Creating strategies around how to deal with technology can become tiresome and futile. Technology is constantly at our fingertips for the majority of our days and, sometimes, nights. When we go to bed and wake up, virtuality and the Internet remain ubiquitously present. We may as well have our mobile devices tucked safely underneath our pillows for fear of being disconnected. If alien life forms were to descend, they may wonder how we obtain and retain our information. How do you describe looking into a backlit rectangular screen for approximately eight hours a day as a way to intellectually and emotionally digest images and contextualize your environment? From the world’s ugliest dog to the political and social upheaval in the Middle east to socializing online has become the way in which we obtain meaning about our environment. The anxiety and anticipation we feel to connect with others further adds to the way we function and re-create ourselves within language. In Christopher Baker’s work, Murmur Study, his installation showcases our collective meanderings through bringing physicality to our digital exchanges.

As a 2012 ZERO1 biennial artist, Baker installed this iteration of Murmur Study in the back of the renovated and large exhibition space known as the ZERO1 Garage located in Downtown San Jose. The mottled, weathered, gray concrete that once served as a car repair shop now welcomes the footsteps of arts and technology patrons as well as curious newcomers. Baker reinvents micro messaging through circuitous wires and re-programmed thermal printers#. Far from reach, the printers are hung high on an exposed beam. Like soldiers at attention, they hold their post through the day and night without rest. Yet, the slow release of printed messages such as “That awkward moment when you’re eating fast food and some show about ‘how unhealthy the world is today’ is on tell…::whoops::?” provoke us to respond. Yet, the installation relies only on observation as the thin receipt paper cascade down and messages eventually reach eye level. On the gallery floor, the paper accumulates resulting in piles that resemble white discarded shoelaces. During the rush of opening night, bodies passed curiously by the work. As visitors passed the installation, the papers slightly billowed and reminded us of their presence.

Baker’s interpretation of our digital life siphoned from social media platforms into tangible form showcase our methods of thinking and communicating. Our thoughts, once untouchable, fall into the form of computation and transmission. The papers serve as remnants of our processing and constructions of everyday life. The work addresses the theme of Seeking Silicon Valley in that much of what we might believe is created in this technological region actually encompasses so much more than the physical location. Murmur Study captures the hashtags of our collective desires and beliefs, sometimes humorous and poignant, other times offensive and didactic. It reminds us that Silicon Valley is rapidly becoming way more of an idea than a tangible place. As one continues to read the papers in Baker’s piece, its easy to notice the stream riddled with vernacular and awaiting interaction. Although rigid, sleek, and so far up from eye level, the viewer is still able to see the thick, tangled wiring and circuitry behind the neatly hung printers. We watch slowly as one the most familiar objects in consumption dispenses information and data on how we might spend our time.

Originally posted to the ZERO1 blog here

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

Seventy two hours overlooking the San Francisco cityscape in a mansion atop Twin Peaks sounds like a pretty nice getaway, doesn’t it? For the artists and creative professionals last weekend at The Glint it wasn’t very much time to create a mobile application for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial. But the groups pulled through with some amazing ideas and a network of new friends and potential colleagues. Hackflux participant, web developer, Anna Billstrom, remarked that it was,

“…nice being in a personal space. From the very beginning, from the first pitch, I talked honestly about what inspires me and even when ideas did not make sense, people went along with the them”.

Nika Jones, Cloud Computing and Web Developer shared a similar sentiment,

“I had the chance to collaborate with back-end designers, artists, and developers. It was an interesting space. It helped to bring out a lot of creativity and ideas. The people I’ve met here are people I would want to stay in touch with.”

Danielle Siembieda, ZERO1’s Community Engagement Manager, opened up the final day of the hackathon by introducing jury members and extending gratitude to The Glint co-founders, Alexandros Pagidas and Damian Madray, who were also jurors for the weekend’s event.

