AN APP THAT ENCOURAGES YOU TO LOOK UP FROM YOUR APPS
WNW Member Ekene Ijeoma is a designer known for his data-driven, socially-engaged interdisciplinary work. Last September, we featured Ekene's installation, "Wage Islands", a 3D map which tackled the geographies of access in New York, a direct result of disparate wages and housing costs. Ekene's latest project is Look Up, a participatory public art app made with Processing and support from Google Creative Labs. As you near any street intersection, the app asks you to look up from your phone to engage in the diversity and serendipity of the city.
Look Up breaks the habit of constantly checking phones and builds a ritual of looking up at intersections and not missing out on the city – draining all the energy we pour into our phones back into our streets. The app uses crash injuries and fatalities data from NYC DOT’s Vision Zero road safety project to create a 1–5 energy score reminding participants why our streets need their energy, eyes, and “hellos”. In doing so, Look Up creates a space for participants to get in tune with the energies, rhythms and vibrations of the city. You can choose if you want to be prompted at every 1 to 3 intersections, or at random while on foot, on a bicycle or in a car. It's free, open source, doesn't require a SIM card, uses low battery and data and doesn't store or share your data.
"Whether it's strangers making eye contact and saying hello or friends hugging," Ekene writes, "Look Up hopes to tear down the digital walls we build up, opening us to seeing, acknowledging and valuing the people and city around us."