The European Cities of Advanced Sound network (ECAS) commissioned 1 work in 2013, under the theme ‘Ubiquitous Art and Sound – Art and the everyday’ within the project Networking Tomorrow’s Art For an Unknown Future. The following project, chosen on May 15, 2013 in Kiev, Ukraine, during the ECAS Partners’ Meeting, is:
“BUQS – Ubiquitous Electronic Lifeforms” from Joris Hoogeboom and Teun Verkerk
Hacking the city
Buqs’ are electronic lifeforms that shift the experience of the streetscape from the primarily visual to a more auditory experience. The project aims to divert the invasion of the virtual realm into our public spaces by emphasizing the physical.The lifeforms invade surfaces within the built environment and use them for the creation of sounds, exploring the city as an instrument through it’s material properties. Popular embedded technologies including cheap radios and microcontrollers are used for a new purpose. Instead of measuring and control, the electronic lifeform is used to explore, inspire and rethink how man and machine can relate to their built surroundings.
As commodities (supposedly) democratised our physical needs, the internet democratised our minds, the nal frontier is to democratise our experience. The experience of the city, of our environment. Analogous to hacking in the internet: “Hacking entails some form of excellence, for example exploring the limits of what is possible, thereby doing something exciting and meaningful”- Stallman, we try to port advances in the digital realm to the experiential realm in an attempt to transform and democratise the experience our environments.
Unlike the experience of the visual, which has already been commercialized, BUQS focuses on the auditory experience because of its modulating capacities. The sounds of the city are symptomatic to its dwellers. As such Joris Hoogeboom thinks it’s not right to propose something static. Instead he aims to present tools to enable people to modulate the sounds of the city through and intermediate digital species.
This enables the city-dweller to playfully interact with the sounds that occur in the local environment by creative displacing of emitters to turn the city into an instrument. This builds upon the idea of a homo faber crossbred with homo ludens, a man that controls his environment through tools in a playful humorist manner.
Buqs are small electronic lifeforms that live in the city. They look very approachable and invite to be picked up and put somewhere else. All having their own characteristic with different tools, senses and limbs, they have to find their own niche in the built environment. For instance, buqs with suckers attach to windows, while needlebuqs or magnetic steelbuqs stick to trees and metal objects. Their tools such as (piezo) speakers or (lineair)motors to hammer are adjusted to the surface of their liking. In this way the materiality of the city is experienced in a completely new way. The distributed ecology of buqs convert the public space into a soundscape that invites for active exploration, experimentation and reconguration.
In contrast to our daily surroundings which have become more and more lled with technology that is hidden from view, the buqs technology is very straight-forward and can be seen from the outside.
Buqs relates to the theme Ubiquitous Art and Sound. This theme explores the ever-growing omnipresence of technology in everyday life through new approaches in creating art and sound for the public domain. Digital formats are everywhere. A consequence of the ever-spreading reach of media and the rise of new technologies. This phenomenon is matched by new artistic approaches to creating art and sound for the public realm.
Buqs was developed and presented at TodaysArt (The Hague, 24 – 28 September 2013), Insomnia (Tromsø, 19 – 26 October 2013) and FutureEverything (Manchest
ECAS is supported by the European Union within the Culture Programme.