Wednesday, November 19, 2008

15 - 17 november: Sonja is in London

This installation in the Tate Modern by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster was fantastic. I lay on the beds, looked at the books scattered on some, but most importantly watched the liveliness of the diverse people also walking around, trying out the beds and interacting with each other. The atmosphere was quite festive.

A large text in the turbine hall gave a context for the works:

Essay: October 2058 - Tate Modern - London
It rains incessantly in London – not a day, not an hour without rain, a deluge that has now lasted for years and changed the way people travel, their clothes, leisure activities, imagination and desires. They dream about infinitely dry deserts.
This continual watering has had a strange effect on urban sculptures. As well as erosion and rust, they have started to grow like giant, thirsty tropical plants, to become even more monumental. In order to hold this organic growth in check, it has been decided to store them in the Turbine Hall, surrounded by hundreds of bunks that shelter – day and night – refugees from the rain.

The list of sculptures (these were copies), books and films (shown on the back wall) is here and more info about the work is here.

Next was Martin Creed's work in the Duveen Galleries in the Tate Britain.

Every 30 seconds someone ran at top speed through the galleries.
Here you see a shadowy figure of a runner.
More info about this work.

BP Exhibition: Drawn from the Collection consisted of rooms of drawings.

More info about this work.

A highlight for me was a room of blackboard drawings by Tacita Dean. More info about this 1997 work: The Roaring Forties: Seven Boards in Seven Days is here

More info about the Drawn from the Collection exhibition.

Under Scan
by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
Trafalgar Square
15 - 23 November 2008

The bright projection light means that the projections are only visible in your shadows.
This work was first developed in 2005 and for this installation hundreds of video-portraits came from video portraits contributed by the public between the 19th + 21st of September at Tate Modern. The portraits were shot from above, as members of the public lie beneath a suspended camera. Each individual was free to represent themselves any way they wished.
See this page for more about this and other projects by Rafael

Then Molly and I went to the Royal Academy to the GSK Contemporary Spartacus Chetwynd's Helmut Newton Ladies Night‏.

There I encountered the multi-channel digital film installation Triangle of Need by Catherine Sullivan made in collaboration with Los Angeles-based composer Sean Griffin, Minneapolis-based choreographer Dylan Skybrook, and Lagos, Nigeria-based actor and director Kunle Afolayan.
It was breath-taking. More info about this is here.
The images accompanied by a music score and sounds are an unfolding of a complex set of ideas where three participants weave stories that touch on 'normalilty', class, wealth and poverty, and inequalities and injustices.

SEIZURE by Roger Hiorns is an Artangel commission in a housing estate in south London. The large crystals you see on all surfaces were made by filling the appartment to the brim with detergent and then draining the fluid out after it had catalyzed.

29 september: we sign on the walls of the 'zweetkamer'

Masters Graduates may sign their name on the walls of this 14th century room. Alex Reuneker, Joris Slob and I went along to add our names for prosterity :)

11 September: Mini-symposium + "killer tv" presentation

Sarah Kettley was my co-supervisor for my graduation project for my masters in media technology and to make the most of her visit to Leiden in September with Alex Reuneker ( + Kirsten Korevaar I organized the mini-symposium issues of engagement
in digital media artworks
and literature
(go to this page for more about this event) and thanks to Lucas + Rob, we had an evening in the Waag where she gave a session on her wearable technology for their interactive internet "Killer TV" event.

Above: The ceiling of the waag main conference room is filled with paintings of shields from when this room was used by the surgeon's guild for displaying and demonstrating the cutting up of bodies.

Right: Sarah presents while Matt watches.

More about Sarah is at:

13 + 14 september: old buildings in Leiden + Amsterdam

Once a year in most Dutch cities, Monument Weekend means that many buildings normally not open are possible to visit. Sen and I visited 3 churches, 2 courtyards and the Leiden Free Mason Lodge on Saturday.

The Hooglandskerk, Leiden, 13 September 2008

On Sunday we went to Amsterdam and cycled to various churches, the De Beurs van Berlage (built as a stock exchange between 1898 and 1903, but now used as a conference centre) and the Oost-Indisch Huis (where sea trade in the 17th + 18th centures was managed, which resulted in the wealth which built Amsterdam)

Left: The Westerkerk.

