Tagged: Science / Technology

Emission – Reactive Installation – TRIBE15

Over the summer I purchased a Leap Motion. Within days I was excited about its possibilities and began to play around with it in Processing. The concept for this installation was simple. The Leap Motion as a piece of consumer technology essentially gives the user the ability to interact with the computer in thin air, a sort of realistic attempt at George Lucas’s ‘The Force’… but instead only replacing the use of your mouse. Its a powerful, and very exciting bit of kit. I realised quickly that it would give me the opportunity to create an effect I’d hoped of for a while… for the viewer to customise the artwork to their preference (within set parameters obviously…. so not quite the ultimate customisation i dream of.. but a step in the right direction )…

The simple concept is that those using social media emit identities and have the ability to customise it.

First Attempt, as it appeared on the laptop screen:

In the Gallery:

Research Paper Seminar 16062015

Below is the explanation I provided on the Skype Chat. It’s too vague. After some more research this week, I hope to significantly narrow it down to a better and more suitable question / abstract. 

My research paper will focus on Nam June Paik’s ‘TV Buddha’ and elements of Damien Hirst’s ‘A Thousand Years’ to investigate whether the longevity of internet / digital technology use is comparable to religious practice, in terms of shaping the personal “quest for identity.” This will look at the idea of the gaze, and how social media and constant-flow information impact a person’s definition of belief systems.

this is far too broad, and I need to focus in on the main ideas more. Its also mildly obnoxious, for that i apologise but I certainly find the topic interesting and relevant. I’m undecided on Damien Hirst’s inclusion, I’m also considering work by Jake and Dinos Chapman. I need to narrow this down quite dramatically.

My research will be based on Virilio’s idea of the information bomb and Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message amongst others. I aim to contact CODEC and other organisations looking into the diminishing reliance on religion in the age of techno-science.

– the longevity of social media use. the self gaze and the window into others lives.
– Religion as intrinsic on personal and group identity. Relevance with these windows? Is this identity still based on location / situation?
– TV Buddha as a stand off between the religious and the scientific
– A Thousand Years to demonstrate grasping scientific endeavour in artistic practice. The potential life cycles of both the work and the viewers.
– Religious practice, technology use as addiction.

Too broad, too insensitive, too obnoxious, potentially too problematic…. however I still feel theres a serious relevance in this research, and potentially a good research paper.

I explained my paper right at the end of the session due to time constraints, so unfortunately Gareth had to leave and didn’t really manage to make any comments. However, what I did receive from Jonathan and the other students was positive, and very useful.

Below are some of the key notes from their responses:

– Bill Viola,


– I need to focus on one aspect. The explanation above contained about 5 ideas hahaha. ALWAYS too ambitious. Need to rein it in.

– Marshall McLuhan “Quest for Identity”

– Check out Ars Electronica, there COULD be some interesting info worth exploring. All are in CSM library.

– Art & the Spiritual. Edited by Bill Hall and David Jasper. This  book is in the Camberwell library


– Jonathan has loads of other Theological Book examples.

– Allegiances with different computer companies – Apple, IBM, Microsoft.

I’m hoping that when I read over this in a week, I’ll laugh at the simplicity and stupidity of my question. That’s if I achieve the work I hope to in that time. I’ve chosen this subject, because its something that I know I can delve deep into, as naturally, I’m interested in its relevance today. I think this interest will drive it forward to be a suitable research paper to shed light on my work. 

I must admit that I’m still undecided by Damien Hirst’s ‘A Thousand Years.’ Its a great piece, and certainly relevant to the topic, but I think theres something better….. 

Anglerfish, Candy Crush and Ultrasonic Sensors 05062015

I’ve been assembling a new version of the circuit I completed last term. With Ed’s help, I’m trying to attach a much larger light source to the Ultrasonic sensor. I’ve had to start using transistors to amplify the current for more LEDs. Alongside this, I’ve also had to add an external power supply. Unfortunately I think the one HC-SR04 sensor I own has broken! So I’ve had to order another, which won’t arrive till next week…. So this is on the shelf till it arrives.

