Highline Intervention 2

Working on this project with : Kimi, Engen, and Filipa

We are proposing an installation on or below the highline where people’s cell phones communicate, via bluetooth, and notify each other of proximity. The installation, depending on the form it takes and may be directed at the people who see it, or made for them, or it may be vague enough that they become aware of networks around them, but not understand their source or what they represent. Many of the scenarios we imagined seemed incomprehensible to people, at least on some level, who are not familiar with bluetooth technology. As we shift more toward observing the crowd and its movements via these devices, we are trying to align our aesthetic ideas, conceptual framework, and technology, and looking for the most sensible and interesting combination.

Some Notes and Sketches on our BIG IDEA / THESISThere seem to be several themes floating around among us:

    • Site:
      • trying to bridge the highline with what is happening below
        • it is all about the top and the behavior of the top: promenade and movement, and the bottom is neglected
        • there is a voyeuristic desire to know what is happening up there and vice versa
      • underneath is dark and a pass-through space, but crowded – agreed, it is an awkward area, with significant by-passers as well as gym people going in and out of Equinox.
      • the top is designed for a specific kind of movement
      • we keep talking about mapping crowds
      • mapping movement of crowds
    • Network layer related themese
      • bluetooth (as a theme / as it represents the invisible network layer embedded in the crowd)
      • other sensor networks: camera and sound, each one showing different qualities of the same situation
      • does the network layer represent movement or crowds? how are the two connected?
        • it is interesting that bluetooth information literally moves with people – true. it is almost invisible circles around individuals, as they bypass each other and inadvertently engage each other’s personal data exchange networks
      • is there value other than surveillance and creepiness in exposing information from the invisible layer such as names
        • what other information does this layer provide?
        • what would it do to people’s experience to become aware of this information? and its movement?


I am struggling to see the connection of our themes, we seem to be struggling to find common ground of interests
These different themes could be cohesive if we state that
bluetooth is just one of many ways to sense a crowd’s behaviors
the invisible network layer is somehow affecting the crowd. (this could be a question) really, does it?
we just try to illuminate the network layer to make people aware of it – we are probably more in this arena. But a simplistic awareness exercise may not engage the viewers as much as we would like to, probably.
or. . .

In terms of the assignment, to improve the quality of life or experience of a specific site, I think everything we talked about was trying to provide information and create an aesthetically pleasing experience below the highline (or sometimes above).

Engin – “We are creating a localized spatial feedback system, where the fluid activity above is visualized below, creating a spectacle for both by-passers and those who are heading to- and from- the HighLine.”

Filipa: SCALE:  blue tooth: the individual (conscious identification); sound/noise: the group (social interaction) – this one may prove to be too complicated, so i’d hesitate to include this at the backbone of our project concept; video blob recognition: the crowd (density) – arguably, blobs reveal more than density – they can definitely capture social interaction, possibly even better than the sound/noise component.





  • All of them take place on and under the Highline (at 14th & 10th streets) 10th Ave btwn 15th and 17th sts
  • Most of them project what is happening on the highline underneath.

1. sensors are placed on the highline:

    • 2 to 4 bluetooth sensors track registration and movement of bluethooth activated devices on the highline
    • or :: 2 to 4 bluetooth sensors plus camera face/blob detection plus sound sensors register the movement of people on the highline and bluetooth devices
      • in which case we would probably write up and sketch most of this, and prototype one in the next week

2. the information is mapped and visualized in the form of

    • footsteps corresponding to the people walking on the highline are projected down onto the ground below the highline.
    • footsteps augmented with more specific bluetooth or other information are projected down onto the ground below the highline.
    • “particle system” style graphics that represent the movement abstractly are projected down onto the ground
    • river/ water that represents movement
    • people’s device’s names are projected down onto the ground
    • things are projected upward onto the bottom of the highline, where we would use projection mapping to alter or highlight the shape of the steel beams as a way of representing the information we are getting from the highline. – this is really intriguing, though I am struggling to visualize it.
    • device names, footsteps, shadows, or particle system graphics are projected upward onto the bottom of the highline in the same way – this is probably bit easier to do than projection mapping.
    • we also talked about lights instead of projectors: LEDs or EL wire.
  • If we focus on bluetooth we MAY need an additional part on the highline that encourages people to activate their devices,
    • the amphitheatre is the best place for this because people are already using their phones and congregating there, so it is less disruptive – definitely.
    • bluetooth light up trees where you can interact with or activate trees or other objects by getting close to them with your bluetooth device. this direct interaction would encourage you to turn on your bluetooth mode
    • downloading an app that allows you to interact /pair with other people – kind of social  – – this is where we can introduce the “photo exchange over bluetooth idea”
    • we talked about downplaying the role of the screen, because we are all sick of it.

Otherwise we can accept the fact that not a lot of buetooth devices are visible

  • We talked about projecting info about people below onto the screen in the amphitheatre. We didn’t talk too much about this option, in part because it is very expensive and surveillancy, but I really like it because it is so much about the nature of that space, and so much about the hidden network information layer, so I’m trying to keep it alive.  – the amphitheater is definitely a natural host for a second layer. I don’t mind pushing the idea further. agreed


These are pretty cheesy, especially the projection mapping tracing one, but I wanted to show how I envisioned what we talked about.

I also thought, about the footsteps, it may be even cool if the bluetooth name you were seeing was your own, because that way, if you didn’t know or expect it, you would recognize that you phone is being sensed. So the shadow of it could be cast on the ground, or on the wall. . .  likeIt would be like reverse vampire: the network layer visible in the shadow only, except its shadow not mirror. . . casting the shadow of the network layer.Some thoughts: the footsteps don’t really need bluetooth, just face/blob tracking and mapping. So in my otpinion (and I know we are not in agreement about the meaning of “network layer”, they are not necessarily touching an already existing network layer, just one we would create. But I love the idea. Maybe its separate. Just suggesting.  Also, although I love bridging the top and bottom, I think we could also enhance the situation under the highline without talking about the top of it.