The Chameleon project is built over ten prototypes (2008-2010) with a cross disciplinary group of an artist, social neuroscientist, emotion neuroscientist, affective computer scientists, technologists, human computer interaction scientists and a curator. The project investigates the scientific foundations of emotional contagion. Supported by the Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England, Australia Arts Council, ANAT, Lighthouse, UCL, MIT Media Lab, Solent University and SCAN.
JANE MCGRATH MA DIGITAL MEDIA ARTS
After a few weeks away I am trying to connect back with the project, its interesting to be so deeply emotionally and intellectually engaged and focused then experience a sudden rupture and complete shift of perspective.
I am about to start writing the introduction to my dissertation and I suppose it feels llke its the beginning of a Harvest Festival, the collection of the fruits of my labour and a proud introduction of all that I have learnt. But what have I learnt and what do I know now that I did not know before the summer, before the residency with Tina?
I know that I am not very good at articulating my research question, that I stumble and fall about over my words. I know that the most exciting conversations I have had about my research question have been focused on the tiny observations, on pauses and moments, conversations that have dissected the unique moments involved in the experience of interaction with the project.
It is clear that the things that work and the things that don’t are as deep and rewarding for research purposes – with a rich mine of information located in both areas. I am really excited that potentially the project offers a great wealth of knowledge and research for me to get my teeth into – it is a unique opportunity. But I need to keep things simple and focused and Im not there yet, this Bank Holiday is set aside for major writing session – dawn – dusk, for pulling in, harvesting.
When I am clear structurally about how The Chameleon Project will support my question I will prepare a series of further research questions to ask Tina. I will also no doubt need to ask permission to dig deeper with others who were researching and developing alongside. Crucially I want to make sure that my questions are the right ones in context of my own research area and that as a result my dissertation adds value to the project not just duplicates and regurgitates.
But I’m frightened sometimes and panicked that my research might all fall through my fingers, that my question is weak and irrelevant to the project. I have mad moments when I think how did I get here and why am I asking that? Why am I fascinated with powerlessness and empowerment and liminal spaces? But when I consider my younger life and time spent in a women’s refuge and in courts fighting to be free from living in fear my inspirartion is evident.
So other days I am bold, confident and excited – look I’m doing an MA – me!!
I have a unique opportunity to do some fascinating work and to explore empowerment as an artist. So, now is the time to start bringing it all together – I have butterflies…but I know what a precious thing it is to feel so alive, so free and so empowered.
Its the 24th, August. The ending of the Lighthouse Residency was nearly ten days ago – and it feels like a life time ago. Incredibly busy time, which lead to the next stage of the work – implementing prototype 08. The week in London was spent in meetings. I spent a day down at Southampton with the Rapid Prototyping lab – moving closer in on a more final iteration of the screens. I flew up to Edinburgh on Wednesday to look at In space for a potential show next year. I have started to prepare for the amsterdam show at ACII which is in 20 days. I have decided not to go to ISEA. I am preparing for the show at Fabrica – re-looking at all footage – edit points – trying to get the interaction worked out – trying to get the video engine ready. We need to buy four more computers – they need to be prepared.
I spent a day trying to organise all travel for the states/Uk/ and all the australian exhibitions/meetings.
Anyway, i will come back to this when I have had a bit more time to reflect and take a breath.
Natacha Roussel/experientiae electricae.
While Pixy was a large part of the residency, I had no time to write on this blog,since I was up to now caught by all the manual work that is implied by so called “physical computing”, ie building and testing Pixy has caught a large amount of my time at Lighthouse.
However I feel I should at least upload a closure comment.
Building Pixy for Chameleon was quite a challenge, the aim was to get as much possible from Tina’s footage, all those expressions she has documented. At scratch Pixy is about percetion and deconstructing the image keeping only the necessary information to allow recognition, most of the time this occurs when movement happens, the in between is the trigger.
For chameleon, the aim was to allow identification and communicate emotions that normally happen through slights tranformations of faces.
Pursuing that goal I spent a large part of the residency putting up one pixel after the other of the double sized pixy that we all thought was needed to get as much possible from Tina’s footage. As Tina and Lighthouse had gathered a great team, we managed to do a quite fine and precise job.
In the basement of lighthouse, We got to enjoy an the most sculptural and detailled Pixy ever built. It gave rise to some amzing images of faces deconstructed in space. However as conflicts clearly emerged between the aims of the two projects both technologically and content wise, I still think this residency was a unique occasion to experiement with such a great team.
The talk went well on Saturday – more time dedicated to discussion than anything else. We ended up at the pub afterwards for a few hours. We then made our way back to london. We were carrying all baby stuff, 5 computers, 10 cameras, all cords, keyboards, all clothes. We had to get a cab from Victoria.
So, Monday morning and we are back in our flat in London. Yesterday was spent sleeping, reading papers, going to Coram’s field park with Pablo. He could have spent the whole day on the swing if he had his way. Matthew, my husband, cooked an incredible dinner and desert which left us asleep on the couch pretty early. Oh my god, I can’t explain how good dinner was after a quite a few nights last week eating what ever was about to fill me up. Pablo sort of shifted back into his normal routine – big night sleep, morning sleep and day sleep. He seems happy to be back in London.
A lovely chill out day after two weeks of intense activity.
Its always a funny feeling leaving a residency. You have intense times where your work foregrounds everything. Ofcourse, its not enough time, so things are sort of panicked. Over the two weeks, i tried not to think about any other projects, any other administration that was needed. Matthew was looking after Pablo and every other part of my life. I just thought about Chameleon. and now you re-adjust into normal life. Its a bit strange to get your head around. I still need a lot more time to think about everything, and make a list of all the points that were working for me, and all of the things to leave behind.
Natacha was supposed to come to London and stay for the night, but she found a bus to Stansted. She rang to thank me for the experience. It was both great and challenging for everyone. Its not an easy thing to get up and leave your family for two weeks like Natacha just did. I find I am still at a place with Pablo that I can’t leave him over night – but i will start to soon. Its a bit crazy dragging your family everywhere, but in some ways it makes it easier. I can just relax and work instead of thinking that all I want to do is go home and see how pablo is. Matt and Pablo are still enjoying it. When we all find it too difficult – it will stop.
I have written up todays talk, but I am trying to keep it short – and mostly concentrate on the process of our residency here at Lighthouse. There are lots of pics in this presentation, more like a big scrap book. I have tried to keep pretty aware of documenting the process of this residency. Just so when I have more time, I can go back and reflect on what worked , what didn’t, what took the most time, what was easy, what were we talking about, what were we thinking about? It really informs my practice. This residency was 2 weeks, but the amount of work that was pushed through was much more.
Its been a pretty intense time but really wonderful as well. The basement of Lighthouse has become a big contagion soup. Many ideas, emotions floating about infecting each other to a video soundtrack of people emoting. It been dark in here, while sunny outside. The screens are running heaps of electricity through them making it all more intense. Its been hard and also fun for everyone. But we all tired now… Natacha heads back to Paris in the morning – 6am from stansted.. not fun.. she heads back to her family… michael is going to deal with the pack up of Pixy. My husband Matthew is packing up the house we have been staying at (thankyou david and rachael!), getting my son pablo few toys, cots, and all together. And then later tonight we will head up to London.
Its been fantastic to have Jane McGrath in – I think she has found the time valuable. Karl was great – great insight, great chats.
I am sure we will all be glad when we start packing up tonight.
I am trying to structure todays talk so we can concentrate on discussion – 40 minutes talk or less – 30 minutes discussion. Phil fro Lighthouse is going to video tape it. I wish I had some automatic transcriber.