December 3, 2005

DAC 2005 Session 10

by Michael Mateas · , 7:38 am

More DAC…

Jill Walker

Mirrors and Shadows: The Digital Aesthetisation of Oneself

Starts by looking at various self-representations in convex mirrors: oil painting, cell phones with mirrors, space shuttle astronaut taking a picture of himself on a space walk. Presents a brief visual history of photographic self-portraits in mirrors. She’s using photographic/mirror self-portraits to set up a discussion of digital self-portraits, including customized avatars, web-site self-portraits, the Mirror Project, etc. Discusses the distinction between digital portraits that try to capture the whole person, by perhaps layering multiple images (mentions Jason Salavon’s Every Playboy Centerfold, The Decades in this context, though this represents multiple wholes rather than a single whole, almost infoviz art) vs. partial self-portraits that emphasize fragments. Example fragment representations: pseudonymous weblogs (mentions that she’s addicted to pseudonymous weblogs of 30-something female academics like Bitch Ph.D., though she didn’t mention this particular one in her talk), the use of flikr to photograph and post body-fragments.

Alexa Wright, Eugenie Shinkle, Alf Linney

Alter Ego: Computer Reflections of Human Emotions

The rhetoric of early cybertheory: “the body is obsolete” – an example: Stelarc, who always refers to his body as “the body”, never “my body”. Two subjective models: Lacan (fundamentally visual – the mirror stage), and phenomenology (fundamentally affective). In the mirror stage, an infant’s experience of external images of her body leads to an internal sense of I. Phenomenology focuses on the experience of the self as the experience of bodily, affective states. Alexa provided a brief review of some of her work as a digital artist – work such as Geo and Precious are a response to Stelarc, focusing on the intimate, interior space of the body. In more recent work, such as Alter Ego, the viewer sits in front of a screen, facing a semi-autonomous avatar that mimics, but not exactly, the facial expressions of the viewer. After 30 seconds or so, the mirror image starts reacting more autonomously to the facial expressions of the viewer. Alf Linney describes the technical hurdles for creating this system: classify facial expression from live video, model the individual user’s face to animate the avatar, create a semi-autonomous avatar, and achieve real-time response. They used supervised learning to build decision trees that classify expression; the features are a set of specific points tracked on the face. The alter-ego is achieved using a stateless lookup table; a set of potential response expressions are associated with each detectable facial expression; given a detected facial expression, the system picks one of the associated expressions randomly.

Anker Jorgensen, Lars Udsen

The History of the Computer as Interface: A Journey from Calculation to Culture

This work was motivated by a lack of historical understanding among students and some interface researchers, who tend to treat the GUI as the first interface and the computer as primarily a communication device. Starts his history with the 19th century need for mechanical computation to complete the US census, and the early 20th century need for scientific and military calculations, principle with mechanical analogue computers. Doesn’t talk at all about Pascal, Leibniz, Jacquard, Babbage… Early electronic computers had primarily physical interfaces (e.g. rewiring, punch cards, etc.). With systems like the IBM 360, primarily textual interfaces were introduced. GUI interfaces made computing more accessible to casual users. The history is a fairly standard technology-centric treatment that ignores political and economic factors. Maurice Black’s dissertation does a great job of describing the shift towards programming as a form of writing that accompanied the transition from physical to textual interaction (this was not purely a matter of input devices, but also of the development of compilers for higher-level languages).

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