Martin Tomich | Media Architecture | Finding People-oriented Solutions in the Construction of Smart City

from: time:

Martin Tomitsch,Distinguished Expert of CAFA Visual Art Innovation Institute

Martin Tomitsch 
Associate Professor and chair of design at the University of Sydney,Director of the Design Lab,Co-founder of the media architecture Institute. Since 2013 Program Director of design Computing, School of architecture, Design planning University of Sydney. Since 2014 Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture, Design & Planning -University of sydney. Since 2015 Chair of design and Associate Professor, school of Architecture, design planning University of sydney. Since 2015 visiting professor at the Central Academy of fine Arts.

Interviewed Expert:Martin Tomitsch
Interviewer:Hu Bei 
Location: CAFA Art Museum

VAII:As a distinguished expert of CAFA Visual Arts Innovation Institute, would you like to talk about the specific work you do andthe expected goal you want?

Martin:So as an expert at CAFA Visual Arts Innovation Institute, I contribute to the teaching here, so we have been running a series of workshops with the students. We are also engaged in research with Professor Chang and his team here in CAFA. So we have been bringing some fun knowledge in Australia at the University of Sydney. And we connect with the research that is going on here at CAFA. And one of the key achievements that we delivered this year in 2018 was the implementation of the MAB, Media Architecture Biennale 2018, which is a large international event held every two years in different cities around the world.

VAII:What''''''''''''''''s in your mind when you work on media architecture? Some says media architecture causes light pollution, what’s the standard do you think that defines good media architecture?
Martin: It’s a good question. For me, architectureis the integration of physical and digital experiences. So that is what we refer to as hybrid experience. Which is the theme of MAB 18 here. The theme is the digital architecture at the scale of hybrid cities. The hybrid cities are where we as citizens have shared experiences that grow across physical and digital platforms. So we might be working on the area with physical experience with interactions with our smartphone with a display with another digital interface in an environment which is  a digital experience. Media architecture is really exciting for me because they are not just physical or digital experiencethat we have 10 or 20 years ago but they are all inter-linked and connected. So when we started working in this field over 10 years ago, the big focus in media architecture was on the media facades. We have done some progress in this area. And it is true that in some extent it has also led to some light pollution. But the thing which is really important for us in the research and our role as media architecture researchers is to contribute to a better understanding of how to design architecture like media facades. So we take into consideration some expected light pollution and decide solutions are appropriate for the environment.

But in addition, the media architecture today is more than media facades, it also involved, as mentioned, the directions of smartphones. So even a transaction with a phone and a bike part of the infrastructure is also a form of media architecture since it is a hybrid experience.

Solstice LAMP

VAII: As the founder of MAI, would you like to talk about the preparatory work of MAB18 especially?  Did you face any problems, and if so, how do you solve it?

Martin: MAB 18 specifically is a very complex event, because it is not a conference, it is more like a festival; it is more like a season almost. It has conference and expert forums. It has an exhibition, and award ceremony, students are contributing to it. Big international offices and companies are meeting their boards. It is quite complex. It is one the things that we can only do in collaboration.

That is actually how we were able to deliverit as a very complex event in a very successful way. So this was one of the most successful MAB so far. That is only possible because we are working closely with a very good team here at CAFA around Prof. Chang and his leadership but also involving people from outside of China who have been involved with the community. And For example, they would be putting together a forum for the public. For example, we have a forum for unban media art Today they would create their own program. Then everything put together is this amazing, rich and very insightful experience we are able to deliver.

VAII: What do you think of the achievement of MAB18 in China and what''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s the meaning of it?

Martin: Two aspects in terms of what MAB is able to achieve. One is that it has brought a lot of people from outside to Beijing to CAFA. So I think it was very successful in terms of fully promoting  CAFA as an institution that is doing very exciting innovative research and work, and teaching. So I think it is a great opportunity for people to see the work, to see the things that are going on here in CAFA, but also in Beijing and in China, and to learn more about the work in China, and the Chinese keynote speakers which are also a great opportunity for the external people from out of China to learn more about China.

I think the other aspect is that it contributes to the discussions about media architecture in China, which is very important because it is just in time and where the technology is also advanced. Is really valid advance now and that is largely due to the effort in China, We are now at a point how we develop in the next year. So what’s happening next, So it is not just about developing technology but also understanding the applications and understating how we can come up with ideas and concepts around media architecture that change the cities and ensure that can live better in cities and to ensure that citizens at this growing at a scale of population growth and with increasing challenges and what role media architecture is. So I think by being able to bring it here through MAB 18, I think and I hope we are able to contribute to this course. And hopefully something will continue to live on and talk about it and maybe shape the direction of media architecture in China.


VAII: What courses haveyou taught in CAFA? And what do you want to teach to the students most?

Martin: In the past year, our role is invited expert and professor at CAFA, we taught a number of workshops with students at CAFA, so we came a few times during the past year. This is quite informed and mostly we are teaching students about architecture and light design. So the workshops are all connected. So at the first workshop, the students were looking at and understanding urban issues or situations in urban environments or problems that are currently problems or offering challenges. And to understand those challenges and to come up with possible ideas around media architecture or how media architecture can contribute to solving these challenges.

Specifically, we teach around the idea of digital infrastructure at the scale of the hybrid cities. Then the subsequent workshops looked at picking up the ideas developed at the first workshop and develop them further into experience prototypes. The science of studies wecreated mockups.  And some of their work made it into the exhibition here at MAB18. It is accepted by the globally recognized media architecture work, which is really exciting for CAFA and the students.

One of the topics that I specifically contributed to at the workshops is around design thinking and innovation, which is my backgroud. I have recently published a book on design thinking and design methods. So we use some of those methods and templates published in the book with the students in order to bring the design thinking into architecture, which is really important because it’s an idea about understanding the problems and how we can come up with people-centered solutions and consider the concerns of various stakeholders. It also has an idea of prototyping the solutions very quickly so we can test them and improve them before we actually build them.

VAII: We’re in an age where science and technology develop rapidly. The development of technology is unstoppable, but sometimes it also leads to confusion. So what do you think of the relationship between technological advances and culture?

Martin: Technology is often a drive for coming up with new ideas. But it is not the best driver. Because it is often what describeas technology-centric solution. It’s like we have the hammer and you are looking for the nails. The hammer is the technology and you are looking for the nails so that you can use the hammer.

But really we need to first understand what are the challenges we need to solve and find the best technology to solve these problems. Again there is the idea of human-centered design, and design thinking and design innovation. Culture is a cultural challenge sort of fitting into this process because when we try to find and identify the problems, they are always embedded in culture.


So we need to use design methods and students in architecture and other students need to be trained in these methods, to understand what are those problems, and what is the culture around those problems. Becausewe need to understand these cultural environments before we can come up with the solution. 

Then throughout this whole process of identifying ideas and turning them into concepts and prototypes, we have to keep thinking what we design to build and how does that change the cultural environment and that is very important for us to understand and keep in mind as designers that we are not just coming up with something, putting it there and ok see you later. But you have to keep in mind and test how that changes the culture and how people would adopt what we are designing and how we can innovate so that that we canfulfill the goals and meet the requirements and the needs of people they are designed for.

“Bus Stop of the Future” project

 Opening speech by Martin Tomitsch, co-founder of the International Society of Media Architecture

Chief Editor / Dong Huiping
Edit /Miaom
Text /Hu Bei
Videos/Guan Jianmin、Hu Bei
Text and Picture/Project Team of “2018 International Biennial Exhibition of Media Architecture”CAFA Visual Art Innovation Institute