mac online apple blackjack http://www.euro-online.org

Current Students

Students currently studying Master in Creative Arts Practice

Ares Rabe 

Shawn Ma

Chloe Manyue Yu 

Chrissy Shou Yu Chen

Ben Woolsey

Megan Wilson

Jade Mallabone

Garry Lydon

Michael Hirst

Sarah Davy

Alexei Crawley

Lewis Brown

Daniel Bradwell

Ashley Bowes

 

 

Previous Students

CAP

2015-2016

Meena DaneshyarMaria Clemente – AlbaceteSean Cotterill

Xiyuan TanYue WangRiar Rizaldi

Daniel Parry

 

Previous Students

CAP

2014-2015

MeteorEdmund Nesveda

Clive WrightChilly Rain

Wenya ChenTrong Cuong Dao

Yousif AbdulghaniTan

BartiZhang Wei

 

2013-2014

Yinzhen BaoTatiana Fujimori
Jaejun HwangSaksit Knunkitti
Wenchang LinClare Robertson
Tunc Karkutoglu

Mres Digital Media
Adrian ParkBen HoldenIsobel Taylor
James DavollNina LimardoXue Yan
Aaron SmilesAlessandro AltavillaAndrew Nixon
Andrzwej WojtasBen FreethBen Thompson
Helen CollardJane DudmanJoseph Pochciol
Pengfei ZhangSanjay Mortimer
Ewelina Aleksandrowicz (Tikul)

 

DMS8013: 3. Communication: What hath God wrought?

fire

Aims

  • To experience and discuss aspects of the history of communications technology
  • To think about what we mean by communication
  • To understand more about how networks work

Communicating Information vs How to do Things with Words (a contrast)

Lets consider the history of optical communication 

Beacons and Smoke Signals

Precursors to The Chappe Optical Telegraph

 

 

How wonderful it was that these various signs should be made to cleave the air with such precision as to convey to the distance of three hundred leagues the ideas and wishes of a man sitting at a table at one end of the line to another man similarly placed at the opposite extremity, and all this affected by a simple act of volition. Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

Early Experiments of the Chappe Brothers

Lets recreate one of these experiments using this online clock, and a small bell.

Standage (1998, p. 9) describes how the Chappe brothers, before arriving at the solution of semaphore arms as the most efficient way of encoding and relaying messages, experimented with a combination of synchronized timing devices and color-coded discs. The recipient of the message would watch for the change between black and white and take a note of the precise position of the stop-watch, translating this number via a pre-arranged code. What is historically significant about this process, is that by tying the change of a physical state to a regular time interval, the brothers introduced two completely new spatio-temporal arrangements of materiality, which are exercised, two hundred years later, by the iPhone which forms the basis for NBM. First the regulation of information by time interval, effectively prefigured the notion of bandwidth (without which, Shannon’s seminal (2001 [1948]) work, for instance, would not have been possible). Second the notion of a regulating clock signal to manage information processing was effectively born with this invention. In integrated circuits, different chips must be able to communicate with one another at the right time and for this purpose, a clock signal is referred to. It is no exaggeration to say that without the notion of a clock signal, there would be no microprocessors and hence, no digital computers. However, I do not claim that the Chappe brothers version of serial ‘genealogically’ lead to the development of the signal clock. Instead I suggest that this material arrangement of physicality and time can be traced back to this historical moment. Schofield, Tom, Materiality and Making in Experiential Ecologies (PhD Thesis).

 

Claude (Elwood!) Shannon

Information Theory. Signal vs Noise. The abstraction that Shannon brought to the notion of information was exactly that which made it computable. His work with boolean logic and encryption was made possible by a particular (and instrumental) vision of information. It is not Shannon’s fault that the specialised use of the word ‘communication’ described in his work has unproblematically expanded out of its home in (the foundations) of computer science.

So far we’ve talked about the history of optical ‘communication’. To what degree do you think we are actually talking about ‘communication’. To what degree are talking about transmission / reception? What is/could be the difference?

 

Performativity and doing things with words (and media)

If we wish to think seriously about the media of communication, particularly in the age of computational media we need to think seriously about what we mean when we say ‘communication’.

