Category Archives: Projects

image-4_absens

Absens (Frauke Materlik and Stephen Crowe)

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An investigative sound installation and immaterial archive in the high mountains of Western Norway

image-1_absens(Photograph by Frauke Materlik)

Absens takes place in the remote mountain regions of Western Norway and involves using sound and space interventions to explore transformations within landscapes and society. The project highlights gradually transforming infrastructures, looking specifically at the formerly agricultural landscape in higher mountain areas.

How do sound, memory, landscape and infrastructure relate?

Absens seeks to make it possible to sense time.

Absens will be translated into a sound installation of recomposed field recordings, an archive, and artist book.

Absens was initiated by artist and landscape architect Frauke Materlik.  Materlik has invited Stephen Crowe, a composer of experimental music, to be part of the process.

www.fraukematerlik.eu
www.stephencroweopera.org

Absens receives funding from the Municipality of Bergen and is supported by the Norwegian Tourist Asscociation, an institution comparable with the Alpine Club.

Introduction

During the summer of 2016, a sound installation on the Hardanger plateau in Norway will feature recomposed field recordings of agricultural processes such as milking machines, engines, and cows, goats, sheep – all with their respective bells – on summer pasture.  Significantly, there are now hardly any animals grazing in these mountains. This is a fairly recent development underscoring drastic changes in land use and infrastructure, thus also affecting the perception of landscape.

Landscape is at the core of memory. Spaces and places can be easier to remember through spatial-sensual perception than simply through time-based events.[i] Absens examines relationships between landscape and memory by using sound to reanimate memory and highlight the distinctive and local in a global context. Accordingly, our objective is to investigate connections in order to discover how one factor, occurrence or process might lead to and influence another, or in turn point toward previous incidents.

Artistic production follows a “logic of speculation”, suggesting that an artwork might become a model for a society – as opposed to simply modeling itself upon a society.[ii] Absens connects audio and the environment, facilitating unexpected encounters between the past, present and future – and between memory and the present. It correlates links and new subjects of observation and imagination, in the outside, and in areas that are rapidly changing.

image-2_absensA mode of succession. These photos were all taken at the same location. Changes in landscape can take time and are therefore often not easily noticeable. One simply gets used to gradual transformation. These photos intriguingly illustrate recent developments. Photographer, Oscar Puschman: blogg.nrk.no

Political, historical and theoretical background

Landscape can tell us about both history and the present, and about human activities that one might not grasp from other contexts and subjects. For American landscape architect Dianne Harris, the “seen landscape is frequently misleading […] We need to look carefully at what is visible but also at what is erased or consciously rendered invisible and for what reasons”.[iii]

For over one hundred years, Norway has promoted itself as a country of outstanding landscapes and beauty. These landscapes are however undergoing radical change. More and more waterfalls are put into pipes for energy production. Fjords serve as tipping place for waste, air pollution increases due to cruise ship traffic. On one hand, landscape functions as a resource, and on the other, as a romantic image.

Absens explores these divergent perceptions, focusing on new ways of conceiving and conceptualizing infrastructure. The project is not a nostalgic ‘looking back’ but rather a questioning of the future.

Absens aims to make it possible to sense time. In the words of Elizabeth Grosz, the goal is to seek “a way to render time sensational, to make time resonate sensibly, for no art can freeze time [..] except through the invention of new forces and energies”.[iv]

image-3_absens
The meeting of perceptions: landscape and the environment as resource or romantic image. Photograph by Frauke Materlik.

Since the 1970s, Norway has undergone radical transformations in infrastructure and economic development – most recently at a rapidly increasing speed. This development is primarily due to the substantial oil resources that now form the backbone of Norway’s economy and employment. By contrast, the nation’s economy was formerly based upon farming and fishery. Nowadays, change is increasingly visible in the landscape, with quickly substantially decreasing working farms and local food production. Until only a couple of years ago, it was common to see cattle, sheep and goats summer pastures in the mountains. But due to the restructuring of farm funding and methods, there are now less and less animals in the mountains, which has in turn prompted the land to be covered by new growth and a rapidly changing flora and fauna.

Absens reflects on how changes taking place around us:  What do we see without seeing?

image-4_absens

Derelict farm in Western Norway. Photograph by Frauke Materlik

Absens was initially triggered by Materlik’s experience many years ago of working on a Norwegian farm when she spent the summer on the outfarm with cows and goats. The sound of the working farm and the animals with their bells was a distinct and highly evocative experience. This sound has more or less disappeared today. Working in Switzerland last year on a landscape research project, she noticed how high mountain farming still is of great importance for the maintenance of cultural landscape. This has thus become an experience Materlik wants to relate to experience of the Norwegian mountains, and to consequently engage in a discussion around challenges of contemporary infrastructure and future development, and in doing so, link past and present, rendering time and space through the intervention of sound.

image-5_absensCows in Switzerland – a common visual and audio feature in the high mountains, and a mode of maintaining cultural landscapes and tradition. Photograph by Frauke Materlik

Methodology

The initial stage of the project is a mapping of the current state – i.e. an act of preserving and gathering the immaterial audio and visual features of a landscape.  To do this we will travel large distances on winding mountain roads during autumn 2015 and spring 2016 in order to locate remaining farmers and farm animals. Then, using collected images and the sounds of agriculture, animals and their bells, we will create an archive that will serve as a basis for a newly composed soundscape. The final composition will be installed in a former outfarm area high up in the Hardanger mountains in 2016 as soon as weather permits. Following discussions with the Norwegian Hiking association, we decided to use the surroundings of Stavali cabin as a location for the project. Significantly, until three years ago there was an outfarm at Stavali that dated to the sixteenth century. Today the tourist association operates a location that has become especially popular with hikers during the summer months. The cabin opens to the public in late June, and the equipment for the sound installation will be shipped by helicopter, together with all other essential materials for the summer season.

