In this second movie from our series filmed at the Designed in Hackney Day of talks and discussions we hosted in August, technologist James Bridle talks about his recent projects including a series of animations on top of bus shelters that were designed to look "like the internet has escaped out into the street".
The Bus Tops project displayed animations devised by anyone around the world and submitted via the website to be viewed from the top deck of a double-decker bus.
"What I most love about it is that you could be on the night bus at 3am and you'd suddenly get this pulsing animated gif coming at you out of the night," Bridle says, adding that it's a great way to "reach weird audiences that are not expecting you".
In the movie he also talks about his Ship Adrift project, where he installed a weather station on top of the Southbank Centre in London and used the data generated, including wind speed and air pressure, to determine the path of an "imaginary mad airship".
The program logs its theoretical position on Google Maps and gathers streams of information from the internet that are tagged with that location, using them to generate tweets and a log that combine a selection of words it picks up.
"Occasionally this becomes terrifyingly prescient," Bridle says, going on to recount how it picked up the names of rivers over the Balkans then started "talking about genocide," or picked up mentions of "drone attacks and the war on terror" close to the border of Pakistan. "When a robot picks up these kind of weird echoes of stuff that we're leaving on the network, something odd happens. I'm interested in those intersection points," he says.
Taking place at Hackney House in the heart of Shoreditch during the Olympics, Designed in Hackney Day celebrated the incredible diversity of design talent in the borough as well as providing a platform to discuss both the opportunities and threats to creative businesses in this fast-changing part of London.
Bridle concluded his talk by saying that the cross-disciplinary discussion that east London fosters is key to his work. Talking about the building he shares with internet startups, design companies, book binders and artists, he said: "We have this shared pool of experience and we're not scared of talking to each other about what interests us in each others work all the time. That's how, for me, London works."
We'll be publishing movies of the talks over the coming days and you can watch architects Studio Weave talk about how architects should be wary of “thinking that they know how to do everything” here.
Designed in Hackney is a Dezeen initiative to showcase world-class architecture and design created in the borough, which was one of the five host boroughs for the London 2012 Olympic Games as well as being home to Dezeen’s offices.
To find out more about the other discussions from Designed in Hackney Day, see our highlights reported here. See more stories about design and architecture from Hackney here.