Cocíclo | Alexandre Castonguay

cociclo_high_energy

Cocíclo proposes a participative experience that occurs in the streets of the Bergen. It enables a reflection on the collection and visualization of data.  It consists in an electronic circuit that responds to the concentrations of pollutants in the air of our cities.  In its wearable form, it emits audible beeps that augment in frequency following the increase in carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations, a bit like a Geiger-counter.  The participants build a visualization of geolocalized-data collectively through the experiences of ‘audio augmented dérives’.

The ‘Cocíclo marker’ is a chalk-marking tool that inscribes the CO variations directly on the sidewalks or streets of the city.  Presented as an artifact in the gallery space, it links the interior of the space to the outside through this continuous line.  Different colors of chalk leave a long line that represents an impermanent record of localized visualization. The traditional visualization tools are not adequate for citizen involvement: We often witness data heatmaps of pollutants within our cities but they feel distant since they are not related to our actual experiences.  Being situated at street level and witnessing the rapid evolution of pollutants because of our proximity to the sources of pollution, the data becomes more accurate (carbon monoxide dissipates rapidly from the emitting source), the experience is embodied and not abstracted.

The design methodology model is that of Media Povera (a term introduced by the curator Emily Flavey) and Open Source : it dictates the reuse of components or the selection of affordable ones and permits an iterative, distributed and extendable development cycle.  The issue of cost and accessibility is not a trivial one. For example, other worthy projects exists like those of Dmitriy Morozov or the smart citizen initiative.  But in the case of the smart citizen, the kit costs 155 Euros and for most, this represents an obstacle to the actual individual participation and experience. It is especially problematic in the case of communities that actually live in areas most affected by pollution, that also happen to be less wealthy, and can not afford such expensive propositions.  I contend that cost needs to be addressed as a part of the design of such projects.

Cocíclo extends community based-practices by exploring the intersection of social concerns, critical actions in public spaces and the cultural development of software and hardware.  It opens up the creative process by inviting the participants to take an active role in the creation of the work, through the form of collective experiences and workshops geared to deepen the understanding of its technological, creative and critical aspects.  The performative workshops seek to counter the contemporary experiences of disembodied, commercial and abstracted relationships to our data and personal experiences.

Code: https://github.com/alx-1/cociclo

Map: http://artengine.ca/acastonguay/cociclo/

 

BIO

Alexandre Castonguay
http://artengine.ca/acastonguay/
Independent, Eastern Bloc, UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal), Artengine

Recent projects, Cocíclo and Agit P.O.V., extend community based-practices by exploring the intersection of social concerns, critical actions in public spaces and the cultural development of software and hardware. They open up the creative process by inviting the participants to take an active role in the creation of the work, through the form of collective experiences and workshops geared to deepen the understanding of the technological, creative and critical aspects of the work. The performative workshops seek to counter the contemporary experiences of disembodied, commercial and abstracted relationships to our data and personal experiences.

Castonguay’s work has been shown widely in Canada and abroad, among others: Transmediale (Berlin), New Media Beijing as well as numerous exhibitions in Paris, New York and Mexico. Agit P.O.V. has been shown in over 10 cities around the globe. He is a founding member of Artengine, an artist-run center dedicated to the investigation of the digital arts. His work is represented in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Montreal Contemporary art Museum, the Montreal Fine Arts Museum, Quebec’s National Museum of Fine Arts, the Canada Council’s Art Bank museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Photography as well as private collections.

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