Immaterials – Data between visibility and invisibility

The problem of seeing a room filled with data is more and more prominent and pressing for designers. Lev Manovich wants them to »consider the ‘invisible’ space of electronic data flows as substance rather than just as void». (Poetics of Augmented Space)

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Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby are mentioning the electro-climate and electrogeography in their inspiring and intelligent book Design Noir. Electromagnetic fields – and therefore data which are carried in them – are interacting with architecture in the same way like weather and airflow does. Are screens the most appropriate way of visualizing and interacting with data? Does location-based-service means opening-a-webiste-at-a-certain-place?

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Manovich is concerned that “an electronic screen becomes simply a moving billboard or a moving ornament.”. Dunny and Raby are proposing to think about a Hertzian Space instead. “Whereas ‘cyberspace’ is a metaphor that spatialises what happens in computers distributed around the world, Hertzian Space is actual and physical, even though our senses detect only a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum”. To design for the Hertzian Space is to work with immateriality.

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Which form of data and metadata is appropriate in an Hertzian Space? A place in front af a screen, situated in the physical space. Inspired by the work Fictional Radio Spaces by Ingeborg Marie Des Thomas, who tried to illustrate invisible electromagnetic fields, this project shapes fictional data using the photographic technique of procedural lightpainting. The illustrations are moving between technoid hologram and personal handwritten note.

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This project was a collaboration between the design studio for generative design onformative.com and me.

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The illustration of the procedural lightpainting technique.

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