paths that traverse the city above but includine of the layers of physicality, permanence, reality, into metadata. A device that displays a stack of vectors, each simple in their start, angle and length, but together a diagram of massive scope. But what is the dot?

What is the dot? What is the start point, the beginning? Nevermind the end – the end of a vector is known from the start… if only the start is known.

What metadata goes beyond the simple traffic patterns of the disrupted city? What places the CBD in its rightful place – the middle of the metaphoric metropolis, rather than the metaphoric ocean? Why is Auckland not an island?

Reading Places

•Tuesday, August 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

How is place, in the context of the definition of space, defined? What is the relation of the two?

Whatever is true for space and time, this much is true for place: we are imersed in it and could not do without it. To be at all – to exist in any way – is to be somewhere, and to be somewhere is to be in some kind of place. – Casey, E: The Face of Place [1998]

In his preface, entitled Disappearing Places, Casey begins with the above text, itself prefaced by quotes from Aristotle, Hobbes and Foucault. He says, that while we have been looking for the universal and the essence of all things, commonality leaves no room for the specific. The reason, he says, that place as a concept is not discussed is not due to obscurity or controversy. It is because place is an a priori – taken for granted, implied.

The problem, I have, with saying this in the realm of philosophy is that in this field, even the most sacred concept of existance is frequently and without hesitation brought into the fray.

De Certeau states, in his Spacial Stories, that place is singular (finding the edges, boundaries and bridges then being within them). In this case, there is order and movement. What I think is missing, is heirarchy – is the implicaction here that one can only be in one place of a similar scale? This is not given in the text. If not, how can one be in a frame of mind in a chair in a room in a building in a neibourhood in a suburb in a city in a district in a country in the world in it’s orbit in the solar system in the galaxy in the known universe in the greater universe? Is only one of these a place? Is only one relevant for a given situation or preface? If so, place nowhere at all, merely supplimentary to context not spacial but narrative. A place where disjunction becomes understood.

Calvino seems to agree with me. Now, I have to go measure the Gus Fisher Gallery, some place in town.