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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2015

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2015

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Subject:

The Art and Science of Play

From:

Dave Lynch <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Dave Lynch <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:22:34 +0000

Content-Type:

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Hi All, Apologies for the disappearance, its been more than a surreal,
brain scanning, cloud projecting, ash scattering couple of weeks,  I'm back
now and finally catching up with everything, first off, its
been fascinating catching up with the conversation, in the first instance, I'll
reply to Suzy's initial question.

*You have provided some great examples of different models for
experimentation, play, shared dialogue and knowledge, many of which echo
Baltan's activities. As some of your projects sound quite complex, it might
be useful if you explain a  how one of your interdisciplinary projects were
structured?  **You have also described the ways you disseminate the
outcomes of your work more widely. I’m interested to hear more about how
you articulate your evolving role in these different projects?*

All my art/science projects  share the fundamental aspects of;  time in
years, a free sense of serious play, the act of doing over conversation,
the value of collaborators time, alternative currencies plus having the
financial freedom to invest time, flexibility and hard cash.  The later can
only exist for myself, funded by a commercial practice, very similar to
Memo, ill come onto this later.

The other key aspects are almost the hardest - belief in yourself and that
the project is potentially bigger than you (you are steering something into
existence for the greater good, although more akin to holding on to roller
coaster with no carriage, seat belt or direction - extreme unexpected highs
and lows)  This for me was dealt with through the *'see where it goes'
*sensibility
of exploration which I had learnt working with John O'Shea and Sam Meech on
the Open Source Swan Pedalo <http://www.swanpedalo.org/>

The two projects which happened hand in hand so should be discussed as one:

*Phase Revival* - 6m kinetic light sculpture which reveals the hidden wave
forms found on the surface on atoms - https://vimeo.com/56975456
*Project Nimbus - *Analogue experiments using 1800's projection technology
to project moving images onto clouds from aircraft, originally inspired by
a military psychological weapon - projectnimbus.net

Both were in collaboration with the two same chemical physicists, who had a
surprisingly keen sense, understanding and respect of art practice and
creation.  Both experimentalists in their own right, I believe this to be
one of the key elements of the research process.  Both of these projects
lead us to create a collective called thesuperposition.org centred on the
sharing what we learned over these projects, with an aim to foster further
collaborations between other scientists and artists, breaking down process,
practice and the commonalities of artists, scientists with the other key
role of a maker.

*Collaborative talking vs doing - How Phase Revival came to be.*

After an initial random meeting over a CERN application, the scientists had
invited myself and artist Becs Andrews to create and out reach project with
funds of £1000 from the royal society of chemistry.  After 8-10 months of
conversations over email, monthly visits (plus missing the RSC delivery
deadline) we ventured into a theatre space to recreate an artistic
experiment of myself and Becs which first sparked our interest in working
together, after 20-40 minutes the conversation bounced from artist to
scientist and lead to the final installation, a few weeks later, it was
realised in pretty much in complete form.  The previous months of
conversation were key in building the relationships between us to allow the
flexibility for rapid idea generation to happen.  This was trust,
especially in the process of building relationships.  Sharing ideas is one
thing, but having the freedom to be respected both socially, professionally
to share of ideas; trust builds confidence.


*The Art of Science and Play *

Throughout the 10 month process of making Phase Revival, I contacted the
scientists about the risk assessment for Project Nimbus (2w lasers from
Ebay in planes) and through the presentation of the initial zoopraxiscope
device in their underground laser lab at Leeds University, we discovered we
had a common ancestor - Edweard Muybridge  linking both the science and the
art, for the art, Muybridge was original designer of my device which I
wanted to repurpose with a laser, for the physicists - Muybridge was cited
in a nobel prize winning paper defining the subject of femto second
spectroscopy (Muybridge captures/ studies time in a 1000s of second - femto
chemistry captures/studies time at a million billionth of a second)