  I’ve been thinking about the interim show and what I hope to exhibit. If all goes to plan, I aim to use this circuit with a canvas. Instead of laser cutting an image into board, placing it on top of a square of LEDs, and covering it with a thin white material, (Sheets, paper, etc). I’m going to create my composition on the back of a canvas using duct tape. The duct tape will block the light from coming through the canvas, and the image will be displayed.

My recent post (Followers 03063015) as well as previous experiments with similar multiples of imagery, are examples of the sort of composition I hope to use. The Ultrasonic circuit runs on the idea of false discoveries, believing that your the first to find something, like a piece of information. The experience originally aimed to replicate finding something with a torch or head torch in a dark environment. It aims to mimic the way we interact with consumer technology, in terms of us having to activate its use. There are a few questionable elements to this idea, most importantly the word FUNCTION in artwork. Instead of simply being a reactive gimmick, this element aims to question the necessity of consumer technology’s reaction to the user. Given the intimate and personal nature of smartphones, smart watches, laptops and tablets, the simple, easy to use interfaces give a false perception of connection. Obviously my iPhone works no differently to anyone else’s (other than maybe the cracked screen thats been there for far too long), but still, I feel an intimate connection to it as it stores and gives access to my sensitive information, calendar, social media profiles, contacts, emails, even books and articles. This reliance on the interface, particularly touch screen technology, is fluent in our society and will only grow as we find more uses, or indeed a more advanced interface. (Look at Google’s Soli Project). Alongside this idea of discovery, I’m interest in looking at temptation and addiction.

The AppleWatch, another piece of consumer tech that the naysayers couldn’t find any use for, but since its release, has been particularly successful. One of the most interesting and questionable of its uses is online betting. Late night TV is riddled with adverts for betting apps. All of these sell their product on the fact that its too easy to use, you can bet wherever you like, and in any way you like, be it slots / roulette / black jack / football / boxing etc. The AppleWatch is no different, and as it interacts with the apps on your phone, these betting options take themselves to a new level of accessibility. There is no longer any need to get your phone out of your pocket to place a bet on the football game your watching in the pub. Mix this fact with a few too many drinks, and you have a dangerous interface upgrade for gambling addicts. This idea of digitally enhanced addiction I find very interesting indeed. Can you be addicted to social media? the news? even the weather? (addiction to the weather is obviously absurd, but the desire for constant live updates of any kind is the point of all this). Is there potential for media addiction in this way? and what role does the interface play in this question?



Can this addiction relate to our bodies? The AppleWatch uses a new type of sensing technology to detect our heart rate and activity levels. This is not a new piece of tech, its just a new way of doing it. I believe they shine a light from the bottom of the watch, onto your wrist, and this somehow detects your blood movement. Health apps and health tech is rising fast as an industry. At the moment, there’s a very serious strain on the NHS, both in the hospitals and GPs. If this sort of technology could count our red blood cells, white blood cells, oxygen intake and every other necessary parameter to understand how healthy we are, could this help the NHS focus their efforts on the people who truly need care. This sort of technology would free up time for doctors and nurses, as they themselves wouldn’t need to take the tests. If we were given this technology, could we become obsessed, even addicted to monitoring our own health? There are many health addicts and gym monkeys around, but what if the first thing you checked in the morning were the parameters of your own body? This is a necessity for people with Diabetes and other serious illness, but if the technology was available, and had an easy interface, why wouldn’t this translate itself to the general, healthy public?

1304-apphazard-1 1304-apphazard-2

Android-Xray-Body-Scanner mobile-health-apps

Again, this is a post with a lot of ifs and buts, and unanswerable questions, but there’s no doubt that they are both relevant and interesting to consider.

