UTILITY WORKS

By Angie Winslow & Bryan Boyer

Abstract:
In the digital age public space is formed by connection, not physical condensation. UTILITY WORKS becomes a way of reflecting the virtual connections between citizens back into the physical urbanscape.
Submission boards included below




The daily dramas of our lives are no longer regularly played out in the audience of Baroque sculptures or dusty monuments which mark town centers. On the contrary, many centralized public spaces have been given over to tourism and shopping as sources of great income. Empowered by technology, the inhabitants of the city now conduct their communal life in transit, a constellation of public spaces always in the making. As formal public spaces lose some of their social meaning to inhabitants of the city, their job is passed to the mundane roads, alleyways, and sidewalks which are now able to function as ad-hoc urban living rooms. This is possible thanks to the connective potential of the internet, SMS, and cellular phones. Public space has been atomized: left to spread across the city while undergoing a constant process of reconfigurations and momentary connections. Centralized public spaces will always play an important role in humanity's formal gatherings, but in the digital age public space is formed by connection, not condensation. UTILITY WORKS seeks to acknowledge the importance of the mundane physical spaces where we play out our lives and provide new ways for the population to inscribe themselves into these informal public spaces.

In an effort to draw new connections across our cities, UTILITY WORKS perverts existing municipal street furniture which will become points of mediation between disparate physical urban environments and the people that inhabit them. With these new urban experiences UTILITY WORKS seeks to provoke a renewed awareness of self and environment through a reexamination of familiar civic objects that we interact with every day.

Just as a mirror reflects our bodies back to us, This project becomes a way of reflecting the virtual back into the physical urbanscape. Existing parking meters, post boxes, and garbage bins- the furniture of the mundane- will be activated to shape and articulate the informal public spaces of the city. Our choice of objects is strategic in that they are comfortably interspersed throughout most cities.

Parking Meter:
Sharing eye contact with another is one of the most basic forms of connection. Like an eye, the meter both sees and lets others see into it. With the meter this exchange is transformed from one that occurs between people of similar interests and desires to one which links disparate zones of the city.

To engage in an anonymous glance, the patron merely inserts the required coin in to the meter. Using the handle to wind the clockworks, the glass eye of the parking meter opens a real-time wireless video channel to another parking meter in use in elsewhere in the city. Simultaneously the viewer becomes the viewed as the potential of the local network is established. The double-gaze of capture and display temporarily reframes the surrounding space allowing for a feeling of temporary ownership while being written into the city.

Post Box:
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the convenience of e-mail and instant messaging, as well as accelerated delivery services have left many post boxes hungry. We propose that some of these familiar terminals be used to allow posting of one's opinion or emotion which will be shared with a listener somewhere else in the country. This type of verbal graffiti speaks to the political and social zeitgeist of the nation in a less vandalizing way.

At the moment of opening, a voice is heard bellowing out of the belly of the box and a simple LED displays a unique reference code. If the operator would like to respond to the message they can send an SMS to a central number using the reference code. The response is then sent anonymously to the original poster at which point they are free to reply and begin a dialog. Opening of the box triggers it to speak the word of the nation. Each time the door is opened a new parcel is heard. To post a message, simply press the record button and speak into the box.

Garbage Bin:
Trash connects us all. We all produce it. Yet this term, "all" is too broad. Who has toiled to produce the plastic in your soda bottle and who will have to live with it after you throw it away? The Garbage Bin seeks to illuminate this facet of our position as a node in the global economy/ecology by making explicit connections between us and our waste. By describing the geographical life of our stuff/trash we hope to illuminate the links that we share as consumptive individuals.

This intervention is realized by scanning the barcode of waste when it is being deposited into the bin. The bin reshapes its designated space on the street by projecting cradle to grave geographical information about the object onto the street. Until another piece of trash is thrown away and scanned, the garbage bin will project information about the location of manufacture and likely resting place of the product.


Competition boards as submitted to Fused Space:


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