‘Performative utterances:
a. do not ‘describe’ or ‘report’ or constate anything at all, are not ‘true or false’
b. the uttering of the sentence is, or is a part of, the doing of an action, which again would not normally be described as ‘just’ saying something.’(adapted from) 1962 Austin, John L. “How to Do Things with Words.” Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962. p6

 

‘…if gender is instituted through acts which are internally discontinuous, then the appearance of substance is precisely that, a constructed identity, a performative accomplishment which the mundane social audience, including the actors themselves, come to believe and to perform in the mode of belief. If the ground of gender identity is the stylised repetition of acts through time, and not a seemingly seamless identity, then the possibilities of gender transformation are to be found in the arbitrary relation between such acts in the possibility of a different sort of repeating, in the breaking of subversive repetition of that style.’ Butler, Judith. “Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenology and feminist theory.” Theatre journal 40.4 (1988): 519-531. p520

Task: Re-read the quote above –
1. what are examples of the way that gender is constituted and re-consituted through speech acts?
2. what does Butler mean when she says that ‘gender is instituted through acts which are internally discontinuous’?
3. what kind of acts might produce the possibility of a different sort of repeating?

If language is performative may not other forms of communication be so?

We might also look to some recent DH work

‘In a model of materiality as fundamentally performative, we can show how forensic, evidentiary materiality and formal organization serve as a provocation for the creation of a reading as a constitutive interpretative act. The specific structures and forms, substrates and organizational features, are probability conditions for production of an interpretation. Knowledge creates the objects of its discourses, it does not “discover” them. Constructivist epistemology shifts our attention from knowledge to knowing, from objects that are observer-independent to the recognition of observer-dependent process, or events.’ Drucker, J. “Performative Materiality and Theoretical Approaches to Interface”, Digital Humanities Quarterly 7.1, 2013. (emphasis added)

Task: Lets consider some ways that communication technologies perform
Skype
IM (e.g. whatsapp)
Text Messaging
Screen sharing

 

Doing Communication

Optional Pre-task:

Download the Processing library ‘OscP5‘. Follow the installation instructions and have a play with the examples.

For extra brownie points you may want to have a look at this. An overview of how the internet is structure in terms of its backbone, ISP etc.

If you have an android mobile phone, download this free app. We are going to play with it in class.

All sketches for today’s class are here session_3_network_communication.

Research Method: Walking

Walking as a research method is an interesting concept but not one I had considered before. How many times per day would you say you pay attention to the sounds and noises around you? Once? Twice?

Interesting though to realise how exploring places with sound walking can show you how much you miss out when you’re not paying attention. On the other hand it can be difficult in a bustling city to hear the voice of an opera singer or the birds chirping in the trees nearby.

 

 

Wikis – idea dump

Our upcoming group project (with Garry, Daniel and Ashley) is about public data, and we talked a lot about wikis and using Processing to engage with the content of Wikipedia, as an example of public data.

Anyway, this post is a list of bits and bobs and ideas that came from the class and our group chats so far. No idea if any of this will go anywhere, but I might come back to it even if it doesn’t feature in our project.

-Page views – which pages are the most visited, and how does/has this changed over time?
-Content authors. How much can we find out about the authors/editors/moderators of wikipedia? To what extent do specific people/groups of people have influence over its content?
-Edits. What are the most edited pages, and edited by who? Is it a matter of updating them, improving accuracy, or  is there contention over bias/political content? Edit wars? Could be interesting to look at the edit history of specific pages.
-Comparing different wikis: Wikipedia, Simple English Wikipedia, RationalWiki, World of Warcraft Wiki (and fandom wikis in general), Wikimedia Commons, Conservapedia, Liberapedia, Uncyclopedia and so on. How many authors/editors are there relative the amount of content? Is there discernable bias? How big are there, what are there most popular pages relative to each other? Etc.
-The status of wikis and related digital resources as a part of our knowledge/extensions of ourselves, in a comparable manner to a prosthetic limb or a physical piece of technology.
-Can we retrieve live data from these sites, i.e. their current popularity, and somehow convert that data into sound? If we were comparing wikis, we could use each as an ‘instrument’, maybe.
-We could focus on particular pages, and project things from their popularity or content. The more people are visiting (or google) ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’, say, the closer we are to *midnight* (thinking Doomsday Clock currently).
-Dashboards and GUIs: sci-fi GUIs, video game GUIs and their real-life equivalent. A sliding scale of importance from ‘looks cool’ to ‘is functional’?

