Sentient City

Amphibious Architecture

"Amphibious Architecture" at Toward a Sentient City

I was excited to see  great projects at the Toward the Sentient City exhibition at Urban Center last night. The projects represented visionary thoughts about situated technologies and networks in urban space  – digital workspaces in urban parks, satellite sending tags on discarded objects that track downstream waste systems in real-time, using roots of plants as carbon cycle circuit breakers, interactive street furniture that enforces good behavior, and my favorite… aquatic beacons that allow you to talk to fish in the bottom of the city’s waterspace. The Amphibious Architecture team immersed several SMS addressable electronic sensors in the bottom of the East River and The Bronx River. You can text them and engage in a dialog. Here is a short transcript:

me “Hey East River”, them “Underwater, its now loud”, me ” Hey Herring”, them “Hi there there are 24 of us down here . Dissolved oxygen is higher than last week”, me ” RiverRiver”, them “Right now the East River is louder than the Bronx River. This hour 18 fish swam by in East, and 11 in Bronx. Dissolved Oxygen is higher in Bronx”

It reminded me  of the Fish Finder radar that my grandfather and I discreetly deployed on many of our fishing expeditions. But this the added sense of having a dialog with your prey. Now anytime I am feeling a bit too high and dry in my office (which overlooks the East River) I can find out what’s going on down there along its murky bottom. Just text message “EastRiver” to 41411.


6 responses to “Sentient City

  1. Amphibious Architecture installation in-situ as seen under Brooklyn Bridge

    It is said that museums (and in particular scientific museums) are “purveyors of the real”. If the scientific museum of the Victorian Era emphasized the specimen as empirical evidence (aka “the real”), then today’s scientific museum must include the display of data as scientific investigations have largely shifted away from the collection of specimens and toward the collection of data. Sensory appratatus, the relational database and the map are the new currency of science. We need to learn how to use these tools of science and develop new accessible interfaces that communicate our scientific understanding of the world to the general public. Amphibious Architecture has many components of this in its use of situated technology and data to foster awareness and even a dialog with an ecological system in real time.

  2. AH! This texting the fishes is fantastic! I love how it translates data into a form that’s accessible, populist, whimsical, and likely to appeal to almost anyone. It also strikes me as a really fresh usage of ubiquitous technology, and a great way to connect people to their environment.

    I feel like I’ll be checking up on the herrings and anchovies pretty often.

  3. It does feel like a wonderful way to have us think more about the environment around us, especially one that is not clearly visible to us and can be forgotten in our daily lives.

  4. fish can survive in the east river?

  5. How do you send a message from London /Thames. I have tried 00 1 414 11? It was not delivered.

    Please help, thank you.

    • museumdesignlab

      The Thames River wants to speak to the Hudson River! Amazing. I am not sure how instant messaging works internationally. Maybe it does not work if you do not have this set up with your service provider. I would try it without the country code. In any case you are better off asking the artists. I am just a blogger who happened to see the piece.

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