_______________________________________________________________ THE INTER-SOCIETY FOR THE ELECTRONIC ARTS ISEA NEWSLETTER #96 ISSN 1488-3635 #96, March - April 2004 _______________________________________________________________ * CONTENTS * * Editorial * ISEA2004 News * Introduction by Julianne Pierce, ISEA Board Member * “Second Skin. The art of smart garments. Interviewing Joanna Berzowska, Katherine Moriwaki and Kristina Andersen” by Nina Czegledy ************************************************** Editorial by Angela Plohman, ISEA Coordinating Director ************************************************** Welcome to ISEA Newsletter #96, guest edited by Nina Czegledy, artist, curator and chair of the ISEA Board. Over the last year and a half, we have been privileged to have the bi-monthly ISEA newsletter guest edited by a wide range of individuals active in the field of electronic arts, focussing specifically on activities in their specific regions of the world, and highlighting often lesser-known projects, people and initiatives. In order to broaden the scope, we are also seeking to go beyond geographical specificity, and explore other territories of investigation that are culturally relevant to ISEA’s membership. This edition of the ISEA newsletter does just this, a first look at the subject of women and technology, with a focus on wearables. We hope that this will be of interest to you and we are always open to new ideas and suggestions. If you would like to guest edit one of the upcoming issues of the newsletter, focused on a specific region or topic, please do not hesitate to contact ISEA HQ. We look forward to hearing from you! ************************************************** ISEA2004 News http://www.isea2004.net ************************************************** DON'T MISS THE EARLY BIRD CAMPAIGN! -SAVE 30% ON TICKETS AND BOOK BEFORE 23 APRIL. Secure your access to the ISEA2004 symposium, including the all-inclusive ferry cruise (meals, travel, programme all in one), and register for the event at http://www.isea2004.net/tickets. By doing this by April 23 you will get tickets for the reduced price. CLUBBING AND NETWORKING BY THE POOL: THE FERRY PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS We are delighted to announce some highlights from the ISEA2004 cruise programme that interface live music, performances, funky club acts by the most prominent members of contemporary dj and vj culture, sound installations in unexpected places from lifts to swimming pools, interactive mobile games, networking sessions and panels. The entire ferry is turned into a multi-venue experience on the Main Stage at the Metropolitan Club, the Karaoke and Disco Lounge, the Sonic Pool, the Chill out deck as well as multiple workshop and network meeting modules. Even the Silja Opera ferry itself becomes source material for several projects. American artists Steve Bradley and Tim Nohe for example electrify the elevators with "ferrite" sounds. Each stage offers 24 hours of electronic music and live events spread out over the two cruises. The Interfacing Sound Cruise has a stronger focus on dance music while the Networked Experience cruise explores more experimental edges of electronic music. Participants can also navigate between live performances and interventions by ‘Open source sailors’ and various project presentations. Indeed, it is difficult to escape from interesting content on the ferry. When you take a swim in the pool, an underwater sound by Tuomas Toivonen will take you over - or rather in this case, under. The food menu on the ship is "co-curated" by Silja Opera main chef and the gastronomic ISEA2004 production team. It will be tough for the shy ones, as the ship is a true social mixer. However, in the quiet of the cabins TV-channels are programmed with special ISEA2004 screenings. *Interfacing Sound Cruise (Helsinki-Stockholm), August 15, 2004* The cruise kicks off in Helsinki, Finland, on August 15 with some 1400 participants boarding a cruiser ferry, the luxurious Silja Opera. This newest member of the Silja fleet is often described as a floating tropical island with pools, palms, jacuzzi and retractable glass roof. The first part of the trip, the Interfacing Sound Cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm, is organised in collaboration with Koneisto, the largest festival of electronic music in Nordic countries. The Interfacing Sound Cruise creates an electrified environment by mixing clubbing with video and sound art, cruising with installations, actions and sonic experiments. VIDEO NASTY EXPERIENCE Musician and British DJ FreQ Nasty (Darin Mcfadyen) is known for nasty breaks and classic releases, the latest of which ‘Bring Me the Head of FreQ Nasty’ on Skint records. FreQ Nasty has collaborated with a range of digital media artists and image makers to create The Video Nasty Experience, a project extending the club environment by merging sound and vision in an integrated, filmic style. The Video Nasty Experience uses custom-designed graphics, text and seamlessly montaged 2D and 3D animated characters. Currently FreQ Nasty is collaborating with Weta Digital (New Zealand), known for the legendary Gollum character in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Further video material is projected onto smaller screens by FreQ Nasty and VJ Cindy Lee, who have joined forces to create a visual representation and extension to the music as an invitation to an audiovisual experience to watch, participate