Over the Rainbow

Dietmar Offenhuber and Susanne Seitinger: Over the Rainbow – Information Design for Low-Resolution Urban Displays

Part of Paper Session 1: Design and Implementation

Abstract: To what extent can information be successfully communicated through a media façade and what are the relevant parameters? In this paper, we focus on the issue of information design for media façades, which is not often discussed separately. As a thought experiment, we propose homing in on this topic as a core domain for the deployment of low-resolution, ambient displays in the city. We discuss the advantages and limitations of five techniques for encoding information: color, movement, text, images, and shape.

Though designers may not always be aiming to convey explicit information, onlookers may still seek additional layers of meaning and end-users may re-appropriate an infrastructure over time. Two examples from our recent practice, a series of single-pixel way- finding beacons and a low-resolution media façade, serve to illustrate these techniques. By linking the broad notions of ‘content’ and ‘meaning’ to a set of purpose-driven and actionable parameters, we invite designers to scrutinize the low-level communication processes facilitated by media architecture.

Dietmar Offenhuber is Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in the departments of Art + Design and Public Policy. He holds a PhD in Urban Planning from MIT, a MS in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab, and a Dipl. Ing. in Architecture from the Technical University Vienna. Read more on his website

Susanne Seitinger is City Innovations Manager at Philips Color Kinetics and a Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Lab Fluid Interfaces Group, Visiting Lecturer at the Technical University of Vienna and a Visiting Scientist at the Austrian Institute of Technology. Read more about her on the MIT website

Paper Session 1: Design and Implementation
This session takes place in the morning of November 21. It features four talks:

Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber and Filippo Lodi: Designing with the Immaterial Dietmar Offenhuber and Susanne Seitinger: Over the Rainbow: Information Design for Low-Resolution Urban Displays

Henrika Pihlajaniemi, Toni Österlund and Aulikki Herneoja: Urban Echoes: Adaptive and Communicative Urban Lighting in the Virtual and the Real

Alexander Wiethoff, Thomas Bauer and Sven Gehring: Investigating Multi-User Interactions on Interactive Media Façades