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?