The Concept

In view of the 20th Anniversary of the WPI Venice Project Center, we are launching the Venice 2.0 Initiative. The Postmodern Postmortem is an artistic emanation of this initiative. The basic concept is to use art as a vehicle to highlight the key findings that emerged from the over 120 projects we conducted in Venice since 1988. The current line of thinking is to develop 20 "installations" to be scattered throughout Venice to peak the interest of passerbys, hinting at some of the issues that have affected Venice in recent years. It will all be very subtle, engaging all 5 senses as well as the "sixth", yet it will be coordinated and deeply meaningful. It will also be a great way of engaging youth with urban issues through gaming and artistic expression. The goal is therefore to identify inexpensive technologies that could become part of an urban youth expression toolkit and then unleash the creativity of our younger generations. Some of the development of the URG (Urban Reality Game) platform will be carried out in conjunction with Redfish and tested out both in Venice and at the fledgling Santa Fe Complex.


These ideas might be implemented in either an indoor or an outdoor environment. The environment chosen will have an impact on concerns that are common to all these projects. Many of these ideas will need electricity and data for some sound or video projection equipment. Any equipment used will have to be weather, damage, and theft resistant. Equipment would also need to be placed so as to not be in the way of anything, have no obstructions itself, and be as discreet as possible. Permission and locations will be needed for equipment used by any of the projects.

If these ideas are implemented outside, permission to place equipment will likely be needed from a different organization for each installation, due to the variety of locations where these would be placed. Equipment placement will have many variables to consider, such as people and vehicles that use the area in question, accessibility to a source of electrical power and data, and ensuring that the equipment is resistant to weather and theft.

If implemented indoors, many of these considerations solve themselves. With an indoor space, permission is included. Equipment will not have to deal with weather, and the installation may be built around the equipment so as to hide it. Having a limited space for people to interact with the equipment means that they can be watched to ensure that the equipment is kept safe. With an indoor location, power and computers can also be located near the equipment. The area can be set up to ensure that there are no obstructions to either the viewer or the equipment.


So far, we have identified the following 10 potential installations:

Name Concept Issue Links
storefronts project older image of flourishing store on top of shuttered shop the transformation of the retail sector in Venice 2004 2005 2006
wakeup project information about moto ondoso on a canal wall with some interfering light bouncing off the water. Option 1: you can only read the information when the water is still; option 2: you can only read it when there are wakes the boat wakes problem 2002
m.i.a. project image of public art that has gone missing in the exact spot where it used to be on display. Slide loop will stay on main image, but will also quickly flip through other missing pieces in Venice - at random intervals based on time the disappearance of public art PreserVenice
the toll beam an ultra-directional sound to passers-by. The audio beam will broadcast a number of "dead tolls" corresponding to the number of people who died in Venice that day (available on line). The sounds of the dead tolls will be sampled from our library to correspond to the parish where the dead people lived. The tolls will be in a loop. We could consider overlaying another set of sounds to correspond to births. the demographic decline of the city 2003 2004
x-ray project the "guts" of a bridge from underneath, showing the pipes and cables that go through it the hidden skeleton of Venice
bubbletto trigger a soap bubble machine whenever vaporetto docks at nearby boat stop turbulence, the invisible and insidious threat to canal walls. (Could be eventually recognized as a "signal" to hurry up and run to catch the boat)
scents & sensibility spray a strong perfume whenever a bag is dropped (at a known dumping location) in the streets of Venice garbage bags left out overnight against city regulations
scratchitti scratched sound graffiti highlighting location-specific issues anywhere in Venice soundbombs
brodo di pesce eat a soup and watch the sea level decline the fragile relationship between Venice and sea level Nicholas De Monchaux
spray it forward electronic graffiti with societal messages (and sounds?) youth issues wii LASER tag LASER tag source code graffiti research institute
URG Urban Reality Game intended to supplement and work with the installations. The URG could require players to learn about the issues that the installations are illustrating in order to advance in the game. All. This would encourage people to investigate the reality behind their city. Wired article

Implementation Systems

Here are some possible system configurations to implement the above ideas.
Proposed Systems

Kyle's thoughts

  • How do we do taste?
  • What about a giant surface, somewhere in the city, where people can write graffiti? Does this somehow work?


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To do:

  • add individual and overall budget
  • details for pictures
  • do something with cell phones
  • Sunspot vs macMini
  • Work on Bubbletto and Wakeup:
    • Finalize necessary equipment. Order it
    • start implementing / prototyping
    • work on programming? (Max etc?) to get the image modified - from stock inputs, later from SunSpot.
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