Playing with ants & other insects: ant mimicry as a phenomenological approach in relation to games and technology
Abstract: This interdisciplinary artistic research explores the potential mimetic faculty surrounding ants and their insect associates in relation to role-playing games and to the concept of metamorphosis in video game culture. Ants have been a successful evolutionary model which has been mimicked by certain insects, while at the same time it has been appropriated as an optimization utility for technology. Yet, when scientific concepts of biological mimicry are upended there exists the possibility to create a phenomenological discourse which interconnects ants’ behavior with anarchic manifestations in games, with metamorphosis as social becomings, and with the metaphor of wearing masks in humans.
My non-human approach is predominantly inspired by the discourses of Roger Caillois on mimicry and anarchic gameplay, which I extrapolate to the following core realizations: a) regardless of the life form in question, socialization is part of play and play is part of socialization; b) the core of role-playing games is to explore sociality in disguise in imaginary worlds which can be designed by rules and limitations, but which could also emerge by means of deceit and imitation, e.g., games of make-believe; c) mimicry, anarchic forms of play and emergence are natural manifestations of living systems, which are also found in technological systems.
Ants and other insects share the same environment with us. Therefore, these social insects incontestably play an important role in the creation and transformation of ecosystems. In this light, ants’ altruistic and multispecies social behaviors allow a different approach to debate autocratic and top-down generated technology.
Kuai Shen is an independent researcher and audiovisual naturalist who works with ants. His installations reflect on the interspecies relationship between nonhumans and humans as a metaphor for techno-ecologies. His research explores ant relationships with parasites, microorganisms, and viruses in relation to mimicry, affects, and social contagions.
His ant-mediated-art reflects on social becomings and the interstices of non-human techno-ecologies revealing mutualisms and cooperation between artifacts and organisms.
In 2013 his work 0h!m1gas received an honorary mention in hybrid art at Prix Ars Electronica and was awarded the Edith-Russ-Haus Medienkunstpreis. In 2014 he obtained the Cynetart Förderpreis der Sächsischen Kunstministerin for Playing with ants and other insects, and in 2016 he won the Bridge Art and Science Stipend at Michigan State University for his work on the antibiotics of leaf-cutter ants.
Finding Prana: Digital and Performative Experiments in Search of a Technology of the Self
Abstract: Throughout our major cities, there are serious concerns about the toxicity and pollution in the air. Our breath and air is now a political, scientific, technological, social, economic and ethical issue. Through interdisciplinary art practice, this research draws on yogic philosophy and utilises the practices and concept of a mind-body system that conjoins air, breath and life in one word: prana. The research is undertaken through experimentation with embodied yoga forms, sound and brain imaging technology to create three performances. Each of the three works is a form of subject-experimentation and focuses on the concept of being and thinking through human breath. The first piece of work, Hawk, is a psycho-physical performance exploring the cultivation of the self through breath. The second piece is a bio-artwork entitled Finding Prana, in which I adapt fNIRS (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) neuroimaging technology to sonify cerebral blood flow in the brain during a practice of pranayama (controlled breathing patterns). Lastly, Public Address System is an architectural sound installation with a fifty-person ensemble performing a psycho-physical breath practice.
Through these three artworks I provide evidence of breath as a technology of self. I position embodied breathing practices as a feminist intersectional listening technology of becoming that has agential force: a place in which to meet ourselves and others. The research makes a contribution to contemporary discourses and interlinks mind-body practices, performance art and bio-art. It specifically addresses embodied breath practice as a technology of listening in which the ethical relation to the self and other can be cultivated and formed. The research offers an interdisciplinary discussion through a feminist posthumanist lens of human and non-human embodiment and technology. It is an artist’s study that explores where and why we might focus on the constitution of human self and intimacy and the imagining of our future technologies and engagements. Its contribution is interdisciplinary and related not only to art practice but also psychology, mind-body-ecology systems, communication, technology and ethics.
PLAYING OURSELVES INTO FEUDALISM: THE POLITICS AND ETHICS OF LUDIC AUTOMATION
This paper presents a critical analysis of soft automation, highlighting how the instrumentalization of play to serve practices of exploitation is abiding and consenting the success of neoliberalism. Building on media theory (Galloway, 2006; Dieter, 2014), aesthetic and critical theory (Baudrillard, 1996; Rancière, 2013) and play theory (Sicart, 2014), we argue that playful soft automation is a corruption of the aesthetic and experiential powers of play as a form of appropriation of the world. At the same time, we will argue that play can be used to subvert soft automation, drawing on the long history of critical play and the arts (Flanagan, 2009; Getsy, 2011).