in and dance to at the ferry’s groovy Metropolitan Night Club. SANKARI Petri Kola and Minna Nurminen are the artists behind the Sankari Show (‘sankari’ means hero in Finnish), a live participatory impro show combining stand-up comedy, drama and game. Sankari experiments with bringing aspects of human relations to a game. For this purpose, travellers participate in an interactive cinema-karaoke. In 2003, Sankari won the MindTrek competition for acclaimed emerging Finnish multimedia talent. The session at the ferry’s multi-screen Stardust disco is hosted by Finnish musician Zarkus Poussa. FLOAT Media artists Tamas Szakal (Hungary) and Tuomo Tammenpää (Finland) are the creators of the locative sound installation Float. In Float, the ship turns into a play-head and the route into a track. The surrounding islands build the score of the sound installation, the ship playing the track as it moves from one city to another. This unique experiment using various streams of data (GPS coordinates, depth, direction, speed etc.) results in a slowly developing soundscape that invites the travellers to take a dose of the moment, to listen. *Networked Experience (Stockholm-Mariehamn-Tallinn), August 16, 2004* After the Interfacing Sound Cruise, the journey continues the next day from Stockholm to ƒiland Islands and on to Tallinn under the file name Networked Experience. ICOLS STRATEGY DEFENSE AND ARMS FAIR Icols (International Corporation of Lost Structures), a collaboration of artists from across the globe, have designed ‘arms fair’ to act as a catalyst and provocation to covertly animate narratives and histories, such as Leonardo Da Vinci’s work as a designer of weapons, submarines, tanks, flying machines, military complexes and bridges for the Duke of Milan and Cesare Borgia. Complex shifts have occurred in the relationships between the artist and the idea of warfare during different expressions of modernism. Contemporary new media technology that artists use is often connected with modern warfare, such as GPS, augmented reality systems and VR-technologies. Icols presents a modified ‘arms fair’ in Mariehamn, capital of the demilitarized zone of ƒiland, to explore these relations. MONOTON Musician, hypermedia developer and content designer Konrad Becker created Monoton, the crucial Austrian electronic music act providing distinguished soundscapes. The Wire magazine (#175) singled out Monoton’s record Monotonprodukt07 among the 100 most important – and ignored - records of the 20th century. Konrad Becker will trigger the ferry audiences with minimalist rigour in a live-gig at the Metropolitan Night Club. (For the Interfacing Sound Cruise Becker will perform Super Mario and other Golden Classics, featuring a medley of 25 years of electronic music and noise with a reference to console 8bit gamesongs and a new flavour of garage.) LIFEBOAT Lifeboat is a project dealing with concepts of sustainability, survival and notions of biological, cultural and ideological re-generation, and its obverse, the degradation of life and all its manifestations. The project is contained within a lifeboat brought onto the Silja Opera ferry especially for this project. The lifeboat has become home to a Biotechnology lab producing tissue culture. Behind the project are the Symbiotica members Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Guy Ben-Ary and Nigel Helyer. Art and science collaborations are a larger theme within the ISEA2004 programme. Lifeboat will be part of a collaboration with Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre as the artists will be doing preparatory works in the centre’s Open Lab. SYREN Syren is a shipboard version of augmented audio reality developed by the New South Wales University, Australia. This system is developed for a new sea faring experience by artist Nigel Helyer to operate a sonic cartography in and around each of the ports that the ISEA2004 ferry visits with some additional points en-route. Syren is designed to operate with an array of surround sound speakers on one of the ferry’s outdoor decks. Geo-spatial information will be automatically accessed as the ship navigates the electronic charts associated with each of the ports of call via a high-resolution GPS system coupled to a digital compass. This positional information will in turn be used to render a surround-sound (3D) sound-scape corresponding to proximate physical features. NETWORKING SESSIONS The Networked Experience cruise will also include meetings, panels and roundtable lunches for regional networks of new media practitioners from Africa and Asia; discussion groups from MIT press; a panel on international listserv culture with representatives of a range of new media culture lists that emerged and flourished through the 90s examining strategies in networking and list management to encourage productive online communication spaces and industry specific meetings. After the groundbreaking cruise, ISEA2004 continues in Tallinn and Helsinki. Themes in Tallinn comprise Wearable Experience, Geopolitics of Media and Critical Interdisciplines: research, science, art and collaboration. ISEA2004 culminates in Helsinki with conferences, exhibitions, performances and works in city spaces exploring the themes Wireless Experience, Histories of the New, Critical Interaction Design and Open Source and Software as Culture. DON’T MISS THE EARLY BIRD! RESERVE YOUR TICKETS ON-LINE HERE: http://www.isea2004.net/tickets Welcome aboard! ISEA2004 crew ************************************************** Introduction by Julianne Pierce, ISEA Board Member ************************************************** On behalf of the ISEA Board, I am pleased to introduce the ISEA Newsletter #96, edited by the Chair of the Board, Nina Czegledy. For many years, Nina has been a strong advocate for the field of art and technology, as an artist, writer and curator. Through her international projects and collaborations Nina has also strongly focussed on women working with technology and digital media. In this issue of the ISEA Newsletter, Nina takes the area of wearables and 'smart' textiles and clothing as her topic. Increasingly dynamic textiles, responsive garments and ubiquitous computing are becoming areas of interest for artists as well as an expanding area for academic research and development. Nina is interested in exploring how women are involved in this growing field and in particular the perspective of women who are developing the technology and applications for intelligent clothing. A driving force behind much of this R & D is the development of commercial applications. Nina is interested to investigate the role that women are playing in this development and the discourses articulated around the social and cultural implications of embedding technology into textiles and clothing. What will it mean to wear intelligent clothing and why do we want our fabrics to become electronic? These are some of the questions explored by Nina in her interviews with Joanna Berzowska, Katherine Moriwaki and Kristina Andersen, all leading researchers and artists in this field. We hope that you enjoy this Newsletter and I wish to thank Nina for initiating this topical and interesting discussion. I also look forward to meeting ISEA members and artists at ISEA2004, where we will have the opportunity to sail on the ferry in our 'smart' outfits! Julianne Pierce ISEA Board, April 2004 ************************************************** Second Skin. The art of smart garments. Interviewing Joanna Berzowska, Katherine Moriwaki and Kristina Andersen Nina Czegledy. ************************************************** This past January at the Paris fashion shows, Emanuel Ungaro "chose to flaunt extraordinary swirls of colour, micro-miniskirts and ruffles and veils that could make sitting in a taxi or eating lunch physically impossible" reported the Economist in its March 16th, 2004 issue. While extravagancies of high couture present one extreme of the apparel spectrum, the chunkiness of smart clothes/ wearables, seemed to be equally inadequate for every-day use. Not anymore, as due to rapidly developing technologies, ongoing miniaturization and the production of materials equipped with special properties it became possible to integrate information and intelligence into single materials that can sense and interact. On first sight this "stuff" is deceptive as it might appear as silk fabric or a handbag - yet on close inspection, it functions entirely different from conventional materials. How? This and other questions will be explored through the practice of three artists working with responsive garments. I became genuinely fascinated with garment-based interfaces and wearable tools when I first heard Joey Berzowska 's presention on "bridging the gap between the world of fashion, consumer electronics and emerging technologies". Subsequent meetings with Katherine Moriwaki and Kristina Andersen bolstered my attraction to wearables and led to the following interviews and ensuing collaborations. As an introduction it is sufficient to say that not only is the development of responsive, intelligent objects/textiles a priority for many corporations, it is also claimed as a primary goal of our knowledge based society to integrate smart technology into our surroundings. It is no wonder that today some commercially available clothes contain vitamins and moisturizing creams, allow the measuring and monitoring of individual biometric data, and combine conductive fabric structures with microchip technology. Some of these products by combining various resources such as energy source, memory and communication tools, effectively provide an interface between an individual and his/her environment and thus function as an interactive second skin, I would like to sincerely thank Joey, Kristina and Katherine for their generous contribution. ************************************************** Joanna Berzowska is an Assistant Professor of Design Art and Digital Image/Sound at Concordia University in Montreal. Her work and research deal primarily with "soft computation": electronic textiles, responsive clothing as wearable technology, reactive materials and squishy interfaces. She is the founder of XS design studio in Montreal. She is the founder and senior design advisor of International Fashion Machines in Boston, where she developed the first electronic ink wearable animated display and Electric Plaid, an addressable color-change textile. She received her Masters of Science from MIT for her work titled Computational Expressionism. She worked with the Tangible Media Group of the MIT Media Lab on research projects such as the musicBottles. She directed Interface Design at the Institute for Interactive Media at the University of Technology in Sydney. She holds a BA in Pure Mathematics and a BFA in Design Arts. Her art and design work has been shown in the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in NYC, SIGGRAPH, Art