Architecture is inherently social, designing human connection and interaction by defining space. Traditionally, in order to construct physical structures, architecture extracts physical resources from across the globe. Stone may come from Italy, steel from China, glass from Germany, wood from Russia, and concrete from the USA. Despite inhabiting a planet terra-formed by physical material, our most precious and valuable resource is human attention, as the most powerful global companies extract value from every second that a human attends to media content.
“Attention Span” invites the public to use social interaction to co-construct a spatial architecture in augmented reality. Visitors of the Serpentine Galleries site become live actors in a four-dimensional performance of their social connectivity. Rather than extracting value for a platform, the time span of the attention you give to another participant enables you to construct a congruent spatial span, contributing to the architectural volume of a collaborative augmented serpentine pavilion.
Without people, there is no architecture. The ground plane is an empty grid awaiting social cooperation. Virtual spans begin to grow on site between two participants after they accept a link in the AR interface. The longer they remain attentive and active on site, the taller their vectors rise, rewarding their collaboration with architectural agency to define new space. Establishing multiple connections enables the formation of a dynamic vertex in a constellation of attention spans. With everyone engaged and mobile, the collective structure morphs as a kinetic monument to social presence. Groups may begin to choreograph spatial formations, intersecting incongruent spans, or interacting with existing structures.
In “Attention Span”, participants augment a dynamic spatial experience by manipulating their relative representative positions. With every connection, each user is the designer of a vertex in the cooperative pavilion, pulling live edges to form new spaces, intersecting spans to subdivide continuity, and multiply communities. Physical architecture is built as a series of boundaries and predetermined permission systems. Space is designed by excluding other space. “Attention Span” gives the public agency to define space, to inhabit the thresholds which normally dictate where they can and cannot be, to experience the augmentation of four dimensions in real time, perspective, and plan.
“Attention Span” affords participants the opportunity to deepen their relationship with London as a global city, unconstrained by its physical coordinates or geography. Participants in this network co-create new structures and experiences, within and atop existing cities, by lending their “column” to physical spaces, and to one another. Upon departing from the site, users disperse pavilion fragments to new locales. This visualizes the simultaneous scales of the city in a local and global sense, contextually overlaid in augmented reality. The city always coexists with its networked simulation, with its origin ever-glowing at the Serpentine.
Upon exiting the Serpentine site boundary, participants sever the links, but they may carry their “column” of accumulated attention off-site, depositing traces of their shared experience as they move across London, or fly around the world. Observers may even look through the planet in AR to locate the real-time state of the Pavilion in London and all affiliated decentralized “columns” across the globe. “Attention Span” is a global pavilion, but it never forgets its origin.