Casa Jasmina had the chance to join a Mozilla event hosted in the Rockfeller Foundation Center, Bellagio (IT). The Topic of the week was to reimagine a healthier Internet of Things, with a specific focus on voice.
The group of amazing professionals we had the chance to work with embraced a wide range of points of view, experiences, and lives.We felt – as often said – dwarfes on giants’ shoulders, bringing Casa Jasmina’s experience in the space of connected devices in a home, private environment.
It’s hard to depict all the different facets of such a complex and evolving topic. We tried our best to report back to the audience the state of the open-source environment around the home and voice nowadays, with so many – almost daily/weekly launches around such concepts.
This is our day-to-day discussion in Casa Jasmina lately.
Business and IoT
In the role of representing Casa Jasmina, I had the chance to work with Solana Larsen and Gillian Crampton-Smith on the business side of the IoT domestic appliance
The amount of data we produce is massive, and massively growing. And there are risks and evidence of this data being leveraged as a tool of commercial exploitation and political control. The Cambridge Analytica propaganda campaign for Brexit is just one example of what happens at the nexus of business and politics to use data profiling to gain power.
There are many clean and transparent tools to protect yourself (and that is what we promote that), but we witnessed a bigger problem: there is not a clean view about the ownership this collected data is referred to: the collector? The “author”?
If anonymity becomes a lux, and our choices traded, to what extent is our daily life and point of views not to be sold directly from us individually, or even in consortium? This – a little project and proposal based on simple assumptions about our daily behaviours and facts – is the work I’ve shared with Solana Larsen in our last days of Bellagio. (I have to say I’m honoured to have worked with the editor of the Internet Health Report).
“SmartThings is constantly phoning home” / http://imgur.com/rgUwD9Y Tools like pi-hole or dowse help us realize what is really going on in our networks / mobiles / homes / desktops.
The days in which our experience of the digital and physical worlds were separate are gone: our home is a massive data producer, of our voices, (and soon our smells when we’ll be able to monitor it).
The way we are monitored by different sites / scripts / tools is passive (i.e. we are not aware of it. It’s not mentioned by most of the services doing it, it’s a sort of hidden action). We are using a lot of free tools and services in which we are unwittingly the product of the transaction.
The idea of an active monitoring (“I know I’m monitored”) and a direct monetization would reposition the user in the center of the transaction.
Michael story of the webcam
Mike Henrty interviews 5 people. It shows them a online store that sells different webcams with similar prices and specifications. One of them has a “privacy champion” tag, which doesn’t get noticed or taken into account as an element for choice. One of the hypothetical scenarios we journeyed was having the very same store selling a webcam that was being advertised as selling (when setted to its “sell” function) your informations on purpose, and gain money out of it.
2) What we should do
Legal advocacy for data ownership rights – We need think of ways to position the creator (the data laborer?) as the owner of his/her personal data and decider of how it is shared/sold/remixed/resold. A Stock Exchange for Your Personal Data [Gillian]
Multistakeholder process to decide governance framework for ethical trade – We need more thinking on better business models than the ones that have evolved from the flawed online ad industry, data mining, data brokering and invisible transactions that exist today. Information Fiduciaries and the First
Develop and support tools that enable personal data monitoring and management – If we are to better understand, explain, gauge and manage our data we need mechanisms for measuring across multiple devices, physical location, time and input sources. Dowse, Pi-Hole
Evolve thinking around new business models involving data – We need to support creativity and scholarship around rethinking existing models, especially for IoT and disruptive Internet applications, voice, including data banks, fiduciaries, federated systems, blockchain, etc. Links: voice.mozilla.org, Tangle
At the end of the week we had to give what would have been our effort in trying to change or make this situation better.
Our (this is personal, but also shared with the Casa Jasmina Team) was: we’ll work in testing and developing different tools for a clean transparent digital home, in which different product (both proprietary and close or open-source) can coexist in the good of the inhabitant.
For Salone del Mobile week, a little piece of Casa Jasmina will be at Milano Design Week. Or rather, a postcard.
Postcard from Casa Jasmina – Chatting with the Home of the Future is an interactive installation representing a compact version of the home of the future. The exhibition is part of tech.NO.MAD – Feeling at Home Everywhere, an event born in collaboration with ThingsCon Milan, growITup, Cariplo Factory, THINGS and The Good Home. Five days of talks, workshops and exhibits on the concept of a neo-nomadic lifestyle. Because nowadays, with the aid of technology, one can feel at home anytime and anywhere.