Right: The St Elisabeth Catholic Church.

Art installations in Leiden in September 2008

Installations by Leiden based artists, Rudi Struik ( + Piet Franzen (he runs the Sidac Studio and organizes various exhibitions and mail art projects) in the prison cells and the torture chamber of Gravensteen, The city prison of Leiden between 1463 and 1955. Info about this on Rudi's website in Dutch

Above Left: Installation by Piet Franzen. Above Right: video projection by Rudi Struik.

>> Two views of an installation in a prison cell by Rudi Struik

The incision-like lines on the hung sheets relate to and are reminiscent of the incisions along the cell walls made by prisoners from the past.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Picnic Sampler :: 24- 26 september, 2008

"8,535 professionals from the creative and technology industry from more than 100 countries took part in at least one of the sessions at the PICNIC’08 event. A third of the conference delegates were visiting from abroad. A further 3,000 or more, watched the PICNIC live video stream."

I was one of the lucky 25 researchers who were given a free pass to this event in exchange for writing an article. Below is a variation of what I wrote for the Reader, comments and criticism are welcome.

My experience of Picnic was the result of dipping in and out of the parallel sessions, a kind of mobility and open access that the picnic format encouraged. My zapping gave me an overall impression of a great diversity of perspectives.

Charles Leadbeater in his presentation: “We think: The Power of Mass Creativity,” on the first day of the PICNIC conference, used the metaphor of pebbles on a beach for individuals in the 21st century who have use of the internet and web technology, contrasting this against the bygone age of boulders broadcasting. I loved his optimism and agree that user-generated systems are a way to develop communities, and from them innovations that could be globally empowering (see the 10 minute summary of his book:
We Think on YouTube).

However more access doesn't necessarily lead to better or more diverse communication. As he stated himself, without collaboration or something more, pebbles lie randomly and unconnected on the beach. One of the issues of the web 2.0 world is that it is for those with time and access, for the privileged. However his premise: openness, open source, everyone contributing and sharing en masse not only makes sense, it is also a means to a diversity beyond. Wikipedia is an example: it could not have worked, not been such a wonderful resource, if it hadn't been open to all. However wikipedia also demonstrates the inbalance of access. English language contributions far outweigh other language contributions, yet Wikipedia is more diverse than any other reference tool: as of 9-10-2008 there are 255 language versions. However because it is user-generated, we are aware that the 'truths' added by individuals like ourselves contain some level of subjectivity. So knowledge can be treated differently and in multiple ways, in contrast to having a canon of knowledge accessed via library books. Leadbeater's emphasis was that we need systems that allow people to contribute and share, and in which contributors gain some sense of purpose, some shared payoff which makes the conflicts that diversity entails worthwhile. This differs from a hierachical system in that the content (or meanings) are created by the innovations of pebbles, of various individuals, and is open to use. My only criticism of Leadbeater is his seemingly uncritical acceptance of all that is available on the web, where the perspectives of women and non-westerners are less visible than they are in other worlds. However his stress on sharing and openness is a way towards more diversity.

Stefan Agamanolis's presentation hit one of my concerns of Leadbeater's presentation on the head. While showing an image of various real wearable gadgets that all looked like technological sportswear, and he asked why were these designed like this? Why the need for speed and the instant?

The next images of wearables: a solar fan and a parasol, immediately made the point. They were aesthetic objects with a purpose. The solar panels in both items provided evening ambient lighting. These intricately embroidered elegant lace-like objects were not only ecologically-sound, and cultural expressions of a quality not often seen in new media, they were also examples of gadgets that seemed to celebrate the passing of time.
Earlier Agamanolis compared things like mobile phones to Fast Food, where the taste (of the experience) and nutrition is subordinate to the access. Physicality is always part of an experience, and the projects he demonstrated gave insights into how the physical experience can be savoured as part of the communication or purpose of a gadget. One example was Jogging over Distance, in which your heart-beat in relation to your co-runner affects the spatialised voice, so runners speed up or slow down in order to "stay" with their partner. Agamanolis seems to be celebrating distance in a world that seems to have traded hierarchical centres (Paris, New York) for virtual ones.

