URBAN EYES is a critical design concept combining RFID technology, aerial photography and pigeons to create an explorative experience for urban spaces. This Blog is a documentation of the project's development and related issues and articles list.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

last update

everyone wants closure...;)

Have a look at the latest project description: pdf 1.2MB

Thursday, October 12, 2006


RealSnailMail is a project currently developed by boredomresearch. The system uses real snails with pet RFID chips glued to their shells to carry and deliver electronic messages on their own time, despite growing expectations of instant communication.

Commissioned as part of the Tagged exhibition in London, the launch of the project will constitute of a projection in the space gallery is a computer model created by boredomresearch, enabling them to test components they will need to build 'RealSnailMail'.

Eventually this system will be built into an installation version in 2007/08. You can visit the Real Snail Mail website and send a message which travels to a server where it is entered into a queue. Here it waits until a snail wonders in range of a hot spot. The hot spot is the dispatch centre in the form of a RFID reader. This reader identifies the snail from its chip and checks to see if it has not already been assigned a message to carry. If the snail is available it is assigned the message at the top of the list. It then slips away into the technological wasteland. Located at the other end of the pond (in the case of aquatic snails) is the drop off point. When, or if, the snail ever makes it here, it is identified by another reader, which then forwards the relevant message to the recipients email address; once again travelling at the speed of light.

The tagged exhibition runs until 21 Oct., at Space gallery, in London. The artists will give a talk tonight 7PM at [ s p a c e ].

via we-make-money-not-art.com

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Birds NY

Natalie Jeremijenko, who was also co-judging the fusedspace competition,
where URBAN EYES drew first attention just informed me of another bird
project as part of her OOZ series, this time in New York together with TerraSwarm and others.
Due to launch on the 7th september, I can't attend, but just recommend.

September 7 - October 7, 2006
OOZ, Inc. (Ĺ for the birds)
Infrastructure and facilities for high-density bird cohabitation on the
roof of Postmasters Gallery
459 west 19th street between 9 and 10 Avenues

with public housing projects by:
Aranda/Lasch + TerraSwarm
Leeser Architects
Materialab with Gensler+Gutierrez
OpenSource Architecture
SYSTEMarchitects llc

OOZ is ZOO backwards.
Expanding on her project at the 2006 Whitney Biennial Natalie
Jeremijenko has created a unique garden on the roof of Postmasters
Gallery - an environmental experiment in interaction with New York City
bird population. The complex 1,000 square-foot garden includes
architect-designed bird housing projects (multi-family dwellings), water
systems, as well as other amenities to improve the quality of life for
urban birds.
The installation creates conditions to observe birds' adaptation to
human-engineered technologies, testing formal and ecological theorems
for high-density lifestyles, sustainable resource sharing among urban
organisms, and the play of public/private division in cross-species

Thursday, February 02, 2006

everybody's doing the pigeon

Some researchers in San Jose just gonna load GPS, mobile and air-pollution sensors on pigeons to mobile-blog pollution data. I guess if the batteries gonna last and the pigeon won't die from exhaustion, this will finally be a useful idea for attaching technology to these urban creatures.
Oh and it will have a camera as well. I didn't see any photos of the prototype yet, so you will have to go to San Jose yourself this august, I am afraid.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Last day of the residency, post-presentation event. Everything went amazingly. Presentation went fine, my two pigeons I had borrowed for the evening perform as if they had been trained for years, some people in the audience have their bluetooth phones on and they all receive images based on some of the publicly available cams. Success and Lev Manovich gives his blessing for the future. The weather could have been better though, despite the fact that is was nothing in comparison of the day afterwards(see "let it snow" entry earlier).

Sorry just got to post this today...

URBAN EYES Feeding Box

Our first feeding box design is finished and we go out to test if the pigeons (then equipped with rings) actually would climb the box to trigger the reader. Well, the photos speak for themselves.

Ain't nothing but the Real Thang

Finally it's been time to test the reader with life pigeons. I borrowed myself one from De Rimboe petshop for one afternoon, put reader antenna in cage and get the pigeon equipped with a ring over the reader. The read works straight away and I am happy that everything finally comes together. You can slightly see the Director RFID read-outs on the screen.