http://www.ut.no/hytte/3.1698/

Around Stavali, loudspeakers will be installed invisibly and sheltered from the elements such that only sounds are perceived at particular times over periods of varying length. The sound will increase and decrease, as if the farm animals were moving, coming closer and then disappearing again. Sound will be amplified at a relatively low volume, such that the perceiver might wonder if s/he has heard or imagined the sounds. Thus, the sound work embraces and interacts with the space, treating it according to its own needs.[vi]

image-6_absens Encounter in the mountains. Photograph by Frauke Materlik

With Absens, we have decided to take the important step to leave traditional exhibition spaces and install the work in situ in the mountains. The context within which the work is experienced is clearly fundamental to its content.[vii] We also wished to create a space for an audience that rarely visits museums and galleries within which to experience contemporary art and music. We also plan to present the project in the city of Bergen, creating further correlations in transporting the remote landscape into an urban context. Furthermore, we envisage building an online archive.  We want the project to be equally accessible and exciting for all age groups; both for those who remember that there were animals grazing on the outfarms some years ago, and for those who are too young to know so much about it. Absens will therefore involve its audiences in a process of highlighting familiar yet forgotten landscapes – facilitating a state of mind combining place and consciousness –’inner’ and ‘outer’ landscapes. Absens hopes to function as a starting point for discussion about that which was common until not so long ago yet already beginning to be forgotten.  For Merleau-Ponty:

Each moment of time calls all the others to witness; it shows by its advent ‘how things were meant to turn out’ and ‘how it will all finish’; each present permanently underpins a point of time which calls for recognition from all the others…[viii]

Absens is not simply a soundtrack for changing landscape.  It is also a questioning of future developments and a mapping of spaces in-between personal and common memories and anticipation. We also envisage substantiating the project within a framework potentially incorporating a seminar and concert in the mountains and a closing event in the city that will bringing together experts from various disciplines and the public.

image-7_absensVisiting one of the remaining dairy farms and recording in the stables. Photograph by Frauke Materlik

The current context

Why do we think that this project is interesting?

Absens is embedded in an ongoing and controversial political debate in Norway surrounding the nation’s future direction and self understanding: How can the material and immaterial heritage be maintained or preserved? How do we want to live, being self-supplied or entirely relying on international markets?

Absens is a poetic and critical response, questioning underlying infrastructures and seeking to both find answers and deepen questioning. We seek to develop a research strategy that will experientially convey transformations by employing sound as a means through which to create ‘inner’ images and time renderings – thus animating personal and collective memories and engage in a debate on future possibilities. Consequently, we aim to reanimate a common memory and presence with a focus on the distinctive and local in an expanded context. In doing so, we consistently return to the questions: What needs to be preserved, discovered, and lived – both now and beyond the horizon of our present? What roles do cultural and personal memories play in this matrix? How might sound and installation practice become a tool for exploring these questions?

Norway is just one example in a global shift. Comparable scenarios can be found in many other former agricultural regions. By participating in Project Anywhere, we seek to evoke and discuss important relationships between sound, memory, landscape and infrastructure, and in doing so, gather and share knowledge and experience at a broader level.

image-8_absensField recordings. Photograph by Stephen Crowe

[i] Simmel, Georg. 1913. Die Philosophie der Landschaft.  In Die Güldenkammer. Eine bremische Monatsschrift, Bremen.

[ii] Sheikh, Simon. 2011. Vectors of the Possible: Art Between Spaces of Experience and Horizons of Expectation.  In On Horizons. A Critical Reader in Contemporary Art.  BAK. Utrecht

[iii] Harris, Dianne. 2008. Sites Unseen  in Landscape Theory . Edited by DeLue, Rachel and Elkins, James. Routledge, London

[iv] Grosz, Elizabeth. 2008. Chaos, Territory, Art.  Columbia University Press. New York

[v] Helle, Siri. 2015. Skal landet gro att?  (trans: Should the countryside become overgrown?). Dreyers Forlag. Oslo

[vi]  Focillon, Henri. 1989. Forms in the Realm of Space.  In The Life of Form in Art. Zone Books.

[vii]  Drabble, Barnaby. 2013. Voices in the Exhibition.  In Smoky Pokership.Perform the Exhibition Space.  Ed. Omlin, Sibylle.Verlag für moderne Kunst. Nürnberg

[viii] Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1962. Phenomenology of Perception . Routledge. London

RADIO-ATHLONE-DIAL-2-472x403

Calling Athlone (Steve Maher)

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RADIO ATHLONE DIAL 2

Calling Athlone is a relational, installation and broadcast based art project that makes use of Athlone’s (Co West-Meath, Ireland) deep connection to broadcasting both past and present. The project aims to make this connection through an exploration of the technology and sites linked to the history of broadcasting in the area.  The project will connect communities within Athlone to their rich broadcasting heritage and the empowerment which broadcasting can offer while also addressing the intricate histories which came into being as a direct result of Ireland’s contested past.  The project is to be centred on a series of workshops that will lead to the production of homemade crystal set radios by its participants and the material for a short radio documentary. The radio documentary will later be broadcast in the area and the participants of the workshops will be able to listen to the documentary about their contributions through the radios that they themselves have made. Crystal set radios are entirely powered by radio waves and require no additional electrical source, they are cheap and simple to make. By distributing the knowledge for their construction and linking it to the legacy of innovation that for many years placed Athlone a relatively obscure town in the centre of Ireland on the map I will provoke new considerations amongst the local community regarding the legacy of technology.  The project will culminate in an on-site installation featuring a recording of the broadcast played through the radios the participants of the project have built themselves in their own homes. The project will attempt to position historic research and knowledge regarding broadcasting in the area into the format of an engaged project for the community to provoke new considerations and relationships within the context of one of their most historically significant yet periphery items of legacy.

Context

Athlone is unique by comparison to the rest of Ireland in that it hosts four generations of broadcasting. In 1926, as one of the newly independent Irish States first major public works projects and alongside the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station Athlone’s Moydrum transmitter station was built and operational by 1932, while not the only radio station in Ireland at the time it was the most central and highest powered, being capable of reaching far across the country and into far eastern Europe. This centrality later leads to it becoming the consolidated headquarters of Irish broadcasting, later being re-named Radio Na hEireann in the 1950s, up until this point most European made wireless radios featured Athlone on the Dial between major European cities like Helsinki and Moscow. Until the 1970s the site played host to the country’s main broadcaster, later being used as the location of the 2FM broadcast.  Athlone continued to have local broadcasting, today a prominent station in the area is Athlone Community Radio 88.4fm, and a community based station which has won awards for its programming among other things.

The site of the transmitter is on the grounds of the Moydrum estate close by lies ruins of Moydrum Castle. The IRA burned this to the ground in 1921 during the war of independence in response to the burning of several rural homesteads by British Military forces. The ruins of the castle appear on the cover of U2’s An Unforgettable Fire, this further adds to the complex history of the site. Broadcasting continues in the area today through Athlone Community Radio which is now located within the town. The community is currently campaigning to have the Moydrum site and the history of broadcasting in Athlone recognised with the aim of transforming the historic location into a museum. The Athlone Marconi Centre Heritage Group is leading this effort. ACR 88.4fm, with support from the Sound and Vision broadcasting scheme, recently produced a documentary detailing much of this background story. A link to documentary can be found here.

