Month: November 2003

Show Unit mobile video screening space, 2003

Posted by on November 25, 2003

Show Unit operates as a mobile environment for the display of video art. Swedish Travelling Exhibitions (Riksutställningar) is a governmental body responsible for producing travelling exhibitions and for developing the artistic, educational and technical aspects of the exhibition medium. The brief required a unit that could perform in very different conditions, while alerting visitors to its presence.

design stages

Show Unit was initially conceived by producer Anna Livion Ingvarsson, with program refinement during the early design stages. A design strategy was produced for May 2003, and based on this material, Riksutställningar decided to produce the installation. The design is based on the brief of two visitors / viewers being able to view selected pieces of video artwork in a partially enclosed space, while still maintaining distance to each other. Two mirrored partitions / seats define the space, and can be reconfigured depending on the conditions of the exhibition area. Show Unit was constructed and produced in the workshop at Riksutställningar, with close contact between designer Jonas Runberger and technician Karl Gustav Jönsson, and while complete construction drawings were the starting point, many design enhancements were made during the fall of 2003. The entire installation is transported in four boxes, and can be assembled by novices in less than an hour.

Ylva Gunterberg Ädelqvist and Emilia Claesson provided great support on design and material issues. Additional information and graphic material was designed by graphics duo Andreas & Fredrika, including the Show Unit logotype, the information display on the physical installation itself, the information booklet located in the shelving areas of the installation and the official poster. Jonas Runberger designed the screen saver / pause film as an animation based on the logotype.

Show Unit is constructed in light weight laminated wood, sandwich material and welded aluminium. Surfaces are treated with high gloss laquer on the main parts, with textile sides by the seating areas. The artwork is shown on a Nec Plasma screen integrated in the overall design. Detailing includes laminated screens for graphics display, a perspex control panel incorporated in the display screen and slits for booklets and other information in the sides.

The selected work currently displayed in Show Unit is divided into three packages, curated by Anna Livion Ingvarsson of Riksutställningar. Under the topics of “En medierad värld / A Mediated World”, “Övertag / Control” and “Från denna plats / From This Place”, the work of the 17 artists feature animation, documentary and sound based films.

opening and tour
Show Unit opened at Ölands Folkhögskola 20.11.2003. The exhibition toured Sweden until 2007, and was then refurbished with a new color scheme, and is now touring with the exhibition Fokus Kina.

Detailed information on the tour and participating artists can be found at:

Protocols of Collaboration, 2003

Posted by on November 1, 2003

Article discussing game-like modes of collaboration within focused and confined settings are explored through three case studies, including a RAM1 participants’ project, and two disciplines; Art and Architecture. The RAM1 workshop provided valuable input, as well as the NON and PoP courses, performed at the Royal Institute of technology, Stockholm.

The text was published in the Re-Approaching New Media 1 printed and on-line publications.

Urbantoys v.2 [Servo], 2003

Posted by on November 1, 2003

The Servo Urbantoys project diffuses the conventional roles of manufacturer, architect, designer and site visitor. The site is designed as an interface that provides tools for the design of architectural products, Urbantoys, via a series of manipulations of a digital model.

Urbantoys is a set of digitally instantiated products and instructions for their fabrication embedded in an interface intended for both viewing and extraction. Implicit in the word urban-toy is a fluctuation between an architectural scale and program and the scale of a toy or hand held object. It also connotes a digitally manipulable set of geometries, which are animated by the toy’s user and can be assembled computationally as a three-dimensional model or produced as a physical instantiation. The toy’s components are set in motion as a series of spatial parcels, which are activated by the user. The assembly of digital pieces is non-sequential proliferating into a series of models. The viewer is invited to act on a supplied catalogue of materials and infiltrate the design process. By submitting designs to and sampling designs from an online archive, the visitors’ designs are made available to other potential authors. Digitally catalogued urbantoys may be retrieved, fabricated and exhibited at a later event, turning the exhibition venue into a dynamic index of the design process as it is distributed among various agents. The interface also provides the possibility for the visitor to directly engage with a manufacturer by ordering a rapid prototype of the designed object.

Urbantoys v.2 was exhibited at the ReShape! exhibition curated by IASPIS at the Venice Biennale of the Arts in 2003. It is an upgraded version of the online design environment Urbantoys v.1 released in 2000 for the exhibition N2art curated by Peter Hagdahl. Part of a larger speculation on the incorporation of the user into design and production processes through the emergence of new interactive technologies, Urbantoys v.2 is an open-source interface through which outside authors customize a variety of generic design prototypes according to personal needs, interests, and constraints.

Physical installation
The temporary gallery space of the Reshape! show required a spatial setup for the digital design environment. A merged display wall, work place and light table operated as a platform for interaction, both literally in the digital design system, as well as through discussions between visitors.

Physical models of previous designs were displayed, and other components provided the context for the less informative digital interface. The Urbantoys v.2 featured a back-lit table connected to a wall, carrying models, and enabling visitors / users to gather around to handle the models and view product sheets of previous designs, providing a context for the digital browser.

The design environment allowed the visitor to move around in digital space, while manipulating the geometries in an intuitive manner. Simple instructions guided the user, indicating different potential transformations. The interface was connected to a separate database, allowing for the storage and retrieval of designs, names of authors and comments. This made possible the sampling of previous designs, to be altered and re-saved.

The Urbantoys v.2 project used the Virtools game editor as a programming environment. The sampling of technology from other fields towards a new purpose requires the adaptation of techniques optimized for another agenda. This provides friction, but also opportunities.

During the Krets project development phase the software allowed for the sharing of behavioral scripts, enabling multiple developers to share the work on the prototype, which could also be continuously tested during the process. The Virtools-browser handled all interaction, providing behaviors to simple geometries resulting in a vast recombinatorial potential within the formative design concept.

The performative aspects of the project set up a new kind of relationship between designer, manufacturer and customer. The Urbantoys v.2 project explores the possibilities of using the gallery space as a platform for participatory design where the authorship of a set of environments is distributed and shared with the visitors. The visitor/ consumer of the piece is at the same time potentially a producer and author of designs that might be sampled by other visitors, as well as manufactured and exhibited at a later event. The audience involved in the consumption of the piece is at the same time the performers of a creative act. Krets, as authors and producers of the installation, will on the other hand act as consumers of the visitors saved designs when they are manufactured and exhibited.

Servo was invited by IASPIS to participate in the Reshape! sideshow to the 50th Venice Biennale. Krets was commissioned by Servo to develop the Urbantoys v.2 responsive browser, a re-development of the Urbantoys v.1 browser (2000).

Urbantoys v.2
Project leader:
Ulrika Karlsson, Servo

Urbantoys v.2 Krets design team:
Daniel Norell and Jonas Runberger

Database design:
Oskar Scheiwiller More…