[-empyre-] Ken Fields

Kenneth Fields kfields at ucalgary.ca
Wed Jan 13 18:56:05 AEDT 2016

Hi, checkin in.
I’ve been working on live networked performance - in high bandwidth scenarios 
(research networks).

The work takes a few directions: one, software development (Artsmesh) which
manages complex audio/video/osc connections (polystreams) between multiple networked peers.
We need to negotiate timezones, multiple divergent time delays - pushing up against 
the medium of relativity itself, synced world clocks/metronomes and network probing tools. 

I’ve been thinking of this in terms of Presence Engineering or Human Network 
Interaction (HNI). HCI was a significant thing in early media arts, so why not HNI.
Is 'the cloud’ the best we can do as metaphor; rather nebulous and opaque if you ask me -
or even downright dishonest in convincing tenants to give up power, knowledge and agency.
P2P and federated blogging systems (artsmesh.io <http://artsmesh.io/>) are an important aspect of the environment I 
want to work in, as well as IPV6 only environments - as I work in Beijing where IPV4 
is totally useless.

It strikes me that artists adapted to computers in the 80/90’s much more robustly, 
differently from the way artists have taken to real-time networking - with little concern for the 
blackbox of routing, terrain and protocols through and over which our presence signal proceeds. 
The signal artist should be intentional about the integrity of the entire reach/processes (compression) 
of their medium - video/audio/control stream . The medium - the signal itself - is the message.

On the artistic side, I seem to be using real/tangible instrumentation again, rather than 
controller type instruments, as immediacy/presence/embodiment/vibration is ironically foregrounded 
in this medium of delayed signals. Every 0.ms counts. Time and presence is proximate/fore 
again in the delayed/networked environment. Real time composition (improvisation) is
fascinating again, after a period of having offloaded the capacity of memory and thinking to 
the asynchronicity and large buffer sizes of offline editing. Liveness.

The artist reads Bergson once again with new understanding and is reminded of the 
critical moment of the Einstein/Bergson debate 100 years ago (Signal Science, Jimena Canales); 
how physics finally claimed the authority of philosophy and how this has affected the
very current trajectory of art/humanities in the service of science and the academy.

Virtual reality stimulated a discourse in ontology and speculative reality (all object oriented);
while network performance will likely do the same with regard to presence and time 
(non object oriented).

I'm mostly commenting here because I’m truly at a loss as to why it is such a slowly 
evolving platform. Since when have artists been so reluctant to tackle such a ripe medium - 
in a world that is otherwise so totally saturated in the network paradigm. 
Stockbrokers/accountants are more critically savvy to networks than is today’s media artist. 
Is it because the Facebook Website is such a satisfying/hypnotic platform? The fact is that 
a network performance artist needs other peers/nodes to play with, and I am lamenting that 
there have been only a handful of network performance practitioners. If artists are
(non-conventionally) just waiting for it to be easy… that moment is already past. 
You just have to dip into the UDP waters a bit.


Kenneth Fields, Ph.D.
Professor Computer Music
CEMC - China Electronic Music Center
Central Conservatory of Music
43 BaoJia Street
Beijing 100031 China,

Email: ken at ccom.edu.cn

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