Category: multimedia


Visual Language (Encyclopedia Pictura)

October 26th, 2011 — 05:18 pm

In my thesis, I state:

“I think visual language evolution is on a trajectory toward becoming a real-world object. The shape of these letterform objects might correspond to embodied structures: visual analogs of mathematics that arise from the acoustic resonance inside our bodies. It can be argued that much of proportional aesthetics (theories of golden mean symettry etc.) arises from embodiment, evolutionary activity over millennia etching patterns in physiognomy.

What I am suggesting is that innate shapes (geometry or topology in Thom’s terms) already exist for letterforms. They implicitly underlie our oral audible language, they are subconscious sculptures intuited from the shape of diaphragm, larynx, mouth, lips and tongue. They have been etched there by speaking. Some shapes are personal, some shapes are cross-cultural. Yet it is these shapes and vibrational presences that are being given birth and dimensional form within 3D animation, ads, and digital poetry.”

Computation provides us with unprecedented tools to implement such a vision. Perhaps the most fundamental agreement with my viewpoint comes from an unusual source: Encyclopedia Pictura are a trio of motion-graphic artists who have made extraordinary music videos for artists such as Bjork and clients like Spore.

Near the bottom of their website menu is a discrete link to a page devoted to visual language: a set of drawings and eventually doodles which outline their vision for an augmented reality application which utilizes morphological text that is relationally appropriate to the sound of the voice of the speakers.

In other words they propose precisely what I have advocated in my thesis and worked towards with works like Human–Mind–Machine. Except they have actually gone farther, providing one-to-one relationships between sounds and candidate shapes. Continue reading »

Comments Off on Visual Language (Encyclopedia Pictura) | 3D, animism, augmented, conceptual, kinetic, multimedia

2009 : David Clark’s 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein

April 15th, 2011 — 05:34 pm

As a meta-monument, a monolith, to the confluence of philosophy and poetry, and an extended meditation on the convergence of thought in multimedia, David Clark’s 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein is a rapturous virtuosic sprawling labyrinth that confounds, nourishes and provokes. It is (in my view) a consummate example of hybrid interactivity, future cinema, net-art and scholarship. It is in effect a poem. Written, directed and animated by Clark with a team of collaborative assistance, 88 Constellations establishes learning as an aesthetic act, philosophy as path-based, and trivia as profound.

This SimpleViewer gallery requires Macromedia Flash. Please open this post in your browser or get Macromedia Flash here.
This is a WPSimpleViewerGallery

Each of the 88 constellation lines is a micro film woven around ricochet facts. Parts of a possible path : Wittgenstein didn’t talk until he was 4 years old, gave away a fortune, went into exile, read pulp novels, published one thin book. Thus simple things become thick with synchronicity.

Why 88? Here’s a morsel of the voice-over: “Constellations and piano keys, two upright infinities, two fat ladies, 1, 8, 8, 9, Chaplin Hitler and Wittgenstein,  star-crossed sons of fate, born to love and born to hate, one would last to 88, ….” Chaplin, Wittgenstein, Hitler were all born around the same day in 1889. Somehow these lives become vectors that hurtle through modernist architecture into the Twin  Towers.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey to Sept. 11th 2001, science fiction pervades pop culture until the antagonism between high and low thought itself pops and there in the rubble is genuine revelation. Stockhausen refers to the twin towers’ collapse as the greatest act of art. Repetition and intentionality colliding with the sturdy architecture of our beliefs even as it constructs lies and legends. Art for ark’s sake. Form follows functionlessness.

