Category Archives: Seminars

New Media Doctoral Seminar 21.11.2019

Welcome everyone to the third New Media Doctoral Seminar of the semester! The presentations are open to everyone. Please join us next Thursday!

Thursday 21.11.2019 / 16:30-19:30 / Väre / R113

Additional to the programme, Annukka Jyrämä (Senior Advisor, Research ethics at Aalto) will begin the session with a brief presentation on research ethics and Aalto’s processes and services.

Led by Professor Lily Diaz presentations to follow:

 Reflections on making spatial design tools / Tero Heikkinen

Abstract:

The use of artistic and design processes as part of research has provided exciting realms to explore for researchers in the art and design fields, but these approaches have also brought challenges. In this presentation I take a reflective look back at one practice-led research process. How does the understanding of space become revised for a designer, through building tools and concepts, if this process is seen as a creative project explored through multiple prototypes and tasks? The prototype cases suggest further prototypes and literature, in an “iterative cyclic web” of practice-led research that here alternates between digital software and material tools. How to transform the sometimes chaotic and nebulous experiences of creative processes into a manageable research project, material for study and shareable outcomes? I discuss one way practical cases have become intertwined with each other and what choices informed them.

Biography: 

Tero Heikkinen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Artistic Research at the University of the Arts Helsinki. As a researcher he is interested in approaches that combine creative productions, design processes or artistic activities. He currently researches the uses of media-rich web platforms for artistic research output and publication. He graduated as a Doctor of Arts in design from Aalto ARTS in 2013, where he previously studied Furniture and Spatial Design.

‘Place’ in Internet of Things / Neha Sayed

Abstract:   

‘Internet of things’ promises a new configuration of space augmented with data sensing and sharing technologies challenging the notion of ‘PLACE’. The advent of these surveillance technologies promises an ‘openness’ affecting the way we live our daily life. This research aims at exploring the evolution of this place in ‘Internet of things’.Building on the Posthuman Ontology of Karen Barad, I began research by trying to investigate the notion of an architectural place. I designed a methodological framework which is multidisciplinary consisting of four disciplines, architecture, urban design, urban planning and anthropology. The research is autoethnographic and the place selected for study is a market square where last five generations of mine have resided and practiced trade. During 2016-17, I conducted observations with the community on the market square. In the beginning of 2019, along with the community I designed a concept for traffic regulation using sensors for Panasonic Design Competition. The actual design is to be tested within the community. This research presents a meaning of place and attempts to define the change caused by the sensor driven technologies.

Biography:

Basically an architect from Mumbai Neha has done a combination of architectural practice and teaching for the last eighteen years. She did her Masters in Experience Design from Konstfack, Stockholm, which added another skill of being a researcher. Her work in the Masters was focused on developing user-centred design and studying research methodologies to achieve the expected outcome. Since 2009, apart from teaching and architectural practice she has been conducting research within communities and their relationships to space and in turn place. In 2012-13, she lead a team of researchers to draft street furniture manual for a heritage town of Matheran, which is the only pedestrian tourist destination in India having a very unique community dynamic. The manual is being adopted for the policies and design. The project inspired her to think of place specific design interventions with active participation of the community. Her practice as a designer has remained strong all this while, which is mostly around interior architecture, where the smart technologies are treated as a material. Her concern about the role of sensor driven environments grew and it led her to explore the changing nature of place in the case of Internet of Things.

Residency opportunity at CERN – – Open Call for Entries, dl 4th Nov, 2019 / Accelerate Finland

Accelerate Finland:
Open Call for Entries

Deadline 4 November, 2019

Arts at CERN<https://arts.cern/>, in Geneva, in partnership with the Finnish organisation Capsula<http://www.capsula.fi/> (art-science-nature), is offering an individual artist or artistic collective the opportunity to apply for a one-month research residency at one of the world’s largest particle physics laboratories, CERN.

Accelerate Finland is an open call for Finnish artists interested in carrying out artistic research inspired by the world of particle physics, in dialogue with scientists, engineers and staff, during an artistic residency of one month at CERN, the European Laboratory of Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland.

The main goal of the Accelerate programme is to foster artistic investigation in connection with scientific research and fundamental physics. A jury of experts from culture and science will review the proposals received out of the call. One individual artist or collective will be selected from all the received proposals and will be invited to CERN in 2020 to explore possible new scenarios for enquiry in arts and science.

