Category: Reflection

OOO (Tutorial v4.0)

Tutor: Gareth Polmeer

I had an interesting tutorial today with Gareth Polmeer regarding the research paper I am writing. Whilst investigating reading Phenomenology and Speculative Realism I came across ‘Object-Oriented Ontology’ or OOO for short, I didn’t realise it was a ‘thing’ (excuse the pun) for years.

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“…Ask yourself: what does your toaster want? How about your dog? Or the bacteria in your gut? What about the pixels on the screen you’re reading off now, how is their day going?” [1]

Theres a correlation to IoT (Internet of things) but with OOO any ‘thing’ is an object, whether living, nonliving, artificial, or conceptual-an everything.

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“…over the past ten years, people in all manner of disciplines have turned to things: to matter, stuff, obdurate objects. Often loosely grouped under the rubric ‘new materialisms’ – Andrew Cole [2]

The crucial point here is that, in contrast to the dominant strains of 20th-century phenomenology that claim things are only real insofar as they are sensible to a human subject, OOO asserts a radical and imaginative realism that not only claims that things do exist beyond the purview of human conception, but that this existence is almost entirely inaccessible to our understanding.

Note to Self:

Double Walker

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“Doppelganger” is German for “double walker”, a shadow self that is thought to accompany every person.

“Of all the prostheses that mark the history of the body, the double is doubtless the oldest. But the double is precisely not a prosthesis: it is an imaginary figure, which just like the soul, the shadow, the mirror image, haunts the subject like his other, which makes it so that the subject is simultaneously itself and never resembles itself again…”

Jean Baudrillard: “Simulacra and Simulation (1981)”

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Alternatively in psychotherapy terms.

“The shadow only becomes hostile when he is ignored or misunderstood.”

Carl Jung: ‘Man & His Symbols’.

MPR Reflection

I am writing this today while the comments and discussion from yesterday are still fresh in my mind. Overall it was good to see what people are up to and get an idea of their making and practice. Some of the concepts and thought processes behind some of the work was impressive, but I actually hoped the feedback might have been a bit harsher.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

The clumsy narrative device I used for the video of the disembodied old woman’s head didn’t really work as people seemed confused as to who was narrating the video…myself or the old woman’s ‘head as avatar’. No matter as it was a one off just for the video, but interesting to see the disparity between what is confusing to others, and what is clear to oneself.

There are two main issues to be addressed both of which were mentioned by my colleagues on the course, and questions I have been asking myself also.

  • 1 – Someone raised the point along the lines of…”..there was something missing, there were experiments from physical to screen, but not much visualised data to show…is he going to explore it in the 2nd half of the course”. This I have felt myself. I feel I spent too much time taking sensor signals onto the screen and then was dissatisfied with the ways I had to visualise the data. Processing just isn’t enough. I should have been aware of this earlier.
  • 2 – The second issue which another of my colleagues pointed out also was…”How does the short film relate to the interface”? This is important as I have been asking myself that also, and not just the short film mentioned, but also other strands of work I am exploring such as 3D imagery, IoT and VR. How do they all tie together into a cohesive body of exploration, what hook does the work revolve around conceptually? The short film can be made as a short VR film, with VR headset as interface, but that is cosmetic, I want to whittle things down so all the strands tie into a cohesive conceptual framework that gives the work depth.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Note to Self:

  • Words that are important; Mysticism, Ritual, Interface, Inverse, Reflection, Object.

Girls who are Beuys, Who like Beuys to be girls, Who do Beuys…

On the Sunday of the Low residency I met up with an old friend and we went to the Tate Modern, a monumental building probably not best utilised to show as much work as possible, but still good to see such great work. After a week of mostly digital work it was different and refreshing to see some more physical work.

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Joseph Beuys the brillant German conceptual artist had some work in the Tate, and I remembered how much I liked his work and the ideas behind them. I remember laughing at his fabricated self creation myth, that whilst serving as a Stuka dive bomber in the German Army in the second World War he was shot down on the Russian front and rescued by a nomadic Tatar tribe, that wrapped his broken body in animal fat and felt and nursed him back to health. Army records show he was in fact re-cooperating in a German field hospital. But what of it, he understood that Human Beings want a larger story…myth and legend.

