Recap of Art Center Nabi’s international hackathon “Prototyping of Sharing eco city with Technology”

2016 Seoul Sharing Festival was held a few weeks ago. Do you remember there was a booth for the hackathon run by Art Center Nabi? With the theme of sharing city and eco-technology, experts from various fields such as bio hackers, makers, media artists and architects were presenting their outcome from the hackathon. As a follow-up article, today I would like to share the process and outcome of the hackathon held before the festival in more detail.

Art Center Nabi, an art museum specialized in media art, celebrated the 10th anniversary of its hackathon series this year. Featured in the Seoul Sharing Festival as one of the main program, the theme of this year’s hackathon expressed reflections on the urban environment of Seoul and technical imagination. “Prototyping of Sharing eco city with Technology” hackathon, or “P.O.S.T. Hackathon” for short, was designed as an occasion to explore and experiment technologies for an eco-friendly sharing city in the future.
The hackathon was run in three phases: The first phase was an “Ideathon” where participants share their concerns and ideas on city and develop them further; the second phase was a no-sleep, three-day hackathon held in Seoul Innovation Fab Lab; and the last phase was an exhibition of the outcome at the Sharing Seoul Festival held in DDP.






On November 1st, the Ideathon was held at the Tajak Madang in Jangchung-dong, Seoul. Experts gave talks to help participants get inspiration regarding the theme, while participants from various parts of the world exchanged greetings with each other and shared and improved their ideas together.


A total of 8 teams participated in the hackathon: “Hackteria,” a biohacking group composed of researchers from Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Taiwan; “FabLab Hamamatsu,” a maker group from Hamamatsu of Japan; “People’s Architecture Office (P.A.O.),” a Beijing-based group that has been conducting experiments for a sustainable urban living environment; “Boundless” that uses architecture as its core and has been expanding its spectrum to various other areas such as design, branding, content development, etc; “I.V.A.A.I.U. City Planning” that has been focusing on the organic combination between idea, sight, hearing, architecture and infrastructure and urban environment; Wonbin YANG, an artist that has been creating “Species” series through robots; Hyun PARK, a member of FabLab Seoul; and Code for Incheon, a civic hacking group that seeks to solve urban problems as citizens.






Now let’s go into the details of the three days of the hackathon. Seoul Innovation Fab Lab is a maker space located in Bulgwang-dong equipped with various digital equipment and tools and open to anyone for free. When we visited, participating teams were sitting here and there and were busy working on their own projects.




P.A.O. from China decided to create a structure that enables sustainable farming in a city where available spaces are insufficient. They first set up a vertical structure in order to secure a space for growing crops even in a built-up area and attached a bicycle to it for mobility. Although they originally wanted to use a Seoul’s public bike, they couldn’t get one and decided to use a normal bike instead in the end. They said the bike could be replaced with any other bike as it was a detachable part of the system.








The next section we stopped by was Hackteria’s work table. Bioinformation is one of the resources that are usually not made open to individuals. In this hackathon, Hackteria created a kind of art project or performance to send a message that information should be open and shared, by collecting and archiving bio samples and data of visitors. Do you see the sign “Make your own poop?” I also made samples of my own by using soybean paste and some powders and the team analyzed my bowel type and health on the spot. And as you see in the photo on the right side, they took a sample of my nose skin, examined it under the microscope and explained the analysis.




Code for Incheon was also working hard on their project, mapping shared resources such as Seoul Bike Ddareungi and Nanum Car which are quite getting popular lately. You have to visit each web site to get information on a particular shared resource. Considering this, Code for Incheon came to think that they would want to start with and share things that already existed around them and started to archive messages on social network related to nearby shared resources by each region.