The Exploit: The Politics of Network Art
This paper will analyse the works of the Critical Engineers (Oliver, Savicic, Vasiliev, 2012), and artists like !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Sarah Graham, Ben Grosser or Lauren McCarthy. For Critical Engineers and !Mediengruppe Bitnik, networks are the materials, their work consisting on the experience of their political discourses, from the how they shape national borders (https://borderbumping.net) to their facilitation of illegal markets that are both invisible and essential for contemporary net capitalism (https://wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.bitnik.org/r/). McCarthy and Grosser challenge our understanding of the web and its interfaces, encouraging us to live social media without metrics, or to use AI to optimise our online chat conversations in search of algorithmic emotional balance.
These works illustrate the aesthetics of the exploit as a participatory revelation of the invisible, networked politics of capital and surveillance embedded in consumer computational technologies. The exploit becomes then not only the most appropriate form of exposure, but also an artistic strategy for political inquiry on technology.
Future Pleasure Objects
Abstract: In recent works, the topic of techno-sexuality, re-defined roles of gender and sexuality, and pleasure have begun to be explored. In this paper, we present a study done during two workshops in Vienna and Copenhagen on the topic of Future Pleasure Objects. The workshops have been conducted with artists, designers, technologists, academics, and industry experts and have resulted in a series of concepts which we introduce in this work.
Design anthropology was chosen as a research methodology as it combines observations, iterative actions in the development process and reflections. Using this method, we are able to both study and produce a theoretical framework by conducting workshops and observing the participants and other groups working within this topic. Furthermore, we have followed the dynamic situations in the development of new techno-sexual concepts and social relations throughout the project and iterated the overall framework for the continued search for future pleasure objects model.
Influential to the workshops was Judith Butler’s call to undo gender and her theory of performativity. We recognize the need to resist colonial and normative behaviour patterns, which mainstream sex toys replicate and enhance. To foster the development of ‘Future Pleasure Objects’ and oppose this normalization, the participants were invited to engage with, and facilitate creative self expression about how we experience sexuality and bodily pleasure. The ambition is to advance the vision of Future Pleasure Objects, and help mediate autonomous and non-binary articulations of desire and the machine. In this way, the introduced concepts initiate an artistic, playful and constructive critique on existing technologies of pleasure.
This paperwork looks to related artistic works and technologies, and speculates on the future of how communities, artists, technologists, and politics will create and relate to pleasure objects in a post-porn reality. As a contribution, we present a series of concepts derived from our findings in the two workshops which are in development and are intended to invite and engage future researchers and artists in discussion and development of Future Pleasure Objects.
Stupefying Emotional Intimacy: LAI and Social Robotics
The paper begins by explicating Luciano Floridi’s critique of Alan Turing in Philosophy and Computing (2000). This critique consists essentially of asserting that Turing’s understanding of intelligence is incredibly narrow. Turing, by developing a theoretical framework which ‘stupefies,’ simplifies, or narrows, human intelligence, is charged by Floridi as having lowered the bar for what counts as an intelligent machine. Floridi argues that tasks have additionally been stupefied, thereby paving the way for their automation. I apply this view to social practice, arguing alongside scholars such as Maria Bakardjieva and Eva Illouz that through various modern processes, including the rise of internet-mediated sociality, modern psychology, and self-help, people’s social lives have become progressively easier to standardize.
In the following section, I move through the assumptions made by Cynthia Breazeal of MIT, an early pioneer of social robotics, as well as others working on social robotics. I demonstrate that their assumptions about social intelligence have been of the same reductive and stupefying character as Turing’s. This kind of assumption has been a major contribution to the success of what Floridi calls Light Artificial Intelligence (LAI) in building artifacts which people accept as legitimate partners.
