The RE/Mixed Media Festival, now in it’s 3rd year, is an annual celebration of collaborative art-making and creative appropriation. It’s the artists’ contribution to the ongoing conversation about remixing, mashups, copyright law, fair use, and the freedom of artists to access their culture in order to add to and build upon it.
The festival – which this year will take place at the Brooklyn Lyceum – a 3-floor 10,000 sq. ft. venue on the border of the Park Slope and Gowanus neighborhoods of Brooklyn – will feature performances, panel discussions, live musical collaborations, hip-hop, sampling, film & video, DIY, food and drink, DJs, technology, interactive installations, painting, sculpture, software, hacking, and much more!
Some images from the events for the exhibition A Modular Framework are available on Picassa. Images by Gonzalo Vides.
Above: Arcangel Constantini remixes noises and video games live for the audience, November 11, 2010. Other images present Brian Mackern, Antonio Mendoza, and Arcangel Constantini mixing image and sound live for an audience at the Cultural Center of Spain, El Salvador: Live audio-video performance
Also see images of a panel with the artists in which they discussed their art works and creative process. The panel took place on November 10, 2010: Conference
Jeremy Douglass (left) and Lev Manovich (far right) demonstrate how to analyze data on the Hyper Wall at Calit2.
The Cultural Analytics seminar took place at Calit2 on December 16 and 17 of 2009. The event brought together researchers and students from Bergen University and University of California San Diego. The two day event consisted of research presentations and demos of software tools.
Part One of Hyper Wall Demonstration during Cultural Analytics Seminar at Calit2, San Diego, December 16-17, 2009. Introduction to principles of Cultural Analytics.
I will not spend much time in this entry defining Cultural Analytics. This subject has been well covered by excellent blogs such as Open Reflections. For this reason, at the end of this entry I include a number of links to resources that focus on Cultural Analytics. Instead, I will briefly share what I believe Cultural Analytics offers to researchers in the humanities.
Part Two of Hyper Wall Demonstration during Cultural Analytics Seminar at Calit2, San Diego, December 16-17, 2009. Analysis of Vertov’s motion in scenes from Man with a Movie Camera.
This emerging field can be defined as a hybrid practice that utilizes tools of quantitative analysis often found in the hard sciences for the enhancing of qualitative analysis in the humanities. The official definition of the term follows:
Cultural analytics refers to a range of quantitive and analytical methodologies drawn from the natural and social sciences for the study of aesthetics, cultural artifacts and cultural change. The methods include data visualization techniques, the statistical analysis of large data sets, the use of image processing software to extract data from still and moving video, and so forth. Despite its use of empirical methodologies, the goals of cultural analytics generally align with those of the humanities.
One thing that separates the humanities from the hard sciences is the emphasis of qualitative over quantitative analysis. In very general terms qualitative analysis is often used to evaluate the how and why of particular case studies, while quantitative analysis focuses on patterns and trends, that may not always be concerned with social or political implications.
Part Three of Hyper Wall Demonstration during Cultural Analytics Seminar at Calit2, San Diego, December 16-17, 2009. Jeremy Douglass analyzes comic books.
What Cultural Analytics is doing, in my view, is bringing together qualitative and quantitative analysis for the interests of the humanities. In a way Cultural Analytics could be seen as a bridge between specialized fields that in the past have not always communicated well.
Consequently, when new ground is being explored, questions of purpose are bound to emerge, which is exactly what happened during seminar conversations. As the videos that accompany this brief entry will demonstrate, the real challenge is for researchers in the humanities to engage not only with Cultural Analytics tools and envision how such tools can enhance their practice, but to actually embrace new philosophical approaches that blur the lines between the hard sciences and the humanities.
Part Four of Hyper Wall Demonstration during Cultural Analytics Seminar at Calit2, San Diego, December 16-17, 2009. Cicero Da Silva explains his collaborative project, Macro.
To be specific on the possibilities that Cultural Analytics offers to the humanities, I will cite two demonstrations by Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass.