Directors Club in NYC, Australian Museum in Sydney, NTT ICC in Tokyo and Ars Electronica Center in Linz among others. She has lectured about the intersections of art, design, technology and computation at SIGGRAPH, Banff New Media Institute in Canada and Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy among others. http://www.berzowska.com Nina Czegledy: For those who are unfamiliar with this field, please describe the concepts of Tangible Media, Soft Computing and Electronic Fashions? Joanna Berzowska: Tangible Media is a term coined by Hiroshi Ishii of the MIT Media Lab to describe tangible user interfaces which employ physical objects, surfaces, and spaces as tangible embodiments of digital information. These include foreground interactions with graspable objects and augmented surfaces, exploiting the human senses of touch and kinesthesia. They also include the idea of background information displays that use "ambient media" (light, sound, airflow, and water movement) to communicate digitally-mediated information at the periphery of human awareness. Smart Materials (such as "smart fabrics") can be thought of as materials that replace machines and have the potential to simplify engineering considerably. They integrate the functionality of various separate parts into a single material. This is mechanically efficient because it eliminates the need for parts to be physically interconnected. Electronic textile (sometimes called "smart fabrics" or "wearables") refers to a textile substrate that integrates capabilities for sensing (biometric or environmental), wireless communication, power transmission and interconnection technology to allow sensors or things such as information processing devices to be networked together within a fabric. The substrate for an electronic textile (the textile "circuit board") is often constructed from various conductive yarns instead of wires. Soft Computing is a term that I use to describe the use of conductive yarns and fabrics, active materials and flexible sensors to allow the construction of electronic circuits on soft substrates. It implies a move away from traditional electronics and an exploration of emergent materials that can enable physical computation for the body and personal spaces. NC: When I first heard you talk about your research at MIT, I was impressed by your emphasis on the aesthetic quality and the social aspects of wearable computing. Is this a consistently important consideration in your work? JB: My research focuses on the development and design of electronic textiles and wearable technology in a social and cultural context. I develop hardware and design electronic fabric applications that focus on aesthetics and the idea of play, as opposed to the prevalent utilitarian focus of wearable technology design on universal connectivity and productivity applications. In terms of wearable computing, we have to step back and ask why do we want our fabrics to be electronic? What kind of information processing do we want to carry out on our bodies? What kind of functionality do we want to enable inside our clothes? The clothing and electronic industries are looking for the killer app, the next big thing that will introduce wearable computing to a mass market. At the same time, many research directions are misguided. The prevalent focus on health monitoring and surveillance technologies for children and the elderly clearly reflects the military funding structures and fails to deliver appealing product ideas. Wearable technology in the form of clothes is thousands of years old. Clothing is our personal interface to the world. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes that physical artifacts help us objectify the self in three ways. They can be viewed as symbols of personal power, symbols of the continuity of the self through time, involvement in the present, mementos of the past and signposts to the future and symbols of the permanence of relationships that define the individual in a social framework. The idea of costuming is thousands of years old and is effectively used to hide, reveal and distort the self that we present to the world. We use clothing to express a lot of things: social class, economic class, mood, self-esteem, sexuality, profession, religion and overt labeling through labels with the associated lifestyle future promised by advertising. The killer app for wearable computing is to convey personal identity information. This is called fashion and it is mostly visual. In my research group, we are developing dynamic clothing, which has the ability to change color, shape or texture over time. We are also developing reactive clothing that responds to input with sound, animation or some other state change. The behavior depends on materials used in the construction of the garment, either structurally, as an embedded element or as decoration. We can think of clothing as a second skin that allows us to construct meaning in interaction with the world. One application of reactive fashion is to enable the idea of changing our skin, our identity and our cultural context. NC: Tell us more about "affective sensing" and "meaningful body data mapping"? JB: It is easy to get sensor data. We can sense position and acceleration. We can track gaze; record muscle tension. With instruments such as a Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) sensor, a Blood Volume Pulse (BVP) sensor, a Respiration sensor and an Electromyogram (EMG) we can even suggest