Manila Improstructure

Manila Improstructure

Manila Improstructure

The project investigates and documents the social and creative practices around the electricity grid and the street lighting system of Manila, Philippines.

Dietmar Offenhuber, Katja Schechtner, Julia Nebrija

In cooperation with TU Vienna, Urban Design Institute
Students: Anna Giffinger, Antonella Amesberger, Julius Alexander Fink, Konstantin Jagsch, Lisa Jindra, Matthias Dorfstetter, Michael Egger, Michael Wallinger, Sophie Wuerzer; Faculty advisors: Markus Tomaselli, Michael Surböck

Video: Antonia Amesberger, Michael Egger, Konstantin Jagsch, Dietmar Offenhuber

Manila Improstructure is part of the the third instance of the sensing place / placing sense series, investigating the pockets of informality inside the formal urban infrastructures that structure our daily lives. Not only in the megacities of the global south, life is characterized by a constant struggle with infrastructure. The electricity grid, logistics and supply chains, telecommunication networks — every system that is centrally planned and managed from above always requires some level of improvisation and tinkering from below in order to make the system work. These creative appropriations are, however, never part of the official representations of infrastructure; they are marginalized and difficult to observe. There is a misbalance between what we know about formal structures and what we can only infer about its informal practices. Infrastructure governance is a process of call-and-response, in which the physical aspects of infrastructure become a improvisational medium.

In a panel session at Ars Electronica 2015, we brought together experts who deal with questions of infrastructure and its role in everyday life.

 

 

 

Excavating a 2002 piece – wegzeit

Excavating a 2002 piece – wegzeit

Excavating a 2002 piece – wegzeit

An old project, part of my thesis in architecture 2002: an early web-3d visualization project introducing different cartogram techniques and methods of urban time-space representation using real-time traffic information. Since the technology used then does no longer work (Virtools), I tried to salvage what still worked for the video.

“When you ask someone in Los Angeles how far it is from the beach to downtown, he or she will answer with the number of minutes it generally takes to traverse the distance rather than noting the number of miles. This system of defining and representing distance has recently been codified for use on the California Department of Transportation’s large LED “Freeway Condition” signs, which offer up-to-the-minute projections of estimated drive times: “8 minutes to downtown;” “22 minutes to 605 freeway,” and so on. Intrigued by the shift from the absolute units of distance traditionally used to describe space to the relative space of approximate drive times, Dietmar Offenhuber undertook an investigation of other examples in which data about the city is visualized in relative terms. The result of his work is Wegzeit, which uses six 3-D mapping paradigms – or cartograms – to visualize the city according to a range of conditions and interests.”

Feature in vectors online journal 2005
Link of the original 2002 project
pdf of thesis (in german)
Siggraph 2002 short paper

Urban entropy

Urban entropy

Urban entropy

A project for the ars electronica facade, created during a residency at ars for the connecting cities conference and the soundframe festival. My explanation from a blog post:

My project is actually quite simple. On the LED façade, I display complaints received by the city, and thus visualize in the public sphere what people are complaining about. I find this fascinating because there are now many different systems that publish such complaints on a website. But I think it’s something completely different when they’re displayed right in the cityscape. The result is the development of a certain dynamism. People who submit a complaint are made cognizant of the fact that it’s then immediately visible by anyone in the cityscape. Here, I’m simply interested in these social dynamics that emerge between individual citizens and the municipal administration. But I find it very interesting on the aesthetic side too, since the city is actually always in motion and never in a perfect state of equilibrium. There’s never a time when everything has been cleaned up, maintained or repaired, and there’s actually no prospect that this will ever be the case. This state of imperfection goes on and on, ad infinitum.