What if you could physically see and identify a person’s emotions through visible biofeedback? Or gauge a potential mate’s interest? How many times have you wanted to know what someone else was feeling? Growing up, it’s common to wonder what any of us might do with extra-sensory perception or abilities. Although there is no way to implant programs and download directly into our bodies or hardwire our brains (yet), creative technologists are constantly finding ways to work with how we learn and engage through game play. Aside from language, one of the defining features of human nature is the ability to express emotions and feelings. Whether it’s through our facial expressions to the tone and pitch of our voices, advancements in technology allow us to figure out ways to learn more about human interaction. Sensoree’s Galvanic Extimacy Responder (GER) may provide fascinating answers to many of the aforementioned questions. GER designer, Kristin Neidlinger, created a soft wearable device reflecting the mood of the wearer. Although taking the intimacy of emotions and offering up a tangible and experiential connection to others might seem playful and whimsical, it speaks to the human desire of connection. The Sensoree website provides a simple yet robust description of the GER,“The high collar, bowl positioned with LEDs reflects onto the self for instant biofeedback and acts as a tele-display or external blush for the other”.

Last Sunday, a group of eager game testers gathered at the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco. Armed with anticipation, the testers included game designers, ZERO1 art ambassadors, developers, engineers, art patrons, avid gamers, artists, and creative technologists. The diverse range of participants resulted in a wide array of feedback for the Sensoree design team. With an affinity towards anything psychologically based, I opted to test Sensoree’s GER, which is defined specifically as the “sensor that detects excitement levels and translates mood into a palette of affective colors”. The game participants wore a large soft fabric ring that resembled a cowl neck scarf. The GER fabric was translucent enough to display soft colors with a corresponding emotion:

  • Green = Zen | Peaceful | Placid
  • Blue = Calm | Relaxed | Focused
  • Purple = Inspired | Alert | Perked
  • Pink = Excited | Aroused | Eager
  • Red = Nervous | Delirious | In Love
  • White = Nirvana | Bliss | Transcendent

Variations of game play included teams of approximately four individuals deciding on a particular emotion and eliciting that particular emotion for the team mate wearing the GER. At first, one of my teammates tried to make my scarf a steady red. Not so surprisingly, he asked me to imagine a very angry editor wanting changes to a work that took me quite some time to finish. Yes, it went straight to red. For the team challenge, I wore the GER and my teammates instructed me to close my eyes and imagine overtly serene landscapes (i.e., babbling brook, a quiet mountain side, etc.) while encouraging me to focus on my breath. Hoping this would translate into green lit GER, it took my team about ten minutes to have the GER emanate green and consistently keep me in a ‘zen, peaceful, and placid’ state. Yet, the GER works differently for each person. For SOMArts Gallery Director and Curator Justin Hoover, the GER was constantly lit at Blue with very seldom color changes. Later, the group learned he studied Martial Arts! Not too entirely sure what that says about me or my sweat glands other than I probably need to meditate a bit more to control my emotions! Either way, Sensoree’s GER had the entire group of testers discussing the overall design and objective of the GER, which seemed to provide Neidlinger and her team some useful information on how the GER might perform within a larger audience.

On our daily commutes, we see faces turned downward to phones and headphones or ear buds blocking out the sounds of the environment. Therein lies the conundrum of how we interact and evolve alongside rapidly changing technology. In looking at the intersections of art and technology, ZERO1’s biennial theme ‘Seeking Silicon Valley’ aims to showcase innovation emerging far beyond the physical region as well as deepen our understanding of cultures and sub-cultures on a global scale. Although the Galvanic Extimacy Responder (GER) may be based in technology, it necessitates and reminds us that human interaction is the catalyst for connection in our search for the meaning and understanding of Silicon Valley.

Originally posted to ZERO1, please view here

Hanging out, catching up on some reading, listening to music, and digging through favorites I’ve stashed for chill out evenings like tonight. Found this infographic for The Neurology of Gaming. A lot of the positive and negative effects of gaming are relatively common sense but “parts of the brain activated” by game play make the graphic worth perusing. I can’t wait to delve into arts and tech research. Game design and theory has piqued my interest lately. My goodness, so much to read. For now, an infographic will do!

