May 29, 2013
Semiotic Investigation into Cybernetic Behaviour

Semiotic Investigation into Cybernetic Behaviour by Jessica Field is a robotic performance (presented as an installation) between two robots ALAN and CLARA, that both sense the world differently according to their specific hardware and configuration.

These robots have been programmed with all the possible choices they can use to react to their environment. They have also been programmed with the desire to interpret their environment accurately and the need to have their peer always agree with their analysis. Both robots have an opinion of how they think the world should behave and they both expect certain situations to occur often.

In having this expectation of how their world should behave, the two robots believe that there are other situations that cannot happen. If they do, the robot’s confidence in themselves is questioned. Depending on how often they think they are wrong, the robot’s confidence can degrade into paranoia where their world seems to be breaking all the rules of what should happen. Conversely, when the robots feel right all the time, they become exceptionally arrogant.

Due to their ability to choose their own reactions, this theatrical play shows all the possibilities in which these two robots can react to their environment and to each other. Thus, we see a performance that shows all the complications that arise from making unwavering assumptions about the world and the desire for the world to agree with an unyielding view.

The artist describes the workings of the system as follows:

The complexity of the behaviours in the system is accomplished through feedback. There are 3 feedback loops that determine how ALAN and CLARA will react. They have a personality that is defined by confidence, irrationality and inquisitiveness. This perception slant influences how the robots will react to their present situation. Secondly, they remember how they felt from the last thing they said. Lastly, the robot remembers the last thing they said and felt and compares it to their idealisms of how they think the world should be. These 3 influences, when stirred together, make the system behave in unexpected ways.

ALAN has 450 possible statements to communicate his experiences while CLARA has 650 statements. CLARA’s range sensor gives her more variations of things to say. The range sensor not only deals with distances, it also calculates probabilities on how accurate her readings are by taking multiple readings and comparing them to see how well the numbers match. CLARA is programmed with the belief that objects slowly move forward and backward in space and are never bold enough to encroach on her personal space. Thus all the data she collects is compared to a large series of rules that define her beliefs into calculated bytes so she can analyze how to react by going through all the data from her experiences. CLARA becomes confused when objects jump ranges by moving fast as this is an unexpected action and cannot happen in her opinion.

ALAN reads only on/off signals from a motion sensor. He believes that motion lives and eventually dies and, after some time, another motion life begins. He observes how long these motion lives take to pass on. Thus, any motion that lives, dies and reincarnates is an impossible action. Both ALAN and CLARA are so obsessed with their delusions that they would rather come up with conspiracy theories of a sentient being out to thwart them than to consider the possibility that their perception of the world could be wrong.

Above is a technical Sketch of the communication between robots. Below is a demo video of the installation.

Below is a sample conversation between ALAN and CLARA when a visitor enters the installation.

Posted by: Garrett @ 2:46 pm
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May 27, 2013
Pure Flow (mobile edition)

Pure Flow (mobile edition) by Katy Connor is an mobile application for iOS and Android which reveals:

the noise generated between GPS data systems and multiple satellites, 3G networks and Wifi hotspots as a tangible presence in the environment

in both sonic and visual form.

The APP visualises the instability and fragility of Live signals, passing through cloud cover and urban architecture; absorbed by bodies, reflecting off concrete and refracting through glass. The user can directly manipulate the outcomes, by touching the visual and sonic patterns triggered by fluctuations in the data. Once activated, PURE FLOW reveals these signals as a sliver of fluctuating white noise, responding directly to the movement and immediate environment of the device.

PURE FLOW subverts the use-value of GPS as a surveying and navigational tool; revealing these invisible data streams and highlighting their increasing ubiquity, as sophisticated military technologies become key components in daily life.

Posted by: Garrett @ 4:49 pm
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May 9, 2013
Listen and Repeat

Listen and Repeat by Rachel Knoll is a modified megaphone installed on a mountain in Washington state.

Social media is used to connect but concurrently serves as a disconnect from social life outside of the virtual world. In Listen and Repeat, a modified megaphone uses text to speech capabilities to recite tweets composed with the tag ‘nobody listens’ from the social media website Twitter. The megaphone…dictates tweets to an audience of trees.

For similar work see Untitled (Singing Tree) by Peter Coffin.

Posted by: Garrett @ 5:33 pm
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May 8, 2013
Webcam Venus

Webcam Venus by Addie Wagenknecht and Pablo Garcia is a performative work as comparative study of the nude in classical fine art and internet webcams. The artists describe the process as follows:

Sexcams use webcams and chat interfaces to connect amateur adult performers with an audience. Users log on to see men, women, transsexuals, couples and groups broadcast their bodies and sexuality live for the public, often performing for money. To create this experiment in high and low brow media, we assumed anonymous handles and spent a few hours each day for a month asking performers: “Would you like to pose for me?”…We—like all guests in the cam rooms—only type in limited but sequential lines of text in a chat scroll. The performer can either interact via typing text lines which appear in the chat scroll along with our comments, or speak directly to guests in audible voice. The majority of performers do not speak, even though many have a microphone broadcasting ambient sound like background music. If they respond at all—a lot of hours spent being ignored—we start discussing the pose. We show them an image, either through asking them to do a Google search, or a URL we paste in the chat line. Sometimes we make our avatar profile pic the pose we want so they can click on it directly. They pose, holding for 30-60 seconds. They take direction from us to “correct” their pose. The webcam became the image frame. The performer’s bedrooms or kitchens or bathrooms became the backdrop to these new works and mash-up of histories.

Posted by: Garrett @ 1:20 pm
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May 6, 2013
GIRLS vs. _root

GIRLS vs. _root by Addie Wagenknecht is a browser add-on (in development I think), which highlights p2p (peer-to-peer) male dominated culture.

Why? There is a death of women contributing to open source software. This plugin is presented as a “filter” to challenge assumptions about gender roles in software, and to “rewire” your brain. The actual goal is to present such a ridiculous “plugin” that people get frustrated and start a deeper discussion and argument about gender and open source…Currently the add-on works by replacing every username on sites such as with a female username (example: Sarah212) and female avatar. Additionally, Pirate Bay becomes ‘Princess Bay” and the typical breast laden-porn ads while searching are replaced ads for ‘David Beckham for H&M’.

To contribute code to the project visit the GitHub repository.

Posted by: Garrett @ 8:09 pm
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