Data Art – Data Critique
For my final and conceptual project in Data Art, I collaborated with Shelly Hu to come up with a conceptual project that would serve as a “Data Critique”. Our starting point was a discussion into Rem Koolhass’s canonical article “Junkspace”. This article, which deals mainly with modern architecture is a poetic and blunt criticism of modern (and possibly “Americanized”) architecture, and an examination of the human driven use behind some of these spaces.
Understanding a “Junkspace”
As the article is quite long and articulated here are some of our impressions of it:
- Koolhass refers to Junkspaces as byproduct of modernization
- Koolhass attacks the concept of modern architecture as one that does not exist anymore, we only produce junk spaces that facilitate uses.
- Koolhass embraces extreme romanticism in the his old vs. new paradigm.
Themes from the article:
- “Junkspace is political: it depends on the central removal of the critical faculty in the name of comfort and pleasure.”
- “Junkspace pretends to unite, but it actually splinters. It creates communities not of shared interest or free association, but of identical statistics and unavoidable demographics, an oportunistic weave of vested interests”
- “Junkspace seems an aberration, but it is essence, the main thing… product of the encounter between escalator and air conditioning, conceived in an incubator of sheetrock (all three missing from the history books).”
From “Junkspace” to “Junkdata”
For our data critique we decided to examine an interpretation of Koolhass’s article in the data domain. Our discussion included the notion of modern technology as layers of abstracting coherent meaning out of 0’s and 1’s. By that, we mean that by using a map service we actually generate piles of junk data only for the sole purpose of seeing directions on a map in our smartphone. That being said the junk lives on, as it’s stored, curated and then analyzed to produce stats that are used to increase revenue on the other end. Simply put, everybody generates junk data, by we almost never face the data itself. During the discussion we also referred to the fourth wall in cinema, the illusion of reality works as long as the fourth wall remains intact, seems nobody wants to break the illusion of meaning with junk data, since it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense seeing something like this:
When you are actually looking for directions to a restaurant.
Our proposal consists of an Augmented Reality experience that is meant to visualize junk data as it is being generated. The purpose of this experiment is to examine how it would feel like to be able to see the raw material generated in our day to day interaction with technology.
Our stack would be composed out of:
- A router that would spread wifi
- A wifi sniffing software that would pickup the packets sent from the connected clients
- A server that would then distribute the packets sniffed to connected clients