[-empyre-] screens

Sean Cubitt sean.cubitt at unimelb.edu.au
Fri Jul 6 19:39:50 EST 2012

This range-finding function (the same found in auto-focus) is an amazing property – but points towards a key problem of contemporary screens (and most associated hardware): they cannot show vector graphics except by translating to bitmap. As I understand it, the Kinect is a bitmap device, so in that sense tailored for the dominate form of display (even more dominant now, as has been pointed out, the cathode ray tube is on its way out). The demise and all-but-vanishing of the vector screen is a thread to pick up on later


From: Simon Biggs <simon at littlepig.org.uk<mailto:simon at littlepig.org.uk>>
Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>>
Date: Friday, 6 July 2012 08:59
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>>
Subject: [-empyre-] screens

The x-ray isn't a screen per se - although it is often displayed upon one, especially as it is now (like so many imaging systems) entirely digital and no longer employs film.

I've been working recently with the Kinect to develop some new interactive systems. It is a curious device, especially as to how it visualises the world. A key part of its functionality is a high resolution Infra-Red projection system. It projects high powered infra-red light onto the scene in front of it and then scans the returning data as a variable resolution dot matrix, in the process creating a 3D point cloud model of the scene. When varying the resolution dynamically you can produce some quite amazing visual effects that in normal operation of the device are never visible. It is only when you visualise the data cloud you see the visual field. Anyway, when doing this the bodies of people, objects in the visual field, walls and surfaces, all can be seen to function as screens. The dynamically variable projected point cloud appears to crawl over everything and has the visual effect of many hundreds of thousands of small particles interacting with things, and each other, as they collect vital data. Of course this isn't what is happening - the particles are simply the visual representation of the sampling granularity of the system, but the effect is no less compelling for knowing that. In a sense the system is a particle driven vision system, a bit like the pre-Socratic idea that our eyes shoot rays out into the world and it is the echo of these rays, back onto our retinas, that allows us to see things (in some ways a far more interesting model of vision than what we conventionally apprehend). The Kinect literally works like that, turning everything into a screen - not a screen for display but a screen of forensic analysis.



On 5 Jul 2012, at 23:06, Johannes Birringer wrote:

dear all

interesting that a historical look back [Christian's fascinating reference to O.Winter's "Ain't It Lifelike!", and the comments on the cinematograph and X-ray machines, and  the "borderlands of cinema and other screens"] can allow us to reflect, in several ways, on the phenomena of screens and screening and reception (the "acts of viewership"), and whether or not the "spectacle" succeeds (in doing what?)..... I immediately wanted to ask Christian what exactly would be the advantage or success of the the X-ray -- >

The X-ray offered the far more humane element,
the opportunity to break down topics and people into component pairs, and presumably that made it a potential heir to the higher arts. X-ray as entertainment, cinema as medical marvel....[Christian]>>

and how would we understand the function of the x-ray [or medical visualization, or other kinds of "visualization" or simulation or experimentation, if you think for a moment of the Higgs-boson discovery at CERN's Large Hadron Collider yesterday....]  in the context of the debate that Martin proposes:  I feel that Martin wants us to look at the new "screens" and a paradigm shift, and yet i believe this paradigm shift can only be addressed if we sometimes go back to screens and the art of projection (of light) in the not so long history of photography and cinema;   and furthermore, when I read Charlie's  fine posting, on screens as partitions (and the Bartleby story), I couldn;t help thinking of "sound" and all the lovely stories i have read from sound artists/theorists on Pythagoras and acousmatics, the way in which Pythagoras hid from view when he was teaching so that his voice would reach the listeners (not the "viewership', that is) unencumbered.

now, what paradigm then?

Martin schreibt:

Given the growth of mobile and pervasive media forms, all dependent to some degree on screens, this changed condition really forms a new paradigm, variously described by  researchers who now tend to regard the screen as a window into an extended  “Hertzian” space,  ‘hybrid space’, ‘augmented reality’, ‘mixed reality’, ‘pervasive space’; or from the user behaviour end as forming  ‘trajectories’ (Benford) , and even as ‘sculpture’ ( Calderwood) .

The primary role of the screen, as Simon points out, is now one that mediates or remediates the world in a growing number of ways  (although the internet of things and NFS promise to make direct -and screenless-interaction more prevalent)  not as another space like cinema , where fantasy is experienced through a locked and dreamlike suspension, but as a dynamic and changing condition of experience, where the user is interactive or pro-active in creating their own personalised experience.

I am interested in the next week in  examining this changing condition of reception as the key to the phenomenon [...]

This raises some questions. Why is mobile communication dependent on "screens" (what screens, one must ask, once again, like some of you already did)?  Do we really bother to think of our cell phone or Ipads or whatever as "screen media"? or remediation instruments"? i don't think so.  In my mind they carry over, or transport information, such as messages, and sometimes pictures, or sound, and i listen to them.  The sender is hidden, like Pythagoras, or if i am on slype, i look at whoever is talking and communicating, and i generally actually don't view as much as i am writing (on the chat window at same time as talking, to add/expand references and allow me to make notes, as i would with my notebook on  a train ride or when I walk through an art exhibit.  I receive making notes, and later exchange them or think about the experience, i re-play the experiences (in my mind, my memory screens or whatever they are, the films running inside me, not x-rays), like I did after watching the Euro championship matches.   I replayed these matches. In those instances I am not quite the kind of interactive proactive person Martin envisions, but in other instances, giving a certain amount of interactional interfaces that I encounter in my daily life, i might "personalize" my experience or i am actually enslaved by the programming of the interface operation, as i was the other day trying to book a flight on Ryanair which took me hours and was as frustrating as it can be.  The airline online browser thing was doing some "screening" thing on me, that I detested rather thoroughly.

Remediating the world,  can you give examples please, Martin?

with regards

Johannnes Birringer
empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>

Simon Biggs
simon at littlepig.org.uk<mailto:simon at littlepig.org.uk> http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK skype: simonbiggsuk

s.biggs at ed.ac.uk<mailto:s.biggs at ed.ac.uk> Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/ http://www.elmcip.net/ http://www.movingtargets.co.uk/

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