[-empyre-] playing out of the frame

Karen O'Rourke mapper at wanadoo.fr
Fri Jul 20 18:07:17 EST 2012

Hello all,

To try and pick up on Sean's, Scott's, Johannes's and Salvatore's posts, 
"blue" and "play" are similarly unattainable, yet desirable. For the 
situationists, play was one of the keys to the 
reclamation/reappropriation of one's time. An early manifesto describes 
psychogeographyas "a science of relations and ambiances" the group was 
developing "to give play in the society of others [/le jeu de société/; 
literally, "the parlor game"] its true meaning: a society founded upon 
play. Nothing is more serious. Amusement is the royal privilege that 
must be made available to everyone."
Today this must seem naive, as several of you suggest, in light of the 
game industry, but play can also be seen as an attitude larger than 
games.  Is it possible to look beyond the French word "jeu" (which 
perpetrates the conflation of terms)? Play can unplug the game, modify 
the rules or adopt another set altogether (children's games consist of 
much rule negotiation). Yet play is a very serious form of engagement. 
Now is there a way back to the screen?


Le 19/07/2012 19:22, Sean Cubitt a écrit :
> Delightful mail from Savatore, and fascinating response from Johannes 
> . .  . Too much to think about (I came in through street theatre: 
> Living Theatre doing Frankenstein and a little later Jérôme Savary's 
> Grand Magic Circus at the Roundhouse,  doing Moïse à Mao -- both in my 
> mind very much out of the Brechtian tradition.
> If tere is a problem, it lies in the way "we" (culture critics) who 
> are so wary of making value judgements, like to describe things we 
> like as "playful", as if that was enough. Play comes in many formsmost 
> of them structuring and ordering, which may well be a good thing, 
> indeed I believe we have an instinct towards order, but like other 
> instincts it can turn nasty -- fascist in this case -- or into its 
> opposite (Freud's entropic death-instinct) - somehting the Living 
> Theatre played on in Frankenstein. Participatory theatre has always 
> felt utopian from Beuys to Boal, because we all need a temporary 
> autonomous zone to make it through the daily Xit.
> There might be another way. If the "private" art of the oil painting 
> can at times give us deep, lasting but very personal experiences on an 
> individual basis, should a"public" art aim to give a slight, passing, 
> but still experiential experience to lots of people? If instead of 
> Wölfflin swooning in front of a statue, a whole population walks six 
> inches to the left of its usual path across a city square . . . .
> One other footnote: as a cinema usher in the 80s, I used to love 
> watching the faces of the audience lit by the big screen. Now on 
> winter's evenings, seeing a face illuminated by a handheld. Both make 
> me think that screening is a mutual thing: that humans are media too, 
> mediating between screens (among other things). Screen images use 
> humans to pass themselves on, to reproduce, specifically because 
> humans can be trusted to mutate whatever they mediate, churn it, 
> forget, misunderstand, misremember, and so when they retell a story or 
> frame a shot in the style of something seen, it is always altered
> Against which we have to place the enormous system of standardisation, 
> patents and copyright, governance and standards bodies, preemptive law 
> suits and the practice of buying out start-ups that militates towards 
> us all mutating furiously in a tiny patch (thinking of Clément's third 
> landscapes) of ground that only masquerades as natural, while in fact 
> based in genetic modification . . .
> Which is perhaps why certain extreme (sometimes extremely formalist) 
> works are as significant as utopian TAZs: Jarman's Blue, for example, 
> on whatever type of screen (I used to screen it from a really poor 
> off-air VHS for years) is always the impossible imagination of blue, 
> in this case as memory of blue in the mind of a blind filmmaker, its 
> purity always only intimated, described, represented, in its absence, 
> by the blue you can see -- the blue of a perfect  sky we yearn to 
> stand under
>  sean
> From: "xDxD.vs.xDxD" <xdxd.vs.xdxd at gmail.com 
> <mailto:xdxd.vs.xdxd at gmail.com>>
> Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au 
> <mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>>
> Date: Wednesday, 18 July 2012 19:55
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au 
> <mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] stepping out of the frame/konnecting airlines
> hi Johannes and everyone!
