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Seminar Discussion 05: Mind Map

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For the creative practice project, an audio-visual installation will construct a representational experience. The idea is that it will be set in a small, dark room, with infra red sensors that will trigger sounds and images that audience participant will experience whilst walking around. Building on the semester one idea, one possibility is that a mask containing a tilt sensor will be worn by said audience member in order to represent Sartre’s concept of “being-for-others”. Some possible ideas are that in the centre of the room a light filled box will contain laser cut words that project onto the wall; this is where the philosopher Derrida can be referenced.The idea of the project is that language can be researched in context of the constricts of “ideology” and marginalisation. The installation will function – representationally – as an immersive, sensory, dystopian reconstruction of internalised experience caused by the constructs of discourse. It will also reference the permanence of experience.

Seminar Discussion 04: Dourish (2001)

• HCI draws upon human skills and abilities, exploiting familiarity. Because embodiment is present at all times, it is not only necessary but both fundamental to and constitutive of interactive design, transferring social/perceptive phenomena to tangible computing. Embodied phenomena are encountered directly: occurring in real time and space, embodiment is that which happens when a subject’s focussing on another person or object causes them to become unaware of the connecting process (ie. a person writes with a pen; a person shakes hands with another person but is not consciously aware of this embodied object). At this point the person a) momentarily loses focus of his or her own body and b) participates in the embodiment of the connecting object in order to focus on the outcome.

• Familiarity is the central focus with these HCI technologies. For example, metaphors from our real world are used in programmes such as adobe photoshop (paintbrush and pen tool etc.). Dourish outlines a distinct difference between ‘using the real world as metaphor’ and as ‘medium’ in terms of design products or interactive technologies: using the real world as a metaphor involves representations of the real world in afore mentioned programmes, but using it as a medium could concern virtual realities wherein the participant interacts and acts with technology in the real word (the two worlds meet).

• To provide a theoretical backdrop, Dourish turns to phenomenology in a broad sense, that is, objects of consciousness and our mental experiences of those objects. Elaborating on Descartes’ subjective consciousness and its uncertainty about external reality, Dourish reads Husserl’s noema (objects of consciousness) and noesis (our experiences of those objects). In order to examine this, Dourish argues, it is important to recognize that the world assumes the existence of “perceived objects on the basis of perception”; it is the outcome of phenomenology to “explore how the natural attitude comes about in the first place”. Dourish references Husserl’s parallel between acts of perception and objects of perception; to remember something is not the same as to experience it.

In terms of my own research I could relate the concept of embodiment to memory and experience. And also on the practical side through live performance that is connected to forms of media.

Seminar Discussion 03: Multi; Inter; Trans – Disciplinary

BASARAB NICOLESCU discusses the difference between the different modes of combinations of disciplines:

Nicolescu, B. (1998) Ciret: Bulletin Interactif du Centre International de Recherches et Études transdisciplinaires [online]. Available from: http://ciret-transdisciplinarity.org/bulletin/b12c8.php [Accessed 6 December 2013]

Multidisciplinary can be described as something that can be viewed in blending perspectives from different disciplines, whilst bringing a furthering of one particular discipline:

“Pluridisciplinarity concerns studying a research topic not in only one discipline but in several at the same time . For example, a painting by Giotto can be studied not only within art history but within history of religions, European history, and geometry. Or else Marxist philosophy can be studied with a view toward blending philosophy with physics, economics, psychoanalysis or literature. The topic in question will ultimately be enriched by blending the perspectives of several disciplines. Moreover, our understanding of the topic in terms of its own discipline is deepened by a fertile multidisciplinary approach. Multidisciplinarity brings a plus to the discipline in question (the history of art or philosophy in our examples), but this “plus” is always in the exclusive service of the home discipline. In other words, the multidisciplinary approach overflows disciplinary boundaries while its goal remains limited to the framework of disciplinary research.” (Nicolescu 1998)

Some ‘multidisciplinary’ examples could include Julius Caesar, for example: the Shakespeare play can be studied in view of either English Literature, Drama and Performing Arts, Music, or Theatre Production. Perhaps a stronger example would be the body of work of Jaques Lacan, whose work could be studies in context of Cultural Studies, Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, or English and Film Studies with the view of furthering an investigation of one of these disciplines. ‘Interdisciplinary,’ on the other hand, is perhaps more complex:

“Interdisciplinarity has a different goal from multidisciplinarity. It concerns the transfer of methods from one discipline to another . One can distinguish three degrees of interdisciplinarity: a) a degree of application . For example, when the methods of nuclear physics are transferred to medicine it leads to the appearance of new treatments for cancer; b) an epistemological degree . For example, transferring methods of formal logic to the area of general law generates some interesting analyses of the epistemology of law; c) a degree of the generation of new disciplines . For example, when methods from mathematics were transferred to physics mathematical physics was generated, and when they were transferred to meterological phenomena or stock market processes they generated chaos theory; transferring methods from particle physics to astrophysics produced quantum cosmology; and from the transfer of computer methods to art computer art was derived. Like pluridisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity overflows the disciplines but its goal still remains within the framework of disciplinary research . It is through the third degree that interdisciplinarity contributes to the disciplinary big bang.” (Nicolescu 1998)

