Squatting Supermarkets and REFF featured on Memefest

An update from a little while ago: Squatting Supermarkets and REFF have been featured at the Memefest.

REFF and Squatting Supermarkets at Memefest

REFF and Squatting Supermarkets at Memefest

Memefest is a international network of good people interested in social change trough sophisticated and radical use of media and communication. We create, think, research, educate and work on the intersections of art/science/communication profession/activism/theory and practice.

As a platform Memefest has two main dimensions. It is a festival and a collaborative community.

In this scheme we proposed our projects Squatting Supermarkets and REFF, RomaEuropa FakeFactory.

Squatting Supermarkets on Memefest

REFF on Memefest

Squatting Supermarkets as described on Memefest:

“Buying, wearing, eating, using. Our lives are full of objects of which we know very little about.

Shop’s and supermarket’s shelves only tell partial stories made from companies, efficient productions, happy farmworkers laying down coffee boxes on trucks with the logo of Nestlè, solar panels amidst fields and atop the roofs of factories who seem to have really stopped vomiting their foul toxic wastes in rivers and air, replacing them with new by-products of production that smell like straw and wheat.

All this happens if we look in one direction. And if we look in the other we see the aisles of the supermarkets spreading messages telling the tale of happy families (politically correct ones: a man, a woman, possibly mixing races and continents, with children, with the only possible alternative to be found in the images of career boys&girls, replacing family with business and fitness) buying things using credit cards, placing sincere trust in the ear of wheat almost protruding from the box of the product X that they throw into their shopping cart. Just as they trust the words biological, sustainable, ecologic showing up in products of all kinds.

Great commercial distribution points take narratives to an architectural level, designing our experiences up to the deepest levels of detail: the sequence of racks, shelves, themes, suggestions, colors, turns, tight spots; the reassuring sound announcing incredibly special offers; social, ecologic and economic themes, by which all bread is that of the old times, every shampoo has low ecologic impact, every automobile reduces polluting emissions, and any pack of coffee is produced by locals living on cheerful mountains upon which everyone peacefully smiles.

Visions that are partial, designed, mono-directional. Not all of the time. We must say that: luckily we can choose among many producers that have made the transition towards sustainability, ecology and the respect of diversities and of fragile populations. What we need to state is that for everything concerning these issues the possibility to access knowledge and information is an element of primary importance.

Art and creativity often confronted these points of view. The Supermarché Ferraille comes to mind with their improvised store displays, their surreal advertisements, their distorted products. Or the AdBusters, their subversive and detourned communication campaigns. Or the performances by Banksy, National Cynical Network.Or, in Italy, the ones by Candida TV, Serpica Naro, Anna Adamolo, Luther Blissett, Liens Invisibles. (… and loads of others. So much that it would be truly interesting to list and map all f the actions of this kind)

Squatting Supermarkets combines several platforms: iSee, an iPhone application used to create information and communication systems localized on logos and symbols; Ubiquitous Publishing, a set of open technologies that can be used to create location and architecture based contents, accessible directly from the places tht we walk through by using mobile phones and devices, together with simple, affordable augmented reality techniques; architettura rel:attiva, DpSdC and OneAvatar, a series of technological platforms that connect bodies and architectures to the internet and to virtual worlds.

iSee

Turning the corner of the aisle. Cold. Frozen products. Sounds of shopping carts, bottles, plastics, bags, cardboard, rolling pasta and cereals. Light completely white. Reds disappear or flatten completely, leaving out the reflections on the shiny plastic of serial packages of standard food items wih geometrically acceptable shapes.

Cold and words, in front and behind. Requests for information, calls to other aisles, requests for consensus, children getting lost.

A small accident takes place behind me, just as I lift a package taken randomly among others: two shopping carts collide, pouring out cardboard boxes, synthetic fibers holding together oranges that look all the same, bottles labeled in geometrically psichoactive ways. The fast bureaucracy of the accident ends and everything orderly starts back up : people start following their directional vectors, dictated bi habit and special offers.
I grab the pack back up, simultaneously extracting a smartphone from my pocket: a rapid automatic swipe of my thumb on the touchscreen unblocks it.

