Artist-In-Residence Projects Summarized

As artist-in-residence at MEDEA for the past 2 1/2 months, I’ve been honored to get-to-know Malmö, MEDEA and the innovation in sustainability at work within the region. I’ve enjoyed developing the following two projects to explore the application of communicating sustainability with in Malmö.

As with any creative endeavor, any project seemingly ‘completed’ can take off into a myriad of other directions for further exploration. It’s a process of endless beta. I’m thrilled with the progress of the current explorations and the ideas that have come out of my time at MEDEA. I’ve had an enlightening experience during my time in Malmö, and I look forward to continuing work on some of the many ideas that have opened for me as a result of this residency.

The two projects are ‘Bicycling Counts’ and a ‘Behind-the-Scenes’ Periscope.

The project ‘Bicycling Counts’ aims to build upon the existing infrastructure of bicycle counters in the city to ‘show’ what the data from these bicycle counters actually means. The current bicycle counters measure cyclists in real-time in a numerical format, with a micro graph to visually show the quantity.

Existing Bicycle Counter on Kaptensgatan in Malmö
Existing Bicycle Counter on Kaptensgatan in Malmö

I was interested in how this information could be communicated in a more visual way to show cyclists what it means that 5000 other cyclists have passed that particular point that day. I explored several ways to show this information, each sketch counting passing cyclists in terms of a different area of sustainability: the ‘ecological’ sketch shows impact in terms of CO2 saved, the ‘social’ takes an individual perspective to show calories burned (calculated as a Swedish seasonal treat: lussekatten), and the ‘financial’ sketch shows kroner saved.

Screenshot of Ecological Sketch
Screenshot of Ecological Sketch
Screenshot of Financial Sketch
Screenshot of Financial Sketch
Screenshot of Individual (Social) Sketch
Screenshot of Individual (Social) Sketch

For example, in the Ecological sketch, CO2-bubbles drop from the sky with each passing cyclist, and over time, grow into traditional patterns from the Skåne region. At 2881 cyclists, a car drops, indicating that this number of cyclists is equivalent to taking one car off the road for it’s lifetime.
Both the calculations behind each sketch and the visuals are customized for the region. The calculations are based on the average cycle distance within Malmö (3.3km), and Swedish statistics for cost and emissions from owning and operating a car.

The experience was tested on Wednesday, Dec. 8 on the public graffiti wall on Parking Hus Anna across from the Scandic City Hotel (who graciously gave us access to a room from which to do the projection). The result was a subtle acknowledgment of the larger contributions of passing cyclists that changes over time.

Future developments to this project could count both bicycle and auto traffic to show the relation between the two modes of transport in a real-time projection, and establish a competition between the 2.

Thanks to Jonathan Chomko and Nils Thalin for programming and hardware help. And to Malmö Stad for their support.

‘Behind-the-Scenes’ Periscope:
During my time in Malmö, I was impressed by the systems of ecological sustainability that are integrated into residential development of the Västra Hamnen – an area that in recent years has been transitioned from industrial area to modern city dwelling that is a showcase for architecture and sustainability infrastructure.

The area gets a lot of tourists, and I was interested to reveal the energy and environment-saving concepts behind these hidden systems to help visitors and residents understand some of the technologies that are at work.

Illustration of the energy and environment-saving systems at work in Västra Hamnen
Illustration of the energy and environment-saving systems at work in Västra Hamnen

I created an illustration to show how these systems inter-relate. Then the illustration was adapted for the technology of a periscope together with Unsworn Industries. [The periscope itself -termed ‘Parascope’ – was previously developed by a collaboration between the city of Malmö and Unsworn Industries as a mechanism for dialogue between the city and it’s residents about future infrastructure developments.]

Parascope in Västra Hamnen
Parascope in Västra Hamnen
Parascope in Västra Hamnen
Parascope in Västra Hamnen

The installation was available to the public Dec.10-Dec.13 in the midst of a neighborhood built to as a showcase for the European housing exhibition Bo01. [map]

One long-time resident commented, “I’ve lived here for a year but I’ve never understood how it all works.”

For future exploration, ideas from residents could overlap the established systems with local experiences and stories. The system could also feature infrastructure of ecological – and even social- sustainability in other areas of the city.

Thanks to Unsworn Industries for their great ideas and help, and to Malmö Stad for their input and for the use of a Parascope.

More info on backgroundstories.com