Bruce Sterling is known as science fiction writer, in particular as father of the cyberpunk genre. Cyberpunk is mostly about a highly technological world, ruled by large corporations, where people struggle to survive in poverty and chaos; “High tech, low life”. Virtually as if he wanted to save us from this fate, Bruce over the last decade has less been engaged with fiction, but more with the technology-driven changes in the real world, however not only as a writer or speaker at conferences like Transmediale or Things Con in Berlin, but by taking action in the first place: One year ago he started ‘Casa Jasmina’ in Turin in Italy, a showroom for the domestic Internet of Things, together with the Serbian singer and activist Jasmina Tešanovi?, the eponym of the project. Casa Jasmina is about living comfortably with connected technology. This is by no means a matter of course. Although most people use a computer at home (today more likely smartphones or tablets than the ‘PC’), digital tech has not really become part of our home’s outfit. Most household appliances and other domestic stuff are not digital, and even less likely to be connected. Despite the industry’s promising for years to deliver domestic tech for the ‘smart home’, the offers don’t really pick up pace. The ‘intelligent fridge’ automatically re-ordering groceries has become synonym for technology that nobody would want. Bruce in contrast thinks that there would very well be room for digital and connected domestic technology; however not as presumed by Apple, Google, or Amazon. For this technology effectively becoming part of our home, it has to grow much more friendly, and less nerdy. And this is what is fathomed at Casa Jasmina. The Casa is located on the first floor (second floor in American counting) of an old industrial structure, right above the Fablab Turin, the first Italian Maker Space, and also home of the Arduino, which set standard for open source Internet of Things technology. The Maker movement has been demonstrating for a while now, how complex technology can be developed using up-to-date manufacturing methods, without the huge financial capacity of big industrial corporations. At the Fablab Turin, all kinds of furniture, tools, or devices are built with 3d-printers, laser cutters, or their own industrial robot; all open source, i.e. free to be copied, forked, and to be further advanced. The Arduino is also a technology that makes it easy to realize ‘smart things’. Together with Massimo Banzi, one of the inventors of the Arduino, Bruce has recently published a manifesto setting three criteria for a good IoT: Openness, sustainability, and fairness. While we simply accept that computers or smartphones stop working after two years, this wasteful conduct with technology will hardly work in our home. A LED lamp can shine for twenty years, but this is of no avail if the software making it ‘smart’ is outdated after two years already. That this is not just theorizing was once more demonstrated by Google lately, who rendered devices of their ‘Nest’ brand useless via remote maintenance to force their customers to buy new ones. The third postulate, fairness, is probably the most important: not to spy on people, not to turn their data against them, to leave people the sovereignty over their data. Maybe something else is also key for domestic IoT to succeed: good Design. In May, Casa Jasmina was venue for the ‘Share Art’, an international competition for electronic art. A prominent jury with members such as MoMA design curator Paola Antonelli or star-astronaut Samanta Cristoforetti appointed ten out of some four hundred submissions. All pieces were about domestic tech, about the Internet of Things at home. Projects like the Share festival help to open the perspective on the design, the aesthetics of the things of everyday digital life, beyond the slick, shiny cases that we usually find our digital gadgets closed into. Hopefully, Bruce’s efforts catch on, and we will soon find copies of Casa Jasmina in other parts of the World. At SXSW conference at least, a Texan variety of the Casa was announced to arise in Austin.
When we first began the “Casa Jasmina” project, we imagined three functions for the space. It would be a laboratory, where we experimented with Maker Culture for housing. Also, it would be a guest house, where our visitors could eat and sleep.
The third aspect would be Casa Jasmina as a showplace for the public. In May 2016 we managed to transform the space from a “house” to a “museum.” In this essay I’ll describe a few of the lessons-learned from our “Museo Jasmina” experience.
First: becoming “public” requires work in public relations. Even if the Internet’s windows seem to yawn wide open to every spy and ad-man alive, the conceptual walls between public and private are still tall, strong and stout. The public will never walk inside a private home without compelling reasons.
Words aren’t enough. You might loudly declare that your “house” has become a “museum,” but the public will still shy away. It takes social tact to attract a public.
Raw numbers of people aren’t enough, either. A thousand scattered individuals using your social media platform are not the same phenomenon as a thousand people living in your city. Even if these thousand people are gathered in two big crowds in two auditoriums, they will regard themselves differently and behave differently because of the reasons why they gathered.
When and how do the “friends” in your social network become “the public”? That problem is subtle, like trying to turn factions and interest groups into a political coalition. People need rather a lot of motivation to coalesce into a “public.” You can’t just push a function-button and tell people to unite and be as one.
