Public Interfaces, 12-14 Jan 2011, Aarhus University
Christian Ulrik Andersen, Aarhus University, DK
The Patterns of Software Cities
The urban media theorist Scott McQuire argues that with the development of new digital media, ‘the media event’ is in the process of returning to the public urban domain. The main question is in what way? Does digital media merely provide new forms and new public spectacles in the city, or does it also propagate public activity? Evidently, digital media changes the cityscape with media facades, urban screens, mobile screens, computer generated architectural forms, etc. However, the main argument of this article is that it is not only media that is introduced to the city but also software. Today’s media cities are software cities. A distinct characteristic is that the representations of media are always connected to underlying computational processes that change the complex life forms of the city.
To understand the life forms of software cities we must compare the city with the software. The presentation will seek to do this by including the architect Christopher Alexander’s idea of a ‘pattern language’, that has influenced both common user driven interaction design and wiki editing, and argue that we must pay attention to the patterns urban public interfaces imply, the activity they foster rather than the form they impose. It is furthermore a main argument that in order to induce accessibility and not only use of software cities, one must look in new directions, in the direction of software art and aesthetics.
Christian Ulrik Andersen (DK) is associate professor at the Department of Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University, and chair of Digital Aesthetics Research Centre. His research addresses the properties of game interfaces and textual/’writerly’ interaction in relation to the public sphere and digital media.
Jørgen Bang, Martin Brynskov & Kristian Strøbech, Aarhus University, DK
Citizens journalism and public interfaces: Creating active citizenship via the web-portal Dinby.dk
In 2008 Berlingske Media launched the web-portal DinBy.dk as an open web-area in which citizens from different communities could involve themselves in discussions, exchange of views or plain information dissemination. Form the media institution’s point of view the goal was to create a platform for hyper local journalism as a source for journalistic coverage in commercial media.
The group investigating civic communication within the Digital Urban Living project followed the upstart of Dinby.dk in 2008 and has returned to the experiment in 2010. Our main interest is to explore the condition in which it is possible to create hyper local citizens produced digital content. And, furthermore, to understand which incitements are needed to make local actors or groups act as digital providers of their own activities.
In the paper we present our findings and reflect them in relation to the design of the web-portal and the profile of the users. Finally we discuss the further perspectives of this form of user/citizens involvement in public communication.
The following people have contributed to the project: Jørgen Bang, lektor, Medievidenskab; Martin Brynskov, adjunkt, Informationsvidenskab; Lars Holmgaard Christensen, forskningschef, Journalisthøjskolen; Ole Rode Jensen, lektor, Journalisthøjskolen/UPDATE; Lars Kabel, lektor, UPDATE; Kristian Strøbech, lektor, Journalisthøjskolen.
Tatiana Bazzichelli, Aarhus University, DK
When Art Goes Disruptive: The A/Moral Dis/Order of Recursive Publics
My proposal wants to investigate the field of social relations and artistic creation informed by networks, with particular attention to “the ways in which contemporary power and control are structured”. I especially aim to focus on the research questions about the dissolution of the public and private spheres in the context of bio-political forms of powers, and on the relationship between creative production and the free market sphere. Public interfaces will be contextualized through the analysis of artistic interventions in collaborative networks, where social interactions become possible through the mediation of a commercial platform, in which both the public and the private sphere coexist. The commercial Web 2.0 platforms, or better the private/public interfaces, become the stage of radical interventions, aimed to generate social-political criticism through tactical artistic strategies and to show the vulnerability of media communication itself. A thread that connects multiple identities projects, culture jamming and hacker art practices of the last decade with the contemporary artistic and activist interventions in social media. These interventions, which have their roots in the Avant-garde art practices in the last half of the twentieth century, might be relevant to generate a critical understanding of contemporary informational power (or info-capitalism) and to highlight – and deconstruct – the hierarchies inherent in the construction of public and private spheres today. Furthermore, the analysis will show that the act of responding with a radical opposition does not look like an effective practice anymore, while viral actions become more effective in the pervasive phase of capitalistic production. Artists should probably answer becoming cultural viruses themselves, adopting the strategy of disruptive business as a model of artistic creation. Creative intersections between business and art become an important territory for the re-invention and rewriting of symbolic and expressive codes.
Tatiana Bazzichelli (IT/DK) is PhD Scholar at Aarhus University. She is board member of the Digital Aesthetics Research Center in Aarhus and visiting scholar at Stanford University (2009). She has been active in the Italian hacker community since the end of the ’90s and is the founder of the AHA: Activism-Hacking-Artivism project (http://www.ecn.org/aha), which won the honorary mention for digital communities at Ars Electronica (2007). She wrote the book Networking. The Net as Artwork (Costa & Nolan, 2006/DARC, 2009). http://www.networkingart.eu
Brett Bloom, Jutland Art Academy/Temporary Services, DK/US
We socialize and work in an often dizzying array of on- and off-line public locations that can leave us with a sense of fractured subjectivity and cause us to feel emotionally dissatisfied and politically powerless. How do we contest this? What tools are available?
This presentation looks at recent artistic and activist work that addresses the multiple kinds of public spaces we inhabit, as well as work that mobilizes digital and analog surpluses, to create empathy, social cohesion, rich public experiences, and looks for ways out of commodified experience.
The presentation includes: my work with the group Temporary Services to create satisfying social space for the exchange of enormous amounts of digital information and media by others; efforts by Public Collectors to network the activities of private collectors (from collections of bibles stolen from hotels, to those of images of the interiors of houses of hoarders) to make them more public; aaaaarg.org which functions as a counter archive of academic texts to such monolithic efforts as google books; Talking Tree which uses social media to create empathy between human and non-human entities; Brennan McGaffey’s re-sequencing of Chicago’s power grid to make the electrical current healthier for the city’s inhabitants; etc..