Being subject to computers is faintly terrifying

Everyone knows that humans and computers are good at different things. We’re probably all fairly used to that by now. Most of us have lived through that glorious “wow, computers can do anything, they’re so smart!” phase (some of us less recently than others), and the subsequent frustrating “wait no, why would you think that, computer I didn’t tell you to do that!” phase.

Its a generalization, but I feel like we know their quirks, and are kind of used to whatever level of machine ‘intelligence’ we’re living with at the minute. It’s not that weird anymore. It’s like living with a dog – if you train it, it can do a lot of things, but you still have to do things in specific ways to get it to ‘understand’. The AI/dog comparison is one I quite like actually, which I got to see explored a big more in the short film See a Dog, Hear a Dog at Transmediale.

Just like the film, however, I’m not sure I’m ready to take comfort in that comparison just yet. Why? Short answer: face-swapping.


I mean, holy shit. Is that not terrifying?
Wait! I’ve got more.
 

I’m being melodramatic, obviously. These are more funny and than really horrifying. But I do have a point with all this, one which is better summed up here, on PBS Idea Channel in their video The Vague Horror of Face Swap.

Long story short – to us, faces are important. The face is a metonym for the person. Figuratively speaking the face is the person, in the sense that we use the faces of other people as a short-hand way of understanding all sorts of things about them. And these pictures prove to us that computer barely understand that short-hand at all, but go ahead and do what it is they think we asked them to do anyway. Which is kind of unsettling.

The video tries to explain why this is so unsettling by relating it to the expression ‘hell is other people’ (Satre, explored here by PBS again). Long story short, again – the existence or presence of other people can make us uncomfortable because we can no longer just passively ‘be’ like we were before, we have to actively ‘act’. On some level we start agonising over how we come across in a way we didn’t have to before they arrived and we became subject to their perception.

I don’t think its too much of a leap to say that that uncomfortableness steps up a notch when we become subject to the perceptions of machines. Suddenly there is an other with a huge amount of influence in our lives – much more power than we would ever entrust to a pet – an other which is far less us, and far more impoverished in terms of how we’ve taught it to understand us.

The less like us they are, and the more importance they have in our daily lives, the more pressure there is to ‘act’ correctly in order to make sure we get the right results. The consequences of failure won’t always be as low as the comic screw-ups of face-swapping algorithms. When you phrase it like that, the consequences of how we handle the evolution of technology and artificial intelligence suddenly feel every bit as ominous as they did back a computer first beat a grandmaster at chess.

Deep Blue beats Garry Kasparov in 1997

I’m not trying to scaremonger. I just think its interesting. It related to my old favourite, cosmic horror, and these kinds of anxieties have always been fertile ground for sci-fi, see Isaac Asimov and that whole subsequent outpouring of I, Robot and A Space Odyssey type fiction. I’m not going to directly compare my daft little game project to anything so well-thought-out as that, but video games do have their own fine tradition of menacing AIs, and I was definitely trying to channel a little of that into humour when I wrote the dialogue for Computer is Bored.


I do feel like some recent sci-fi kind of misses the nuance of why villains like HAL 9000,  VIKI and GLaDOS are interesting villains though. I mean, they’re good villains because they’re threatening and characterful and have some awesome moments, but for me the kicker comes in the moments when they are less malevolent and evil, and more just fulfilling a function their creators gave them. In these moments heroes are essentially fighting off a dog that doesn’t realise its retrieving a stick that will kill its owner.

Be warned, at this point I start relating everything to video games and Doctor Who, so if that doesn’t appeal you’d be well within your rights to lose interest at this point.

Either way, I think the Process from Transistor are a great example of this kind of sci-fi threat. Since the game is set in a virtual city, they are essentially half grey-goo and half computer program, reshaping the city to the whims of its inhabitants until something goes wrong and they start resetting everything to zero. Fighting them it ultimately futile, because it cannot be stopped by force, only told to stop, and the one person who had the permissions to do that is dead.

Any persons the Process encounters are absorbed and rendered into ‘Functions’, pieces of software or code that perform whatever task that person was ‘for’. For example, a renowned historian and archivist subject to the Process becomes ‘get()’, a Function that locates entities and brings them closer. This reduction of people into Functions is not malicious, or even callous, it is simply the only way the goal-oriented Process knows how to deal with entities that are not itself.

