Tuesday, April 29

Architecture from around the net

When Gehry's Guggenheim museum in Bilbao opened in 1997, it immediately became a tourist attraction and revitalised the surrounding area, putting the Basque region "on the map" and winning praise from veteran architect Phillip Johnson as the "greatest building of our time". But the audacious, radical contours of it's shape also highlighted the vital importance of digital mediation in the practice - they would be "nearly impossible" to build without CAD and CATIA (Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Application) visualisations.

Lebanese architecture firm Atelier Hapsitus joins the dozens of high profile, high flying proposals currently underway in the UAE and Dubai, with it's fantastical Cloud building. And while the architects state (perhaps half seriously) that the project "is a dream, suspended between artificiality and reality", their cunning digital visualisations might just enable the Cloud to get off the ground.

Design boom has an extensive overview of dozens of other skyscrapers, 5 star hotels, and concept buildings currently under development. All prominently feature digital modeling and visualisation, some even basing their shapes entirely from algorhythmic forms. The Da Vinci rotating tower, with each story independently controlled, allows thousands of possible combinations, each able to be predicted by a computer simulation. The Dubai Hub One - a cultural and arts sphere - has been designed using "special programing scripts, creating a dense structure of spaces."

Buzzcut, a blog formerly focused on videogames, recently made the (not so) giant leap to focusing on virtual architecture, examining a range of digital and unrealised spaces, from SimCity to Second Life, Debord to Dubai. Virtual Suburbia continues in the same vein, focusing on the metaverse of SL and the dozens of innovative and unusual 'builds' from SL artists. Recent spaces include a replica of the Korova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange, historic snapshots of the early days of Second Life, and two major university student projects from Stockholm and Australia.

Not Possible IRL stays with the metaverse, staunchly concentrating on "well conceived and realised content creation in Second Life which would not be possible in real life". Not Possible recommended two spaces which still stand out to me as exceptional - Nathan Babcock's topographic terrain and AM Radio's wheat fields.

Finally Share Architecture and Best and Worst bring us firmly back to solid ground. Both sites are relatively new, the former highlighting new and innovating buildings globally as well as in New Zealand. Both sites also use the digital space as a sounding board - getting feedback via comments, forums, and polls, that will (ideally) come full circle, shaping the waterfronts, public spaces, and apartment buildings of the immediate future locally.

In Pictures: Babel Swarm installation

Babel Swarm, an interactive installation in Second Life has generated a lot of interest recently. A collaboration between Christopher Dodds, Adam Nash, and Justin Clemens, the work occupies a site in the metaverse, as well as being incorporated into a show at the Lismore Gallery in Australia. From the blog....

"Babelswarm is a real-time, interactive, audiovisual artwork built in Second Life. The installation is based on the story of The Tower of Babel – a mythical tale of humanity's desire to reach the heavens. Babelswarm is contained within an entire SIM with visitor chat captured and fed into a meta-babeller. This babeller spills words from the sky and into an amphitheater (performance space). The words shatter on their decent and, once settled, begin to swarm in random directions seeking out other letters that held the same numerical position in the word they were born with. If they find a partner they bond and help create the tower's structure. Eventually each letter will sleep, but can be re-awoken or destroyed by touch."

If you have Second Life installed, you can teleport directly to the installation via this SLURL (http://slurl.com/secondlife/ACVA/119/180/295/).

Sonics in South America

Sam Hamilton writes to let us know he's posted 170+ photographs of his recent South American odyssey on Flickr. Sam joined a group of other researchers, artists, and musicians in the Amazon, completing a series of field recordings of the rain forest, as well as workshopping and gigging throughout his trip.

Thursday, April 10

Phishing for change: Hye Rim gets hacked

"I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling to Africa" the email begins. It goes on to inform me that the sender is "really stranded in Nigeria because I forgot my little bag in the Taxi where my money, passport, documents and other valuable things were". After setting up the desperate situation, including a bullying Hotel Management and your friend now starving because of lack of funds, the clincher comes. "Please can you help me with a sum of $2700 to sort out my problems here?"