Brett Bloom is a senior lecturer at Det Jyske Kunstakademi in Århus. He has worked with the art group Temporary Services, currently based in Chicago and Copenhagen, for 12 years. The group makes art projects in public, that are mobile, online and in exhibition spaces. They have published over 90 books, booklets, newspapers, and other printed material. In 2008 they started a publishing imprint and online store called Half Letter Press to build up independent infrastructure for supporting political, experimental, socially-engaged, and other kinds of marginalized, non-commercial art practice. http://www.temporaryservices.org/
Mikkel Bolt, University of Copenhagen, DK
Control Society and Gun Boat Diplomacy
An attempt to address the question of the relationship between decentred networks and sovereignty after 9/11 starting from Deleuze’s “Postscript on the Societies of Control”.
In 1990 Gilles Deleuze published his short text “Postscript on the Societies of Control” in which he presented an almost intuitive analysis of contemporary capitalist society explaining how we were going from the separate spheres of disciplinary society to a flexible network based society where the traditional discourses and institutions were being broken down in favour of a continual control where the individual was always in school, in prison or at work. Deleuze’s brief text was highly influential but since 9/11 and the declaration of the so-called ‘war on terror’ it has seemed necessary to supplement the analysis of the complex functioning of the control society with analysis that either stress the return of sovereignty (like Giorgio Agamben) or map the workings of capitalist economy (like David Harvey). This paper looks at this development and discusses the relationship between networks and sovereignty today.
Mikkel Bolt is an Associate Professor, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen.
Morten Breinbjerg, Aarhus University, DK
Touched Echo – a feel of a Ghost
Sound unfolds in time and disperses in space. It arrives from a distance and resonates in the body of the listener. As an ephemeral phenomenon it disappears again, but comes back as an echo. Hereby sound represents the presence of an absence, something that is and is not, something more than a spirit but yet without a body. In short a ghost.
In my talk I will discuss the urban art installation Touched Echo by German artist Thomas Kison in order to reflect upon the ghostly nature of sound and how echoing sounds of the past, in this case the sound of the allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945, interferes with both private and public life, with reality as history (known, objective and factual) on one side and as something lived (remembered, recalled and experienced) on the other.
The relationship between the remembered and the known, between the subjective experience and the historical fact that Touched Echo touches upon, echoes today’s political debate of this incidence as an act of war or an act of terror: A debate that concerns a haunted place, the land of a ghost.
Morten Breinbjerg is an associate professor with a PhD in computer music aesthetics at the department of Information & Media Studies, Aarhus University. His research is in the field of computer music, software studies, digital aesthetics and digital culture. Morten Breinbjerg is currently affiliated with the strategic research project Digital Urban Living. http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Brown, University of Plymouth, UK
Mapping the Unmappable, Knowing the Unknowable
This paper recognises the contemporary city as a multi-layered condition of cultural, ecological, economic, political and social forces. These layers do not exist as distinct stratum however, but rather overlap, merge, conflict and diverge. Concurrently they are both constructed and open to change, operating at multiple scales and through disparate interpretations. Such a perspective reflects parallel discussion in emerging readings of architectural history and mediations on the nature of space.
A praxis within this condition offers, if not seeks, to operate in situations that more strategic processes might marginalize, reduce or negate. In opposition to the totalizing representations underpinning the former, the tactical nature of this praxis embraces the opportunities that exist within the convergences and divergences that lie within and between these layers.
Operating within this condition poses a seemingly unassailable complexity, as our inherited ways of working can never map this spatial-temporal multiplicity. New dispositions and techniques are called for, enabling both a mapping and representation of this situation. Such a praxis recognises mapping’s liberating potential as a way of interfacing between observer, participant and place, both as a means of constructing knowledge and in revealing the potentialities of future action. This paper will draw upon recent explorations in digital mapping at the Master of Architecture design studio at the University of Plymouth.
Robert Brown (US/UK) is Associate Professor in Architecture, Master of Architecture Programme Leader, School of Architecture, Design and Environment, University of Plymouth.
Merete Carlson, University of Copenhagen, DK
Inter-Facing the Public: Under Scan
The public art installations of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer are Spectacular. They move the inhabitants of the city and engage their embodied presence. In these installations you meet an astonishing sight of your own body brought into play with something unforeseen. My paper for the Public Interfaces conference examines nuances of embodied engagement in the co-operating planes of experience in the art of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.
The interface of the interactive video art installation Under Scan is a complex design. In a strongly illuminated public space, passers-by are detected by computerised surveillance system and, by calculating their movement and direction; video-portraits are projected onto the ground in the shape of their shadows. The participants interact with these pre-recorded portraits; they imitate their gestures, jump at them and touch them. They are engaged with their convincing presence.
But the interactive exchange with the system of the installation is not in the playing with the portraits on the ground. The participants impact the output of the installation only at the level of the tracking system reading the moving shade of their body. Hence they are somehow deceived by the interplay with the images on the surface of the ground.
In my paper I will analyse the complex interface of Under Scan and the levels of experience it produces.
Merete Carlson is PhD Fellow at the Department of Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen. She has a background in literature and media studies and graduated with a degree of MA in Danish and a minor in art history in 2007. Merete has taught MA/BA courses on digital aesthetics at the University of Copenhagen (2009-2010). Currently she is writing her PhD thesis provisionally entitled Responsive Intimacy: desire, movement & touch in digital aesthetics under supervision of Bent Fausing and Ulrik Ekman.
Kevin Carter, University of Westminster
Public Digital Art – A Hybrid Practice
Using my and other artists work as examples/case studies, I will examine how digital artifacts or artworks, created via public engagement, are demonstrably different to artifacts or artworks produced using non-digital means. Concomitant with this investigation of difference I will argue that the virtual spaces and networks where digital artifacts and artworks are located and distributed are a constituent part of what is commonly considered the public realm. I will argue this claim requires a reconsideration of the public realm as a site of cultural activity by the institutions, artists and communities who define these public spaces. Analogous to this attempt to extend the scope of the public realm is the reconsideration of artifacts, produced via non-art interventions that challenge the homogeneity of artworks traditionally comprising this space. Based on my recent research, I hope to identify approaches that lead towards a more engaged public realm artwork, one that exploits the characteristics of digital production and distribution methods. In so doing I wish to locate my practice, as a digital artist working within the public realm, amongst the critical writing and artworks that have defined public realm artworks in the last 30 years.