For instance, let’s take our own case: the people in the large Via Egeo post-industrial fortress in south Torino, Italy. Casa Jasmina is just one part of this huge, half-derelict ex-factory. Via Egeo also houses Toolbox Co-Working, Torino Fab Lab, Print Club and Officine Arduino. These interest groups and activists are in the same locale and they have plenty in common, yet they don’t add up to a “public.”
On the contrary: most everybody inside the Via Egeo building is busy on the Internet with colleagues and clients hundreds of kilometers away.
So at Via Egeo, we’re not a building with some networks. Basically, we’re networks within one building. This may seem like an arcane distinction, but you can see it from the way people behave.
Via Egeo gets plenty of foot traffic, there a lot of in-and-out, but they’re never the kind of public one sees entering a traditionally public building such as a museum, theater or library. We do get some “public” tour groups in Via Egeo, but they always have the look-and-feel of educational class tours. People are led around and told about the things they see, but they don’t settle in and participate.
Via Egeo lacks the right look-and-feel for the public life of Torino, Italy. People are apt at noticing these social cues within a building. People conform to the architecture. And Via Egeo has some rather strange environments.
Fab Labs are fascinating places. Fab Labs pride themselves on lowering the barriers-to-entry, so that, in theory, “anybody” can go right in and fabricate. But in practice, people don’t do that. Because Fab Labs frankly scare the public. The public is physically intimidated by machinery it doesn’t understand. The noise, the industrial smells and the piles of scrap in Fab Labs are disconcerting. People wisely fear injury in Fab Labs, especially to their rambunctious kids. And yet a public without any children isn’t really much of a “public.”
The people at work in a Fab Lab — no matter how personally friendly they are — have an an abstracted, hackerly air about them. Fab Labbers are not unconditionally supportive on principle, like, say, the guys attending Alcoholics Anonymous. No, Fab Lab denizens attend their Fab Lab because they grapple with grave personal creative problems. So they tend to be deep in their “zone,” and they can’t drop their tangled chains of inventive thought to indulge the ardent curiosity of some random ten-year-old.
So the Torino Fab Lab is not very “public,” and neither is its close pal upstairs, the Torino Arduino Office. The workers in this busy office are all open-source people, but their intellectual generosity and their democratic tendencies are a part of their daily labor. They do have their social platforms, and even a nice new Arduino Cloud, but they have no physical interface with which to meet-and-greet the walk-in public from off the street.
Their modest electronics office lacks a gift-shop or even a receptionist. Therefore, whenever a stranger somehow blunders into this crowd of activist geeks hunched over their computers, everyone reacts with a mild embarrassment.
The Toolbox Co-Working space, by sharp contrast, is the most civilized area in Via Egeo. Toolbox features genuine amenities. Receptionists are on duty. There are elegant places for strangers to sit. If you have some pocket-change you can even get yourself a coffee from a vending machine.
However, Toolbox is a design office designed for the use of designers. In short, it’s a business area.
The Print Club is downstairs in the obscure Via Egeo basement. These graphic designers are into typography and analog presses. Print Club are a club of dedicated people into doing arty stuff with colored ink on paper. I wouldn’t call them exclusive or snobby, but the public almost never encounters them.
So the public of Turin just doesn’t much mingle with Toolbox, Arduino Office, Fab Lab or Print Club. These four groups inside Via Egeo rarely visit each other, even, except for seminars, training lectures, show-and-tell meet-ups, and the occasional nice barbecue up on the roof.
They do have a clubhouse of sorts, though, which is “Casa Jasmina.” Casa Jasmina changes the social atmosphere inside Via Egeo because it is presented as a “house” rather than as a “lab,” “office,” “club” or “toolbox.” What’s more, these distinctions of space are much more than verbal labels: people genuinely change how they behave. You can see that in their posture, tone of voice, how they move, sit, eat and even what topics they choose to talk about. In physical reality they’re merely differently decorated rooms in one old factory, but in social reality, they function as a lab, office, club, toolbox and also a house.
I wouldn’t have believed that two years ago, but having seen it at first hand, now I do.
At Casa Jasmina, it’s important for us to test the boundaries of what a “house” can be and do in a networked society. As an “internet-of-things” house, we’re concerned about the changing boundaries of public and private space and their effects on people’s well-being. Many and various electronic holes are being blasted through our previous habits of behavior. We need good ways to become more attentive to what this means and how it feels. We also need to raise public awareness of what is happening.
Casa Jasmina is a house as a social experiment. As an experiment, it mostly interests certain groups of specialists in interaction design, electronics, and Maker culture. Yet it’s also a house, and it might even be called a “famous” house. We get general press attention in Turin and elsewhere, but there is something narrow and cultish about our “fame.”
Commonly, with other, more conventionally “famous houses,” there are periodic “open house” situations where the public is encouraged to walk in and look around. But not us — our guests almost always show up in small groups from appointments made on the Internet. A public relations guy might call this our brand and identity problem.
