digging in further// research

New Dimensions of Privacy and Publicity Human creations all sprouted from a spark of curiosity and yearning for convenience, ranging from the products and services to social and technological infrastructures we are privileged to enjoy nowadays. That also applies to technology. Individuals living in the digital age are free to indulge in the numerous benefits that technology has brought us. The knowledge, connection, comfort, and convenience afforded by this technology has undoubtedly contributed to our smooth daily experience, both physically and digitally. In fact, the built environment that surrounds us is deeply entangled in systematic constructions meant to ensure efficiency and uninterrupted economic and political motives. In this digitally enhanced space, with most of the information available a quick search away, we seldom dwell on the potential consequences before giving our consent towards surveillance, due to the eagerness to access information that would otherwise be unavailable if one chooses to opt out. We seem to be less sensitive over the handling of our private information, as well as the ownership and accessibility of the stored data which then would have become part of the cloud data after consent is given. It is also problematic that architecture normalizes the control and surveillance of individuals and seducing individuals to surrender their privacy while being placed under the illusion of freedom.
The documentary The Social Dilemma features interviews with past employees of various large technology firms. These former employees pointed out the loophole of the social media – it was carefully designed in a way that boosts user engagement, by allowing users to update their real time status while catching up on what others are doing. The more people who cannot satisfy their curiosity, the more profit the company gains with the number of advertisements the users view. These advertisements were selected based on prediction of specific users’ preferences based on their past website views and search history – an algorithm that was developed to maximize the possible profit.

"Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity.”

“in our technological society, technique is the totality of methods rathionally arrived at and having absolute efficiency... in evey field of human activity.”
                                         The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul

In the essay The Overexposed City, Paul Virilio argued that the definition of boundary has turned into an osmotic membrane, and that spaces would be occupied by constant activity, essential traffic, and “radical separation.”  He also pointed out that the transparency of a city achieved by the advancement of technology would be infinite, resulting in a condition within which prior spatiotemporal qualities of contrast, opposition, and distance become meaningless.

In The Rise of the Network Society, Manuel Castells introduced the idea of space of flows as the new form of spatial arrangement in the network society, within which physical spaces are entangled.   According to Castells, the space of flow, although less apparent to our senses when compared to the physicality of physical space, is the primary space that is being utilized and occupied. At the same time, it distorts the prior spatial conditions of physical spaces. The sense of privateness in domesticity, as well as the physical distinction between public and private realm are therefore diminished with the rise of space of flow. By giving consent on giving away one’s personal information in exchange for online access through electronic devices, the digital space feels intimate and private as it gave its user a sense of control, when it is in fact public with the flow of information in the flow of space.

Psychogeography - the art of dériveGuy Debord defines the dérive as “a mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.” It is an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, in which participants drop their everyday relations and “let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there”.
The Situationist practices dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey stroll practices is the dérive [literally: “drifting”], a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérives involve playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different from the classic notions of journey or stroll.

What kind of role can architecture play in a controlled reality? Where is the boundary that defines public space and private space? Instead of obediently following the rules that are bounded by social conventions, which are heavily influence by capitalism and those in power, we should hold onto our privacy. What are the means that architecture can assist in avoiding falling into the loophole of being observed and controlled?

According to an excerpt of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish the invention of surveillance was in service to the established system of those in power. The means of surveillance and disciplinary measures are part of an integrated system that is rooted in the economy and the desire for stable productivity. Foucault argues that all people, including the supervised and supervisors, maintain the system by participating in it, either willingly or unknowingly. The act of surveillance, in turn, objectifies the participants and their behaviors, and is seen as an instrument that asserts control over the population through the device of observation, recording and training.  In Foucault’s disciplinary society, architecture is explicitly used to manage the location and movements of individuals, channeling them into spaces designed specifically to ensure their ability to be surveilled and disciplined. In these forms of architecture – such as schools, prisons, and factories – physical enclosure is the means by which social and political discipline is enforced.

Meanwhile, in Deleuze’s Postscript on the Societies of Control, he notes that people are given the illusion of freedom when the society of discipline is replaced with a society of control. He explains that, in a control society, the physical enclosure of architecture becomes unnecessary as a means of discipline when systems of observation and control become embedded within the very fabric of physical and social space. Whereas the society of discipline features various permanently enclosed spaces that act like molds, Deleuze notes that “controls are a modulation, like a self-deforming cast that will continuously change from one moment to the other.”  Contemporary society, that appreciates efficiency and smooth information flow through the utilization of a public surveillance system and data tracking system perfectly fits the category of the control mechanism. Therefore, it is this endless control mechanism that should be placed under spotlight, since it provides a false sense of freedom while monitoring our daily activities.

early design strategy - responsive pedestrian bridge

The structure of installation contract at varying degrere, allowing the passerbys to stay aware of the occupied space while preventing the identity of user from being revealed.

possible responsive bridge implementation in city setting