Kevin Carter is an artist equally interested in socially engaged art interventions in the community and well as producing works for a gallery environment. He has worked as lead artist and produced public art works, gallery-based installations and online works both in the UK and internationally. A constant within his work is the role the audience or community play in the creation and engagement with the work, this applies equally to gallery based installations as it does to community focused public art projects. In 2004, he was nominated for a BAFTA for Karaoke-me, and in 2007 he and architects civic were awarded the Regional RTPI Award and short-listed for National Awards 2007 (Community Engagement Category). Currently he is touring the UK with Landscape-Portrait commissioned by the Dott Festival in Newcastle. He recently started a PHD post at the University of Westminster to explore the use of digital network technologies in the creation of public realm art works.
Geoff Cox, Aarhus University, DK
In the work of Hannah Arendt, the political realm arises out of acting together, in the sharing of speech and action. There has been much recent interest in revisiting Arendt’s ideas, in relation to a reconceptualisation of publicness. In Virno’s work, for instance, this is emphasized because of the relative ineffectiveness of political action today. Proprietary technology arguably plays a significant role here in distancing speech from affect in a situation where action and words have lost their power (to echo Arendt). But what of software more specifically, in as much as it both expression as in speech or writing but also something that performs actions? For Kelty, again referring to Arendt, the free software movement is an example of what he calls a “recursive pubic”, to draw attention to emergent and self-organizing public actions. Moreover, publicness is constituted not simply by speaking, writing, and protesting, but also through modification of the domain or platform through which these practices are enacted. And ordure? The quirky intervention of Dominique Laporte, in History of Shit (first published in French in 1978) verifies that modern power is founded on the aesthetics of the public sphere and in the agency of its subjects but that these are conditions of the management of human waste. The issue is that in parallel to the cleansing of the streets of Paris from shit (as it became privatized), the French language was similarly cleansed of foreign words. Can we say the same of software: that the kinds of software that are found on the streets (installed in mobile devices and such-like) are similarly cleansed? This issue is crucial for a fuller understanding of political expression in the public realm and the ways in which general intellect is more and more privatised through the use of pervasive technologies.
Geoff Cox (UK/DK) is currently a Researcher in Digital Aesthetics as part of the Digital Urban Living Research Center, Aarhus University (DK). He is also an occasional artist, and Associate Curator of Online Projects, Arnolfini, Bristol (UK), adjunct faculty, Transart Institute, Berlin/New York (DE/US), Associate Professor (Reader), University of Plymouth (UK) and treasurer of the Museum of Ordure (UK). He is an editor for the DATA Browser book series (published by Autonomedia, New York), and co-edited Economising Culture (2004), Engineering Culture (2005) and Creating Insecurity (2009).
Tobias Ebsen, Aarhus University, DK
Building Interfaces – architecture and the virtual space
In 1984, Paul Virilio described the modern city by its new types of visual imagery and new modes of access to interior and exterior spaces. He saw this as an analogy to the concept of “the interface” with its communicative surface and the affordance for action and control. At this early point, Virilio identified the increased virtualization of urban architecture by the superimposition of images for commercial advertising. But if the walls of the city become images of a virtual nature, how do we maintain the place-ness of the urban space, and thereby retain its localized character? This paper presents the field of media architecture as some new approaches to the architectural interface of buildings, that mediate between the virtually dislocated and the physically situated architectural space of the building. Instead of crating spaces of illusion and dislocation, we may be heading for the development of new dynamic spaces of communication and inclusion.
Tobias Ebsen is a PhD fellow at Aarhus University in Denmark. He holds a BA degree in art history and new media, and a master’s degree in Digital Design. His PhD project deals with a visual-philosophical investigation into the convergence of architecture and screen-based media. During his PhD work, Tobias Ebsen has been involved with the research project Digital Urban Living, which has provided a platform for several case studies of realized experimental media installations in urban settings. Tobias Ebsen has performed the role of designer, programmer, and project coordinator in these cases, and has thereby accrued first hand experience with both theoretical, as well as practical issues concerning the planning and deployment of technology in the public urban spaces.
Phil Ellis, University of Plymouth, UK
Self-Service Broadcasting: reenacttv.net
This paper will address the public interface in terms of the potential for active participatory audiences to evolve at the interface of the site(s) of new television. Further, it will examine how this evolution is closely aligned to technological developments and tools that might engender ‘free cooperation’ and then collaboration, emancipating the spectator (Ranciere) and creating agency and empowerment.
Inherent in a convergent culture, the possibilities multiply for active participants to act as both ‘semionauts’ and tactical media practitioners to exploit the tensions between empowered viewer/users and the needs of the broadcast industry to ‘monetise’ the viral feedback (Joselet 2007) exemplified in such tactics as the mash-ups of remediated broadcast. Mash-ups and similar acts of resistance can be seen as key acts of agency and affect (Gray 2008) and a new type of ‘flow’ sited at the intersection between the DIY tools such as Wirecast, Ustream, Stickam etc and prosumer culture.
My current project reenacttv.net harnesses the collaborative nature of webcam chatsites to reenact early television experiments and seeks to interrogate the public interface of new television and opportunities for self- service broadcasting. The dialogic process between participants and contemporary and historical television systems, in terms of technologies and uses (the political and social implications of the user-producer), aligned with their modes of distribution and reception, allow for a critique of the contemporary position of broadcasting through the process of reenactment artwork. The interface is presently in design and a prototype will form a part of the paper presentation.
