Trish Stone on Tue, 28 Oct 2008 21:32:57 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime-ann> [event] Scalable City at gallery@calit2

Installation by Sheldon Brown
At gallery@calit2

Opening Reception: 
Thursday, October 23, 6-8pm
Gallery Hours:
October 23-December 15
Monday-Friday 11-5

1st Floor, Atkinson Hall
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093

Press Release:
October 21, 2008

Media Contact: Doug Ramsey, 858-822-5825,

UC San Diego Artist Uses Computer ?Game¹ to Explore Algorithmic Nature of
Urban Development

Sheldon Brown¹s ?Scalable City¹ Installation Anchors Grand Opening of

New-media artist Sheldon Brown has traveled as far as China and the Czech
Republic to stage earlier versions of his work ³Scalable City², his most
ambitious project to date. However, he won¹t have to hop a plane this time,
because the interactive art work will be on display at a new venue on the
University of California, San Diego campus ­ barely 20 yards from Brown¹s
office on the first floor of Atkinson Hall, the UCSD headquarters of the
California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology

The exhibition will open to the public on Oct. 23 in the gallery@calit2,
part of the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for
Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). The launch coincides
with the grand opening of the gallery at a reception scheduled for 6-8 p.m.
the same day. Scalable City will run through December 15, 2008.

³Sheldon Brown played a critical role in formulating how we integrated the
arts into Calit2¹s multidisciplinary vision of our technological future,²
said Ramesh Rao, Director of the UC San Diego division of Calit2. ³We are
delighted that the official opening of the gallery@calit2 could be timed to
coincide with the installation of an interactive work that has been evolving
before our very eyes ever since CRCA and Calit2 moved into this building in
late 2005.²

Scalable City has appeared in multiple forms since its premiere as an
interactive installation in 2006 at Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. ³It
has appeared as a series of movies, as an installation, as prints, as
objects, and soon as a downloadable online game,² said Brown, Director of
UCSD¹s Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA). ³Within each of
these there are variations ­ the interactive installation is configured
differently for each venue ­ but at each venue and for each form, I am
bringing forward particular qualities of the work.²

The central piece of the installation on display in the gallery@calit2 is an
interactive computer game involving users, data and algorithms as applied to
urban development. ³My work creates an urban, suburban and rural environment
via a data visualization pipeline,² said Brown, who also directs CRCA¹s
Experimental Game Lab. ³Each step in this pipeline builds upon the previous
one, amplifying exaggerations, artifacts and the patterns of algorithmic

The raw data come from real-world, geo-spatial data that are subsequently
transformed by computer extrapolations into built environments that are
representative of reality, but at the same time seem hyper-real. The user
shapes interactions of the city¹s major components: landscape, roads,
building lots, architectural components, and vehicles. Each user controls a
vortex of automobiles that looks like a tornado of cars, continually spewing
copies of themselves into the atmosphere.  As this vortex moves through the
landscape, it causes roads to ³grow².  Scattered throughout the landscape
are architectural fragments that are flung into the air by the automotive
tornados, and as the fragments fall back to earth, they re-form into houses
­ producing shanty-like facsimiles of their original form, which are
scattered again into the landscape when another car vortex passes by.
³Scalable City places responsibility for the new landscape on each user,
whose activities are simultaneously constructive and destructive,² said
Brown. ³By applying computational processes to design decisions, it becomes
easy to see how development can produce unintended effects after much
iteration. Even the smallest design decision today to build a road can lead,
at the extreme, to drastic changes in the built environment that were
probably neither intended nor wanted.²
Support for the development of Scalable City comes from IBM, Intel, Sun
Microsystems, Vicon, High Moon Studios, the UC Discovery Grant program,
UCSD¹s Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), as well as the
UCSD division of Calit2.
Students have played a critical role in the development of Scalable City.
Graduate and undergraduate students who assisted Sheldon Brown on various
phases of the work have included: Erik Hill, Daniel Tracy, Kristen Kho,
Robert Twomey, Christopher Head, Prakhar Jain, Alex Dragulescu, Carl Burton,
Mike Caloud, and Joey Hammer.

Sheldon Brown¹s ³Scalable City² reflects the gallery@calit2¹s interest in
the nexus of innovation implicit in Calit2's vision, and aims to advance our
understanding and appreciation of the dynamic interplay among art, science
and technology.

Calit2 is a partnership between UC San Diego and UC Irvine, and houses over
1,000 researchers organized around more than 50 projects on the future of
telecommunications and information technology and how these technologies
will transform a range of applications important to the economy and
citizens' quality of life. The institute has integrated new-media arts into
its cross-disciplinary agenda.

Artist Bio

Sheldon Brown is an artist who works in new forms of culture that arise out
of the developments of computing technology. He is Director of the Center
for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at the University of
California, San Diego (UCSD), where he is a Professor of Visual Arts and
Artist-in-Residence at Calit2.

The artist¹s work examines the relationships between mediated and physical
experiences. This work often exists across a range of public realms. His
work plays with overlapping and reconfiguring private and public spaces,
with new forms of mediation, proliferating co-existing public realms with
geographies and social organizations of increasing diversity. Brown¹s art
explores the schismatic junctions of these zones ­ the edges of their
coherency ­ providing glimpses into their formative structures with a view
that suggests transformative modes of being and the extension of constrained

In addition to Ars Electronica in Austria, Brown has shown various forms of
Scalable City at such places as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai,
The Exploratorium in San Francisco, FILE 2008 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, The
Kitchen in New York City, Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw, Poland,
SIGGRAPH 2007 and Supercomputing 2007, and other venues. He has been
commissioned for public artworks in Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and
Mexico City, and has received grants from AT&T New Experiments in Art and
Technology, the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, IBM, Intel, Sun, Vicon and

Note to Editors: High-resolution still images from the installation
"Scalable City" are available on request to Doug Ramsey at

Grand Opening:
Thursday, October 23, 6-8pm
Please RSVP with an email to Trish Stone, Gallery Coordinator,

1st Floor, Atkinson Hall
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093

Map & Directions:
<> <> <>

Related Links
Artist Website <>
Scalable City <>
gallery@calit2 <>
Experimental Game Lab
Calit2 <>  

nettime-ann mailing list