The site’s close proximity to the ruins of the then freshly burned castle in Moydrum, show an underlying contention where the state made use of formerly Anglo-Irish property, whether this was due to its abandonment, a form a re-compensation through purchase of the land is not known to me at this time. The father of modern radio himself Guglielmo Marconi (Italy) had close ties to Ireland through his relations via his grandmother who was Jameson (the same family responsible for the famous Irish whiskey and distillery) and of Anglo-Irish descent (ascendency class in Ireland, Families granted ownership of large estates by British authority during Ireland’s time as part of the United Kingdom), indeed it was this close connection to Ireland that lead Marconi to develop most of his earliest technologies with one of his transmitters still existing on site at the Moydrum transmitter. During his tenure in Ireland pre-independence, families like the Hancock’s at Moydrum would have hosted him as a guest. While the personal motivations Marconi harbored at this time are unknown he continued to work in Ireland as before post-independence.

Concept

Radio… gives a voice to the voiceless and is a means for community development.

Mary Lennon, Station Manager Athlone Community Radio

Taking my cue from Athlone Community Radio’s own philosophy of radio having the potential to give a voice to voiceless I aim to host a project, which turns the very technology of radio into an emancipatory form of empowerment. I will facilitate this by giving people in the area the skills needed to harness both the power and information present on radio waves which are both omnipresent and deeply entrenched into the history of the town. By connecting this community to one of its most significant historical achievements I aim to transfer the spirit of ingenuity Marconi and other broadcasting innovators brought to the town from the past to the present. The project will put their accomplishments in relatable terms, in showing how to construct a simple radio we can also show how a radio as a concept in its expanded form works, both in the principals of broadcasting and the technology that allows for it.

The aim of this artwork is to connect the existing communities within Athlone with their rich broadcasting heritage in consideration of the earliest days of the state and its ambitious projects which are in part a result of the momentum generated by the struggle for independence; this project will have several stages and outcomes including an installation on site in the Luan Gallery and a radio documentary. The project will work alongside two pre-contacted organisations through Mary Lennon; station Manager at Athlone Community Radio and Tommy Mollen senior engineer at 2RN on-site at Moydrum Transmitter and Member of the Athlone Marconi Centre Heritage Group.   The project will begin as a series of workshops with members of the community, this community of interest will be invited through local platforms including dissemination through local radio, AIT students union, newspapers, parish diary and social media, it is hoped in this way that a broad demographic of people from the locality will be involved.

Once the community is reached, they will be invited to participate in a guided visit to the historic Moydrum transmitter location and the ruins of the castle. Later in the process they will be asked to participate in evening workshops, which will be located on site at the Moydrum transmitter.  During these workshops the participants will be shown how to construct simple crystal set radios as well as an introduction into the basics of radio electronics, the group will then be asked in response to build their own Radio sets based on these instructions and overseen by the artist on-site. A small short-range portable AM transmitter will be brought on site by the artist to test the newly constructed radios.  This entire process will be recorded in audio and alongside interviews with the community will be used as material for a short half hour radio documentary. A member of Athlone Community Radio, with the aim of using this material to produce a corresponding half hour radio broadcast about the project, will record this process. The participants will be invited to help produce a pre-recorded broadcast and shown the equipment a computer programs used today in modern radio stations.  Athlone Community Radio has committed to have a producer on site for the duration of the project. The broadcast will be transmitted shortly after in one of Athlone Community Radios timeslots, all participants within range of this broadcast will be able tune their newly constructed radios to the broadcast.  The program, which they produced, will play over the radios they built, as part of the workshop while radios themselves will be powered by the very same broadcast.

Later the installation component of the project a selection of these radios will be exhibited on site in Athlone in the Municipal Luan Gallery, the audience will be able to listen to the broadcast itself through these radios with the documentary set on repeat, this will be possible due to a small short wave AM transmitter on site connected to an mp3 player. The radios will be placed in a row either on individual plinths, between 15 and 30 radios may be made as part of this project, the amount on display may need to be decided depending on availability of space. The general public as the audience will be able to interact with the installation by picking up the telephone handsets used as a speaker for the radio sets. The work will exist as both recording and artefact, both in the radios the participants bring home but also as an art installation, later in the year.

Aside from this project’s main mandate, which is to provoke new considerations and relations to heritage amongst the community, project will also attempt help, promote the mandates of its main shareholders in the area.

Athlone Community radio which has been in operation as a volunteer organisation since 2006 and who will by the project’s completion be in the 10th year in operation.

Ÿ The Athlone Marconi Centre Heritage Group who are campaigning to have the location transformed into a museum.

Ÿ  The Luan Gallery, Athlone town center, a municipal art gallery ran by West-Meath County Council.