Phil Ellis is an artist and lecturer in BA Media Arts, Programme Leader in BA Television Arts and the forthcoming MA Media Convergence at the University of Plymouth. He is also engaged in PhD research into the relationship between contemporary and historical television, exploring how the process of reenactment might allow us to revisit the past in an insightful way and how it might influence the contemporary television user. He is will be reenacting (via webcams and an online television channel) two John Logie Baird experiments in their 80th anniversary year (i.e. before July 2011). His recent publication was: Ellis, P. (2010) ‘The body of the text: the uses of the “ScreenPage” in new media’ in Broadhurst, S. & Machon, J. (eds.), Sensualities/Textualities and Technologies: Writings of the Body in 21st Century Performance, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Patrick Tobias Fischer & Eva Hornecker, Strathclyde University, UK
Designing novel interaction concepts for urban environments is not only a technical challenge in terms of scale, safety, portability and deployment, but also a challenge of designing for social configurations and spatial settings. This paper discusses preliminary findings of the SMSlingshot media intervention done by the media collective VR/Urban of which the author is a member of. The intervention has been presented in various spatial urban settings and context. Reflecting these created a preliminary theory in bridging the gap of scale in media façade installations. Patrick Tobias Fischer is a freelance media architect, PhD student and member of the mobiquitousLab at Strathclyde University, Glasgow. He earned a Dipl.-Ing.(FH) degree from Giessen-Friedberg University of Applied Sciences and a M.Sc. in Computer Sciences from University of Applied Sciences Cologne. During 2006 he studied at University of Technology in Sydney and was a member of the Creativity and Cognition Studio and worked together with Ernest Edmonds. He also worked at Fraunhofer IPK in Berlin, conducting research in the area of mixed realities, immersive environments and tangible user interfaces. Fischer’s passion lies between art (founder of VR/Urban media collective) and science focusing on urban human computer interaction.
Eva Hornecker is a lecturer (assistant professor) at the department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK. Her research interests concern understanding how users interact with novel hybrid environments (i.e. tangibles, interactive surfaces, embodied interaction) and the design of such settings. In particular, she is interested in issues of social interaction and collaboration in these contexts.
Nina Gram, Aarhus University, DK
In the call for papers the development of the interface is described as expanding from a ‘graphical user interface of a computer to something that is a part of the individuals interaction with and perception of the world. This broad understanding of interfaces seems to also include different mobile music players such as the iPod and other mp3-players. In my PhD project I examine the way in which the mobile listening affects our experience of urban space. My primary focus is on the strong emotional responses to listening and I am examining weather these experiences and the mobile listening activity can be characterized as aesthetic and/or aestheticizing. The notion of the public interface could be useful in this context in the examination of the special dynamic mobile listening space that is not entirely either private or public. In using the term public interface I will discuss the borders between private and public during private mobile listening. This sonic space has primarily been described as a sound bubble and an auditory withdrawal (Michael Bull (2005, 2008), Ian Chambers (1994), David Beer (2007), amongst others). However I question this understanding arguing that the listening space is constituted by a constant shift between private and public realms creating a dynamic ‘other place’ in which the listener is situated in and aware of the public space but in some moments perceive this public space from a private and partly excluded perspective.
Nina Gram is a PhD student in the Department of Aesthetics and Culture, Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Aarhus. Her Ph.D. project Sound Mobilisation in Urban Space focuses on the connection between sound and urban experience by examining the mobilizing abilities of the mobile sounds. Her interest is both on the sounds as such and their alleged ability to emotionally, spiritually and perhaps even physically move the listener, as well as on possible consequences created by the increasing use of mobile sound media in public space. The project is based on empirical data such as personal registrations, interviews with users of mobile sound media and the production of an iPod film portraying a bike ride through a city while listening to music.
Rui Guerra, INTK/V2_, NL/PT
Beam It is an installation composed of an electronic screen for public space that is open for user generated content. Text messages, photos or videos can be uploaded to the screen via an online interface. The effect that the new content has on public space can be observed online via a live video streaming. The project explores future scenarios for communication in public space while experimenting with social behavior. Information that is typically exchanged in an online context is beamed to a public space. Are online social platforms questioning the notion of public space?
Beam It is a project developed by INTK and it is part of a long term research and development focused on urban forms of communication for local communities.
Rui Guerra is involved in open source culture with a critical view on communities. His works make use of several media such as photography, video, online and offline installations. Besides teaching at several academies in The Netherlands, he has initiated self-organized communities such as INTK in Utrecht and unDEAF in Rotterdam. His work has been exhibited in several art festivals and he has collaborated with several institutions, such as, V2_: Institute for Unstable Media, Piet Zwart Institute both in Rotterdam (NL), The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (NL), Arnolfini in Bristol (UK), The Art Organization in Liverpool (UK), Observatori in Valencia (ES), 0508 in San Juan (PR).
Lone Koefoed Hansen, Aarhus University, DK
Scrutinizing (Generic) Space
Discussing mobile and locative media projects, Flanagan (2007) calls for designers to understand that they “must begin to reflect the contested nature of the lived reality of such spaces” (Flanagan 2007, 9). Through NomadicMILK (2008-) by Dutch media artist Esther Polak, this paper will discuss how mobile media can make hidden patterns visible and further, how her work can cross-fertilize the discussion laid out between Flanagan and Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’ notion of “Generic City”. Navigating between Flanagan and Koolhaas seems almost impossible, but I will argue that in combination they can serve as a key to analysing how the GPS device interfaces between the private and the public realm. Because living in a space makes the experience of the generic transient as even the generic is embodied; it is always ‘lived’, sensed and understood in relation to the individual.
Polak’s projects use GPS technology to address the movements of humans, commodities and capital. Dealing with the commodification and globalization of milk, NomadicMILK visualizes the embodied nature of mobile technology as well as the movements of capitalist goods. Polak tracks transports of cows and milk in Nigeria and shows the ‘shared workspace’ of drivers and nomadic herdsmen as well as their different perspectives on this space. NomadicMILK renders the familiar (milk) strange and makes the strange (people in Nigeria) very familiar at the same time: Nigeria is in many ways very distant to most of the spectators of Polak’s work; not only is it far away but the cultural patterns are very different. Still, what we see through Polak’s project is a very familiar pattern: we see how every movement in space is imbued with private stories as well as the influence of capital. In this sense, we can understand generic space – which is also about capitalist patterns making every place accessible to generic goods – as something which is made visible through particular acts of movement. NomadicMILK thus embraces the GPS interface as something which allows for concealed patterns of movement and capital to become explicit and available for public scrutiny.