A Puzzling Display by Tim Roseborough

Official Press Release and Text Source: Tim Roseborough, Digital and New Media Artist

A Puzzling Display” is a new artist-created online arts and culture game, where registered participants compete and test their arts and culture knowledge. Inspired by the annual “puzzle hunts” hosted by institutions such as MIT and Microsoft, Silicon Valley digital artist Tim Roseborough has created “A Puzzling Display”: an Internet-based set of 20 intelligent and challenging interactive puzzles covering topics such as art history, music, film and culture.

In the 21st century, gaming and game-related paradigms are steadily integrating themselves into contemporary culture. “A Puzzling Display,” continues Roseborough’s exploration of the techniques and theories of gaming and play in the context of contemporary art. The website will be accompanied by an exhibition of Roseborough’s limited edition prints that translate each puzzle into the artist’s “Englyph” writing system, created via hieroglyphic-like images from everyday language. With an aim of blurring the distinction between fine art and diversion, Roseborough’s virtual artwork incorporates interactivity, video, sound art, and computer animation to take a fresh look at arts and culture. For “A Puzzling Display”, Roseborough has utilized limericks, silhouettes, common names, videos and art charades to challenge gamers.  All of the challenges are fun, but not all of them are easy. The order in which you play the challenges is up to you.

  • Win points for correct answers, check your overall progress and compare your score with other players on the scoreboard.
  • The competitive game time coincides with an exhibition of prints related to the game at the New Art Center in New York City.
  • The dates of the exhibition are May 1-19, 2012. The game begins at 8am EDT on May 1, 2012 and ends at 11:59pm EDT on May 20th, 2012.
  • The first five players to reach a perfect score or the highest five scorers at the end of the competition will receive 8″ x 10″ prints from the exhibition signed by the artist and infinite bragging rights!

A Puzzling Display: How to Play

1) Register:

Register for the game by choosing a username and email. You will be asked to verify your account with an email address. Your address will not be shared with or sold to a third party.

Q: Why do I have to register to play?

A: Registering with a username, password and email address will allow you to play the game at your pace, check your progress and compare your progress with others’.

2) Pick a Challenge:

Pick from twenty (20) challenges. You can play the challenges in any order you like.

Q: Should I start with the first puzzle? 

A: The challenges are loosely arranged from easier to more difficult, by you may have skills and knowledge that may help you do better on some puzzles more than others. Feel free to explore!

3) Explore the Puzzle:

Read the instructions above each puzzle carefully, as they hold clues to solving the puzzle. Be sure to click around the puzzle space below, as the challenges are sometimes behind the Englyph artwork.

Q: I’m stuck! Can I get some help?

A: Don’t be afraid to use search engines or the links provided at the bottom of this page to help you solve the puzzles.

4) Enter Your Answers

Answer entry fields are always below the puzzle space. As an aid, the correct number of letters for each answer is displayed. Your score on each challenge will be revealed immediately after you submit answers.

Q: Does punctuation count in the answers?

A: Letter counts do not include punctuation except for the dot (“.”) in a URL, but feel free to enter appropriate non-letter characters. They will not be counted in your answer. 

Q: How many times can I submit answers?

A: You can only submit answers once per challenge, so check them carefully before submitting. Feel free to write down your answers on scratch paper. 

Q: When can I see the correct answers?

A: Correct answers to the puzzles will only be posted after the main competition is over, after 11:59pm, May 20, 2012.

5) Check Your Progress

You can track your progress by clicking on the “My Progress” link and check your scores against other players by clicking on the “Scoreboard” link.

