[-empyre-] Johannes Birringer, forwarded post

This is a fascinating discussion.
"Instruments" -- the term is often used now when we think of creating/composing
interactive environments and architectures using certain devices (motion sensing,
sensors, infra red, or machine vision systems) which invite or ask the visitor to
become active in a space (sensorially exploring it and learning how one's motion or
gesture affects feedback & media output or behaviors of the system).
"Intrumentalizing" such viewer or visitor behavior (and viewer is not quite the
correct term as such architectures often work synaesthetically and use sound
diffusion and sonic events-- urging us to think more about acoustics and the
psychology of acoustic experience) raises a political issue that seems connected to
the negative meaning the term received in Marxist critiques. But I quite agree with
Sally Jane that the composition (or programming) of a "space" and the events that
might happen in it needs to be seen on other levels. Musically, the term instrument
is closer to the creative and even virtuosic use that a "performer" in such an
envionment might make of the sensorial interfaces. In such cases, in interactive
active design, the issue generally turns on the gesture-controlled parameterization
of the real-time system space and what will happen in it.

in some installations however the "instrument" for the visitor is not so easy to
learn or "control", if you think, for example, of Ryoji Ikeda's work. Ikeda's sonic
spaces, I agree with SJ, surely "hyperinstrumentalize" our perceptions. They blind
the brain.

How would this now relate to "mediaskins" and surfaces, if surface evokes a tactile
sensory perception, and then a visual and acoustic one of course. I would like to
hear more about these surfaces and how artists are "composing" such tactile image
spaces or architectural spaces or the inscriptions that run on them (LED work,
projections work, etc).

Hugh Davies's "Map-Me" work (Analogue Art Map) is intriguing, since the whole
question on "mapping" data in interface design is central to the social
configuration of analogue and digital environments. What is the intention behind
creating a physical Myspace or Facebook....>>user friendly social art in public
areas - Analogue Art Map seeks to use non
digital media to discuss digital culture and technologies with a particular lean
towards mapping spaces>> ... and isn't it interesting that such "map making" in
public areas (office spaces? shopping malls?) wouldn't necessarily be considered
art at all, but how strong is its criticality? how does such a practice "discuss"
digital culture" ?

pervasive games?

Again, what I have seen here rarely can be said to include a critical or political
dimension unless you define "self-reflectiveness" as a critical idiom (which after
conceptual art and after the postmodern sunset sounds quite unconvincing) or think
of countergaming or retroengineering as a model of intervention into the rule-based
protocols and action dynamics of gaming. How to remap a game or game space to make
the "bee not be completely taken by the honey"?

Distracted attention may not be so good for gaming. It then depends on how you want
to produce pleasure in a retroengineered game. I can't speak for architecture, I
have not seen that many buildings or spaces that invite playing/living in fantasy.

But i know that a good number of digital artists are exploring game environments and
hacking into game engines. I watched a group this summer working on a virtual
environment ("Daedelus ex machina", created by Nancy Mauro-Flude, Walter Langelaar,
Scot Cotterell) which in a most facinating manner "mapped" the actual building where
we worked into a digital game / VR space and then sought to introduce real time
physical "interventions" into the game architecture (cf.
http://interaktionslabor.de/ and http://www.lowstandardnet/daedalus/).... In the
words of the designers:
"In a classical 3D virtual game-space we embed the formal 'documentary real-time'
affect a webcam supposes, with fictional and subjective elements such as live
audio, intimate gesture, and location changes spurred by the narrative reality of
the performative event. The live performer acts in relation to human interface
devices (HID) - objects that are embedded with sensors. These networked objects are
spread around the stage and interface with modified videogame software that allow
for a comportment of physical and digital synthesis and act as sonic and visual
emulators with the screen 's point of view........"

I saw early test rehearsals with Nancy Mauro-Flude performing a "fantasy" woman
character moving into and out of this strange VR environment that looks like our
building but had become immaterial, a strange maze. Other actors or visitor could
join in (via network connection), and such pervasiveness, if this is an example of
pervasive gaming, is quite paradoxical.

What does one pervade? where does one wade? the VR environment is an architecture
I can't say too much about, it seems to escape reason and is socially ineffective if
devoid of context and function and pleasure.
As as non-militant, creative and/or user friendly collaborative space, a mystery
space, etc., it could become useful if it is adaptable. In last mont's discussion
on Second Life, i was waiting to hear about those processes of adaptation, and why
so many apparently would want to "live" (for a little while) in a synthetic safe VR
world. Not all may be safe either.

The "virtual" now seems to gather strength and attract all kinds of ideological

Johannes Birringer -- Timothy Murray Professor of Comparative Literature and English Director of Graduate Studies in Film and Video Curator, The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, Cornell Library 285 Goldwin Smith Hall Cornell University Ithaca, New York 14853

office: 607-255-4086
e-mail: tcm1@cornell.edu

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