Two of the mediamatic hacker projects touch on the idea of being part of “virtual centres”with humour. iKWiN (developed by Simon Claessen, Axel Roest and Mathias Forbach) consists of two elevators in which you stand after registering your “ik” RFID tag (tags which each person at the conference were instructed to wear). The 'game' is to see which person's profile scores highest on google. Of course, a winning score doesn't relate to any content or the quality of impact.

Likewise with between two points, to register your RFID tag.
IkRun: a race of about 200 metres
Designed for speed, this system threw your registration out of the system if you were slower than about 20 minutes. Artists, Harold Schellings and Peter Mertens (pictured on the right taking 11 minutes to complete the run) had also noticed this. Their project, (The Right to be Slow) during picnic was to celebrate the range of time.

Admittedly both of these projects were made in a workshop a week before Picnic started, but it would not have been difficult for IkRun to be inclusive for slower participants if that had been the purpose.

The author of How Computer Games Help Children Learn, David Williamson Shaffer, gave a presentation on “Epistemic Games”. This reiterated Leadbeater's emphasis that creatively is developed by practice and participation. Josephine Dorado's presentation of Kids Connect showed teenagers communicating between New York and Amsterdam in the virtual (Second Life), but Shaffer's games were rooted in real-life problem-solving projects.

>> Josephine Dorado presents Kids Connect at the Young Picnic Special

And as part of the session, on “Anytime Any Place Learning”, a donkey-borne webcam made an appearance. The donkey
was part of the school project, Donkeypedia. Children were asked to list locations in their neighbourhood in various ways, and they added them to the website. The donkey visited these locations indicated by the children as part of a visit to the school, and if possible, fulfilled a child's wish. In one case, lighting was provided for a “scary” place. The project, launched in August 2008, will proceed from village to city, throughout Europe. The locations and assignments, recorded and stored by the gadgets the donkey carries, are uploaded to the website (at the moment only in Dutch), enabling children to follow events.

There was also a day of presentations by various European medialabs which I dipped in and out of, randomly encountering Simon Robertshaw's show-and-tell of Sandbox in Preston in the north of the U.K., Irina Blomquist who mentioned that collaboration wasn't just consensus but about taking responsibility, and Frank Kresin who presented two projects located in Amsterdam. For one of these, people wore headphones and followed a route and instruction for experiencing your religious heritage. Madretsma (Amsterdam backwards) was a
visualisation of Amsterdam's slavery history.                 Simon Robertshaw presents Sandbox

Next morning I joined The Next Women ( breakfast, which included an offer + ask session to match people who could help one another. It felt rather odd participating in such an entrepreneurial way, but it broke the ice for a group of 50 and might led to some work.
25 matches were made within fifteen minutes!

During The Next Women Brainstorm Camp

Normally I would not attend a business-centred session, but here I felt quite at ease, the three pitches were called presentations and while the criticism given was direct, it created a sense of trust and respect. Three women were competing for one opportunity, but the atmosphere was dominated by constructive criticism rather than competition. An atmosphere dominated by female voices is an opportunity for other ways of doing business.
Simone Brummelhuis, organiser of the event mentioned that women don't like the word ‘pitching,’ so they called the event a “Brainstorm Camp”. This small example of an alternative approach provided an opportunity for inclusion and as a result, more diverse feedback for the event. In contrast, I walked out of the “Games go Social” session, even though the gaming world is more my environment than a business world, because the atmosphere was so oriented to under-35 male interests. Admittedly, if the sessions had been more open in orientation, I would not have noticed the gender nor the fact that I was one of the few females (briefly) in the audience. One of the points that resonated from "The Next Women" session was the emphasis on collaboration and involving the knowledge of your audience, and in their case, involving female and male perspectives.