As ZERO1’s inaugural hackathon, the team gathered for a weekend of creative thinking and coding in the hopes of creating an application that could be implemented as a useable product for the ZERO1 2012 Biennial. In addition, the application is slated to be open source for other teams interested in creating their own iteration of the winning app. Cultivation of ideas and allowing other to build off of what has been created are only a few elements that help make hackathons successful. With open source coding, these apps and products are developed, reworked, and possibly cast into another format all together. For HackFlux, the jurors were looking for the following criteria:

  • Viability – Is it feasible to create the App with the resources provided? Can it be sustained and maintained?
  • Concept – What is the strength of the idea? Is it creative? Innovative?
  • Does it meet the scope of the App and beyond?

The jury consisted of the following individuals:

The tech advisory committee consisted of the following individuals:

  • Brendan Wypich
  • Dan Zeitman
  • Doniece Sandoval
  • Greg Gopman
  • Michael Shiloh
  • Myles Weissleder, SF New Tech
  • Rajiv Patel
  • Sarah Nahm
  • Sian Morson

PROJECT TEAMS

Team Visitor Information App (VIA): DC Spensley and Nika Jones

Spensley and Jones proposed an application that included three modes: scheduling, event, and mapping. The development of this particular app was based on the previous biennial. The idea was to have the end user experience the biennial with the convenience of planning and mapping out the experience they want! Ideally, the small events screen would take the user to event options with information pulled from the ZERO1 website. A “Share” option would be built so people are able to connect prior to an event. The map suite would be based on iOS mapping but work in conjunction with android and Google Maps. Parking availability pops up and the “Stars” signify where you have been. The user testing has been estimated at 90 days and would require receiving a ‘tickle’ via SMS or audio (for the visually impaired).

Team Parque Art: Romy Ilano, Athena Chow, and Timothy Evans

The Parque Art team presented a product feature to work in conjunction with another fully developed app. Essentially, the team envisioned (re)making the journey to biennial events as a basis for their work. They started their presentation with the idea that “parking is never a pleasant experience” and team member, Romy Ilano noted during the introduction, “Disneyland cleverly turns the trip from the parking lot to the entrance into a wonderful adventure (i.e., tram ride, fairy, etc.)”, which was the impetus for creating the Parque Art app feature. Since attendees spend approximately 10-15 minutes between their car or public transportation and the final destination, Parque Art, ideally, would help ‘set the tone’ for the overall biennial experience. The app would include soundscapes, simple mp3 audio (i.e., audio art, spoken word poetry, music, etc.) of participating biennial artists. Geo-location through a mobile web API would be embedded into the primary mobile website.

Team ZERO1 IN: Allison Holt and Lisa Benham

The ZERO1 IN team developed an idea that is a location based app/module that could serve as the foundation for a fully developed app. The ZERO1 IN app would include an interactive festival map and guide along with a “Printed Map” for individuals that do not have a smartphone but want to participate in the gaming experience. Overall, the app is an interactive scavenger hunt. The three levels of complexity included: 1) Feeling Clever, 2) Middle Path, 3) Where am I? The breakdown of level is listed below:

  • Feeling Clever: Ability to choose a language to explore the biennial (64 language via Google translate)! Very few dots and cryptic clues leading to artworks and exhibitions.
  • Middle Path: Less ‘dots’ on middle path (UNLESS you unlock), technologically, the experience would rely on human cleverness!! Artist’s text and cryptic photograph included on this level.
  • Where am I? Complete guide and details to the biennial! No guesswork!!

With enough development time, the team was hoping to develop features that would allow users to filter artists (i.e., music, LED-based, visual, etc.), take pictures, and create a mosaic of the biennial experience.

