• IBM's Everywhere Display is part of the 'Digital_minimal' exhibit now on display in the School of Architecture and Planning's Wolk Gallery through March 29. The installation is a video projector with a rotating mirror that allows any surface around it to become a potential screen.

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New directions for digital design on display

"Digital_minimal," a new exhibition in the School of Architecture and Planning's Wolk Gallery, explores a number of alternative directions for our digital future, from the use of mobile devices that describe urban space in real-time to new tangible user interfaces that redefine the design process.

Italian architect and planner Carlo Ratti and his design team, Carlo Ratti Associati, based in Turin, Italy, and Cambridge, collaborated on the exhibit with colleagues in the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory.

The exhibit is a presentation of some of the projects under development by the SENSEable City Lab and Ratti, who currently holds joint appointments in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Media Laboratory.

The collaborative projects include iSPOTS, which was developed as a way of studying wireless usage on the MIT campus. Completed in October 2005, iSPOTS now allows researchers to track when and where members of the MIT community take most advantage of the school's 9.4 million-square-foot wireless network.

Most of the exhibition is interactive, featuring video and live computer links.

The one stand-alone object in the gallery is part of the SandScape project, developed with the Tangible Media Group at the Media Lab.

A digital sandbox of sorts, SandScape projects images onto a surface of tiny glass beads through which visitors may run their hands, thus changing the "landscape." The project aids design and understanding of landscapes through computational simulations that analyze such natural elements as slope and drainage.

As a measure of its success, SandScape has taken on a double life as an analytic tool and an artwork.

"Although this project was started to support landscape design, interactive art museums such as the Arts Electronica Center (in Linz, Austria) commissioned us to exhibit SandScape as a 'media art piece,'" said Hiroshi Ishii, associate professor of media arts and sciences and founder/director of the Tangible Media Group.

The Wolk Gallery is located in Room 7-338. The exhibit is open weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and runs through March 29.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 1, 2006 (download PDF).

Topics: Architecture, Computer science and technology, Media Lab, Technology and society, Urban studies and planning, Arts



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