Chicago Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition
Location: Chicago, IL
Size: 200 SF
PIXL [Performative Interactive eXperimental Lattice] performs as a conduit for sentiment by transforming information culled from social media into a real-time interactive snapshot of the dominant emotions of Chicago. Providing a reflection and abstraction of Chicagoans (and visitors’) reactions to events, seasons, and politics, the Kiosk provides much more than a spectacle or a place to conduct commerce. PIXL provides a lasting and forward-looking physical intervention which transcends the bounds of technology, culture, and architecture to enhance the urban sphere.
Traditional conceptions of public space are being altered by the still-emerging global consciousness created by the internet. This connected virtual world absorbs much of the dialogue that would historically occur in more concrete public forums. We propose this kiosk as a way of re-materializing the public voice in a way that can be experienced in our shared physical space. Far from a reactionary response to emerging forms of networked social consciousness, PIXL seeks to facilitate the hybridization of the real and the virtual through the physical membrane and networked systems we have created. The possibilities afforded by the internet of things and other connected technologies have allowed a hyper-space to emerge. These emergent technologies allow a blending of the real and virtual where embedded networked systems and physical matter interact in intelligent ways. No longer can technology and networked space be separated from physical space as the media and channels for distribution thereof collapse into a single membrane, mixing images, video, text, interactive media and physical material across virtual and real worlds.
PIXL deploys well-researched and validated algorithms and semantic analysis routines developed in conjunction with Forum Studio’s technology consulting partner, Mu/Dai. These algorithms and scripted routines search through and parse social media information into usable data and ultimately, color. This data processing occurs in a web-based application and is then sent to PIXL as instructions to change the color of its pixel array. The pixels contain all necessary technological infrastructure to function as independent objects. When pixels are plugged in, the structural lattice delivers low-voltage power through integrated contact points. Low-power and low-cost bluetooth networking and a triangulation routine allow the pixels to be addressed dynamically and mapped to a spatial array even when individual pixels have been mixed up. A small battery charges when the pixels are plugged in and powers them when removed or reconfigured for exhibition and wayfinding.
PIXL is designed to address the three temporal and geographic conditions where the kiosk will be located. PIXL provides for a robust life-cycle, allowing for exhibition and close interaction during the biennial itself, occupation as a vending node along Chicago’s lakefront, and data display and visual interaction during the cold and desolate winter months. We also propose utilizing an open data framework which can, upon succession to the city of Chicago, provide access to the technological infrastructure created by the Kiosk by way of a rotating residency for data artists, hackers, and visualization professionals.
Echoing this re-appropriation of the technological infrastructure we propose to facilitate will be the sustainable nature of the kiosk itself. The geodesic form allows the structure and shades to be constructed from a small number of identical components, minimizing fabrication and erection time and cost. Composed of wood, steel, and rotationally-molded plastic, the major components of the construction are fully recyclable at the end of its lifespan. The low-voltage electrical components allow PIXL to be treated much the same as a streetlamp or any other piece of powered infrastructure the park district regularly maintains. The plug-and-play nature of the pixels allow for ease of replacement if one is damaged or destroyed. This removable, modular nature also allows the pixels to be removed from the lattice and become landscape elements or wayfinding points when PIXL is configured for exhibition or vending.
PIXL provides a convincing mode of personal/public and real/virtual interaction and connection, delivering a project which looks to our collective future as a city and as a society increasingly straddling the bounds of the real and the virtual. PIXL creates a framework for technological integration with the prescribed functions and uses demanded of this kiosk while simultaneously providing a platform for change, exploration and discovery.