Colored icons in one hand, a cold, wobbly package in the other. I run through the icons, finding one with an eye insistently staring back at me, white on black. I activate the application and immediatly frame the package in the viewfinder: red, white, blu contour, thick typeface, readable. A short wait: “Product recognized: XYZ”. Options on the screen “Available information: ecological footprint, social responsibility and sustainability, alternative products. Or you can access the public discussion”.

Two goals.

On one side, to systematyze practices and technologies, creating an open framework that can be used and evolved to instantiate augmented reality (or, berret, Virtual NeoRealist) spaces, connecting bodies and information, implementing accessible, relational and natural interaction schemes.

On the other side, to act, starting multi-author, diffused, emergent narratives.”

REFF as described on Memefest:

“Romaeuropa FakeFactory is an act of artistic and technological hacking, a platform for global discussion and a performance that, beginning in 2009, has dealt with the themes of active, critical and creative innovation, confronting the management of cultural and technological policies related to these areas. The story begins with the opening of the Romaeuropa WebFactory, a digital art competition launched in 2008 by the Romaeuropa Foundation (Fondazione Romaeuropa) and Telecom Italia. Oppressive copyright conditions, such as the unilateral transfer of the rights to the works submitted and a ban on the use of techniques like mashup, cutup, remix but conversely giving the Romaeuropa Foundation and Telecom Italia the right to remix the works, inspired the creation of a Fake capable of becoming a point for multi-disciplinary analysis of the possibilities offered by freely available knowledge, contents and resources: a chance to reverse the logic of the competition and bring to light the contradictions, limits and implications of such a typical, reactionary cultural policy.

“Remix the world! Reinvent Reality!” is one of the principal themes that has inspired the REFF, from an act of détournement and cybersquatting – that brought to life the creation of a remix skills competition determining in 2009 a reversal of the Romaeuropa Foundation and Telecom Italia’s policy on the management of intellectual property rights – to the presentation of REFF’s instances and methodologies to the Cultural Commission of the Italian Senate (Commissione Cultura del Senato della Repubblica Italiana), up to the current production of the REFF book, as a global effort to create a working business model that implements the concepts and demands expressed by the RomaEuropa FakeFactory. Supporters of the REFF are found all over the world: over 80 partners among universities, artists, academies, associations, hackers, researchers, designers, journalists, politicians, magazines, networks, activitst, art critics, architects, musicians and entrepreneurs together with all the people who share a belief that art, design and new technologies can unite towards a critical, yet positive vision of a world that can create new opportunities and new ways of being, collaborating and communicating.”

The projects will be featured in a publication produced by Memefest in the next part of the year.

 

 

 

 

Squatting Supermarkets at UAMO Festival in Munich

Supermarkets are places in which communication is really authoritary.

supermarket

Everything you see, hear, touch and smell is decided my store managers, according to commercial and marketing strategies.

The things you read on product labels are decided from manufacturers and corporations, and you have no control over it.

Even the spatial layout of the supermarket itself is the result of a strategic decision.

Squatting Supermarkets wishes to confront this scenario by using Augmented Reality to bring radical, participatory communication back into supermarkets.

Using the Squatting Supermarkets smartphone application it is possible to scan the labels and packaging of products and

  • add information to it (text, sounds, images, videos)
  • see information that has been added by other users
  • browse information related to the product or to its manufacturer, as aggregated from a series of institutional, research, activist sources
Product communication, thus, becomes open source and peer to peer, and products become social networks which become accessible in the most delicate moment of the process of consumption: the instant in which you decide to buy the product or not.

We will present Squattng Supermarkets at UAMO festival in Munich from the 27th to the 30th of October. The presentation will take the form of a performative action and we hope to be able to organize a live workshop in some supermarkets around the city.

Join us at UAMO!

Squatting Supermarkets back in SMIR

On July 10th, 2011, the SMIR project was back in Mondovì.

