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How Emerging Technology ReConfigure Our Lives Curator: Philip Pongvarin Xuan Wu Arch 432 People Places and Culture USC School of Architecture Spring 2010





The virtual world comprised of multiple layers of digital data has long been set. Today they are being embeded into our physical daily life in a far more seamless and pervasive manner. In this way the boundary between real and virtual is blurred, or even, the boundary between human beings and machine is blurred if you think of how intuitive and intelligent the digital devices would be, and how a individual’ s activities, movements, and even emotions could be digitized and transfered in the digital world at real time. This digital world, in its most ideal situation, would be a sphere of coexistence, in Peter Sloterdijk’ s sense, a space in which we enjoy the augmented freedom, democracy, and reality. Think about some familiar and even routine scenarios of your everyday life: you get up in the morning, turn on your computer to read the news or emails while having a cup of coffee; at a short break during office hours, you chat with a friend in another side of the earth and she shows you the new dress she just bought; after a shower you go to bed togother with your blackberry, waiting for an important email from the colleague. All these seem to you are so banal that you would not think of them when you hear about the term technology – they just become as prosaic as a vase in your house or a cosmetic mirror in your purse. Then think about something more like to appear in the futuristic fiction: you hold your cell phone toward a city map, and the images of the streetscape appear on the screen; you pick up a pair of goggle from the bag and wear it, and then the webpage in your computer, or the image of your friend in Skype, come to be floating in the air in front of you; your lover send you a message and as a result, you feel a slight pressure coming from the T-shirt you wear which resemble a warm hug; you step into a city plaza, the scattered LED installation begin to emit sound or light according to your movement – they are interacting with you. Then what do all these suggest? Certainly the media installation that creates an additional layer of space is more than devices that tantalize people’ s sensations, and the Graphical User Interface of iphone that enables the immidiate tangibility is more than a metaphor of the substantialisation of intangible information. They do, anounce the coming of the new era marked by the revolutionary way we get, store, and interact with the digital information.


DIGITAL INTIMACY IMPACT ON SOCIAL NETWORKING In the first place, this ‘ meta-sphere’ renews the way in which we interact with both digital data and each other. With the explosion of the hyperlocal and hyper visual infomation cloud it is supposed that the intensity of social interaction would be amplified and multiplied, as well as the complexity of communication between non – humans – namely machines, data, animals, etc. – would be revealed and grasped. The consequence of its impact on social network will be complicated and controversial, as no one would predict that whether people would be encouraged to leave their isolated self to communicate with larger social group, or merely maintain their own cocoon sustained by the technology

MENTAL LANDSCAPE IMPACT ON PUBLIC DOMAIN It is for sure that the public domain, in its traditional sense, a place with reference to certain space and moment, would be eroded by a ‘ cyberspace’ in which every participant creates his own system of spatiotemporal reference that may or may not be shared with others. In this metasphere, as stated before, one comprised of hierachical layers of tactile interfaces, every one has the potential of being a interface himself in that every action taken on a micro level is itself new information which informs on a macro level what others see and sense. Thus the envelope of public domain is no longer defined by the place, event, or social group, but rather depicted by the computational programming you choose to construct your own itineraries and encounters in the vast mental landscape.

ENVIRONMENTAL EMBODIMENT BLENDED IN META-SPHERE Perhaps it is less about the cliche of that whether technology, often rendered as potentially malign force, would lead to the domination of virtual over real, machinery over humanity. It is more about the body’ s capacity to proprioceptively map its own positions and displacements in the pervasive data field since it is already there. In his book Camouflage, Neil Leach states that we human being have the innate tendency to be blended and absorbe into the environment we inhabitate just as a smart chameleon does. It is through such course of self sacrifice that we identify and represent ourself, determine our coordinates in the infinite matrix. Maybe the principle pertains equally to the way we project ourself into the ambient data field through which we learn to mediate both space and moment. And moreover, the environment may begin to be animated as a chameleon that suits the desires of our own. It is said that all human tries to do is to recreate the warm and safe environment that they first experience in the womb. Again, the answer to the question that whether the meta sphere emerging now would better facilitate our effort of environmental blendness is complex and contraversial, depending highly on the personal pattern in which you see, sense and operate. Reference: 4dspace: Interactive Architecture (Architectural Design) by Lucy Bullivant Place: Networked Place, Kazys Varnelis & Anne Friedberg Iphone City: by Andrea Bettella Spheres I: by Peter Sloterdijk Camouflage: by Neil Leach