The installation is made of six devices, framed in simple and archetypal wooden structures, for six of the most common functions in a domestic setting: a temperature control system, a sensor tower, a lightning system, an amplifier, a small thermal printer and a smart mirror. All made by hand in Fablab Torino, with open source technologies that are available to anyone.
Not only a collection of the best of Casa Jasmina, but first and foremost an interactive experience. Postcard from Casa Jasmina replicates a 1:1 model of a home automation system, in which all the devices can be controlled by the visitors through their smartphone.
What makes it possible is a chatbot: a software that is able to simulate a conversation with the user, responding to his requests. The exhibition is based on a conversational UI system designed to make the interaction process and the chatbot’s behaviour more and more sophisticated – to the point where the chatbot itself will try to anticipate the users’ desires and needs.
Postcard from Casa Jasmina is open for visitors on 5 – 9 of April, from 9.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. and located in Cariplo Factory, via Bergognone 34, Milan.
A whole day in Casa Jasmina to discuss people’s expectations on IoT, home automation and the employ of chatbots. This is Una domenica a Casa Jasmina, the user research workshop run by UXPills with Ilaria Scarpellini and Mattia Della Libera.
On Sunday, February 5th, we hosted a group of twelve potential users and asked them to imagine how a chatbot would run the automated house of the future.
But first, we had to identify the needs it should address.
Security, well-being, savings and entertainment were the four main themes we found, and each got assigned to a different workgroup. The groups were asked to imagine a chatbot taking care of these issues in the house.
Throughout the confrontation, four distinct chatbot personalities emerged.
There is the Mom chatbot, taking care of the house chores but, most of all, constantly worrying for the user’s health and providing affectionate advice.
The Butler chatbot has a similar function, making sure that everything in the house runs smoothly, but it knows its place and acts in a much more detached manner towards the user.
Then we have the Handyman chatbot (or the McGyver chatbot, if you will). What it does is solve problems, fix things and provide smart solutions.
Finally, the Friend chatbot is… well, your friend: it’s all about interacting and having fun with the user while performing its duties, which often include setting the right music for a party or selecting the movies to watch according to the user’s mood.
UXPills provided a BOT kit that was used by the groups to imagine scenarios for each bot, enacting how the interaction process would take place.
The results were interesting, sometimes hilarious, and certainly provided a lot of ideas. The UX designers of the future have a lot to think about!
On Saturday, February 4th 2017 Casa Jasmina hosted DSI4EU Internet of Things and Social Impact workshop, with Zoe Romano (WeMake) and Serena Cangiano (SUPSI Lugano).
Born in 2013, DSI4EU is a research project on digital and social innovation dedicated to investigating the employment of digital technology in social innovation projects and organizations, trying to create a network between these realities and, ultimately, to build a European community of social innovators.
The aim of the workshop was to discuss how Internet of Things, open source and maker projects can make a stronger impact on society. To do it we gathered people who are working on projects that use IoT technologies to address social issues, like open source hardware, health, environment, the creation of new business models.
We discussed how values like collectivity, open technology, communication and economic sustainabilty are at the core of the maker community. But how can these entities become digital innovators? Which are the strategies to employ in order to scale and make a better impact?
The workgroups were introduced to a DSI Kit, an open source tool to help them create a Digital Social Innovation Scale to develop their projects in this direction and go from makers to changemakers.
Here is Serena Cangiano’s thoughts on the experience:
“The workshop was a participative experiment through which we managed to define how social innovation projects that use IoT technologies can scale and make a stronger impact. It wasn’t a formation experience based on infallible methods. Rather, we learned through confrontation which are the strategies and actions one can dispose of to put maker projects in a social prospective”.
You can find the DSI scales produced during the workshop HERE.
Casa Jasmina is happy to announce that our Airbnb is officially open! Starting today, you will be able to rent the apartment and be our guest in the home of the future.
Since its inauguration in 2014, Casa Jasmina has been an open source project: we opened our doors to innovation and creativity, to a new concept of “home”, to so many talented and clever people (now friends) who filled the rooms with their amazing creations.
Now we’re ready to open our doors and welcome anyone who wants to experience Casa Jasmina. Our guests will be part of the ongoing and ever-growing project that is Casa Jasmina with their feedback, suggestions and ideas.
You will find that the home of the future is indeed very “homey”. You will not be facing a sci-fi scenario with hyper technological robots and sterile machines. We want Casa Jasmina to be a place where people can really see themselves living in a near future, with smart, easy-to-use and concrete objects, devices and solutions.
