PARK(ing) Day 2009 is Tomorrow (Sept. 18)

PARK(ing) Day is all about making the city a little greener by taking a parking spot for a vehicle and converting into a parking spot for people. You can make it happen in your own city!

The PARK(ing) Day website has more information.

PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art collective, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in an area of San Francisco that is underserved by public open space.

Back then the project was named simply PARK(ing), and was devised as a creative exploration of how urban public space is allocated and used. For example, up to 70% of San Francisco’s downtown outdoor space is dedicated to the vehicle, while only a fraction of that space is allocated to the public realm. Paying the meter of a parking space enables one to lease precious urban real estate on a short-term basis. What is the range of possible activities for this short-term lease?

Since 2005, the project has grown into PARK(ing) Day, an annual worldwide phenomenon, created independently by groups of artists, activists and citizens. Along the way, Rebar has been supported by several non-profits that share our values and concerns about how urban space is used. PARK(ing) Days in the past would not have been possible without support from The Trust for Public Land, Black Rock Arts Foundation and Public Architecture.

McDemos – For Easy Protesting

protest!Ever wanted to tell people what you think but can’t find the time to fit into your busy schedule? I know I have! Well, we’re in luck because a group of artists have created quick and painless demos in the heart of the Old Empire (you know, the one that the sun never sets in). Introducing McDemos:

Ever wanted to bring capitalism crashing down but can’t get time off work to do it?

Wanna force liberal parliamentary democracy to bow it’s corpulent head in shame but have to take the car into the garage AND do the shopping?

Do you get the urge to jab John Prescott with a stick till he cries like a fat girl but can’t find a stick?

Then McDemo’s is for you, we’ll find the stick and do the jabbing! Let us demonstrate for you!

In this busy 24/7 world you often don’t get the time to make your voice heard, so isn’t it about time you contracted your protesting needs out?

We’ll ruin multinationals while you relax with a cocktail by the pool. We’ll force MPs from office while you catch up with Desperate Housewives on E4. Let us demonstrate for you!

Games as Outbreak Simulations

Two years ago a disease ravaged the country sides of the World of Warcraft, an online virtual world in which players have to interact with one another to solve problems. The virtual disease effectively ‘killed’ the players and now researchers are thinking that they can examine these virtual outbreaks and compare them to real-world scenarios because in both cases the outbreak is treated as real by the humans involved.

Researcher Professor Nina Fefferman, from Tufts University School of Medicine, said: “Human behaviour has a big impact on disease spread. And virtual worlds offer an excellent platform for studying human behaviour.

“The players seemed to really feel they were at risk and took the threat of infection seriously, even though it was only a game.”

She acknowledged that a virtual setting might encourage riskier behaviour, but said this could be estimated and allowed for when drawing conclusions.

Less Smog, More Design

odd sculptureElegant Embellishments has created some groovy tiles that clean the air and add some aesthetic flair in cities. The tiles are still being developed, but this idea is really cool. The tiles are modular and can be mounted as a stand alone sculpture or attached to a building.

The technology behind the tiles is still being tweaked. Essentially, the tiles absorb pollutants that are generated from cars that lead to smog, while letting other gasses float on by. The tiles need to be located near the pollution source in order to be the most effective of course.

“The tiles provide councils, developers, and designers with an easy way simultaneously to improve the air quality and visual appeal of urban spaces. A London- and Berlin-based, interdisciplinary collaboration between innovators and materials manufacturers, architects and city councils, Elegant Embellishments produces lo-tech, interactive tiles in all shapes and sizes together with Millenium Chemicals TiO2. The tiles are modular and can thus be assembled to cover any surface or create any shape desired.”

NYC Garbage Cube

A lot of people’s garbage is another man’s, er, art.

An artist in New York City scours the streets looking for dropped metrocards, gum wrappers, coffee cups, etc. until he creates the perfect mixture. He then encases the rubbish in a glass cube that you can purchase NYC garbage over the internet.

Highlights include garbage from the Republican National Convention!

You can also see where NYC garbage has been exported to in cube form on his map.

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