NOX is a simple pull switch, like the one in a night lamp, to turn the facade of Ars Electronica on or off. By giving the control of a new media facade to the public, it questions the power relations in public spaces.
Onur Sönmez & Tamer Aslan
In contemporary times, the urban environment has become unapproachable by its inhabitants. Especially, in a period of individual creation and personalization, the citizen still remains incapable as he speechlessly witnesses the shaping and reshaping of the city. Even the spaces that are public by name, have almost no public involvement in their processes of definition, realization and operation. NOX tries to question and disrupt this relationship by introducing a simple tangible control to the architectural structure, giving the power of control back to the public.
NOX is an architectural installation that lets the user take control over the surrounding infrastructure with a simple pull of a lamp string. It consists of a pull switch installed next to a building, and through this widely adopted haptic interface, the public is given back the control of enabling or disabling a public facade, rendering the true function of the building obsolete.
The familiar feeling of switching a lamp on and off provides the participants with the simple satisfaction of turning a new media facade or architecture into an accessible interface. Simply put, NOX proposes a way to transform the landmark of a city into the user’s plaything, therefore reversing the unwritten laws of urban space.
NOX at Ars Electronica 2013
The first demonstration of NOX took place on the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria. The Ars Electronica Center is an ambitious architectural structure wrapped by a 5.100 m2 LED facade. The facade consists of 1085 windows, each 3×1 meters in size and lit up by red, green, blue and white LEDs. The building is a landmark in the city of Linz, housing also an open-air public space that constitutes one of the most important social environments in the city of Linz.
On September 7th, 2013, NOX was exhibited on this facade during the internationally renowned Ars Electronica Festival. The pull switch was set up on top of the stairs in the public area of the building. Between 23.00 and 00.00, an international crowd of visitors in the public space was given control to shut down the new media facade of the building, or turn it completely on. In one hour period, the switch was pulled 1704 times, corresponding to a click every two seconds. The common reaction coming from the people trying out NOX was excitement and exhilaration, often expressing that they feel powerful and in control.
The physical installation of NOX houses a Raspberry Pi that is listening to the changes in the pull switch and sending corresponding UDP messages to the PC controlling the facade. For the performance in Ars Electronica, a Processing sketch was used on this PC, based on the existing Ars Electronica Facade library. Practically, the sketch turns the facade on and off depending on the messages coming from the Raspberry Pi.
Thanks and Credits
Jaak Kaevats, Ebru Kurbak, Patrick Müller, Veronica Pauser, Fino Poly, Katerina Pushkin, Erwin Reitböck, Konrad Storost.