Autogrill Monument, 2004

The original idea for a real-time memorial for car accident victims was conceived in Italy with Karmen Franinovic and Ivar Lyngve, fellow students at the Interaction Design Institute. The project started from Stefano Mirti‘s “Building as Interface” course in 2003. The brief directed each group to conceptualize an interactive feature for a cafe. We chose Autogrill, a chain of restaurants throughout Italy, the most impressive being those that straddle the Italian Autostrada (freeway). The particular site was the Autogrill on the highway connecting Milan and Turin.

The idea was to create an “ambient display” of highway accident fatalities, visualized by a blue cloud emission within a giant cylindrical aquarium that would be situated in the middle of the restaurant, directly over the roadway. A data collection system would monitor Italian highway accidents and trigger the “event” for each highway fatality. We made a video scenario to present the idea, under the guidance of Simone Muscolino.

In 2004, this project was featured in the Improbable Monuments show curated by Paula Levine and Trena Noval at SF Camerawork.

Autogrill Cease and Desist Letter, 2004

Later in 2004, I was issued a cease and desist order by the Autogrill lawyers: “…Visiting the … web site, we have noticed that our trademark and our logo are utilized unlawfully by yourselves. … [w]e notice that such web site contains references to facts and acts potentially occurring long the motorways and completely extraneous to Autogrill’s corporate image. Therefore, Autogrill S.p.A. hereby invites Mr. Luther Thie… to immediately terminate publishing in the web of Autogrill’s trademarks and logo as well as any reference to acts or facts which may damage Autogrill’s rights. Please be advised that in case of failure to terminate such web publishing, Autogrill S.p.A. will not hesitate to take any action in order to protect its own rights.”
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