Lev Manovich at one point presented Hamlet by William Shakespeare in its entirety on Calit2’s Hyper Wall, which consists of several screens that enable users to navigate data at a very high resolution.
When seeing the entire text at once, one is likely to realize that this methodology is more like mapping. To this effect, soon after, we were shown a version of the text in which Manovich had isolated the repetition of certain words throughout the literary work.
This approach could be used by a literature scholar to study certain linguistic strategies, such as sentence structure, by an author. Let’s take this a step further and say that it has been agreed that a contemporary author is influenced by a canonical writer. How this supposed influence takes effect can be evaluated by studying certain patterns of sentences from both authors by isolating parts of literary texts for direct comparison. One could then evaluate if the supposed influence is formal, conceptual or both: perhaps the contemporary author might make ideological references that are clearly linked to the canonical author, but which are not necessarily influenced at a formal level; or it could be the other way around, or both. In this case, quantitative and qualitative analysis are combined to evaluate a case study. In other words, pattern comparison is used to understand the similarities and differences between two or more works of literature.
To this effect, Jeremy Douglass’s presentation of a comic book is important. He explained how by seeing an entire publication of a comic book story one can study how certain patterns in the narrative come to define the aesthetics for the reader.
While the reader may be able to experience the story in time, by actually reading it, the visualization of the comic book in grid-like fashion–as a structural map–allows the researcher to apply analysis of patterns and trends that may be more common in flows of networks to an actual narrative. Again, in this case we find quantitative and qualitative analysis complementing each other.
As noted at the end of the article “Culture is Data” (also provided below) from Open Reflections, it appears that Manovich is at times understood to argue that one should privilege quantitative over qualitative analysis. This proposition implies an either or mentality by certain researchers that needs to be reevaluated. Janneke Adema explains his answer better than I ever could:
But, on the other hand, won’t we loose a sense of meaning if we analyze culture like a thing? Manovich argues that this is of course a complementary method, we should not throw away our other ways of establishing meaning. It is a way of expanding them. And it is also an important expansion, for how is one going to ask about the meaning of large datasets? We need to combine the traditionally [sic]humanities approach of interpretation with digital techniques to find out more. And again, meaning is not the only thing to look at. It is also about creating an experience. Patterns are the new real of our society.
The most important thing to understand when evaluating the videos available with this entry is that one need not have a hyper wall to do research with Cultural Analytics methodologies; many of the tools can run on a personal computer. It’s more about adopting an attitude and willingness to do research by way of combining quantitative and qualitative analysis. At the moment I am evaluating the implementation of Cultural Analytics in my research on Remix.
Image: ‘Crisp Bread Turntable’ by Yoshi Akai. Video available below.
As part of my residency at the Swedish Traveling Exhibitions, on October 29 I visited the Interactive Institute, quite a unique research center located in the city of Stockholm. Its model is unlike any other I have encountered. While the institute has close ties to the arts and the tradition of exhibitions as forms of communication and education, it also focuses on the development of projects that crossover to the commercial sector. There are actually a few spin-off companies that were started as research collaborations in the Interactive Institute. But to do justice to their mission, it is best that I quote how they present themselves publicly, from their about page:
The Interactive Institute is a Swedish experimental IT-research institute that combines expertise in art, design and technology to conduct world leading applied research and innovation. We develop new research areas, art concepts, products and services, and provide strategic advice to corporations, the cultural sector and public organisations. Our research results are communicated and exhibited worldwide and brought out to society through commissioned work, license agreements and spin-off companies.
I cite them directly because I find this type of research model to be an increasingly common hybrid: rigorous academic research meets commercial interests. Yet, the Interactive Institute, seems unique because its creative drive appears to be well balanced, given that it is in the middle of a major corporate technology research sector in Stockholm, located in the neighborhood of Kista. One thing that became certain is that their model is directly informed in part by the always changing aesthetics of networked communication. In their case, this tendency is found in the concept of “Interactivity;” such premise is part of their name.