I examine several examples to defend my point about the successes of LAI. The empirical studies done by Sherry Turkle and Cynthia Breazeal at MIT demonstrate people’s clear willingness to engage social robots as social partners, despite the clear lack of intelligence of these robots. Along with an elaboration upon the results of this work, I go into detail about the sociality demonstrated by various social robots. Among them are Breazeal’s KIZMET and Jibo, Takanori Shibata’s Paro, Mayfiel Robotics’ Kuri, and Joseph Weizenbaum’s ELIZA. In all of these cases, the machines in question, by human or even non-human animal standards, are quite stupid. However, these machines are fully capable of being emotional and social partners, as they can both demonstrate a limited sort of social skills and satisfy the needs of their human companions.
In the conclusion, I argue 1) that the machines which are called socially or emotionally intelligent demonstrate these qualities in an incredibly simplistic and limited way, meaning a wide array of machines can be called socially or emotionally intelligent which (by human standards) are extremely lacking in these qualities 2) that this does not detract in any way from the perceived legitimacy of machines as socially and emotionally capable partners.BIO:
Rosangela Barcaro received her Ph.D. degree in Bioethics (2004) from the University of Genoa. She has been an International Visiting Scholar at the Hastings Center (New York, U.S.A., July 1995) and a Research Fellow at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät – Seminar für Moraltheologie (Münster, Germany, April-May 2002). She is author and co-author of several books and papers on bioethical topics. Her more recent research is dedicated to two topics: bio-art and its connections with biotechnology and bioetics and the new ethical, social and political challenges of social robotic.
An extended presentation of her works is available at the website https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rosangela_Barcaro
Emotional Resonance: An Interactive Installation Controlled by Biometric Data
Abstract: Emotional Resonance explores the emotions mediated by an interactive art installation. The project aims to foster the discourse on how biometric technology can cause emotions and consequently connect us with an installation, a responsive machine or interactive art in general.
Artworks using biosignals directly involve the viewer by going a step beyond interactivity through creating co-activity. (Koch et al. 1990) This works intends to provoke emotion resonance using biometric sensors so that the art work is able to sense the pulse of the person touching it and to then react accordingly and in synchrony with the pulse of the person. The measured pulse frequency is synchronized with water dropping at the same frequency to mimicry the signal of one being alive, the pulse. This transfer of life signals from a person to the installation results in an infinite resonance loop as the installation is mirroring the pulse of the person through water dropping in the pulse’s frequency, which then is perceived by the person who can create empathy for the art piece, which seems to just became alive when the person was touching it.
May a machine which is synchronizing with our pulse create a direct affecting connection? How should an interactive machine or an art installation aim to generate empathy? This paper attempts to answer these questions by exploring the interactive installation Emotional Resonance, which creates an invisible bond between people and art made of empathy.
When approaching emotional resonance, two bowls containing water are enlightened with spotlights that hang above them. The water in the bowls creates abstract light shapes on the flour. This setup consisting out of water, light, and reflections, starts becoming alive when a person touches one of the two spheres that is placed in front if each bowl (see Fig. 2). Pulse sensors embedded into the spheres read the pulse frequency of a person and send this frequency to an Arduino that controls the water drop frequency. The dropping water creates a subtle choreography out of drop sounds, water waves and light animated by the moving water. Every bowl has the same mechanism and works on its own, but the meaning of having two of them creates interaction between them, not physically, but through their reflections on the ground which draws an animation of moving light projection on the ground.
Emotional Resonance has so far been exhibited twice, once at the Biennale Internazionale Donna in Trieste, Italy and once at BTK Berlin. In this paper, we will describe the impressions of both exhibitions as well as observations of the co-action created between the installation and the people. We will analyze our observations and discuss how our observation relates to the current discourse on bio-art causing emotion resonance between art and people and vice versa.
Encoding Reality through “Techno-Magic”
Abstract: This paper investigates how meaning and significance is encoded into the world through the use of technology, through the scope of the term ‘magic’. The central principle of magic is the control of matter through the use of symbols which animate objects and give them agency. Through the codification of symbols, significance is conferred onto objects, places, spaces, experiences and interactions. Magical thinking is a communication medium. Rites and rituals formalise these actions into repeatable processes that become culture. A magic spell is homologous to the computer program, coding the world in its digital form. Magic is rooted in the ancient traditions of animism, a worldview that insists human consciousness is inextricably interwoven with the natural world. This relationship now affects how we percieve ourselves within reality, as information systems have been built as extensions of the human body. Throughout the paper, I investigate how symbol codification has been built through technology extending our perception of reality through a relational analysis of topics such as vodou, cybernetics, systems ecology, materiality, infrastructure-space, algorhythmics, network protocols, nanotechnology and speculative fiction.
