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Open Access Publications from the University of California

This theme addresses the question of how material and affective bodies interface with the informational environments of contemporary mixed realities involving ubiquitous, pervasive, or tangible computing as well as implementations of real-time communicational systems. How do we, as artist-engineers, software developers, interaction designers, and critical theorists articulate, analyze, and evaluate the spatial and temporal 'interlacings,' 'augmentations,' and 'hybridizations' at stake in the mixed realities of specific digital art projects? When ubiquity tends towards 'calmly' intelligent embeddedness in the various folds and events of the lifeworld, does its effect remain irrevocably prior to or beyond embodied human awareness and affect? Or does calm embeddedness rather solicit more intense forms of temporalization, affective and sensate involvement, perceptual recognition, and conceptual explicitation?

Theme leaders:
Ulrik Ekman, Assistant Professor, Department for Cultural Studies and the Arts University of Copenhagen.
Mark Hansen, Professor in the Program in Literature and in Information Science+Information Studies at Duke University.

Cover page of Game-Space: Unfolding Experiments in Subjectivity

Game-Space: Unfolding Experiments in Subjectivity


Using computer vision techniques and game engine technology, the interactive installation, Game-Space, explores subjectivity in mediated environments. The paper discusses the development of this work and its current conception as a machine for the experimental production of a new subjectivity in the form of a machinic hybrid.

Cover page of Augmented Reality Art: A Matter of (non)Destination

Augmented Reality Art: A Matter of (non)Destination


This paper examines the ambivalence of “destination”—namely the ambivalence of the user’s interpellation—as one of the key features of augmented reality (AR) art. It calls attention to the special status of the spectator whose participation is at once a requirement and an uncertainty, a prediction and an anxiety, a principle of localization and a questioning of the very capacity to localize. This ambivalence is endemic to AR environments which rely on mobile, networking, tracking, sensing and detection technologies. My main claim is that, as a perceptual paradigm, AR’s potential innovativeness lies in its ability to generate new ways of perceiving for the spectator or to disclose what was previously unperceived—unseen, unheard, unfelt. These ways of perceiving are structurally rooted in the ambivalence of destination. This structuring feature, however, is recurrently sidestepped by the interactive setting of AR art. Required to interact; destined to act specifically and to insert him or herself in a standardizing logic of community formation; allegedly “in direct contact” with the immediate environment despite extreme mediation: the spectator turned user, YOUuser or interactor is solicited as a destinataire (a recipient) in ways that most often counter the possibilities of AR as an ambivalent mode of destination. The paper investigates three AR environments by artists Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Mathieu Briand, and Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau to show how these traits either counter or favour the perceptual potential of AR.

Cover page of <em>Re:Cycle</em> - a Generative Ambient Video Engine

Re:Cycle - a Generative Ambient Video Engine


Re:Cycle is a generative ambient video art piece based on nature imagery captured in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Ambient video is designed to play in the background of our lives. An ambient video work is difficult to create - it can never require our attention, but must always rewards attention when offered. A central aesthetic challenge for this form is that it must also support repeated viewing. Re:Cycle relies on a generative recombinant strategy for ongoing variability, and therefore a higher replayability factor. It does so through the use of two randomaccess databases: one database of video clips, and another of video transition effects. The piece will run indefinitely, joining clips and transitions from the two databases in randomly varied combinations.

Generative ambient video is an art form that draws upon the continuing proliferation and increased sophistication of technology as a supporting condition. Ambient video benefits from the ongoing distribution of ever-larger and improved video screens. Generative ambient video is more easily realized within a culture where computation, like the large video screen, is also becoming more ubiquitous.

A series of related creative decisions gave Re:Cycle its final shape. The decisions all wrestled with variations on a single problem: how to find an appropriate balance between aesthetic control on the one hand, and variability/re-playability on the other. The paper concludes with a description of future work to be done on the project, including the use of metadata to improve video flow and sequencing coherence.