Adam Greenfield's session was a reminder of how mutable 'space' is. His image of four people seated next to each other, each engrossed by the phone in their hand, is funny but a poignant reminder of how technology can and does distract us from our physical surroundings.
Even more intrusive, he argued, is the information gleaned via the web, (such as data representations of the amount of crime in an

Adam Greenfield presents at the conference.
The caption reads: Where are you when you are on the phone?

area or Twitter notifications of what all your friends are doing) which influences our actions, especially if the interface seems ubiquitous such as via billboards. Even though his talk centred more on the benefits of surveillance systems, such as avoiding queues, rather than on how technologies change the choreography of our daily movements, such as allowing us to avoid interacting with an entry attendant by just swiping a handbag bearing a chip, his presentation did warn of the subjectivity of data. A touching example is the flickr geotagging function (which depending on your perspective reveals how un-unique you are as a photographer or is a visualisation of how this monument has been seen by others). A scary example was of a driver being killed by an automatically actuated pole that suddenly blocked an entrance. Greenfield's slogan “Everyware” is the title of his book.

During the “Open Museum” session, Fiona Romeo of the London Maritime Museum spoke of using museum objects as game objects in a virtual environment for visitors to build experience in various time frames and mappings. She noted that copyright was a major barrier to releasing data for open creative use. Jelmer Boomsma gave some examples of using existing social networks such as Hyves to enable users to customize what they wanted to see or participate in during museumnacht, and to forward this to their friends.

Fiona Romeo, discussing how the “The race to the South Pole” project of the London Maritime Museum, made use of web technology.

Seb Chan's ( presentation addressed more long-term issues for museums such as how to build forms of reputation and trust online, so researchers and those with knowledge would be willing to share. He also mentioned the need for museums to connect more with other institutes online, to give more relevance (and context) to their collections, adding that museum communities are now not just those inside the physical building.

Loic Le Meur's presentation in the conference of was punchy and inspiring and showed potential for an alternative video-sharing portal. After various talks about making change in the way we do things, that evening's Green Challenge Awards ( was a demonstration of putting some of this into practice. Greensulate ( organic insulation won the 500,000 euro prize to go towards marketing a greenhouse-gas reducing product.

Another event that seemed to be about alternatives and putting these into practice was the day-long “Surprising Africa” sessions. It was a pity that I only found time for 2 sessions. Journalist Olivier Nyirubugara ( demonstrated his mobile reporting project, Voices Of Africa, where reporters use mobile phones (General Packet Radio System (GPRS)) to produce video footage, written reports and photographs and upload them direct. It was an impressive demonstration of no-fuss innovation.
Two things that I took from Ethan Zuckerman's presentation was how access to media helps protect citizens against injustice, such as a phone call which was then immediately broadcast via the radio, resulting in the police leaving a home, and the high quality of the reporting made with mobile phones. On visiting initiated by Ethan Zuckerman and others, I was impressed by the diversity of news stories from all over the world.
At least that is how it seemed: on reading the guidelines, I read that news from West Europe and North America was not covered at present :) “Global Voices seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online - shining light on places and people other media often ignore.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

our exhibition in Leiden's tiny museum of weaving

is on until october 12th.
more info is here:

View the 4 minute video on YouTube which shows most work

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

september 4 - 7th: ARS Electronica in Linz, Austria

I travelled by bus with about 40 other students from the Hague to Linz. It was a 14 hour overnight journey. I took a pile of bedding hoping to sleep, because in 2005 when I last took this trip, I was a wreck.
I sat next to Matt, mainly, because I just didn't feel like making small talk with anyone and he had recently had his jaw broken, so ignoring him wouldn't be a problem! As it turned out we chatted all night and I am really glad that we got to know each other.

Downtown Linz

The ARS ELECTRONICA Festival for Art, Technology and Society is an annual event. I decided to go at the last moment because of the conference on September 4th which featured 4 speakers I'd cited in my graduation paper Engaging Media: issues of engagement in media art projects for my masters in Media Technology. Interaction, Interactivity, Interactive Art - a buzzword of new media under scrutiny was the title of the 8 hour conference. It was fantastic and I even got into a little debate at the end.

September 4th: SoUNdSET, an interactive sound collaboration by Italian artists Domenico Sciajno and TeZ aka Maurizio Martinucci, is a 8 channel sound performance made for the Pöstlingberg circular terrace on a hill above Linz.

September 4th: Performance at Pöstlingberg by Evelina Domnitch + Dmitry Gelfand be continued...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Travels in the UK+ Scotland

It was fantastic!

