ITP Thesis Week 2009
Monday, May 4 - Friday, May 8

Enjoy My View

Petra Farinha

Enjoy My View is a set of interventions and experiments in urban objects that offer an opportunity for new views and new experiences in the city.

Enjoy my view is a set of interventions and experiments in urban objects that offer an opportunity for new views and new experiences in the city.
The project reflects on the current urban computing environment through a process of researching and designing four interventions/experiments: a phone booth that “teletransports” you sonically to a peaceful/relaxing location; a bench that invites you to sit down and enjoy the view; manholes covers that try to make you aware of the city ; a bus stop with a periscope that let you peep in to see if the bus is coming or just explore another view of your surroundings.

I came to ITP interested in developing projects that encourage social interactions in public spaces because I was feeling that technology, more specific the computer, was somehow separating us from the physicallity of reality. People were starting to be always connected to the what was used to be the "virtual" and having less face-to face communications. My opinion is that, on one hand, we developed technologies such as the telephone to communicate over distance, making us feel nearer to those we love. But somehow we end up getting more distance from what surround us, not interacting so much with those in close proximity to us.

Last semester I developed a project that took a critical approach to bring awareness to this issue. Playing with the Real versus Virtual, Jealous Furniture criticizes the time we spend in front of a computer, connected to the "Virtual World" instead of enjoying the pleasure of "reality". Two objects, a lamp and a bookshelf, adapted " jealous" behaviors, calling attention or disturbing you. The lamp shakes and dims lights if we spend too much time online and the bookshelf throws books to the floor if it notices that we are just scanning websites, criticizing that we don't read but we scan data from website to website without absorbing and understanding their meaning. It was interesting to shift the point of view and play with objects that take a critical role, gain agency and personality and persuade us to take action and change our behavior.

I am a great enthusiast of digital technologies. They play an enormous role in shaping the world we live today and have become a vital part of our lives. But it's important to take a critical perspective about how it may be influencing and changing our behaviors, especially now since computing is becoming ubiquitous.
The city has already become a less social place. When we are in the public sphere we are only minimally social but nonetheless there still exist a social component. Does digital technology and mobile communication will take a small bite out of the already minimal sociability that is available? As Jane Jacobs noted, "what makes the public sphere so vibrant is the continual contact with unexpected forms of interactions. Not all are pleasant and not all are sought. Nonetheless there is a vital and a roundness that arise from our interaction with a variety of others, no matter how perfunctory".
If we are immersed into our own world, physically present but in "another place" - via the network - what will happen to the public sphere and the city?

Taking Jealous furniture as a reference point I started to be interested in exploring a similar approach but in the context of the city, using urban objects that already exists in the urban environment ( benches, phone booths, manhole covers, bus stops) as places/spaces of experiments and interventions.