I’m trying to drive the idea of this Ultrasonic Circuit in the direction of consumer interfaces absorbing the user. This can be both for good and bad reasons. On one side, absorbing the user can benefit the creators (Betting apps, targeted marketing) or on the other it can benefit, not only you, but also the community (Disaster warnings, health advice, large-scale events.) Either way, like a moth to flame, we react to the interface’s perceived awareness. On the negative side of this, I like the idea of comparing it to Anglerfish, the deep sea creatures that use lights to attract their prey, or even the Sirens, who attract men to sail too close to the rocks by the sounds of their voices. This is best known from The Odyssey, yet, Odysseus (or Ulysses) cleverly warned his men and told them to put cotton wool in their ears to stop them from being distracted. In the end, i guess this post has come down to the ideas of discovery, temptation, addiction, their roles in consumer electronics and our role as the user to be aware of both the dangers and the benefits of an increasing reliance on personal, transportable interfaces.


The Siren, Edward Armitage, 1888


Ulysses and the Sirens, John William Waterhouse, 1891

An interesting point to end on is Candy Crush. A record breaking app thats played by 93 million players a day started by a company thats now $7.1 billion. Its simple game, heart-warming colours, candy and sounds are a temptation, and unfortunately the nature of the game itself is addictive. It benefits the creators and the users but still is there something a little odd about its popularity?


These are a few extracts from an article written by Dana Smith, a Psychology Graduate and Science Writer at The Guardian, April 1st 2014:

This is what Candy Crush Saga does to your brain

LINK: http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2014/apr/01/candy-crush-saga-app-brain

First off, it’s simple. The premise of Candy Crush is basic enough for a preschooler – just match three candies of the same colour. Initially, the game allows us to win and pass levels with ease, giving a strong sense of satisfaction. These accomplishments are experienced as mini rewards in our brains, releasing the neurochemical dopamine and tapping into the same neuro-circuitry involved in addiction, reinforcing our actions. Despite its reputation as a pleasure chemical, dopamine also plays a crucial role in learning, cementing our behaviours and training us to continue performing them.”

“Steve Sharman, a PhD student in psychology at the University of Cambridge researching gambling addiction, explains that the impression that we are in control of a game is key to its addictive nature and is vital when playing a slot machine, for example. “The illusion of control is a crucial element in the maintenance of gambling addiction … [as it] instills a feeling of skill or control,” he says. “There are a number of in-game features [such as the boosters in Candy Crush] that allow players to believe they are affecting the outcome of the game, and in some cases they are, but those instances are rare.”

“Another feature of the game that strongly affects how we respond is the limit on how much we can play at any given time. Candy Crush effectively puts you into “time out” after five losses. This means you can never be completely satiated when playing and always leaves you wanting more. And by not letting you play, the game actually becomes even more rewarding when you are let back into Candyland. This is also how Candy Crush makes its money, letting you buy back into the game if you’re willing to purchase extra lives.

Researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia have demonstrated this effect, called hedonic adaptation, in a study using real-life candy bars. Participants were divided into two groups: one was told to abstain from eating chocolate for a week, while the other was given pounds of the stuff and told to go wild. After one week, the participants were brought back into the lab and given a piece of chocolate to savour.

The results? Those who had been deprived rated the chocolate as significantly more pleasurable than those who had been able to eat it freely. So it seems the deprivation makes the reward that much sweeter in the end.

Finally, it is no coincidence that the game is played with pieces of candy. As Sharman points out, food is often used in gambling games (think of the infamous fruit machine), tying our happy associations and the pleasure we derive from eating into the game. King acknowledges that candy’s positive associations help make the game more fun and relaxing.”


Another interesting aspect of Candy Crush, you gain lives if you manage to invite friends to the game…..


If you search Candy Crush addiction online, it comes across as a genuine thing, although its mostly people pretending their addicted, and joking about it…. are they joking?

How long do some of these 93 million people play Candy Crush a day? and what happens if they get it on their AppleWatch?….

