BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo will become a hub of exploration
for digital artists and scholars this weekend as thinkers from
around the world attend the MediaCities Conference, taking place
Organized by University at Buffalo architecture and media study
faculty members, the event examines how digital technologies shape
the way people experience urban life and spaces — especially
in cities that scholars have traditionally overlooked.
Registrants will enjoy presentations on topics such as the
ability of digital media to create “public spaces” for
socio-political movements like Occupy, and how new media
technologies can raise, blur and erase boundaries between people. A
full program is available at http://www.mediacities.net/.
Of particular interest to the public will be the MediaCities
Conference Pop-Up Gallery, which will feature a variety of
works by renowned digital artists.
The public is invited to attend the gallery’s free
opening reception on Saturday, May 4, from 7-9 p.m. at 743 Main
Exhibits will include photographs from artist Paolo
Cirio’s “Street Ghosts,” a project that places
life-sized posters of people found on Google’s Street View in
the same spot where the original Street View images were taken. The
posters are printed in color on thin paper, cut along the outline
of the people, and then affixed with wheatpaste on the walls of
public buildings at the precise spot where the people appear in
Google’s Street View image.
Julian Oliver, artist in residence with Techne Institute for Art
and Emerging Technologies at UB, will present “Border
Bumping,” a dislocative media project that maps the
discrepancies between national borders and those defined by mobile
phone networks. Running a freely available, custom-built smartphone
application, Border Bumping agents collect cell tower and location
data as they traverse the U.S./Canada border in trains, cars,
buses, boats or on foot. Moments of discrepancy at the edges are
logged and uploaded to the central Border Bumping server, which
generates real-time maps of these fluxuating border conditions.
Information on gallery works is available at http://mediacities.net/site/exhibition/.
The exhibition will be on view through Saturday, May 11.
A citywide light display called the “City Lights
Orchestra” has been timed to coincide with the gallery
opening, with organizers asking residents to help turn the windows
of homes and apartments in Allentown and downtown Buffalo into a
symphony of blinking, multi-colored lights.
Other MediaCities events that will employ Buffalo as laboratory
include “Neurovision,” a hands-on workshop for
conference attendees. In this session, participants will film
moving cars and other urban motions in Buffalo, and learn to use
video-processing software to turn those basic recordings into works
of digital art.
Conference organizers include Omar Khan, UB associate professor
and chair of architecture; Jordan Geiger, UB assistant professor of
architecture; and Mark Shepard, UB associate professor of
architecture and media study.
“Digital media is something that is increasingly part of
our everyday life in cities, so it’s important to understand
not only how they’re shaping our experience of the city, but
also how they’re beginning to shape our relationship to each
other,” Shepard said.
The conference has taken place every two to three years since
2006, when it originated at the Bauhaus-Universität in Weimar,
Germany. Buffalo is the conference’s first location outside
Liz Flyntz, a curator and recent graduate of UB’s media
study program, is coordinating the pop-up gallery exhibition as
well as the City Lights Orchestra, a project by artist Antoine