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Blinking, Amphibious Creations Bring Architecture To Fish

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[Images courtesy Chris Woebken]

In the best tradition of the Floating Island comes the latest East River architectural insanity, a project called Amphibious Architecture that's lurking beneath the waves, just waiting for the chance to—er, text message you? Yes indeed. To repeat: these blinking lights will text message you.

The project, described as "a floating installation in New York waterways that glows and blinks to provide an interface between life above water and life below," is the brianchild of the Living Architecture Lab at Columbia's Graduate School of Architecture and NYU's Environmental Health Clinic. Here's their explanation of the creation:

Amphibious Architecture submerges ubiquitous computing into the water—the substance that makes up 90% of the Earth’s inhabitable volume and envelops New York City but remains under-explored and under-engaged. Two networks of floating interactive tubes, installed at sites in the East River and the Bronx River, house a range of sensors below water and an array of lights above water. The sensors monitor water quality, presence of fish, and human interest in the river ecosystem. The lights respond to the sensors and create feedback loops between humans, fish, and their shared environment. An SMS interface allows citizens to text-message the fish, to receive real-time information about the river, and to contribute to a display of collective interest in the environment.

Instead of treating the rivers with a “do-not-disturb” approach, the project encourages curiosity and engagement. Instead of treating the water as a reflective surface to mirror our own image and our own architecture, the project establishes a two-way interface between environments of land and water. In two different neighborhoods of New York, the installation creates a dynamic and captivating layer of light above the surface of the river. It makes visible the invisible, mapping a new ecology of people, marine life, buildings, and public space and sparking public interest and discussion.

In other words, human interaction with the crafts changes their lighting, and thus their interaction with the local environment. Pretty cool. And yet, are we too late to have that kind of fun ourselves? The project was part of the Sentient Cities project that ended on November 7. Anyone get to interact with these bad boys, or know when they might set sail again?
· Amphibious Architecture [The Living New York via PSFK]