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“It is not inconsistent with Beuys’ work that his biography would have been subject to his own reinterpretation;this particular story has served as a powerful myth of origins for Beuys’s artistic identity, as well as providing an initial interpretive key to his use of unconventional materials, amongst which felt and fat were central.” [1]

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I started to understand ‘Beuys as shaman’ when I read about the first time he visited The United States and immediatedly performed an action;

“…The action actually began at Kennedy Airport, where friends wrapped him in felt and transported him to the gallery in an ambulance. Beuys then spent several days in a room with only a felt blanket, a flashlight, a cane that looked like a shepherd’s staff, copies of the Wall Street Journal (which were delivered daily), and a live coyote. His choice of employing a coyote was perhaps an acknowledgment of an animal that holds great spiritual significance for Native Americans, or a commentary on a country that through its Western expansion had become “lost” America.”

…and I didn’t even mention the dead hare.

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Note to Self:

  • Whittle down the rationale of your artistic practice, it sometimes comes across as muddled.
  • Finish off one or two Arduino projects that have been lying around and then quickly move on to more visual screen orientated work.

Digital Scrying

I have always been fascinated by the 16th century tale of Dr. John Dee and the Alchemist Edward Kelly (not to be confused with the Camberwell tutor of the same name!) and their seven year obsession with ‘conversing with Angels’ in an ancient Enochian language that both lead them through dark portals and ultimately their own downfall. Channel 4 featured a program on it in 2002 [1]. and in a recent online lecture on this course the Dean of Camberwell touched on it when mentioning a failed project and seeing John Dee’s obsidian scrying mirror in the British museum.

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Obsidian is a naturally occurring black glass and has been used throughout the ages by many cultures, John Dee used it in his translucent ‘scrying mirror’ in conjuncture with his ‘crystal gazers’ to attempt to foretell the future. Many black surfaces can be used for scrying, even dark water.

Charlie Brooker created the TV series ‘Black Mirror’ [2]. which is set in the very near future. It examines through speculative fiction, contemporary society and the unanticapted consquences of new technologies. The term Black Mirror refers to the shiny black screen of our tablet and mobile devices.

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I see a parallel in Dee’s 16th century scrying interfaces and present day Virtual reality (VR). Imagine Dee the ‘intelligencer’ or seeker of knowledge with his dubious sidekick Kelly donning Oculus Rift Headsets and immersing themselves in the ‘magic of presence’. Conceptually, both are considered parallel worlds to ours. One is created visually within the mind, the other digitally created and immersive.

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Maybe I am reaching here…VR used as some means of digital prophecy? the headset surplanting the crystal gazer of old? but both Dee’s journeys into other realms and the Rift’s advanced display technology combined with its precise, low-latency constellation tracking system enables the sensation of presence – the feeling as though you’re actually there. Both the scrying Mirror and the Rift headsets have as objects/divine interfaces an otherworldly ritualistic quality to them.

As Oculus say on their own website….”The magic of presence changes everything” [3].

Bookish

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Jean Baudrillard – Xerox & Infinity

Some reading. I Keep going back to this pamphlet;

“If men create intelligent machines, or fantasise about them, it is because they secretly despair of their own intelligence…”

I always liked Baudrillard as he was never fully accepted by French academia, destined forever to be on the outside. An interesting essay on Artifical intelligence, screens and ‘Telecomputer Man.’

“We lived once in a world where the realm of the imaginary was governed by the mirror, by dividing one into two, by theatre, by otherness and alienation. Today that realm is the realm of the screen, of interfaces and duplication, of contiguity and networks. All our machines are screens, and the interactivity of humans has been replaced by the interactivity of screens.”

This essay was originally published as part of Jean Baudrillard’s “La transparence du mal: Essai sur les phénomènes extrèmes” (1990), translated into English in 1993 as “The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena”.

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Lev Manovich – Database as a Symbolic form

I have been enjoying reading Lee Manovich’s – ‘The language of New Media’, interesting thoughts and stories of his time in the former Soviet Union and present day USA, how his 1st foray into computer programming ended in failure as he inputted the letter O instead of 0 (zero)!
I might also pick up a copy of his ‘Software takes command’ if funds allow.

I came across this old essay of his called ‘Database as a Symbolic Form’.

“Vertov is able to achieve something which new media designers still have to learn – how to merge database and narrative into a new form.”

Note to Self:

  • Social media: I have followed Lev Manovich’s page on Facebook, some good stuff posted. He is quite scathing of various people, institutions etc though, but in a refreshing/fair way. One of his favourites put downs in relation to any (dare I say it?)… ‘Digital Art’ is “That’s very 90s” or “That was done in the 00’s”. Funny.