some degree of "affective sensing"... The hard part is to develop meaningful mappings. One approach is to construct costumes (wearable "instruments") that constrain/invite very specific physical movement by imposing physical constraints or deploying restraining accessories. In my current production-based research, I develop enabling technology for electronic textiles based upon my theoretical evaluation of the historical and cultural modalities of textiles as they relate to future computational forms. My work involves the use of conductive yarns and fibers for power delivery, communication and networking, as well as new materials for display that use electronic ink, nitinol and thermochromic pigments. The textiles are created using traditional textile manufacturing techniques: spinning conductive yarns, weaving, knitting, embroidering, sewing and printing with inks. NC: In the introduction to your Mythic Object course, you noted the increasingly pervasive deployment of technology, computation and communications in everyday objects Can you elaborate on this? JB: We live in a complex world composed of bits and atoms. We regularly interact with people, computers and other objects in the environment. The computing and communication capabilities we integrate into physical objects are rapidly increasing, but do not necessarily translate into "rich" interactions. As thinkers and designers, it is imperative to ensure that the interactions between people, computers and the physical environment are useful, enjoyable and, most importantly, meaningful. NC: Do your students become involved with a hands-on approach in their studies? JB: I teach two courses at Concordia right now that deal with these general topics. Both of them involve lots of studio work, including production of physical objects and work with simple electronics. See: Second Skin and Soft Wear http://hybrid.concordia.ca/~joey/classes/skin/index.html Tangible Media and Physical Computing http://hybrid.concordia.ca/~joey/classes/physical/index.html NC: How do you see the future use of dynamic textiles and responsive garments? JB: Electronic textiles, also referred to as smart fabrics, are quite fashionable right now. Their close relationship with the field of computer wearables gives us many diverging research directions and possible definitions. On one end of the spectrum, there are pragmatic applications such as military research into interactive camouflage or textiles saturated with nanorobots that can heal wounded soldiers. On the other end of the spectrum, work is being done by artists and designers in the area of reactive clothes: "second skins" that can adapt to the environment and to the individual. Fashion, health and telecommunication industries are also pursuing the vision of clothing that can express aspects of people's personalities, needs and desires or augment social dynamics through the use and display of aggregate social information. ************************************************** Katherine Moriwaki is an artist and researcher investigating networks, wearables, and the experiential resonance of technologically mediated public space. Currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Networks and Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG) at Trinity College Dublin, Katherine's dissertation is focused on creative and artistic applications of networked communications and emergent behavior in public space. In addition to her research, Katherine teaches in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Trinity. Formerly a Design Fellow at Parsons School of Design Katherine co-developed and taught "Fashionable Technology", an interdisciplinary collaboration studio exploring the interstices of wearable technology, art, and fashion. Her work has appeared in IEEE Spectrum Magazine, and has presented at numerous festivals and peer-reviewed conferences. www.kakirine.com www.kakirine.com/projects www.personaldebris.com NC: Can you describe wearables in your own words? Katherine Moriwaki: In common usage, "wearables" are referred to computational technology, which is mounted or embedded onto the physical body. It is most often associated with wearable computing -and in the popular mind, might be associated with cyborgs and geeks. But I think wearables encompass a large area of work, which interfaces with the body, and has a tradition and history that traces back to ritual body modification and includes common forms of "technology" such as corrective lenses or pocket organizers. It is important to point out that there are many different kinds of "wearables" whose usefulness and application in real life range from military, industrial, and entertainment, contexts. When I use the term "wearables" I am typically referring to fashionable, aesthetic and playful works which perform the function of mind/body augmentation first referred to by Vannevar Bush, but in a critical and thought-provoking way. NC: Your work is often focused on urban public environment - how and when did you become interested in wearable projects? KM: I have had a variety of influences at different stages in my life. I think my current interests reflect my long standing interest in fashion and the body. I used to make my own clothes as a young kid, and my mother was trained in the performing arts and modern dance, so there was always an aspect of the aesthetic and performative in my life. As for combining those interests with digital technologies I suppose things