Remote is a revolutionary new concept in nightlife entertainment.
Located in downtown Manhattan, it is a technology-themed cocktail lounge and new media art space unlike anything else in the world. The lounge is outfitted with over 60 video cameras – covering every square foot of the space from multiple angles – and this live video is displayed on over 100 output devices, such as CRTs, LCDs, large format plasma screens and video projectors. Into this mix of live feeds are an everchanging roster of digital and analog video artworks, animation, special effects, web-based art and interactive multimedia created by both emerging and established new media artists.
Remote officially opened on October 9th, 2001. Many nights feature special events targeting certain audiences or featuring specific artists, performers or promoters. This adaptability has already proven that the design and technical infrastructure behind Remote is versatile and flexible enough for the lounge to re-theme and re-invent itself nightly. To see a schedule of upcoming events, or to view an archive of past events, see the Calendar section.
Controlled Entropy Ventures (CEV), the developers of Remote, describe the lounge as a “telepresence” environment. The appeal inherent in this seemingly contradictory concept has been noted by a number of techno-sociologists working in fields like video-conferencing and Virtual Reality. At Remote, all of the cameras within the lounge are controllable by the bar patrons themselves, who can view the output of the different cameras at custom-designed Cocktail Consoles™. The Cocktail Consoles™ also allow customers to then remotely pan and tilt any camera they are viewing using a joystick. Patrons therefore”spy” on other patrons and will be “spied” on in return. The cameras act as the “remote eyeballs,” or the visual prosthetics, of the bar customers. This distortion of the usual way in which people interact, at the same time more (virtually) intimate and (physically) remote then typical bar encounters, is at the core of the fun to be had using the gadgets at Remote.
Rather than focus on the “Big Brother” association with the surveillance technology that has been co-opted and adapted to use in the lounge, CEV founders point out that their version of telepresence is used to very different ends then traditional surveillance implementations. First of all, access to the system is mutual, bilateral and consensual – nobody gets to violate anyone else’s privacy in a manner that they would not be subject to themselves. Secondly, the environment is designed to encourage exploration, experimentation and human interaction rather than to control or protect people or property.
The “telepresence” capability, along with the retro-future stylings of the Cocktail Consoles™ themselves, evokes a 1960s vision of the future – part Jetsons, part 2001 A Space . Furthermore, TV screens over the bar and along the walls pick up random camera channels to create a richly textured funhouse mirror effect, where the physical arrangement of the lounge itself and the people in it are fractured and re-presented in a complex, constantly-changing, multilayered way.
The interior design of Remote was done by Jordan Parnass, of Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture. Jordan had previously designed some acclaimed office spaces and retail environments that featured the seamless incorporation of technology and electronics into sleek, innovative, contemporary environments. He also has worked extensively as a new media artist in his own right, all of which made him the perfect partner to lead the challenge of defining an appropriate context for CEV’s interactive technology.
The three partners – Mario Peebles, Van Helsinki and Brechin Mayer – are all technology start-up veterans that have long been fascinated by the social implications of Internet, video and multimedia technologies. They spent almost two years developing and implementing the technology and concepts behind Remote, pausing only to take on a project (weliveinpublic.com) for client Josh Harris (Jupiter Communications, Pseudo.com). This product used an early version of their hardware and software to create a total surveillance environment in Josh Harris’ loft that broadcast six simultaneous feeds – chosen from 48 cameras by analyzing motion sensor data – 24 hours a day for 4 months.
CEV plans to expand on the Remote concept by opening other sites in key cities around the country and abroad. Parties interested in franchise or investment opportunities should contact CEV by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.