THE WINNING TEAM

Team REACTOR – The Reaction Trader: Anna Billstrom, Kelsey Innis, and Helen Mair

The Reaction Trader app idea by Anna Billstrom, Kelsey Innis, and Helen Mair would allow users to react to artworks with geo-location as a way to connect with other users. The app would allow crowdsourced reactions to artworks through drawing, speech, or texting. With every reaction, the user will receive two anonymous comments in return of the same artwork, which serves as an incentive to truly engage and interact with other biennial goers! The team stated there would be notifications based on location, log-ins to other social networking sites (i.e., Facebook, Four Square, etc.), and the ability to rate and flag reactions. The higher rating a comment receives, that comment would be placed into a public gallery for all users to see!! With the gamification of comments, the Reaction Trader is definitely a promising tool to promote interactivity. One of the impressive aspects of the Reactor Team’s weekend was an actual working demo to showcase on the final day! In the future, visualizations of reactions may be built into a living map of the biennial!! As the winning idea, the REACTOR team will work with the Core Team towards the development and launch (September 2012) of the application to approximately 100,000 end users! ZERO1 will market and be accessible beyond Biennial dates to work with the winning team!

ABOUT THE ZERO1 APP LAB

The objective is to create a seamless visitor experience through mobile technology for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial. This year’s theme is “Seeking Silicon Valley”. Our goal is to create a collaborative social science experiment exploring how an app can create community, interaction, and navigation in a clear and interesting format. We plan to utilize a variety of techniques and practitioners that will include, but is not limited to: alternate reality, geo location and mapping, mobile technology, storytelling, and augmented reality. Secondly, we plan to develop a ZERO1 API that can be built upon and used by ZERO1 artists, fellows and used for future ZERO1 Marketing, Programming and Garage.

Check out photos from HackFlux on Flickr here

Originally posted to ZERO1 blog, please click here

Photo by Ars Electronica ~ Click the image above for event details!

Check out this opportunity to sit in on a web cast regarding the intersections of Arts, Science, Technology, and Society! I’m particularly excited Executive Director of ZERO1, Joel Slayton, will be participating on the panel, “Transcending Limitations: Two of the World’s Foremost Art/Science/Technology Curators Discuss Creativity at this Intersection and its Impact on our Future”. Details and links below!

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Transcending Borders: The Intersections of Arts, Science, Technology, and Society on a Global Stage.

Join the live webcastfrom 5:00-7:00 PM EST at arts.gov and join in the conversation via Twitter at #neaartsci.

This international dialogue around the nexus of art, science, technology, and society in the 21st century is convened by the Salzburg Global Seminar, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Embassy of Austria in Washington, DC. Today’s artists and scientists improve our critical understanding of the world by provoking new ideas, experimentation, and creative strategies. This conversation will feature artists-scientists teams, along with policy makers and curators who champion their work, to examine the impact creativity and collaboration across these sectors can have to shape the world of today and tomorrow.

ZERO1 artist alum, Scott Kildall, is working on yet another amazing arts and technology project, Tweets in Space. The project has been covered by BBC, Forbes, Scientific American, CNET, Tech Trendy, Tech Mash and many other media organizations! Below, you will find a full description of ‘Tweets in Space’ and links to the Rocket Hub fundraising page and the project site.

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Official Press Release and Text Source: Artists ‘Tweets in Space’ Project Site

Artists, Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern will beam Twitter discussions from participants worldwide towards GJ667Cc – an exoplanet 22 light years away that might support earth-like biological life. Anyone with an Internet connection can participate during two performance events, which will simultaneously take place online, at the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2012, New Mexico), and in the stars. By engaging the millions of voices in the Twitterverse and dispatching them into the larger Universe, Tweets in Space activates a potent discussion about communication and life that traverses beyond our borders or understanding. It is not just a public performance; it performs a public.

The artists will collect all Twitter messages tagged #tweetsinspace and transmit them into the cosmos via either a home-built or borrowed communication system. Our soon-to-be alien friends will receive scores of unmediated thoughts and feedback about politics, philosophy, pop culture, dinner, dancing cats and everything in between. All tweets will also be streamed to a live public website, where they’ll be permanently archived, as well as projected – as animated twitter spaceships towing messages – at the Balloon Museum and planetarium-like digital dome (IAIA), in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Your donation will help buy equipment that will enable the artists to build their own open-source transmission system, upgrade an existing one through partnership with another institution, and/or time with one of the world’s extant high-powered communicators. Any funds above our goal will pay for a better system, or go towards online coding, design, and promotion. RocketHub is not an investment or charity. It is an exchange: funds from fans for rewards from us: both the ability to send Tweets into Space, and then some. It’s an All & More funding mechanism for us: if we don’t reach our financial goal we get to keep what we raise. But if we do reach our goal, we get access to exciting opportunities.