really started to connect while I was doing my Master's at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. And I must admit that work by Philips' Intelligent Fibres Division, and Maggie Orth were hugely inspirational for me at the time, showing a real break-away vision from the geek aesthetic of wearable computing into something softer and more socially appealing. As for my interest in the urban public environment, many of my early formative experiences unfolded in two very different but well known cities: Los Angeles and New York. There was a time when I had a very active relationship between these two places, and the process of negotiation, of understanding and moving between divergent physical and psychic realities was very powerful. I have a background in Film and the multiplicity of Narrative. Central to this experience is the body. It is the first interface and clothing and personal accessories can be seen as extensions of that. I like to think my work occupies the contested ground upon which other disciplines converge. NC: How would you describe your work-methodology? KM: My methodology is comprised of both art and interaction design practice. Often I'm looking at the social and cultural dimension of new technology rather than producing solutions, or optimizing a technology. I see my work as comprised of creating relationships, of providing alternative ways of relating to the self and the environment. I tend to approach issues from a variety of angles. This will include research about a particular topic, as well as design studies and observation. Each project is different. I don't have a formula but I do continue to work with the dialogue created by my own ideas and others‚ reactions and thoughts. I work a lot with the process of disruption‚ and the value of things that break. For example, it is the goal of many designers to have things work perfectly but we live in an imperfect world, in which rupture and breakage are everyday components of living. It is these moments, which often yield great insight into questions about technology that, need to be asked. I like to think of programming bugs and unintended consequence. It's those unexpected challenges that are most difficult and interesting. I like to see my work as exploring aspects of that. NC: Can you tell me about networked garments, specifically your own projects and the element of unpredictability? KM: I see networked garments as a part of the long tradition of telematic art, as well as a natural consequence of the increasing proliferation of communications technology into our everyday life. In a world of ubiquitous computing, it would only seem natural that clothing would acquire new communicative possibilities. Ideas related to networks and networking are very topical right now and the ways in which clothing and accessories insinuate themselves into our sense of self and identity is a powerful issue as more and more of our surroundings are networked with computational technology. In most of my projects I have dealt with networking, if even in a very simple or basic way. RADIUS for example used the movement of the body to drive a visual display on a skirt. The larger idea for the project was a network of garments, which could communicate their use of patterns to each other. Also, I was interested in clothing as an "unexpected canvas" and designed the skirt to appear for all intents and purposes as a "normal skirt" whose only indication of an electronic component was in the sporadic movement of the wearer triggering small lights within the skirt. RECOIL deals more with proxemics, and how connections between the self and others are altered by disruption to ordinary physical patterns people have grown accustomed to. For example, in New York City subways, people often avoid touching each other, or form their own „space bubble". Unwanted closeness or encounters with others is seen at best as an inconvenience, with the main desire to move efficiently from one point to another. My conception with RECOIL was to draw attention to the physicality of our bodies, as an interface and of our sense of self to re-assert bodily awareness. To do this, I used magnets embedded in clothing to create unexpected and sometimes inappropriate connections between the body, others, and the environment. When a person wears a RECOIL garment, there is a sense of having to "re-learn" how to move and interact physically with others. The unpredictability of one's physical and bodily configurations, the lack of control, is an opening for new experience but also evolves into a new opportunity for self-expression. RECOIL can be seen as a networked garment but at a level of actual physical contact. With Umbrella.net and another new project, Oscillating Windows - I am exploring two aspects of group behavior and network communications: circumstance and enforced cooperation. Umbrella.net requires a spontaneous emergence of circumstance -think of flash mobs, but without the conscious planning. Unexpected occurrences challenge personal body space but with Umbrella.net, rather than directly challenging the physicality of an individual, Umbrella.net seeks to challenge the individual's concept of what physical co-location can mean, to make the individual aware of small actions and how these in aggregate can create later effects. By making the individual aware of "the network" Umbrella.net seeks to give form to the many underlying networks which pervade our public space. By channeling