After the initial risk assessment, we met bi weekly to collectively make
the zoopraxiscope as non of us understood how it worked and there were no
instructions online, so we set off on a journey of collective
discovery, the key aspect to this work was the regular collaboration with
the makers at Oomlout.co.uk, a provider of everything in the maker scene -
arduinos, LEDs etc. The rapid prototype ethos of the maker scene was
exciting to myself as an artist and the scientists, each time I returned
to their underground lab, with a new prototype based on the previous
experiments, the further our excitement grew at rediscovering a process of
our common ancestor.  The fact we could not figure it out the mechanism, a
Professor and Doctor of physics and myself as a projectionist with years of
16mm and super8 experience pushed us in new ways of thinking.  After a
random meeting with a Muybridge expert, we found the correct ratios and it
was a week later we shared the same excitement of seeing a running horse
through a zoopraxiscope powered by a 5w laser.  The only downside being
that it was nowhere near bright enough to see except in the pitch black and
taking the lab laser (imagine a fridge and shoebox) wasn't an option in my
tiny plane.  At this point I thought the project was over, 3 days later
I received a call from the physicist, stating that he had an idea to make
it 94% more efficient, but it came with a £1000 price tag to test his
theory out with the purchase of lenses.  This coincided with a residency at
the Full of Noises Festival with a fee of £1000 - two months later we
presented the working version of the Laser Zoopraxiscope Mk4 at the
festival along side cultural theorist and early cinema specialist Dr. Vlad
Strukov. At the point of the scientist solving the problem of lack of
light, the process took a step further into a collaborative model of
discovery, we were in new territory with a new element device never before
created, this is still the only way to project moving images onto clouds
with a coherent (always in focus) light source safely.    Projectnimbus.net
<http://projectnimbus.net/>

*Role over structure*

In both cases the role of myself, became that of producer/ director and
artistic instigator  The structure was based on value and respect, in the
first instance the consultancy of the physicists for Project Nimbus was
matched by return for my artistic time for free on Phase Revival. The
exhibition for the Phase Revival sculpture was predominantly controlled and
delivered by the artists, the format for creating the sculpture had to have
a clear game plan where peoples time and part of the process had to be
respected, the few times where this wasn't the case tensions flared
dramatically, especially with the pressure of a fixed exhibition deadline
and different acceptances of what was fit for presentation based aesthetics
over scientific clarity.   With Nimbus, after the point where it  turned
from consultancy to collaboration, the shared goal of 'will it work' became
the process.  It's worth mentioning that a key element in the cloud
projection process was not to focus on the projected image leaving left the
spectacle open to creation and interpretation by all the collaborators and
public.  The act of thinking what 'would I project on the clouds' engages
a different artistic process in our relationship to image.

The structure of experimentation and play with a focus on process over
tangible spectacle based results has made both of these
projects successful in different ways, on reflection, It seems to me that
the majority of scientists, like many artists are so focused on a such a
single acute aspect of practice, (literally a handful of people in the
world have the knowledge or interest), that even fellow scientists at the
same institution are a world away from understanding their work.  What we
have found with these projects and our further work with
thesuperposition.org collective is that relationships between other
scientists have improved on a interdisciplinary level through artistic
cross disciplinary intervention.

The similarities of process and seemingly instant results which art can
bring lead myself and the scientists in both these collaborations to start
the superposition.org collective along side other interested artists and
producers with an aim to foster relationships between other artists and
scientists thorough a basis of sharing, collaboration and serious play.
Essentially we are all taking on the role of artists in the creation of
this collective (we certainly get paid like artists).

