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Nomads Against Digitized Nomads
Sewon Roy Kim
Norman Foster Foundation
& Gavin Hogben
special thanks to
Dana Karwas & Francesco Casetti
Nomads Against the Digitized Nomads is a visual narrative that speculates different types of nomadism that is moderated by imminent space-time mediums. By looking closely into the human perception behind emerging technologies including autonomous mobility, algorithmic neutrality, and even augmented reality - we argue that there is a striking contrast between BEING a mediated nomad and CHOOSING the nomadic lifestyle.
Each space-time mediums, or future mobility technologies in in different timeframe are paired with a nomadic narrative. The story starts from my personal nomadic experience against the Covid-19 digital surveillance of South Korea.
In the pandemic-era Korea, even if you take out a coffee at a cafe, or eat at a restaurant, your location data is automatically synced to the government server. When a confirmed case occurs, the government conducts contact tracing based on this data, and this process often is not anonymous. There was even an incident when the government released contact tracing data of gay community, surging nation-wide homophobia in South Korea.
In order to break away from this excessive private data collection, me and my girlfriend changed our date locations from cafe, bars, restaurants to a 2009 Kia Forte and 2021 Hyundai Tuscan.
Each car was our privacy cocoons with domestic capabilities, but they formed a relationship when necessary.
Physical mobility was our
private heterotopia against the digital mobility.
narrative speculates the moment when the physical mobility goes...
The moment when the car is not a privacy cocoon anymore, but rather the extension of networked urban commons. “Image” of nomadic lifestyle is marketed as a product, masking the reality that exists entirely within the logic of capitalism and consumer culture.
the concept of physical mobility doesn’t exist anymore. Bits and atoms has merged into a singular dataset, and the virtual world has been directly placed into the shallow gap between our retinas and the built environment that we perceive.
As soon as the AR glasses gathered people in New York and Seoul in a same room, the craze for self-driving viechles has quickly gone away. The concept of physical mobility now only lives in museum.
Permanent settlement is not guaranteed within the physivirtual world, as users share or occupy space-time just like a temporary torrent seed. The spread of networks and the growth of communities meant prosperity. The physivirtual inhabitants embarked on a persistent battle to eliminate the not much left spatial barriers.
However, there were certain individuals who decided to break that connection.
The ones who wanted atoms,
not bits to configure space and
move them around.
The ones who wanted to share and connect by their own will.
These people were named the nomads.
Not the digitized nomads, but nomads nomads.
The nomads nomads brought back the physical mobility that is now obsolete. They dismantled it’s imaginary neutrality, blinded the mechanical eye of the machine and gained the control back over the machine. So how does the physical mobility that by and for the nomads nomads look like?
Well here it is.
*this video contains sound
This is the physical mobility that the nomads against the digitized nomads has brought back to life.
The vehicle is sensory, lives in the state of atoms, and most importantly -
they communicate by the vague launge of ambiance and not data.
The metamaterial covering the vessel can mask, reflect, distort, or pass through the mechanical and human perception.
The boundary that masks Interiority from exterior is not static. It’s a temporal and simultaneous operation. It’s gradual unlike the binary langue of the digital.
Space-time is just an extension of your body and your movements.
This vehicle is never designed from other’s head.
Design is just a sequence of temporal operation called your dance.
Here’s some technical drawings of the vessel, but I don’t want to go over it in details because I really want to emphasize that This design is not a solution for the nomads.
Rather, it’s an amplified depiction of the nomads nomads that exists in reality.
During the first half of the project, I have held anonymous by-weekly zoom discussions with Nomads in Korea. Some were sexual minorities, some were college dropouts and some were ones who needed temporal escape from Nunchi - a peer pressure to fit in - in the Asian society.
They had many disagreements during our conversations, but they agreed on one thing. Don't Design for us. We don’t need your solution. Just tell our stories. Just depict our everyday lives, but anonymously.
So I did just that. Just like this drawing of the ladybug that my nomad peers loved.
Image that masks interiority. But image that reveals interiority simultaneously.
And the language that doesn’t exist visually or verbally but through other senses. Just like how the ladybugs communicate by odor.
Amplification of existing phenomenon.
Amplification of existing ambiance that are so minute that no one heres without a medium.
So here’s me, ironically producing medium against the media.
Here’s me, depicting Nomads against the Digitized Nomads.
This project may seem like a bizarre observation towards the future on the surface level, But for me, and my studio peers, this was an opportunity to reflect our everyday lives on an amplified mirror called the future.
Maybe the future that we are so bad at predicting-
is just a simulacrum that we use for rendering the real...
Sewon Roy Kim
(C) All Rights Reserved
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