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Project Premiere: Mark Shepard's "Sentient City Survival Kit" at Venice Architecture Biennale

August 27, 2012


Mark Shepard (2009 Emerging Fields) presents the Serendipitor iPhone app in Spontaneous Interventions, the U.S. Pavilion exhibition at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale. Designed for the “near-future,” when finding one’s way from point A to point B will no longer be a problem, Serendipitor is an alternative navigation app that helps you find something by looking for something else. Enter an origin and a destination and Serendipitor maps a meandering route between the two, with step-by-step directions that include suggestions for possible actions to take on the way. You can increase or decrease the complexity of the route depending on how much time you have. Shepard will conduct public walks with Serendipitor in Venice on August 28 and 29. 

Serendipitor is part of Shepard’s Creative Capital-supported project, Sentient City Survival Kit, a series of prototypes for electronic artifacts that subvert marketing and surveillance technologies encountered in everyday urban life. Along with Serendipitor, the Kit includes an umbrella studded with infrared LEDs that “blind” closed-circuit television cameras, a travel mug that creates ad-hoc “dark” networks for communication along a morning commute, and other devices. Visitors to exhibitions of the Sentient City Survival Kit are able to test working prototypes, and the project website includes source code, a parts list and a circuit diagram for each item in the kit, enabling urban citizens to make these items themselves. The project aims to raise awareness of the implications for privacy, autonomy, trust and serendipity in the highly observant, ever more efficient and over-coded near-future city. 

Watch the “Quick Start Guide to the Sentient City Survival Kit” and read Shepard’s essay, “Notes on Minor Urbanism,” on Creative Capital’s blog, The Lab.

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