Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Tagtool workshop 20th May 1pm

TAGTOOL Open Session.

Tuesday 20th May at 1pm at Talbot Campus - venue tbc

Lead Tagtool developer Markus Dorninger will be coming over from Austria to do a demo session for VRG and IPE members and to talk about his work.

The live drawing/animation system uses open source software, a graphics tablet, and a vision mixer and can be built into a flightcase making it completely transportable! Better still the Tagtool development team have posted details on the Instructables website on how to build one (see their webpage). Based in Austria, the team have been busy on the international festival circuit for a couple of years including Luminale and Node08 Festival this year.

Come and meet Markus and have a go on the Tagtool!

Tuesday 20th May at 1pm Talbot Campus- venue tbc.

Please can you mail Dan Cox to confirm that you will be attending.


The RealSnailMail project is moving at lightening speed we are just relying on the molluscs to slow things down. Over the last month we have teamed up with Tim Orman & Andrew Watson from The School of Design, Engineering and Computing at Bournemouth University to develop a prototype tank. This tank contains a small community of land snails Helix Aspersa. Each snail is equipped with a small glass capsule attached to its shell. The capsule contains a tiny chip and coil antenna that can be activated by a reader at a range of 3 cm.

We are in the process of developing two purpose built readers that provide a link between the snails and the server allowing the snail to collect and deposit packets of information.

boredomresearch aim to publicly launch the worlds first webmail service to use live snails for carrying electronic messages across physical space at Bournemouth University this Summer 2008. Once launched public can access the website at home and use it as an alternative webmail service. Email will travel at the speed of light to the server where it is entered into a queue. Here it waits until a real snail within the installation tank at Bournemouth University wonders in range of a hot spot. The hot spot is the dispatch centre in the form of a RFID reader. This reader identifies the snail from the RFID chip attached to its shell and checks to see it has not already been assigned a message to carry. If the snail is available it is assigned the message at the top of the list. It then slips away into the technological wasteland. Located at the other end of the tank is the drop off point. When, or if, the snail ever makes it here, it is identified by another reader, which then forwards the relevant message to the recipients email address; once again travelling at the speed of light. At each stage of the emails transit the sender will be updated with the messages progress and when the email finally arrives at its destination it is appended with details of its carrier and a log of its journey. The website encourages users to consider the efforts of a diminutive mollusc lugging their message across a tank and for this reason urges them to send a message of value.

“Once luxury was synonymous of precious materials and rare manufacturing now is getting its way on time issue. Time is money so what is more voluptuous than taking time to do your own things? ……A praise of “slowness” on which many cultural associations are based (ex. Slowfood in Italy). Design too is working on this topics giving substance to products and services in which time perception is basic. An example of this approach is given by the RealSnailMail project presented last October in London by Boredomresearch….” Fabrizio Pierandrei, architect and designer

Friday, 18 April 2008

notes from liverpool and london

I received travel expenses to attend the last weekend of the Sk-Interfaces exhibition and talks at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool (March 2008).

Having seen much of Eduardo Kacs work on the net it was good to see him talk about his projects, past present and future, including his work on telepresence. His desire with this work was to create a situation where one person becomes the ‘host’ of another person through the use of a wireless transmission garment which transmits what the host sees. The idea of co-habiting one body or seeing/experiencing the world through a host is an interesting one. It made me think about 2nd Life and also the work I’m doing with portraits and mocap.

The show, curated by Jens Hauser, included the work of many international artists whose works tackle strong moral, political and philosophical issues. Some of the work investigated corporate, scientific and political research practices that would not otherwise be presented in the public realm. Of particular note was the video of the Critical Art Ensemble whose Biotech work resulted in detention by the FBI. Others examined and presented living tissue culture samples such as tiny semi-living jackets made from ‘victimless leather’ by The Tissue Culture and Art Project
I also took part in the ‘Truth Serum’ Experiment by Neal White – Office of Experiments . A thought provoking work where the pressure to tell the ‘truth’ was coupled with the fear of giving the ‘wrong’ answer and had me pleading, banging my hands on a desk and shouting at a video projection of typed questions in an empty room in a derelict building.
Image: Office of Experiment 'Truth Serum', Neal White

I received travel expenses to attend Candy + Code, ICA london, March 2008. I was particularly interested to see the work of Dr Barbara Rauch - , research fellow at the Chelsea College of Art. She has been researching evolutionary aspects of human and animal conscious and subconscious facial expression. She has been using data capture, including laser scanning techniques, combining these with 3D visualisation such as morphing and blending of human and animal faces. Her installations include drawing, sound and performance. I was interested to learn how and why she uses data capture technology in her work and my aim is to follow this up.

Rachel Beth Egenhoefer discussed her research as part of her Distributed South residency . Of particular interest is her research in tracking her everyday actions using knitting needles. She discussed using a wii controller attached to knitting needles to capture the patterns created by the cyclical action of knitting.
In terms of my practice/research these events allowed me to network with other artists, some of whom are using similar technologies and themes but also to discuss how they practice and exhibit.

Monday, 14 April 2008

FACT Liverpool Visit 29th Mar 08

As Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture year has begun, I’ve felt an interest in making my maiden visit to the city. When we discovered the “sk-interfaces” exhibition at FACT Liverpool was soon closing (an exhibition of works relating to the body by Stelarc, Orlan, Eduardo Kac, and our very own Neil White), I felt it would be of real benefit to my work and would be a chance missed if I didn’t attend.

Arriving on the night of Friday the 28th, I enjoyed what appeared to be mild food poisoning from a rather sorry buffet at the historic, but decaying Adelphi Hotel- an experience in itself. Not put off by this, we arrived at FACT and began by viewing the works on display, followed by talks from various artists dealing with human technology interface, Eduardo Kac, Paul Thomas and musician Atau Tanaka.

A striking piece of work was on central display as you entered- one of Eduardo Kac’s “Tele-presence” pieces. The artefact on display is a black body suit, reminiscent of submissive fetish-ware. Much of Kac’s work explores technology’s ability to shift experience and consciousness from one individual to another, and this piece allows a third party to direct the user of the suit, through a camera attached to the eye of the suit. The participant within the suit cannot see, speak and has limited hearing and can only receive audio instructions from the third party thanks to a small speaker in the suit’s ear.This transferral reminded me of the way in which motion capture can be used; transferring articulations of one individual onto another, mapping the mind of one onto the body of another. Kac gave an illuminating talk about his work, and more when we spoke together afterwards, detailing some other projects not on display. What’s interesting about Kac’s work, when compared to the work of Stelarc, is just how simple the works are. Kac uses existing and newly established technologies and with a lightness of touch, presents a new way of viewing them. Image: Tele-presence, Eduardo Kac

I found the whole visit illuminating, seeing many inspiring pieces of work, several of which relate directly to my field. We also made some important new contacts for future work, so all in all, am very pleased with the outcomes and experience gained from the trip.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

VRG blog launch

Welcome to the Visual Research Group's Blog this has been set up to enable members to post information on their projects, exhibitions, work in development and research. I hope this space provides all members with the opportunity to share their work with each other and the greater world.