Interaction is the Crystalpunk Drug

A "Crystalpunk Workshop for Soft Architecture" event Oudenoord 275, Utrecht, NL

Essentially it was William Butler Yeats who defined
soft architecture as early as 1888 when he wrote:
"Behind the visible are chains on chains of conscious
beings, who are not of heaven but of earth, who have
no inherent form but change according to their whim,
or the mind that sees them. You cannot lift your hand
without influencing and being influenced by hoards.
The visible world is merely their skin.". Yeats was
talking about magic, but we are thinking about
technology (and pointing out their similarities is
pointing out the obvious) that is promising to make
this worldview into a reality: equipping mindless
objects with in silico brains, turning rooms into
artificially intelligent machines. Gargoyle
computational processes evolving the optimal design
solution to a problem and printing it in 3D, in real
size. Every time you wave your hand a pandemonium of
software agents start to reason on what they could do
for you. Objects can sense and act and acquire
personalities of which the complexity rises as their
ecosphere becomes richer and more connected.
Architecture is at the forefront in applying these
ideas, at the same time it will pose new challenges to
the practise.

Between September and December 2005 the Crystalpunk
Workshop for Soft Architecture brought together a
large international group of people to think about
what all this means for spatial design and experience.
Looking back at what we learned some underlying
threads emerged. From the beginning we had only a
peripheral interest in the technology itself; we
proved it's donkey stuff of which the basics you can
learn yourself for cheap and without teachers. But
what had our real interest was what to do with it. A
room that does things for you may sound like a good
idea, at least to some, but what if locks you out of
the control structure in your own room: the inability
to switch off the lights, say. We are not interested
in silly input-output control situations of the kind
architects and product designers come up with, but in
rich Yeatsian entities that have their own life
independent of us.

For so long the marketing department can understand it
we are not interested; we want technology to become

In the weekend of 11 and 12 March the workshop will
open for the last time to follow up on some leads left
unexplored. Other niceties, activities and
installations will be presented on the side.

Saturday 11 March
14.00- 18.00
BOT / AIML workshop by Mario Campanella.
>From the early days of computer based interaction
bots, interfaces through which you interact with
software in normal language, have been one recurrent
strategy. Recently a new wave of interest in them has
taken place, this time to allow seamless communication
with all sorts of devices. In this informal hands-on
workshop, Mario Campanella, will first explain about
the history of bots before getting into AIML. This
"Artificial Intelligence Markup Language" provides a
framework for Bot designers to capture knowledge. The
aim of the workshop is to give you the knowledge on
how to build the 'brain' of a Chatbot: using the
general purpose AIML database, you will create new
entries for an existing one, or create your own
chatbot with a special purpose 'persona'.

It is advised to bring your own laptop and have one of
the Alice programs installed: . There are versions in
most popular programming languages.

Here you can find some of the existing AIML sets:

Sunday 12 March

Presentations by:
Mirjam Struppek
Mirjam Struppek was trained as an urban planner. Right
now she is organising the second URBAN SCREENS
conference which is the crucial event in the ongoing
formation of a new field of expertise: the (growing)
infrastructure of large digital moving displays, that
increasingly influence the visual sphere of our public
spaces. The main question being whether these screens
can become a tool to contribute to a lively urban
society, involving its audience interactively?

Z-25 is Utrecht based group of artists who will
present their recent "Indoor RFID" project. RFID chips
allow object to be tagged and monitored. The
expectations (fuelled by industrial rhetoric and
citizens paranoia) is that these will become an
explosively present part of society. Z-25 will show
some of its power. Who needs Amsterdam when there is

Adam Somlai-Fischer
Adam Somlai-Fischer is part of Aether, one of the
hottest design studios working in interactive
architecture. His work is part research and part
design, often beautiful always thought provoking.
During a previous Crystalpunk workshop he has proven
himself to be exceptionally skilled with the
soldering-iron too.

Pablo Miranda Carranza
Pablo Miranda Carranza runs Army Of Clerks, which
explores generative and algorithmic approaches in
architecture and design. Hoping to find utter bliss in
the relentless accumulation of unintelligent
calculations, mindless arithmetic performed by
computational armies of clerks. Carranza's work on the
electro-chemical devices by Gordon Pask unwittingly
(and after a long process of confabulation) gave the
crystalpunk movement its notion of crystals as
entities encoding data in form from which it owes the
name, for this alone he deserves his place in heaven.

Nicolas Nova
Nocolas Nova is a key blogger in the world of locative
media. Recently he has been taking up an interest in
Blogjects: an example of the 'Internet of Things',
i.e. a network of tangible, mobile, chatty things
enabled by miniaturization. In its most basic form, a
blogject is not dissimilar to people that blog - it is
an artefact that can disseminate a record of its
experiences to the web. He even organised a workshop
on them.

Jelle Feringa
Jelle Feringa of the Paris based design agency EZCT is
crystalpunk's guru for Voronoi-crystals and genetic
design. Always ready to discuss radical uses of new
technology, instead of making them do old things
different, EZCT is slowly claiming fame with their
evolved chairs. Right now they are building a 3D

All event are free. Check the website for further
details, the same applies for technical details of the
BOT workshop.

CPWfSA initiated by, produced by