Lone Koefoed Hansen is assistant professor in the Department of Aesthetic Studies, Aarhus University and works in the interface between mobile media, urban space and everyday performativity. Her PhD focused on digital aesthetics and culture in the age of pervasive computing and mobile media and she is currently affiliated with the strategic research project Digital Urban Living. http://cs.au.dk/~koefoeds
Uta Hinrichs, University of Calgary, CN
Interactive Displays in Museums and Galleries: Promoting Social Dialog through Playful Interaction & Participation
For my doctoral research I am exploring the potential of large displays in public exhibition spaces. The combination of visual information representation and interactive display technologies enables simultaneous interactions of multiple people – peers and strangers – showing great potential for evocative and social experiences. However, studies have shown that while people actively engage with public display installations, interactions are often short‐lived and not content‐related.
Embedded in an interdisciplinary context drawing from HCI, Art, and Design, my research explores design approaches toward public large display interfaces that utilize playful interaction as a means to initialize deeper engagement with content. Through the design and study of three large display installations in different public settings, my research has added to the understanding of how the physical display setup, the visual presentation of content, and the interaction design can shape people’s individual and social experiences of such installations. Currently, I am exploring the concept of participation – opportunities to influence the content and leave personal traces in the interface – as a means to evoke an active dialog about the presented information. The PhD workshop will give me the opportunity to discuss this current research with other researchers that are active in the area of public interfaces.
Uta Hinrichs is a PhD candidate in Computational Media Design in the InnoVis Group at the University of Calgary in Canada, supervised by Dr. Sheelagh Carpendale. She finished her Diplom in Computational Visualistics at the University of Magdeburg; Germany, in 2006. Her research focuses on the design and study of large display interfaces for public exhibition spaces to support lightweight information exploration. Hinrichs has designed and studied several large display installations in public exhibition spaces. Her findings have been published at international research venues. In her projects, Hinrichs seeks to apply interdisciplinary methods from HCI, Design, and Art.
Anthony Iles, Mute magazine, UK
No Room to Move: Radical Art and the Regenerate City
Critiques of the instrumentalised role of culture within the current stage of urban development, so-called ‘culture led urban regeneration’, are becoming increasingly common. A rising crescendo of criticism may finally be denting the blithe confidence of the ‘Creative City’ formula and its liberal application to all manner of post-industrial urban ills. Criticism, but also and more forcefully, that other party crasher – the global financial crisis – are undermining the blind faith in the power of ‘creativity’ to heal our cities. But regardless of what the post-crunch strategy for treating urban decline may be, we can now begin to see with clarity the contours of a (now waning?) form of urbanism that has developed over the past 20 years. One whose mobilisation of art and aesthetics – and particularly a post-conceptual order of aesthetics – has worked to produce the propagandistic illusion that a substantial regeneration of society and its habitat is occurring.
What prospects for the ‘creative city’ strategy in a burgeoning age of austerity? What does this mean for critical cultural practice and critical urbanism? Which practices might connect in this new situation?
Anthony Iles is a writer based in London. He is a contributing editor to Mute, an online and quarterly print magazine, and a regular contributor to current debates about the urban regeneration around the London 2012 Olympics. Author of a pamphlet on flexible architecture, indeterminacy, participation and regeneration entitled ‘The Lower Lea Valley as Fun Palace and Creative Prison’, http://www.divshare.com/download/6016897-66f. And with Josephine Berry Slater, co-author of the recent book No Room to Move: Radical Art and the Regenerate City, published by Mute and featuring projects and interviews with: Alberto Duman, Freee, Nils Norman, Laura Oldfield Ford and Roman Vasseur. More information about the book: http://www.metamute.org/pod/no_room_to_move_radical_art_and_the_regenerate_city
Robert Jackson, University of Plymouth, UK
Why we should be ‘Discrete’ in Public: Encapsulation and the private lives of objects
To the Actor-Network-Theorist or Object-Oriented-Philosopher, the typical use of the terms ‘public’, ‘culture’ or even ‘social’ are disingenuous at best. If one is to theorise public interface appropriately, the paper will suggest that non-human entities play a vital role, not just for the mediation of humans and machines, but for any mediation concerning the digital realm. It is not enough to single out the private and public lives of humans but also the occluded interfaces that make praxis possible.
As a factor of circumstance rather than intention, Object-Oriented-Philosophy shares two-thirds of its name with Object Oriented Programming. Despite subtle differences, both methodologies share the challenge of working with discrete objects rather than logic.
One of the fundamental features of Object Oriented Programming is Encapsulation; the ability to restrict access of the objects internal features outside its class, in order to protect the program from dysfunction. The paper will consider how encapsulation has affected public interfaces and its concurrent artistic contextualisation.
Robert Jackson is an arts practitioner, writer and PhD candidate for the Kurator / Arts and Social Technologies Research group. His arts practice focuses on the expropriation of searched web material and the creative contingencies of reconfigured web algorithms. His research focuses on early computer algorithmic art, generative art and mainstream American art criticism from 1960 to the mid 1970s. In April 2009, Robert delivered a paper for the Associations of Art Historians Conference (AAH) on Heidegger, Harman and Algorithmic art, and is currently writing an essay for the Philosophical Journal Speculations, (to be published in January 2011).
Thomas Bjørnsten Kristensen, Aarhus University, DK
“What I’d give to feel some Botswana bass bouncing off 4000 bricks!” – on post-millennial bass culture and the vibrational interconnectivity of the sound system.
With this paper I intend to thematize and discuss how the ever-shifting sonics of post-millennial electronic dance music can be said to constitute a shared nexus of cultural and aesthetic exchange. Especially I am interested in a specific rhetoric of ‘bass, body, and space’ which manifests itself in connection with recent genres such as grime and dubstep. Initially an underground phenomenon, dubstep was spread mainly via online sharing and pirate radio broadcast. A very important part, however, of the experience and subsequent success of this low frequency, bass-borne music style (by no means fitted for poor laptop speakers) has continuously been the transformation of digital MP3s into massive sound volumes at clubs and public parties. The paper thus considers the experiential and discursive effects of the sound system as something which concerns: 1) the technological alteration from digital file formats into deep bass events, and; 2) a global interconnectivity, uniting musical traditions and ethnicities, technologies, and bodily experience.