Interdisciplinary can be described as transferring the methods of one discipline to further the outcome of another; for example, in order to produce a piece of art one can use computing techniques such as programming or stop motion to compose the art work. Transdisciplinary, on the other hand, furthers all disciplines equally, creating something new that unifies the disciplines:

“As the prefix “trans” indicates, transdisciplinarity concerns that which is at once between the disciplines, across the different disciplines, and beyond all discipline. Its goal is the understanding of the present world, of which one of the imperatives is the unity of knowledge.” (Nicolescu 1998)

The difference in ‘transdisciplinarity’, opposed to multi, or inter-disciplinarity, is that the outcome will be more revolutionary; that is, it will produce a creation that will have a significant impact on more than one discipline, perhaps creating a new genre entirely.

Seminar Discussion 01: John Maeda (2012) and Amy Tan (2008)

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It is the given seminar task to highlight three interesting points from each of the talks.

John Maeda: How Art, Design and Technology Inform Creative Leaders TED (2012)

1. “Its not about the new or the old, its about what is good.” (Maeda 2012)

Maeda addresses the difference between what is considered ‘new’ and ‘old’ media, but argues that we should not only focus on either individual element but a combination of the two. In other words, we should disregard whether or not the item is dated or modern, but we should use whatever works best.

2. “Leaders, what we do, is connect improbable connections and hope that something will happen.” (Maeda 2012)

Outlining the difference between a practitioner and a leader, Maeda suggests those works which excel attempt bold combinations or attempts at fusing new combinations. Art is about experimenting and finding new outcomes so we should bear this in mind when creating.

3. “Art and design makes you think like this, find different systems like this…” (Maeda 2012)

Art and design is about thinking creatively; approaching technology through design allows us to come up with new concepts or ideas. Maeda walks us through some of his designs from the 90s, demonstrating how creative inspiration can prompt us to look at roles/purposes of technology differently via his experimental keyboard that rearranges letters creatively (as opposed to the usual role of the keyboard as an integral part of a word-processor).

On another note, one can perceive media from in view of that which Heidegger describes as “Enframing”:

“If modern physics must reign itself ever increasingly to the fact that its realm of representation remains inscrutable and incapable of being visualised, this resignation is not dictated by any committee of researchers. It is challenged forth by the rule of Enframing, which demands that nature be orderable as a standing-reserve… nature reports itself in some way or other that… remains orderable as a system of information.” (Heidegger 1977, p. 23).

Enframing – or challenging – can perhaps be viewed in terms of technology and media; media platforms today organise and store information in order to re-present, reshuffle, re-order, and to visualise it. Perhaps, then, it can be suggested that modern technology challenges the way in which we view our scientific understanding of the world in order to reform our ideas.

Amy Tan: Where Does Creativity Hide? TED (2008)

1. “Some people say the creativity may be a function of some other neurological quirk… that you have a little bit of psychosis or depression.” (Tan 2008)

“Also one of the principles of creativity is to have a little childhood trauma.” (Tan 2008)

Tan discusses origins of creativity, and the reasons behind wanting to create something. Tan references Plath, who is perhaps the most obvious example of cathartic writing with The Bell Jar (also one of my favourite novels). Creative writing, or any kind of art, perhaps allows us to draw upon our own life experiences which can be fictionalised.

2. “It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t very creative because all I could really do was represent in a very one on one way.” (Tan 2008)

Linking writing to art, Tan references a childhood drawing of an animal, stating that drawing is perhaps one dimensional in terms of representation. Media and technology allow for a new dimension of interactivity, which is more diverse. Writing, as well, can allow for different perspectives in the same text.

3. “You ask what its about but if you try too hard you will focus only on the about.”

Acknowledging that its important to have a purpose for creativity, Tan argues that it is also important not to focus too much on the reason behind creative work; in doing so, it is possible to – ironically – lose creativity. By this I mean that the author or artist doesn’t want to give too much away too soon, otherwise there would be no point in the piece. In other words, the creator must find a balance between concealing the revealing creative tension in the work.

Relatedly, Heidegger articulates the art of ‘concealing’ and ‘revealing’:

“The question concerning technology is the question concerning the constellation in which revealing and concealing, in which the coming to presence of truth, comes to pass.” (Heidegger 1997, p.33)

Bibliography

Heidegger, M. (1977) ‘The Question Concerning Technology.’ In Lovitt, W. The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. London: Harper Perennial, p.3-35.

