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. 

REFF, RomaEuropa FakeFactory: next step

REFF RomaEuropa FakeFactory is back.

A book is coming out in Italy (and an international version is following soon, before the end of the year) together with the next step in our action in favor of better innovation policies andpractices for arts and culture.

During these days Italy is living strange times, with a government that is something that could easily be called a “soft dictatorship”and an extensive crisis scenario across culture, imaginaries and perspectives.

This, in particular, is a peculiar day for Italy, as the governmental crisis began just a few hours ago. And it is indeed a very strange crisis, as the in-crisis government actually has loads of power (it managed to have the crisis postponed by 14 days, to be able to create a few more laws:) ), and the possible alternatives do not really offer any real difference to the currently running models.

This is a media dictatorship, as its power is based on 20+ years of television and on the social changes it induced in the population.

Current culture and art policies reflect that. Totally.

This difficult scenario is what induced us in the first place when we created REFF, RomaEuropa FakeFactory.

A quick-quick history: in 2008 a big italian culture/arts institution created an international competition that was really terrible in terms of the supported cultural policies, of artists’ rights and of intellectual property issues. We, a group of artists and activists together with 80+ partners all over the world , created REFF, a fake institution and a competition just like the “original” one, only supporting open, innovative practices and policies.

The impact was so strong that REFF was invited at the Cultural Commission of the Italian Senate.

The original institution (theFondazione RomaEuropa) was forced to change its policies and to transform its practices, becoming just like REFF :)

The action continued, as the original Fondazione became the focus of several large operators’ assault on the digital imaginaries of people to create what they openly call the Digital Class.

This process saw the biggest italian telco operator (Telecom Italia) invading practically every space in digital arts, leading to a scenario in which even the absurd “Internet for Peace” campaign was possible: a telco operator was becoming a major political force in all the issues related to networks, digital innovation, intellectual property and publishing, obtaining the support of more that 70 representatives in both the Parlament and the Senate.

We leveraged REFF, our shadow institution, and uncovered many of these opaque processes. Last one of which is the assault on digital publishing industries: the market of ebooks and ebook readers is the latest area of assault on italy’s digital cultures scenario and on the practices of free expression and self-determination.

This is why together with FakePress wecreated this book.Together with the book a software platform will be released (GPL2 license) allowing people to freely create ebooks, and enhanced books featuring augmented reality, wide tagging, and fruibility across several devices.

The platform has been recently presented at Artissima with the help of the Piemonte Share Festival as an opportunity for publishing and expression practices for the arts and culture.

Multiple events will follow in the next days and months.

Stay tuned, if you like.