Paper Sessions, academic conference

For the first time in the history of MAB, the biennale features an academic conference interweaved with the biennale programme. This year's theme is Participation. The conference is in collaboration with ACM and also features a full day of doctoral consortium for PhD students from around the globe.

At the conference, we explore “participation” as a core value of media architecture. In this context, participation may occur in the initial design stages of media architecture, e.g. as different practitioners, stakeholders and potential audiences take part in shaping future media architecture; it may occur when media architecture is realized and people experience and interact with it, e.g. when public spaces and urban environments and the practices they shape are influenced by elements of media architecture; it may also occur as new platforms give rise to new opportunities for shaping systems and surroundings.

The conference is based on rigorously peer-reviewed academic papers grouped thematically around notions of: theory, lessons for design, hybrid environments, case studies. An overview of the topics, titles and abstracts of the papers can be found below. Click on a category to expand it.

Paper session one: Theory



SESSION CHAIR
Peter Dalsgaard
Aarhus University, Denmark

TITLE
Occupation of The 'Open City'. (short paper)

SPEAKER
Christian Ulrik Andersen
Aarhus University, Denmark

ABSTRACT
This paper proposes to view the concept of an 'open city' in the light of an occupation by ‘the smart city’ that rules out conflict. Through an analysis of IBM’s presentation of “A Smarter Planet Initiative” and “Smarter Cities Challenge”, and with references to social apps, it presents and deconstructs smartness, open data and participation as technological myths for a contemporary anti-urbanity, and finally proposes to build urban technological design on a perception of openness that includes the conflicts inherent to the urban experience.

TITLE
The Implied Producer. (short paper)

SPEAKER
Morten Søndergaard,
Aalborg University, Denmark.

ABSTRACT
Whereas many good things can be said about the ability of digital media to facilitate the public access to cultural material, there has been no significant development in the theoretical understanding of ubiquitous digital media's potential for participatory culture – and what human typologies emerges from this reconfiguration? The small Swedish Biennale, Electrohype run an impressively straight line of investigations into the participatory spaces of art – thereby also facilitating the dissemination of the, at that time, almost unnoticed field of media art. It appears, from the Electrohype Biennales, that we are not 'just' dealing with a 'new' genre or style within the art category; on the other hand we are not dealing with a pure commercial culture either (the abstract notion of 'the user' has its limits); what is becoming evident is that the 'implicit' roles of the participatory 'actors' in culture and art are being transformed. This paper investigates this emergent 'persona' in the post-digital participatory culture, and names it 'the implicit producer'.

TITLE
Framing the Media Architectural Body. (short paper)

SPEAKER
Patrick Allen,
University of Bradford, UK.

ABSTRACT
This paper develops an argument about transformations in the experience of the urban as a consequence of the rise in, so called, augmented public space. Contemporary media spaces of which media architecture now plays center stage. The argument is this: that through artistic and creative interventions that deploy these technologies and the spaces that they are embedded within can have a direct impact on issues such as the mediation of place and locality and consolidates the central role of the body as a frame in contemporary media spaces. The intention is to map the potential of a media architectural body.

Paper session two: Lessons for Design



SESSION CHAIR
Klaus Birk
Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg, Germany
University of the Arts London, UK

TITLE
Towards Visualising People's Ecology of Hybrid Personal Learning Environments. (full paper)

SPEAKER
Marcus Foth,
Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

ABSTRACT
Ambient media architecture can provide place-based collaborative learning experiences and pathways for social interactions that would not be otherwise possible. This paper is concerned with ways of enhancing peer-to-peer learning affordances in library spaces; how can the library facilitate the community of library users to learn from each other? We report on the findings of a study that employed a participatory design method where participants were asked to reflect and draw places, social networks, and activities that they use to work (be creative, productive), play (have fun, socialize, be entertained), and learn (acquire new information, knowledge, or skills). The results illustrate how informal learning – learning outside the formal education system – is facilitated by a personal selection of physical and socio-cultural environments, as well as online tools, platforms, and networks. This paper sheds light on participants' individually curated ecologies of their work, play, and learning related networks and the hybrid (physical and digital) nature of these places. These insights reveal opportunities for ambient media architecture to increase awareness of and connections between people's hybrid personal learning environments.

TITLE
Odenplan – a media façade design process. (full paper)

SPEAKER
Henrik Korsgaard,
Aarhus University, Denmark.

ABSTRACT
In this paper we present an example of how to work with the challenges inherent in media façade design processes. We base the paper on our experiences from the creation of a series of design proposals for a media façade on the Odenplan subway station in Stockholm, Sweden. We approach the question of how to design for media façades by discussing how we have structured our design process to address specific sets of challenges outlined in previous literature in the field of media architecture. In our view, such research is valuable in that it helps establish common ground for researchers and practitioners in a developing field by building a repertoire of approaches, as well as highlight important issues that need to be addressed in this emergent field.

TITLE
Designing for Collective Participation with Media Installations in Public Spaces. (full paper)

SPEAKER
Martin Tomitsch,
The University of Sydney, Sydney.