Maeda, J. (2012) How art, technology, and design inform creative leaders. [TED] Posted October 2012. Available from: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_maeda_how_art_technology_and_design_inform_creative_leaders.html [Accessed 10 November 2013]

Tan, A. (2008) Where Does Creativity Hide? [TED] Posted April 2008. Available
from: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_tan_on_creativity.html [10 Nov 2013].

Seminar Discussion 02: Rokeby (1996)

Seminar 2: Rokeby, David. (1996) Transforming Mirrors: 
Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media [Oniline]
Available from: http://www.davidrokeby.com/mirrors.html [Accessed 4 November 2013]

It is the given seminar task to identify three interesting points from Rokeby’s text.

Audience Reading

1. As opposed to creating one relationship between artwork and audience – a reflection or ‘active reading,’ – an interactive design produces a ‘refractive’ reaction by the audience; that is, there are “a number of alternatives” (Rokeby 1996) for the audience to generate meaning as opposed to only one:

“This program is, in most cases, a static text which is read and interpreted by the computer. Each reading of the program by the computer depends on the activity of the spectator. Like the artist constructing an ‘apparatus of signs’ which anticipates and supports subjective readings, the interactive artist, according to pioneer interactive artist Myron Krueger, “anticipates the participant’s possible reactions and composes different relationships for each alternative.”7(Rokeby,1996)

In other words, not everyone who interacts with the piece of art will react in the same way, allowing the work to have a multitude of effects on a range of people. In TEXT RAIN for example, some group letters together and others reflect them off new surfaces. (Bolter and Gromala 2002).

Artist Role

2. As well as transforming the role of the audience, interactive media also transforms the role of the artist. Put simply, the audience is not limited to only one outcome of their work, but can provide multiple outcomes for the audience to shape and determine the function of the piece:

“As the role of the spectator is questioned and transformed, so is the role of the artist. Most artworks start as a set of possibilities: the blank canvas, the empty page, the block of marble, etc. The act of realizing a work is a process of progressively narrowing the range of possibilities by a series of creative choices until one of the possible has been manifested in the finished work. One might say that the interactive artist decides at some point in this process not to choose from among the remaining possibilities but to create some sort of audience-actuated choosing mechanism.” (Rokeby 1996)

Also, the role of the artist has been discussed from two different perspectives; it has been debated whether or not interactive media design allows the audience freedom or alternatively whether it is just a more subtle form of control:

“The static artwork can be looked at in two opposing ways. It can be seen as authoritarian in its refusal to reflect the presence and actions of the spectator, or, it can be seen as giving the spectator complete freedom of reflection and interpretation by not intervening in this process. An interactive artwork can likewise be seen as loosening the authority of the traditional work, or as interfering in the interactor’s subjective process of interpretation.”

The Illusion of Individuality

3. Rokeby argues that as well as being the receiver of the art work the audience additionally become part-creators of the interactive piece. This is because, Rokeby explains, the audience have freedom of choice throughout the process; that is, the audience can influence or create desired outcome:

“There is no question that people are given a tangible and ‘empowering’ experience of creativity from an interaction of this sort. This is precisely because the medium is ‘restricted’. Presenting a limited range of possibilities reduces the likelihood that the interactor will run up against a creative block, and allows the medium to guide the inexperienced hand of the interactor, reducing the fear of incompetence. Such a creative experience is more powerful than traditional examples of ‘guiding’ media, such as paint by-numbers, because the interactor makes decisions throughout the creative process. The interactor is therefore, to some degree, genuinely reflected in the resulting creation.”

Alternatively, however, Rokeby illustrates an example of the way in which audiences can be ‘duped’ into thinking they have control over the artwork, when in fact creativity through participation is limited. In below example, Apple create the illusion that its audience interacting with the software are producing works of individual expression, when actually all that has happened is the re-presentation of a selection of designs by Apple:

“For the first year, MacPaint-produced posters were everywhere, an apparent explosion of the freedom of, and possibility for self-expression. But while the MacPaint medium reflected the user’s expressive gestures, it also refracted them through its own idiosyncratic prism… The similarities overpowered the differences. Since then, graphics programs for computers have become much more transparent, but that initial creative fervour that MacPaint ignited has abated. The restrictions that made MacPaint easy to use were also the characteristics that ultimately limited its usefulness as a medium for personal expression.”

Such a point can be linked back to that of Adorno, who discusses the standardisation of popular culture. Adorno discusses his concept of ‘pseudo-individualisation,’ which is a term he uses to describes an invisible ideology that masks standardised products, leading the masses to believe it appeals to their supposed individuality in an ironic sense. (1941 cited by Storey 2009).

Bibliography

Adorno, T. (1941) On Popular Music. In: J, Storey. (2009) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader. 4th Edition. England: Pearson Education Ltd., p. 63 – 74.

Bolter, Jay David and Gromala, Diane. (2002) Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency. The MIT Press: London, England.

Rokeby, David. (1996) Transforming Mirrors: 
Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media [Oniline]
Available from: http://www.davidrokeby.com/mirrors.html [Accessed 4 November 2013]