Thomas Bjørnsten Kristensen is a PhD fellow at the section for Aesthetics and Culture at the Department of Institute of Aesthetic Studies at Aarhus University. He has a a background in Art History (BA), Aesthetics and Culture, and Literary History. Currently he is working on the dissertation project Silence/Noise of the Work – Dissonant Passages in 20th Century Arts and Aesthetics, with a primary interest in the reciprocal relations and interchanges of visual art, literature and music. Lately his research has been concerned with the broader field of contemporary sound art and discourses on auditory culture.
Joasia Krysa, Kurator/University of Plymouth, UK
Some Questions on Curating as Public Interface
The paper explores the expanded concept of public interface by establishing a link to the field of curating. Can the public interface be used as a useful concept for understanding developments in the field of curating and its relation to the art market? The suggestion is that the curatorial and technological apparatuses combine to reveal detail on the art market and its inextricable link to capitalist logic that is adapting to the demands of the immaterial economy. As other commentators have noted, contemporary art and neo-liberalism weave together rather neatly in such scenarios. The figure of the curator becomes central to this – arranging goods for new markets and adapting the logic of exhibition display to the logic of marketing and hype. This becomes a significant issue in particular in relation to new models of curating for online contexts and the specific economic models that it generates. In this way, curating can be seen to provide an essential interface to the interests of the art market and the divergent economies that underpin it, and once understood, can be imagined in different terms.
Joasia Krysa is a curator, writer, academic. She is founding director of KURATOR and Associate Professor (Reader) at the University of Plymouth, UK. She is co-editor of the DATA browser book series published by Autonomedia (New York), and as part of the series she edited Curating Immateriality (2006). Her recent curatorial work include the touring exhibition After The Net (Spain, UK, Mexico, 2008–10) and Silicon Dreams (with the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, and La Agencia, Madrid, 2010). She is currently part of the curatorial team for Documenta 13 (Kassel, 2012). http://www.kurator.org/
Lars Bo Løfgreen, Aarhus University, DK
The Politics of Pervasive, Subversive Technologies
It comes with a certain appeal to read the growing interest in public surveillance and surveillance technologies within contemporary art in the light of 9/11. Motifs become clear (it is all a matter of resistance against the increase in regulation of the public sphere), intents noble (counter culture responding to the massive powers of the state), and so technology can move out of sight and pressing political matters (did the 9/11 attack justify the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?) enter the scene.
For this conference paper proposal (and through the works of Aram Barthol and Martin Howse), I would like to argue for an altogether different reading: It is about resistance, but a resistance not against macro politics, but rather against the framing and use of technology itself, i.e. the interfacing of technology through the rationals of the humanities and the natural sciences. In short: A resistance against predominant readings of technology through technology itself where notions such as invisibility, predictability, pervasiveness and efficiency are all being put into question.
Lars Bo Løfgreen <http://person.au.dk/da/lbl@hum> is PhD fellow at the Department of Information and Media Studies at Aarhus University. He holds a MA (Research Degree) from Department of Aesthetic Studies, has studied in Wien, Freiburg and at Brown, and is a member of the committee of the Digital Aesthetics Research Center. Current research interests include (but are not limited to): the aesthetics of resistance, locative media art, philosophy of aesthetics as well as the interplay between historical and neo avant-garde movements.
Jacob Lund, Aarhus University, DK
Sensus Communis And The Public
Modern art and publicness are closely connected. Ever since the mid-1700 the phenomena we gather under the concept of art have been produced with regard to being objects of public reception and appreciation. They are characterised by a phatic dimension, an address to an implicit and universal ‘you’, an indeterminate other. According to French philosopher and art theorist Yves Michaud, “The passage to modernity began when art entered the public sphere.” Drawing upon the analyses of Yves Michaud and the Belgian art theorist Thierry de Duve, the paper investigates the potential and topicality of the Kantian concept of “sensus communis” in his Critique of Judgement from 1790 in order to suggest one possible theoretical framework for discussing art in relation to community, publicness, and – hopefully – public interfaces.
Jacob Lund, Assistant Professor, PhD, Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Aarhus. Editor of The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics. His publications include Livs-form – perspektiver i Giorgio Agambens filosofi (Form-of-life: Perspectives in the Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben, 2005, ed. with M. Bolt), Fællesskabsfølelser – kunst, politik, filosofi (Senses of Community: Art, Politics, Philosophy, 2009, ed. with M. Bolt), Den subjektive rest: Udsigelse og (de)subjektivering i kunst og teori (The subjective Remnant: Enunciation and (De)subjectification in Art and Theory, 2008), and Erindringens æstetik – essays (The Aesthetics of Memory, forthcoming 2011).
Malcolm Miles, University of Plymouth, UK
One, Other and the Same – the public as monument
In the summer of 2009, Antony Gormley’s art project One & Other occupied the vacant fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. For each hour over a hundred days, a member of the public selected from a national, open application used the plinth to engage such publics as were there in whatever legal way they chose. Some promoted specific campaigns, or sought personal publicity; some took their own photographs of the scene from this privileged viewpoint, and some appeared simply unsure what to do or exhibited post-modern ennui. Surrounded by monumental buildings such as the National Gallery, Canada House, South Africa House, and the church of Saint Martin in the Fields, when most plinths are occupied by bronze likenesses of individuals to whom society’s members are required (literally and morally) to look up, could One & Other, with 2,400 participants, represent a democratisation of the public monument? Or were the plinthers (as the 2,400 participants became styled) simply a stand-in cast for the continuation of the form of the monument by other means?
The paper describes the project, cites contemporary press and media coverage, and asks whether the form of the monument is itself a sign of power, regardless of subject-matter; and whether the living performers of One & Other thereby become the most recent characters in a long-running drama of power’s operations. Many plinthers may refute this view (from the evidence of blogs) but the public reception of the project was stage-managed by Sky TV, whose cameras occupied the only point, in a specially built cabin, to afford a clear vantage point of the plinth (some way above the street level, surrounded by a wire safety net). Sky’s images were televised daily (or nightly), and could be seen on monitors in the nearby National Portrait Gallery. Is, then, One & Other a case of the soft power used to enforce a dominant ideology of celebrity and consumption? If this ideology replaces that of imperialism, is the function of the public monument nonetheless preserved by its latest, performative occurrence?