Ryan Cherewaty is a media artist currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Piet Zwart
Institute in Rotterdam. His work explores the post-human experience within the networked
condition – where the technology of ubiquitous computing and interconnectedness are
addressed as inherent concepts of reality and looks to the future of meshing ourselves with
non-human intelligences. And, how the core aspects of humanity – emotions, impulses and
behaviour are affected by these systems. Having spent a number of years in the visual
effects industry, techniques utilized in this field are the central component of Ryan’s work.
His work has been shown in locations such as Amsterdam, Paris, London and Toronto.
BDSMR – Velcro as an erotic material and sensory interface
Abstract: This proposal is concerned with deconstructing the physical and cultural dynamics that prefigure Velcro as a sensory, erotic material. Connecting the original patent history of this ‘self-fastening device’ in the mid 1950s and novel sonic practices during the same period with contemporary usages of Velcro as a fetish object, I frame my own kinetic and computer-mediated sculptural machines using Velcro as a sonic material that brings together a wide range of contemporary aesthetics that include a look into the ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), BDSM (Bondage Discipline Submission Masochism), and contemporary musical communities. In this way, I situate Velcro as a figurative adhesive that interweaves different cultural practices that are mediated by different technological forms of dissemination, particularly those that explore how its sound structures the aesthetics of sensory arousal, aurality, and fetishism. This abstract also unpacks the physics of Velcro construction by revealing the statistical phenomena underlying Velcro as an engineered self-fastening device. As such, this text is concerned with framing Velcro materiality as an cyborg of mechanical and corporeal instrumentation, one that in my work complicates the dialectics associated with human and machine interfaces.
This paper also looks at the physics that give rise to its distinct ripping sound. By examining the non-linear stochastic dynamics inherent in Velcro ripping (namely using Poisson distributions to model material adhesion and extrication), I also present a basic signal-processing physical model that is capable of synthesizing its distinctive ripping sound and present several of my own sound-based sculptures that feature its sonic characteristics (see autonomous sense object: https://vimeo.com/243253126 and BANDS WIDTH: https://vimeo.com/167484822). I also present a set of criteria that establishes a preliminary definition of ‘stochastic materiality’, one that allows us to better engage with its physical materiality in a variety of aesthetic contexts. Ultimately, these pieces address issues related techno-eroticism and automata theory, casting the body as a cyborgian object of sonic materiality. The neologism of the title–BDSMR (ASMR + BDSM)–complicates our awareness of sound by examining aurality as a fetish, as an agent in sensory arousal that derives from our darker, more lurid impulses.
Nolan Lem is an artist and researcher whose work reflects a broad range of influences and mediums. His arts practice combines research from a number of fields particularly those related to emergent dynamics, machine learning and perception, and the synchronization of auditory phenomena. He has premiered work at a number of spaces in both the US and abroad including the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural History Museum (NYC), L’HOSTE Art Contemporain (FR), and the NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) Conference among others. He has held residencies at IRCAM, MassMoCA, Cité Internationale des Arts, and Pioneer Works. He holds degrees in saxophone performance, Electrical Engineering, and received his MFA at Columbia University where he studied at the Computer Music Center. Nolan is currently a PhD candidate at Stanford University where he studies at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA).
Abstract: Robots, bots, and AI systems have often been perceived as female. They have been cast, too, in female roles, like that of the Pygmalion; Joseph Weizenbaum’s ELIZA, a famous early chatbot, was named for Eliza Doolittle.
Jacqueline Feldman, the designer of a gender-neutral AI bot as well as a writer, will discuss the contemporary proliferation of feminized AI as well as alternatives. As AI systems “speak human” increasingly nimbly, designs besides the “lady secretary” embodied by Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa are imaginable. What about these machines has struck people as female? How might an AI system be designed to assert a gender identity more authentically its own? As pieces of technology, ought each of these systems call itself “it,” rather than “he,” “she,” or “they”? On the level of text, how can bot dialogue reflect a nuanced relationship with gender? By imagining a fully liberated robotic self-expression, can we imagine opportunities for furthering the liberation of human groups—female and non-binary?