Long-story short, for me, playing Transistor gave me an inkling of what it might be like to exist within a computer program which had been told that all variables should be reset to zero. It creates a scenario in which a humans have entrusted a lot more than just face-swapping to the subjectivity of computers, and it doesn’t work out too well for anyone. The human villains are deliberately set up to be massive disappointments, explaining their intentions and putting up no resistance, asking only that you forgive them for the inhuman disaster they inadvertently caused.

Doctor Who has some great villains like this too. The nanites, from episode The Empty Child and the clockwork droids from The Woman in the Fireplace are both brilliant. The former are ‘healing robots’ that horrifically misinterpret what a healthy human is meant to look like, while the latter were accidentally made to prioritise repairing their ship over looking after their crew, and so used their crew for spare parts. As gruesome as these episodes end up, the villains were only ever simple machines faithfully trying to do exactly what their benign creates told them to.


Anyway, I digress. Long story short (third time’s the charm) – machine subjectivity is terrifying, or for people who don’t relate to everything through horror and video games, maybe just plain old interesting. If I can make something of this in my future work, that will be no bad thing.

HSS8121: Media Archaeology

 What is Media Archaeology

According to Jussi Parikka and Erkki Huhtamo,

It investigates “alternate histories of suppressed, neglected, and forgotten media that do not point teleologically to the present media-cultural condition…” (Huhtamo & Parikka,Media Archaeology, 2011 ).

And Geert Lovink says,

‘Media archaeology is first and foremost a methodology, a hermeneutic reading of the “new” against the grain of the past, rather than a telling of the history of technologies from past to present. No comprehensive overview of the media archaeology approach is yet available, but we could mention a few scholars, such as Friedrich Kittler, Siegfried Zielinski, Werner Nekes, Jona- than Crary, Katherine Hayles, Werner Künzel, Avital Ronell, Christoph Asendorf, Erkki Huhtamo, Paul Virilio and others.’
(Lovink, My First Recession – Critical Internet Culture in Transition, 2003)

’In his Archaeology of the Cinema C. W. Ceram states: “What matters history is not whether certain chance discov- eries take place, but whether they take effect.”4 When Hertz experimented with electromagnetic waves he meant to prove Maxwell’s mathematical calcu- lations of the electromagnetic field; almost by accident he thereby practically invented radio transmission technology.5 How can we write media history when media systems create their Eigenzeit?’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p57)

We can say that Media Archaeology is not a single methodology, but an orientation – a direction which is common to a loose group of researchers (a lot of whom are German and related to a particular kind of german media theory and philosophy) and a particular flavour of research. If methodology is ‘a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity’ (OED) then really Media Archaeology exists at a level of abstraction above this. It is an associated set of theories, methods, methodologies and skills which emphasise a close reading of technology itself, not just in its ability to be a cultural phenomenon. As Friedrich Kittler says:

‘History is not a list of, “directors, stars, studios and celebrities, which in the end remains organised around a series of titles” ‘ (Kittler, Optical Media, p. 26).

As Ernst summarises,

‘Equally close to disciplines that analyze material (hard- ware) culture and to the Foucauldian notion of the “archive” as the set of rules governing the range of what can be verbally, audiovisually, or alphanumeri- cally expressed at all, media archaeology is both a method and an aesthetics of practicing media criticism, a kind of epistemological reverse engineering, and an awareness of moments when media themselves, not exclusively humans anymore, become active “archaeologists” of knowledge.’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p55)

In practice

Although he is not usually referred to in the ‘canon’ of MA, we could look at Matthew Kirschenbaum’s archival practice with electronic literature as an example of MA in practice.

Meanwhile Wolfgang Ernst frequently uses the spatial and temporal specifics of technological kinds of writing to discuss and problematise the way we understand time and in particular historical narrative.

