ZKMax Public Access Bluetooth Installation View
07.06.2006, ZKMax, Munich
What better location on Earth to study 'orbit' than underground!
In an underground passage, below a main intersection of the ultrachic shopping mile on Maximillianstrasse in downtown Munich, the same space in which Joseph Beuys' first presented his work, Show Your Wound, in 1972, currently housed in Munich's Lembachhaus, SpacePlace set up.
The left projection titled Gotchi Universe is served from the same computer that scans the entire ZKMax underground space for passersby or guests' handies (cell phones) running Bluetooth (the wireless protocal most handy owners use for wireless headsets or auto telephony.) At the far right of the vitrine just in front of a dimly lit sculpture Space Bike on a monitor large bold messages inform passersby and guests that they are in a Bluetooth Zone and if they wish to remote control and participate in the installation to turn on their handy's Bluetooth application.
With Bluetooth on, every handy owner is contacted wih a message asking if she wishes to download a small (14Kb) application and install it in her handy in order to control the screen and upload handycam images and add Consumer-Generated Content to SpacePlace at precisely the content point she chooses.
This allows SpacePlace guests free public access to participate in a collaborative construction of culture via their banal mobile devices. In an urban public space, a practical advantage is added as each consumer, or rather 'prosumer' (consumer/producer) is responsbile for his own interface device, no ugly public kiosks or bank teller style touchscreens, just an everyday 'orbital' computer, a handy. No security staff is required and this allows the SpacePlace installation at ZKMax to be open to public participation 24 hours a day every day with little local maintenance. Any inevitable network traffic jams can be relieved with remote access from any network-connected computer with administration permission.
Not only are the radio frequencies of the Bluetooth transceiver permeating the air in ZKMax, orbiting passersby and guests, but live feeds of the sounds of outer space arrive over ceiling-mounted speakers. As well, news, space news and news of the 'orbitant' artist content mashed up playfully on the screen by the user and the semantics underpinning the SpacePlace system, is transduced from text based live incoming feeds, RSS feeds, spoken time-to-time by a computer voice, over the general background sounds of space. This audio is accompanied by a ticker at the bottom of the projection at right which displays in real time the incoming RSS news concerning space and SpacePlace.
To drive or mash up content on the projection at right, the guest is navigating or 'orbiting' the Gotchi Universe, a grid of facial icons on the projection at left, visualized tagwords that stand-in for key words like 'science fiction,' orbital war,' 'kinetic art,' 'city,' 'moon,' 'sound,' 'myth,' 'catastrophe,' even 'painting,' and 'word art,' approximately 128 taxonomical terms that can be added to by members online turning the taxonomy into what is termed 'folksonomy.' These keywords, folksonomy terms, reveal to the guest SpacePlace Members, 'orbitant' artists, and in fact anyone having decided to join and provide a Profile, pick Member Friends, provide their Chinese astrology sign, add an About Me blurb, etc., in MySpace.com mash up style, and selecting one of these Members in a folksonomy term group or Namecloud on the left projection, loads Profile data about the Member or 'orbitant' artist on that projection in sync with media content associated with that Member or 'orbitant' artist on the hypercinematic projection at right.
The projection at right, in sync with the consumer-generated choices made through the Gotchi Universe projection at left, 'wobbles.' SpacePlace calls it Audio Wobble Movie. The audible sounds of space radio feed and the intermittent computer voice reading the incoming Net news in ZKMax disturbs or 'wobbles' the guest selected playlist of images and video on the projection at right.
These two projections are content controlled by the ZKMax guest by handy, which is effect operates like a remote control. The handy's joystick or keypad act like any computer mouse. To participate, that is not only to 'orbit' the content represented by the Gotchis on the left projection, and create a mash-up of 'wobbling' content of the projection at right, guests can switch modes on their handy to Upload a Gotchi which opens their handycam application. Usually this function is selected by the guest when they arrive at content to which they wish to visually comment upon. Their handycam is then enabled to take a picture and that picture is sent via Bluetooth to the SpacePlace computer in ZKMax.
Every night new content arriving from the database computer at ZKM in Karlsruhe refreshes the SpacePlace ZKMax computer with new incoming content. As well Consumer-Generated Content uploaded via Bluetooth from handy to projection in ZKMax is copied to its appropriate entry in the ZKM based database computer, to the content database entry as selected by the ZKMax guest.
The ZKM computer containing the SpacePlace database is open to online and mobile membership. All uploads from the web or mobile devices will not only appear instantly at the web SpacePlace interface (here) but in a slightly reduced form, for speed and small screen, to the mobile SpacePlace interface, both available worldwide. Uploads online and by mobile device include many image, sound and video formats. All are converted by the ZKM computer in the background to the appropriate format, .flv for the web and the Bluetooth interfaces, and .3gp for the mobile interface.
Apparently SpacePlace in ZKMax/ZKM is the first cultural production of its kind. This is not important. Important is that SpacePlace is not the last free urban public access mobile cultural production.