Imagining Ecologies Panel ISEA

I couldn’t make the Imagining Ecologies panel that Mike Phillips had organised along with presenters Jill Scott, Paul Thomas and myself due to family funeral (it’s ok to talk about death). So I sent over a 16 minute movie which largely consisted of portraits of people who have been using our iPhone App Comob Net. Jen Southern who I work with on Comob has spent some time capturing the lines of connection that bind users together.

Comob is a digital arts project that explores the potential for collaborative mapping with GPS technology. Comob was developed as a research tool to explore social and spatial relationships between people in motion. The App was developed by Jochen Ehnes and the backend work by Henrik Ekeus, whilst Jen and I explore the conceptual implications as well as deploy it through research workshops.

Some of the ‘mobs’ featured in the ISEA talk are just couples connecting over time and space, others seem to be families getting together for Christmas even though they are not in the same room. Our favourite remains the ‘couple’ of truckers who occupy the Mexican / American border and connect to each other whilst in truck stops (we think).

Jen posted the movie on to her blog: http://sketchagraph.wordpress.com

So I thought that I should do the same and also add the Imagining Ecologies introduction in which the talk sat. Ironically the lipsync is awful but after a minute I talk over slides so it won’t matter – oh the problems of being realtime…

In addition to sending over the video talk, we also organised for  Jen and I to be online in Comob at the same time as the movie was played. Being in two places at one was fun and the first part of the talk shows how people could join us using the app.

I was arriving at a Hotel in Wolverhampton in preparation for the funeral of my grand mother on the next day. But you’ll see from the amount of people from the screen grab at the time it was a popular idea to connect to us.

The connections continued to move around for a few days afterwards with Frank being particularly persistent within the ISEA Comob. We’re still working on a new version that let’s people talk / chat within the app, but for the moment the connections are still fascinating.

 

Abstract:

The Imaging Ecologies panel embraces the central theme of ISEA2012: ‘Machine Wilderness’. Here the Machine Wilderness is interrogated through the use of a range of instruments that explore the transcalar shifts from nano to the geographical.

The panel explores a number of transdisciplinary strategies and projects that have visualised and sonified complex ecologies – from bodies in landscapes to the body as landscape. The instruments used to harvest and manifest this ecological information are examined and deconstructed through pragmatic demonstrations, whilst the theoretical context and methodological frameworks employed by the panellists provide a critical substrate.

The instruments for harvesting information from the complex ecologies of molecular landscapes, the body (skin and tissue) and rural/urban geographies include: Atomic Force Microscopes, Scanning Electron Microscopes, intimate and remote sensors and mobile phones.

The manifestation of this harvested data is revealed through technologies that include: game engines, Fulldome visualisations, interactive installations and mobile phone apps.

The panel will explore the tensions that exist in transdisciplinary interactions, the trauma and transgressions that pit the ‘instrumentalists’ that measure a clean world uncorrupted by human hands against the ‘humanists’ who experience the world through ‘dirty’ unmediated experience.

The emergence of digital imaging technologies that provide access to the photon from the edge of the universe and the atomic force that binds molecules offer us a whole new vocabulary for articulating the world. These instruments open up new vistas, as more dimensions are unveiled, more realities are modelled and more truths envisioned. There are more things in heaven and earth than currently understood in our media philosophy. By presenting new perspectives through the lens of these digital frameworks and associated creative strategies the panel will explore things that lie outside of the normal frames of reference – things so far away, so close, so massive, so small and so ad infinitum.

Panelists:
Mike Phillips, Jill Scott, Chris Speed, Paul Thomas

Format:

The panel consists a series of presentations and demonstrations from the panellists. It is anticipated that this could be centred around the Digital Dome @ IAIA as many of the projects already exist in fulldome format or have been produced using engines that can be rendered out in a fulldome format (such as Omnity plugin for Unity 3D). However, the presentations and demonstrations could also be delivered in a standard lecture theatre format.

The trajectory of the manifestations presented can be mapped through transcalar shifts, from the nano to the microscopic and the personal to the geographical. It would be possible to play out these shifts within the workshop environment through the use of the various technologies involved in each project. This would include the practical use of the remote sensing technologies and the use of mobile apps developed by Dr Chris Speed to take members of the audience on short collaborative walks.

Projects being dissected include:

  • The manifestation of Atomic Force Microscope data measuring the nano landscape revisioned through the use of game engines. This work can be presented demonstrated through the realtime projection of this interactive artwork.
  • The use of collaborative gps mapping systems through mobile phone apps and the visualisation of data generated through human interaction with the landscape/urban environment.
  • The manifestation of biological landscapes inspired by Scanning Electron Microscopy images to generate interactive cellular and molecular tissue models.
  • The use of mesh sensor networked devices to map the environment in realtime, and the production of fulldome visualisations of this dynamic data.

The panel will be of interest to an audience made up of creative producers interested in the use of game engines, sensors, mobile apps and fulldome production tools. However, the applied, practical and experiential nature of the workshop would interest an audience motivated to explore the use of open technologies for imaging the world.

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