In case of stick-ups, take one cam...

Rotterdam's cabs have eyes. On one of my taxi rides I noticed the little camera box attached to the passenger's seat aiming at me and the seats behind me. According to the driver, it takes a couple of photos when opening the door, 3 seconds later and then once a minute whilst driving, same when leaving the vehicle. "They reduced stick-ups by 60% since", the company claims.
Makes sense to me, yet when the journalist from the rotterdam dagblatt interviewed me he gave me his anekdote about CCTV. Having his bag stolen in a bar and containing equipment worth a few thousand, he called the police, who didn't seem to know what to do about it and only after they asked him what they supposed to do, he mentioned to maybe check the CCTV footage available, which disturbingly seemed to have slipped the policemen's mind.
Every system is only as strong as it's scenario(including human senselessness).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pigeon Hotel

Just a few roofs away from V2 in Rotterdam is the Pigeon Loft, an alternative project to control the city's pigeon population. Since 2003, instead of killing off the birds or capturing them, the loft offers nesting space for about 200+ birds. Any eggs produced by the birds are replaced by fake eggs. The birds are fed proper food instead of pommes frites and the place is maintained by volunteers. According to the loft's designer/artist Stefan Gross the loft managed to reduce the population noticely in an area up to a 1 mile radius, including the popular shopping area around Rotterdam's Binnenwegplein. The germany originated project showed superior to methodologies like killing pigeons off, which in most cases only resulted in a pigeon populaton explosion as a reaction, sometimes ending up with more birds than before.
Despite it's success in other cities like Amsterdam and Bijenkorf.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Let it snow

On friday 25th november 2005, the netherlands were hit by a surprisingly intensive snowfall and rainstorm in the south and east of the country, resulting in one of the biggest traffic jams, an estimated 800km plus numerous accidents, road blocks and even power cuts, due to broken tree branches. Schiphol airport also reported massive delays and cancelled flights as it was only able to use a single runway.

From our point of view: Valentina and me left Rotterdam at about 12.00am for Hengelow and we entered the snow zone, a reported 30cm+ snowfall right after Utrecht, which kept on getting whiter and stormier by the km. Our first unprogrammed stop happened about 3km before Apeldoorn, due to our train colliding with a car's hanger, noone harmed, but a stop for nearly 2 hours till it was cleaned up. Yet just about on the next crossing ahead, a stuck truck stopped our journey again, not moving back nor forth blocking the rails. Another half an hour later and after receiving information that already 6 lines are down due to branches, etc. the traindriver finally decides to drive back to the previous town due to the truck not moving, resulting in a rebellious traveller pulling the emergency break. Another painful half an hour later, we finally get going but the truck was finally pulled away and we arrive at Apeldorn at last. 17.00 and being 2 hours late for our meeting, we had cancelled an hour ago and decide to go back to Rotterdam. Yet again, lucky lucky, just as we arrive, trains are getting cancelled and chaos reports come spilling in no trains, no busses and no cars(taxis) whatsoever. Whilst waiting at the train station, power failure is experienced. Lights uncontrollably go out and on again, kids start crying and comments flying.
Hours later all hotels booked out, the town hall is turned into a crisis center, broodjes and koffie is handed out. People are slowy filling up the waiting hall, I count about 100 in the end. Mobiles are used, credits are running out.
24:00, the city managed to get us a space at the local army barrack's gym. We arrive, split up in Buben and Maedchens, the guys toilets manage to experience a 2cm high water puddle, due to melting snow as we all hope.
Slowly matresses arrive along with duvets and pillows, simple but warm. As far as I can tell from the men's department, it wasn't as smelly as I expected and we had few snorers, yet the light in the gym seemed to be motion-triggered or timebased, resulting in another switch-on and occasional additional stranded guests till about a good 4:00 am.
Somehow we managed to organize a car to the train station at 7am, skipping the city-planned 9am mass-transit, trains were running, we catch a train to rotterdam after 5 minutes and Valentina reaches Schiphol in time(to my knowledge).

Only winner Rob, who couldn't make it to the meeting on friday, he must have know this to happen cause he is dutch!

How fragile physical networks can be...
I had to double post this one.

Help for stranded travellers article (dutch)