Written on 08/09/2014

Outside of this collaboration I am currently involved in the early stages of a transmedia project and to find out more about this multiplatform way of working and storytelling, I attended a Learn Do Share event in London last week and realised my findings are also relevant to this collaboration and I shall share some of them here.

Learn Do Share is a grassroots community for open collaboration, design fiction and social innovation. They organise events, labs and peer production and I do recommend attending one of their events. These two days involved talks and workshops on design thinking, purposeful and participative storytelling, digital technology and iterative design and rapid prototyping, all with social innovation in mind. There was a heavy focus on transmedia storytelling, design and digital technology and I even got to try on the Oculus rift. What I noticed in some of the talks were further examples of wearable technologies used for creative purposes. One that moved me a lot was:

The Eyewriter developed by members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks, the Graffiti Research Lab, and The Ebeling Group communities, where they worked with TEMPT1, a LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2003, which has left him almost completely physically paralyzed except for his eyes. The collaboration resulted in developing a low cost, open source eye-tracking system that enabled TEMPT1 to draw using just his eyes and with the use of projections was able to create graffiti again on the side of a building whilst being in his bed. To find out more about this project, watch the video on http://eyewriter.org/. This project’s long term goal is to create a professional/social network of software developers, hardware hackers, urban projection artists and ALS patients from around the world who are using local materials and open source research to creatively connect and make eye art.

Other examples from the event showed how the collected data from wearable technology and sensors were used to adapt and influence storytelling. One project, My Sky is Falling (MSiF), an immersive experience that harnesses technology and story to create empathy for the challenges faced by foster care children, used collected data to analyse audience/participant’ responses as part of its iterative design process. They described it as designing with data and released a whitepaper about the project and their findings. This could be downloaded here: http://www.myskyisfalling.com/

Carrying on from my last post, data seems to be the recurring theme. An interesting thought was a question raised in a talk by Chris Sizemore (Editor at the BBC), which was “What is the digital-self?”. With biometric data that could be used for the purpose of the quantified self, there is also data about our preferences, habits and activities and places we go to, our conversations and the data that we share on social media. In another talk “I am not an API”, Emer Coleman (TransportAPI) highlighted that we are not only generating content as if we were daydreaming, we are more and more embedding ourselves into content. Thinking about it, with the likes of Spotify and Netflix, we no longer own but subscribe to content and along the way generating more data of ourselves, our likes and dislikes. All these personal data create a well-rounded description of us, together with our history forming a version of ourselves, perhaps forming another reality – the digital reality that is in a “cloud” somewhere maybe? Another thing that stayed in my mind in Sizemore’s talk was could digital technology help us be more reflective?

Reflecting on the above and the event, what I have described so far is about objects collecting data, what about object communicating these data with other objects? The Internet of Things, a trendy term, is what Mike is researching for his PhD. It is to do with how objects can communicate with each other, passing data to one another over the internet. An example of its use could be your smart fridge recognises you are low in milk and reorders online for you (on this note check out this article). How can this relate to artists and their tools and their creative process? What happens when the tools talk amongst themselves, and what if what they do with the data is unpredictable as if they have a life of their own – the secret life of objects?



Post written on 1/09/2014

In between our official scheduled meetings, Mike and I will be doing our research and keeping in touch online. After the first meeting he shared with me some existing examples of digital technology used for creative means, which I will share here:

Wearable digital instruments: Canadian researchers, Joseph Malloch and Ian Hattwick, designed prosthetic musical instruments, which included an external spine and a touch-sensitive rib cage, that create music in response to body gestures.

Mi.Mu Gloves: Electronic gloves that allows enabled wearers to interact with their computer remotely via hand gestures. Watch their video here.

INTIMACY 2.0 dress by Dutch designers Studio Roosegaarde and Anouk Wipprecht: A high-tech fashion project that creates clothing made from leather and electrically-sensitive foils that become opaque or transparent according to alterations in voltage, in other words, it becomes transparent depending on the wearer’s heartbeat.

Uji Wall Clock by Ivor Williams: The clock uses a wearable ECG sensor to record the electric activity of the heart. This information is sent wirelessly to the clock, which moves its hands backwards and forwards in time with the pulse. This project aims to raise questions about the way wearable devices are increasingly used to harvest “quantified self” data from individuals, where ethical issues of sharing and ownership of such data are still emerging. The “quantified self” is a movement that began in California in 2007 to incorporate technology to collect biometric data such as heart rate, blood oxygen level or tracking cortisol levels, with the goal of self-advancement. Instead of using the data in a quantifiable way, the Uji uses it in an abstract way. The clock hands move back and forth depending on the pulse of the wearer and don’t indicate no other information at all, such as whether the heartbeat is healthy or not.

I am quite inspired by these examples and am particularly drawn to the Uji clock that questions the uses of data collected from wearable devices. It made me ponder about the ownership of data, especially in situations when these data are on the internet. Do these data belong to the person monitored or the company/person who created the device? In the process of creating, such as drawing in my case, I wonder what data could be collected during that process and how could we use that data in an interesting way or whether we could put the data through some other processes, which could then affect the drawing process, like in some kind of loop.