Hyun PARK said he had started to turn his attention to the noise problem in cities where many people live together. Have you ever had an experience where you realize various sounds and loud music that flood down from the shops and stores along the street begin to compete with each other and then get mixed together to become a sheer noise in the end? In this project, Park focuses on sound as a method to argue his view that any message you want to share should not be delivered to unspecified masses in a loud, oppressive voice, but should be accurately delivered with appropriate boundaries. He produced the gun-shaped structure using 3D printer and attached a part that gathers sound to the front of the structure, allowing you to let the sound off to a desired direction.






FabLab Hamamatsu is a Japanese maker group built upon the idea of combining nature and engineering technology and interested in urban agriculture, environment, and bio technology. They were inspired by a Japanese folk tale about a goblin parade and came up with a project of up-cycling discarded furniture or unused items by attaching universal wheels to it and operating it through a mobile application. You can call out the up-cycled furniture or item whenever, wherever you are and create a new shared space. It was actually fun to see the concept of changing shared spaces, sometimes coming and going depending on time and location, as opposed to fixed spaces.






Now, let’s take a look at how their outcomes were displayed in the Sharing Seoul Festival.

The first project is Code for Incheon. Information about Ddareungi is marked on the map. On the left side of the screen, you can search the information you want by zooming in and out the map while on the right side you can scroll to read feedback and related stories shared by citizens on the feed. Also at the edge of the left side, you can select a theme among many hot issues in addition to Ddareungi.




Won-bin YANG’s robotics project was on display too. A robot makes electricity from wind and uses it to create soft, comforting sound. Yang tried to show that although the robot is parasitic on humans as it gets a source of energy from a phenomenon that occurs in a city, it tries to engage and coexist with humans after all. His work invited visitors to imagine a situation where robots live live together with humans as a species in the modern society and in a future city.




Hyun PARK’s installation was drawing attention as well. When you record your voice behind the gun, aim and pull the trigger, the sound is delivered to that direction only. Visitors were invited to try it by themselves.








Hackteria team members collected poop and bio samples of visitors and explained the results to them.




FabLab Hamamatsu presented an interesting work that would enable you to have a casual space for a drink with friends whenever, wherever you are, by attaching their universal wheels to plastic chairs and a wooden table – a typical combination for Korean snack stands – and developing a mobile application for operating them.




Boundless tried to focus on processes of building a house and behind-the-scenes of a finished product, rather than the clean and finished end product in an architecture project in order to share the meaning of urban environment and coexistence with citizens. Through the video work, they tried to remind that there are still other people living their own lives around a construction site while there are various noise, waste, and vibration affecting those lives living in the neighborhood.




This photo shows the result of P.A.O.’s project. The structure is supported by a bicycle above which water flows through the pipes installed in zigzags to raise crops. The solar panels installed between the pipes are designed to get a source of energy to be used to keep flowing water into the structure for better sustainability. The team members showcased how the system worked by riding the bicycle.




In IVAAIU’s work, the speakers installed in the upper part of the work sends out a low and loud sound at regular intervals, which turns up a light on the LED panel at the edge of the structure. A low note in cities not only generates sound but also vibration, which is hard to insulate even with a soundproof panel. To address this problem, IVAAIU developed a grid that makes it easy to collect vibration generated by low notes and to displace it back to an power source. Then the generated electrical power source is converted to light energy that operates the system. It seems their project suggests a way to promote sustainability of a future sharing city by making use of noise to generate various sources of energy for city, as well as solving noise problem.


All of these works are among the outcome of the hackathon exhibited as part of the Sharing Seoul Festival. It was an exciting experience to see various interpretations of and experiments around the themes – sharing city, eco-friendliness, and technology – by the participating teams. In particular, it was a valuable opportunity to see the reflections of many teams on how we could coexist while respecting each other in a crowded city where various people live side by side. The hackathon not only showed us possible solutions for a better urban environment but also pointed out things to consider when we think about a sharing city in the future.

This year’s hackathon, marking the 10th anniversary already, makes us even more look forward to seeing what theme the next Nabi hackathon will talk about and how well it will turn out. Hope our readers also join us keeping watching on the efforts and experiments of Nabi’s hackathon ahead.