About the Artist

Tim Roseborough is a digital artist and musician. His artwork and exhibitions have been featured in numerous publications, including Art In America, ARTNews, San Francisco Chronicle, SF Arts Monthly, SF Examiner, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Roseborough has performed and exhibited his artwork nationally, including the 2010 ZERO1 Biennial, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Root Division, Artexpo New York, The Garage San Francisco, ARTWork SF, and the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco. Mr. Roseborough lives and works in San Francisco, California. Please visit his site and learn more about A Puzzling Display here.

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The days of happenings and Fluxus signaled a pivotal transition and a prophetic glimpse into Post (Post) Modern art. Such progression into participant based art within art history entailed the coining of Relational Aesthetics. The times when artists sat around and drank beer ushered its way into the cannon of conceptual fine art. Also known as relational art, relational aesthetics encompasses an art practice within a social context and the creation of the art dependent on the exhibition visitors and participants within a specific environment. Or as prolific Internet phenom art critic, Hennessy Youngman (Artist: Jayson Musson), has eloquently stated,

Basically, Relational Aesthetics is when someone with an MFA wants to meet new people but because they spent all that time pursuing an MFA, they don’t know how to talk to people normally. And they got really poor social skills. And they can’t find no other way to meet new people other than forcing them into odd activities at their own poorly attended art openings. Relational Aesthetics is also when a successful artist who is too busy touring the globe going from biennial to biennial and they have no time to make physical art objects anymore so the famous artist uses the attendees at the exhibition as the artwork in some ways, na whut I’m sayin’, to explore the social relationships between people.

Youngman’s choice of the Internet as a means of connecting with the world exemplifies the Internet’s global reach. The question that comes to mind involves how we see and experience art virtually (online) without specific references (i.e., a vlog entry with a discernible human face) and how artists and writers are defining it as art. From Muralism to Performative art, the physical public space has served as a forum to create work utilizing people and physical environment as a context for the pieces themselves but what considerations ought to be made to distinguish virtual performance as art? With the undercurrent and burgeoning of open source programming and a multitude of sites and blogs catering to ever type of human need imaginable, how does the new media artist discern oneself as an artist without having to subscribe to the sensibilities of tradition? What are the various forms of documentation or absence of documentation that include virtual Performative art as a part of art history and its evolution? Joseph DeLappe provides an interpretation of online performance art that serves as art with civic action in mind.

Joseph DeLappe’s piece, ‘dead-in-Iraq’, utilizes the virtual environment of ‘America’s Army’, which is the United States Army’s recruiting game. The virtual role-playing game is open to anyone interested in establishing an online account and perhaps possesses a profound interest and curiosity for the military. The game itself simulates the actions and consequences of war. Allowing for fantastical play where the player has endless lives and has the ability to kill enemies and, perhaps, even soldiers in their own platoons with the absence of admonishment, the end user’s thoughts and emotions translate and weave themselves into a collection of memories that are both real and imagined. A simple game and task at hand, yet, the underlying message remains the same, and you are a machine. The human self morphs into a virtual killing machine (in the literal and figurative sense) and DeLappe’s ongoing piece goes above mere performance, there is a universal message of conjuring up the fallen. Those individuals without an avatar and no(body) to represent them. DeLappe crosses over into a space that is real and unreal simultaneously and the young men and women either pay attention and act aggressively or stop and wonder what DeLappe is trying to prove. His method is simple. He types the names of dead soldiers from the Iraqi War until ‘friendly’ fire or enemies kill him. There is virtual/imagined surrender to a certain extent, which would be unfathomable in real life.

DeLappe utilizes the virtual space as a form of protest. There is a front facing insubordination each end-user receives and experiences unknowingly. By the artist refusing to play the game they are putting themselves on the frontline with the intention of disobeying the rules with purpose. DeLappe’s abeyance of the gameplay is the art and the other virtual soldiers take place in relaying the message. Obviously, if a million people were to re-blog or tweet the happenings of such activity, would there be a proliferation of similar action? A resistance by the masses? Or, is this a form of expression and performative virtual aesthetic action only to be performed by the Artist?

We have yet to see.

Originally posted to zer01 blog, please click here to view