New technologies have significant impact on human since the dawn of time, yet the past 10 years of technology have a larger impact than the period preceding. Population growth and available human knowledge power effects this, but it is the need for an effortless daily life that drives new technology. As human, we have gone from walking, to using human-powered carriages, to animal-drawn carriages, and finally to machine-powered means of transportation. Same can be said with communication, or any type of human interaction; there’s usually a mechanical device already invented to aid almost all human contacts. The most basic of human interactions involves at least two people within each other’s vicinity. The problem arises when the two people don’t live within walking distance. Other means of relaying messages must be invented, hence messengers using horse, ergo postal systems. Further, there’re telephones, which began as land lines, but that was deemed an inconvenient where land line was unavailable. Hence wireless phones for land lines are invented, which eventually paved way for cellular and satellite phones. Lastly is probably the most important technology of all, computing technology, which found its way into many devices and machines. The positive impacts of these technologies are immense, but the concerns of the sudden emergence of these technologies are the impacts they have on human on a social level. Cell phones have become that replacement of direct social interactions, lessening the needs to see acquaintances frequently. People often ask, why walk or drive long distances when he or she can simply call or text. The lessening of human interaction was taken a step further when social networking sites are created for the internet. Current social networking has already taken a drastic step with virtual realities, a place where people can lead a second life, hence the name of the game. Its actual existence and legitimacy are often questioned, yet obscured by certain aspects of the game such as interrelation of currency, where real world money translate directly into virtual money, and virtual money can be translated back to real world money. People in the virtual games can have a job, house, and even a second set of friends. If this “game” persist, human will began to question what is real and what is not, and perhaps creating a situation thought of in many media; one popular film came to mind: the Matrix. What do all these issues mean for the future of technology? Does it means that laptops will now have standard transparent-able screens so that students will have to turn their screens transparent in class, so that their professors see they’re taking notes and not playing games or browsing the internet? Would this mean that online classes through webcams will be the primary way of conducting classes, rendering physical lecture hall ancient, and the need to be at education institution reserved only for hands on learning such as laboratory experiments. The direction technology takes lies within human necessity. It is our responsibility to “vote” by usage, purchasing, etc. on which technology that will be beneficial rather than breaks down the essence of human, to keep that fine line between what is real and what is not.


References Boellstorff, Tom. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton University Press, 2008. Corn, Joseph J. Horrigan, Brian. Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Dregni, John. Dregni, Eric. Follies of Science: 20th Century Visions of Our Fantastic Future. Golden, CO: Speck Press, 2006. Hayles, Katherine. How We Become Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernatics, Literatures, and Informatics. University of Chicago Press, 1999. Meadows, Mark. I, Avatar: The Culture and Consequences of Having a Second Life. New Riders Press, 2008. Wilson, Daniel H. Where’s My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived. New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA, 2007.




3D projections were used in these images to transform the facade into many different design language as seen fit by the architect. An “automated� program can be written so that a building can visually change shape and texture, lessenning the importance of a physical space designer and demands for virtual space designer.







Digital World


a space in which we enjoy the augmented freedom, democracy, and reality

consciousness of the seven “rays� of metaphysics: will, love, intelligent, harmony, knowledge, devotion, and order.

Digital Intimacy

the constant online connection to social networking sites


Mental Landscape

Environmental Embodiment

Public Domain

the computational programming you choose to construct your own itineraries and encounters

the body’s capacity to proprioceptively map its own positions and displacements in the pervasive data field

Programmed Human Interactions

the possible scenarios in the digital world, readily planned for any users.

openly available to everyone and for everyone

Social Networking

online community for the people

4D Space

3D space with the addition of time and motion of the object only



that which define something; a limit

the characteristic of being able to allow light to pass through




the front of a building; the sides

a subject branch that deals with the creation related to art and science, or similar



the method of control by a mechanical or electrical device

the act of the interchange of thoughts,etc






Transparent Windows Phone Designer: Seunghan Song

Skiff Reader

Samsung Amoled Transparent Laptop

Tangible Video Projection


Adaptive Cruise Control Author: Simona

Right & Bottom “iPhone City” Benjamin Bratton

Augmented Reality Glass


Automating the Civilization April 30 - 2