[-empyre-] stepping out of the frame to shadow play around

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Tue Jul 31 03:46:10 EST 2012

these responses that arrived today were very much appreciated,  thx Baruch and Sean,

and I agree with you, Baruch, that the issue of the "crowd-screen" is a vexing subject, actually, as i find these large controlled stadium-spectaculars quite stupefying (and they seem different from the physical complexities or
"mimeolographies" of standing spectators at a match, say, in the Dortmund football stadium where on the south stand about 25,000 standing fans enact their songs and choreographies). 
But in your comment on human scale-bodily expression, you make some interesting proposals, do you have any examples of your practice?  

When you mentioned the body languages as citizen expression, I was reminded of the notes that Rafael sent us and went to look at his link to the "Caja de arena/Sandbox" on the beach in Santa Monica.
In the video that we see, Rafael talks about the pure joy that people had in just playing around in the sand and with the projected images on the playa (enormous scale versus small sandbox), and many of the
actions i saw there looked amazingly familiar to people playing with their images (and images of others that play along)  --  Rafael mentions the urge to "self-represent" but one can also see how folks "dance" with the
images that others create, at one point we see a young break-dancer dancing in the sand over an image someone else creates, or two people doing a virtual  "jumping rope" with an image, quite amazing how much
fun the beach crowd seemed to have.

(And I say this also after having observed, the other week, how over quite a long time, maybe two hours, a father was helping three young children on a beach in Spain to build sand castles; this was a serious
affair, the father was kind of stage-directing and consulting and encouraging and critiquing, a "lesson" was going on in this performance and the children were probably not aware of the older person's directorship;
in this sense, i also wondered whether any of the folks on the beach in Santa Monica thought about the comment Rafael makes, namely that he tries to subvert surveillance technologies by using these huge
laser projectors, whether they saw themselves playing with the security-screening system, inverted into a kind of beach volleyball here, or whether they enjoyed themselves playing with the interactive camera-capture and projection set up, which is of course often, not always, ubiquitous in many areas of our daily life. And why is there so much hand waving going on, still, after all these years  (e.g. the stadiums, the perplexing, stultefying moments, always captured on TV in every sports event, when spectators see themselves captured on the big screen and wave at themselves..)..

In last week's Frankfurter Allgemeine, a critic wrote an interesting article on "anarchy on the beach,"  claiming that beaches are some of our last "free" spaces in the culture, where elemental human behaviors are expressed (without that there are rules or regulations that would function there) and expressible, in self-organizing swarm like but differentiated and egalitarian behaviors..... ["Die praktizierte Anarchie der Menschen am Strand;" http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/die-dinge-des-sommers-1-die-praktizierte-anarchie-der-menschen-am-strand-11831733.html]

Well, I like the idea of an anarchic beach, but people do bring their sun screens and behave according to invisible self-applied rules and norms. And I do remember how easy it can be to be arrested on a beach (the humor in Louis de Funès'  „Le Gendarme de Saint Tropez“ notwithstanding). Aristide, you had proposed the necessity of finding new norms,  I was hoping you'd comment on that proposal:

>>I think that the most difficult thing is to form norms, not exceptions. I think the culture of gaming may help towards this direction."

Does Rafael's "Sandbox" imply that people know how to inhabit free space and free playing with each other, or that they intuitively generally apply a (moral) knowledge of play/game dependent on rules that they honor?   or invent new ones that one plays shadows with?    

The world of sports of course teaches us the opposite, that rules can be bent in every possible way. Lovely irony that the first gold medal went to Aleksander Winokurow. 

Johannes Birringer 

Baruch schreibt:
The olympic opening crowd-screen would be interesting to discuss....  The bodies of the spectators become part of the screen hardware in a way that they create a kind of visual 'noise' with the generalized reflections off their bodies of the  3x3 LED unit.  Unfortunately this 'noise' potential of the crowd was not much exploited.  The crowd did contribute a  slightly irregular and 'organic' shape to the pixel array
(to respond to Johannes' request to elaborate a little on mimeolography) The artistic strategy of mimeolography I put forth in Gratitude for Technology is a reassertion of the persistence of human scale in contemporary aesthetics.  It attempts (with more than a twist of Kierkegaardian absurdity) to engage the immensities and infinitesimalities (e.g. the size of the 'bailout' and the size of a cpu transistor) we must confront as contemporary citizens  with a expressivity which asserts body qualities and limits. Mimeolography contests the weightlessness of immaterial culture, proposing human beings and body language as a essential counterpart and integrant to visual and textual expression, even in the mathematics of science.

Rafael schreibt:
"Body Movies" may be a successful "urban screen" from the perspective of interaction, --we have almost a hundred hours of video of what people did-- but in my opinion this is not due to the building/screen displaying portraits but due to the shadow play and its relationship to the colossal. I am pretty sure that if we eliminated the tracking systems, images and sound, and just left the shadows it would still be a successful urban intervention. But what if we removed the colossal and added a level of intimacy? The installation "Under Scan" tries that...the screen is your own shadow at its regular scale. Or the newer "Sandbox" keeps the colossal but adds the minuscule in a direct interplay

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