To prepare “Casa Jasmina” for its public role as “Museo Jasmina,” we had to change some public perceptions. Somehow our cult lab for connected Maker Geeks had to become a place where normal people from Torino could appear and bring a cousin, a kid or a date.
So, we decided to host our favorite local art event, “Piemonte Share Festival,” inside the house. Share Festival is an annual art show in Torino that publicly displays six works of interactive media art, device art or kinetic art. Normally, the public Share Festival is held in one of Torino’s numerous public museums. But, since Jasmina Tesanovic and Bruce Sterling are both on Share Festival’s board of directors, we were able to persuade our Share colleagues to give Via Egeo a try as their new venue for 2016.
The chosen theme for Share Festival 2016 was “House Guests,” and this theme naturally centered on device art, kinetic art or interactive media art meant for a house. Electronic art for the connected home is quite an interesting topic. I wrote a nifty essay about that in our beautiful Share Festival 2016 “House Guests” brochure, but sadly, my dazzling art-critical eloquence is not entirely to the point in the blogpost here.
Suffice to say that we had acquired a “public festival” to feature in our “house.” We knew that we could physically jam the one into the other, but then how could we persuade people that a “house” was a “public museum”?
Well, I wish I could say that we solved this issue all by ourselves, but no. We didn’t. We had a clever hack. To make ourselves look more public, we brought in some public celebrities.
Samantha Cristoforetti is an Italian astronaut. Paola Antonelli is the design curator for the New York Museum of Modern Art. These two distinguished Italian women are public figures, and, better yet, they were sympathetic to our aims. So Samantha and Paola both served on our jury for Share Festival, where they help us pick out our six art-exhibits.
Their wisdom as art-event jurors was obviously handy, but their star-power was huge. Samantha and Paola are charismatic and famous, so we simply assembled some Turinese public (who were burningly eager to see them), and these two public figures then told the public that something public would happen.
Simple as that. Everybody instantly believed them. The mere fact that famous people said it was public made true.
There were fewer than 200 people in that room when Samantha and Paola appeared in public together at Via Egeo, but in short order the whole town knew about it. Casa Jasmina would be the public’s Museo Jasmina.
At this point, the reader might naturally object, “Hey wait a minute, you can’t solve your publicity problems just by hauling in some famous people! That’s not even fair!” And that’s true: we might have done otherwise, something more standard for contacting the public in 2016. For instance, a demographically targeted grass-roots campaign where we hired big-data analysts and deliberately targeted possibly-sympathetic Facebook users.
However, that approach costs a lot and takes patience and also has something creepy about it. Basically, we needed our “house” to come across like a “museum” in an Italian town. One kindly visit from a globally-known professional museum curator will really change that tone.
Plus, there’s the raw power of the human element. The living presence of Samantha and Paola had a lasting effect on the Via Egeo assemblage. Their intelligent expression of sympathy for our doings was a tonic for the general morale. It was quite an honor to have an astronaut and curator appear in Via Egeo, to speak up, press the flesh, take questions and all that.
People who are honored take themselves more seriously afterward. They know that their efforts are noticed, so they feel more consequential.
This is especially true in Italy, a very honor-centric society. In Italy, the famous are constantly on-call for ceremonial ribbon-cutting, intro-giving and general head-patting activities. Deploying famous Italian people is a public legitimation tool.
But although fame can seem like a short-cut or magic trick, fame exacts a price. If you re-frame good-old-fashioned “public fame” as “social capital in a network society,” then you’ll get a better sense of the modern difficulties there. Captain Samantha Cristoforetti is quite a famous astronaut, but she’s famous in a modern way, mostly through her rambling horde of social media followers. Boy, does she ever get hit-on for selfies.
If you’re dealing with famous people, it’s wise to offer them some shade from the full-on public glare. We had a lunch and dinner house-party inside Casa Jasmina for Samantha and Paola. These were two semi-public closed-door situations where guests could gather to share food and drink. Paola and Samantha were certainly the lionesses of these two little banquets, but at least they were able to eat in peace.
Catered parties are troublesome. They cost money and need awkward juggling with portable plates and glasses. The number of people present to eat was rather small, too. But these were truly public groups, a genuine cross-section of Turinese society. Everybody in the public knows how to eat. So people cheerfully arrived from way outside our standard cliques of techies, coders, artists and open-source hard ware fans.
Instead — much like fauns, nymphs, centaurs and other shy mythical creatures — we were hosting poets, musicians, academics, industrialists, politicians, aerospace engineers, society hostesses, and even lawyers and bankers. These people, who were happily munching their grissini breadsticks, actually looked and acted Turinese. Because they really were the locals, the neighbors.