> On Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 4:32 PM, Johannes Birringer 
> <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk 
> <mailto:Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>> wrote:
> > Surely not in real-time interactive art installations, and
> > I wonder or worry about crowdsourced raising of
> > political consciousness/cognitive compasses, too...
> i'm glad you're bringing this up.
> we obviously know that the objective of neutrality is technically 
> unreachable for human beings, but in our practice we try to be at 
> least honest :)  and highlight all the points of view that we are 
> aware of.
> the case of the technologies i mentioned earlier (harvest real-time 
> info from social networks, use natural language analysis to understand 
> topics/issues and expressions/emotions, make info accessible in a 
> variety of ways, from AR to screens to body augmentations) is no 
> exception. Even considering the fact that it touches many open issues 
> for which we're passionate about ( the dictatorship of the algorithm, 
> privacy/intimacy/anonymity, privately owned public spaces.. and we 
> could go on and on )
> this is why, for example, we used the same exact technologies for 
> radically different projects
> for example as in the Atlas of Rome, where we built a large urban 
> screen in which citizens could publish their visions about the city in 
> a variety of ways
> http://www.artisopensource.net/2010/06/13/atlante-dell-visioni-atlas-of-the-visions/
> or as in VersuS, where we analyzed the digital life of the city of 
> Rome during the violent riots in the city of Rome on October 15th 2011
> http://www.artisopensource.net/2011/11/06/versus-the-realtime-lives-of-cities/
> but also as in "Enlarge your Consciousness"
> http://www.artisopensource.net/2012/02/12/enlarge-your-consciousness-in-4-days-4-free-2/
> here we used the same technologies to sell unaware social network 
> users' emotional states for 9.99 euros at the Artefiera contemporary 
> arts fair in Bologna, capturing their emotional flows as expressed on 
> Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare and basically, turning them into human 
> tamagotchis.
> we sold hundreds of them at the fair. and the most common question we 
> received was "but... i could be in one of those boxes?" exposing 
> multiple interesting things about the common perception of the 
> processes which are behind these techniques and methodologies.
> Yet we perceive opportunity and, most of all, possibility behind this.
> but it's an "old" question, isn't it? Is the "hammer" a tool to drive 
> nails into the walls or to smash your head?
> Fact is that all these technologies correspond to specific business 
> and strategic models which are relevant to corporations, large 
> cultural operators, institutions, governments and many other forms of 
> "power".
> this obviously applies to screens, as well: fixed, urban, ubiquitous, 
> body-related, square, key-stoned and frameless
> for example, sticking to my personal research focus, Mitchell's idea 
> of the City of Bits, or of McCullough's Digital Ground, or of 
> Zook&Graham's DigiPlace are very interesting when brought to the 
> domain of the screen, especially of the urban and ubiquitous quality, 
> as they in someway describe the possibility to achieve a 
> multi-layered, emergent version of the city, in which multiple points 
> of view can be freely expressed across cultures and perspectives.
> This is a very interesting point of view, as it places enormous 
> questions on the practices of design and architecture which are 
> authoritarian by their own nature: the Designer and the Architect, in 
> the end, make the Plan that will shape what i see/traverse/live in the 
> city.
> There is a wonderful liason with this concept in Clément's Third 
> Landscape, where he describes the presence of natural environments in 
> urban contexts. Normally nature is present in cities under the form of 
> synthetic administrative boundaries (the flowers at the center of the 
> roundabout, the vegetables in the supermarkets, the "park").
> The Third Landscape, instead, is a place for possibility and 
> opportunity, and it is emergent, real-time, temporary, autonomous (the 
> grass in-between the bricks).
> And it is the possibly most important factor in determining our 
> cities' biodiversity.
> One thing about the Third Landscape is that its existence really 
> depends on us and on our "sight", and our sensibility in seeing and 
> recognizing it while we lead our daily lives in cities.