In 2013 I was an avid Candy Crusher, I can happily say that I’ve gone well over a year without playing, and I have no intention of looking back… Hallelujah

Supersymmetry @ Vinyl Factory, Brewer Street 26052015

Amazing exhibition that finished last week. I hadn’t heard of Ryoji Ikeda before, but his work is wholly inspiring, and since being to this, I’ve done some research, and I can’t believe I’d never heard of him… Error! The event really showcased exciting, futuristic work that seems to surpass as simply art. The first room was mesmerising. Shifting tables, moving with a strobe light show, forced small metallic, or clear ball bearings to roll around, like a handheld maze game. When the table stops, the balls create a new, original pattern.




The second room was more problematic. Although a very impressive light show, co-ordinated through multiple i-macs and projectors, the work felt too repetitive and less scientific than it pretends to be. Ryoji has been working with CERN, whose Hadron Collider in fact started up again yesterday, and the installation aims to show the transition of the particle data from the first room to the next. In other words, the structures, patterns and other data from the ball bearings in the first room were translated into a data visualisation in the second.



image (1)

image (2)

For me, the biggest impact of the visualisation was the sound. The sound really made you feel as if you standing in the Game room in TRON. Its co-ordination with the lights, and its movement in such a huge space, really created something special for the audience. It was definitely a spectacle for both eyes and ears.

Ikeda is furthering his artistic practice by working with scientists and his work certainly encompasses this idea of art in the age of techno-science. The installation felt like a showcase for things to come. Then again, his beacon of light, in London, to mark the centenary of the First World War was also a big display. This is certainly an artist on the hunt for large-scale exhibition opportunities. Overall I enjoyed the experience. I was particularly impressed with the ball bearings work, and although was amazed by the light show in the second, I feel, or at least I hope, there’s more applications for this sort of display / interface in the future.

Video Below:

Marshall Mcluhan – ‘The Medium is the Massage” 19052015

3 Part Lecture:

This lecture, and of course the rather erratic book, has had a profound influence on me in recent days. Many of his ideas surrounding different media distribution are fascinating, given it was the 70s. His accuracy in discussing the impacts of these media on the audience have, in some cases, proved themselves true over time. The discussion in these videos is truly eye-opening. To think that in the space of 40 years, the social attitudes and understandings of media effects and possibilities are so radically different. I’ve included some of the questions and the dialogue with the audience as well. Professor McLuhan seems to have his facts straight in the long run, however his views on the rearview mirror as nostalgia, and the costumes of the young, I wouldn’t entirely agree with. Yes, there is a sense of nostalgia in re-fitting and re-fashioning the clothing of the past, and yes it is part of an international “motley” or trend, but in many cases these cant be linked to such exploratory attempts of understanding identity, and instead can be linked to the excitement of new fashion through television and colour printed media.

Please excuse ay spelling mistakes, I’ve typed these extracts out from the video, and will edit it later in the day.

Italics – Questions / Audience

Bold – Professor Mcluhan

“The quest for identity, The person who is struggling to work out ‘who am i’, by all sorts of mal-adjustments, all sorts of quarrels, all sorts of encounters, such a person is a social nuisance of course, but the first the quest of identity goes along with this bumping into other people, in order to find out who am i, how much power can i exert? how much identity can i discover that i possess by simply banging into other people/ That’s what i had in mind when i said The quest for identity is always a violent quest, its a series of adventures and encounters that create all sorts of disturbance. You dont have to go very far in literature for example, Don Kyote, and Flash Gordon, and Superman. Were now beginning together, I m thinking of this new show, the Star War, thats based on Flash Gordon comics. The bionic man, bionic woman, these are bi-curious forms of violence where young people are trying to discover who am i? I once asked my granddaughter who was 6 what she wanted to be when grew up, she said instantly “Bionic Woman”. This is a form of violence that permits one to discover who you are. i was using violence in a rather large sense, simply abrasive encounters.”  