Malcolm Miles is Professor of Cultural Theory at the University of Plymouth, UK, and author of Urban Utopias (2008), Cities & Cultures (2007), and Urban Avant-Gardes (2004), amongst others. His next book is Herbert Marcuse: An Aesthetics of Liberation (Pluto Press 2011-12). http://www.malcolmmiles.org.uk/
Søren Bro Pold, Aarhus University, DK
Zoran Poposki, EuroBalkan Institute, Skopje, Macedonia
Reclaiming the City: Art and Activism in Public Space
Urban spaces often start as representations of space, but through its use people appropriate it, socially produce it into representational space. Spatial practices, concerned with the production and reproduction of material life, rely on representations of space and representational spaces to provide them with the spatial concepts and symbols/images necessary for spatial practices to operate. Public spaces are sites of interaction and encounter, as well as places of interchange and communication. As spaces for popular use and areas shared by all citizens, public spaces are the primary source of local identity. Public space is a space for representation, where heterogeneous social groups openly assert their identity. But, since it is also by definition a space of exclusion, this right to representation has to be continuously reasserted.
Drawing on the engagement with public space of artists as diverse as Braco Dimitrijevic, Mirjam Struppek and Oliver Ressler, as well as the author’s own artistic practice, this paper will explore the transformation of urban space in the post-socialist cities of Eastern Europe, and former Yugoslavia in particular, focusing on examples of creative reuse, artistic conversion and social re-writing of the urban landscape in the face of massive economic, political and social changes.
Zoran Poposki is a transdisciplinary artist and theorist based in Skopje, Macedonia, with more than 40 exhibitions internationally. Through performances, videos and digital prints, he explores issues of liminality, territory and public space. Poposki holds an MFA in New Media from Donau University Krems in Austria, and is currently completing his PhD in Philosophy and Gender Studies at the EuroBalkan Institute in Skopje, Macedonia. He is also the author of a book on the intersection of art and activism, entitled Prostori na mokta (Spaces of Power). www.poposki.info
Andrew Prior, University of Plymouth, UK
Noise at the Interface
The role of noise has long been associated with subversion and cultural dissent, and from early on in the twentieth century, the Futurists call to sonic arms in The Art of Noises (1913) argued for its use in composition. By the 1930s transcription and transmission media such as radio (Cage et al) and vinyl (see Katz, M: 2004) were being repurposed as noise generating source materials, but as Caleb Kelly argues in Cracked Media, through the final third of the twentieth century, there was a move to invoke noise not through media content, but through subversion of mediated interfaces themselves: broken and injured machines (2009). This practice has continued and evolved to account for digital technologies, in the form of glitch electronica and the ‘aesthetics of failure’ (Cascone), but sound’s increasing role as ‘digital media’, existing as digital files within dispersed social, technical and locative networks calls for a renewed examination of noise at the interface, and the ways in which increasingly fluid notions of interface are impacting on this praxis.
Andrew Prior is a digital/sound artist and musician. His research practice explores of the transformative potential of media and technology. In particular, his work is concerned with the use of noise and artefacts involved in digital mediation, as a raw material for sound works. Another key aspect of his current thinking is around the creative affordances of networked digital files. His work ranges between online works and installation, to performative pieces. He is currently a member of the Kurator / Art & Social Technologies research group at the University of Plymouth, UK.
Christian Rhein, University of Siegen, DE
Mediatization of Public Space through Digital Façade-Media
The project – that is still in its early stages – researches the integration of digital facades in public communication and public spaces as a sub-process of mediatization. The increasing number of digital facades leads to new questions: How do they change public communication and public spaces? How do they form identification and representation of places? How do the content and the form of digital façade-media alter as well as the exposure to them during the current change of public, space, culture and society?
To answer these questions digital facades, that constitute public communication, are conceptualized as digital façade-media in a phase of development. We see this development as a development of production and distribution plus a development of perception and use of public communication.
One part of the project will be engaged in the aspect of user interfaces:
Digital façade-media are not the only screens in public spaces. They compete with terminals, info screens or digital signage-screens, and increasingly with smart phones or tablet computers like iPad. For users of these two private devices the big benefit is the opportunity to create a program after their own fancy. Could the extension of façade-media with interactive components and the integration of user interfaces in the public help the producers and operators by generating new audiences? How could it change the identification of public spaces when people could play their own private content on façades, like for example at the ars electronica-building in Linz, or if they could write private messages on a façade by sending them via mobile phone? How could it change the communication in public when everybody could have an impact on a façade’s program via a public interface? Which new forms of civic communication could be generated?
Christian Rhein received his diploma in Media Studies / Master of Arts from the University of Siegen, Germany, in 2004. After several years as a project manager at ag4 mediatecture company in Cologne (www.ag4.de), where he worked at the interface between media and space installation, he started his PhD project with his supervisor Carsten Winter from Hanover in 2009; the main focus is the mediatization of public space through digital façade-media.
Morten Riis, Aarhus University/The Royal Academy, DK
The Machine Without an Interface
The paper will take its starting point in a media archaeological understanding of the artistic practices that define and unfold the electronic music of the 20th century. This perspective focuses on the physicality of the real machine, thus distancing it from the traditional symbolic comprehension of electronic music machine that furthermore seems to be the prevailing understanding of both the history of electronic music (Collins, 2009; Cope, 2000; Hugill, 2007; Kapur, 2005; Keislar, 2009; Luening, 1975, 1998; Nierhaus, 2009; Roads, 1996; Schrader, 1982) but also applies to a broader cultural reading of modern digital technology in terms of the differences between the symbolic software interface and the real hardware (Cramer, 2003; Cramer & Fuller, 2008; Hagen, 2005; Kittler, 1995).
The paper will examine the possibility of operating the machine without an interface, understood through a media archaeological framing of the mechanical physical interface as fundamental in our understanding and use of the machine in an artistic context.
