ONE MILLIONth TOWER: LIVE
One Millionth Tower has gone live — and not just on the web. Here’s some pix from recent live appearances:
LIVE AT THE GLADSTONE HOTEL
Last week, we celebrated our new web-documentary One Millionth Tower (1MT) live at the historic Gladstone Hotel Ballroom in downtown Toronto. The highlight of the show was a saxophone performance by Jamal, one of the 1MT residents (check out the above bootleg youtube recording by Prof. Roger Keil!) Over 150 Torontonians were in attendance.
The event was hosted by our incredible Senior Producer, Gerry Flahive, who brought 12 people to the stage, each in their own way, highlighting the collaborative nature of the project.
Ob represented the residents on our panel, and he spoke out about the need for resident involvement in changing the landscape of our highrise environments across Toronto.
Graeme Stewart of ERA architects took on tough questions about the mechanics and philosophy of Tower Renewal. How can it really happen? What are the real costs? Who needs to be involved?
Elise Hug of the City of Toronto’s Tower Renewal program, spoke about need for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and how to bring many stakeholders together. She was followed by Jamie Robinson, of United Way, who gave context with the remarkable Vertical Poverty study, and the United Way’s hopes for making the Kipling buildings a demonstration site for what’s possible. Matt Thompson, Chief Storyteller at Mozilla Foundation, rounded out the panel with a great talk about the role open technology can play in city-building. Before the screening, Roger Keil talked about the highrise in the context of “the world” by introdicuing the fabulous Global Suburbanisms project he is spearheading at York University (and with whom we are partnered), while Michael McLelland of ERA Architects gave a great nutshell introduction to the legacy of apartment towers in the city of Toronto. Russell Mitchell of ANC/United Way talked about Rexdale, the neighbourhood in which we are working. Mike Robbins of Helios Design Lab also took to the stage to explain why we used open source to build 1MT.
Somewhere in the packed house was Marcus Gee, columnist for The Globe and Mail, who then filed this great story about our project and vertical Toronto.
LIVE AT THE REAL HIGHRISE
A week before the Gladstone, Ob, Faith, Donna and Jamal showed 1MT live to their neighbours in a moving presentation — in the very meeting room in which the project was created.
LIVE ON THE RADIO
Jamal and Donna also hit the CBC Metro Morning airwaves live in Matt Galloway’s 3-part series dedicated to One Millionth Tower. Metro Morning is the number one morning show in Toronto.
LIVE IN AMSTERDAM
Meanwhile, One Millionth Tower was showcased *live* in Amsterdam for the largest documentary festival in the world, IDFA, as part of the fantastic DocLab lounge. (HIGHRISE won the inaugural DocLab award there for Out My Window last year. This year the honour went to the artful web-documentary In Situ, a lyrical french project from ARTE, which is not unrelated to urban themes in HIGHRISE).
LIVE AT MOZFEST
This is me, Kat Cizek, chuffed to be launching 1MT live at the awesome Mozilla Festival in London U.K. in front of a crowd of 4-500 brilliantly talented hackers and journalists who had gathered for the Media, Freedom and the Web Festival.
LIVE ON WEB TV
And finally, streaming on live web-tv during an interview about 1MT at Mozfest, I had an unexpected visit from the Foxy Mozilla Fox Mascot, the true rockstar of the Mozilla Festival. Never know what can happen when you’re *live.*
Video courtesy Roger Keil, photos from the Gladstone by Marcus Matyas for the NFB, Kipling Launch and CBC Radio by Kat Cizek for the NFB, and Mozilla Festival by Sarah Arruda, for the NFB.
WORLD LAUNCH AT WIRED.COM
So happy to announce that the new HIGHRISE documentary is now LAUNCHED on the web, for all the world to see for free, currently at the prestigious technology online publication, WIRED.COM.
We will be bringing it to highrise.nfb.ca on Monday Nov 7, mid-day. Meanwhile, this weekend, the HIGHRISE team is participating with the new documentary in a series of live events in London U.K., at the awesome Mozilla Festival, “Media, Freedom and the Web.”
One Millionth Tower is the result of unique collaboration between apartment residents, architects, animators, filmmakers and web developers to re-envision what a declining highrise neighbourhood could be. Through a close collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation – Mozilla, developer of the open source Firefox browser and a pioneer in promoting openness, innovation and opportunity on the web, the HIGHRISE team has created a lush visual story unfolding in a 3D virtual environment. Visitors to the online documentary can explore how participatory urban design can transform spaces, places and minds.