These house-parties were the crucial dress-rehearsals for “Museo Jasmina.” They were informal gatherings, but the little public munching their chow was enthusiastic. Clearly it seemed refreshing, even cathartic for these Turinese influencer-types to find themselves inside a local “house” which is a former car factory-space full of Maker furniture and implausible 3DPrinted gizmos. They had plenty of opinions to share about everything they saw around them. As a plus, they were truly socializing rather than just social-networking.
The Turinese are a cautious and somber lot. But as the prosecco flowed, you could witness them getting into their situation, house of the future style. They left, well-fed, pleased with themselves and with a larger sense of their town’s potential. Everybody felt validated.
They were nice parties. When we bade Samantha and Paola a fond farewell, we felt perky about our prospects. Then came hard word of physically changing the space — from casa to museo.
That was laborious. If you choose to do a public event inside a space of your own, I would strongly suggest finding event designers. When you yourself are at home in a space, and you have an established, comfortable routine in there, it’s hard to see it with an objective eye.
Share Festival has done thirteen Share events in Torino, so we backed away, put our hands over our eyes and ears and let them have at it. They tore into Casa Jasmina with a will. They installed new public-friendly lighting. They removed all the doors from their hinges and hauled them out of the way. They repainted the walls and re-designed the terrace. They bored holes in the ceilings and installed media projectors. They even built fake walls in the bedroom and kitchen to hide the art machinery.
They moved the furniture to facilitate the flow of foot-traffic, and they put proper signage everywhere to guide people through the doors and up and down the stairs. Since some of them are trained architects, they even did all this according to city code.
For the Casa Jasmina staffers — the “jasmini” — this “improvement” was well-nigh traumatic. However, it was the right thing to do. The public has legitimate needs and interests. The public deserves respect from activists. The public should not be dismissed or demeaned as newbies, intruders, the masses, the great unwashed, freeloaders, takers, the proletariate. Those are insults. The public aren’t “users” or “customers,” but they are an entity that fully deserves designed attention.
Our network-society tends to aggressively design “at” the public rather than “for” the public. This is problematic, because we’re all “the public” sometime or somewhere, and therefore we’re basically working to hamper and damage ourselves.
The public doesn’t need endless striped barriers, strident warning signs, nagware scoldings, security vidcams and screechy, unappeasable, algorithmic IoT alarm systems. The public already has plenty of paranoid smart-city War on Terror hassle on its back. The public needs more sympathetic attention nowadays. Even an individual person can give it at least some.
With our “House Guests” theme, Share Festival was more kindly and hospitable than usual in 2016. As an Italian cyberculture event, Share Festival rather prides itself on sarcastic network-politics interventions and big, motor-driven works of awesome device-art than can easily kill you. Share tends to go for the weird, subversive and brainy, and when we chose to seclude Share Festival from the general Turinese art public by entering Via Egeo, we became more obscure rather than less.
Our Share Festival regulars and loyalists took the trouble to seek us out in Via Egeo. The artists also enjoyed the unusual venue, where they could hang out on the living-room couch paging through art books, sipping wine and eating excellent Piedmontese sausage. However, we were well outside the normal venues of the usual Turin museum system. We got no walk-ins by the usual foreign tourists, who rarely dream of venturing outside Turin’s downtown cappucino-and-gelato zone.
So we had a few lonely moments — but Via Egeo is also the headquarters of the Torino Mini Maker Faire. On the last day of our event a huge swarm of Makers showed up, fabbers, Turinese steampunks, coders, students, kids, grannies, whomever. Our attendance skyrocketed. We made a lot of new friends.
For Share Festival as a cultural event, the daring decision to cram a museum into a house was a qualified success. I doubt Share Festival will try that stunt again soon, but they can rightly brag that they pulled it off.
I won’t say much about the Share Festival artworks here, except to remark that the Share Prize winner for 2016 was Christoph Laimer with his Swiss, 3DPrinted, Tourbillon clock. This bizarre yet artful open-source gizmo really compelled the interest of the engineer-astronaut and the design curator. Christoph deserved his victory.
The “House Guests” edition of Share Festival also featured one especial “house guest,” which was “Seditionart.com.” Seditionart is a commercial gallery which is a marketing platform for digital media-art. Basically, SeditionArt are a website declaring themselves to be a “gallery,” in much the bold way that Casa Jasmina is a post-industrial networked space that declares itself to be a “house.”
SeditionArt are a London-based “gallery” with 50,000 patrons while we are a Turinese “house” with a swarm of Makers, but we share many similar design problems.