“Cricket is a very organised form of violence”

“I would insist on studying the game of cricket as a manifestation of the controlled forms of violence in the community. Baseball or football, any kind of sport is a dramatisation of acceptable violence in the business community. You can learn a lot about the business community by studying the rules and procedures of cricket, baseball or golf. These games are huge ways of discovering, dramatising what the society your in is all about. Without an audience these games would have no meaning at all. They have to be played in front of the public in order to acquire their meaning. A baseball game without an audience would be a rehearsal only, a practice. The game requires the public, and the public has to resemble a whole cross section of the community. Im very interested in games as the dramatising of violent behaviour. Under control.”

On Nostalgia – “When people are stripped of their private identities they develop huge nostalgia and nostalgia for the jeans and the levis of the young today are the nostalgia of grandad’s overalls. His workclothes now become the latest costume. But this is a rather mysterious thing. The costumes worn by the young, the fashionable costumes are really very old hat, and nostalgic. Someone called it International Motley. Thatthe costumes worn by the young today, are an international motley or clown. Paradoxically, the clown is a person of greivance. His role in medieval society was to be the voice of grievance. The clowns job was to tell the emperor or the royalty exactly what was wrong with society. He often lost his head in the process, but the clown, the international motley of our time. The clown is trying to tell us his grievance. The beards, hairdos and the costumes of the young are a manifestation of grievance and anger. You’ve heard about the streakers, a kind of manifestation of anger of lack of jobs and opportunities in out world. In America we call them Passing Fannies.”

Q: Professor Im asking this question which i think is very relevant today, for people who are looking for an identity who are searching for a kind of responsible attitude towards the media. Since in the 20th century we are so conditioned and hemmed in by the media. Should we be teaching our children what value judgements they should really make concerning  what different programmes they watch on TV or listen to on the radio , as part of their development of achieving adult maturity.

The answer is yes. but one of the peculiarities of the electrical speed is that iT pushes all of the unconscious factors up into consciousness. This began with Freud and Einstein back in the 1900. but the hidden aspect of the media are the things that should be taught. because they have an irresistible force when invisible. When these factors remain ignored and invisible they have an absolute power over the user, so yes the sooner the population, or the young or old can be taught the effects of these forms, the sooner we can have some sort of reasonable ecology amongst the media themselves. What is desperately needed is a kind of understanding of the media that would permit us to program the whole environment. so that literate values wouldn’t be wiped out by new media. If you understand the nature of these forms, you can neutralise some of their adverse effects, and foster some of their beneficent effects. This, We’ve never reached this level of awareness.

Q: We can never reach that level of awareness.

I’ve been working for that for a long time. You may be surprised to hear that the Finnigans Wake, by James Joyce is one of the top guides to the effects of media. The work is entirely devoted to that theme, and the thunders in finnigans wake are statements of the effects of particular media. The last thunder in finnigans wake on p424 is television. With all its effects social consequences carefully dramatised. Finnigans wake is a drama, its a play, and the actors in the play are the media themselves. Very few Joycians know this.

Q: Professor McLuhan, up til now, while television may have dominated our minds and our lives, the actual box in the corner hasn’t dominated our living room but large screen television sets are being developed, screens say the size of a living room wall. What effect do you think that will have? Will we tolerate giants watching us?

“It’s a very important thing to keep in mind, very important question. I am not, personally I haven’t seen those big screens. They tend to have them out on the play-fields in America, they tend to have these great big screens for the game itself so that you can watch the game on television whilst the game is in process.”