Saastamoinen Foundation<http://saastamoinenfoundation.fi/> and and The Committee for Public Information<https://www.tjnk.fi/> (TJNK) support Capsula for the Accelerate Finland residency award, a collaboration with Arts at CERN.

For more information, please enter here<https://arts.web.cern.ch/open-entries/accelerate-finland>.

Media Lab Doctoral Seminar / Afdila Mamdooh &  Iiro Jääskeläinen

Welcome everyone to the second doctoral seminar of the autumn semester!

On the 24.10.19, 16.30-19.30 at Väre R113, led by Professor Lily Díaz doctoral candidate Afdila Mamdooh will present her on-going research titled

 “The possible future of films as a therapeutic and diagnostic tool”.

The use of films as stimuli in experimental settings is gaining popularity in the science community due to their unique ability to transport the observers into the world depicted in the film and tap into both unconscious and conscious behavioral, psychological, physiological and neural mechanisms. However, as films were not designed to be used for experiments, they lack the flexibility needed to allow the researchers to modify them according to their needs. Emerging evidence from the computer science field show that artificial intelligence might help overcome these limitations. In this talk I will present briefly the uniqueness of film as an art form to simulate social perception and propose how films when combined with artificial intelligence (capabilities) can serve as a therapeutic and diagnostic tool. I will also discuss the ethical aspects of pushing the boundaries of movies and how that will affect it as an art form. 

Bio:

Mamdooh Afdile, is a filmmaker and researcher in media and neuroscience, using physiological measurements and brain imaging techniques to study audience perception and social bias. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the film and media department in Stockholm university of the arts.

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Guest speaker

 Iiro Jääskeläinen

 “Using movies as real-life like stimuli during neuroimaging to study the neural basis of social cognition”

Movies and narratives are increasingly used as stimuli in neuroimaging studies. This in many ways helps bridge the gaps between neuroscience, psychology, and even social sciences by allowing stimulation of, and thus also measurement of neural activity underlying, phenomena that have been less amenable to study with more traditional neuroimaging stimulus-task designs. As recent examples of our work that I will go through in my talk, observation of signature patterns underlying discrete emotions across largely shared brain structures have suggested that both basic and dimensional emotion theories are partly correct. Robust differences in brain activity when viewing genetic vs. adopted sisters going through a moral dilemma in a movie clip have shown that knowledge of shared genes shapes perception of social interactions, thus demonstrating how neuroimaging can offer important measures for social sciences that complement the traditional behavioral ones. Further, more idiosyncratic brain activity has been observed in high-functioning autistic than neurotypical subjects specifically in putative social brain regions when watching a drama movie. I will also present some results on our most recent study in preparation wherein we have observed that family ethnic-cultural background shapes brain activity and associations elicited during listening to an audiobook. Development of data analysis algorithms holds keys to rapid advances in this relatively new area of research. Modeling the stimulus and recording brain activity is significantly complemented by behavioral measures on how the subjects experienced the movie stimulus.

Human Brain Mapping magazine, 38/7, 2017 Differential human brain activity recorded during watching of sections from three movies consecutively vs. in an interleaved fashion as when watching a parallel narrative

BIO

Iiro P. Jääskeläinen is a tenured Associate Professor at the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering at Aalto University School of Science. In his research, movies and narratives are used as naturalistic stimuli during neuroimaging to study human social cognition and emotions. He received his PhD at the University of Helsinki in 1995 in psychology, subsequently worked as an Instructor in Harvard University in Boston, MA, prior to returning to Helsinki University of Technology, the predecessor of Aalto University. Jääskeläinen has more than 130 publications in international peer-reviewed journals including PNAS, TINS, Biological Psychiatry, and Nature Communications.

New Media Design Considerations in Technology-enhanced Learning / First Doctoral Seminar of the semester

Welcome everyone to the first doctoral seminar of the autumn semester!

On the 26.09.19, 16.30-19.30 at Väre R113, led by Professor Lily Díaz doctoral student Jana Pejoska will present her on-going research titled

New Media Design Considerations in Technology-enhanced Learning

Enhancing Communication and Collaboration Through Embodied Experiences

Designers of technology-enhanced learning (TEL) typically investigate how to design technology as an effective vehicle for learning. One of their challenges is to approach design which draws both from knowledge about human cognition as well as from studies that inform about the role of technology in the processes of learning. TEL has been studied for facilitating digital and multimedia literacy; for assessing the learners; for accessing and studying the learning material; as media for learning through inquiry; as media for learning through construction; or as media for learning through communication and collaboration.