‘…the historical mode of describing temporal processes has been confronted with alternative modelings of time, When it comes to describing media in time, this aporia becomes crucial, since one can no longer simply subject media processes to a literary narrative without fundamentally misreading and misrepresenting their Eigenzeit. Historical media narratives take place in imaginary time. Storage technologies, on the other hand, take place in the symbolic temporal order…’ (Ernst, Huhtamo and Parikka, Media Archaeology, 2011, p. 242)

‘But is radio, when playing, ever in a historical state? Is it not in fact always in a present state? The medium only appears to conform to the logic of historical epochal concepts; in actuality, it undermines this logic and sets a different temporal economy. For example, an original record- ing resonating today from an old tube radio, provided it can still run on 220 volts, hardly makes history audible. A tube radio thus practices compressed time with respect to our sensory perception, as long as this is not overlaid with “historical meaning,” which corresponds not to the actual media work- ings of radio but rather to the logic of inscribed historiography.’ (Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p159)

Ernst makes the point that our language and methods of discussing, and modelling time in terms of historical narratives just aren’t up to the task of considering what technological (particularly electronic and computational) media actually do.

He also has a lot of interesting things to say about counting,

‘The numerical order, the basis of digital technologies, has always already been performed as a cultural practice before becoming technically materialized.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p147)

To tell, we learn, as a transitive verb, means not only “to give a live account in speech or writing of events or facts” (that is, to tell a story) but also “to count things” (to tell a rosary, for example). The very nature of digital operations and telling thus coincide.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p147-8)

The conjunction between telling stories and counting time is more than just a word game: verbs like conter, contar, raccontare, erzählen, and to tell are testimonies to a way of perceiving realities that oscillates between narrative and statistics.’ (Telling vs Counting in, Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, 2013, p149)

I found this work (actually earlier published versions of this work) extremely compelling during the early stages of making this piece, Mark Inscriber.

Ernst also maintains the Medienarchäologischer ‘fundus‘.

In Art Practice

Often this work takes the past as a point for a future imaginary.

Jamie Allen’s ‘The Lie Machine

Pablo Garcia’s ‘Profilography

Imaginary Magnitude, By Stanislaw Lem

And (though he doesn’t use this term himself) we could think of our own Diego Trujillo-Pisanty’s most excellent ‘This Tape Will Self-destruct‘.

In Pedagogy

We’ve previously talked about Julian Oliver’s work. He and Danja Vasiliev have a series of workshops around understanding network fundamentals. Jussi Parka points out that,

‘We can speculate that such ideas and practices as Weise7- group’s are an indirect response to what Geert Lovink (2012: 22) has called the need for ‘materialist (read: hardware- and software- focused) and affect-related theory.’ In this case, theory is not executed only in the normal written format but as engineered situations: the other material infrastructures and modes of expression in which power operates, from code to networks.’ Parikka (critically engineered wireless politics, 2013)

He notes that,

‘In real time computing systems, however, the collection, organization and storage of information leads directly to action, to integrated surveillance and control over the object environment. This dynamic marriage of information and control in real time systems is a fusion of knowledge and action, and, through directed action in real time, information is expressed as power. (Sackman, 1968: 1492) (in Parikka,critically engineered wireless politics, 2013)

These workshops (and others like them) are oriented towards a kind of techno-politics based on hacking intervention and self-enablement (however genuine this ends up being). There’s a like-spirited endeavour in this paper which I saw present in Xcoax – a symposium you should all make yourselves aware of.

Memory

What does the Sack piece tell us about the way that memory has been conceived of in the history of computer science?

Warren Sack in: Fuller, Matthew. Software studies: A lexicon. Mit Press, 2008.

Electronic Memory in Practice

In this section we are going to have an archaeological look, a dig in fact, at electronic memory. To do this properly there are a certain number of things we need to understand first.

Binary

how does binary work?

1 bit – 2 possible states
2 bit – 4 possible states
3 bit – 8 possible states
4 bit – 16 possible states
5 bit – 32 possible states
6 bit – 64 possible states
7 bit – 128 possible states
8 bit (a byte) – 256 possible states

Here’s a way of working out the value:

(image cc wikivisual 2015)

(then add the results : 32+8+2=42)

And here’s another way:

how to read binary

(image cc wikivisual 2015)

(then, again, add the results : 32+8+2=42)

This is how we combine single bits to create more and more memory. But what we are interested in is how, on a the level of both logic and components, this works.

