Category Archives: Research

surv-surv

ART & LIFE – Hasan Elahi (Tracking Transience 2.0)

Hasan Elahi at Ted

In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous? 

Al Gore

Who would imagine paranoia and fear of not having enough information could spark off an art. This is true for the case of Hasan Elahi, a New York raised artist cum an educator at Rutgers University, who was mistaken for a terrorist by the U.S government during the wake of 9/11.

He was firstly interrogated at the airport on his return trip from Europe and to prove his whereabouts he showed his PDA with his detailed class schedule etc to pacify them. However, he was called back again for more interviews and a lie detector test. The suspicion of the wake of 9/11, resulted in a gush of investigation on profiles of possible terrorist and without having sufficient information, the FBI resorted to such unreasonable options. This resorted in Hasan retaliating such ridiculous background checks that he decided to create Tracking Transience 2.0.

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Hasan merged art and life when he first installed a GPS tracking device to his cellphone and he will update his location from his phone which will be recorded in his computer. He then created a website  http://www.trackingtransience.net for viewers to document where is his whereabouts with evidence of photos of the places he was at ,what he was eating, what he was doing etc.

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THE ART OF SURVEILLANCE

His life is being watched over by everybody including the FBI. By allowing the public to access his information /data publicly, he redefined surveillance as an act of willingness on the targeted party(himself). It is his deliberate act of he can do a better surveillance compared to the FBI by giving his geographical location at the point of time and his timestamp on the photos he took at that moment. His art is his over excessive documentation of his whereabouts about his life and what he does to the point  audience may find it not as interesting when someone hides a side of his life? Over excessive narcissism comparable to instagram,twitter or other social media? I think its his art of irritating people with redundant things like the toilet he went etc to the point people will tend to forget or ignore his daily activity. That is his art. Including his life into his art, he created a reassurance to the public especially the FBI that his life is as banal as it can be and there is nothing to fear.

Data as an art form diminishes privacy in Hasan’s works and questions our consumption of database and how it may intrude people’s way of life but to Hasan he embraces such public exposure to his life. He is giving the audience what they want and not hiding his life and information about himself.  Putting all these information out there, he is telling the audience most of his life yet there is still bits of anonymity in his life,knowing very little about him.  An archival of data giving access of information to everyone,sharing everything devaluing private information. He is also able to access the logs of people viewing his information data from his website. So who is surveilling who now?

Here is a video of his experience: FBI-here I am

You can check out more about Hasan’s creative process and documentation from Prakash posts.(updating soon)

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Stelarc-the cyborgian visionary

Stelarc and his cyborg hand writing the word “evolution”

It’s been a few weeks since the class went for the talk by Stellar. Stelarc has been a inspiration for me due to his passionate art of exploring the limitations and capabilities of the human body. His work is a fusion of his body and machines that assist his body in carrying out different tasks e.g. walking etc.

Stelarc is a living example of an experimentation of technology into oneself like a wearable technology. He did a surgery where he even input a cast of his ear into his forearm which had bluetooth capabilities. He tried walking on a giant machine resembling a spider leg. He even went lengths to pierce his whole body and suspend it in mid air. He is embracing technology as a second body. Unafraid of these foreign machineries. Could it be that he sees the future of possibilities with technology?

I do adore his intense research in the field of technology and the human body. Bionic man in the making!

Bionic man possible?

here is the photo we took with Stelarc!

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Jodi.org

“Ugly commercial sons of bitches.”

Jodi 5-word acceptance speech (a Webby Award tradition) to criticize the event

Jodi.org is an art collective by Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans. It involves software art and artistic computer games modification of old games like Wolfenstein 3D, Max Payne 2 and many others. they disemble the structure of the coding that makes the game and reconstruct it to make something that doesn’t make intuitive sense.

“Something Wrong is Nothing Wrong”

On first interaction with the website, I actually thought my computer was infected with some virus or spyware while browsing through jodi .org. This is due to the interface which reacts absurdly to either typing or the click of a mouse. The website is also not consistent where for every visit, it will change its interface and it’s interaction.

sample of how jodi.org works

(On first glance it looks like a set of green cluster of TEXT but on closer look it is a ascii of a hydrogen bomb. (refer to Prakash post on more information on the text aspect of Jodi.org)

There is It’s quite interesting how Jodi.org is an interactive art platform that has this familarity about the interface(you can even interact with the interface eg Googlemaps), however, they mainpulated or disintegrate the coding to its basic form which makes the interface bizarre. Especially for their version of googlemap, there are weird symbols that doesn’t make sense seem to flood the screen excessively forming patterns of interaction with each other.

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It seems like an act of hackerism and the glitch in the interface just stun you for a while. The website interplays with popular user interaction on the web like blogs,google maps,website,source code and manipulate them to look bizarre with some sense of humour through their manipulation of the interface. It’s like they are controlling how you interact with the website instead of the other way round.

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Strangely I see a beauty in the art of digital web interface manipulation. Such random repetitive patterns and colours interact with each other as the viewer helplessly watch their computer being controlled by the interface. Some term it “art hacking” at its finest. So do enjoy and step back and watch the cyberworld controlling your screens at jodi.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jodi_%28art_collective%29

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Life 2.0-Bluntly Berblinger

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An alternate life-that’s what Second life is all about.

It is interesting how the virtual world could replicate life through an online platform where participants could recreate their dream job, spouse,house etc without any expensive cost and minus the hassle of real life. It feels like an opportunity for participants to rediscover their alter-ego and just be themselves without being judged physically. It is  about connecting emotionally without the risk of physical abuse.