Timeframe

  1. Project will be promoted on local radio stations, open for all interested members within the community of listeners. I aim to specifically work with the Athlone Marconi Centre Heritage Group as my main community of interest but not exclusively. Project will also be publicized through social networking and through word of mouth within the community with the aid of the projects supporters. Workshop should be maximum 20 participants.
  2. Permission for access to the Moydrum Transmitter will be sought through the official parameters. A carpool may need to be organised in order for people from the area to travel to the site, as the site exists on the outskirts of the town.
  3. The space for the workshop will be secured for an appropriate date, depending on supporter’s calendar and timeframe for producing radio broadcast.
  4. Prior to the workshop taking place the site will be subject to a guided tour either overseen by Tommy Mollen or designed by him.
  5. Workshop is held over half a day from noon till evening.a. Beginning will consist of a presentation, segments of the “Athlone Calling” Documentary produced by Radio Athlone will be played mixed with a presentation summarising the history of broadcasting in Athlone. Referencing this source, which many in the community may be familiar with to expand upon the complicated histories within Athlone with particular relevance for broadcasting.b. A representative from Athlone Community radio will be present and will be asked to give a presentation regarding their work in the area and their connections to Athlone’s broadcasting history. This will ideally be the producer and interviewer of “Athlone Calling” Irena Cvetkovic, as she is intimately aware of Athlones broadcasting history having worked on the project.c. The basics of radio technology will be explained and will be related to the work of Marconi. This will focus on the actual physics of radio waves and broadcast, detailing how this immersive technology works and constantly surrounds us. This section will focus on many interesting aspects of broadcastings history both nationally specific to Ireland and international.d. The participants will be asked to share their own stories and connections to broadcasting, particularly members of the Athlone Marconi Heritage Group. This will be with the intent of creating personal narratives behind the participatory nature of the project and is also with the intent of producing a personalised aspect of the project. These “testimonies” will be edited and contributed to the production of the half hour documentary.e. Construction of the radios will commence overseen by artist, participants will be encouraged to experiment with the form and construction to see the results different designs may create. There is a limitation to the variation of forms and customisation that the radios are capable of hosting while still functionally detecting and playing radio waves. There will be an element of trial and error in this process; potentially some of the constructed radios may not be fully functional without major intervention by the artist. This aspect will be decided on site, on the fly.f. Tuning into local stations will test radios and short distance AM transmitter. I will bring on site. Currently AM broadcasting is being phased out in Ireland, both FM broadcast and the emerging Digital services provide clarity of sound and economy in operation. So the range of AM stations available at the testing stage will be limited, this will be worked around through the operation of a small short range AM transmitter, which will be brought onsite for the production of the project.g. During the process of the workshop, Athlone Community Radio will interview participants.h. Participants will also be invited to attend production of broadcast at a later date.
  6. Production of short half hour broadcast will commence using ACR equipment and artist’s own audio equipment’s. Artist has had previous experience with broadcasting at Wired FM Limerick so will be able to oversee the production at all points.
  7. Participant will be able to engage with this process and will be taught the basics of editing.
  8. Participants will be shown the studios and equipment used in contemporary broadcasting and will be guided in a tour of the station by Mary Lennon.
  9. The broadcast will air over ACR88.4fm and will be listened to by participants and wider community. It will also be available as a podcast from Athlone Community Radio website.
  10. The project will be represented later in the year on-site in Athlone through an existing art space or through a rented/disused shop unit within the town.

Dissemination of the project

The exhibition, in the Luan Gallery is not the culmination of the artwork itself, it is merely an aspect of its dissemination as opposed to the main material. The exhibition is more over an opportunity for the local community and the art gallery audience to interact with the artifacts which exist as a byproduct of the social engagement the project aims to provoke. The documentary, which will be broadcast on loop within the art space (A.M. frequency) and as part of Radio Athlone’s regular programming schedule (F.M. Frequency) will be a porous dissemination of the project throughout the area offering chance encounters outside of the regular parameters of an art audience. This documentary will also be hosted online alongside other supporting materials.

Documentation of site: Moydrum Transmitter, Athlone

The following photographs document the Moydrum Transmitter site. These images provide context for the location in which the workshops will take place.

Figure 1. Disassembled broadcast mast, one of two on-site. Dismantled due to ill repair.

Figure 1. Disassembled broadcast mast, one of two on-site. Dismantled due to ill repair.

Figure 2. Seemingly banal building in rural Ireland.

Figure 2. Seemingly banal building in rural Ireland.

 

Figure 3. Later model transmitter circa 1972

Figure 3. Later model transmitter circa 1972

 

Figure 4. Some of the control layout for the Marconi Transmitter (circa 1920)

Figure 4. Some of the control layout for the Marconi Transmitter (circa 1920)

Moydrum 5

Figure 5. Original patent plate and controls on Marconi Transmitter

 

The Luan Gallery: location for final project dissemination

 

Illustration 1: The Crystal Set Radios upon their completion will be displayed at the Luan Gallery, a location central to the town of Athlone and located closely to Athlone Community Radio.

Illustration 1: The Crystal Set Radios upon their completion will be displayed at the Luan Gallery, a location central to the town of Athlone and located closely to Athlone Community Radio.

 

EIDIA - Paul Lamarre, Melissa P. Wolf
The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive 48ft semi-trailer
exterior view, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
©Lamarre Wolf 2011

The Deconsumptionists, Art as Archive  (EIDIA – aka Melissa P. Wolf and Paul Lamarre)

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9 exterior view trailer phil

EIDIA – Paul Lamarre, Melissa P. Wolf The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive 48ft semi-trailer exterior view, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA ©Lamarre Wolf 2011

The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2009) and later relocated to Bushwick Brooklyn, New York (2012). During this time, three artists’ exhibitions were presented and The Deconsumptionists also participated in “Bushwick Open Studios” events two years running: http://hyperallergic.com/72504/exploring-the-southern-edge-of-bushwick-open-studios/. This was followed by a month long solo exhibition (art engagement residency) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, MOCAD (2014). Here, three hundred museumgoers visited The Deconsumptionist’s trailer and met with EIDIA. The residency incorporated collaborative exhibitions with public programs – with an emphasis on artist run spaces. Panel discussions with invited local artists, galleries, musicians and architects also took place at this time.

At the time of writing, The Deconsumptionists is at FARM gallery in Toledo, Ohio (with further exhibitions and events forthcoming).

His attitude teaches us … that the end of artistic activity is not the finished work but freedom. The work is the road and nothing more. Octavio Paz on Marcel Duchamp[i]

Nothing is thus more troubled and troubling today than the concept archived in this word ‘archive’. Jacques Derrida[ii]

The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive is physically realized in a semi-trailer 48′ x 13′ x 8′ as an outpost for artistic research and for propagating and promoting the discipline of “sustainable” art practice. With the aid of a solar roof, the project is designed to function independently as an art exhibition / performance site for public engagement and interaction. In a future plan, the structure is to be retrofitted with living quarters for an artist residency accommodating two persons. A distinguishing feature of this (3,184 cubic feet) aluminum and steel rectangle on wheels is an archive of 171 boxes containing the collaborative accumulation of the 30-year art practice of EIDIA. Each box is wrapped in ‘caution orange’ plastic and secured with a royal blue number tag. All contents of each box have been photographed to document the archive’s holdings, evidenced in the resulting ‘nature morte’ images, each titled by the number on its box.

Being a long standing collaborative, we initiated this project as an archive for our collective works for consideration of their preservation, distribution or dissolution. Our intention was to reactivate artworks long since completed—an exercise in recycling and reconsidering the signifier (previously created art) as “new” work (essentially appropriating the self).  This proto-creation through new knowledge and value recontextualizes the existing object—thus transmogrifying it with new meaning.