One Millionth Tower re-imagines a universal thread of our global urban fabric — the dilapidated highrise neighbourhood. More than one billion of us live in vertical homes, most of which are falling into disrepair. Highrise residents, together with architects, re-envision their vertical neighbourhood, and animators and web programmers bring their sketches to life in this documentary for the contemporary web browser — one of the world’s first HTML5/webGL documentaries. And it’s got music by Jim Guthrie and Owen Pallett.
Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, says One Millionth Tower ”is a prime example of the work we are doing together to empower makers and build tools that anyone can use to make awesome things happen — on the Web and in the world. It’s a testament to how we are building a better Web together.”
One Millionth Tower places you in the three-dimensional world of a run-down highrise neighbourhood, where, if you access it with a webGL enabled computer, you can interact with the environment and see it re-imagined as a lively, flourishing community. (If you do not have a webGL enabled system, you can still watch a non-interactive video capture of the documentary play out in a virtual 3D space.)
Additional features include:
• a behind-the-scenes documentary about the collaborative process behind One Millionth Tower
• a short documentary featuring international examples of tower revitalization
• a short documentary exploring the open technology used to create the project
and a spectacular interactive feature that takes you to highrise neighbourhoods in more than 200 countries in the world, thanks to Google Streetview and satellite imagery. It’s based on our own original research to find and understand highrise communities around the globe. Visitors can submit their own highrise tower to be included in this unique visual database.
One Millionth Tower is a story with global implications about how, with the power of imagination, we can transform the urban and virtual spaces that belong to all of us.
The team behind One Millionth Tower includes director Kat Cizek, Senior Producer Gerry Flahive, 3D Creative Technologist, Mike Robbins (for Helios Design), Music Jim Guthrie, Owen Pallett, Animators Lillian Chan, Howie Shia, Kelly Sommerfeld, Technical Director Branden Bratuhin, Associate Producer Sarah Arruda, Community Media Project Lead And Creative Associate Heather Frise, Community Media Liaison Maria-Saroja Ponnambalam, Highrise Residents Ob, Faith, Priti, Jamal and Donna, Lead Architect Graeme Stewart (for E.R.A. Architects), Executive Producer Silva Basmajian and many more.
Our previous HIGHRISE project, OUT MY WINDOW, won a Digital Emmy Award, IDFA’s first-ever Digital Storytelling Award, and many other international prizes.
HIGHRISE DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP PROJECT
So much of life in the global highrise is hidden from public view, behind concrete walls. Even more invisible are the virtual/internet lives of highrise residents. So what is digital connectivity like in the global highrise?
Last Friday, a United Nations Report declared access to the internet a human right.
Only a few days earlier, Statistics Canada revealed that “Overall, about 80 per cent of all Canadian households had Internet access in 2010… Almost all the homes with total incomes above $87,000 were connected, while just 54 per cent of households with incomes under $30,000 had access,” according to The Canadian Press (good coverage at cbc.ca too).
That’s quite the Digital Divide. The stats also reveal a discrepancy between urban and rural. But our question is: how does this play out in the suburb highrise? What is the relationship between virtual social networks and the geography of suburbs? What does this mean for the future of a (sub)urban planet? These are questions I have been fascinated with since beginning HIGHRISE, and we are starting to get some early answers this week, as we begin production on our HIGHRISE Digital Citizenship Project. It’s a unique collaboration between our HIGHRISE team, residents in a Toronto Highrise, and a team of academic researchers, led by Prof. Deborah Cowen and Emily Paradis PhD, and connected to the Global Suburbanism MCRI project at York University.
This week, we are working with 14 highrise residents as Peer Researchers, who are going door-to-door with our survey in their highrise building, interviewing their neighbours about digital technologies, their use, access and effects. From the results and discussions that arise with the residents, we hope to gain some baseline knowledge about the state of “digital citizenship” in one building. We hope to build on this data, possibly by doing comparative studies elsewhere in the world, and by going deeper with interviews, focus groups and documentary methods within the building itself. After the first survey session earlier this week, one peer researcher told me she’s been working as a community engagement officer in this building (that she live in) for a while now, but the survey was the first time she got to go into people’s homes to really see residents in their own space.