While everyones aware of the standard Nigerian money fraud scheme, it's rare that an entire email account can be hacked into, allowing a variation of this tactic to come from a good friend or colleague. But that's precisely what happened to Hye Rim Lee, the New Zealand based artist who's recently had a flurry of group and solo shows in New York. Strangely enough, the scam email coincides with some of Hye-Rims recent activity, the Africa trip to "empower youth to fight AIDs" is not too far off some recent charitable shows.

Phishing, baiting a victim in the hope of "catching" financial info or passports, has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. As the internet picked up mainstream use, amateur hackers could count on web neophytes to click on dubious links or open email attachments from strangers. With a heightened awareness of security, people are treating the greater web more like the street than their bedroom - no gifts from strangers. Very open social networks like MySpace are losing kids by the thousands to more exclusive, 'safer' platforms such as FaceBook. The result? Phishers have to look like your friends, or the people you do business with, to reel users in. Last week I received a Paypal email (shown above), which I quickly learned was a phishing attack. The email address was extremely similar to the official one. The logo, the layout, and the colouring were identical to the legit version.

ASB Bank and Kiwi Bank have both been the victim of fraudsters sending similar emails to their customers. In a famous attack several years ago, phishers set up a duplicate site for a major New Zealand bank, tricking customers into revealing their username and password. The phishers left the truly devastating part to the end: after they had obtained their catch, the user was simply given an error message and directed to the legit bank website, where the login 'worked' as usual. The result? No complaints, security crackdowns, or uproar. Just a steady string of lucrative bank account numbers.

100th Post!

A short very self-congratulatory post - Window:Scene has reached it's 100 post. I started the blog just under a year ago, and have since covered a gamut of topics, from fashion to architecture, videogames to videoart, as well as local events like gallery openings, film screenings, and sound gigs. If you've enjoyed the blog, drop me a comment.

Thursday, April 3

Play it! Make it! workshop media now online

Documentation from our recent Play it! Make it! exhibition is now online. This includes photos from the workshop as well as a playable version of the completed game - a bizaare mix of collaged couples, jumping fish, and cackling spirits. We've had a number of requests to run the workshop again, if you're interested just leave a comment.

Window call for proposals open

If you haven't seen the posters around the city, Window's formal call for proposals is now open. You've got until next Friday to send us your ideas, either through email or by dropping it into the office. I'd particularly be interested in seeing projects that span our unique two spaces, On Site and Online, or create a dialogue between them.

Wednesday, April 2

In Pictures: Newcall gallery launch

Newcall gallery launched officially last night with the opening of Martyn Reynolds and Marnie Slater. "No Letting Go, No Holding Back" featured a readymade Mercedes A class banner by Reynolds, which seemed to continue his habit of acquiring large objects from stores and manufacturers (Reynolds previous show at Window featured a treadmill, road bike, and growing lamp from an array of sponsors). Slater's offering consisted of a dual channel project, an awkward series of bodily positions and poses mimicked by either performer. Amateur in an endearing way, the lo-res video balanced the commercial slickness of the Mercedes piece.

Behind the scenes, Newcall is an interesting exercise in reappropriating a space. Originally built at least two decades ago, the open air foyer and ground floors were designed to be a commercial mall, but failed almost instantly. The surrounding area of Newton is strongly industrial and has been for a number of years, and the combination of lack of foot traffic and parking meant the death knell for the original intent. Instead a handful of small businesses catering to office workers fill the void: a post office, a small cafe, a print shop. With it's conversion, Newcall joins the ranks of others such as the Jensen Gallery in Newmarket. Leaving the central city for a bigger, more industrial space, the gallery is quite obviously a converted parking garage, maintaining the hard lines, concrete, and ramps from it's past life.

Newcall continues in the same fashion, rejecting some aspects of it's past while embracing others. The fluorescent panel lighting and dark tinted glass stay. The carpet is (quite literally) ripped out. Walls are created over broken walls, ceiling panels removed for art hanging, vinyl glazing placed over windows blurs studio interiors while letting light in. The main entrance, a large double door affair, is rejected completely. Instead the deck is opened up and a set of stairs direct from a service entrance becomes the entry point.