The Deconsumptionists project is a ‘push back’ – a protest against the ‘control’ inherent in the ‘curated’ mediated (capitalistic) model of ‘white cube’ exhibition space and what defines ‘archive.’ This process involves the merging of mundane objects, or as Antony Hudek puts it “commodities constituting a private, coded language— or in Marx’s words a system of ‘social hieroglyphs.”[iii]

There is an obscure vision of the future. Can we continue as now, or can we invent something really different? It is unclear. We must define a new form of “freedom.” I think today freedom is largely the freedom to buy something or the freedom to have money—the freedom to do what we want when we have the money to do … And so the freedom of today is in fact a material freedom which is a strong dependency on the situation of the “crisis” … We must search and find another definition of freedom which is much more at the subjective level, and on the side of creation, on the side of the possibilities of mankind, in the fields of: new forms of political organization, new artistic creations, new inventions, a new style of life. Alain Badiou[iv]

In effect, The Deconsumptionists seeks to represent a new form of aesthetic freedom – one not defined by the quantity produced and finance invested in the art practice but rather one predicated on collecting and editing preexistent things/objects. Consequently, items once produced as new designs and inventions, later discarded as trash, are then rescued and re-invigorated with value and pertinence of meaning.

Once inside, the trailer visitor experiences a peculiar sensation of the space as a readymade mise-en-scène. Accordingly, they becomes cognisant of ‘new knowledge’ a new experience, a new sensation.

As captured in photographs of the contents each box, The Deconsumptionists place objects in an ‘archival positioning’ denoting particular sociopolitical content and meaning. In this way, The Deconsumptionists semi-trailer and its holdings metamorphose into a radicalized aesthetic context manifested as physical memory of capitalism’s unrelenting production/consumption. In doing so, The Deconsumptionists take the strategy of appropriation to a new level of discourse.

The invention of the readymade represents a tipping point in the history of art, an innovation whose posterity has been prodigious. With this radical gesture, which consists of presenting an everyday object of consumption as a work of art, the entire lexical field of the visual arts found itself augmented by a new possibility: signifying not with the aid of sign but with reality itself. Nicolas Bourriaud; reference to Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, 1913.[v]

The Deconsumptionists, Art as Archive is conceived as a new version of “archive” and as an action of aesthetic resistance. The project is essentially a massive movable readymade that posits the modalities of reassembling, repositioning and reshaping preexistent forms (found objects and ephemera) with a view to provoking a disparate conversation about consumption and production (and an ‘everlastingness’ as art).

The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive extends the responsibility of ‘cultural producers’ by examining the struggles and contradictions inherent in the production of art within the capitalist economic model. What is the global impact of what we produce economically, ecologically, and socially? Are artists a part of the problem or of the solution? Should we consider that the end product of a life‘s work could end up stored in some foundation’s collection or as landfill? In facing this literal possibility, we seek to alchemize materials of the past designed for a variable means and purposes (a used semi-trailer, random objects of decorative, functional, fashion content, and objects made to entertain), and in doing so, hope to offer new significances and meanings to these objects in a world of crisis and catastrophe.

The Deconsumptionists seek to travel nationally and internationally. On location, local artists, architects, designers, performers and activists are invited to collaborate to create a variety of exhibitions, public programs and events.
Please visit http://www.eidia.com/ for more information about this project, EIDIA and our numerous other projects.

[i] Paz, O. (1986). Marcel Duchamp: Appearance Stripped Bare. (Donald Gardener trans.) New York: Arcade Publishing, 1990, p.89.

[ii] Derrida, J. (1995). Archive Fever: A Freudian impression. (Eric Prenowitz trans.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, P.90.

[iii] Hudek, A. The Break-Up of New British Sculpture, Essays on Sculpture No.45. Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2005, p.12.

[iv] Badiou A. (2012), On Optimism, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6O_d1DVk3U
www.nexus-instituut.nl The Nexus Institute the Nexus Conference, How to Change the World. Dec. 18, 2012.

[v] Bourriaud N., The Radicant,  (James Gussen and Lili Porten Trans.) New York: Sternberg Press, 2009, p.146.

Tricia Flanagan. Generative Textile Systems, 2015, Detail of Merino lambs-wool, knitting machine, dimensions variable, Hong Kong Wearables Lab, Photo courtesy of the artist, ©Tricia Flanagan.

Time Geography (Tricia Flanagan)

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Tricia Flanagan, Image still from “BODY ecology” 2015, Installation, dimensions variable, Griffiths University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia. Photo courtesy of the artist. © Tricia Flanagan.

In Time Geography, the artist’s role is akin to that of a cartographer, creating tangible social objects to be read as alternative interpretations of our culture in motion.

The project:

– explores the mobilities paradigm by harnessing its potential within wearable soft user interfaces;

– generates dialogue surrounding issues of time, space geography;

– references the ongoing production of textile based systems that archive human journeys;

– offers an alternative model of production to current fashion consumption.

LOCATIONS, DATES & DURATION

Stage 1: BODY ecology

First, Flanagan created a portable dying/weaving/sleeping machine, guided by principles of Humanistic Intelligence and coupled with the body’s biometrics, in order to generate textiles. Documentation of the machine/body installation in the interactive process of generating blankets – biometric traces as tangible social objects to cover the body – can be viewed via the link below.  The BODY ecology installation and the blankets generated through the performance together form an exploratory response to the activity of tracking twelve months of the body in motion and at rest.

– Time Topography at Timeless Textiles, Newcastle Australia 15 July – 16 August 2015.

http://www.timelesstextiles.com.au/page32013/blog.aspx?newsID=10912

Experimental Thinking / Design Practices at Griffith University Art Gallery, Australia 18 September – 7 November 2015.

http://issuu.com/qcagriffith/docs/experimental_thinking_design_practi (p.19)

– WearNEXT at AVA Gallery, Choi Hung, Hong Kong, 25 March 1 – 31, 2016.

Tricia Flanagan. “BODY ecology” 2015, Installation, dimensions variable, Timeless Textiles, Newcastle Australia, Photo courtesy of the artist, ©Tricia Flanagan.

Tricia Flanagan. “BODY ecology” 2015, Installation, dimensions variable, Timeless Textiles, Newcastle Australia, Photo courtesy of the artist, ©Tricia Flanagan.

Stage 2: Generative Textile Systems

Flanagan then created a second system in the form of an installation consisting of a portable knitting machine connected to data from walking/geo-tagging/and sensing temperature and humidity in order to generate body coverings.  A collection of twelve garments was produced using the artists’ body biometrics/ location/ temperature and humidity. Corresponding collections are to be produced in collaboration with travellers from across the globe.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Time Geography explores the topography of the body and its tempo-spatial relationship to systems that surround it. Walking and sleeping self-generate clothing and blankets, changes in the environment leave visible traces in colours and textures in textiles – much like the growth rings of a tree or traces of sunburn on the skin. In this sense, travelling generates bespoke garments unique to the body and environments from which they emerge. Time Geography is therefore a system of clothing and textiles production that is determined by the body’s mobility and the environmental climate surrounding it.