> Seeing creates a perception (of the "possibility" of this kind of 
> natural environment) and, thus, a spatial affordance ("this type of 
> natural environment can exist") and, in turn, a series of critical, 
> constructivist practices which can be based onto it (one for all: 
> urban gardening).
> I see a beautiful parallel between this and the theme of the screen in 
> urban contexts, be it fixed or ubiquitous or of the many types which 
> can exist nowadays.
> people constantly re-program public space. mobile devices and screens 
> radicalize this process. If you're jogging in the middle of a park, 
> you receive an office phone call on your mobile phone, the park 
> transforms into an ubiquitous office for a few minutes, careless of 
> urban planning, zoning and administrative boundaries.
> In the same way, if your pocketable (or wall-mounted) screen enables 
> you to freely and easily perceive (or "publish") multiple, 
> independent, autonomous, emergent interpretations of the same space, 
> space transforms, and other practices can emerge.
> in my research, this greatly enhances the ideas of de 
> Certeau's "strategies vs tactics", of Lefebvre's "social construction 
> of space"  and of Soja's "Third Space".
> In this, great insights can be collected by focusing on de Certeau's 
> idea of "daily practices", meaning that it is interesting how Lefebvre 
> wanted to capitalize on these kinds of possibilites for the sake of a 
> political agenda and, instead, in de Certeau, politics should emerge 
> from the creativity of our daily practices, in an interesting inversion.
> and, so:
>     whether the vision of the ubiquitous urban
>     screen-net-to-end-all-screens is a globalized metropolitan vision
>     for the hyperdeveloped, leaving out the regional, the less
>     developed, underdeveloped and non developed (along these predicted
>     lines)?
> this is focal issue to confront, in the wider range of issues which we 
> commonly call digital inclusion and digital access.
> both at technical and cultural levels.
> "solutions" can never be as simple as "smartphone", "urban screen" or 
> "app". They need to confront with the context (cultural, political, 
> social, economic...) and, probably, the architectural diagrams of 
> "solutions" should have a big box at their base with the word 
> "anthropologist" inside it, before sensors, cloud computing, expert 
> systems, screens of any form and type. And, possibly, a box with 
> "citizens", as well :)
>     And Salvatore mentioned a performance in which bodies
>     "displayed"... (body of the performer was a "display" [screen?] of
>     user interactions and, in turn, everything that was heard/shown as
>     sound and video of the performance was generated my the dancer's
>     movements and biological data.);  Salvatore, could you please
>     elaborate on that, and how you, and others here, think about the
>     performance side of interactive behaviors and what they might or
>     might not indicate?  Following Sean's critique, have consumer
>     relations changed at all in principle?
> In Turner's anthropological definition, performance is liminal: it 
> exposes conflicts and highlights discontinuities with predetermined order.
> I particularly enjoyed Luisa Valeriani's book "Performers".
> Performers break crystallizations of meaning, recombining imaginaries 
> in creative ways: they subvert by playing. Knowledge is not confronted 
> through academic discussions, but through practical performative actions.
> Nowadays, consumers are performers, and business models are based on 
> this. "Products" have changed, and have become "places for performance".
> Even more, people's (users', consumers') performance has become the 
> "product". Think Facebook, the iPhone etc. When we observe iPhone's 
> design with our students for the first time we really focus on the 
> fact that most of it's success is due to the fact that it's "empty", 
> ready to be used by its "owner" to express him/herself by populating 
> it with apps which describe personality, desires, perspectives, points 
> of view, daily practices, needs.... iPhone is a performative object.
> and (coincidence?) it is a screen. there's practically nothing more to 
> it, than a screen.
> a performative screen.
> now: iPhone is, obviously, a very controlled screen
> but its characteristic of being "an empty, ready to be performed, 
> screen which constitutes a platform for personal expression" changed 
> everything.
> We see the scenarios of interactivity and (ubiquitous) screens along 
> these directions, with the idea of exploring spaces/modalities for 
> liberation of these "platforms for expression".