In this study, I approached the design investigations in TEL for enhancing communication and collaboration practices for informal learning at work. In this field, I contribute with a design proposal using post-phenomenological theory, embodied experiences and enaction as theoretical approaches to learning, in addition to context-dependent learning paradigms.

I present our two design cases for TEL in physical work contexts, made with a design thinking approach and a research-based design method. With a research-based design method I formulate a hypothesis in the form of prototype, a result of an iterative process arising from contextual inquiries and participatory design workshops. The design outcome, the prototype for an augmented reality application for smartphones, is discussed in the light of improving knowledge sharing through remote communication and collaboration.

In addition to these cases, I discuss other outcomes of these studies, which changed the course of my investigation of design of TEL, towards critical design considerations for technology. Finally, I present Culture Coding, a new design framework for unconventional thinking towards the codes of behavior that guide human-technology relations.

Bio

Jana Pejoska is a doctoral candidate at the Media Department in the School of Art, Design and Archi at Aalto University. Currently, she is in her 4th year of study and research connected to the Learning Enviroments Research Group, where she has been designing, developing and investigating new media prototypes such as video-conferencing interfaces, wearable device based on body memory, augmented reality for enhancing remote collaboration and informal learning, as well as a virtual reality application design for personal growth. She has a master’s degree in Digital Culture from the University of Jyvaskyla in the topic of educational virtual worlds for children, and a professional background of 15 years in digital media production such as 3D animation,  and design and development of serious games.

Guest speaker 

Georgia Panagiotidou

Using Data Visualisation for Interdisciplinary Sensemaking

Interdisciplinary collaboration describes a situation in which two or more scientific disciplines working on related problems try to interoperate to come to common understandings. In light of past shortcomings to address complex societal issues, interdisciplinary collaboration is currently employed to promote innovation and to discover holistic solutions. At the same time, ten years into the fourth wave of science, computational methods and data visualisation analysis have been established in the practise of most research paradigms from natural sciences to the humanities. Still, data collaboration comes coupled with epistemological tensions related to misalignment of interests or scientific paradigms; but also very practical tensions related to infrastructure, methodologies, ownership and even representation. My work investigates how such data issues manifest within an archaeological research project and subsequently how we can design or adapt visualisation infrastructure to address them. By organising a series of 10 interventions divided between disciplinary/interdisciplinary and data/theory-driven I was able to approach the first sub question and see how data is being negotiated in practical settings. Moreover, in an attempt to externalise the collaboration to third parties, I attempted to capture the thematic variation of the interventions as evolving node-link diagrams. Overall, my findings so far, indicate that many of the divides in data-driven interdisciplinarity are parallel to metadata and contextualisation discussions taking place in digital humanities and critical data studies. In this presentation I will discuss my methodological choices in light of the findings as well as outline how I intend to continue on the second half of my research endeavour.

Bio

Georgia Panagiotidou is a Ph.D researcher in KU Leuven where she is a member of the Research[x]Design group and the Sagalassos Archaeological Research project. Her work focuses on the design and appropriation of data visualisation for cross-disciplinary collaboration and specifically in the digital humanities. She holds a BSc. in Informatics and Telecommunications from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (2011) and a MA in New Media from Aalto University (2015). After graduation and before starting in KU Leuven, she worked in the field of civic technology as a data specialist for organizations including Open Knowledge Finland and the Finish newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat.

 

 

 

Department of Media / Doctor of Arts School 2019

Technical infrastructures, regimes of observation
Department of Media / Doctor of Arts School 2019
 
During recent years there has been an intensive debate regarding the impact of digital media in the lives of citizens. Nevertheless, the discussion regarding the qualitative distinctions between the different infrastructures supporting computation devices and media formats remain mostly the purview of engineers and computer scientists. Very little is said about the impact of new cultural and social ‘image environments’ for example where digitization and computing play a big role. The objective of this doctoral school is, from the perspective of arts and design, to discuss and reflect on about the notion of ubicomp – or ‘ubiquitous’ computing that is present everywhere and all the time.
 
