OUT is a non-profit project that develops a new branch on urban visualization within Madrid´s spaces of protest to be used by any citizen in order to fight the unbalanced relation of visibility between different urban actors. The proposal deploys a network of real-time streaming points on the most iconic space-times for public demonstrations of Madrid that could be accessed by any citizen 24/7. Instead of the surveillance and controlling systems of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), Open Urban Television (OUT) is a network designed to be re-appropriated by Madrid´s inhabitants due to its open information, collaborative communication and research approach.
The principle is simple –set out an infrastructure where everyone can monitor the most significant public spaces of protest with in Madrid- but its possible outcomes are complex: strengthen a citizen communication system from a previous repressive one, empower every urban agent with a tool that could provide critical information for urban studies, increase the access of spatial data throughout the entire day to improve mobility or day to day scheduling, reinforce systems of real-time events information with no mediation, blur the limits between public-private spheres and combat the increasing privatization of urban space or diversify the ways to experience the urban environment.
The increasing streamization of cities and its protests, by public and private agencies, mutates its antique relation within control, surveillance or recognition by evaporating the distance of the equation and raising multiple questions on the new remediations within its observed citizens. Open Urban Television aims to work on this context to analyse, think and act on this very specific urban infrastructure that has a clear asymmetric usage by private agencies and the rest of the citizens using its most radical application as its case of study: the spaces of protest.
Is not a project about destroying a technology but to equalize and democratize the use of urban visualization in order for citizens to use it; to generate an infrastructure that could empower citizens to watch their city. Today infrastructures are becoming crucial to allow things to happen as real-time synchronization grows, an Open Urban Television sets up the ground for things to be produced, to deploy a network of nodes where people can project what they want.
Today, streaming webcams and CCTVs are the last resource for acquiring real time visual information within urban environments and our plan is to bring it back to the common sphere. The project works with the existing context –legal, political, economic and urban- in order to subvert its visual regime and produce a tool for every citizen both in the sense of a technical mean and an act of empowerment and justice, to regain access and control of a powerful infrastructure usually denied to citizenship.
The prototype is developed in the specific case of Madrid. Its focus of analysis and research are the public spaces of protest, to connect and monitor them. In parallel to the development of the infrastructure, there is an important research effort to understand the role of this iconic and mediated locations that are not randomly chosen: the cameras are always looking to a public space where people communicates and manifests its political or desires views.
This selected public spaces are fundamental because they are, either and at the same, the most iconic places for demonstrations, protests, parades, tourism or consumerism; the spaces of the powerful and the poor simultaneously; the magnificence and the misery; the quotidian and the extraordinary.
* The main question left on Open Urban Television is that suburbia is not represented here; if the cameras were focusing on its public spaces, they will not capture almost anything.
We live in a digitalised world where IP networks transfer more than 7.3 petabytes every 5 minutes, where Warcraft players double the population of Austria, where Facebook with more than 500 million users is the third most populated territory in the world, where the amount of data extracted from the public sphere per second is bigger than all previous archives or where ebay is the biggest existing market in the world and, still, public spaces fight to stay unchangeable: the same urbanism, the same neighbourhoods, the same buildings, the same architecture, the same divisions of domesticity.
Open Urban Television will be streaming 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
As a project, the intervention will establish a website that monitors the urban realities of the most iconic public spaces and itineraries of protests. The users of the public space are empowered with urban visibility in order not to communicate with written texts –SMS or whatsapp- but with live streaming realities. Just as the first activist that re-appropriated this technology, the new interactions will helps us understand notions of communality, conviviality, chronouses or mere urban planning and built environments. What does it mean that the citizen can not only send information but its urban context? Can cities and public spaces be transmitted?
As a research, all the footage of the streaming webcams could be used, displayed and compared to produce urban studies such as time matching of different cities that will enable to compare different chronopolitics of public spaces across the world simultaneously. It will experiment about the blurring of private and public environments, notions of exteriority and interiority or other dichotomies that have ruled over the practice of urban agents during decades. As a tool for researcher will display an important quantity of data available for producing urban analysis and, specifically, in the not usually researched field of public demostrations.
As a narrative, any citizen will be able to sit down and watch the movie of the big metropolis articulated by its inhabitants. A story of fragments, layers and a patchwork of urban realities only linked through the witnessing of the same event in time but not in space.
As an urban architecture, it is a displayed window that can be executed as an interactive surface where mutation of the architectonic elements could be performed. In opposition of the dystopian views such as Black Mirror, Avatar or Gamer where what is projected is poor informational and malleable content, the proposal acts amid the relation of the data of urban realities –uchonias- versus the brain dissolver junk TV –dystopia- information.
As a technology, streaming deals with the distribution of multimedia through a network of computers where the product is consumed at the same time that is being produced. The proposal is a way to act in urban environments by using streaming technology to set out temporal differences and asymmetries in public spaces across the globe, returning the power over this infrastructure to its inhabitants.
Open Urban Television (OUT) exudes from a previous project funded by Fundación La Caixa and developed at Goldsmiths University as part of the final show of the Masters in Research Architecture (2014), where the team used streaming webcams along four continents –Asia, America, Europe and Oceania- and in more than fifteen major cities such as London, Madrid, Tokyo, New York or Sydney, Rome and Bangkok. The team placed entry points within their public spaces –QR codes- throughout six different times zones and when any citizen scans them, the hacked CCTVs start live streaming from those locations inside the gallery. This project was a prototype for the re-appropriation of this infrastructure by its citizens that could decide if they wanted for a specific camera to stream from their location instead of only being watched. During the four days that the exhibition lasted, the system was accessed by 3,430 citizens throughout all those cities (visual info could be found attached), having London as the most intensified city use with 781 logins.