@ VASA Project – Online Workshops, Talks, and Exhibitions in Photography, New Media, Sound Art and Visual Studies
How do the interactive elements echo the main idea behind the work?
In this work we were interested in the process of creative dialog between interlinked organic and technological forms, and the ways those hybrid entities are able to reflect upon themselves. This emergent social agency suggests a new discourse, one that is engaged in a ubiquitous computational poetic that attempts to construct (beneficial) extensions to our increasingly embodied personalities. Interactivity in this sense is trans-liminal experience.
Could you please elaborate on the technology used in this specific project?
We usually conceive of technology as an artificial system external to our body. Technology is an attempt to extend our perceptive being. It represents an externalization that is both disconnected and embodying. It is from this suggestion of trans-liminal passage that this research builds a methodology of investigation into the phenomenology of time, space, and language. Narrative is proposed as a series of metaphorical re-mappings of perceptual elements that are then re-presented and re-formed by audio spatialization and visual deconstruction: If our existence is a navigation from fear to desire (and various other related polarities) then we can map conceptual and emotional structures to artificial constructs of space-time using these technologies. The basic narrative structure used, an abstract(ed) script titled “The Corner Monster”, is distributed in (real) time and (real) space by the bio-mediated interplay of two participants who affectively respond to the placement of their unconscious dramaturgy.
How do you see your work fitting with others in “The Biological Canvas” exhibit?
Any definition of the body, which is narrative, re-fashions the flesh. That emergent homunculus is not only a physical, psychological entity, but also an electronic body, a mediated body, a biological canvas suggesting an evolving notational skin-mediated parchment that is no longer one sided but simultaneously bipolar. All these artists are observing, commenting on, cautioning or experimenting with the movement of the body beyond its confines, or at least its previously understood/accepted/taught container. Movements that start within become manifested without. The external becomes embodied. The canvas now has two sides, whereas it was once bounded. But that new boundlessness is caught up in the helix of time and space, in context, genetic and conceptual. Whatever the I that exists is, it now exists simultaneously in its viscera and the negative space containing it.
What results were collected from this psychological study?
Psychology is the study of the contextual mind. Although quantitative data was not collected on this iteration of the research I do not exclude that possibility. The essential question for me is how data is represented; that representation leads to alternate experience. Conventionally this is done with charts plotting statistical probability, which forms one way of looking at a collection of points. But video and audio manipulation is another; which is more abstract? Greater abstraction approaches meta-language with monstrous intimacy.
An interesting qualitative response to the work has been that it is ‘too beautiful’ meaning that the form distracts people from the interactive experience, I suppose, or that ‘truth’ can only be approached if we fix all irrelevant variables, whatever those are. But this is exactly what is going on in the sea of media we are immersed in. People lose their way, and make decisions, life and world altering decisions, in a state of hypnotic distraction. I try to duplicate that liminal experience in the lab. What is a lab? This is practice-led research: I’m interested in re-mappings of the rich contextualenvironments we find ourselves in. In future iterations I plan to collect emergent narratives that respond to the work and feedback those narratives into the environment so that over time the work reforms itself through a kind of linguistic restructuralism. That restructuring will be monitored for the formation of psycholinguistic patterning – in what way are those patterns, if they exist, reflective of the input data? This is what interests me in the initial stages of this research. As yet, I consider the work the tentative formation of a system of investigation, with many details yet to be resolved.
What bio feedback data did you use to power this work? And what were the differences in the way that the imagery resulted from that data?
Bio feedback data forms a representation of the internal body. In this research we have chosen to represent the human organism with abstract variables, a bridging of internal and external forces which respond to and define aspects of the state of the participant’s transitory mind-body relationship with the environment they find themselves situated in.
The work uses a combination of biofeedback technologies – galvanic skin response, and a representative placeholder for proprioceptive monitoring in the form of pressure sensitive sitting mats. GSR is a method of measuring the electrical conductivity of the skin, the largest sensory organ, generally assumed to represent psychological or physiological arousal, and of interest to me as it is suggestive of a ‘body-electric’ though there are of course many other electrical impulses in the human organism, all of which could have bearing on future iterations of the work. Proprioceptive sensorial space is an explicit mapping of our physical form to an internalized relative coordinate system, and implicitly, a continuous seeking to define oneself in terms of an absolute coordinate, the relationship to the Other.
The galvanic data from one participant was used to set the compass direction of the sound element, whereas the other participant influenced its spatial depth. Proprioceptive bias was equated with small shifts in body weight as the participants responded to environmental changes, and was used to mix the color and alpha channels of the video imagery (consisting of occasionally lip-synced silent mouths reading the script), projected so that each participant saw only the others video mix. The resultant composite was a space of ever shifting discernability interactively influencing affective response. We were interested in these initial experiments to note whether the data would tend to synchronize, or accelerate in a frantic dissolution of formal structure. As yet, results are indeterminate. Biofeedback is a space-time of simultaneous input and output where the variables are continuous and of uncertain equivalence.
Interview by: Jace Lumley