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In Second Life, Bluntly Berblinger escapes his marriage life to have a cheap thrill affair with a married woman through an avatar he made that is of resemblance to him in the virtual world. He feels an attachment to Amie Goode in the virtual world which he pursues in real life to the extent of meeting her at her hometown. He caused her rocky relationship to falter and she divorced from her real life husband to stay with him. However, he soon realized that the Amie he sees in the virtual world is different in real life which annoys him and makes him think twice about the relationship.

The airy fairy life that the virtual reality portray betrays the very well-being of living life in the real world-where there are obstacles. Yes it may be convenient to find romance,friendships etc in the virtual world but in the real world it is about facing these everyday life problems which people tend to fend off.

Berblinger is clouded by the fancy idea of  virtual romance addiction that is convenient that he forgets to accept the other party the way she is like in real life. Instead he ran away citing reasons they are not compatible. He neglects his real marriage and assume an avatar to fulfill his desires that he is unable to get in real life.  Till now I still am interested how he manage to get away with his real wife.

Bodies in Flight-Doublehappiness

Hence, talking about relationship in the virtual world and the real world, it reminds me of my previous post “Flight in Bodies-Doublehappiness(2000) where assuming relationship in the virtual world and the real world differs.

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The Post-Human Condition- KRAFTWERK

 The musical cyborg of electro-pop

KRAFTWERK

Kraftwerk, a German electronic music band formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970 maximizes the technological mediums of the 70s to craft an interesting  repetitive catchy electronic tunes that seem very robotic. In a way, they are even seen as pioneers of electro-pop music.

Kraftwerk’s uses music and lyrics to represent the post-war European urban life with our dependency on machines and technology to run our lives such as driving by car on Autobahn,train, using computers etc. It seems like a social commentary that machines are a part of us, like a biological extension to ease our everyday work. A celebration of modernity yet this subtle repercussions of this depency on machines to run our lives just like in  Robocop

Ok kidding! I mean it won’t be so extreme to that extent but it’s kind of scary to think our world dominated by machines and we will be slacking our ass out at homes doing literally nothing! This comes to my point about the post-human condition where we get too comfortable with life. Will our existence be non-productive or valued? I mean it’s unfair to say non-productive because machines does help out ease our burden but will it be to the point machines are controlling our lives?

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Watching Kraftwerk “I am Robot” and “The Man Machine” shows this inhuman character going about doing everyday mundane cyclic things. Its like we are slaved by our own creation. They even exemplify this alienation of technology through their live performances in which some they do not appear live but instead used  life-size mannequins and robots to conduct official photo shoots.

But put aside those performances that reflect their “foreseen” society, i do enjoy the mash of instruments that are digitally altered to make it sound more electronic and did I mention they also made some custom self made instruments to push further the limits of music technology? especially the use of vocoder in their lyrics.  for those unfamiliar how a vocoder sounds like, here’s a link: (the first part)

Altering natural sound and making it mechanical to produce a soundtrack-that’s the main style of Kraftwerk that I perceive them.

 

THE THIRD SPACE: Bodies in Flight – DoubleHappiness (2000) UPDATED

Bodies in Flight- DoubleHappiness(2000)

Double Happiness, a transport

[Transport (tr_ns pôr_), v.t., to convey, remove: to send overseas, as a convict: to translate: to carry off (as by the fairies, Shakespeare): to throw into an ecstasy.]

BODIES IN FLIGHT performances infuses new technologies in alternative venues that reconstructs the conventional relationship between audiences and performers, and audiences and place.

They collaborated  internationally  with spell#7 (a local performance based group), to create a piece that explores this intercultural relationship over the fusion of text, contemporary theatre and information technology through DoubleHappiness(2000), a multi-media performance with accompanying web-site doublehappines2.com.

The Third Space in my opinion is an alternative realm of expression where physical space due to either through cultural upbringing etc. restricts such expression.  Doublehappiness(2000) gives the audience two space(the virtual and the physical theatre space) where audience will experience both realms firstly through a chatroom and then a physical theatre where their relationship continues. Will love blossoms?  It is interesting to wonder how couples will react in the virtual space as compared to real life.

Will they be more open in cyberspace where they be less prone to make a fool of themselves or will it distant them more?

The idea of the virtual world translated to this current space will definitely lay out the differences in attitudes on how couples may date and react. At the same time it diminishes this barrier of location as couples can date anytime and anywhere(depending on the timezone of the country) as compared to the hassle of finding a location to date in the physical world. The confinement of a theatre will further essentuate this reality as to me a theatre space is another space(a performative space) and not exactly a physical space as what we normally know off. This piece to me is a display of the different possible spaces we are exposed to and how different we react to suit the space we choose to . What seemed normal in that space will be akward or creepy in another. Just take a look at this video.

 

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(a common character in Chinese as it means double joy and usually used for Chinese New Year and weddings)

As the name of the piece suggest, the setting the piece is of a Chinese wedding context where this piece multimedia chatroom was set up overseas and then performed back at Singapore and then back. There is this cultural exchange between the local counterparts and the foreign culture. As such it has always been a controversy between western ideology and the traditional Chinese ideology when it comes to wedding and this is where the play explores this  familarity and alienation that tries to co-exist together. So keeping in mind the idea of the third space, are we totally acceptance of this space as something that defies all values of humanity in light of what is real and what is not?  While we are still asking ourselves these questions, the play does bring out relevant discussions of the tangible and the non-tangible scenarios.

 

References:

1. http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_2013-06-07_154855.html

2. http://research-information.bristol.ac.uk/en/publications/double-happiness-a-transport%280d37b3b4-7057-45fa-985a-eaf364b34621%29/export.html