Urban Parasites

, , , , , July 5th, 2009



The city; already filled with and shaped by technology, could be occupied with an astonishing variety of blinking, sounding, transmitting, moving parasites, adding nothing in particular but more complexity. The project opens up and explores the use of technology in urban space, adding potential for creative expression in the city. Inspired by the parasite which takes, but not necessarily gives, urban parasites’ sole aim is to ingratiate themselves with human hosts and reproduce.

Rotating LEDs



Those urban parasites exist in the world and make the world, leading people to engage playfully into a personal stretch. Once hooked on making parasites one is bound to technology. Learning how to learn, where to find help and how to make something becomes an enriching experience. Finding individual solutions and the process of crafting the objects adds to it. Then comes the time to release the parasite into its habitat. Placing it as a foreign body in the urban fabric and observing people’s reactions helps to recreate a feeling of agency for the shared urban environment.

The project aims to provide a basis for a critical exploration of technology implementation in urban space. Making use of and adding to open-source technology and knowledge, it tries to define building blocks. Modules that are both well documented and designed to be made of every-day materials, reclaimed electronics, or parts that are at least easy to source. Every parasite, however, becomes a means of technology research in itself, since technologies involved vary widely. Nonetheless, a complete documentation of the technologies involved would become a dead end in the evolution of the urban parasite. Furthermore, its low-tech approach aims not to satisfy the expectations of commercial engineering, but to lower the entry barrier for the many others interested in (street) art or interactive architecture, and enjoy a city infested with artificial parasites.

Drawing with Laser Pointers



Modular Structure


The project as an infrastructure project supports people’s exploration of alternative use of technology by offering well documented modules. Those are reusable and support the creation variously shaped urban parasites. You can find in the following a diagram of the modules used to create the “Stuttering Beeper” a solar powered sonic parasite.


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