Morten Riis holds a masters degree in electronic music composition from The Royal Academy of Music, and is currently on a joint PhD scholarship between Information and Media Studies at The University of Aarhus, and The Royal Academy. Besides his academic work he is a very active sound artist having released several albums, played numerous concerts and exhibited sound installations in Denmark, England, France, Germany and China. His artistic focus takes its starting point in the post-digital aesthetic, but recently his work has taken a turn towards incorporating mechanical instruments in an attempt to return to a more rudimentary experience of machine music.
Jan Stephensen, Aarhus University, DK
The Creative Public: democratic or productive?
In the mid-90s the French philosopher and art critic Yves Michaud pronounced the end of the utopia of art. By this he more specifically meant the waning of a historically significant understanding of the privileged relationship between on the one hand: art and its discourses; and on the other, what Michaud labels ‘the utopia of democratic citizenship’. However, given the fact that even when it comes to judging or discussing art, the art world appears to be nothing but ‘skirmish and strife’, this coupling seems rather far fetched, Michaud argued, thus announcing the end of its reign.
The reports of the death of this utopian idea are, however, greatly exaggerated. Elaborating on Boltanski and Chiapello’s now sociological classic, The New Spirit of Capitalism (1999), I will seek to point out, how this utopian coupling has, in fact, been restored in recent years, although in a somewhat transformed form which now includes discourses on “creativity”, “networks” and “(productive) collaboration”. This now also includes Michaud’s third utopia, the utopia of labour, thus forming a new, hegemonic vision of what might provisionally be termed the “creative productive public”. Here, not only the “publicness” of the public sphere is supplanted by the closed circuits of networks, but this public is also predominantly conceived of in terms of production, mostly so-called “collaborative creative work”, rather than in terms of the kinds of communicative actions fundamental for democratic reasoning. Contrary to how it is often portrayed, the Networked Public Sphere, as it has been coined by Benkler, does, in fact, fundamentally stand out as a sphere of (wikinomical) co-production, rather than one of democratic exchange of opinions and democratic liberties. In this sense, we’re faced with a discourse on the wealth and blessing of the network logic – stretching from O’Reilly, Benkler, Tapscott and Williams, over Lessig and Kelty, to perhaps even Hardt & Negri – which at the end of the day primarily seems to be a new, powerful work ethic with profound effects far beyond the confines of paid labour.
Magda Tyżlik-Carver, University of Plymouth, UK
Interfacing the Common: curatorial event as a system of production on the edge
What Lazzarato says about immaterial labour can be applied to the field of curating and curatorial systems. He describes the immaterial labour as ‘the interface’ which links it to ‘immaterial commodity’ enlarged and transformed by the process of consumption. It is exactly that place of intersection and transformation where many curatorial systems using social technologies in the production of events, situations and forms of knowledge, operate. By applying the concept of immaterial labour to curatorial systems, the paper investigates the type of connections generated by understanding of curatorial system as an interface.
Magda Tyżlik-Carver is an independent curator working primarily within the network context. Her curatorial work is concerned with projects that utilise in an innovative and critical way online networking tools, social platforms and offline public spaces and galleries. Her research interests include curating and networks, organised networks and transdisciplinarity, cognitive capitalism and immaterial labour within the context of the artworld, digital and immaterial commons.
She is a PhD researcher at the KURATOR/Art & Social Technology research group at University of Plymouth (UK) and an associate curator at KURATOR within Plymouth Visual Arts Consortium (PVAC) Associate Scheme 2010. She is also a Research Assistant at iRes Research in Network Art at University College Falmouth (UK). www.magda.thecommonpractice.org
Nina Valkanova, University of Pomeu Fabra, Barcelona
Interface design for shared spaces: towards a more affective relationship between people, places and information
The objective of this work is to explore and eventually conceptualize principles and guidelines for the design of urban screens in shared spaces, which can increase the communicative potential of the media landscape through affective and engaging experience. The investigation is supported by the strong belief that considering an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on both scientific and artistic design knowledge and practices, we can develop meaningful and engaging interfaces, which can sustain a more affective relationship between the spaces, the people inhabiting them, and related information. In particular, I am interested in exploring and expanding the notion of information aesthetics into the domain of urban media interface design.
Nina Valkanova is a PhD candidate at the Interaction Group at the University of Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. She holds a Master degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany. During her studies she works at the Center for Computer Graphics. After graduating, Nina joined the Ars Electronica Future Lab in Linz, Austria, where she was involved in various media art projects until 2008. In Spain, she worked for a one year as a collaborator for mixed reality environments before joining her current research lab. Her research topic focuses on the design of urban media interfaces, exploring the intersections between scientific and artistic design knowledge.
Anne Sophie Witzke, Aarhus University, DK
Digital Aesthetics and Strategies in Current Climate Art
The paper will try to identify and discuss some of the predominant aesthetic strategies used by new media artists working with environmental issues. The art projects discussed in the paper all re-conceptualize the relation between technology and environmental issues connected to climate change.
They do this through a number of – often overlapping – strategies, where some of the prevailing are: 1) Art & science, where the artists collaborate with researchers to communicate scientific methods and results in alternative and often critical ways, 2) Informational art (closely related to art & science), where climate data is being translated into aesthetic expressions, and where the artists explore how data is being gathered, processed and interpreted, 3) Perception focused installations, which are concerned with how climate changes are affecting our immediate perception of the near surroundings, and 4) Network based grass root activism, where digital network and social media such as web 2.0 is used as a tool to involve users in a subversive critic or playful activism at a micro level.
The paper will focus on one or more of these strategies using various art works to encircle and discuss the strategy(ies) concerned. The artworks discussed can be described as a new type of interfaces to general environmental issues. Since many of the works have a strong public component, the paper will argue that climate art is a new form of public interface.
Anne Sophie Witzke is currently a PhD student at DARC, Department of Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. The topic of her dissertation is new media art, technology and environmental issues (especially climate change). In the last couple of years, she has been working at the Alexandra Institute as network leader and curator of new media art exhibitions, where she worked intensively with art, climate change and culture as project manager and curator of the Nordic Exhibition of the Year RETHINK – Contemporary Art & Climate Change. RETHINK showed contemporary artists dealing with the cultural dimension of climate change.
The raw abstracts are copied here in a compressed file, including more information on PhD projects.