[-empyre-] scalable relations-- how doesthis matter?(orde-materialize?)

Christina McPhee christina at christinamcphee.net
Wed Feb 11 02:50:29 EST 2009

dear all,

Thanks Micha for writing, super interesting .

> Micha wrote:
>  When I read discussion large scale data analysis as aesthetic  
> practice, I have some concern about the loss of the richness of  
> singular experiences and events with which I associate most  
> performance art, which often involves a situated political and  
> ethical context."

Christiane  Paul observes:
>  I often sense a longing for embodiment in audiences' reactions to  
> this processing. I would argue that data is always embodied and has  
> a very real effect on our lives (along the lines of Foucault's bio  
> politics). I think new media art has addressed or struggled with  
> this tension between the virtual, connected, collective and the  
> embodied, singular, personal for quite some time. I don't think  
> there is a simple formula for creating art that resolves this  
> tension, I see it more as an important phenomenon that needs to be  
> explored on the level f the artwork and the audience.

At the moment my small but merry band of undergrad  students (film and/ 
or game majors)  are making flash and html based games exploring  
narrativity ... the other day this process led to an intense  
discussion on how kids born in the nineties don't have an experience  
of the old story based , high content  video games (like Broderbund's  
Gabriel Knight, Lara Croft, etc) .. where the CGI was relatively  
primitive and the writing had to be really, really strong -- as they  
said the content was the best part of it-- and this was immersive for  
them .. all born in the late eighties, now around 20/21 years old.      
The old story based games are dead.

They reported that they feel a disconnect with current games despite   
intense verisimilitude (at least on the level of 3 d rendering)--  
because the personal adventure isn't playing out on such a minimal  
topologic space which unfolds mainly as story line (take this  
talisman, open door, ask question, etc etc).

Two of the students are teaming up to resuscitate and visually/ 
sonically animate a  version of Zork ( from 1981 or so...reaching back  
to pre-graphics days_).

> - the question is how self-reflexive an artist needs to be about the  
> process; meaning, do the assumptions or the subjectivity of the  
> point of view need to become a subject of the analysis itself? (I'm  
> not suggesting w should get into a discussion of relativity theory ;)

Another quite interesting view of mutual subjectivity and social  
dynamic  in new media design comes from Josh McVeigh-Schulz. Josh is  
in the MFA program here at UC Santa Cruz and works with Warren Sack  
and Sharon Daniel, two of the artists featured in Christiane's  
exhibition, as Christiane notes extensively in her most recent posts.

  Josh has been developing a project called "Synaptic Crowd."  I  
really like how Josh is troubled by this very problem of subjectivity  
and propelled by it to look for 'synaptic ' principles in his design  
research. Josh writes,

"My research seeks to understand how performers’ impression management
strategies adapt to the contextual uncertainty of distributed  
audiences. I address this
question by designing interactive systems that mediate distributed  
audiences in novel
ways. For my MFA thesis in UC Santa Cruz’s Digital Arts and New Media  
program, I
am working with Warren Sack and Sharon Daniel to build a mobile  
interface which
crowd-sources the traditional vox pop (“on the street”) video  
interview. Titled Synaptic
Crowd: Vox Pop Experiments, the project enables groups to conduct  
collaboratively through the phone of a remote camera operator. Using  
SMS and a
VoiceXML driven mobile interface, participants are able to nominate  
and vote on
potential questions and then listen to the answer over their phone  
while they formulate
follow up questions. I’m interested in how delegating the  
responsibility of question
formation to a collective body will transform the social dynamics of  
interactions. I’m also interested in thinking about how this system  
enables new ways for
distributed groups to intervene in public space."

And he goes on a bit later:

"I’m interested in thinking about how distributed audiences
could participate in interview encounters beyond simple question  
formation and voting.
For example, how might a distributed audience convey aggregated non- 
verbal emotional
cues? Experimenting with various data visualization models (either  
through visual or
audio modalities) might enable distributed audiences to have a more  
visceral engagement
with remote interview subjects. Examples of this kind of augmentation  
might include
various means of representing nonverbal communication (laughter,  
attention, eye-lines,
distraction, etc.) as abstracted visual or audio signals."

Something here about how communication moves from an 'abstraction' of  
'signal' to 'embodiment' and back again seems to be a core clue in the  
mystery of how contemporary art in general , including new media,  
provokes and includes even as it is a constantly moving target  
(relativity pace Christiane)--.  Maybe these communicative moves are  
scalable only through augmented
visuality, as Josh suggests here... ?  or is the medium of q and a  
distributed call and response in itself scalable  even without visuals?

OrThe visuals could be part of a spectacle (carried by news  mass  
media)- as in the Facebook organized flash mob 'silent dj' events now  
happing in London at the major tube stops, such as  LIverpool Street.
See  http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/02/09/uk.station.flashmob/index.html

  LONDON, England (CNN) -- Thousands of dancers jammed a major London  
train station in a Facebook-driven "flashmob" mimicking an  
advertisement for a phone company.
Thousands of people attended Friday's silent disco.

And the event last Friday evening was so successful that another is  
planned for next Friday in Trafalgar Square in central London. Plus, a  
group has been set up to organize another one at Liverpool Street  
Station a week later.

Videos posted on the social-networking site showed Liverpool Street  
Station completely filled with people, counting down the seconds until  
the clock showed 7 p.m., then dancing to music on their mp3 players as  
the hour struck.

The sheer scale of the event came as a complete surprise to the  
organizer, a 22-year-old Facebook user who identified himself only as  
Crazzy Eve.

"I was watching TV and the T-Mobile advertisement came up and I  
thought, hm, let's get my friends down to Liverpool Street and do a  
little dance," he told CNN by phone. He posted the event on Facebook  
and invited his friends, who invited their friends, he said, and so on  
until thousands of people had been told of the plan.

"At a quarter to seven people just flocked into the station like  
someone opened a plughole and the water went out," he said. "They just  
kept coming in like sheep. As it grew and grew, I just thought, 'This  
is going to be huge.'" iReport.com: Were you there? Send your photos  
and video

His main memory of the event is "the volume of people -- you couldn't  
see the floor," he said.

He left after 15 minutes -- the scheduled ending time -- for fear of  
the police, he said, adding that he had deleted his name from the  
event Web site and refused to identify himself to CNN for the same  

"The entire main concourse was packed full of people dancing, cheering  
and screaming," ...

> Christiane
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Christina McPhee

DANM Digital Arts and New Media
Porter Faculty Services
University of California at Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

001 805 878 0301
skype:  naxsmash

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