[-empyre-] A open call to our subscribers: Week 1: New Year/New Tools and Technologies

helen varley jamieson helen at creative-catalyst.com
Fri Feb 27 22:20:09 AEDT 2015

even though the discussion has moved on, it still is february (in part
of the world anyway), & i started writing something a while ago in
response to renate's invitation for us to post about our tools &
technologies, so i'll send it & run the risk of being too long to read
... :)

first of all is UpStage (http://www.upstage.org.nz), the open source
web-based platform for cyberformance that i've been involved in
developing & creating with since 2003. it was initially dreamed up by
Avatar Body /Collision/ - a group of four women using the free software
of the time to create live performances over the internet - mainly
iVisit and the Palace, hacking these tools in the sense of using them to
do something other than what they were designed to do. we started to run
into problems when the intentions of the software didn't match our
artistic needs, such as iVisit suddenly making it impossible to change
your username, which meant we were stuck with character names from one
show. & the Palace became gradually less useable as operating systems
advanced. so we were motivated to develop software that was actually
designed to do what _we_ wanted it to do, that we had some control over,
and also something that made it easy for online audiences to participate
without having to download & install additional software. the internet
was still then a place where it felt like anything was possible [to
paraphrase tracey] & so we launched enthusiastically into creating our
own tool.

UpStage has grown from being a tool we created for ourselves, to an
international community of artists & a few developers. between 2007 and
2012 we organised 6 successful online festivals in UpStage. in january
last year we celebrated UpStage's 10th birthday, which is quite an
achievement for a mostly unfunded artist-led open source software
project. being part of UpStage's development has been hugely interesting
for me as i'm not a programmer, yet i've been able to work closely with
programmers to try & achieve things that i'd like to have in the
software. i've learned how important it is to have a good understanding
of the technologies that i work with as an artist, to think critically
about them & to be able to help shape them. [naturally i think that what
renate reported about her university separating digital tool learning
from art practice is a huge mistake].

we decided last year that it's time to completely rebuild UpStage;
technology has evolved massively since 2003 & there are now better ways
to do just about everything. however progress is slow without funding, &
funding for a non-geographically-based arts project is still incredibly
hard to get. we need help, so if anyone out there wants to get involved,
please do!

a similar tool is the waterwheel tap, led by suzon fuks
(http://water-wheel.net/tap); it's primarily intended for projects
addressing the topic of water, & it's not open source. we used the tap
in 2012 for most of the CyPosium (http://www.cyposium.net/) - an online
symposium about cyberformance & networked performance. it made sense to
use the tools that we work with artistically to also present & discuss
our work. one presentation was given in UpStage, & alan sondheim would
have given his presentation in Second Life, but we had trouble working
out how to stream out from SL so that people could join the presentation
without having to log in to SL. (i did get it worked out for the 121212
UpStage festival a couple of months later, where we streamed 3 shows out
from SL).

last year i worked on two quite different projects which used mobile
devices, for geocaching and to scan QR codes and Zappar (augmented
reality) codes (http://thesalmagundi.net/ and
http://talesfromthetowpath.net/). i had to learn how to use the apps and
create content for them, & also how to make tablets childproof in the
way that we wanted & how to develop workarounds when apps didn't quite
suit our artistic needs. it was all a bit mind-bending! but interesting.
one thing that i found really frustrating is that the majority of apps
are only available through either the google play store or the apple
store; which means that if you don't want to sign your soul away to one
or the other, you're prevented from getting the "free" app. some apps
are available from the app makers' websites or other places like F-Droid
where you don't have to sign in, but it disappoints me that most app
makers don't make their apps downloadable from their own websites as
well as the stores. it seems like a pretty obvious thing to do (unless
google & apple prevent them from doing that in their contracts?).

we're increasingly forced/coerced to be constantly signed in to these
big corporations, & i object to it as an artist and an activist. it's
vital that we are able to choose whether or not to sign in, and to have
input into creating our own tools that are independent and actually
designed for what we want to do with them, or that we can hack into what
we want/need, rather than having limits & rules imposed on us. that's
why we keep going with UpStage, even when we have no funding and things
move very slowly. [keeping our sticks, as davin said].

h : )

On 4/02/15 2:41 26AM, Renate Terese Ferro wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>  We are hoping that all of our subscribers, both active participants and
> lurkers, will post a couple of times this month to share
> your current work and what tools and or technologies you are using to that
> end.  Some of you may be developing new apps or platforms where others of
> you are pushing the boundaries of other tools  that are more ubiquitous.
> Just this past week Google¹s CEO Eric Schmidt spoke at the world economic
> forum in Switzerland exclaiming that ³The Internet is Dead.² Schmidt¹s
> call was simply the assertion that the internet is so ubiquitous because
> of the nature of networked things. Interfaces are and will become so
> naturally integrated into our architectural and living environments
> Schmidt stated. The critical question remains how will the rights and
> privacy of individuals become impacted.
> http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/google-internet-disappear-future-cyanogen-tech
> -news-digest/
> Ironically it was only seven years ago in 2008 that WIRED magazine
> published an article entitled ³The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.²
> http://www.wired.com/2010/08/ff_webrip/all/
> A move away from the open search of the web to more enclosed and
> prescriptive apps, music and movie services all driven by the ease and
> impact of i-phone technology has enabled the web to become less important
> asserted WIRED authors Chris Anderson and
> Michael Wolff when they wrote: ³Sure, we¹ll always have Web pages. We
> still have postcards and telegrams, don¹t we? But the centerOf interactive
> media ‹ increasingly, the center of gravity of all media ‹is moving to a
> post-HTML environment,² we promised nearly a decade and half ago.
> "The examples of the time were a bit silly ‹ a ³3-D furry-muckers VR
> space² and ³headlines sent to a pager² ‹ but the point was altogether
> prescient: a glimpse of the machine-to-machine future that would be less
> about browsing and more about getting.²
> The internet has experienced dramatic changes since the beginning of its
> inception as is the way of any of the technologies we have used in the
> past or are currently using. Looking forward to hearing you.  It is a new
> year.  Share you tools and technologies.
>  Renate
> 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
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helen varley jamieson
helen at creative-catalyst.com <mailto:helen at creative-catalyst.com>
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