In contrast to desktop computing, ubiquitous computing is the term used since the late 1990s and early years of the millennium to describe the new forms of applications and interaction emerging as a result of 1) the increase in capacity of memory handling and computation power of micro-processors together with 2) the miniaturization of computing devices which allows for their embedding into the fabric of everyday life. Some of the questions to be discussed are:
 
1. What is the ubicomp paradigm? What are some of its key aspects? How does it affect our everyday life?
 
2. How has the shift towards ubicomp paradigm affected creative production in media, art and design practices
 
3. Drawing from a selected sample of ubicomp applications. What can we say about its negative as well as positive contributions?
 
Keywords: Big data, citizens journalism, interactive visualizations, distributed interfaces, pervasive computing, surveillance culture, social media.
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HELDIG Forum // Big Data and Identity Construction

Welcome to HELDIG Forum on Monday 23.9.2019 at 14:15 with a talk by
Prof. A. Aneesh from Sociology and Global Studies, University of
Wisconsin, Milwaukee (https://uwm.edu/sociology/people/aneesh-a/). The session takes place in in Metsätalo Hall 2 (spiral staircase up from the lounge, on the right). The topic of Aneesh’s presentation is:

“Big Data and Identity Construction”

Abstract:

“While social identity is an identity continually renegotiated through linguistic interactions and social performances, bureaucratic identity – glimpsed in passports, driver’s licenses, and other identity cards – is a construction of fixed personhood for the purposes of modern organizational needs, ensuring that the member has remained essentially the same despite changes in personality, body, and behavior. With the spread of digital technologies, however, there has emerged a new variation of identity—system identity, which represents persons as dynamically forming clouds of data. While system identities can serve the bureaucratic need for identifying members, their role far surpasses the organizational necessities of inclusion and exclusion. The notion of system identities posits a space of identity construction that does not have a substrate or foundation on which identity is based. It describes an operation in which various systems – financial, legal, medical, governmental or any number of others – incorporate their own foundations by adapting themselves to their own results. This presentation highlights the importance of this differentiation and charts its latest development.”

HELDIG Forum sessions are open and free for everybody to join. These meetings are educational and dissemination activities targeted especially for researchers and teachers willing employ digital methods more in their work. Welcome!

Coffee is served at 14:00-15:00 at Metsätalo, Unioninkatu 40. See the programme details and the registration form below – please register so that we can order the right amount of coffee:

http://heldig.fi/forum

Media Lab Doctoral Seminar / Khalil Klouche & Darius Pacauskas

Welcome everyone to the last doctoral seminar of the semester!

On the 09.05.19, at 16.30-19:30, led by Professor Lily Díaz in Learning Centre, JUHO the doctoral student Khalil Klouche will present his on-going research titled:

Making the Information Space Explorable Through Entity-based Affordances

This talk overviews my doctoral dissertation, which explores an alternative design space of interactions to support everyday information practices.

Starting with a critique of search engines as primary access points to the web, I advocate for greater user awareness and control as well as increased responsibility over what information is encountered. I summarize that goal as making information explorable, and investigate the related design space through the development and  evaluation of various interaction and visualization techniques.

Bio

Khalil Klouche has a Master of Arts degree in Interaction Design and works since 2014 as a researcher at the Computer Science department of University of Helsinki, within Pr. Giulio Jacucci’s Ubiquitous Interaction group. Klouche designs, implements and evaluates novel interfaces for search engine that aim to support information exploration. Also a doctoral candidate at the Aalto Media department, he is the co-author of 13 published articles and the recipient of the 2017 Nokia scholarship.

Guest speaker Darius Pacauskas

 is a recent Postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Art of Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture. He is a former Marie-Curie fellow with a computer science and social science background. His interest lies in applying ICT in various areas of research, and publications concentrated on creativity supporting technologies as well as their role in fostering collaboration and societal impact.

