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★ Smart Light Fields

In addition to my involvement with the janus project for the Smart Light Sydney Festival, Joanne Jakovich and I were invited to collaborate with the NSW Department of Planning in an ambitious short term project during the festival.  The Department of Planning, along with Metropolis and D-City had the initiative to setup a small amount of resources for live event data tracking to be visualised for the duration of the festival.  Our first taste of this was in an email inviting us to join, with a specific aim towards generating realtime visual information using passive bluetooth tracking technology.I’d worked before with bluetooth tracking (in the 2008 UTS MDA masterclass Street as Platform), and I’d recently mastered the small monster of embedded MySQL insert queries so it felt quite appropriate to combine these two techniques in producing the visualisation.  In essence, the project asked for the following;

  1. Networked and located sensor nodes, tracking any visible devices nearby
  2. Central storage and collation,
  3. regular output of recent activity (the last 3 hours)
  4. visualisation of current activity and any paths of movement picked up by the sensors

The project had been allocated resources for sensor nodes, internet connections, software programming and some kind of visual output – in this case a projector.  Joanne managed to secure space in Customs House for the project to live, we arranged for the hardware and software combination to be installed and we were off the ground.  Ben Coorey (who had been a stellar student in the streetasplatform masterclass) came onboard to help us produce the visualisation in what ended up being a solid fortnight of work.  We went from concept through design and installation in just over two and a half weeks – not an insignificant feat!This project marked a first in many regards – it was the first time I’d worked in this capacity as an artist/designer with an external client, providing data surveillance and visualisation with aesthetics and information.  It was the first time I’d been given access to such a large data set, with potentially hundreds of thousands of visitors making their way to the SLSF precinct during the three weeks of festival activity.It happened to produce the first meaningful coalescence of a body of researchers Joanne and I had been working to pull together for the last 6 months – into the newly founded and launched  We were now an organisation, able to pull in assistants and coders, all within the framework of a budgeted project, able to provide payment for their time.  This mightn’t seem like much of an achievement, but having worked with friends and colleagues for some time now (relying on generosity and willingness to help), it gave me a huge sense of pride in being able to offer a small sum of money to repay the hours of work put in.See Also;anarchi.org