“Eclats d’Amérique”: Chronicles of Google Streetview


Just finished reading "Eclats d'Amérique" by Olivier Hodasava. It's an intriguing compilation of chronicles about the US of A based on the author's drifting and musing on Google Streetview. Hodasava never actually visited North America. He wrote his text based on his perception of certain selected scenes he liked. It's only in French though,


The book is an extension of his long-time work written on his weblog called "Dreamlands": each post extrapolates on a Google Streetview scene. Characters receive names, intentions, history and tastes, places get projected meaning and situations are the objects of fascinating speculations.


Why do I blog this? I think I mentioned the "Google Demo Slam" a while back (two guys who used Google Streetview to race across America without ever leaving their home), which was quite a thing to watch. In the case of this book, the intention and the result is far more intriguing and poetic. Such a great example of how a tool can be re-appropriated to project meaning, and extend the notion of fiction.

I don't really know whether this would count as a "locative media" proper but it certainly a curious case of storytelling as described by Ben Russell in the headmap manifesto back in the days ("..spatial maps of films: where do the characters go? ..do they stay in a confined area or travel (linear or circular?)").

Project Habakkuk

"Project Habakkuk" belongs to this list of weird projects I have somewhere in an Evernote note. A British aircraft carrier supposed to be deployed against German U-boats in the mid-Atlantic, the plan was to make it out of pykrete, a mixture of wood pulp and ice. Beyond this stunning fact, the most intriguing thing here is how this project ended. As reported by the Wikipedia:

"According to some accounts, at the Quebec Conference of 1943 Lord Mountbatten brought a block of pykrete along to demonstrate its potential to the bevy of admirals and generals who had come along with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mountbatten entered the project meeting with two blocks and placed them on the ground. One was a normal ice block and the other was pykrete. He then drew his service pistol and shot at the first block. It shattered and splintered. Next, he fired at the pykrete to give an idea of the resistance of that kind of ice to projectiles. The bullet ricocheted off the block, grazing the trouser leg of Admiral Ernest King and ended up in the wall."

Why do I blog this? It's one of these projects that may or may not find its way into a talk about innovation, technologies and failures. Besides, V2 in Rotterdam has a research project about it.

“a Pop-Up Sensor Nail Salon”

"The Future of Wearable Services: A Proposal for a Pop-Up Sensor Nail Salon" is an intriguing design studio project conducted by Kristina Ortega at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, in the Media Design Practices program. It addresses the adoption of wearables, which shouldn't rely on a "one size fits all" approach as "context and specificity matter". Such starting point led the team to focus on nail art and how to embed sensors into layers of a gel manicure.

Useless Wearables (Photo: Kristina Ortega)

Useless Wearables (Photo: Kristina Ortega)

The website described the process they adopted:

For the first part of the lab we designed wearables with the idea that they would be "useless". This was our first version of our nail service, which we called "ritual nail". We experimented with form, 3D printing cats with LEDs embedded in them and embedding a nano pixel into the nail. [...] After our first round of making we decided to take a research trip to a nail art salon. While we were there we were fascinated by the process and negotiation that took place between the technician and the client. We really discovered the place of the service in the process. What would technicians look like in a electronically embedded salon service? The process of making prototypes, some with "sensor extensions" others made extremely brittle from the z corp 3D plaster printer. [...] We tested out five sensored options during a workshop/ user test [...] After user testing our early prototypes we decided that our project wasn't so much about the electronics embedded into nails, but more about the new services that will grow out of the need for wearables that can be specific and customizable. The new question is: who are the technicians in a new electronic fully customizable salon? We stopped looking for a solution and started looking for scenarios.


Why do I blog this? The topic (wearables) and the way it's addressed via nail art is interesting. I take the project as a relevant counterpart to lots of boring-and-utilitarian products or prototypes. Plus, the design process (with the useless-to-useful move) is curious, and somehow typical as an assignment.



“why we made this”


Why do I blog this? I'm not necessarily a big brand advocate, nor a fan of Lulu Lemon. However, I'm fascinated by the way their products come with such USP-oriented "why we made this" tags. Obviously, the answers are sometimes so-so (#1 and #3 overlap here) but I would certainly find fascinating to see ANY product around us with similar labelling. It's perhaps an intriguing assignment to ask workshop participants.