In addition, something i've personally witnessed as part of this process,
is probably best described as science 'Inreach' - the opposing, self
balancing force to science outreach.  It's by no means well researched or
even that well considered at this time of writing by any means but from my
reflections on a collaborative working practice with scientists I've met,
it has appeared that the process of both working with an artist, artistic
process and the intervention of apparently structureless creativity (i.e.
science has laws/ knowledge you need to understand to be creative within
it) has had positive impact on the scientists relationship to their
practice.  The role of the scientist parallels so many values of
artistic expression, exploration and experimentation alongside the base
role of both disciplines of the maker, creator and doer.   There is a need
to nurture and celebrate this within science for scientists with the
relatively instant results which art can provide, without years of
dedication, funding which is dictated by science's structures of knowledge,
professional value and respect.  I also firmly believe, although every
scientist i've worked with disagrees, that there will be a collaborative
partnership or project between an artist and scientist, where by the artist
inspires the creation of new knowledge for the scientist, which will then
have serious tangible results and impact in their work and the creation
of scientific knowledge, for even tho artists and scientists share so many
commonalities in process, they are still governed by nuances in the fundamental
creation of new knowledge.

I'm not quite sure I articulated that as well as I could, but I'm running
short on time as i've got to go and chase some clouds.

More later.

Best Wishes

Dave





On Wed, Mar 4, 2015 at 8:38 PM, Suzy <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> What a great start to our discussion. J
>
> Emma, I have been very interested in the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts
> since its inception. It is a great example of how three strategic bodies
> can create a unique space (outside of academia and industry, yet informed
> by both) for collaborative learning, experimentation and considered,
> research led reflection and of course, the sharing of new knowledge in the
> arts. I am aware that the appetite for this opportunity has exceeded
> expectations at every round, indicating a desire for a deeper understanding
> of emerging technology and its systems and processes in the wider arts.
>
> I applied unsuccessfully for the fund. However, the experience of working
> up a collaborative bid with partners from the arts and technology sectors
> was hugely informative in its own right. Differing expectations in relation
> to roles, payment, working practices and processes and time committed to
> the project were some of the key issues that arose for us to work through.
> It would be great to hear more about some key common issues that arose for
> the successful projects and how collaborators moved to resolve them?
>
> Olga, many thanks for your fascinating overview of Baltan’s history and
> insights into the impact of a changing economic landscape on research. I
> like your statement that ‘freedom of thought, openness towards the unknown,
> experiment and playfulness are key’ to Baltan’s activities and that you
> create an environment that supports an ‘open-minded atmosphere based on
> trust, empathy and mutual inspiration.’ It would be great to hear more
> about strategies you employ to facilitate this.
>
> I am interested in your suggestion that art is an ‘outstanding free
> domain’ and the opportunities this provides for other sectors. “The
> interdisciplinary artist/designer is the new fundamental researcher of the
> 21st century.”  I’m looking forward to hearing more thoughts on this and
> also to some of the challenges you describe.
>
> You also highlight important issues around how we perceive and show impact
> and use value of the arts to industry and wider society.
>
> Dave, thanks a million for your introduction to your interdisciplinary art
> practice. You have provided some great examples of different models for
> experimentation, play, shared dialogue and knowledge, many of which echo
> Baltan's activities. As some of your projects sound quite complex, it might
> be useful if you explain a  how one of your interdisciplinary projects were
> structured? You have also described the ways you disseminate the outcomes
> of your work more widely. I’m interested to hear more about how you
> articulate your evolving role in these different projects?
>
> Johannes, great that you chimed in! – You raise a good question regarding
> assumptions around the depth of current digital awareness and technical
> skills in the arts sector. In my experience, while it is a developing
> situation, there is a general understanding that the majority of arts orgs
> are lacking skills and understanding (and confidence?) in these areas.
> Emma, you and your colleagues have been conducting national surveys in
> relation to this, can you talk a little about your findings here?
>
> Also, I am interested in hearing some responses to Johannes question about
> how our collaborations are functioning within the wider ‘current neoliberal
> global-capitalist political economy’? And yes, who are currently setting
> the agendas and how are they shaping our modes of working?
>
> Thanks!
>
>  Suzy O'Hara
> e:[log in to unmask]
> t: 07891719319
> twitter: @suzy_o_hara
>
> PhD Researcher
> www.crumbweb.org
> www.intopractice.com
>
> Curator & Arts Producer
> Thinking Digital Arts
> www.thinkingdigital.co.uk/arts
>



-- 
Dave Lynch

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