Materializing Social Data in the City

Day by day, life in cities is changing and being affected by the information coming from virtual platforms. The information we create in virtual worlds merges into real life and becomes a part of the daily life activities in cities. Cloud intelligence, online social networks and new technologies for urban displays such as media fa├žades are showing us a new way to discover and to present the information created by the inhabitants of the city. The source of our information (which is, most of the time, about our real life experiences), the technology to share information (cloud computing and social networks) and the potential media to display the information converge into a new field that can be referred as Urban Information Interfaces. This ongoing convergence is about to create new fields of art and commerce as well as affecting the society of the city in an inevitable way.

In "Digital Ground", Malcolm McCullough discusses the "paradigm shift from building virtual worlds to-ward embedding information technology into the ambient social complexities of the physical world." In this new landscape of embedded technology, there is an opportunity for creating an interface between architecture and virtual information, turning architecture into an interactive surface for reading and exploring real-time social data from the internet. At this point, is it possible to talk about a feedback loop that may occur between virtual platforms and psychical urban life in the future? What would happen if we let virtual information shape our environment and architecture? How would this feedback affect the speed and qualities of communication and the dynamics of our society?

In this exhibition, Social Bits aims to explore possible avenues of output and display the invisible information in the cityscape via media art.

Social Bits
Social Bits is a research group based in Linz, Austria focusing on the artistic output of social interactions in real world locations; specifically in urban environments, public spaces and unique architectural com-plexes. Social interaction is a sustained presence in all societies throughout history; however, the methods of interaction have radically evolved in recent years, aided and augmented by both technological developments and the sense of comfort generated by these developments. Our research studies and analyzes the collective information cloud created by humans worldwide, as well as introducing new mediums, materials and platforms to present the artistic results we discover.
Social Bits is interested not solely in the social data itself. Rather, it is the means of producing the data, and how it can be reflected back on society that interests us. The process of turning a human thought into digital information, then in turn putting the information in a physical context is what is intriguing.

Current members of Social Bits are:
Mahir M. Yavuz is a designer and researcher who lives and works in Linz, Austria. He is currently engaged in doctoral studies in Interface Culture at the University of Art and Design Linz. Besides giving lectures at the same university, he also works as a senior researcher of graphic design at the Ars Electronica Futurelab.
Jayme Cochrane is an interaction designer currently based in Linz. After receiving a B.Sc in Interactive Arts (focus Interaction Design) from Simon Fraser University in Canada, he moved to Linz to work in the Ars Electronica Futurelab. He is currently also pursuing a master's degree in Interface Culture at the University of Art and Design Linz.
h.o (Hide Ogawa, Taizo Zushi, Jun Yura and Emiko Ogawa) is an international media art group from Tokyo creating conceptual art works using a mixture of media combined with digital technology. "h.o" derives from the chemical symbol for water, H2O, implying h.o's interest in various forms of communication between people. Its activities and ideas are inspired by little awareness that appear in everyday scenes and criticism on information-oriented society.