In my view, Clark is constructing epic poems. Just as the ancient oral poets regurgitated the news of their time in convulsive memorable writhing heaps of meaning, Clark investigates coincidences until we “connect the dots”. Probing the paradox of superstition’s roots in fact, parables growing out of perturbed patterns. Each viewer becomes witness to Wittgenstein’s profound yet often incomprehensible speaking to himself. For Clark thought occurs inside and outside us in conversations with culture. King Kong’s 1976 finale on the Twin Towers sits side by side with an elliptical morsel on the Petronia Towers: “Two tall twins side by side, 88 lights, a ghost in the sky, 88 floors, 88 floors, 88 floors in Kuala Lumpur, the world’s tallest building has 88 floors, 2 Islamic stars, 8 sides a door.” The Tribute of Light created on the site of the Twin Towers is created by 88 lights; it all echoes Albert Speer’s cathedral of light for Hitler’s Nuremberg rally. Homosexuals, gypsies and jews all gassed. In Clark’s words, these lights look outside ourselves to look in, in an act of reverse astronomy. Culture becomes a catastrophe, a mutating shape we impose meanings upon.

As virtuosic as it is sinuous, in 88 Constellations enigmas sprout from collisions and connections erupt from hidden symmetries. “Infinity is the number 8 lying down”. Goddard making a film about cities and woman. To get laid; to lie; to lie down. Language too lies down, and lies and gives up at its limit which is love. As lovers discuss Wittgenstein and Derrida in a cafe, concepts become corporal and eventually confound, we become the cream in their coffee, harvesting the crushed whirling suctional effervescent force of spoons.

Wittgenstein wrote: “Our words will only express facts.” Wittgenstein also said “Nothing is hidden.” Yet here in the 88 Constellations everything through surplus seems obscure, making less sense as it makes more. Loos: “Design purged of ornamentation” in the style of the Tractatus, effortless computation.

Moving sideways through such a ripe evanescent turmoil of excess facticity, Clark repeats certain themes like fugue motifs (repetition, logic, 88, repressions, twins), weaving toward an idiosyncratic reservoir where innate ideas absorb and integrate their opposites. Similarly the sound-scape (designed by Clark) operates contrapuntally, as a generative modular entity: sparse, elegant and effective. Appropriate for an architecture of “more is less.” Closure refused; the question remains a quest: “Who is Ludwig Wittgenstein?”

And the question for us is: “What is David Clark?” A poet? Animator? Musician? Scholar? Philosopher? Culture junkie? Provocateur? Pulp mediast?

Wittgenstein loved mystery novels. I love 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein.

Comments Off on 2009 : David Clark’s 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein | conceptual, kinetic, multimedia, thesis

The Future: Augmented Walkabouts

March 9th, 2011 — 09:19 pm

“Playable text had earlier been achieved by interactive video installation – Tom White and David Small’s Stream of Consciousness (1998) and Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv’s Text Rain (1999) – but in the Cave environment, raining, or swarming, text becomes truly volumetric.”
Rita Raley, Writing 3D. Special Issue of Iowa Review. Sept. 2006

CAVEs are expensive items and it is unlikely they will achieve market penetration. On the other hand, cell-phones are cheap and rapidly becoming ubiquitous. And if the screen-size trend (identified as far as I know by Bill Buxton) toward wall screens (big) and handhelds (small) continues, it is reasonable to assume that some (that is to say: lots of) digital writing will become mobile, geo-locative and ultimately augmented. Narratives will superimpose themselves over normative reality. There are numerous examples of geo-locative narratives done with audio (Janet Cardiff, Murmur, Teri Rueb, etc…) and the artist BLUESCREEN did a piece where fictions could only be read at specific locations, but what I want to discuss here briefly is a foreseeable form of mobile literary immersion where the reader moves freely around finding phrases that can be both seen (superimposed as if extant) and heard; literature that can be played and plays out (like Blast Theory but with augmented reality on a cellphone) as if it were real.