Tweets in Space asks us to take a closer look at our spectacular need to connect, perform and network with others. It creates a tension between the depth and shallowness of sharing 140 characters at a time with the entire Internet world, in all its complexity, richness and absurdity, by transmitting our passing thoughts and responses to everywhere and nowhere. These “twitters” will be stretched across all time and space as a reflection on the contemporary phenomenon of the “status” updates we broadcast, both literal and metaphoric.

Please click here to help fund Tweets in Space via RocketHub* and to learn more info on the project, click here.

Kildall and Stern are slated to launch the project at ISEA — the International Symposium on Electronic Art — this September in New Mexico, and are excited and are now trying to raising $8500 since it turns out it’s pretty difficult to send messages into the cosmos.

* What is RocketHub? RocketHub is very much like Kickstarter, only a better fit for our project. They do direct credit card payments, instead of going through Amazon Payments, they can handle international orders and have more of a science focus.

Originally posted to ZERO1, please click here to view

Tag and Seek + Beta Testing = Fun

As a young professional, I loathed corporate team building as a mandatory activity. Managers required us to participate on scavenger hunts in the hopes of learning about one another and facts about the company. Over the years, I’ve grown out of the surly, young, and overly ambitious individual. In recent years, I’ve grown fond of such activities I once believed juvenile and unnecessary. You might be wondering, what changed? I’d like to think maturity set in and brought me back to the pleasures of curiosity and discovery. Last weekend, I participated in the Tag and Seek Beta test, sponsored by ZERO1. The experience made me realize that any game requires willing participants. Bottom line: It was enlightening and made clear that real time human interaction is important. The experience also showed how technology serves as a conduit allowing for narratives to intersect and become a part of the gaming experience.

Being a blogger, it’s absolutely imperative to curate content for the public and one of the most enriching parts of my job is covering events, exhibitions, or beta testing! Knowing the experience was a scavenger hunt and geocaching based game, I expected some sort of social interaction. Other than that, I wasn’t expecting very much from the experience other than familiarizing myself with San Jose cityscape. Tag and Seek was played using the application, TagWhat, which provided brief descriptions of landmarks and artworks sprinkled throughout Downtown San Jose. The mapping capability underneath the picture and description of the landmark helped us navigate the landscape. Since I had the opportunity to partner with James Morgan, professor of Digital Media Arts at San Jose State University, I had quite the advantage. Ironically, James and I already met…virtually. Through e-mail correspondence regarding an Ars Virtua exhibition, look art, we already started a dialogue about virtual spaces and art experiences (If you’re interested, you can read about the look art exhibition here).

My partnership with James for Tag and Seek resulted in second place after the tags were tallied. Yet coming in second didn’t damper the fact that it was one of the better scavenger hunts I’ve ever played. Although fun, people would probably be more likely to work hard knowing a specific reward accompanies the game. It would be great to receive a badge or star within the app when a particular tag status has been reached so the gamer can readily access how many tags they’ve submitted. The dynamics of game play were much more robust knowing my teammate was interested in conversation as well! Sadly, my battery died towards the end of the game and I had to take photos outside of the app relying heavily on multi-tasking (an iPhone 4 was used during game play). Beyond tagging and seeking landmarks another participant suggested interacting with specific individuals and/or your own team mates to make the game enriching, on a physical and social level. Overall, Tag and Seek is a promising game application and I’m excited to see the enhancements and developments made in the next few months. Again, if you want to learn more about Tag and Seek, click here.
I would also like to invite you in on the the conversation! What apps do you use to connect with friends? What are your favorites? What applications help you learn more about your environment? Please join the ZERO1 conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

Originally posted to ZERO1