Time Geography is built around themes that provoke a search for ontological equilibrium, re-valorising the time of sleep as productive, harnessing the expressive quality of walking, and viewing time as an accumulation of stories captured in social objects and invested in material culture and practices.

Tricia Flanagan. “BODY ecology” 2015, Detail of weaving, 200 x 150 cm, Indigo-dyed Merino lambs-wool, Timeless Textiles, Newcastle Australia, Photo courtesy of the artist, ©Tricia Flanagan.

Tricia Flanagan. “BODY ecology” 2015, Detail of weaving, 200 x 150 cm, Indigo-dyed Merino lambs-wool, Timeless Textiles, Newcastle Australia, Photo courtesy of the artist, ©Tricia Flanagan.

In the artwork BODY ecology, the sleeping state determines the depth of colour of a hand spun merino lamb’s wool thread that is drawn at a constant rate across a portable dying machine. When the artist is sound asleep, the thread dives deeply into the indigo dye bath. When lightly sleeping or stirring, it is drawn shallow or skims the surface. During the day, the resulting variegated coloured thread is woven into a blanket, which in turn becomes a physical embodiment of the ontological experience of sleep.

Across contemporary culture we are facing a sleep crisis. The on-going acceleration of modernity is one in which everything is incrementally speeding up. Consequently, there are always better things to do than sleep. This is an attention economy that we like to think that we are choosing to consume. Our impulse is to consume our own insomnia through the customisation of sleep in order to work around deadlines or lifestyles. Our sleep cycles are therefore no longer in tune with diurnal time. 24/7 electric light, neon cityscapes and the proliferation of electronic screens stimulate us to stay up later every night, and every morning the mechanised time of our alarm clocks wake us. Then, on weekends we binge on sleep in a vain attempt to catch up. ‘Social jet-lag’[i] _is the result of this on-going conflict between biological and social time and takes its toll on the body by manifesting in numerous health issues. Research has linked sleep to memory, learning, metabolism and the immune system. Sleep deprivation leads to health consequences such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cancer, and is linked to diseases such as chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and Alzheimer’s disease[ii].

Somewhere at a deeper level, our hermeneutic goal is to return to healthy sleep – yet it seems that the healthy sleeper is not revered in our culture. Critical sleep theory considers the history of sleep culture and acknowledges its problematic contemporary condition. The industrial revolution had the effect of mechanising time as labour and commodified time into productive and non-productive time. Prior to the industrial revolution we slept in different ways. During medieval times, many slept in shorter blocks of three or four hours rather than eight hours a night. In many ways, sleep is considered a weakness that overcomes us. We embrace a work ethic that only sees value in productivity and places taboo on sleeping in public. Homer famously referred to sleep as ‘death’s brother’.

 

Tricia Flanagan.“BODY ecology”, 2015. Detail of blanket, lambs-wool, indigo, 200 x 150 cm, Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University, United Kingdom, Photo courtesy of the artist. ©Tricia Flanagan.

Tricia Flanagan.“BODY ecology”, 2015. Detail of blanket, lambs-wool, indigo, 200 x 150 cm, Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University, United Kingdom, Photo courtesy of the artist. ©Tricia Flanagan.

BODY ecology is an installation that generates bespoke blankets from sleeping participants. Steve Mann describes humanistic intelligence as the synergy between human and computing systems, where both operate as if they are one organism, circumventing any conscious operative narrative. Each blanket is generated through the process over a month of sleeping and weaving.

Our technological tools continue to evolve the way we think, the way we behave and the way we interact. Technology is increasingly mobile but the current generation of wearables does little to address this new mobilities paradigm. By contrast, its focus is the quantified self-promoting commodified gadgets and competitive individualism. We live increasingly digitally mediated lives, and this environment creates new points of perspective. Technology is increasingly embedded into our everyday lives, in the building blocks of our cities, the textiles on our bodies, and under our skin. Time Geography provokes an alternative dialogue found at the intersection of these multi-layered networks and systems.

What is the body ecology of the digital native? How can we better leverage and augment the affordances of the body? How can we create systems of empathy, cybernetic systems that connect our minds/bodies/environments into emotionally sensitive and responsive organisms? How can we break away from unsustainable systems of endless commodity production and create circular economies, perhaps more like gardeners – seeding growth while fertilising future crops. Imagine our cities as biological bodies and our bodies as wetland eco systems of floating islands. This inversion helps us perceive the extension of our bodies as agentic actors in larger networks.

Central to Tricia Flanagan’s practice are notions of mobility, the nomad, the Shanachie, peripatetic people and interconnected systems. She situates herself, and her work, in cultural borderlands, between East/West Germany and Hong Kong/Mainland China. Like many of her generation she is increasingly mobile and moving around the globe is a normal part of her work and leisure.
IMAGE 6 SLEEP GRAPHICS May

Generative Textile Systems is based on a simple equation – one knit stitch equals one step. The end of walking each day is denoted by a buttonhole stitch. Therefore if the body is inactive, the fabric generated will have many holes creating a lace like pattern. By contrast, a very active body will create a plain fabric with few holes overall.  Two additional parameters provide the cloth with a rich texture of meaning.  The thickness of the yarn is determined by the temperature – which is thinner in hot weather and thicker in cold. The system also includes 300 colours, which are inlaid into the knitting machine whilst working, mapping the temperature and humidity across a spectrum of +40 to -40 degrees centigrade.

During 2015, Flanagan visited Australia’s Snowy Mountains, Hong Kong, Lancaster UK, Ireland, Taiwan, Australia, Hawaii, USA, and Canada. In Hong Kong the high temperate humidity gave saturated colours across the blue green spectrum and generated predominantly single ply. Flying from the heat of Hong Kong to Lancaster’s cold weather produced a sudden thick section across a garment and a change of colour. Body worn sensors record biometrics, temperature and humidity and send them via Internet to the knitting machine. The artist then works directly with the data feed, translating the colour and thickness into simple garment shapes designed specifically to suit the style of the participant.  In this way garments are created for the participant that are marked by the memory of the environmental conditions and the activity of the body in a particular space and time.