To list a few of our issues: we both have odd divisions between public and private, ownership issues with digital works, weirdly diffuse identities as lab/house/museum and gallery/website/art-market, the home ownership and home display of “artworks” that actually originate in Internet clouds… At Casa Jasmina we’re grateful for the bold example, and really, the leadership of SeditionArt. If they ever resolve their problems we can probably resolve a lot of ours. In the meantime we’re happy to declare that we are a “house” where works of “SeditionArt” have a home.
So that concludes the saga of “Museo Jasmina,” an effort that we had to undertake in order to prove that we could. We did it, and it’s over now, thank goodness. It was hard work. Except for building and furnishing the house itself — “Museo Jasmina” was the largest project that Casa Jasmina has yet carried out.
Big news this year for the IV edition of Makers Faire Rome to be held October 14th to 16th in the spaces of Fiera di Roma.
Apart from the 100K prize for the best project, this year in addition to the classic call for makers, the organizers have decided to support specific call in collaboration with projects and organizations to explore makers and new technologies hot topics. Casa Jasmina has also made ??its contribution with Maker Faire Home: a call for residencies in which we invited designers, artists and makers to submit their ideas and have the opportunity to spend a week at Casa Jasmina. Flanked by Fablab Torino team , Arduino.cc-Genuino and Casa Jasmina, the selected projects will be developed and prototyped.
During Maker Faire Roma Casa Jasmina will have a 100 square meters space in which will show not only the selected projects, but even the best projects in line with the principles of Casa Jasmina.
But let’s get to our Maker Faire Home, the call for residency : we had more than 30 application and select the best ideas was difficult for the quality of the projects submitted.
The jury headed by Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tešanovi? has finally selected 7 projects:
1. Hands(H)ome | Giorgia Sperandio
2. Snail Box | Silvia Galfo, Riccardo Agosto, Samuele Baruzzi, Daniele Bertoglio, Ettore Fassino
3. Bizmo | Opendesk
4. Daisy | Valentina Lapolla
5. Spimeio | Michel Erler
6. Il Guastafeste | Ivan Iovine
7. Mooor | Fabia Ciccone, Samuele Miatello, Marco Piscopo
8. Smog Bazooka | Jacob Boast (with reserve)
The jury tried to focus on some key points for the selection looking for topics closed to Casa Jasmina researchs such as privacy , interfaces and simplification. Next step, will be inviting our winners at Casa Jasmina and prototype their ideas.It promises to be a major challenge…stay tuned for news.
Here we are…it’s the end of March, and for those who are involved in design, this means just one thing: Milan and Salone del Mobile are almost there.
There will be, as usual, more than a thousand of events scheduled around the city, shoes to consume and a lot of concentration, in order to see as much as possible. In all this chaos of events , we propose an agenda of events dedicated to Casa Jasmina, open source, IoT and the smart objects.
So let’s start with Genuino and Casa Jasmina: Casa Jasmina will present at Atelier Clerici, as host of Joseph Grima, GIT-COMMIT. GIT-COMMIT is an interactive exhibition that attempts to open a dialogue on ideas, expectations and critical issues about the “connected living” of the future. GIT-COMMIT will be present from the 12th to the 17th April, on the main floor of Palazzo Clerici, and consists of a web interface which communicates with four small thermal printers. With GIT-COMMIT visitors will be confronted with four questions on the future home via the web page, and each printer will translate their responses in a continual flow chart. GIT-COMMIT has been developed with Genuino MKR1000, a powerful board that combines Genuino Zero features and Wi-Fi shield to create IoT projects.
Made in collaboration with opendesk, the Londonears collective of open design, GIT-COMMIT will see the participation of students of Interaction design Master of SUPSI Lugano and studio Folder. Studio Folder will run a 2 days workshop for SUPSI’s students to investigate feedback gathered previously from the printers, and will present some graphic representation the 15th April at Atelier Clerici.
In addition to having it’s own space with GIT-COMMIT, Casa Jasmina will be present with The Good Home with small workshop to explore openness and privacy in the design of homes connected and the spatial experiences they offer.
Parasite 2.0 at Palazzo Clerici, will present a conversation about the domestic landscape and the idea of a private space in the era of the “sharing economy”where Casa Jasmina is involved. Carlo Ratti will be present at Triennale with Lift-Bit, a smart home furniture piece that will change the idea of interior design.
These and other events are waiting for us in Milan this year, the impression is that we start to talk about IoT even in the classic design places, that designers are increasingly concerned by what is happening on the domestic scene and that people should be more and more involved to understand needs and expectations.
Last month Casa Jasmina, with the support of Toolbox co-working and Fablab Torino, hosted for the entire February a workshop of School of Ma (School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe). The workshop was run by Sitraka Rakotoniaina and Andrew Friend with a three day participation of Iohanna Nicenboim.
The projects were based on speculative design and the results were presented at Casa Jasmina the 27th of February during our birthday.