The yellow dots indicate where we slept at least one night.

a summary:
*Kath's performance at our opening
*Yorkshire Sculpture Park
*Enjoying the Burnlaw Bahai community spirit
*Getting feedback from Sarah in Edinburgh on my paper
*Spending time with Tim + Vanessa and their daughter
*The Stirling Folkclub night
*An overdose of Scottish castles, cathedrals + mansions.
*Paddy + Catherine's farm+forest
*Finding Pict stones
*The sea at Lossiemouth
*Findhorn community
*Painting a house on skye
*Folkclub in Biggar, but the elderly centre the following morning was more fun!
*Final dose of Scottish ruins before we returned to Roger + Marion at Burnlaw
*Taking down the exhibition in London
*St. Albans Cathedral + Roman ruins
*The Shuttleworth airplane collection in Bedford
*Dinner party in our van + performances in a Bethnall Green gallery (London)
*Winchester on our only day in the UK it did not rain.
*Camping in a paddock near Beer, Devon
*Chilling out in Somerset
*Cookham town
*Toroa returns for work via Luton airport
*Visiting NZ Bahais in Romsford
*Sonja returns for a meeting via Stansted airport
*Punting in Cambridge
*Ely Cathedral
*Norwich + some lakes (Hickling) on the coast

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

exhibition in London :: 18 July - 2 August

Kath Tait will be performing her songs at 8.30 on July 17th

All are welcome

address is here: Willesden Green Centre

We will be back on the evening of the 2nd of August to take the work down, if you wish to meet us.

And we are doing a performance in East London on 7th August
at Wiebke Morgan

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Exhbition in Leiden shops closes :: Olivier raps

Julian and others talk about Augmented Realtiy + their projects

Augmented Reality workshop at Mediamatic in Amsterdam

I participated in the: Augmented Reality Games: Rapid game design workshop hosted by Mediamatic and given by Jonas Hielscher (Cologne), Julian Oliver (NZ/Spain) + Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (NL).

After some lessons in the opensource 3D modelling programme Blender and Julian's demo of Levelhead, we were introduced to the open source C and C++ language software library for building Augmented Reality (AR) applications: ARToolkit.
The ARToolKit was originally developed by Dr. Hirokazu Kato, and its ongoing development is being supported by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) at the University of Washington, HIT Lab NZ at the University of Canterbury, Aotearoa /New Zealand, and ARToolworks, Inc, Seattle. More info:

<< Julian demonstrating his AR game, Levelhead. You hold it in front of a webcam and when it reads the markers on the sides of the cube, an image of a room and a animation of a white silhouette of a male figure appears. You navigate the figure in the rooms by moving the cube at different angles until it reaches different levels.

<< Jonas + Julian show the how the simple type of marker works with an earlier version of ARToolkit than Julian used for Levelhead.

The ARToolkit Pro doesn't work on Apple computers which were supplied by Mediamatic. However I ended up - largely due to Julian doing 99% of the work, developing our game idea on my 2 week old Linux system on my laptop.

<< Floris Schreuder (on the right) my partner for our AR game (left) Follow the Rainbow
The workshop also involved working in groups to develop a game, that hopefully utilized AR. The 9 of us worked on 3 games and there were two c ++ programmers in the group. I was absolutely delighted that in our group of two, I ended up being the "pretend" programmer for our game. I say "pretend" because Julian did the programming and all I did was play with variables.

The goal of the game was to find the pattern (the rainbow sequence in order to change into an "angel", "superhuman" or "alien". So in wearing the marker (a feather) a 3D blender-made head would appear (here Floris used the default monkey head with some textures and for this prototype we just had one head) and this would change randomly when you moved into another space (such as taking a step).
<< Jelle van der Ster is the individual behind the mask

While the square of colour (over your soul/heart) changed meaningfully and was the real clue to follow. So part of our idea was the illusion or trickery (also fun) of following sensation or the face or what is most visually impressive rather than the more subtle indications of one's heart/soul. The head was not supposed to change colour, but, all this was programmed by Julian in between helping all of our groups, so it definately was a rush job.
<< Hein Eberson is the individual behind the mask

I was really pleased that Julian was patient with my questions and that I was able to follow most of what he did. Of course doing it myself is quite another story, but I'm inspired to pick this up again once pressing deadlines in my life are out of the way and then to see how far I can develop this game idea into something interesting and who knows, engaging :)