 Aesthetics in Two Digital Worlds

(A project by Ossi Naukkarinen and Darius Pacauskas)

Aesthetics is typically seen as a theoretical, especially philosophical academic discipline focusing on questions about art, beauty, the nature of aesthetic experiences, and many other issues related to these. However, there is another, non-academic side of aesthetics where similar issues are addressed, and which is not usually considered in academic context. To investigate how these two areas of aesthetics relate to each other we applied computational text-mining techniques on Wikipedia, Google trends, YouTube, Open Library books and Web of Science datasets. We used topic modelling as a method for analysis, and used Gensim library to implemt it. Firstly, we collected data from the aforementioned sources, either by downloading from a provider, or using API’s, or scraping it with created web robot. Later we created a list of topics covering all the data we gathered, and created a topic map based on English Wikipedia articles. Later on, we imputed each dataset into the generated topic map to identify what are the most discussed topics and to what extent. Imputed datasets were related to aesthetics, e.g. Web of Science dataset included only abstracts and titles from articles that either include a keyword “aesthetics” or are from recognized venues in aesthetics discipline. Such mapping allowed us to avoid some well-known topic modeling problems. For instance, if we had applied topic modelling on separate datasets straight away, we had not been able to compare them due to differently designed topics among datasets, and topics had not been relevant due to the relatively small amount of documents imputed, as topic modelling requires a high amount of documents for informative results. To visualize results we used slightly changed version of Python library called “LDAvis”. Results allowed us to compare both areas of aesthetics and describe wideness of the gap between the two, as well as showcase a digital tool application in the field of aesthetics. This data analysis process was finished on 2017 June and an articles based on it was submitted to an international journal of aesthetics in August 2017.

https://designing-knowledge.siggraph.org/wp/2018/02/21/aesthetics-in-two-digital-worlds/

Media Lab Doctoral Seminar; Environmental Media: a study on the mediation of technology in ecological artistic practices.

On the 25.04.19, at 16.30-19:30, led by Professor Lily Díaz in Learning Centre, JUHO the doctoral student Juan Duarte will present his on-going research titled:

Environmental Media: a study on the mediation of technology in ecological artistic practices

Abstract:

The research aims to work around technologies on location, that are used on open environmental data sensing for intermedia art context. The production of devices aims follow a usability process of Interaction Design focusing on principles of sustainability and maker culture. As an outcome of the research, I expect to collect field experiences active communities Accompanying study cases, the research wants to question the role of media technologies in the field of environmental arts to support the development of both art and science collaborations.

The existing scientific proof of planetary issues such as global warming still seems trivial to an important sector of the population. Thus a data platform for environmentalist art could support scientific research by bringing attention to environmental degradation. Artistic research could help reconcile society with a planetary vision through citizen initiatives that empower us with tools that help with making decisions, such as monitoring pollution levels or mapping relations between technological footprints, and planetary cycles.

Bio:

Mexican-born media artist Juan Duarte Regino works on interaction as a tool for generative art experiments. He is part of Pixelache – art and activist group based in Helsinki. Currently a doctoral student in New Media in Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, he reflects on the information society paradigm from the point of view of his background in media art, with a special focus on open source technologies developed in DIY communities and grassroots initiatives. Duarte’s work has been presented in IAMAS, Spiral Gallery, Ljudmila, Radio, and TV Museum of Lahti, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Mänttä Art, Generate! Festival, CTM Festival, Lofoten Sound Art Symposium.

His background is in Audiovisual Communication (Bachelor of Arts), and New Media Arts (Master of Arts). His research is around technologies on location, to be used for open environmental data sensing in an intermedia context. The sensing devices developed follow an Interaction Design process focusing on principles of sustainability and maker culture. The outcome of the research (consisting of workshops, lectures exhibitions, and live media performances) expects to collect field experiences from a community of creators, specialized on potentialities of locative media, in order to serve environmental queries through artistic and scientific procedures.

Guest speaker: Martin Howse

Abstract:

Symbiotic ur-networks of silent fungal and root chatter and earth vibration, named chemical gradients tasted by rooty and human tongues fruit forest-wide in fairy rings, rising up in form and outgrowing Jodrell bank and Arecibo, outclassing them unknown in bringing down the stars to Earth.Martin Howse, 2017

Noting simple parallels between the scaled formations of radio telescope arrays, and the arrayed forms of certain mushroom bodies such as those of Amanita Muscaria, Martin Howse aims to further explore this spored coincidence of cosmos and micro-cosmos, initiating the first forest Radio Mycelium Array.

Conventional radio telescope arrays make use of a technique called interferometry to combine signals received on multiple smaller antennas, creating a larger, more precise view of the electromagnetic Universe. In the case of the RMA, the arrayed Amanita mushrooms act as receiving antennas for deep space signals, to be combined in underground mycelial electrochemical signals. Star dust and mushroom spore combine imaginatively, with both technologies provoking potentially meaningful earth and cosmic signals.