Squatting Supermarkets at SMIR 2011

Squatting Supermarkets at SMIR 2011

This outstanding initiative joined forces across the italian/french border, between the cities of Mondovì and Embrun, to restore two ancient churches that were left to decay and dedicate their renewed spaces to the creation of a process which, moving across arts, sciences, humanities and economy, researches the possibilities offered by technologies to promote innovation practices with a social impact and with opportunities for development for the people in the territories in which all of this takes place.

Squatting Supermarkets  :

“uses the logos and packaging graphics of products as AR fiducial markers. A content management system allows attaching information and interactive experiences to logos, instantly transforming them into open, accessible, emergent spaces for communication. A mobile application allows consumers to use their smartphones to take pictures of the logos on the products’ labels and to use them to access the augmented reality layers of information.”

In Mondovì and Embrun we joined forces with the local public administrations and with a series of traditional producers of food with historical heritages reaching back hundreds of years to explore the possibilities for them offered by ubiquitous technologies.

Squatting Supermarkets at SMIR 2011

Squatting Supermarkets at SMIR 2011

We found out an incredible opportunity for research and action: we produced packaging for these products which integrated markers which would allow for experiencing a series of augmented reality experiences in which the producers told the story of the product, the traditions behind them, and exposed the enormous values which are embodied in their local, traditional practices: complete sustainability, social integration,  local development, an economic model which is oriented to an holistic idea of value, encompassing the enterprise, the people that work int it, the environment, society, traditions and a vision on the future.

The experiences also offered those assets which made Squatting Supermarkets such a breaktrhough experience: realtime infoaesthetic representations gather data from a multiplicity of sources and make it available using augmented reality directly from the product, including ecology and sustainability profiles, social network buzz, and the possibility to contribute to the overall information environment by openly providing ratings, comments and info-contributions, transforming the experience of consumption into an open, free dialogue among all stakeholders, in which new values, ethics and possibilities constantly emerge. 

ESA Conference 2010 @ Bocconi University

ESAConference

ESAConference

We have recently been at the ESA Conference 2010 “Culture and the Making of Worlds” held at the Bocconi University in Milan during October 2010.

The conference is one of the main events in the global research scenario of sociology. It is held by the European Sociological Association (ESA) and the conference was organized by the ASK group at the Bocconi University.

With FakePress we presented a series of projects.

First we made a general presentation of the FakePress project

Then we presented the Squatting Supermarkets project:

then we presented our anthropologi writing project Ubiquitous Anthropology / Ubiquitous Bororo:

and the second part

and then we presented the REFF RomaEuropa FakeFactory project / action

and, by the way, check out often on the REFF RomaEuropa FakeFactory page, as a wonderful book is coming out using augmented reality and wide tagging techniques published by DeriveApprodi and FakePress.

All our contributions have been published here on the SSRN (Social Science Research Network).

In the next few days we will publish all the presenttions and PDFs of the presentations.

Squatting Supermarkets @ Robot Festival, Bologna

Robot Festival 2010, Bologna, Italy

Robot Festival 2010, Bologna, Italy

Augmented Reality can create opportunities for critical reinvention of the world.

Squatting Supermarkets uses augmented reality to break open the codes of commercial communication on the products we use every day. By taking a picture with your mobile phone to the logo of a product, individuas can contribute to a global, disseminated relational discourse on ecology, sustainablity and social responsibility issues of the things we eat, wear and use every day.

The logo gets recognized with computer vision techniques and is used as a fiducial marker that can be used by the Squatting Supermarkets application to create a discussion space onto which people can write their thoughts and interact with other individuals and groups.

An interpretative layer on top of reality where we can express ourselves, bypassing communication control strategies enacted by corporations and governments. Augmented Reality as a new space for self-expression.

FakePress and Art is Open Source present:

Squatting Supermarkets @ RObot Festival 2010

from 15th to 18th September

Bologna, Italy

click here for more info about RobotFest 2010

click here for more info about Squatting Supermarkets

click here for even more info about Squatting Supermarkets

please link back to: http://www.artisopensource.net/2010/09/09/squatting-supermarkets-robot-festival-bologna/