The following interview with Sheldon Brown was commissioned by gallery@calit2 for the exhibition “Scalable City”. Exhibition dates: Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008 – Monday, Dec. 15, 2008
Sheldon Brown is an artist who works in new forms of culture that arise out of developments in computing technology. He is Director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at UC San Diego, where he is a Professor of Visual Arts and an academic participant in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). During his early career, Brown experimented with emerging technologies to develop works that explore the possible meaning of “virtual reality.” His installations were often designed for immersive audience participation. Many of these works have been developed for the gallery, such as “MetaStasis” (1990), an art installation consisting of a room that visitors enter to experience what appears to be, as Brown himself has called it, a “zoetrope of TV images.” Brown took his interest in mediated reality to the public sphere in installations such as “Video Wind Chimes” (1994), which projects broadcast TV images on the street sidewalk – images selected according to how the wind blows. In both of these projects, as well as many others, Brown emphasizes how metaphysical experience is contingent upon our increasing dependency in immersive media of all forms. Brown’s longstanding interest in mediation is further explored in “Scalable City.” In the following interview, the artist reflects on how Scalable City connects his interests in emerging technologies as well as longstanding traditions of art practice.
[Eduardo Navas] Unlike many artists who claim to be interested primarily in expressing their ideas and not being bound to a specific medium, you have chosen to focus on the development of art that is involved with computing technology. Having said this, the computer makes possible metamedia – meaning it simulates other media, and in this sense it allows artists to focus on idea development. It appears, then, that you share the interest of exploring ideas in the tradition of modern art practice with artists who might play down their preference for a particular medium. With this in mind, could you reflect on the shifts that art practice may be taking based on the increasing role of computers in all aspects of our lives? How do you see your art practice in relation to previous practices which may have downplayed their preference for a particular medium?
[Sheldon Brown] It seems you attribute conflicting claims for my relationship to “medium”, but I don’t see computing as a medium in the 20th century sense. Probably even the idea of it as a meta-medium does not capture its character. It may be more useful to think about computing as creating certain cultural conditions, and I’m doing work which utilizes and responds to those conditions. It might then be more like the interest in speed as a condition for the futurists, but I wouldn’t want to make too much of any analogies to previous art movements and their concerns. The impact of computing on culture comes after the modernist, conceptualist and post-modernist engagements, and just as I have called it a meta-medium, I could also call it a meta-ism – it is able to simulate any and all of these previous attitudes. Not that my interests in this begin and end at simulation of previous forms; this is but one of the gestures possible in this condition, but when it performs any of these simulations, they become rapidly engaged in a new dynamic which doesn’t stop at borders of previous operations. (more…)
The following text and interview were written for the exhibition “An 8-bit Moment in Gameplay: [giantJoystick],” featuring a ten-foot scale working model of the Atari Joystick by artist and media theorist, Mary Flanagan. The exhibition takes place from February 4 to March 17, 2008. You can read more about it at http://gallery.calit2.net.
Both, text and interview, focus in part on the concept of gameplay and its relation to the mainstream as well as the fine arts. The texts are worth archiving in Remix Theory because they shed light on video game culture which, as it’s no secret, relies extensively in concepts of appropriation intimately linked to the current practice of remixing (Remix). For instance, video game players, or gamers, are no longer only expected to play games as out of a package, or as released online; gamers are expected to actually contribute to the game infrastructure by customizing it, either for personal play, or for the enjoyment of the larger community, following the tradition of open source. Examples of this activity are numerous (see Wikipedia list).
Video game culture is in large part fueled by the same principles that have made networked culture possible: the possibility to share and remix code as desired, to then re-release it for the community to use and improve upon, again. This tendency follows my proposition about the blogger which encapsulates a consumer/producer model that is proactive in media culture. Some skepticism is healthy here, and it must be acknowledged that romanticizing such model is a real danger for new media and remix culture.