Cover page of Dynamic Visualisation in Three Physical Dimensions

Dynamic Visualisation in Three Physical Dimensions


Recent developments in light emitting diode (LED) production technology mean that high numbers of LEDs can now be used at costs that are no longer prohibitive. This paper looks at various creative and artistic applications of three-dimensional grids of LEDs, when used to produce imagery and volumetric visualisations in three physical dimensions. We focus on two research projects by digital arts group Squidsoup that seek to take advantage of the affordances of such a system. Of particular interest is the additional possibilities granted by the third physical dimension: whether the fact that the visuals inhabit a virtual layer anchored within real space adds to the affective possibilities of digital visualisation systems. The two projects have been publicly exhibited and use an existing LED grid system, NOVA, developed by ETH Zurich.

Cover page of Fusing Bodies: A Consideration of Techno-Spliced Gestures in Interactive Installations

Fusing Bodies: A Consideration of Techno-Spliced Gestures in Interactive Installations


How might our logic be changing as ubiquitous computing links our gestural acts to those of distant, yet virtually present bodies? Neurological researchers along with theorists of embodiment will be drawn into a consideration of the negotiation of moving bodies though sensor-mined environments, exploring the impact such negotiations have on the generation of meaning. The body will be considered as a complex system of transducers, actuated by diverse powers in collaborative environments. Interactive sound installations created by the author will be analyzed as triggers to a consideration of techno-spliced gestures in mixed reality.

Cover page of Eccentric Spaces and Filmic Traces: Portals in Aperture Laboratories and New York City

Eccentric Spaces and Filmic Traces: Portals in Aperture Laboratories and New York City


This paper examines the way in which time and space are figured within a new genre of what we are calling "eccentric games" and a site-specific video sharing application called Trover by Dan Provost. Taking Valve’s Portal as our case study, a chiasmatic relationship emerges between these different modes of eccentric media. In order to access eccentric space the video games we examine appropriate the logic of film whereas Provost's video application Trover is informed by an eccentric logic of games.

Cover page of Computational materials: Embedding Computation into the Everyday

Computational materials: Embedding Computation into the Everyday


This paper presents research into material design merging the structural logics of surface tectonics with computation. The research asks how the understanding and design of interactive systems changes as computation becomes an integrated part of our material surroundings. Rather than thinking the ubiquitous system as something that is embedded into the existing context of the built environment, this paper speculates on the design of bespoke materials specified and designed in respect to both their structural as well as their computational performance. The paper asks: what are the design practices that allow us to think of material as extending both in space (structure) and over time (actuation)? How can we imagine our surrounding environment as actively sensing and responding to our presences? How would it be to inhabit a live space?

Cover page of Symbiogenic Experiences in the Interactive Arts

Symbiogenic Experiences in the Interactive Arts


This paper outlines a research agenda that addresses the question of how contemporary interactive arts practice can evolve new strategies or ways of facilitating the development of subjective experiences that elicit an embodied, felt sense and awareness of our co-evolution with intelligent systems and digital technologies. Drawing upon and extending a phenomenological model of intentionality, we introduce the concept of the “symbiogenic experience” in relation to interactive or technologically-mediated artworks and discuss early research explorations that exemplify it.

Cover page of In the Shadow of the Cell-Phone

In the Shadow of the Cell-Phone


Based on discussions of hybrid space as well as the concepts of the database and archive art, the paper analyzes Hasan Elahi’s project “Tracking Transience” (2003-) and relates it to Sophie Calle’s performance “Detective” (1980) while discussing how we can understand the mobile phone as a device that is capable of creating a ‘database shadow’ of the mobile phone owner. Elahi created “Tracking Transience” after he was held back by the FBI in 2003 on suspicion of being a possible terrorist; by consulting the website everyone now has access to the data generated by Elahi and his mobile phone, which meticulously tracks his life. However, even though Elahi’s life seems to be thoroughly and intimately documented with pictures of e.g. every eaten meal and every visited restroom, we are clearly not getting the full picture. Consequently, despite having been granted access to an enormous amount of data, we are left with a feeling of following a shadow or maybe a mirage. This paper explores how the mobile phone affords this playing hide-and-seek, and the way that it provides shelter from the inspecting eye.