December 3, 2005

DAC 2005 Session 11b

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 8:43 am

This session includes:
– Ole Ertløv Hansen: Neuroaesthetics and the Digital Interactive Experience
– Lewis, Nadeau: Inter-inactivity
– Robert Sweeny: Net_work_ed

Ole Ertløv Hansen: Neuroaesthetics and the Digital Interactive Experience

Starting with his conclusions. This presenter seems to feel that interaction is best understood as motor action. Digital art “isolates, enhances, and makes possible certain forms of possible action – to put forward the essence of movement.”

Coming out of a congnitive approach to art – enjoyment of the act of perception itself, not just an imitation of religious ritual. The aesthetic experience as something that occurs by the processing of forms in the human mind. (I wonder how this is heading toward the motor action conclusion?)

The work of art as a special way of organizing the material of the artifact. The perception of the work of art as based on (at least) three systems: early processing, association and memory, and limbic emotions. (Now giving a primer on some of the findings of neuroaesthetics. I worry he will run out of time before getting back to digital art or interactivity.)

Okay, now he says that neuroaesthetics is talking about perception of static works, but we also need to talk about things that unfold in time (cinema), and interactive art. He’s out of time, but under interactive art he has listed (on his slide):
– dynamic “motor perception” [Gibson]
– action as an integrated part of perception
– cognition and action and optimal experience [“flow”]

The panel chair has told him twice that time is up, but he won’t stop. (Then, finally, he does — but without ever getting to why this is all motor based. I can’t help but wonder, how would this framework view something like The Impermanence Agent?)

Question: Nick asks, what are the experimental methodologies of neuroaesthetics? Do you put people in an MRI? Do you find people with brain damage who cannot have aesthetic experiences any more?
A: Yes, both. But it’s done with very short term experiences — showing an image and seeing the result. Not done with long-term experiences. Anything interactive is longer term than what these test.

Question: Fox Harrell asks, aren’t you talking about something that’s culturally situated? Haven’t there been a lot of critiques of the reductionism of the work of the people you’re citing?
A: Yes, there have been these critiques. But part of the point is that he’s trying to establish Indian art as being the equal of Western art. I believe that this work gets at universal aesthetic perception. I don’t feel bad about reductionism as long as it moves us forward.

Lewis, Nadeau: Inter-inactivity

Using the complete spectrum of human motion to control interactive artwork.

Most interactive artworks require continual movement to keep activating the work — the “interaction dance.” The flow of the user adapting to the interface. The user jumps in front of the piece, then jumps and kicks around trying to figure out what the system will and won’t recognize. Then the user eventually stops and enters a state of idleness, which isn’t registered by the piece.

We studied this with two particular pieces — David Rokeby’s Cheap Imitation and Depletion by Scott Snibbe. (These pieces definitely seem selected from a particular sub-area of interactive artworks. One that fits with the assumptions of the paper before, but not necessarily the best basis for generalizations about interactive work.)

Trying to bring the idle moment of the interactive dance into the piece and create a pleasing response. One work is Still Standing, a short personal poem about a search for a motionless moment in a high speed culture. The text responds to movement with a trace (disturbing the text lying on the ground), but responds to stillness with legibility (the text rising from the ground and forming into the shape of the reader’s standing body). It looks like a nice piece.

Question: Roberto Simanowski asks, the text that forms up — is it readable?
A: The text at the bottom is to attract user interest, the text in the silhouette is legible.

Question: Jeremy Douglass says he’s interested in the idea of inter-inactivity. Is there anything that differentiates normal standing still from this?
A: Yes, it is just standing still. But the point is that interactive systems weren’t interpreting this important kind of bodily behavior.

Robert Sweeny: Net_work_ed

His title stands for networks, artworks, and education.

In terms of networks, it’s everything from Neuromancer to global trade to the global “war on terror” networks — Manuel Castells’s The Rise of the Network Society. (Again, I worry the time is slipping away from him. We haven’t gotten to any of his ideas yet.)

Now artists: Stelarc, etoy, and Surveillance Camera Players. (We’re nearly out of time, and still in the background material.)

What if art educators tried to apply similar tactics in pedagogical contexts? Well, first we need more background: Henry Giroux, Peter McClaren. These ideas haven’t really been engaged in the digital area.

(Oh, and I see I’ve been reading the time off his computer clock, which is almost 10 minutes fast.)

A student who used his body to perform his relationship to his computer, using his chest as the screen, pulling out pieces from his shirt, popping up and ad, etc.

He presented a “pedagopticon” for the New Forms Festival in 2004. A head cap with webcams. A technology that would let the educator see everything that was happening.

“Cyborg Pedagogy” — Charles Garoian & Yvonne Gaudelius

A student who did a project where she tied people in class together.

How can we bring critical awareness into our work with students in the technology enabled classroom?

Question: Roberto asks, can you elaborate on the relationship between the medium and the network now that we’re so much more mobile? And can you explain a little more how you see Stelarc as part of this?
A: I think it’s very relevant to think about our history of networks. For me it’s interesting to layer prior experiences with networks (street maps, circulatory systems). Mobile digital technologies may call for new kinds of mapping processes.

Question: Jeremy don’t people’s experiences of networks at least partially grown out of their technical features? And aren’t a lot of digital networks demand based (like a web browser demanding of a server) rather than broadcast based (like television) and perhaps that’s something we could bring to our pedagogical thinking about all this? [rough paraphrase]
A: I see a nice potential to see if things like open source approaches could be adapted to education. Open schools tried to manifest some of this in their material structure, but were basically a failure.