Exploring metaspace platforms for inclusive future cities
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of a broader collaboration between The UnBox Festival, British Council and Science & Innovation Network.
In megacities such as Delhi and Mumbai - and within one of the fastest growing cities within the world, Ahmedabad - more than 50% of the population live in informal urban settlements. 3x4 metres is the plot size seen to be provided in resettlement colonies, a government initiative which relocates people within informal inner-city settlements to vacant land on the periphery. In a collaboration between Professor Paul Sermon at the University of Brighton, Dr Claire McAndrew at The Bartlett, UCL, Swati Janu a Delhi-based Architect and photographer Vivek Muthuramalingam from Bangalore, 3x4 looks at informal settlements differently where informality is not viewed as a problem, but a promising new model of urbanism for the global south. 3x4 uses an immersive telematic networked environment to provide a playful, sensorial exploration of new hybrids of digital space. Merging two 3x4 metre room installations in Delhi and London through mixed-reality, this transnational dialogue intends to set an aspiration for developing metaspace platforms in megacities of the global south.
Public audiences in Delhi and London were able to experience the shared living space between the 12th and 14th December 2014. The installation was connected 6 hours a day from: 10.00am to 4.00pm GMT in London at Festival Village, Southbank Centre and 3.30pm to 9.30pm IST in Delhi at Khoj International Artists' Association, combining two cities not just spatially, but temporally. Using a live telematic videoconference connection, the installation functioned between two separate 3x4 metre blue-box room installations. The audience groups in these two blue-box spaces were captured on camera and brought together through a system of live chroma-keying and were placed onto a computer-generated background image. The complete composited image was then displayed simultaneously on large LCD video screens in both locations. As the merged audiences started to explore this shared telepresent space they encountered the digital background environment they now both coexisted within. These background scenes were co-created by online participants in London, Delhi and across the globe via a 3x4 project web portal http://www.3x4m.org and shared Google drive. By uploading an image or downloading other people’s contributions and using elements of them in their own, they created the environments displayed within these rooms, whatever they imagine that to be, directly referencing their combined social setting, ranging from informal settlement dwellings and Delhi environments to contemporary compact interior designs, micro living solutions and virtual worlds; asking what does a co-created 3x4 metre London/Delhi living space look like?
The project builds upon practice-based research initially conducted as UnBox LABS in Ahmedabad, India in February 2014; which used an immersive installation to explore the qualities and values built through self-organised communities that are lost in the resettlement process, culminating in the development of a prototype 3x4 metre muslin-covered bamboo structure. This installation incorporated video projections of images and quotes sourced directly from informal settlements and their inhabitants, focusing in particular on the role of networked technologies within these communities.
The public legacy of this project represents a pathway to future cultural, social and economic impact that goes beyond its academic context and has the opportunity to help shape the future cities of the global south. In the context of informal settlements the 3x4 installation will provide many public participants with their first encounter of a networked platform. Through this unique engagement the researchers aim for public audiences to acquire new knowledge through their lived experiences that will present a possible vision of a future city metaspace.
3x4 Project Web Site: http://www.3x4m.org