ABSTRACT
One of the greatest challenges that designers and artists face when deploying interactive media displays in the urban space resides on finding the right level of audience participation. In many cases this includes the challenge of designing for sustained interaction over an 'ideal' time period. It has been acknowledged that questions concerning the meaning and purpose of public displays are expected to be addressed thoughtfully with respect to the surrounding environment, its architecture, social conventions, and the values and habits of its inhabitants and visitors. Consideration must be given to the role played by both the social context and cultural values shared by the community, since those may influence proxemic aspects [7] of the interaction and in consequence impact the designed collective experience. This paper analyses the effect of contextual constraints such as prominence and length of the exhibition on two interactive light installations. Both installations adopted media displays as a tacit element to sustain awareness of the collective experience promoted by the public space interventions. Following a nested action research approach we studied the installations in the field, which led us to formulate interaction goals and content strategies for designing the collective participation in interactive artworks. More specifically we link the identified parameters to the two extreme categories of performative and ubiquitous interaction and discuss their value for designing interactive, public media.

Paper session three: Hybrid Environments



SESSION CHAIR
Marcus Foth
Queensland University of Technology, Australia

TITLE
Urban Sound Interfaces - Poetic Approaches to Media Architecture. (short paper)

SPEAKER
Morten Breinbjerg,
Aarhus University, Denmark.

ABSTRACT
This paper draws on the theories of Michel de Certeau and Gaston Bachelard to discuss how media architecture, in the form of urban sound interfaces, can help us perceive the complexity of the spaces we inhabit, by exploring the history and the narratives of the places in which we live. In this paper, three sound works are discussed in relation to the iPod, which is considered as a more private way to explore urban environments, and as a way to control the individual perception of urban spaces.

TITLE
The Political Sensorium. (short paper)

SPEAKER
Martyn Dade-Robertson,
Newcastle University.

ABSTRACT
In this position paper we outline some of the key themes and background research which may help form a better understanding of the relationship between technology and political activity. The paper is written in an attempt to articulate a better understanding of the relationship between political processes, urban environments and situated technologies. The paper is written from a UK perspective, although the ideas have a broader relevance for relatively developed western democracies. To this end we analyse the political and digital divides which are present in western society focusing on local politics in Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK as a case study. Following a brief description of the problem domain we briefly give an outline of an ongoing project Viewpoint which has created a mobile voting system which we are currently deploying in various locations in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

TITLE
Media Architecture - Participation Through the Senses. (full paper)

SPEAKER
Katarzyna Urbanowicz,
Gdansk University of Technology, Poland.

ABSTRACT
Pervasive media and interactive technologies have become inseparable not only from our everyday life but also from architecture and city spaces. However, the generic use of new technologies in the design process and material production that affects contemporary architecture, results in buildings that become mere visual objects losing their hapticity and non-visual qualities. Despite the substantial advancement in the research studies on human sensorial perception, the potential of cities to affect and co-create our sensuous experiences has diminished dramatically. The paper examines recent artistic practices that involve new media technologies focusing on their potential to create interactive environments that due to their multi-sensory qualities induce people to participate through their senses. The steadily growing interest in exploration of the role of media and interactive technologies in generating sensorial experiences establishes an important direction toward new kinds of their applications in architecture and city spaces. This work emphasizes the power of media and interactive technologies as important tools that incorporated in architecture demonstrate the ability to enrich the sensory perception of the cities.

Paper session four: Case Studies



SESSION CHAIR
Ava Fatah gen Schieck
University College London, UK

TITLE
Using Public Displays to Stimulate Passive Engagement, Active Engagement, and Discovery in Public Spaces. (full paper)

SPEAKER
Nemanja Memarovich,
University of Lugano, Switzerland.

ABSTRACT
In their influential book "Public space" Carr et al. describe essential human needs that public spaces fulfill: (1) passive engagement with the environment, where we observe what others are doing; (2) active engagement through intellectual challenges posed by the space, or through engagement with the people in it; and (3) excitement of novel discoveries within the space. An often underused resource in public spaces – public displays – can be used to stimulate these needs. In this paper we argue for a new research direction that explores how public displays can stimulate such essential needs in public spaces. We describe and conceptualize related processes that occur around public displays, based on indepth observations of people interacting with a publicly fielded display application in a city center. Our conceptualization is meant to lay the foundations for designing engaging public display systems that stimulate PACD, and for supporting the analysis of existing deployments.

TITLE
Experiencing Participatory and Communicative Urban Lighting through LightStories. (full paper)

SPEAKER
Henrika Pihlajaniemi,
University of Oulu, Finland.

ABSTRACT
This paper presents the results of a real-world adaptive urban lighting demo conducted in a pedestrian street in the centre of a city in Northern Finland. The main objectives were to explore methods of enabling the inhabitants of the city to participate in the design of public urban lighting, as well as interaction and communication through urban lighting. This article discusses the participants' experiences of participation and their attitudes towards adaptive and interactive lighting. The case project – LightStories (Valotarina) – applied a web-based design tool which offered our participants the possibility to devise one-hour long lighting designs, displayed along a pedestrian oriented street. Additionally, users could write a narrative or a message associated with their lighting design, published on the website and the public UBI touch screens. This article describes both our participants' experiences of participation and how LightStories (LS) was used as an ambient media in urban space.

TITLE
Developing a Neighbourhood Toolkit. (short paper)

SPEAKER
Katharine Willis,
University of Plymouth, UK.

ABSTRACT
We describe the development of a toolkit using locative media and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies as an approach to enabling neighbourhoods to engage with their local built and social environment. We address how the local community informed the concept, development and presentation of the projects through a series of public consultation workshops and events where neighbourhood residents were invited to trial the projects. The paper describes and documents work in progress.