She said, “We sat down and talked with this lady in her kitchen as she chopped potatoes with a huge knife, the knife was really flying around! And we learned about how she accesses *that other world* – the one on the internet. It’s a huge learning experience for me, and its going to connect residents in this building.”
What’s most cool about the project is the energy that’s bubbling up both on the ground with the peer researchers and residents, and at the high-level academic conceptual level ,with what Deb as Principal Investigator is doing, and how the two are informing each other as we go along.
As Deb says in her early writings about the project: “It is now well established that digital technologies are deeply engrained at a global scale, and furthermore, that these technologies are a crucial part of the logistics of globalization. By reshaping economic, social and cultural forms and flows, digital technologies implicate even those who do not have access to the tools or infrastructure for direct connection. Digital technologies have reshaped collective life, transforming how, where, and when we produce, communicate, learn, re/create, and consume. Digital technologies create virtual and actual communities, they keep people connected across vast distances, they make ideas and information flow far and wide. Yet, they also ‘flexibilize’ working conditions, for instance, extending the working day well into personal time and space, they centralize the dissemination of information, enhance state and corporate surveillance capacities, privatize infrastructure and even citizenship. These technologies can speed things up and open new worlds, and they can cut people off and keep people out. In other words, the impacts of digital technologies are profound and they reshape everyday life in complex, ambiguous, and sometimes, contradictory ways.
This project posits that everyday life in suburban tower communities is shaped by digital technologies in distinct ways that warrant attention. The ‘global suburb’ is an underexplored urban condition in academic research, yet as the Global Suburbanism Major Collaborative Research Initiative might suggest, it may well be the dominant experience and condition of the ‘global city’. An emphasis on what we term the ‘global suburb’ highlights not simply a particular space within the global city, but as we explore in more detail through this research, a set of processes and experiences of social polarization and segregation on the one hand, and on the other hand, particular forms of physical and virtual connection and circulation. Drawing on recent work on the ‘in-between city’ (Keil et al 2011), we suggest that the social geographies and spatial forms particular to these ‘global suburbs’ are paradigmatic in an era of global mobility and precarity. The complex dynamics of fixity and flow that characterize these spaces furthermore trouble any simple notion of citizenship and add nuance to the study of digital citizenship.”
A 7-year international research project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and led by principal investigator Roger Keil at York University.
Hadi, a Peer Researcher, going from door to door.
Priti, Peer Researcher (you may recognize her from The Thousandth Tower, watch for her in our upcoming One Millionth Tower and Faith, Ob and Donna have all continued with us too!)
Last night, kids take a break for some bouncing on the balcony.
Cheryl and Nahatil, Peer Researchers, conduct survey in the hallway.
Kristyna (L) Research Field Coordinator, gets data from Nasra and Rita, Peer Researchers.
Jordana, Research Coordinator, shows off our 15 languages sheet – represent the plethora of languages that our team members speak. We show this sheet to residents, (it includes the name in english and in the language itself) so people can identify the language of their choice.
photos by Maria-Saroja Ponnambalam
TEST SHOOT WITH 360 CAMERA
A screen grab of our test shoot with dutch new tech company Yellowbird yesterday in suburban Amsterdam. We were testing their 360 camera. It’s like google streetview but video. Its a camera with 5 lenses. With special software, the 5 images are stitched together into a sphere. In the special video player, you can use your mouse click around 360 degrees within the image. check out their demo here)
We filmed with upcoming hiphop artist Zanillya, in the Bijlmermeer apartment she was raised in by her father, the lead singer of Boney M.
The shoot is for our project in production, Out My Window, a web-doc that will feature interesting highrise residents from around the world. Residents will show and tell us what they see out their windows and invite us into their homes. We’ll see views from the global highrise. The site will be built out of photography, audio, text and in a few select places, video. We are testing to see if we can integrate yellowbird’s 360 approach into the project.
Its the first documentary material ever recorded on a 360 camera, as far as we know.
Big shout-outs to Caspar Sonnen of IDFA DocLab for setting us up with YellowBird, Graeme and Brendan of ERA Architects in Toronto and Gordon Zo Cultuur in Holland for getting us connected in the amazing Bijlmermeer.