Envisioning a gender expression for an AI system consistent with its identity leads the designer to other problems. For a designer hoping to compose dialogue loyal to the machine’s character, its non-human status presents challenges to imagining its interiority. Bots ought to be designed to reflect their non-corporeal nature. They exist in time differently from how humans do, carrying on conversations with multiple users at once. There is something “melancholy” about their unreality, as James Wood has written of Fernando Pessoa’s character.
The nature of the labor that bots increasingly perform is also important in understanding the gender ascribed to them. It has been reported that women stand to lose their jobs to robots at twice the rate of men (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/07/why-women-are-twice-as-likely-as-men-to-lose-their-job-to-robots); many of the jobs that will go entail affective or emotional labor, such as cashiers or the customer-service representatives that chatbots supplant.
Images of Prenatal Life in the Family Album
Seeing the insides of the human body was historically always accompanied by both fascination and shock. The work presents the results of the study which used in-depth interviews to reveal what makes ultrasound imagery of the fetus so attractive for its users among the general public. Due to the fact that the records were created during standard check-ups where they are mostly used to confirm physiological development without any anomalies, it is productive to consider these images together with the visual pleasure they bring to their recipients.
The results indicate that it is not possible to view records of prenatal development, provided to users for personal use, only as a secondary effect of diagnostic practice. The visual pleasure linked with being able to see a healthy fetus is leaving a complex mark in the standards of reproductive medicine. Ultrasound images of the woman body and its fetus, which are becoming increasingly prevalent as a specific type of commodity, are now a part of the consumer behavior of modern society.
Should We Grieve for the Robot?
The relation of machine and man is fundamentally a fantasy of an other who is free of mystery and irrationality, and we can look to works of fiction to understand the structure of this relation. The machine becomes an ideal because of its ability to transcend the irrational in man; but this ’hyper-rationality’ gives birth to something more monstrous than the simply irrational. What movies like Alien, Westworld, and Ex Machina propose is that what is only rational, terrifies us.
Our desire to construct a machine that thinks and feels is a projection of an inter-subjective problem: How do we know that the other is ‘like me’? The android crystallizes what Emmanuel Levinas defined as ‘the otherness of the other’. The android provides a ‘safe’ other, whose behaviour can be totally predicted. But as we see in almost all robot-fictions, the central theme is that this ‘safe other’ is a horrifying impossibility.BIO
Linus Nicolaj Carlsen (1983), master in Modern Culture from University of Copenhagen. External lecturer at University of Copenhagen 2016-2018, and co-owner of the bookstore Bladr. Areas of research includes Lacanian psychoanalysis, man-machine relations in early Soviet literature, the philosophy of Maurice Blanchot, and Samuel Beckett’s prose pieces.
Emotional Reactions, Empathetic Interactions
Machines for Living: Corbusier and Contemporary Smart Home Utopianism
Abstract: This paper discusses the artistic, historical, and critical design perspectives leading to my project “A Machine For Living In”, a digital media work using newly available computational and sensing tools to study the home as a site of intimate life. I invoke Corbusier’s modernist framing of the home as “a machine for living” to interpret the promises of contemporary smart home technologies. I contrast utopian illusions of beautiful, frictionless utility with artistic strategies that generate personal insight into the messy, material realities of domestic life. The result is a complex, machine-mediated portrait of the everyday.
I begin the paper with “Corbusier and Machine Living”, introducing Corbusier’s description of the home as a machine for living in. I consider his idealization of the machine in the context of our parallel utopian imagination of the smart home founded on the promises of ubiquitous sensing, embedded computing, and machine learning. I contrast his model of the airplane or automobile with our contemporary use of the computer as the master metaphorical machine. I discuss our contemporary condition inhabiting pervasive systems of thinking machines, our “machine living”.
In “Arriving at Home” I describe the home as a site and subject in all of its concrete experiential layers: as a space of language, intimacy, bodily practice, quotidian narrative, and as the focus of contemporary commercial enthusiasm. I discuss the relevant traditions of site specific artwork (Smithson) and systems art (Burnham), as well as sculptural and performative works exploring the home (Matta-Clark, Whiteread, Christo, ).
