Book Review – Remix by Lawrence Lessig

Posted on March 29, 2012 by Patrick under Professional Issues

Yesterday I presented my book review for our Professional Issues class. The book I chose was ‘Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy’ by Lawrence Lessig. Throughout the book, Lessig outlines his views about copyright law and its relationship to the amateur culture of ‘remixing’. A remix is a practice whereby a person can take a song or a video and manipulate it in some way to create new meaning. Lessig argues that it is inappropriate to subject this amateur creativity to the same laws that govern the commercial sphere. A remix, in his view, is not the same as copying. Instead “sounds are being used like paint on a palette, but all the paint has been scratched off of other paintings.” Remixing is framed in the context of a copyright war that Lessig believes does nothing but make criminals of the younger generation. He argues in favor of what he calls a ‘Read-Write’ culture in which participants “create art as readily as they consume it.”

The Presentation of Self

Posted on by Patrick under Final Project

I have been thinking recently about pinning down my research question for my final project. My starting point has been an interest in exploring our relationship with technology. In particular, I’m interested in the idea of ‘digital identity’. I want to create an art installation that explores the relationship between your physical body and your digital identity. The aim is to try and draw a correlation between two aspects of our identity that are normally divorced from each other.

Gabriela suggested an interesting book to me called ‘The Presentation of Self’ by Erving Goffman. Goffman uses the metaphor of a theatre performance to talk about aspects of our identity, commenting that we have a ‘front stage’ and ‘back stage’ version of ourselves. This could be a good starting point for research. I like in the idea that (as described by Dramaturgical Theory) a persons identity is not a stable and independent entity, rather it is constantly remade as a person interacts with others. I think that this idea, combined with generative art I have talked about previously, could have very interesting results.

Electro-Banana Performance

Posted on March 21, 2012 by Patrick under Audio

The exciting conclusion to our electro-acoustic endeavors was a performance in the main lecture hall in the CSIS building. A number of strategically placed i-media students added to the Syntjuntan proceedings with electrical clicks and chirps generated from a variety of fruit and vegetables. Great fun indeed.

Syntjuntan

Posted on by Patrick under Audio

Yesterday we had a really interesting workshop with Swedish duo Syntjuntan. First we took a look at some of their work, which was an unusual mix of textiles and electronic music. Their idea of bringing together sewing circles to stitch synthesizers was something I found really exciting. We were then each given our own sewing packs to stitch our own synthesizers. The workshop culminated in the class being split into groups and asked to perform a short composition using the instruments we made.

Emotional Design

Posted on March 13, 2012 by Patrick under Uncategorized

Today’s seminar was an account of emotional design. Paul, Daisy and Flora spoke about how we relate better to things that have character and emotion. Given the choice, people prefer objects that have a sense of fun and playfulness. Even very simple, mundane objects can be transformed by a process called Eye-Bombing. This was our first exercise. We were each given an ordinary object and were asked to give it a personality by adding a pair of stick-on eyes. Even this simple action has a dramatic effect on our relationship with the object. You can see some of the results of out exercise above.

PD Sequencer

Posted on March 12, 2012 by Patrick under Pure Data

As part of our Interactive Media workshop, Mikael showed us how to build an audio sequencer in PD. Things can get a bit messy when working on complex patches so it’s really important to split things up into sub-patches. This makes life a lot easier. There is a separate sequencer for each sound, and by turning on and off toggles for each track you can create a beat. The potential for this is really great because you can load in any kind of sound – from conventional musical sounds to more obscure sound effects.

The Role of the Body

Posted on March 9, 2012 by Patrick under Final Project

Today we (Eimear, Rody and myself) presented our seminar on the role of the body in interaction design. Our aim was to show that by directly engaging the body you build a rich and varied language of interaction. During our talk, we discussed three possible ways this engagement could take place; wearable computing, gesture recognition and brain computer interfaces. We rounded off each discussion with an activity that reinforced the point we were trying to make.

Eimear investigated the area of tangible and wearable computing. This involved an overview of the traditional way we interact with desktop computers; something that has changed very little over the past thirty years or so. Eimear then spoke about some more recent examples of tangible interfaces and wearable computing which challenge the standard paradigm she outlined at the beginning. The session ended with a ‘magic thing’ exercise where we split the class into 3 groups and gave each group an object which they could use in any of the scenarios we provided. It was a really enjoyable exercise where the solutions ranged from the novel to the extreme.

Next, I spoke about gestures and gesture-based interfaces. This started with a look at very early examples of systems that required physical interaction from the user. I then went on to talk about some current examples like multi-touch gestures and spatial operating environments. This culminated in a discussion about the Microsoft Kinect which, thanks to a series of open source libraries, makes gesture-based interaction commercially affordable and widely accessible. We finished this discussion with an activity where the same group were given a list of routine computer operations and had to suggest gesture-based alternatives for them. We were trying to make the point that people are more engaged when using gestures as a means of interaction.

Finally, Rody took a look at brain-computer interaction. This took engagement with the body to the extreme. After looking at the history behind processes that allow you to access signals from the brian, Rody then spoke about some recent creative applications of the technology. This ranged from a mind-controlled skateboard to esoteric brainwave musical compositions. We also gave a physical demo of a Star Wars toy built around the same principles. Our final activity summed up our overall aim; that direct engagement with the body results in better communication with interfaces. We did this by playing a variation of Chinese whispers, where the class was split into two groups. The first group consisted of two people and the second group had everyone else. Both groups were asked to form a queue in front of the blackboard. We gave each the person at the end of each queue the same drawing and asked them to draw it on the back of the person in front. The first group did a great job of reproducing the image while it was, as you might expect, a much greater challenge for the second group. In other words, the less noise in the communication between you and the interface the better.

All in all the topic was very interesting to explore and the seminar was really enjoyable.