But what about the projects? We are presenting in this blog-post two projects based on some speculations on the coming future…
The Empathy Bomber Backpack is a speculative object designed for the extreme activists of a near-future where biological contraband creates a chemical metaphor of the ‘empathy warfare’ that defines our globe today. If today activists use terror to send a blunt and devastating message, the activists of tomorrow have concocted a plan to go straight to the core of their intentions, to enforce genuine understanding through extreme measures. This futuristic Bomber Backpack was designed by Monique Grimord, interactive designer and social prototyper, with a master in Graphic Design from SCAD, and a background in political science. Monique lives in São Paulo, Brazil, where she invents objects for socio-political storytelling, using design fictions as a method of cultural commentary.
The second speculative project is Growing Trash by Matt Visco, a creative technologist whose work focuses on design interactions aimed at exposing the hidden elements of daily life. Matt’s work manifests itself in both digital and physical objects that contain embedded behaviors. Matt holds a degree in computer science from University of Berkeley, California and is currently working as a freelance developer and designer in Oakland, California.
Growing Trash aims to provoke these questions in its user. As the can fills, it grows taller to create more space. This encourages the user to be lazy, space becomes seemingly endless and the need to take out the trash disappears. As the trash can growa, taking out the trash becomes more challenging. The user is forced into a conundrum; either submit to complete laziness and let the trash pile up around the can or take initiative and put in the extra work to take out the trash. This object promotes laziness but due to it’s absurdity generates self-awareness and potentially leads to corrective behavior. Unread Cats takes this concept to the digital realm. When a user opens their gmail they are bombarded by videos of cats based on their amount of unread emails. If a user has only one unread email they only receive one cat video, a pleasant addition to checking mail. As the user gets lazier with reading their emails more cats videos appear. This promotes laziness by overwhelming you with funny yet mindless material for you to digest. The user is incentivized to not check their mail and watch cat videos instead. Again this promotes laziness by encouraging the user to watch these videos but in rendering your mail virtually ineffective over time it also creates a self-awareness.
Both Monique and Matt during the four weeks workshop, used all the Fablab‘s facilities and Genuino‘s boards to create the interaction and give life to their projects.
On the same time, Iohanna Nicenboim came as visiting tutor and was guest of Casa Jasmina. We asked Iohanna her experience as designer and as guest of Casa Jasmina, here the entire interview
- Hi Iohanna! You recently won the Internet of Things People’s Choice Award for the Best Design Fiction Project of 2015/16. Congratulations! Can you tell us about your background and what led you to even becoming interested in the field of IoT?
Hi! Thank you. My background is in Product Design and New Media, so somehow the IoT connects these two. I was always interested in technology, but sometimes found the ‘screen paradigm’ very cold and limited. Thus, researching about Ubiquitous Computing and the IoT was fascinating, as I could finally imagine interactions with technology being part of our everyday life, and especially embedded in the physical world of objects. However, I still think there is a lot of work to do for designers of the IoT: its social aspects are not well explored and there is a gap between user-centered and thing-centered design. Thus, trying to understand this technology’s challenges and possibilities, and especially how we would like to adopt and domesticate it, are my personal interests right now.
- Tell us more about your winning project Objects of Research. What were you hoping to achieve in creating these objects? In the end, did they meet your expectation?
Objects of Research is a critical design project about the IoT. It focuses on the question: ‘WHO is the OBJECT in the Internet of Things?’ With this question, I suggest that we, humans, might not be the customers or the users of the IoT anymore, but rather the objects. This idea is based on the current trends of quantification, as well as the current models of online services, in which we are the producers of data, which is used by companies and governments. Around this ideas, I explored the scenario in which artefacts in the house could not only collect data, but also use us as subjects (or objects?) of their research. Through four fictional devices, I examined the challenges and risks of adopting the current models of the online services, into our future houses. Thus, my goal was to trigger a critical reflection on what kind of Internet we would like to adopt in Things. I think it is important for designers to address the Internet of Things also critically, as that could help us identify and reflect on some of the challenges we might face in adopting this technology. Thus, my aim with this project was to problematize the IoT, and try to break with the current discourses which are extremely positive, preventing us from understanding its social implications.
- You came to Torino to visit with students from School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe. What incite did you share and which did you gain?
I know Rachel Uwa for some years and was following the School of Ma since it started. When she told me the premise for her next program in Turin, I thought it was a great opportunity to join. I felt very connected with the starting point for “Coming Soon” which proposed to explore how we could reflect the subtleties and complexities of our human nature in the devices we create. I especially liked that the program was about IoT, but with a focus on culture and ethics. I was also excited to meet the instructors, Sitraka Rakotoniaina and Andrew Friend, and enjoyed sharing a small part of the program with them. The group was really creative and open, and I loved the atmosphere that Rachel and Casa Jasmina provided. It was so much fun to hear about their process and ideas, it was truly inspiring for me!
