Tag: Sentient Spaces

Sentient Spaces

Next Nature Movie #9 – The Terminal

Viktor Navorski is an Eastern European traveler – portrayed by Tom Hanks, who in the movie ‘Cast Away’ already played a man stranded on an uninhabited island – that finds himself in the unique circumstance that a war broke out in country while he was traveling to New York. This makes him a man without a country, or one that the U.S. cannot recognize, thus he is denied entrance to the U.S. However, as he can’t be deported either, the Security Manager tells him he has to remain in the airport until his status can be fixed.

Forced by the circumstances, Victor soon unfolds himself as a situational designer that cleverly repurposes the airport terminal as his living environment. In contrast, the rationalistic security manager desperately tries to cope with the parasitic element that has entered within the system. Guess who wins? Spoiler alert: It’s a Spielberg movie.

Like in Jurassic Park, director Steven Spielberg shows us that, while people are experts at domesticating their environment with rationalistic systems, the systems we create can easily outgrow us up to the level that we start to perceive them as a next nature that has to be re-domesticated (again). The huge airport terminal set was built for this movie alone. Unsure if they have ever re-used it for a Big Brother-type of reality TV series – oh boy, did we just invent a TV format there?

Passed: Modern Times (1936), Brazil (1985)


Homemade Spacecraft

Cinematographer Luke Geissbühler made a homemade spacecraft with his 5-year-old son Max, and some of Luke’s friends. The spacecraft was made from a Thai food takeout container, an HD video camera and an iPhone for GPS tracking. They launched it into the upper stratosphere using a weather balloon. This most incredible ‘homevideo’ of the project soon went viral with millions of views.

The Brooklyn Space Program is a organization formed by a group of friends in New York City interested in scientific experiments, engineering, design and education. Visit them at brooklynspaceprogram.org to get the entire uncut voyage, buy a T-shirt and support the team.

self catching fish
Manufactured Animals

Self Catching Fish

Researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts, are testing a plan to train fish to catch themselves by using a sound broadcast to attract them into a net. If it works, the system could eventually allow black sea bass to be released into the open ocean, where they would grow to market size, then swim into an underwater cage to be harvested when they hear the signal.

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Adaptive Bloom

This interactive installation came out of the Postgraduate Certificate Course in Advanced Architectural Research of the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. Graduate Justin Goodyer created this responsive wall that originally was designed to be a décor as well as a performing artist in a dance performance. The wall would react to the dancers by letting its flowers bloom whenever they sense someone is near. Thus creating an interaction between performers and their surroundings.

In the video you can see the wall reacting on the public at the ‘Constructing Realities’ exposition that shows the best project of the postgraduate course.

Back to the Tribe

Squamata headset dances with the Music

Inspired by body language of animals (in particular squamates and porcupines), designer Jop Japenga created a headphone with an adaptive skin that responds to the music played on them – resembling a bird performing a mating dance.

The concept of his headphone was to make an public depiction of one’s frame of mind rather than a set of headphones that just reacted to the hits of every song. Inner atmosphere is communicated through a skin of reflective scales. Japenga used memory metal, an Arduino controller and custom electronic to create a working prototype with kinetic scales on the band that wave with either energetic or subtle force in accordance with the genre of music.

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The Buttons

Nowadays buttons are completely mundane and natural objects in our environment. You find them on phones, alarm clocks, keyboards, elevators, dishwashers and of course on the computer screen. You press buttons countless times throughout your day, but hardly think of them consciously.

The little symbols of control are so omnipresent, it is difficult to imagine that buttons did not always exist. Certainly people in the stone age did not press them – taken that nipples do not count as buttons – but we don’t know exactly when we started pushing buttons and who invented them.

Apparently buttons were unknown until the early 20th Century, with the possible exception of valves on wind instruments. When small controls were needed, for example on camera shutters, they were usually styled after latches or triggers.

Recent RCA graduate Nitipak Samsen, took it upon himself to re-investigate and re-design the concept of the button altogether, moving from the button as a symbol of control, an extension of the human desire to harness the planet, to inter-control.

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As our everyday living spaces are packed with electronics and become increasingly sentient, we might one day wake up in a house that knows more about your family’s state than you do.

Designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau (remember their lustrous audio tooth?) are investigating if such technology would be helpful or too invasive. Their HappyLife project consists of a visual display linked to the thermal image camera, which employs facial recognition to differentiate between members of the family.

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ECO Currency – A Proposal to Balance Economical and Environmental Value

Imagine we would have an alternative monetary currency for environmental value. Would the rain forest still be destroyed if there existed an ECO–currency to express its value and pay farmers to let the trees stand? Designers of the Next Nature Lab are investigating how we can link economy with ecology. A proposal on how we can link economy with ecology.

The starting point of the ECO–currency(*) project is the hypothesis that an important factor in the ongoing environmental crisis is the disconnect between the economical ecology and the environmental ecology. With the latter we mean the ecology of plants, trees, animals, and other organic material. Whereas the economical ecology is defined by our financial system of market, money, goods and other economical exchange. Our second working hypothesis states that we could address environmental issues by linking the economical sphere and the environmental sphere in a better way than that is currently the case.

Comparing the two ecologies: The rain forest is a stable, self-sustainable and threatened ecosystem, whereas the financial system is a unstable and threatening ecosystem that feeds on the biosphere.

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