Arts, tech and urban planning intersect at Open City/Art City

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“I am a postcard machine from the future!” a pseudo-robotic female voice says from inside a colorful fabric booth, along with a few “beeps” and “boops.” Through a wide slot in the “postcard machine,” a hand slides out a card, embellished with backstitches and drawings done by hand. It confidently reads, “Open Your Future City.”

Open City/Art City — a festival that took place in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts last weekend — encourages the concept that the future is an open medium to be modeled in whichever way you choose. Through workshops, talks, campaigns and installations such as the postcard machine, the daylong event catalogued the visions and developments of the cross sections of design and technology, ultimately inspiring young designers, engineers, artists and residents of San Francisco to unite with the potential of the Bay and beyond.


#SF Open City

SF Open City is a social-media-engaging implementation of progressive dialogue, encouraging people to photograph the banal, potential and controversial aspects of the city and upload those photos to Instagram with the hashtag #sfopencity. The idea is that by consciously becoming more aware of the environment, members of the city will be able to build upon their present toward an improved future. The campaign was further transformed into an art installation that hung photos at eye level, documenting everything from #firehydrant to #gentrification. The project also distributed stencils of words for viewers to hold under sunlight in order for their observations to be literally — and legally — labeled in their photographs.


The Apocalypse Project

On a small white table lay eight colorful liquids bottled into glass perfumes, each labeled with a different resource diminishing due to climate change. The familiarity of these scents, which include “coasts,” “coffee” and  “wine,” spur discomfort and anxiety for our future as we understand the gravity that these aromas could potentially no longer be found on our kitchen tables or outside of our windows. This is the Apocalypse Project, a speculative design research inquiry on climate change and the future of our environment. It is supposed that at this rate, daily scents could become as rare and luxurious as expensive perfumes. How we could be involved in the reversal of this environmental tragedy, though, was rather ironically unspecified.


Artful Models: Creative Solutions — A Simple Collective

A Simple Collective is a hybrid nonprofit and for-profit business model intended to sustain public programs in the arts, and it is the only one of its kind. The model is currently an experiment in its second year that, if successful, will be replicated in more specific sectors in the arts and technology. The talk featured organizations that are pioneering art industry innovations, transforming traditional mediums of art and keeping them relevant through a focus on education and civic engagement. Examples of these foci include a program that aims to make 3-D modeling available at an accessible architectural — not just productional — level for designers and engineers, and Gray Area, a cultural incubator of hackers, scientists, architects and journalists intended to generate social impact.