Augmented reality is a subset of what I call assimilation of text by image. Imagine, for instance, I place GPS-triggered text over every road sign in my neighbourhood; readers who point their cellphone cameras at these signs will see this new text, superimposed as if it were there. There is an augmented app for mobile devices that already background subtracts, compensates for light, adjusts for viewing angle (emulating perspective), and incorporates the text directly over the actual objects: Word Lens. As of this writing, Word Lens simply translates between Spanish and English; future versions and spin-offs will obviously become writing tools that enable authoring onto the city, writing onto the surface of reality. Imagine (faster processors, better cameras and)Word Lens functionality wed to Layar, an augmented reality app that allows authors to create gps-specific overlays of cities accessible through cell-phones.  It echoes the vision of billboard-poet and QR-code visionary Giselle Beiguelman, who in Issue 1 of Emerging Language Practices ( April 2010), re-expresses what she has written about before: “Mobile Tagging is a phenomenon directly related to the popularization of mobile telephony and the popularization of QR-Codes. It is a kind of writing practice for the reading to be held in transit, based on a bimedimensional bar code – QR-Code (Quick Response Code). In other words, it is nomadic writing for expanded reading”.

Not only will this expanded reading alter the accessibility of reading, it will certainly accelerate subtle shifts in perception about text, destabilizing notions of where it is, who wrote it, and how it can be shared. It seems safe to assume that it will become increasingly difficult in upcoming eras to differentiate between inscription traces that originate in matter and others that emerge from remote display processes. Writing will detach from the womb of matter even as it paradoxically becomes more location and viewer specific.

Postscript Update: Two contemporary AR practitioners of note, the poetic short-story writer and future cinema researcher Caitlin Fisher has her AR piece Requim online — I saw Requim at DAC in 2009 and was charmed by its warped nostalgia and mutant pop-up book appeal — and the other practitioner of note: poet and MIT post-doc Amaranth Borsuk whose Between Page and Screen AR work (also online) exhibited at 2010 ELO conference was both technically superb and evocative.


Comments Off on The Future: Augmented Walkabouts | augmented, multimedia, thesis

2000 – ? : Dreaming Methods

February 13th, 2011 — 09:12 pm

Like the tentacles or root system of a macabre plant, Dreaming Methods (a website developed by programmer-poet Andy Campbell often with primary collaborator/partner videographer Judi Alston) distributes audacious and sensual digital fiction thru multiple media: browsers, apps and pdfs. Its vision is disturbing yet never horrific: conspiracy theories, incest, suicides, rape, dreams, runaways, amnesiacs. Brooding soundscapes. Destabilizing (often impeccable) interactivity. Dreaming Methods provokes a gliding psychotic trance.

Info dribbles thru the stale air of decaying flats, the polluted breezes of derelict rail-lands, infected with casual malice, ripe with stories. Each work sutures vignettes of eerie tranquility with implied violence, trauma scenes. Its like being paralyzed and a bit stoned. There is always a story about someone who might have`done something, but no one is ever seen. No faces appear. Time shatters into melancholic shards. Psychosis is just off-screen.

Words seep out of furniture. Their meanings as fragmentary and ephemeral as dust. Chapter readings often require fulfillment of goals. Readers become players as they are played (sustained and engaged, drawn in and drawn upon). Scale shifts frequently: rooms zoom into details. The edge of a decaying mattress. An old calculator. Text is swimming everywhere. Memories saturate space, as if molecules were tongues. The system is permeated with stories all the way down. Yet even proximity cannot resolve the palpable abiding sense of alienation.

Dreaming Methods is a creepy excursion into the hypnagogic trenches: part waking, part wonder, part abyss. It is also an exercise in sustained stylistic grace and a profound engagement with digital literature. Over a decades`work, Andy Campbell has succeeded in developing a signature that combines sophisticated coding, narrative torque and aesthetic fastidiousness. It has a bit of the glitch of hi-res.net during their donnie darko days before they got totally branded. On Dreaming Methods, the work aims not to sell or to shock but to shelter in homage, lost memories, latent dreams, bits and bandwidth, esoteric audio-visuals and intricate code. Swaying between being lost and feeling loss, it iterates (and exits) loops both computationally and emotionally.

Comments Off on 2000 – ? : Dreaming Methods | 3D, kinetic, multimedia