Latches and Flip flops

Latches and flip flops (we can talk about the difference – it depends who you ask) are an essential part of computer memory. Some version of this circuit is inside the most fundamental aspects of computer memory. They are therefore massively significant in thinking about what we mean when we say ‘computer memory’. We are going to build a state saving circuit ( a flip flop) and use it to explore what we do and don’t know about digital memory and how we can use that as part of a research and creative methodology.

History and archaeology of the flip flop.

Here’s the original patent, designed with vacuum tubes.

And what do vacuum tubes do?

How does it work?

Let’s hear a nice (rather slow) explanation.  To understand what flipflops are and why they are important we first need to know a few things.

Like what is boolean logic?

How can we combine two NOR gates into an OR gate? Simple (ish)! We invert it! See a bunch of examples here. Take one and explain it to your partner!

Step one: Building a NOR gate

This circuit uses transistors

Transistors are manufactured in different shapes but they have three leads (legs).
The BASE – which is the lead responsible for activating the transistor.
The COLLECTOR – which is the positive lead.
The EMITTER – which is the negative lead.

(http://www.technologystudent.com/elec1/transis1.htm)

 

Here’s our circuit diagram. (and below obviously)

Step Two: Combine two NOR gates into a flip flop.

Look at the diagram below. How should we wire up our NORs to make a flip flop?

2 NORs making a flip flop. CC wikimedia

 

It works, what next?

A flip flop gives us a single bit, held in memory (as long as there is power). Here are somethings I want us to discuss:

  • what is the significance of holding one piece of memory – what can that memory mean? What can it do? Wittgenstein asks of a man given a piece of paper which asks for 5 apples, the following ‘But how does he know where and how he is to look up the word ‘red’ and what he is to do with the word ‘five’?” Well, I assume that he acts as I have described. Explanations come to an end somewhere.—But what is the meaning of the word ‘five’? No such thing was in question here, only how the word ‘five’ is used.’ What do we mean when we say a bit ‘means’?
  • Now imagine we have an encoding system for that bit. e.g. 0 = ‘apple’, 1=’pear’. How does that affect the above?
  • Stepping outside this question for a moment – how many real-world applications for the storage of one bit of information can you think of? How about for 2 or 3 bits?
  • If we all combined our individual bits into a large register – what could we store? How could we act?

But Why? Let’s talk about that

  • What elements of media archaeology (if any) do you identify in your work?
  • What would be the impact of this method?
  • Returning to our project, how could you take this exploration of digital memory further, how would you develop it?

 

Suggested readings

What is Media Archaeology? Parikka, 2012, Polity

Media Archaeology, Huhtamo & Parikka (eds), 2010

Digital Memory and the Archive, Ernst, 2012, University of Minnesota Press

Deep Time of the Media, Zielinkski, 2008, MIT Press

 

DMS8013: Serial Communication. “Down the wire”

LedControl

Here’s a zip of all today’s sketches

HSS8123 – Public Data

Links from the session

Open Public Data

Visualizar 09

The Open Data Foundation

Home – Office for National Statistics

Crime In My Area – Interactive UK Crime Map | ADT

Open Cultural Data

Flickr: The Commons

Europeana Collections

Choose a License

ArtsAPI: Now Live » FutureEverything

Arts API: Artwork

And lets not forget music for programming!

musicForProgramming(“03: Datassette”);

All examples can be found in the zip here

Your task is to make a public data dashboard.

This will

1. use real public data in the form of text, images or other media
2. remix this data by combining it with other data sources or presenting them together
3. intervene in this data by using it as the basis of some process

 

Sound Walk Goodies

 

 

 

Recordings taken during the sound walk. The first if of an elevator and a silent corridor beyond it. The second is what I tried to get from a power box or generator thing, but which didn’t come through very well. The third is a visit to M&S and the soudns of buying some croissants.

HSS8121 Session one: Walking in Public

Aims

  • To talk about walking methods in different kinds of research and consider how they might be relevant for us
  • To focus within that on sound practices with walking as an in depth example
  • To explore public space differently through sound walking
  • To use recording to attend to public space in new ways

 

Research and walking

The interest in walking as part of research methods is, of course, varied among disciplines but among the many concerns are the ways that walking configures our relationship between the body, space and time in ways that make us think some of the suppositions of research methods. People may talk, act and think different when walking and this makes researchers excited and go away and write research papers about it.