In “Housemachines”, I describe other house-machines and works to be inhabited: cinematic (Buster Keaton), fictional (Ray Bradbury, J.G. Ballard, and Bioy Casares), painterly (Goya’s black paintings), and technoscientific (Deb Roy’s Human Speechome).
“A Machine for Living In” describes the actual project, which has two distinct phases. First, a site-specific period of human-machine cohabitation with computational sensors installed in a real home, followed by an exhibition of recorded data as a layered digital media installation. I describe the multi-modal sensing apparatus built to instrumentalize domestic space, the parameters of my site observation, and the exhibition scenario developed to present the work. Finally, I describe the parameters of joint human-machine authorship whereby this project produces a complex portrait of the home as site and system: a space of language, intimacy, bodily practice, and quotidian narrative.
In the conclusion, “Designing Introspective Machines”, I generalize the lessons learned from this project into a broader practice of introspective machine design. Inspired by the ideas of Inverse Technologies (Natalie Jeremijenko and Kate Rich), Machine Therapy (Kelly Dobson), and Bachelard’s topoanalysis, I advocate for the design of introspective technologies to examine the conditions of our computational cohabitation. This is a technological topoanalysis, engaging emerging technologies with sites of intimate life, to accomplish a reciprocal diagnosis of human and machine. I discuss future sites and projects.
Infosphere as a Neoliberal Hi-Tech machine. Emotional robotics, Artificial Intelligence and the decline of the Creative Class
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is not only determined by the re-emerging role of automation but also by the overwhelming of the so-called “digital dualism” (Jurgenson 2012) and based on a new communicational environment that I called “ontobranding” (Barile 2012) based on the dynamic integration between bits and atoms. If in the origin the category of infosphere had to deal mostly with an electronic and digital world, as introduced many years ago by A Toffler (1979) not quoted by Floridi, its application today moves towards an integration between digital and physical. The possibility of a permanently and ubiquitously automated society through the “algorithmic regulation” (O’Reilly 2013, Morozov 2014) produces a psycho-somatic reaction of the people against the technocratic regime. At the same time the Creative Class that used to be considered as the protagonist of the new intangible economy (Florida 2002) and that interpreted an advanced phase of the neoliberal cognitive exploitation, today suffers of a double complex: on a side is threatened by the same emerging media that previously supported its social identity – laptops, smartphones, video cameras mostly branded by Apple; on the other side is ready to be replaced by the new automated media aiming to develop emotional and creative features. While many years ago the critic of the Californian Ideology used to play with the expression “Cyborg Masters, Robots Slaves” (Barbrook and Cameron 1995), in a close future this relation could be overturned by already existing Emotional and creative robots (Turkle 2011) replacing the members of the Creative Class. A formidable example of this approach is the support given by the EU Parliament to the Music Tech Festival community initiatives. MTF is a highly innovative community experimenting new applications in the field of robotic and human interaction design for music. There is a double reason why the members of the European Parliament are interested in the new frontier of cyber and robotic music. The first one is because Europe is already a cybernetic machine. The second reason is because engaging new creative researchers working with new emerging media is also a way to re-style the old label of a technocratic machine into a new, “cool” and creative infosphere which is not just avoiding the emotional dimension but somehow valorizing it in the form of a soft exploitation.N. Barile, “From the Posthuman Consumer to the Ontobranding Dimension: Ge- olocalization,
Augmented Reality and Emotional Ontology as a Radical Redefini- tion of What Is Real.” intervalla: platform for intellectual exchange, vol. 1. http://www.fus.edu/intervalla/images/pdf/9_barile.pdf. May 18, 2013.
R. Barbrook, A. Cameron, The Californian Ideology, “Alamut. Bastion of Peace and Information”, August (www.alamut.com/subj/ideologies/ pessimism/calif Ideo_I.html), 1995.
N. Jurgenson, Digital Dualism and the Fallacy of Web Objectivity. Retrieved from
(accessed on 13 September 2011).
E. Morozov ,“The rise of data and the death of politics”, The Guardian, 7/20/2014.
T. O’Reilly, “Open Data and Algorythmic Regualtion” in Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the
Future of Civic Innovation. Edited by Brett Goldsteinwith Lauren Dyson. Code for America Press, San
Francisco, CA, 2013.
P.Sloterdijk,IntheWorldInteriorofCapital:TowardsaPhilosophicalTheoryofGlobalization,trans.Wieland Hoban, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2013.
