Traffic Jam

Traffic Jam Project

References and purpose

The main influence for this project is my hometown Bogota. It is a chaotic city. It was originally planned as a “damero” squared kind of city, but then it became an ever expanding place with only one constant: improvisation. The transportation system and also the street and highways where not improved as the city expanded because of different social and economic dynamics. More and more population came from the country side to the city running away from violence and looking for work and better opportunities at factories and new enterprises. Transportation system hasn’t been public, so bus companies have been sabotaging the building of the subway for more than a hundred years. For almost every mayor election, one of the main subjects is building the subway. There are more sketches and studies for building the subway than words in the Coran, Bible and Thora all together…

So that’s why in Bogota we spend a lot of time stuck in traffic jams. We have no choices like the subway. If we use the bike it’s dangerous because of lack of safe routes and the reckless driving of people. Some people spend two and a half hours on busses or cars going to work and the same on their way back. It’s a serious issue. The quality of those hours is terrible also, it’s not possible to read or even seat in most cases. So you have two options, to be patient and laugh or stress out and suffer a heart attack… But we definitely have to change this situation urgently.

For this project I have many references. The second one might be the futurist movement in early 20th century in Italy. They where interested in technology and they even worshiped new technology and wanted to break the links to the past and almost all tradition. They ended up showing many contradictions in their works of arts and ways of doing art, that’s why we can go to Museums and see their works of art (made in traditional materials as bronze and paining on canvas). They wanted to burn museums but now their works are displayed at the most “important” ones or more mainstream at least.
Something that interested me was how ridiculous their performances and sound pieces seemed to people and would also sound to us if they did them now. Also how the machines that they worshiped seem so outdated now and obsolete compared to newer versions. Also there is the dada movement and their love for creating imaginary machines or useless machines, which could be seen as ways of pointing out how technology on it’s own hasn’t improved mankind at least from a moral point of view.

So this project is a way of disrupting routine with a performative sound and visual experience. The idea is generating a playful simulation of the city landscape and some of the actors. The idea is creating a tension between noise and music. Teasing the audience so they react in their own way, but they will think about our ways of living in the city and also about the current use of technologies as cars, trains, buses and other transport systems. The idea is for everyone to feel invited to really dream about how they would like to move around in the city in some years and also about how will the city soundscape will be in the not to distant future. Also that the audience to have fun and to be engaged in playing “music” or “noise” and interacting with others like everyone interacts in the streets….

There are millions of other references, just to name a few: Science fiction stories and films: Blade runner. Tv shows like the Simpsons and Futurama. 80’s show Automan, The Transformers, Disney’s Cars, among many others…

Where to do it?

This could work in different formats of happenings. I think it would be more interesting to do this in quiet places like parks or others, to create a contrast form the noise of streets. Also to reinforce the absurdity of the noise that is being produced.

Aesthetics

I think this should look teasing as toys and musical instruments. It has to create a desire to be engaged and also not being to fancy or complex to intimidate potential users.

How?

At least 3 instruments to be available for people to play with them. Also a CD player with recorded tracks that play different music. People can choose to interact with that music or just with the sound they are producing.

Some keywords

Humor vs criticism / sense vs none-sense / noise vs music or harmony / fancy vs trashy / serious vs funny / Ridiculous vs important / Musical talent vs non musically talented / Kids and adults / Individual vs collective / divergent / fun / play / inviting / Traffic problems / questions / solutions / debate /connections.

What does interaction means to me?

What is interaction?

Technology has been about the creation, appropriation or implementation of tools to solve necessities or problems. Technologies are means to interact with different environments so we can achieve our specific goals. These technologies, from my point of view, appear from the result of interaction between humans and their environments. When the context creates a problem, need, or issue, we first realize there’s action needed to solve that situation. Then we think about the need and the possibilities form solving it. We then consider our available resources and decide which to rely upon. After that, we work into using the resources to create an object to satisfy our need. A somehow non-creative, but clear example, was how the stone was chosen by the early man (even chimps) to smash coconuts or other natural containers of food, so they could solve the problem of being hungry at the beach…

So I think interaction is in the core of everyday of living existence. The more you interact with your environment, the more “problems” arise, and the more creative you will have to be, so you can create or appropriate tools for addressing them. As Mister Chris Crawford says in his book on interactivity (The Art of Interactive Design: A Euphonious and Illuminating Guide to Building Successful Software) There are different degrees of interaction in reality. The intensity or amount of interaction depends on the complexity of the different agents that interact through the communicational process that is key to it.

Interaction is the engine of change. With out it, reality can be affected but in ways that there’s no serious change. From a humanistic point of view, there are several examples of human interaction giving way to unimagined creations. Ones that not even the brightest minds could ever achieve without it. When pizza became popular in America, each different country would create different versions of this delicious (once Italian) recipe. As globalization increases, so the amount of pizza choices you have at dominos pizza… Enough pizza for now! (I’ll come back after lunch for the next paragraph… )

So yes, pizza became more interesting in time (most Italians probably would never agree on this point) making our world a little more complex and fun. This applies to infinite aspects of reality (positive, negative an neutral) Another example of how human interaction gives way to more complex and interesting realities is language. It keeps changing and becoming more sophisticated, that way allowing us to be more precise in our daily communications.

Language is interesting. Is an ever evolving “communication software” that has a lot to do with how we interact and sometimes play with our context. The best example is having a reunion (pizza party) of people from different Latin American Spanish speaking countries. We will all speak “Spanish” but after a couple of pizza slices and verbal interaction, we will begin to realize how different meanings come from the same words. This causing short circuits in the communication process and this, provoking big time involuntary jokes. (Pico in Colombia = Kiss vs Pico in Chile = dick) and things like that…

I see life as a game. With rules and limitations (kind of like the Matrix movie). We have restrictions, boundaries, but also tools and resources. Limitations force us to think, to be creative. And the more we interact, the more experienced, skilled and smarter we will become. And the more fun we will have. When you talk to wise people, you understand the nature of their wisdom. It’s really a result of many interactions with the world, such as walls, barriers and difficulties. So as the result of interaction, they create solutions that sometimes look obvious, but are really complex.

Interaction has a lot of potential in many areas. I see interaction as a great tool for areas like education and arts among many others. Education works better when interaction is involved. Also when playing is used as a learning tool. Interaction is now a whole new world of possibilities for us.

Interaction is a very wide concept. This writing is just a way of brainstorming and moving around in my head to try to grasp it. It’s an attempt to interact with the interaction process, and to try to make sense, and also to start thinking beyond the usual cliches about it, and my own way of understanding it. Before reading Crawford’s mentioned writing, I was confused between participation and interaction concepts. I thought they were similar. That’s something that I’ll get into processing in my head.