Culture And Society
Work title: #bit .TOTEM
The proposal presents an interesting narrative for a new kind of public space in which the contribution of digital content by different actors plays a decisive role. In a situation of intensive urban re-development in which funds for public space seem to inevitably lack – and activism seems to fail to change the course of events – the solution proposed by #bit.Totem arises froman idea of “embodied networked space.” While physical form remains illusive and open, the proposal relies on the emerging concept that exchanges and economies of virtual communities can be applied to a site-specific location, with architects as initiators of a “communal cultural exchange platform” that trades in uploaded and downloaded sensory experiences.
Think Space Competition Text
Bushwick Inlet, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was once a major tributary of the East River, flowing far inland; long ago filled in to adapt the shoreline for the once abundant oil and gas industries. In 2005, the Williamsburg waterfront was historically rezoned, reflecting the loss of industry by making way for inundating luxury condominium towers. To appease those already living in the neighborhood, 28 acres of land surrounding Bushwick Inlet was rezoned to be Bushwick Inlet Park. As of 2014, only two small parcels of land are owned by the city and one has been developed on. There are no funds or plans to move forward with the park, while conventional forms of activism have been unsuccessful in transforming the land. Since 2005 the experience of the city has been noticeably altered, with the network becoming the dominant cultural logic. Yet, Bushwick Inlet Park has been subject to uneven growth. Might the architect benefit from leveraging the network to forge an immanent new reality?
bit.Totem, a spatial protocol unfolding over time in Bushwick Inlet Park, enables the architect to initiate and design for active agents of a communal cultural exchange platform. The architectural expression of bit.Totem manifests an appreciation of real space as embodied networked space. Participants pay a tribute to bit.Totem in the form of digital content, in exchange for a download from bit.Totems archive. While uploading, users are looking up at themselves looking down on bit.Totems massive screen. As a darkent, bit.Totems content is site specific, unable to be found on the world wide web. The financial incentive to upload valuable original digital content is the potential that the content will become fashionable through circulation. The more hits a users content receives, the more download credits they are allowed. bit.Totem does not aim to establish a common ground for users, but instead allows each participants ground to be offered as exchange.
For bit.Totem to be built its seed must be planted. The architects must leverage rumor to enable bit.Totems own becoming. A small solar powered darknet device installed on site and strategically promoted via digital and nondigital information channels establishes the initial community. When visiting the site, an interested party can download to their mobile device the attached plans, leave content of their own and exchange contact information for real life meetings. This will constitute the open design phase, all interested are encouraged to express input that will affect the bit.Totem protocol. This first groups begins the process of cultural exchange, starting with the plans for bit.Totem.
Once a design is agreed upon, those willing and able will step into moderator and administrative positions, as a message board or bittorrent community has. These administrators will facilitate communication and negotiation with governmental and legal constraints, also known as Dark Matter, while also attracting new users. Passion and trust are crucial to the success of this project. Funds and the required materials will be acquired via donations and crowdfunding and bit.Totem will be constructed. Those who contribute will be private stockholders with additional download credits during the Initial Public Offering. Early adopters to bit.Totem will be positioning themselves as forbearers to a much-needed transformation of public space.
bit.Totem’s form is active by extending imaginative sensory experiences to its embodied participants. Uploaded content with mass-market appeal will attract buzz and provoke qualitative changes through a density of connections. While collecting content dynamically and temporally, a hierarchy of users will self-organize by commitment and quality of uploads. By layering value on and around bit.Totem the public space of Bushwick Inlet Park will be transformed into a hub of activity defined by cultural exchange. By situating bit.Totem where the infrastructure meets the territory, new constituencies and cultural diplomats will be assembled. As anyone can produce for and consume from bit.Totem it becomes an open-source brand.
Money is situated in-between the complex relationship of the social production of space and the social production of knowledge. Knowledge of the network breaks taboos, protocols such as bitcoin force a rethinking of money, something so often taken for granted. In bit.Totem content exchanged as currency gains power through circulation. Multiple grounds and modes of existence are traded through a market that allows new forces and relationships to articulate and program collective life. As architects awaken to their political implications, the notion of collectivity and connectivity are transformed by a communal project: initiated by the architect, completed by participants. By occupying the middle voice, bit.Totem forces the question: whose idea was it, architect or user?