Kinesis

On rhetoric, motion, and technical projects

Carmageddon

It’s amazing how much we affect the planet and recognize only in brief glimpses. From a good article from earlier this summer:

"Nature doesn’t normally present the kind of opportunity that "Carmageddon" did in Los Angeles last year, an opportunity to catch a glimpse of atmosphere that’s typically saturated with pollutants on a suddenly pristine day. As you’ll recall, Los Angeles shut down a 10-mile stretch of one of its busiest highways, the 405, for a July weekend in 2011 (the city reprised the closure this past weekend to finish the project). Locals predicted apocalyptic gridlock. Instead, out of fear of just such a scene, drivers stayed home in dramatic numbers – from the 405, but also throughout the entire region.”

"Air quality near the normally busy highway improved by 83 percent that day last July, relative to comparable weekends. Elsewhere in West Los Angeles, the improvement was equally dramatic. Air quality improved by 75 percent on that side of the city and in Santa Monica, and by 25 percent throughout the entire region, as a measure of the drop in ultrafine particulate matter associated with tailpipe emissions."

This is a video from Yuri Suzuki and the AIAIAI Sound Taxi project called Make the City Sound Better. They’ve equipped a “sound taxi” with microphones that record all of the street noise that goes on outside of a vehicle, record that sounds in multiple layers, and then syncopate them to a specific beat. All of this happens in real-time. “Passersby will hear the music via the 67 speakers built into the entire car body and the big, shiny Indian horns mounted on top of the taxi’s roof. Finally, the passengers of the sound taxi can tune-in to the converted sounds via headphones installed inside of the vehicle.”

The project reminds me of a great quotation from de Certeau about rail travel: “Only the partition makes noise. As it moves forward and creates two inverted silences, it taps out a rhythm, it whistles or moans.”

Walking

Though I’m generally fascinated by all forms of transportation, urban walking is one that I’ve only considered briefly up until the last month or so. Looks like Tom Vanderbilt (of Traffic fame) is working on a new walking book. Here’s a great article about the science behind studying walking.

Fantastic. This little animation comes from a The Atlantic Cities article which wonders (and answers, to some degree) what intersections will look like in an age of driverless cars. From the piece:

"intersections will change not just because they’ll need to accommodate driverless cars, but because driverless cars will make intersections much more efficient. Right now, you may wind up sitting at a red light for 45 seconds even though no one is passing through the green light in the opposite direction. But you don’t have to do that in a world where traffic flows according to computer communication instead of the systems that have been built with human behavior in mind."

What is especially interesting is that this intersection, as understood here, makes no concessions for urban life, that is, no recognition that humans, bicycles, or other forms of mobility share space with automobiles.

Presented without comment, except maybe to say how much I want to build one.

Some more automobile-based art. Over the past few years I’ve come to recognize that a lot of people do create automobile art or art about automobility, though a fair amount is redundant and merely states what we dislike about the omnipresence of cars and their negative environmental impact. I like the more unusual pieces. This is from Marco Brambilla and was actually commissioned by Ferrari. I think it’s about the visual/aural expression of what it’s like to pilot a Formula 1 car - perhaps from the perspective of a driver’s nervous system. If you look close, you can see an F1 race in there, too.

This is how Google’s self-driving cars work, apparently. A bit dry, presentation wise, but fascinating in the ways in which the automobiles avoid accidents by following the rules of the road in context.

I like this for a number of reasons. Amongst them are: 1) it shows the same kind of data we’re now used to seeing in representative infographics, but on a human scale and 2) it pulls no punches w/r/t the amount of space required to transport people in buses vs bicycles. Bicycles do take up space - they’re still individual-based transportation solutions. Of course, this image doesn’t explain the health benefits from bicycling, the amount of energy required to propel that bus, nor the cost of a limited-time ticket and the right to use the bus. It’s persuasive, though like all infographics, it represents only some of a discrete portion of information.

I like this for a number of reasons. Amongst them are: 1) it shows the same kind of data we’re now used to seeing in representative infographics, but on a human scale and 2) it pulls no punches w/r/t the amount of space required to transport people in buses vs bicycles. Bicycles do take up space - they’re still individual-based transportation solutions. Of course, this image doesn’t explain the health benefits from bicycling, the amount of energy required to propel that bus, nor the cost of a limited-time ticket and the right to use the bus. It’s persuasive, though like all infographics, it represents only some of a discrete portion of information.

A nice infographic from MODE>SHIFT>OMAHA, which helps us understand the stark economic distinction between driving and biking.

A nice infographic from MODE>SHIFT>OMAHA, which helps us understand the stark economic distinction between driving and biking.

I got to see some fantastic automobile-related art at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp. These are all part of Erwin Wurm’s exhibit “Wear Me Out.”