Ethnographies of walking and what they tell us

In anthropology and ethnography there has been a recognition that walking practices are a worthy object of study in their own right, that in fact the way we walk is subject to and productive of cultural norms. This has led to an interest in using walking itself as an ethnographic technique for understanding space through people’s motion.

Ingold and Lee present an edited volume combining some fascinating studies of this including with some hunter-gather societies and with so called “confluencers”

Some other examples

Rhythm and the passeggiata.

Vergunst, J. (2010). Rhythms of Walking: History and Presence in a City Street. Space and Culture, 13(4), 376–388. http://doi.org/10.1177/1206331210374145

Jo Vergunst explores the walking of busy city streets as an affair of rhythm and connects this to Lefebvre’s “The Production of Space” in which he (Lefebvre) notes how our sense of time is subject to capitalist and industrial senses of control (Engels makes related points).

“A walker entering the street becomes immersed in the movement and the sounds of the time of the day, week, and year and in the changing patterns of activity as the street and the city develop. The street itself is a place of rhythms and interactions. From this perspective, it is the sensing of rhythms in the street (be they coherent or chaotic) that enables it to be understood as a place and indeed form it as place. This is the essence of Henri Lefebvre’s concept of rhythm as evident in The Production of Space (Lefebvre, 1991) and extended in Rhythmanalysis (Lefebvre, 2004). Rhythm contributes to Lefebvre’s analysis of everyday life particularly in the conceptualization of time. In The Production of Space, time is configured as the result of capitalist control over space: “As for time, dominated by repetition and circularity, overwhelmed by the establishment of an immobile space which is the locus and environment of realized Reason, it loses all mean- ing” (Lefebvre, 1991, p. 21).” p378

His main point is that walking by virtues of its continuity blends time in a way that counters industrial divisions of it.
“In most walking, past, present, and future seem more blended and indistinct—we do not have a “moment,” as such, as we walk. This relates to the English verb form of the continuous present: “I am walking,” English-speakers say or think to themselves as they actually do it, not the merely general “I walk.” Walking as an activity implies a continuity rather than a moment.” p381

Yi’En, C. (2014). Telling Stories of the City:Walking Ethnography, Affective Materialities, and Mobile Encounters. Space and Culture, 17(3), 211–223. http://doi.org/10.1177/1206331213499468

In this paper En suggests walking as a way of differently encountering the materials of everyday urban existence as a kind of continuing collage of experience.

“I mobilize two aspects of urban life that are only beginning to attract scholarly attention in extant literature—urban materialities as affective materials for organizing mundane experience and urban mobilities as heterogeneous and rhythmic to demonstrate how “walking” is a practice that orientates the “walker” through different dimensions of “ordinary” and “everyday” urban life.” p2

Interviewing and walking

Including efforts to locate this on GIS maps (emphasis added)

Evans, J., & Jones, P. (2011). The walking interview: Methodology, mobility and place. Applied Geography, 31(2), 849–858. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2010.09.005

“…a major advantage of walking interviews is their capacity to access people’s attitudes and knowledge about the surrounding environment. Walking has long been considered a more intimate way to engage with landscape that can offer privileged insights into both place and self (Solnit, 2001). Ingold and Lee (2008) suggest that walking with inter- viewees encourages a sense of connection with the environment, which allows researchers to understand how, for example, places are created by the routes people take”

“Representing qualitative data in map form makes them instantly more appealing to decision- makers. They offer an opportunity to make people’s values and local histories count more within a range of development processes. But the power of maps is well documented within geography (Wood & Fels, 1993), and care is required when using them to represent qualitative data. Maps simultaneously increase the potential damage that can be caused by misinterpretation and over-simplification. Further work exploring the potential to apply this technique in real-world decision-making scenarios is needed to understand the most effective ways in which to analyse and represent data.” p857

Soundwalks and acoustic ecologies

…could be a degree programme all to themselves but for the moment I’ll constrain myself to a couple of points. Historically they have a relationship with the notion of acoustic ecologies as described by Murray Shaeffer. There’s a bibliography here for those interested.

Hildegard Westerkamp speaks of the “disruptive nature of listening.” in terms which have a lot in common with some of the temporal points made by Vergunst and others about walking. It’s unsurprising therefore that some creative research methods involve doing both. We’re going to try some of this together.

