torsdag 10 maj 2018

Homo Colossus In Real Life

KTH Sustainability Office award money for small (maximum 100 000 SEK, maximum 1 year) interdisciplinary projects, "Environment and sustainability without boundaries"

I handed in an application there a few minutes before the May 2 deadline, "Homo Colossus In Real Life (HC-IRL)", together with co-applicants Mario Romero (Associate professor in Human-Computer Interaction with focus on Interactive Computer Graphics & Visualization), Jonas Åkerman (environmental researcher and one of Sweden's premier researchers on GHG emissions in general and emissions from air travel in particular) and Per Hasselberg (Konstfrämjandet/People's Movements for Art Promotion).

I have written about Homo Colossus several times on the blog before (November 2016, again in November 2016 and in December 2017) so instead of explaining what that concept means, I just paste the short project description below (where I explain what the concept means).

The project is basically a fact-finding mission where I will do the brunt of the work and then have monthly meetings with a "steering committee" (the co-applicants that are listed above). The fact-finding mission would run from Q3 2018 (September) to the end of Q1 2019 (March). The last quarter of the next academic year (Q4 2019) would be reserved for compiling and drawing resources together to produce a report/prospectus (decision support), including a realistic budget, sketches/suggestions for placement and design of Homo Colossus on the KTH Campus etc. This report would be handed over to KTH and the best-case scenario is that KTH would then decide to go ahead and build Homo Colossus - in all its might - somewhere on campus. As part of the report, we also plan to either produce a 20-second 3-D previsualization OR produce sketches that will help external actors (e.g. KTH decision makers) visualise what a finished Homo Colossus could look like.

I will get to know if this application has been granted or not sometime in June.

Project description

HC-IRL is a prestudy for a larger science and art project, ”Homo Colossus” (Catton 1986, Catton 1987). A human being who weighs 70 kilos needs to eat food with an energy content of less than 2000 kcal per day (a bit more than 2 kWh/day), but is easy for a Swede to use 50 to 100 times more energy in his or her everyday life. So how large would the average Swede be if he or she was colossal and had to eat as much food/energy as we use in our everyday lives? The answer is that the average Swede would be around 12 meters tall and weigh around 25 000 kilos. 

The purpose of the project ”Homo Colossus” is to build a replica of a colossal human being  and (for a limited period of time) place it on the KTH campus. The purpose of this prestudy, ”HC-IRL” is to produce information that supports a KTH decision about whether to go ahead with actually building such a replica or not. We here assume that KTH, should it go ahead and decide to build Homo Colossus on the KTH campus, will pay for the costs, but we will also as part of this application keep an eye on the possibilities of finding supplemental external funding (from a foundation, etc.).

The prestudy will partly examine practical aspects of building Homo Colossus (shape, pose (standing, sitting, etc.), appearance, materials, weight, cost/budget, etc.) and partly investigating administrative and practical obstacles/possibilities for building a Homo Colossus on the KTH Campus (location, permissions, security issues etc.). We will also contact artists to open up discussions about feasibility and implementation of the project. We have to that effect ”recruited” Per Hasselberg from the People's Movements for Art Promotion (Konstfrämjandet) for this application and he will partake in the project/prestudy as well as act as a door opener to researchers, teachers and artists who work with public art at the The Royal Institute of Art (Kungliga Konsthögskolan/Mejan – for example Åsa Andersson Broms, artist and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art) and elsewhere.

KTH is also at the cusp of starting up a center for Art, Technology and Design (KTD) that we would furthermore like to cooperate with. There is a distinct possibility that the first director of the center will be main applicant Pargman’s current colleague, Professor of Media Technology/Sound and Music Computing researcher Roberto Bresin who is informed about this application. Another potential informant/partner is Programme Director Federico Favero at KTH Architecture/Architectural Lighting and Design. While contacts have been initiated also with other KTH researchers, we here only apply for money for the main applicant and the co-applicants previously listed.

- Catton, W. R. (1986). Homo colossus and the technological turn‐around. Sociological Spectrum, 6(2), 121-147. 
- Catton, W. R. (1987). The world's most polymorphic species: Carrying capacity transgressed in two ways. BioScience, 37(6), 413-419.

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