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Aidan Hermans

MA work

SMOG

SMOG (Simulated Media Operating Grid) is a British life-sharing platform headquartered in The City of London. The service was created through a partnership between three City institutions - Bloomberg, City Magistrates Court and the Bank of England – in January 2019. Wikipedia


Founded: January 12, 2019

Headquarters: City of London, London, United Kingdom

Content license: Uploader holds copyright (standard license)

Advertising: Google Adsense

Parent Organisation: The Big Share 


“There is no organisation, there is only you.” 1

In The Fifth Estate, a film about Wikileaks, Julian Assange’s spokesperson says to him “There is no organisation, there is only you.” The comment is an attack on Assange’s ego but can be described as an apt summary of how all democratic agency is atomised at the level of the individual.2

Through a subversion of negative liberty3 and privacy as a method of evading norms, this project proposes the installation of localised, artificial smogs over the Bank Junction, onto which virtual spaces and behaviours can be projected and displayed. Engineered through an overground network of pylons and high tech cables and an underground network of data servers and filtration tanks, the architecture utilises high-pressure water nozzles to create the smog which users inhabit virtually whilst physically in the privacy of their bedrooms.

SMOG becomes The City’s new privately-managed public infrastructure spearheaded by The Big Share conglomerate spanning the Bloomberg EU Headquarters, the Magistrates Court site and the Bank of England. Posing questions on the nature of privately-managed public space in the City and the implications of new waves of surveillance legislation, The Big Share offers a platform which extends the private domain of the household onto a public urban stage. SMOG, delineated by the network of pylons, provides a virtual real estate and material and spatial culture around broadcasting services and participatory online communities such as those seen in YouTube. 

The proposal engages with two legislative conditions. 1) It contests the datum restrictions and protected views in The City as stipulated by the London View Management Framework by creating new public infrastructure within it. 2) It nullifies the General Data Protection Regulation’s distinction between data collector and data subject by giving every passing data subject/voyeur the capacity to view and record information on any user inhabiting SMOG.

SMOG is imagistic. It changes the visual character of the Bank Junction for the pedestrian, the City worker and the distant voyeur. The proposal does not seek democratic or geopolitical leverage but rather seeks to capture uncanny spatial relationships between the corporate, the virtual and the haptic. Positioned within the ethics of the panoptic information society, the imposed values of privacy and the paradox of radical transparency, SMOG asks from its users one thing: act like no one is watching. 

1 The Fifth Estate, Dreamworks, 2013

2 Black Transparency - The Right to Know in the Age of Mass Surveillance, Metahaven, 2015

3 Negative Liberty: concerned with freedom from external restraint. Defined by Isaiah Berlin in his work Two Concepts of Liberty. It derives from Thomas Hobbes’s early definition of liberty which reads: “a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and will he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do” (Leviathan, Part 2, Ch. 21).

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Architecture

    Programme

    MA Architecture, 2017

    Specialism

    ads5

  • Degrees

  • BA Architecture, University of Westminster, 2011
  • Experience

  • Architectural assistant, Grimshaw, London, 2014–2015
  • Exhibitions

  • The Deindustrial Revolution Material Culture in Japan and the UK, Japanese Embassy, London, 2016; Life of Clay, Royal Institute of British Architects, London, 2016
  • Awards

  • 1st Place, RCA ADS6 'Pipe Up' Live Project Competition, 2016