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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  December 2008

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING December 2008

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Subject:

Aesthetic Tools for Responsive Art: Body-Mind Nexus / Noise-Signal / Invisibility-Transparency / Contact-Non-conntact Interfaces

From:

Dr Brigitta Zics <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Dr Brigitta Zics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 10 Dec 2008 15:46:27 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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From: Dr. Brigitta Zics. Email: [log in to unmask]
---------------------
Dear All,


I am artist and researcher with the particular interest in emerging
technologies and their impact on creative practices(www.zics.net). I am
currently visiting fellow and lecturer at Transtechnology Research,
University of Plymouth (www.trans-techresearch.net). My main research
concerns how the philosophy of consciousness and cognitive sciences provide
a new potential for applications in technology-based art and design. My most
recent art work is the Mind Cupola (2008) which is intended to produce what
might be called an affective environment.

Thank you Adinda for the invitation to contribute to this forum. It is great
to participate in a discussion of such a burning topic in art and
technology. It is quite interesting to see how we approach similar issues
with a great spectrum of terminology and methodology which however, often
hinder us in communicating even simple ideas.

As an artist my particular interest is to evaluate how philosophy might help
us artists to implement technology in a way that is different to the
scientific modality. With this view I clearly reject the assumption that as
technology emerged through a scientific validation process it only
applicable effectively in this context. Instead I suggest that interactive
technology introduces a new potentiality to art, or possibly art uncovers
unforeseen potentials. The means of aesthetic inquiry might, in this
context, reveal or recover yet unknown or forgotten qualities of human
condition and experience.

My recent practice, that builds upon a reciprocal exploration of philosophy
and practice, introduced the concept of a cognitive-feedback loop which also
develops the discussion of the concept of the body-mind nexus. In my
investigation, body and mind is transposed and rather relates to qualities
of the material and immaterial and to the quality of their interconnection –
and then how they might be separated. Based upon this I argue that there are
art works which build on the semiotics of the body movement, in that they
produce, through the variety of body states, a spectrum of states of
consciousness. Integral to my research interest however is the modality of
interaction I term as 'passive interaction' (earlier: active interaction)
which operates through cognitively inclusive bodily actions as emotion,
gesture and quality of the motion. Through this new-modality of interaction
which is also introduced as cognitive-driven interaction, a more effective
way of interaction might be produced. As such, the cognitive-feedback loop
is a bodily passive interaction which interconnects technologies of
affective computing (face/temperature analysis, eye-tracking) with instant
affection technologies (audiovisual affect, mechanical affect: hot or cold
stream etc.) to subject the participant to intentional decisions to operate
the system. 

Applying the concept of the cognitive-feedback loop, the Mind Cupola's
participant is subjected to an immersive experience in the art work (Mind
Cupola). The system measures the emotional and behavioural reactions of the
participant and acts to guide them towards an optimal experience, which is
an immersive state in a condition of 'equilibrium'. It is anticipated that
the desire to enter this condition and the mastering of the interaction
produces new levels of immersion and cognition.

Since the immersive states for the aesthetic experience is crucial it was
important to apply a particular biofeedback technology which is non-contact.
The physical invisibility of the technology (even though the spectator can
see cameras) is intended to reinforce a cognitive impenetrability to the
experience so that the process of mastering the interface fully centred on
the aesthetically visible interfaces.

With this I come to Adinda's and many others' great observations that
artistic interfaces might have qualities which are 'out of control' or in
other words in my interpretation: the artist implements technology in the
way that produce new functionality which we can not yet control. In my
recently completed thesis Transparency Cognition and Interactivity: Toward a
New Aesthetic for Technology-based Art. I discuss this extensively, but in
short I propose that artistic interfaces have to be both cognitively
invisible (as designers would argue) and artistically reflective. What this
means is that artists should design the interfaces in a way that the
participant is not aware of their quality, however when these new functions
of technology are linked to particular artistic meaning creation they might
become visible; this produces the aesthetic experience. This experience, in
my view, oscillates between the invisible and the newly visible, a
condition, which I term as the Transparent act since transparency is both
reflective (new knowledge) and pellucid (embodied knowledge).

As such, (as Adinda also mentioned) visibility could be understood as noise.
But similar to Umberto Eco's explanation with the examples of the mosaics
(which have diverse angle but in whole they produce a novel aesthetic) the
'noise belongs to the creative processes which at the end greatly contribute
to the aesthetic experience. The struggle (in a certain level of course) of
the 'mastering the interface' is a creative quality, which contribute to the
exploration of new in the art work.

'Out of control' in this discussion might also refer to the argument that I
introduce through the Mind Cupola experience, namely that simple interactive
process between human and machine might result in a great complexity in the
participant's consciousness. This is the unpredictable outcome, which I
termed as the 'fractal structure' in the participant's cognition. Thus, the
reputed similar action might generate a new state in consciousness.

As you see my aim is not to develop a philosophical meta-conception but,
much more modalities, which assist us artists to produce artistic meaning
and enable critical approach to technology. However I guess inevitably this
investigation might offer something to philosophy too.

Even through I understand that it is crucial to experience these art works
it would be great if the discussion would produce reflections on the art
works introduced here (as a virtual exhibition maybe) with regards to
contact/non-contact technology, quality of experience, quality of
biofeedback, how these art works might provide a contribution to the
discussion of the to body/mind problem or to introduce new qualities in
human/machine interaction.


Best,

Brigitta

 
Dr. Brigitta Zics

Visiting Fellow Transtechnology Research,

Associate Lecturer Media Arts (BA) UoP /
MA Design by practice UWN 



http://www.zics.net
http://www.trans-techresearch.net/?page_id=26

Transtechnology Research,

Room B321 Portland Square,

University of Plymouth,

Drake Circus,

Plymouth,

PL4 8AA.

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