You will chill in a livingroom filled with parametric furniture and play with the lovely Pipedo. Like our Noctambula lamp? You can later download it and make it for yourself. You can enjoy a good breakfast in the kitchen or, when it’s sunny, on the terrace. And really breath in the atmosphere of via Egeo, a hot spot for creative people in Turin, with Fablab and Toolbox Coworking.
On the opening night (November 26th, 2016) we are glad to be hosting a very special guest: the first to spend the night at Casa Jasmina will be independent architecture and design journalist Annalisa Rosso. In November 2016 she was the curator of the 7th edition of Operae – Independent Design Festival in Turin (you can see her profile here) – which is why we are a perfect match!
There’s more! We have some exciting news for the many people, near and far, who have been watching the Casa Jasmina project grow over the last two years (and for those who have just found out about it, too).
Soon we will open our new Instagram channel with a special initiative to give you the opportunity to be our guest at Casa Jasmina.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned for updates.
And for creatives, designers and makers, we’ll be launching a new Call for Ideas soon. Stay tuned on social media and on our website for updates!
Can’t wait to rent Casa Jasmina? Find it on Airbnb HERE.
Casa Jasmina is proud to announce that our project has been selected for the 9th edition of Breazley Designs of the Year exhibition at Design Museum, London! Starting November 24th, 2016 and until February 19th, 2017, a selection of Casa Jasmina projects will be on display. The exhibition is part of the Museum’s re-opening programme in its beautiful new location in Kensington.
Casa Jasmina is one of the 70 nominees for the Designs of the Year Awards, competing in the Digital category alongside with other amazing projects.
It’s a great honor to be part of the exhibition among so many brilliant, beautiful and bizarre projects: an augmented reality device that allows you to see the world through the eyes of an animal, a moth design generator, a do-it-yourself surgery tool and many more, including Fondazione Prada (Milan) and the design of David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar.
Beazley Designs of the Year has always been an initiative which looks forward to innovative forms of design and new ways to conceive arts:
Beazley Designs of the Year celebrates design that promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year. Someday the other museums will be showing this stuff.
The projects hosted at the exhibition are, so to say, the art of the future. There’s no better place, then, for Casa Jasmina, the house of the future!
If you happen to be in London during the next months, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit the exhibition. For opening hours, booking your tickets and more info you can visit the Design Museum website.
And don’t forget to cross your fingers and wish us luck for the Award!
For this third residency period, Casa Jasmina is hosting two Italian makers: Valentina Lapolla from Tuscany and Ivan Iovine from Italian Switzerland.
Let’s start with Valentina
Valentina is a visual artist, living and working in Prato (IT). After a degree in environmental engineering and a PHD in applied statistics, she joined SenzaDimoraFissa group of artists and activists, founded by the photographer Andrea Abati. Based on a conceptual footing, her work is developed in an ongoing dialogue with reality and make use of many different media. Some of her recent projects are based on open source electronics.
Her work has been shown at Fondazione Fotografia (Modena, IT), Museo Pecci (Prato, IT), Casa Masaccio (S.Giovanni Valdarno, IT), Tenuta dello Scompiglio (Lucca, IT), Dryphoto arte contemporanea (Prato, IT), Museo de la Universidad de Alicante (Spain) among other venues. She won the Fondazione Fotografia Special Italia 2010 Award, the Portali dello Scompiglio Award and Special Mention at Un’opera per il castello Award (Naple, IT). For Maker Faire Home, she is working on Daisy is a paper flower that helps us to easily and clearly visualize air quality values.
The more Daisy is open, the more air is clean; the more air is polluted, the more Daisy is closed.
I like the idea of transforming an ephemeral and beautiful decoration into a visualizer of such a relevant issue.
With the precious help and expertise of Casa Jasmina team I’m sure we will be able to develop an enjoyable and helpful object.
Ivan Iovine, born in Ticino 26 years ago from Italian parents. He studied IT Business in Bellinzona (Swiss Diplom), after that, he choosed to move on and try a new life experience in Germany, first in Munich, where he worked one year as web developer, then in Frankfurt, where he actually live. In this last step of his life, he decided to start a new study where his actual IT competence can be combined with his creative skills. He is actually studying Interactive Media Design at Hochschule Darmstadt.