The co-evolved possibilities of the person as computer are also known as humanistic intelligence[iii] and can be viewed as part of our natural evolution. We have a long history of augmenting our bodies with prosthetic materials. Evidence of wound dressings used to aid healing, for example, has been dated to 1500 BC. Plates from 1597 by Gaspare Tagliocozzi (a surgeon from Bologna) illustrate Autograft procedures for replacing a nose. ‘Materials used in reconstruction of the nose bridge alone have historically included rubber, celluloid, iron, copper, platinum, ivory and gold’[iv]. The future will include on-board interfaces, augmented sensory perception, authentic self, and cloud memory.

 

Tricia Flanagan. Generative Textile Systems, 2015, Detail of Merino lambs-wool, knitting machine, dimensions variable, Hong Kong Wearables Lab, Photo courtesy of the artist, ©Tricia Flanagan.

Tricia Flanagan. Generative Textile Systems, 2015, Detail of Merino lambs-wool, knitting machine, dimensions variable, Hong Kong Wearables Lab, Photo courtesy of the artist, ©Tricia Flanagan.

Wearable technology enables mobility and changes the way that we live and interact. Flanagan’s research is founded on the premise that current wearable technology design practices represent a reductionist view of human capacity. How do we develop wearables that foster our senses rather than dull them? The democratisation of technology into work, play, home and mobile social networks in recent years, has seen traditional Human Computer Interaction (HCI) design methodology broadened through the integration of other methodologies and knowledge from the humanities such as social science, anthropology and ethnography. The field of HCI is inherently interdisciplinary and its history is one of the inevitable disciplinary multiculturalisms spawned by the expansive impact of technological growth. Rather than traditional functionalist approaches to design, Flanagan’s research engages cultural, experience based and techno-futurist approaches. Wearable technologies are therefore valued in terms of their critical, political, ethical and speculative potential.

Wearables can enhance a relationship between designer and user who can become co-producers, and connect materiality to anthropology and the lived experience of the individual. The self and the social politic of wearable technologies span across macro to micro perspectives. Within this vast space, we might consider wider supply and production chains and regulatory systems – whose existence shapes the production and meaning of wearables (both their material form and design) – and the movement of gathered data from the body into wider dispersed networks of power. In moving from the micro (technology/body) to the macro (systems of production) we might consider where control lies across these networks, at which unit of analysis, and respective impact as they shake out into the world. Significantly, wearable technology can augment our perception, what we are witnessing is the emergence of a new paradigm as our awareness and sensitivity expands to include both macro and Nano perspectives. As wearable technology becomes integrated into our clothing and our bodies it will become our normative environment. In this for-see-able future, we will live with an amplified awareness of the instability, fungability and interconnectedness of things. Flanagan’s research, together with artists such as Nancy Tilbury, Di Mainstone and Thecla Schiphorst, is concerned with exploring ways to enhance the somaesthetic capacities of the body by questioning: How is our embodied materiality affected by emerging technologies? What is the relationship of the self to the proliferating wearable technologies? How is our sense-of-self changing as new technologies mediate the space between our experience of self and the world?

[i] Till Roenneberg Roenneberg, T., Allebrandt, K., Merrow, M., Vetter, C.: Social jetlag and obesity. Current Biology 22(10), 939–943 (2012), doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.038

[ii] Puzzuoli, S., Marcheschi, P., Bianchi, A.M., Mendez Garcia, M.O., De Rossi, D., Landini, L.: Remote Transmission and Analysis of Signals from Wearable Devices in Sleep Disorders Evaluation

[iii] Mann, S., Wearable computing: Toward humanistic intelligence. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 16(3), 10-15. doi:10.1109/5254.940020 (2001)

[iv] Tobias, J., Artifical skin: Ingrown and outsourced. In E. Lupton, & J. Tobias (Eds.), Skin: Surface, substance + design, p. 47. Princeton Architectural Press, New York (2002).

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Riding Through Walls (Megan Smith)

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Riding Through Walls is a new research-creation project in durational performance in physical computing (a mash-up of terms drawn from fine art and computer science that express the hybrid space that the work sits within). The performance takes shape as a cross-Canada expedition through Google Street-View from behind the bars of a stationary bike. This 18-month performance takes place on an ‘Air Wing’ (a networked stationary bicycle that propels me visually through Google map layers at pedalling speed). I wear a Google Glass, and the performance is broadcast via live stream on YouTube and Google. This physical endurance test and new media performance is, through process, forming an archive of a contrived visual experience and a collection of human sensory data.

The creation of the piece is born from a research practice tied to DIY & Maker Culture and a desire to develop a real-time performance that could humanize the complexity of socially networked space through attempting to physically and metaphorically pierce through the Internet.

The project aims to explore the impact of visual and data driven performance and the social and cultural implication of caching body statistics generated from wearable technologies. It tests new physical computing methods for extension into networked culture.

Objectives

  • Produce an innovative new art work that generates original knowledge for the area of media arts about creative technology computational research that engages with the situation of living within the networked age.
  • Pushes the limits of how artists are exploring and critiquing major information stakeholders, such as Google.
  • Tell a story about crossing Canada from coast to coast via the Internet.
  • To engage with and contribute to DIY and “maker culture”.
  • To facilitate the formation of new community through the creation of a performance

Timeline

The project is currently in both performance and continuous development. The journey began on December 1, 2015 on Dallas Road, Victoria, BC (the tip of the Trans-Canada Highway).

The performance is accessible here: http://ridingthroughwalls.megansmith.ca/

#ridingthroughwalls test post pre-departure

A photo posted by @cawsand on

Context

This research project draws from DIY and “maker culture” – a rapidly expanding network-based subculture that is contributing to the evolution of contemporary art practices and economic systems globally (More than Just Digital Quilting). Makers place emphasis on honing practical skills whilst working with a hive philosophy in order to distribute knowledge and access to information for building and inventing new technologies and creating new applications within society (Sharples, M., et al. 33). Consequently, this movement has increased access to affordable electronic components to produce new tools and economies that support growth within this industry. This industry includes stakeholders such as: Etsy.com and Tindie.com; peer-to-peer web-commerce marketplaces that host the hardware and craft of makers; Instructables.com, and web platforms that offer “places to share… projects, connect with others, and make an impact on the world” (Our Story); MakerMedia.com; Adafruit.com; and SeeedStudio.com (who combine the distribution of free online education with sales of their maker kits, components and products).

