Urban Dashboard

#speculativedesign #interactivedesign  
New York, 2023

An investigation of using speculative method to rethink the connections between urban data and the environment. In this microfiction, the city is reaching out to us. By using a non-invasive method to read, observe, and interact with the urban environment.

To translate my research and experiments into a more understandable medium, I decided to create mockumentary-style clips using a combination of 3D modeling and real video. By blurring the boundaries between the videos and reality, viewers can engage better with the suggestive microfiction.

Feelers is hiding beneath the street trees to promote the children’s voice quietly; it can give an indication of how child-friendly the environment is.
Puddle Reader is having a conversation with the urban water cycle to reveal the quality of life.
Yellow Watcher is collecting the objects by seeing the city from a low-angle view. It allows us to understand the city's other residents and objects that live on the land in addition to humans.

Behind the scenarios, I was inspired by the book How to Read Water: Clues, Signs, and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea, written by Tristen Gooley, and started paying attention to those overlooked elements in the city such as bricks, concrete, tiles, bins, street lights to the roofs, I made mockups of these spots to gauge people’s reactions and imaginations of how these probes might function. Based on the feedback, I chose street trees, utility holes, and puddles as the main scenarios, as they are ubiquitous and subtle yet have a solid connection to urban development.

Urban Dashboard aims to use the speculative method to encourage discussions on reimagining the collection and interpretation of urban data. The project strives to create a scenario where all citizens can access urban data and learn to document and interpret the information the probes display. By attaching these probes to overlooked corners of the city, the project seeks to appreciate the digital ownership and wisdom of nature, rather than building cold infrastructures that transform information into useful data. Ultimately, the Use-less Urban Probes can raise awareness of changes in the neighborhood, civic knowledge, and urban development.
Artist: Guanhao Zhu Mentor: Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, Ernesto Klar Special Thanks: Designed Realities 2023, Major Studio 2 Spring

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