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Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale of architecture 2020
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I worked with Studio Forage on an identity for their exhibition at the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale of architecture 2020.

‘Eyes of the city’ was the theme for the Bi-city Biennale which challenges the impact and critiques the future of facial recognition and urban technologies within the city.

Informed by the relationship between the city and technologies, the identity was created by employing eye tracking software which generated heat maps based on how the human eye interacts with typography - The act of watching itself being watched.

The studio's exhibits responded to Carlo Ratti's brief on the surveillance debate by proposing a speculative A.I driven city entitled Melonopolis, in which the residents have learnt to hack the cities laws and algorithms to make it work to their advantage. The show adopted the name ‘7 stories of Melonopolis’ and showcased 7 key examples of how the cities policies challenged the residents and how the residents challenged them back.

Scenario 1 - Speakeasy Gym

At the close of the decade of 2030 the residents of Mellonopolis were increasingly afflicted with ‘lifestyle diseases’. Obesity, heart disease and strokes were all at a record high despite heavy investments in medical facilities. Many of the city’s hard working residents had little time to exercise and had begun consuming increasing amounts of fast-food. The city decided that drastic change was needed. They began monitoring what and where the population ate and began offering incentives for healthy lifestyle choices and disincentives for unhealthy behaviour. Over time, the number of fast-food outlets dwindled and menus replaced spicy fried chicken with kale smoothies.

Resident: Charlotte
Charlotte is an entrepreneur who before the ban owned a series of fried chicken restaurants. Realising that so many of the residents missed the old ways and pleasures that came with their highly salted and saturated diets, Charlotte decided something had to be done and there was money to be made. While the citizens of Mellonopolis understood the health benefits of eating better, they still wanted the occasional comfort of fast food and alcohol. They missed relaxing with friends over a pile of fried finger foods, the rattle of the dice and the heady scent of strong liquor.

Subversion: Junk Food Speakeasy
Shortly after the junk-food ban came into force, Charlotte decided to open a chain of gyms. In the entrance, a small restaurant was filled with out-of-work models eating salads, chatting and laughing. However, this was all really just a disguise. Those in the know walk up to the counter and say the password. They are then led to the basement where they would find an old-style diner with a jolly atmosphere serving all the most delicious and very unhealthy foods. People drink beer, smoke cigarettes and act merrily, even though officially, according to their payment history, they are working out at the gym.

Scenario 2 - Cherry Blossom Tree

Mellonopolis has always been known for its beloved cherry blossoms and in the spring, it sees nearly 75 million tourists visit to witness the overflowing soft, pillow-y trees of pink and white that explode into bloom and engulf the city. In an effort to help the blossom-peepers find the best sites, Mellonopolis has deployed a tracking website where visitors can be directed to particular sites in full bloom. Receiving data via the city’s LIDAR-enabled satellite system, an algorithm processes the data based on estimated quantity of blossoms, vibrancy of hues, and ratio of blossom to bark. Areas that can be quantifiably justified as having the “best” blooms are then featured on the website and tourists are urged to visit.

Resident: Li Wei
Li Wei owns a noodle cart situated on the edge of park near a small manufacturing district. Although the park near his stall contains no cherry trees, he has nonetheless still profited from the surge of tourists coming and checking the park in anticipation of discovering blossoms whilst conveniently purchasing noodles from him. However, the new tracking website has put this to an end and Li Wei’s vendor permit does not allow him to move to another park. “The website is both unfair and takes away and joy in discovering the blossoms! Plus, it has severely impacted my noodle sales.”

Subversion: Cherry Blossom Net
A piece of fabric designed to be recognized by the algorithm like a cherry tree in full bloom. The fabric’s vibrant colours and voluminous form convinces the tracking algorithm that the blossom is truly one-of-a-kind and a must visit.

© Studio Koseda 2020