“When I speak of the disruptive nature of listening, I agree with Michael Stocker who writes: ‘Our experience with sound unfolds as a continuous now.’ If we open our ears to this experience of sound unfolding as a continuous now it inevitably includes an opening to surprises, to the unexpected, to the difficult and uncomfortable, to noise or potential discomforts with silence. It means staying with the sound for a time no matter what reactions it may elicit in us.”

Westerkamp offers a long history of soundwalks available online like this one.

Discussion point: how does her narration affect our understanding of space throughout the recording.

 

Work

Instructions for sound recording

1. Listen to a sound from up-close, try to position yourself so that this sound the only one you can hear, record it.
2. Record multiple sounds intersecting, see if you can move through the intersection.
3. Find the quietest place you can, stay there and record it for a while.

DMS8013: 1. Physical Computing: I wish to God these calculations had been made by steam!

IBM_704_mainframe

Session Aims:

  1. To talk about what Physical Computing is and why that matters
  2. To provide some historical contextual background in and out of art practice
  3. To make a start with learning some physical computing

 

Talk:

How many computers did you touch today?

Which computer has the strongest claim to be the first?

 What is Physical Computing? Tally sticks to abascus to difference engine to Von Neuman architecture

  • A recognition that computers are ‘out there’ or ‘in there’
  • A way of thinking about relationships between people (and particularly bodies) and computers
  • A means of getting away from screens

 

Some History and Context

Ubiquitous Computing (UBICOMP)

  • Mark Weiser and ‘Calm Technology’
  • Adam Greenfield, ‘Everyware’

“Everywhere produces a wide belt of circumstance where human agency, judgement, and will are progressively supplanted by compliance with external, frequently algorithmically-applied standards and norms” Greenfield, Adam. Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing. New Riders, 2010.

Tangible and Embedded Interaction

“Long before the invention of personal computers, our ancestors developed a variety of specialized physical artifacts to measure the passage of time, to predict the movement of planets, to draw geometric shapes, and to compute [10]. We can find these beautiful artifacts made of oak and brass in museums such as the Collection of Historic Scientific Instruments at Harvard University.

We were inspired by the aesthetics and rich affordances of these historical scientific instruments, most of which have disappeared from schools, laboratories, and design studios and have been replaced with the most general of appliances: personal computers. Through grasping and manipulating these instruments, users of the past must have developed rich languages and cultures which valued haptic interaction with real physical objects. Alas, much of this richness has been lost to the rapid flood of digital technologies.” Ishii, Hiroshi, and Brygg Ullmer. “Tangible bits: towards seamless interfaces between people, bits and atoms.” Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM, 1997.

 

 

Tatsuo Miyajima, Clock for 300 Thousand Years, 1987

Jenny Holzer, Truisms, 1984

Which of the two works above has the stronger claim to be ‘physical computing’? In what ways do they embody different ideas of

  • the computer

  • physicality

  • relationships to technology

  • role of the artist

 

In Art

‘Wearables’ and performance

Atsuko Tanaka, Electric Dress, 1957

New forms of Interactivity

Daniel Rozin, Wooden Mirror, 1999 (this version)

Exploring the Materiality of Computers

Addie Wagenknech, xxxx.xxx, 2014

 

Is this affordance?

Why are we talking about affordance? One of the interesting things about physical computing is the way it can make us think about the way that we ‘fit in’ to the world and how we understand action.

Let’s contrast Norman’s view of ‘perceived affordance’ with Suchman’s ideas below. Norman asks,

“When you first see something you have never seen before, how do you know what to do? The answer, I decided, was that the required information was in the world: the appearance of the device could provide the critical clues required for its proper operation.”

But what does he mean by ‘something you have never seen before’. Norman seems to believe that there is an underlying schema to the way the world works. A set of rules that people follow. Suchman however proposes that,

“…the contingency of action on a complex world of objects, artifacts, and other actors, located in space and time, is no longer treated as an extraneous problem with which the individual actor must contend but rather is seen as the essential resource that makes knowledge possible and gives action its sense. […] A basic research goal for studies of situated action, therefore, is to explicate the relationship between structures of action and the resources and constraints afforded by material and social circumstances.” (Suchman, L. 2007, Human Machine Reconfigurations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 177)

 Doing Physical Computing