Thursday, December 15, 2005

Post Radiator and Finding Fluid Form

Two Conferences - Radiator in Nottingham - technology, art, dance and performance.. with a Creative Collaborations workshop event on Social Software and Finding Fluid Form, relating biology, natural growth and form and the computer generated, with a touch of architecture and interactive dance (it was in Brighton :)

Radiator had its stock of location based experiences using GPS, mobiles, wi-fi etc - I felt at times there was an overplay of technology over content - Blast Theory telling yet another situation based experience - and Nottingham Mixed Reality Lab featuring behind the scenes of a many a work. Bringing into question relationships between art practise, industrial sponsorship and Academia. Hidden agendas, where art may simply become a means for illustrating principles, and suffering a lack of integrity, soul or depth.

Pseudo-Academic Art speak really annoys! Dressing up a simple idea with obscure strings of wordage to make it sound "intelligent" - "polyrthymic intuitive interplay where control is traversely emergent..." ?? Why do some artists feel the need to speak esoteric academia to give the impression of impenetrable intelligence - insecurity? (add the Emperors New Clothes Syndrome and they all get away with it)

And the Big Question seemed to be a discourse over the real and the virtual body - something perhaps keenly felt by the large proportion of dance/performers.
Though for me it seemed that a technology assisted performance (especially networked - telematic) may well add value to the performers experience, but generally did not enhance that of the viewers..

Gob Squad were great though - ideas driven, pushing the boundaries of audience/performer and social etiquette with humour and wit rather than being led by a technology - arf arf..

However a melting pot of ideas, events and cultural exchanges were had by all and it was good - a warm, but not quite hot radiator.

The Creative Collaborations workshop event focussed on social software initiatives, with some great work from Internova - the Springwatch web/BBC event showing where and when various natural events occured, bumble bee, swift, frogspawn were first idenitifed by local folk across the uk - a very effective interactive map that lets you to see the results as a temperature led wave running across the UK...
What makes a social software site work and what can sustain interest and participation? Critical mass, sharing a common goal, value...

Then came..
Finding Fluid Form in Brighton ...
A heady mix of seriously academic and accessible speakers: Margaret Boden talked about D'Arcy Thompson with extracts from her new book, who suggested mathematical ideas On Growth and Form that represented an alternative to Darwinian evolution...
Bill Seaman inspired by the works of Rossler Otto talked about complex theories of electrochemical systems and Exotic Kinetics, Peter Cariani on the differences between analogue and digitial systmes, continuous over discrete and ideas on temporal encoding - something for the symbolic AI folk to chew over.. the idea that knowledge might be represented as temporally based firing patterns with indications that neurons do indeed code and recognise music in this way; ending with a reference to Gordon Pask and his electrochemical ear - all very fascinating and representing an alternative wet paradigm to that of the dry digital.
Then some very real biological work from Neil Theise on stem cell plasticity - apparently we all have stem cells and there is no need for embyronic research - highly controversial apparently to those funded bodies that have ploughed this furrow. With collaborations between Mark D'Inverno, Rob Saunders and Jane Prophet on visualisations that are aesthetic, have artistic possibilites and mathematical accuracy - whatever next?!
A matrix of glowing floating buoys representing a cell diffusion system for Herne Bay? mmm :)
Wonderful - visions of the near future

We were also treated to two short contemporary dance performances involving sensing and generative imagery...

A great evening meal at Terre a Terre, thanks to Jon Bird of Blip, Mette Ramsgard Thomsen and Karen Martin for making it all happen.

This was quite a special temporal gathering, from which there may well emerge an electrochemical systems interest group...

electrochemical glass july 03

Monday, December 05, 2005

In the beginning...

I arrived in Edinburgh Informatics in November 2005, the first RAiR - "Research Artist in Residence".

AIR: Arts Informatics
Research looking to the new building in 2007 ... not pictures, nor sculptures, but experimental possibilites - robotics, kinetics - a view to Cybernetic Serendipity perhaps.. In-house narrowcasting channels, screens, projections, the building that dreams, fertilising connections, the outside in, community, research, the public and the private. Knowledge, revelations, interventions and interactions.

There are many possibilites, desires and agendas, constraints, restraints and opportunities. Visions of the future - a new building for informatics with added value art research, art objects, art events, artistic discourse...

First there is immersion, catalysing the discourse - visits to the institutions of strange acronyms..
Second the distillation and then the crystallisation...

What Art?
Why Art? Why not visualisation, communication and representation?
Who is it for?
Who decides?

A dialectic - to challenge, provoke, inform, stimulate, entertain, relax, inspire, contemplate..

Hence this blog - a place to start the discussion, a place to state my case, where I am coming from and hope to go. A place for others to join in - perhaps this should be mediated by a wiki a cms, someplace that can be shaped and formed, somewhere softer than a blog.

Its a start, a beginning.

See Informatics News - for information on the new building and informatic events...