Audience Laughs              

“This is a kind of situation that invites enormous awareness of process, to participate in the kind of replay of the thing whilst its still ongoing. Participation in replay is a form of pattern recognition which is new in the media and has id say has rather large consequences, mostly cognitive, mostly consequences that will effect our nature of our cognition and awareness and i would think only in the direction of extreme self-awareness. I once asked a famous quarterback in american football on TV what the effects of the instant replay on the game of football. We now have to play the game in such a way that the audience can watch the actual process that were performing. They’re no longer interested in just the effect of the play, they want to see the nature of the play, so they’ve had to open up the play on the field to enable the audience to participate more fully in the process of football  play.   Its an unexpected effect, I think its an effect that will also extend to the classroom. The future of education requires that we pay much attention to the media were employing, as forms of study. not necessarily just the hardware skill and use of cameras and microphones but awareness of the nature of the operation 

When you said that Television uses the eye as the ear? what did you mean?

Its a phrase of Tony Schwartz in a very interesting book called the responsive chord. What he means literally is that the image is constituted by millions of these resonating particles. There are no pictures on television there are no snapshots, no shutter,m no camera/ There is an outpouring of these small bits of information in patterns that are entirely active, and dynamic, so they resonate. So he was really saying that the TV image was not a visual but a resonating form of experience.

Professor McLuhan, Is television the ultimate medium, or is there worst to come?

You’ve heard of the hologram? the hologram goes completely around you, TV only goes a little bit around you. the hologram is 360degrees. but its been anticipated by the rock music, in which you have to be enclosed in a sound bubble, the hologram does for TV what rock does for auditory entertainment. The hologram is technically here.

Professor Mcluhan, earlier you spoke of us as going out for our privacy, and coming home for the social aspect. id like to hear you comment on that in relation to electronic mans new thirst for mediation, contemplation, mystical experience.

When being asked about the relation of this inside outside on the life of meditation. As you know the transedential meditation has become exceedingly popular. All forms of mystic meditation have become very popular in our TV age. We have gone very far into the East since TV. Just as an exercise in awareness, meditation has come very big since TV. I’m nbot sure if its good or bad at all, it just has happened. Do you think of it as a very significant event?

I think its very significant. it seems to me almost like a nostalgia for a return to that private self without going outdoors to find it. Return to an inner union with god, with yourself, which electronic man seems to need and is looking for in this way.

Quote from “Medium is the Massage” Book:

“Real, total war has become information war. It is being fought by subtle electric informational media – under cold conditions, and constantly. The cold war is the real war front – a surround – involving – everybody – all the time – everywhere. Whenever hot wars are necessary these days, we conduct them in the backyards of the world with the old technologies. It is no longer convenient, or suitable, to use the latest technologies for fighting our wars, because the latest technologies have rendered war menaingless. The hydrogen bomb is history’s exclamation point. It ends an age-long sentence of manifest violence.”

Thinking about God in an Age of Technology, By George Pattison.

P2 – “What is perhaps most striking about contemporary technology is not dimly the marvel (or horror) of one or other technical achievement. – space travel, the Internet, the cultivation on animals of organs for human transplants – but simply the sheet pervasiveness of technology in everyday life. Television, the mobile phone, and the Internet – the ‘information bomb’ (p. Virilio, the information bomb London: verso, 2000) – coupled with the seemingly irresistible expansion and sophistication of travel (above all, the car and the plane, with space tourism now starting to become a reality) make technology the omnipresent medium and condition of contemporary living’

P3 – ‘I have my world in the palm of my hand and I take it with me wherever I go’ – a famous quote for a mobile phone adept in the early 2000s. “This is to only a statement about technology. It is a statement about the self-image and the identity of the person using it: as the originators, the users, and the objects of our thinking, as if it were a mere supplement to the real questions of science, questions one used to see in book-titles along the lines of “Man’s place in the Universe”

Digital Technology – “It is something we ourselves are constructing and transforming through a technology that can no longer be regarded as merely an instrument intervening between ourselves and our environment.”

Aldous Huxleys Brave New World.

Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere.

Mechanomorph 11112014


Original Image by Nicolas-Henri Jacob under the guidance of Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery. Jacob’s work was first published in 1831. IMG_6075.JPG