Radio Mycelium Array (RMA) is exhibited both as a speculative prototype (mushroom bodies connected to a digital interferometer device and display), and as documentation of “working” forest studies with similar equipment. Audio recordings of received signals are also available (inscribed on vinyl in sleeves printed with copper spore patterns from the Amanita mushrooms, the antennae).

Bio

Martin Howse’s work spans the fields of computing programming, writing, education and performance. A true explorer of urban scapes, his ideas consider our intimate and embodied relationship with our environment. His work has been received several awards (including first prize at Art & Artificial Life competition VIDA 8.0, 2005) and he has curated and participated in several seminars and performances (ICA, London, Transmediale, Berlin, Tuned City, Berlin & Brussels). In 2006 Martin co-founded xxxxx, organising one large-scale conference and concert series in London (xxxxx) and publishing the acclaimed xxxxx [reader]. From 2007 to 2009 he has hosted a regular workshop, micro-residency and salon series in Berlin, most recently under the banner of _____-micro-research. More recently micro-research has been established as a mobile platform for psychogeophysical research with ongoing projects in London, Peenemuende, Lyme Regis and Berlin. For the last ten years he has collaborated on numerous open-laboratory style projects and performed, published, lectured and exhibited worldwide.

http://1010.co.uk/org

ELO-L0008, (L01) Dialogues with X: Art, Film and Theory Workshop

Course for the doctoral students. Open for also for MA students.

ELO-L0008, (L01) Dialogues with X: Art, Film and Theory Workshop (2 cr).
Responsible teachers: Susanna Helke & Harri Laakso

What happens when a philosopher encounters an artwork? During the course Dialogues with X: Art, Film and Theory Workshop (2 cr) we will explore, through in-depth readings of selected texts, what happens at the intersection of a philosophical text and a contemporary artwork. The emphasis is in cinema and media art. How can the materiality of an artwork be translated into the language of philosophy? What happens in that encounter? What is encountered? The course consists of reading selected texts, viewing films and artworks discussed in the reading materials, and lectures offered by visiting experts. How does artistic research – at the intersection of art and theory – relate to the encounters that occur between philosophy and art?

Wed 27.3

9AM-4PM: Markku Koivusalo: Philosophers’ Encounters with Art.

Wed 3.4

9AM-12PM: Kari Yli-Annala: Gilles Deleuze and Time Image- Capturing the Modern and Contemporary Cinema

1PM-4PM: Film screening.

Fri 5.4.

9AM-10:15 AM: Susanna Helke: Jacques Rancière and Cinematic Ruptures.

10:30AM-4PM: Ivana Momčilović: Jacques Rancière and Modern Times in Cinema.

Wed 10.4

9AM-12PM Harri Laakso: Jean Louis Schefer and the Body That Is Missing.

1PM-4PM Katja Lautamatti: Giorgio Agamben – For Ethics of Cinema.

Wed 17.4

9AM-4PM: The students prepare a presentation with a chosen method reflecting the questions of encountering an art work, formulating their own philosophy of art. They can discuss their own artistic work, artistic processes or a chosen art work by someone else, using dialogically philosophical texts.

(Sign up in weboodi!)

Welcome everyone to the second Media Lab Doctoral Seminar of the year!

On the 28.03.19, at 16.30-19.30, led by Professor Lily Díaz in Learning Centre, JUHO the doctoral student Andrea Mancianti will present his on-going research titled:

The Living Threshold / Altered States. Designing experiences for sustainable audio-visual immersive ecosystems. 

Augmenting our physical world with digital, immaterial, virtual layers, introduces thresholds between the two dimensions, separating, like portholes an inside and an outside, a “here” and an “elsewhere”. Although never fully crossable or completely permeable, these thresholds still allow for exchanges with the other side, like porous, semi-transparent membranes between real and virtual worlds, gateways between two realities. These thresholds reveal and hide at the same time. Their materiality, their appearance, their affordances shape the kind of experience we undergo when  our body interfaces with and extends through such layered realities. Unfortunately, the materiality of these thresholds is often concealed or mystified.

The current technologies for interfacing real and virtual environments (often addressed as Mixed or Extended Realities) are driven by commercial preoccupations, being more and more employed in consumer electronic commodities. The mainstream approach to XR today is characterised by proprietary technologies exposed to extremely rapid obsolescence, black box tools and by a general ideology of novelty that, on the one hand reinforces waste accumulation and consumeristic drives and on the other makes it harder for artists and practitioners to design experiences outside of those paradigms.