this connection through a common accessory, such as an umbrella, the heritage of material objects, and their relationship to our sense of self, contribute to the experience in a way that totally differs from simply using some communications 'device', that does not carry a rich context and history. I think this distinction matters, and is partially why fashionable 'wearables', can catch the imagination and enthusiasm of the general public. Oscillating windows looks at 'enforced cooperation'‚ or the dynamics of self-interest, and how this creates opportunities for new network relationships. We have been doing a lot of recent research on oscillating windows and some very interesting issues are emerging with the project. For example: if people 'are the network' in multi-hop dynamic routing ad-hoc networks, that is, the network communications infrastructure is dependent on a critical mass of mobile nodes to transmit its message ˆ how do we make people aware of, and interested in the possibilities that network might afford? Can we use this critical mass for artistic and creative aims? Can we use this new technical capability to frame and address interpersonal communication? I say definitively, yes! Aspects of proximity and interrelation in public space intersect dynamically with fashion and social signification in public space. Recent workshops show that when people are aware that they are 'carrying' part of the network they respond with defensive and playful behaviors. These behaviors are central to any sort of interactive exchange between people, but the addition of computational and communications technology adds an extra dimension that can help us to better understand where and how these technologies should integrate into our lives. NC: What is your vision of a world where responsive garments become common place? KM: I usually have two scenarios attached to such a future. In one, we are given all of these capabilities for expressing ourselves in a variety of modes. It is human nature to communicate, and I am continually impressed by how that desire and capability takes form. So in this future, we develop an enhanced awareness of systems and processes, which have always occurred around us, but the additional perspective of wearables and responsive garments allow us to see these patterns with greater clarity. We gain in self-understanding and enhancement of the self. The other less utopian scenario sees us overburdened in an increasingly scripted world of hyper-interactivity. Wearables are the manifestation of our psychological neuroses, serving as the channel for nagging insecurity, or as artificial means of bolstering an increasingly fragmented sense of self. Here wearables are commerce driven apparitions, which have taken physical form, latching onto us, and holding tight until death. The real future is somewhere in-between. Most of the fun is in determining the middle ground. ************************************************** Kristina Andersen, works with interactions and concepts to create unusual objects, protocols and experiences using iterative processes informed by games and play. She holds an MA specializing in wearable computers, an MSc [distinction] specializing in tangible objects in virtual spaces, and was a research fellow at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IT), where in collaboration with Margot Jacobs and Laura Polazzi she worked on the FARAWAY project. The latter researches and creates interactions using sensory and symbolic aspects of emotions in order to convey a sense of presence between people who are physically distant but emotionally close. Other recent projects include Whisper, in collaboration with Thecla Schiphorst and Suzan Kozel, where the emphasis lies on using physiological data as input for an audio-visual environment and responsive intelligent garments. She is currently artist in residence at STEIM (Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music) in Amsterdam working on 'ensemble', a set of sensor-based wearable musical controllers developed for musical experiences for children as well as honorary visiting design fellow at the University of York. http://ensemble.lockergirl.com/ NC: How did you become interested in responsive garments and wearables? Kristina Andersen: I was interested in the space of the 10 centimetres immediately outside our bodies and the way we negotiate the issues around permission, movement and intimacy close to us. Clothing operates in exactly this zone, we carry it for protection or show and as such it communicates symbolically both with the body inside and the space outside. Also I come from a family with strong tradition for fabric-based crafts so working with thread and fabrics was an obvious choice for me. It is a means of prototyping and production that I can own and control and that makes me more independent. NC: Your latest projects especially the 'ensemble' works in progress focused on interaction with children are fascinating.. Can you describe your concept and motivation? KA: 'ensemble' is an investigation into sensors and sound. The system consists of seven garments fitted with wireless sensors that control sound samples and modifiers in real time. The garments are played with by small groups of pre-school children. The sensors used are light-sensors, accelerometers, pressure-sensors, linear expansion (pull), sonar (distance) and tilt. The sensors are placed in
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.