[ISEA2020] Workshop: Viktor Bedö & Ida Toft — The Street Plugin: Playing People and Infrastructure

Workshop Statement

The city operates on different scales: bikes, people, houses on street level; traffic and communities on neighbourhood level; infrastructure on the city level. The workshop playfully investigates transformations and frictions that occur when instruments that help to make sense of higher scale phenomena are introduced. When the focus shifts from lives of individuals to pedestrian flows, qualitative methodologies give way to modelling. Agent-based computer models (ABM) are instruments of scale as they allow observing higher-level behaviour with large numbers of agents (scaling up in number) throughout a longer time span (scaling up in time). Creating computer agents inherently involves the omission of the original ecological, social or political entanglements of the modelled agent, as modelling sacrifices ‘resolution’ for ‘scale’. The workshop hosts 15 participants and includes some small activities on the street. We will analyze a simple ABM that addresses community-based infrastructure maintenance. We will set up a simple distributed game in which some participants enact computer agents in urban space and will be connected via messaging app or mobile video stream with other participants in the Zoom call. During the game we will record the discrepancies and sympathies between the resolution of human experience and agent behaviour. The workshop closes with a discussion about #scale_critique, #modelling, #infrastructure, #ableism, #embodied_knowledge and #research_through_games. Maximum of participants: 15 Duration: 2,5 hours.

  • Viktor Bedö’s research focuses on inventive methodologies of understanding interactions between people, technologies and the built environment in cities and speculating about convivial urban futures. Building on his background in philosophy of embodied knowledge and urban mapping, Viktor developed a research through design practice in which prototyping, ‘making’ and play are means of probing conceptual and design-related matters. He operates at the intersection of design theory, critical design, urbanism, and street game design. Currently, he is a researcher at the Critical Media Lab at the FHNW Academy of the Arts and Design in Basel (CH), and a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths, University of London (UK). He is founder of Tacit Dimension, the independent research lab for street games.
  • Ida Toft is a PhD candidate studying digital games and media arts. Their current work investigates technologies for felt and mechanical vibrations such as phone notifications and rumble in video game controllers. As an artist, Ida engages with diverse contexts, from academic conferences, art galleries, play festivals, and game culture’s underground scenes (especially the queer and the progressively feminist). Earlier, Ida has worked on interactive systems catering for not-quite-human-bodies and cross-species environments as a way of thinking about companionships, alliances and kinship relations across standardized affiliations. Ida holds a M.Sc. in Design and Communication from the IT University in Copenhagen (DK) and is currently affiliated with Hexagram and the Milieux Institute at Concordia University in Montreal (CA).