> in the example of the performance i mentioned, all was dedicated to this.
> radicalizing the idea of reactive/interactive environments, we tried 
> to create constructivist experience which would shape the sensorial 
> environment according to people's interactions in extreme ways, to 
> disclose a set of opportunities which we perceived as being critical.
> as suggested in the practice of multiple performers before us, 
> including Stelarc, Orlan, Marcel-li Antunez Roca and others, as well 
> as in the ones of queer performers, the body is a fundamental space 
> for construction, resonating with the ideas of architecture and 
> mutation to explore the possibilities for expression and liberation.
> this is why the "construction" was performed at the level of the body.
> people could use interactive toys (interfaces and gadgets) to generate 
> stimuli which propagated onto the body of a performer. Patterns of 
> stimuli were interpreted as symbols of a choreography. The effect was 
> that multiple people could establish physical dialogues to transform 
> the center of focus of the performance: the body of the performer. 
> This, in turn, was observed through sensors, whore readings were used 
> as parameters of the generative sounds and visuals which filled all 
> sides of the environment. Furthermore, sounds and visuals were 
> designed to create feedback loops with people, counterbalancing their 
> interactions (oversimplifying it: lack of interaction=strong, arousing 
> A/V stimulations; lots of interaction=soothing, meditative A/V).
> on one side: the necessity to collaborate (each interface produced 
> only parts of the stimulation patterns, so that people contributed to 
> parts of the symbols of choreography, with each action producing 
> visible results and only coordinated actions produced predictable 
> results once the collaborative approach was understood) produced 
> performative dialogues among individuals, who worked together to 
> achieve agreed transformations in the body-->space
> on the other side: there was an untold story which was clearly perceived
> this was a mediated, authoritarian experience.
> we decided all the parameters,algorithms, colors, sounds, strategies etc.
> to "modify and liberate space" people could have just stopped using 
> the technologies and starting to physically touch/move the body of the 
> performer, or even radicalizing everything and tearing the whole place 
> up in pieces, turning the location into a chaotic, physical, 4D screen 
> displaying in real-time their strong desire for liberated spaces.
> We were prepared for this option, but it didn't happen. Yet we 
> received explicit questions about it. People, who enjoyed and actively 
> participated to the performance, explicitly asked about this 
> possibility: "Could I just have stepped on stage and moved the 
> performer's body with my hands? What would have happened?"
> This was an extremely interesting response for us, as it displayed how 
> these kinds of experiences are still authoritarian, in the sense of 
> "design": they are walled gardens, aquariums, in which "designers" 
> establish various degrees of mediated freedom according to which 
> "users" are able to move, act, express, perform, inform, communicate, 
> interact.
> This has been enlightening for us, and we transformed our practice 
> towards different forms of performance/interaction, aiming at creating 
> frameworks for expressions under the form of free/libre tools, 
> hardware/software and methodologies for autonomous, ubiquitous 
> expression which are free to use and which are, after all, our "artworks".
> After that show we stopped producing "closed" artworks and started to 
> adopt the methodology of 1) present opportunities 2) workshop to 
> disseminate and recombine knowledge 3) disappear 4) co-create scenario
> in this the idea of screen becomes of fundamental importance, as we 
> refer to urban contexts and with emergent, open, recombinant, 
> temporary communities which take active part in the performance (be it 
> about art, consumption, city governance... ) by "writing" onto the 
> world using ubiquitous publishing techniques and by becoming aware of 
> the multiple layers of info/action created by other actors through 
> "interactive screens" of multiple types, such as the fixed ones in the 
> Atlas of Rome, or the synthetic sense we created with the Electronic Man
> after writing this, i just realized i wrote an enormously long email!
> sorry! :)
> ( passionate about the topic.... )
> i'll just stop now
> all the best!
> Salvatore
> -- 
> Salvatore Iaconesi
> Art is Open Source
> http://www.artisopensource.net
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20120720/9f655901/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list