S. Turkle, Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2011.
Affective Listening Experiences of Synthesized Voices
Abstract: In this presentation I will critically examine the affective listening experiences of synthesized voices (Harris 2005; Neumark 2010; Phan 2017) in the vocaloid opera THE END (2013) starring the vocaloid pop star Hatsune Miku. THE END is composed by the Japanese artist Keiichiro Shibuya, 3D animated by art director YKBX, and sound designed by Evala.
In the chapter “Emotional Machines” Donald Norman writes that machines do not have emotions – at least not human ones, but that machines can be designed to express emotional states in order to interact and communicate with humans (2004). The affective expressions of the vocaloid Hatsune Miku in THE END will be discussed with reference to Norman’s argument and media theorist Frances Dyson’s discussion of synthesized voices as “disaffected voices” (2014). Drawing on my own listening experience of the vocaloid opera in Musikhuset Aarhus in 2016, as well as my interviews with the three artists behind the production, I will examine in what ways vocaloids, programmes synthesizing human vocals for singing, can be designed to express emotional states that are not human yet still affective. THE END has been articulated as a posthuman multimedia opera (Meyers 2013). Following this, I will argue that the staging of synthetized voices in THE END can be seen as an operatic performance that plays with the notion of the posthuman voice in the domain of digital performance, promoting affective listening experience that challenge our experience of affect as something that only operates within the human domain.
In the concluding remarks perspectives to media performances such as the robotic multimedia performance ROBOT (2013) by Blanca Li, and the performance Hello Hi There (2010) by director Annie Dorson, will be discussed as other examples of artistic uses of synthesized voices promoting affective listening experiences in different ways.
Dyson, F.(2014) The Tone of Our Times : Sound, Sense, Economy, and Ecology. Massachusetts, MIT Press.
Harris, R.A. (2005) Voice Interaction Design: Crafting the New Conversational Speech Systems. San Francisco, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Meyers, Rob (2013). ”I Like Hatsune Miku And She (Can Be Programmed To Sing That She) Likes Me”, furtherfield. http://www.furtherfield.org/features/articles/i-hatsune-miku-and-she-can-be-programmed-sing-she-likes-me. Accessed August 17th 2017.
Neumark, N. og Gibson, R. og van Leeuwen, T. (2010) VØICE. Massachusetts, The MIT Press.
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Phan, T. (2017) The Materiality of the Digital and the Gendered Voice of Siri. Transformations 29, 23 – 33.
Abstract: Wander/Wonder explores the nature of speculation and our changing relationship with physicality through two separate but connected experiences: Wander, a walkable virtual street map of Baltimore City with all buildings removed except for psychic reader storefronts, and Wonder, a zero-gravity digital astral plane experienced as a virtual reality environment. While the interactor flies through the Wonder side via an Oculus Rift VR headset, the Wander side is projected on a screen for spectators to view. The interactor uses a crystal ball controller to navigate both environments simultaneously – one person guides the experiences of spectators in Wander while fully immersed in the VR environment of Wonder.
Interacting with the environments challenges participants to consider their relationship to the future in an increasingly speculative age. Predictive algorithms use metadata such as browser activity, searches, and previous purchases to anticipate future actions by a user to divine a future for users, much as psychics gather bits of data to divine the future through arcane or mysterious processes. Wander presents a world where the physical aspects of the city have faded, leaving only the speculation offered by psychics. Attempting to enter a psychic transports the viewer out the door of a different psychic. As forms of data surveillance use their predictive powers to shape our lives, the technologies that should enable us to take control of our futures are the exact thing keeping us out. Wonder offers the opportunity to surrender physical reality in exchange for an experience beyond reality, a sort of second Sight. This reimagining of the trope of the blind oracle represents a more hopeful interpretation of the transformative powers of technology.
Lat-sac and Blo-nut: Expanding our design language for machine expression.
However, social robots continue to be created in the image of the typical aesthetic and behavioral characteristics of humans and cute animals. How else might social robots look, move and behave if we break free of this narrow interpretation?
As a designer I believe it is important to explore other ways that social robots can have an effect on us. I am inspired by alternative aesthetics and behaviours, ones that often lead to humorous, appalling or intriguing forms and movements that can provide us with a novel interactive experience.