SInter is an interactive data gathering and communication platform that fuses the capabilities of a multi-channel sensor apparatus with scalable digital output through a distributed infrastructure embedded in the material fabric of the city. Call it firmware for the urban environment.
SInter aims to transform sensed urban phenomena, such as environmental conditions and collective human activity, into live data that the public can use to produce interactive media on-the-fly for site- specific artistic performance, display, and user interaction. SInter is therefore an open-ended sandbox of information input and output where users can play with a variety of live data streams to create in-situ digital artworks and visualizations using web-based tools and on-site controls. Individually, each SInter object, functioning as a node within a larger interactive network, can be detailed for different scales of media output ranging from smartphones, compact LCD displays, and directional speakers, to large video projections, LED arrays, and loudspeakers creating life-size mediascapes in public spaces. Collectively, the SInter nodes will create a media mesh network capable of transforming entire neighborhoods into hyper-connected, art-smart districts that nurture creativity and connectivity.
SInter builds on a growing body of research-creation work carried out by the Facility for Architectural Research in Media and Mediation, a research lab in the McGill School of Architecture (Michael Jemtrud, Founding Director). FARMM contains expertise in full-scale design-build, engineering, and artistic production matched by authoritative project dissemination channels. The SInter project builds directly on previous research conducted for the Mobile Urban Stage (MUSe) project as part of the Arts and Ideas in Motion (AIM) – Parkour project.
Cities increasingly play host to a variety of technological media, such as wireless internet access points, data-driven and site-responsive urban lighting, streetscape surveillance devices, experiential sound effects and soundscapes, personalized digital advertising, and GPS tracking systems, which augment the interactivity of the urban environment. Such technologies, however, although seeming to provide a powerful connectivity network, are largely closed-off to any actual customization or control by the public they serve. The result is a collection of urban media that are singularly robust or geographically extensive but ultimately non-inclusive, non-developable, and closed to any form of public intervention. SInter will disrupt that.
The project will foster interdisciplinary collaborations between university researcher-creators, professional artists, engineers, computer specialists from FARMM and the local artistic communities. Related complementary research efforts that are technically and artistically-based are expected to play a role in the development of SInter. It will leverage technological and cultural programming planned with the Laboratory of Urban Culture (LOC), a primary pillar in the “Quartier de l’innovation” initiative led by McGill University and École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) de Montréal. The LOC is supported by the Salon 1861, a co-working, incubator, and event space developed in the Little Burgundy neighbourhood by Gestion Immobilière Quo Vadis, a supporting partner of SInter. Housed in the former Eglise de St. Joseph, the Salon 1861, Sinter will utilize the interior space, exterior public space, and facility to develop and deploy the project in the community. SInter’s live activity during the course of its deployment in the city will be dynamically documented via the project website and blog which will show live updates of the SInter network’s data collection and display a feed of posts generated by public interaction with SInter via social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Foursquare. Peripheral to the website will be the mobile application (App) available for free download and use on smartphones by the public for interacting with SInter directly.
Distributed widely throughout the city, SInter will form a loosely-connected and redundant network of technological-social-artistic interventions situated in the urban fabric. As a sustainable platform of open source data streams and plug-and-play interactive devices SInter will bridge the gap between the technical and socio-cultural aspects of urban media and interrogate the bottom-up formation of the mediated city and the public it creates. SInter will facilitate a mediated city that emerges from an ecology of user-defined, scalable, interactive interventions inseparable from the city itself.