[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 2 on -empyre: New Year/New Tools and Technologies.

Tracey Benson tracey at bytetime.com
Sun Feb 8 19:09:01 AEDT 2015

Hi everyone :-)

Thank you Renate for the introduction and inviting me to participate in a conversation about tools and technologies.

I use a range of software tools in my creative work and rely on a range of online tools to create interactive artworks. Over the last couple of years I have been exploring geo-locative and augmented reality tools to make artworks that can be viewable through hand held devices. An example is a series of augmented reality 'walks' recently created in Dunedin, Auckland and Copenhagen. I am currently using a tool called Aurasma which has its pros and cons, but generally a great tool to use. One of the cons is that it is only available on limited devices and I would like to work with software that is open source, free and accessible to any smart phone or tablet user. To this end, I am now working with a developer in Bangalore, who I met at a recent Ada Initiative ADACamp. Our plan is to create a tool for the purpose of creating an AR walk of Bangalore and our project is titled "Look both ways". We hope that by mid year we will have a pilot ready to test.

There is a philosophy that drives my practice, which is focused on access . In short, I like to think about tools and technologies simply as creative mediums; and that like learning to paint or create a screen print, there is both a technical and a creative process to go through. I also use free tools where possible as I like the idea that anyone can make what I make - DIY. What I find frustrating with so much art that is driven by technology is that the technology limits the exchange between audience and artist; or that it assumes too much from the audience or it doesn't function efficiently. 

In my day job as an online strategist, my focus is on engaging audiences with online tools, so accessibility in a technical and a social sense is essential. The goal of accessibility and engagement is pursued in a number of ways: by creating plain English content; offering translations of content; ensuring that websites are compliant with web standards; and trying to provide a consistent and responsive design screen sizes and hardware platforms. These goals are also considered in my creative work - e.g. access is a critical element to the AR walks. Each walk was created with a blog and a printed map, both of which could lead the viewer/audience through the work, even if not physically present.

Renate, it is interesting that you mention gender politics as it is a topic that I don't actively think about or use as a subject in my creative work of late. Yes, I am a feminist, in true sense of the world, I unreservedly believe in social equity and social justice. Over recent years that conviction has played out in different ways, from being a trade union delegate and harassment officer in my workplace to increasingly working with Indigenous peoples and scientists on projects that focus on environmental justice and action. This is where the word 'access' resonates in a different way for me - in terms of people having access to fundamental infrastructure so they have clean water and renewable energy, let alone access to the online tools and technologies that so many of us take for granted. Over the past 5 or so years, I have been increasingly focused on some of these issues as a writer as well as working with Indigenous organisations to build their online presence so they can actively communicate with audiences and stakeholders. So whilst my work has not been directly dealing with feminist and women's issues per se, I find networks like the ADA Initiative inspiring as they are all about empowerment and building self confidence as well as providing a great community to network and collaborate. I am also in awe of many wonderful media artists, scientists and researchers, who are still yet to be catalogued in Wikipedia. I mention this as I met a mother and a daughter from Kerala and ADACamp who facilitate a Wikithon on International Women's Day to include entries on prominent women into Wikipedia. There are similar events planned all over the world for the forthcoming IWD. 

I think I will stop there as I am at risk of writing a TLDR message (Too long didn't read)

More soon.

Dr Tracey Benson

tracey at bytetime.com

On 08/02/2015, at 2:55 PM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Those who have been on -empyre soft-skinned space for a while will
> recognize our next special guest, Tracey Benson. She was a member of the
> moderating team from 2005 to 2007.  I am really looking forward to having
> a conversation online.  It would be interesting to hear about what you
> have been up to especially in regards to tools and technologies and gender
> politics a thread that was carried over from  Ben Bogart and a
> conversation that he began on the correlation of tools and their context
> and cultural conceptions in the design.  Interesting first week but we are
> looking forward to developing former threads and  introducing new ones.
> Welcome Tracey.  For now I will say goodnight from the East coast of the
> US while in Australia Tracey must be enjoying very warm summer weather and
> a second cup of coffee.
> Tracey Benson is a media artist, writer and researcher living in Canberra.
> Her work explores notions of place through locative technologies,
> photography, online writing and video. Her work has featured in many
> international and national emerging media festivals since 1996. Tracey has
> a MA from QUT, Creative Industries and a PhD from ANU, which explores
> online environments and social impacts in the geo-physical world. Since
> 2007, she has co-organised the Canberra chapter of Dorkbot and is also
> Secretary/Treasurer of NZ based organisation Intercreate. This
> organisation brings together artists, scientists and Indigenous peoples to
> focus on environmental challenges and sustainable solutions.
> http://www.byte-time.net/biography.html
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art,Cornell University
> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office:  306
> Ithaca, NY  14853
> Email:   <rferro at cornell.edu <mailto:rtf9 at cornell.edu>>
> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net <http://www.renateferro.net/>
>      http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
> <http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net/>
> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net <http://www.tinkerfactory.net/>
> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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