In this mainstream scenario technology is designed to disappear, to conceal itself, and the experiences it channels are conceived like visual illusions, where simulation and plausibility are the key ideas, in a well established traditions of cinema and video games. My research, reflecting on the idea of threshold, its materiality, its behaviour, its autonomy, proposes an alternative direction to investigate the design of audio-visual immersive experiences, facing the technical challenges from a DIY, alternative, low-impact perspective. The initial step of this process has been the immersive installation Blindphones, developed in the frame of the joint program Futurelab Academy between the Department of Media, MediaLab and the festival Ars Electronica, Linz.

The idea behind this installation was to re-appropriate some of the key concepts behind VR, such as re-embodiment and immersion, but, abandoning any commercial device and proprietary technology, attempted to reimagine the head mounted display as a form of an almost alien living prosthetics, radically changing our perception providing a glimpse of an alternative embodiment.

Rather than as a tool to fool our senses by providing (some of) them with a credible simulation of the world, conforming the viewer into a normative embodiment, Blindphones, by heavily impairing sight, forces the body to function using hearing, rather than sight,  to articulate sense in a dreamy world made of shifting lights and sound. Inspired by the altered states induced in the sensory deprivation tank, where the body floats weightlessly in a dark quiet environment and the mind shifts from a meditative state up to an hallucinatory one, the project draws from the psychedelic tradition of early VR art and drone music.

Bio

Andrea Mancianti is a composer, performer, sound and media artist. With his work, that include music compositions, installations and mixed media performances, he seeks to investigate compositional and performative aspects of interconnected audiovisual ecosystems, where real-word phenomena extend in the virtual digital world and complex feedback networks are established between the two realm. His works have been performed in Europe and Usa, for institutions such as Ircam (Paris), Biennale Musica (Venice), Impuls and KUG (Graz), Muziekcentrum De Bijloke (Ghent), Centre Henri Pousseur (Liege), STUK (Leuven), Boston University (Boston), Nuova Consonanza (Roma), Sibelius Academy (Helsinki) and others


Guest speaker:

Synes Elischka (Doctoral Candidate Department of Film, Television and Scenography)

EGO CURE: Exploring the liminal space between immersion and self-awareness

My PhD is made up of two equal parts that inform each other: a monograph and an artistic project.

The aim of my monograph is to give audio-visual artists a theoretical and practical basis for using new media technology to tell their stories, while also giving insight into the current context that these media are embedded in.

My artistic project (“Ego Cure”, a cinematic VR experience with enactive elements) is set in a world where the perception of art as a product has come to its logical technological conclusion: the Ego Cure mask is a technical tool that helps artists who get stuck (for example writers block), to continue with their practice.

This has been used to make art more of a commodity, by forcing an artist who is unable or unwilling to provide a commissioned art piece to use the mask.

The plot of the film follows Emma, a choreographer who decides to redo her entire performance a day before the premiere which meets the resistance of the curator.

At the turning point of the story the protagonist is forced to use the EgoCure mask, and we are thrown with her into a world that both literally and conceptually rips open the fourth wall and teases the possibility space of storytelling in Virtual Reality.

The physical experience of the viewer becomes intermeshed with film itself, when Ego Cure introduces enactive elements that support both the theme and the flow of the plot – by making use of the liminal space between immersion and self-awareness.

During the making of my artistic PhD we developed a workflow for creating VR experiences that are sustainable, while reframing existing aesthetics and cinematic conventions to this new medium.

We used current digital cinema cameras and compositing software, which allowed us to adopt conventional working methods, team structures, tools, workflows and aesthetics.

Context of Research

Synes Elischka (AT), Filmmaker/Researcher for VirtualCinemaLab at ELO Film School, Aalto University

If you compare novels and cinema there are certain experiences you can explore in one medium that are impossible in the other. Over the last 120 years cinema kept evolving visual storytelling for example, as a tool that engages both our perception and our imagination.

Since Cinematic Virtual Reality (CVR) is a very young art form it is lacking its own set of storytelling tools. My work provides concepts and a proof of concept (artistic project) which can help artists explore the narrative potential of this new medium and engage their audiences’ imagination.

More information and making-of here: http://virtualcinema.aalto.fi/view/ego-cure-vr-film/