- While here, you were hosted by Casa Jasmina. What was that experience like for you?
Living at Casa Jasmina was a very interesting experience for me as a designer, which I would call a “real design fiction” or a “What if? experience .” Since I work in the field of design fiction, I always create making-belive projects, in which I come up with an idea and through videos and images make it credible for others. But being at Casa Jasmina was like embedding myself into the fiction: Every light I turned on, every noise from the heating or move from the wind, made me think, what if things around were connected or alive? How would I like to interact with them? And especially, how would this change my relationship with the house? Additionally, I knew the house was not very technological, but I discovered that exactly that might be its great potential: leaving things open lets us imagine alternative interactions that are very different from the superficial promises of IoT commercials. Instead, the openness allowed me to think how would I like a connected home to be, which is much more important.
- How do you imagine the future of Casa Jasmina? As a designer what do you expect from the project?
I think the real challenge of the IoT is to go beyond connecting artifacts, and rather imagine which new kinds of objects could exist and which new relationships we could have with and through them. One of the most interesting aspects for me about the IoT is that it can radically impact on the way we perceive objects, our houses, and ourselves. Once our houses get connected to the internet, the idea of “home“ might change dramatically. So I think Casa Jasmina is a great way to explore how people might perceive “home” in the future and what could be the impact of this shift for the design of IoT. Personally, I think it is a great playground for designers, a place to imagine and explore questions in a very free way.
- At some point, you shared an idea for how the Casa Jasmina space could be divided which was quite interesting. What came of this idea in the end? You will come later, in the summer, for a residency in Casa Jasmina to develop this project. What do you expect from this experience?
Yes, the plan is to come back in the summer to work on an idea I had while I was staying at the house. The idea is based on my experience that there were spaces which seemed more private than others. Some places might like to share informations and some others might need to keep secrets.. as in every house. So my challenge is to reflect the privacy of spaces with design, finding an interesting design language. I want to explore Privacy not as a dichotomy, but as a more complex gradient of personal values. I would like to start this exploration on door-knobs, as I am really interested in the infrastructural elements of the house. I like the tension between the visibility and invisibility of the infrastructures in connected houses, and I think that by drawing attention to the physical infrastructures, people could be more aware of the invisible infrastructures of spaces we inhabit, such as networks.
- Could you tell to a designer and a normal guest the reason to come and visit Casa Jasmina?
Reasons are many, but among them: to meet the amazing team of Casa Jasmina, to enjoy a nice meal and relax in the bright and beautiful space they have, and to travel in time once you go out of the door: Turin is a magical city where time has stopped, and the future is coming soon 😉 What advice would you give to others thinking to visit Casa Jasmina to help them best utilize their time in the space? Personally, I think it’s good to be there and let the house talk to you. In the Fablab you can build everything, but I think it would be important to understand what are the needs and possibilities of that particular space. My recommendations are: Be ready to be surprised, and to challenge your assumptions of what a Smart Home should be – instead, you can imagine what kind of smart home you would like it to be. I think it would be good to do a short (research) visit and then come back and build your project!
- What are your upcoming plans? Any new IoT objects on the horizon or what’s next for you?
Right now I am developing some new ideas, which I will show in Milan in the Salone del Mobile as part of the Good Home project. I am also planning a workshop in Berlin around March at Art+Com Explore, and extremely excited about going back to Casa Jasmina in the summer for a residency.
Casa Jasmina is already in orbit waiting for its special guests.
This is the eleventh consecutive year for the Italian electronic art fair SHARE FESTIVAL. SHARE FESTIVAL is a cross-disciplinary platform for the promotion of contemporary art and culture in all its creative forms.
The headquarter of the 2016 edition of SHARE FESTIVAL will be Casa Jasmina, the perfect place for SHARE that has moved directly into the means of production for Italian digital art and crafts.
Hosted in the post-industrial building that Casa Jasmina shares with Fablab Torino and Officine Arduino, this year edition sounds great with the theme “House guests”. SHARE will take place in May and immediately followed by the Torino Mini Maker Fair with its lively burst of digital.
With a ten days exhibition, Share Festival will show in May the six artworks chosen by its jury from around the world, exhibited at Fablab Torino and Casa Jasmina spaces.
Casa Jasmina will also host a special show of artworks chosen from SeditionArt.com. SeditionArt is a new commercial gallery for code art and media art, where screen display rights to limited-edition electronic works can be privately collected, purchased, and traded online.