Maker culture and artists embedded in its practices and philosophy are maturing into an important powerhouse that amalgamates knowledge across science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics to deliver rich and creative content, solve highly complex problems and to deliver more powerful results across the spectrum of fields. This new area of research practice (advocated by artist and designer John Maeda) is STEAM – a revision of STEM research networks ‘Innovations and Research’. It is now ‘a movement championed by Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and widely adopted by institutions, corporations and individuals globally. The objectives of the STEAM movement are to: transform research policy [and to] encourage integration of Art + Design in K–20 education, influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation’ (What is STEAM?). As knowledge and problems are communicated across these fields’ creative solutions and innovate work is being achieved and shared within the public domain, which has a ripple effect that is enabling progress in immeasurable ways as knowledge and result circulate through the network. Artwork within this new research sphere is rarely produced from beginning to end by one individual. By contrast, it is through processes of working within the network of hackathons, maker labs, online groups, engaging with DIY forums, and seeking specialist knowledge. The final products are therefore the result of a collective mind evolving within a cooperative system.

Together to the rise of “maker culture”, a remarkable growth in artistic practices that responds to and engages with the effects of post-internet life, is simultaneously occurring. This evolution is heavily influenced by aforementioned systems, new screen culture, access to new tools and knowledge, and the social experience of living within the networked age. In this sense, post-internet art uses the social web as both a tool and a source of inspiration. This leads to re-visioning of established approaches, an uncovering of latent narratives, and the creation of new works of art shaped by both new tools and cultural formations. This evolution also helps to build communities of practice around the making of work – places in which where artists work in teams together with professionals in other fields of research in order to accomplish complex works of art. As a consequence of this exchange and knowledge distribution, practice and research-creation is exposed to and subsequently experienced by far broader audiences and demographics. Artworks produced within this still emerging sphere routinely critique the system from which they are generated. This circular process has led to an astute area of practice situated within a New Aesthetic. In the words of James Bridle (artist, academic and a key figure in identifying this cultural shift):

New Aesthetic [artwork] reproduces the structure and disposition of the network itself, as a form of critique… and why is it important to critique the critique as well? Because we live in a world shaped and defined by computation, and it is one of the jobs of the critic and the artist to draw attention to the world as it truly is. (Bridle: ‘The New Aesthetic and its Politics’)

“New aesthetic” artistic practices typically reference the web and digital culture whilst operating and exhibiting within the same system. Artists working in this way are characteristically imaginative, critical and systematic in terms of technological choices used to tell and distribute human stories. Consequently, it is about learning to creatively perform within data and networked culture in order to amplify and project the situation, to test the limits, advantages and disadvantages of post-internet culture and communal space, and to meticulously tease out of the web new narrative structures (Ruth Catlow).

Riding Through Walls employs a multi-layered approach to pushing through the infrastructure of the corporate web and its tools accessible to the general public. This is exemplified by creating a dramatized, live and participatory performance space. A series of public events will further augment the 18-month durational performance (which utilises Google’s search engine, maps, Internet services and products such as the Google Glass as mechanisms for communicating experience en-route with a worldwide public across multiple social media platforms). Accordingly, I will be concurrently making work, connecting with new communities worldwide, and socially testing the economic system of building art works within this industry force by incorporating YouTube monetization throughout the real-time performance.

Dallas Rd, Victoria, BC., Beginning, December 1, 2015. https://www.instagram.com/p/-xfnE9xTiz/?taken-by=cawsand

Why ride through walls?

For researcher and open-source advocate Catarina Mota, “[a]cquiring preemptive knowledge about emerging technologies is the best way to ensure that we have a say in the making of our future” (Play with Smart Materials). To this end, artists possess an ability to tackle problems from unconventional angles and to contribute or uncover new dialogue.  Such possibilities are exemplified in work being done in new media institutions such as Eyebeams & Rhizome (NY) Ars Electronica (Linz) and Furtherfield (London). In each instance, innovation occurs within networks fostering collaborative exploration across new media and the articulation of experiences of making from within media. Working at this frontier is about accepting that the computer, social networks and interfaces are at once tools, medium and content, with which to produce rich narrative aids for decoding this new era. Bridle describes his processes for understanding the images he produces:

“It is impossible for me, with an academic background in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, with a practical background in literary editing and software programming, with a lifetime of interacting with the internet and other systems, not to look at these images and immediately start to think about not what they look like, but how they came to be and what they become: the processes of capture, storage, and distribution; the actions of filters, codecs, algorithms, processes, databases, and transfer protocols; the weight of datacenters, servers, satellites, cables, routers, switches, modems, infrastructures physical and virtual; and the biases and articulations of disposition and intent encoded in all of these things, and our comprehension of them.” (Bridle)

Riding Through Walls employs a methodology that chronicles and creatively embeds itself in data driven and real-time web-based performance. The project draws upon histories of artists working within performance and body art (such as Chris Burden and Wafaa Bilal, Jeffrey Shaw, Vera Frenkel, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Thomas Hirschhorn) and also makes theoretical connections with emerging artists working to reveal layers of situational experience negotiated and forced by networked society (such as Jon Rafman and Kyle MacDonald). Riding Through Walls contributes to this rich emerging arena by working to form an interpretation of navigation through both physical performance and the Internet, whilst at the same time developing a story about the social and cultural implications of such spaces. It also contributes to this medium by working creatively with new technologies that test new methods for extension into networked culture while building communities of practice within the region and across the globe. It is envisaged that this will be accomplished by sharing the project as the performance develops, distributing the design and Arduino code files for building a similar networked bike, and by engaging with diverse publics as I travel across Canada. Bridle describes the identification of “new aesthetic” works in terms of the maker’s conscious choice to reciprocate the research within the networked system from which it stems:

…the New Aesthetic project is undertaken within its own medium: it is an attempt to “write” critically about the network in the vernacular of the network itself: in a Tumblr, in blog posts, in YouTube videos of lectures, tweeted reports and messages, reblogs, likes, and comments. In this sense, from my perspective, it is as much work as criticism: it does not conform to the formal shapes – manifesto, essay, book – expected by critics and academics. (Bridle)

Ideas such as “new aesthetic” and “maker culture” are still relatively uncommon within academia and contemporary art more broadly. It is however becoming clearer, particularly as society increasingly functions within networked cultures, that research that specifically critiques and explores such social systems is essential. Operating within the system that produces such communities is by extension fundamental to the task of studying and making new artworks. Here, the artist researcher’s role is to test the limits of computer, platform, and interface alike in order to develop works that identify and critique networked and computationally augmented lived experience. In turn, this process will help us to better understand humanity and the spaces that the web has made symbolically tangible.

Riding Through Walls is live here: http://ridingthroughwalls.megansmith.ca/

Riding Through Walls is funded by the University of Regina

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