Ivan is working on “Il Guastafeste. He describes it as:
Il Guastafeste is a system that interacts directly with audio and lights devices presents at home. The system is composed by a sound sensor and a trumpet form object. The sound sensor is located near the house door, it detects how many Decibel coming from the flat, if the amount of decibel after 22 o’clock is more than the amount of decibel defined by law, the system will adjust automatically the volume and send a feedback to the trumpet (located in the living room), the trumpet will send an audio and visual (printed statement) feedback to the user. If the user ignore the system and set the volume louder, il Guastafeste will react consequently, turning off the sound system and lights present in the living room, breaking the party.
Ivan also says:
I consider Casa Jasmina one of the greatest and most interesting project in the Internet of Things / Home Automation field, i’m very exiting to see how this project grow up, especially in relation of the Airbnb Project and what kind of ideas you will cooking up right now! For me is a great opportunity to join you, explore your world and understand your philosophy!
Working hard using DIY techniques and Genuino MKR1000, they have one week to finish their prototypes. Come to discover this nice and amazing projects at Maker Faire Rome from 14th to 16th October 2016.
From today Casa Jasmina will host Scarlett San Martin and Josh Harrington from Opendesk.
Opendesk provides designer furniture that can be made locally, anywhere in the world. Opendesk host design files for digitally fabricated products. They have a global network of makers and a collection of furniture by a range of international designers, many of which are available to download freely under a Creative Commons license. Rather than spending on shipping and high street retailers, Opendesk transparently communicates where your money goes — as well as the cost of materials and making (paid directly to the manufacturer), the final cost also includes a percentage for both the designer and the Opendesk platform.
With this principle as our guide, we designed the original Opendesk for London based software company Mint Digital. When their New York office needed desks, we shipped the CAD file, not the physical desks and Opendesk was born. Hardware as software, made locally and on demand.
Scarlett and Josh won one of our residency and have five days to prototype BIZMO/A, a robotic avatar to connect people working and living far from each other.
Today you can live in London and work for a company based in Tokyo (…).We want you to feel connected to the people that you’re working with, even if you’re not in the same space as them. We envisage that you might have a mini version of your colleagues on your desk in your office at home. You can tap them to get their attention. You can send them little voice messages. You can tell if they’re at their desk based on the activity of their avatar.
To develop BIZMO/A, Scarlett and Josh will use a Genuino MKR1000 combined with other technologies and hardwares.
We’re hoping to develop Bizmo/a into a proof of concept that shows how remote teams can feel closer even when they’re working on different sides of a country or the planet. Specifically, we want to work on some basic visual recognition of a team member and use that recognition to power Bizmo/a’s movements, if the team member tilts their head, their Bizmo/a does too. We want to give each Bizmo/a a specific personality as related to that team member, we’re planning on doing this by using CNC and laser cutting techniques to form unique avatar representations of people.
You’ll see Bizmo/a at Maker Faire Rome next October and stay tuned to follow the prototyping process.
Jacob Boast is an enthusiastic designer and engineer from UK. He is currently studying on the Innovation Design Engineering program at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.
Jacob will be the first designer hosted by Casa Jasmina for the Maker Faire Home residencies program. In collaboration with Maker Faire Rome, Casa Jasmina team is developing Maker Faire Home, a curating project that involve seven designers on a residencies program and will bring Casa Jasmina’s experience to European Maker Faire in Rome from October 14th to 16th.
Jacob will arrive next week the 25th to Turin for a one week residency with his SmogBazooka. SmogBazooka is a particulate pollution detector and collector.
“I am excited to be coming to Casa Jasmina in July to develop the SmogBazooka concept: a particulate pollution detector and collector for the home or in the community.”
SmogBazooka form-factor would be developed alongside the internal components housing to achieve a well-engineered and attractive, stylish and compelling device.
In line with the concept for being both an independent device in the home, or as part of a wider community network, Jacob will network the device, and control it through Arduino cloud app as well as by manual control on the device.
“I hope to use Casa Jasmina’s expertise in interaction design when doing this. Personally, I see Casa Jasmina as a fantastic opportunity to meet and connect with other designers and makers who aspire to create amazing functional, novel, sustainable and beautiful devices for the connected home of the future.”
Jacob is having the opportunity to work on one of his previous ideas. The challenge is to add new interaction aspects and to use Arduino Create and Cloud to control remotely the air purifier. SmogBazooka concept was already developed few months ago, now is time to give them a shape, an internet connection and an attractive interaction. Jacob will work on a lung like chamber, giving a life to the device.
Casa Jasmina team is happy to host and help Jacob and is looking forward to see him soon.
Follow next week the story of this first residency
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.