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Noun- The transmission of signal. An act of passing something on. Collins Dictionary

When given this assignment title I was already experimenting with web cameras and their use as a sensor, both as a visual reflection/ mirror, as well as, using the device to relay the position of person/ spectator. This was in reference to the idea of Big Brother and CCTV camera and how they instantly make us feel unsettled. I thought it would be quite an interesting thing to play about with.

This research began with using the web camera as a tracking sensor, creating the role of observer, communicating with Processing to convey the current position of the user, the observed. I uploaded a video of a face staring back from the screen moving through a full 180 degrees to the sketch. Referencing the x coordinate of the user to the frame of the video that meant the face stared directly at the user. This successfully conveyed my idea of making the user aware that they were being watched, not very subtle but a start.

I then thought it interesting to flip this situation giving the observed (the user) power over the observer (the video/ computer). Using the Arduino I made a new mouse for the computer in the form of a gaming control pad, synching the buttons to play different movie clips of the face doing separate natural human acts, sneezing, yawning, winking etc. and the joystick to move the face through 180 degrees through the y and x axis. I wanted to make the control of the screen as obvious as the watching figure was, therefore using a generic controller set-up would allow the spectators capitol to instantly interact with the controller learning its buttons and joystick until hopefully it would become more about looking at the observer than looking at the controller. This idea fresh in my mind due to the recent thinking classes on Heidegger.

Due to my previous lack of experience with writing code for both Arduino and Processing I am relatively happy with the result and feel that this concept of relaying the position of the user and their actions has more to it. I feel that maybe a physical representation may have worked better than the virtual face on screen.

Heidegger Reflection

Alas having no internet for 2 weeks has caused me to get behind on updating posts but here we go!!!

On reflection of the work of Heidegger I am going to look at the computer mouse, buildings and the much older tool the mirror.

The computer mouse as a piece of technology has become invisible within modern society due to societies familiarity with it and its’ constant use both at home and work. It like Heidegger suggests only becomes visible as a piece of technology or a ‘tool’ when it is no longer working correctly. We use a mouse as an extension of ourselves not taking our eyes from the screen, watching the arrow, cursor or the dreaded egg timer move across the screen with the movements of our hand. We hold it but are we consciously aware of its process? I think not. We automatically expect its process to occur due to its embedded status within our daily lives, the ‘tool’ in this case the mouse has slipped from our radar. Heidegger would call this ‘tool’ ready-to-hand. Its’ status however changes to present-at-hand when we perceive the ‘tool’, the mouse, as an object. This occurs when the mouse stops working completely or starts to behave less efficiently due to build up on its sensors interfering with its process slowing its’ panning abilities and performing jerkily. We recognise the object as a thing and do not allow it to return to the status of ready-to-hand until it is fixed.

Another interesting concept is that “the World of tools is an invisible realm from which the visible structure of the world emerges” (p67). When we see say a building or a computer we do not relate these things to the network of things that were needed to create these complex entities. We only see the end product we do not see the soldering iron or the trowel. We ignore the process that so obviously occurred and only relate to the finished object.

The mirror is another interesting ‘tool’, developed by the Romans it seems to have been completely forgotten as a tool, a flat object that reflects what is presented before it so that you can see yourself. The technology to create the mirror is ignored, the mirror becomes invisible as the onlooker stairs past its flat surface into their own face. Its flat surface only visible when it ceases to work correctly, for example when covered in steam or dirt. Or when the silvering process deteriorates with age leaving blemishes. I would be curious to see what Heidegger would class this tool as, as it seems to float between definitions constantly with use.  The user is aware of the object but yet looks beyond it.