The following texts, then, offer a window to some of the issues that inform gameplay today. The texts can be considered valuable because they reflect upon and extend the opinion of one of today’s gameplay insiders, Mary Flanagan.
TEXT: An 8-bit Moment in Gameplay: [giantJoystick]
University of California, San Diego
February 4 to March 17, 2008
Featuring [giantJoystick] by Mary Flanigan
gallery@calit2 proudly presents â€œAn 8-bit Moment in Gameplay: [giantJoystick],â€ featuring a working, large-scale game-interface-sculpture designed for collaborative play by artist and media theorist Mary Flanagan. [giantJoystick] (2006) takes us back to the early days of video games when they entered the home. It features classic Atari games from the 1980s, including Adventure, Asteroids, Breakout, Centipede, Circus Atari, Gravitar, Missile Command, Pong, Volleyball, and Yarâ€™s Revenge. The recontextualization of such classics opens a space to reflect on the brief and dense history of video games and the aesthetics of play.
Video game consoles, which offered low-resolution graphics known as 8-bit, were made popular in large part by Atari in 1977. However, video games did not enter the average household in full force until the early 1980s. To many, the years 1979 to 1986 are remembered as the â€œgolden ageâ€ of video games â€“ a period when popular culture would also be exposed to digital technology with the introduction of the personal computer. It is, then, not surprising that video games entered the home in this time period. Flanaganâ€™s [giantJoystick] takes us back to this pivotal moment by turning the Atari joystick into a work of art, which carefully combines her interests in art-making as well as gameplay.
Earlier we have already reviewed a series of albums remixing old-timer Commodore-64 tunes, called Back In Time 2 and 3. Since then a few other similar initiatives have appeared, probably the best of them is the new CD from the Danish Press Play On Tape band with their debut album Loading Ready Run, which I’ll talk about now. Even the name of the band itself causes nostalgic feelings in many (since those who had tapes remember that after the LOAD command was issued the computer gave this instruction: press play on tape). After this came “Loading” (which is present in the title), then Ready, and finally we started the program with Run.
We have seen remixes that were created with the classic band setup (the BIT series wasn’t exactly like this), but this new album is probably the best of them. The band has 6 members: 2 guitar players, one guy on the synth, one base player and a drummer (although he doesn’t play on acoustic, rather on electronic drums, but the difference can be noticed only by audiophiles).
SEOUL, South Korea, June 29 â€” While Americans have been blitzed with news about the iPhoneâ€™s debut, many in South Koreaâ€™s and Japanâ€™s technology industries initially greeted Appleâ€™s flashy new handset with yawns.
Pantech’s design center in Seoul, South Korea. An executive at the company says that riding on Appleâ€™s coattails may turn out to be the best business strategy.
Cellphones in these technology-saturated countries can already play digital songs and video games and receive satellite television. But now that analysts and industry executives are getting their first good look at the iPhone, many here are concerned that Asian manufacturers may have underestimated the Apple threat.
The networked book, as an idea and as a term, has gained currency of late. A few weeks ago, Farrar Straus and Giroux launched Pulse , an adventurous marketing experiment in which they are syndicating the complete text of a new nonfiction title in blog, RSS and email. Their web developers called it, quite independently it seems, a networked book. Next week (drum roll), the institute will launch McKenzie Wark’s “GAM3R 7H30RY,” an online version of a book in progress designed to generate a critical networked discussion about video games. And, of course, the July release of Sophie is fast approaching, so soon we’ll all be making networked books.
The institue will launch McKenzie Wark’s GAM3R 7H30RY Version 1.1 on Monday, May 15
The discussion following Pulse highlighted some interesting issues and made us think hard about precisely what it is we mean by “networked book.” Last spring, Kim White (who was the first to posit the idea of networked books) wrote a paper for the Computers and Writing Online conference that developed the idea a little further, based on our experience with the Gates Memory Project, where we tried to create a collaborative networked document of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Gates using popular social software tools like Flickr and del.icio.us. Kim later adapted parts of this paper as a first stab at a Wikipedia article. This was a good start.