For this edition SHARE decided to invite as jury members two special guests: Cap. Samantha Cristoforetti and Paola Antonelli
Captain Samantha Cristoforetti is an European Space Agency astronaut, engineer and design enthusiast. Paola Antonelli, born in Sardegna, is the Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture & Design as well as the Director of R&D at MoMA New York. Paola Antonelli was responsible for adding video games, the Arduino control board and innovative 3DPrinted objects to the NY MoMA’s permanent design collection.
The jury is completed by Chiara Garibaldi, the SHARE Festival director, Jasmina Tesanovic, widely known as “the Jasmina of Casa Jasmina,” and American author Bruce Sterling, curator of the event.
For the meeting of the jury the 4th March a public appearance of Samantha Cristoforetti and Paola Antonelli is scheduled. Around 17:30 pm they will show up for a public talk at Toolbox coworking.
We have few free places to attende the talk the 4th of March, we will open this Eventbrite link at 12:00 the 2nd of March. Please follow the link and be sure to reserve you place.
If you can’t reserve it come to join us, it will be a room 42 m from the live room, where we will follow all together the talk.
See you the 4th of March!!
Last night from 6:30 pm Turin GMT (we love Turin), Casa Jasmina organized a Meetup at Toolbox’s entrance hall, to reflect and talk about the state of art of connected devices and design fiction.
What exactly is coming soon? This was the main question of the panel.
The first speaker was Regine Debatty, editor of the famous blog “we make money not art”. She talked about the “Geological materiality of the Internet of Things”.
Ranging from the extraction of minerals to the production of artifacts, from the mass distribution to Amazon’s workers conditions; how Pink Floyd should say, she highlighted the dark side of the IoT, reflecting about who finally is the machine. Humans or things?
Same questions but from consumers’s point of view for the presentation of Iohanna Nicenboim, whose projects are in this moment at Casa Jasmina.
Iohanna, who won this year the IoT Awards as Best design fiction objects, on her projects reflects on: “what are the implications of giving objects more power?”
They presented their design fiction projects, based on interaction between reality and imagination, increasing the experience and underlining the power of creativity.
The Meetup ended with some questions on the aesthetics of new devices and their future potentialities.
This was the second Meetup organized by Casa Jasmina and with many participants was the second in a long series.
This is the link to watch the video.
The Academy awards night is coming and is a perfect moment to be nominated and to win a prize. Casa Jasmina (without any golden statuette) won its prize yesterday: the Internet of Things Awards as best IoT open source project chosen by the editors.
The Open Source award “honors projects that bring those values to the Internet of Things, either by incorporating open source technology or by making public the details of their own designs and software”, this is the idea of the IoT awards organization in which Casa Jasmina completely believes.
The open source movement is for Arduino and consequently for Casa Jasmina, the core of internet in terms of hardware, software and protocols that compose the global communication infrastructure, and in this way the power of collaborative development is the main focus of Casa Jasmina idea.
As a futuristic Wunderkammer, Casa Jasmina will collect and share artificialia to present in a open way system what and how the IoT concepts will change the daily home life.
Winning this competition is for Casa Jasmina the acknowledgement of a project that take on to transform into reality a series of reflections around IoT and open source. Casa Jasmina is really proud to have been selected between 21 projects, because this represent the attention we are trying to attract.
There is still a lot of work, Casa Jasmina is working hard to reach the goal; it’s not simple but awards like this give hope to the project, and show the interest that exists on these issues.
So thank you all
As part of the School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe’s four-week ‘Coming Soon’ program being held in collaboration with Officine Arduino, Casa Jasmina, and FabLab Torino, an informal panel and open discussion will take place at Casa Jasmina.
We will discuss about: speculative futures, connected devices and realizing designed fictions.
Special guests include Regine Debatty, curator, critic, and blogger of the illustrious website We Make Money Not Art, and Berlin-based designer and researcher, Iohanna Nicenboim, whose focus is on creating meaningful interactions with emerging technologies.
Leading the discussion will be the instructors of the ‘Coming Soon’ program, Andrew Friend and Sitraka Rakotoniaina, a London-based collaborative duo specialised in designing objects, artefacts and devices as a form of storytelling to question and excite. Together they exam relationships between the known and unknown, the real and imagined in the individual quest to harness the sublime.
About our guests
We are really happy that Cristina Zilio worked with Casa Jasmina for her graduation project!
With the goal of narrating the all Casa Jasmina project, she designed 5 posters explaining key aspects of 5 emblematic projects hosted inside Casa Jasmina.
One poster is about the smart Thermostat, another one tell a story about the night lamp by Alessandra Deschamps-Sonsino.
Then there is a poster about the ethical fan by Simone Rebaudengo and Matthieu Cherubini, one about the Opendesk table ad the last one about the kitchen.
One of the poster has been silk-printed with the precious help of the PrintClub.
All the posters will be hang and showed up on Casa Jasmina.
Check them out!