Jonah Brucker-Cohen
Since the beginning
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

PORTFOLIO (3)
BIO
Jonah Brucker-Cohen is a researcher, artist, and writer. He received his Ph.D. in the Disruptive Design Team of the Networking and Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG), Trinity College Dublin. He is an adjunct assistant professor of communications in the Media, Culture, Communication dept of NYU Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development and has also taught at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). From 2001-2004 he was a Research Fellow in the Human Connectedness Group at Media Lab Europe and from 2006-2007 he was an R&D OpenLab Fellow at Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in New York City. He received his Masters from ITP in 1999 and was an Interval Research Fellow from 1999-2001. His work and thesis focuses on the theme of “Deconstructing Networks” which includes projects that critically challenge and subvert accepted perceptions of network interaction and experience. He is co-founder of the Dublin Art and Technology Association (DATA Group) and a recipient of the ARANEUM Prize sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Art, Science and Technology and Fundacion ARCO. His writing has appeared in numerous international publications including WIRED Magazine, Make Magazine, Neural, Rhizome.org, Art Asia Pacific, Gizmodo and more, and his work has been presented at events and organizations such as DEAF (03,04), Art Futura (04), SIGGRAPH (00,05), UBICOMP (02,03,04), CHI (04,06) Transmediale (02,04,08), NIME (07), ISEA (02,04,06,09), Institute of Contemporary Art in London (04), Tate Modern (03), Whitney Museum of American Art’s ArtPort (03), Ars Electronica (02,04,08), Chelsea Art Museum, ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art (04-5),Museum of Modern Art (MOMA - NYC)(2008), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) (2008).

Locative Media Revisited


 

Molly Dilworth, 547 West 27th Street (2009). From the series "Paintings for Satellites."

In the early 2000s, as location-aware devices first became commonplace, there was a lot of hype surrounding their potential creative use by artists. However, over time, this initial enthusiasm for "locative media"--projects that respond to data or communications technologies that refer to particular sites--leveled off, even dissipated. Regardless of this drought, geospatial technologies are widely used, and play an important and often unnoticed role in conditioning many aspects of our existence. Responding to this condition of ubiquity, artists have continued to use locative technologies critically, opening up closed systems, making their effects visible, and reconfiguring our relationship with such systems.  


Welcome to Your New NSA Partner Network: Report from Transmediale 2014


We're running our annual community campaign through March 19. Give today!

Photo: Andreas Nicolas Fischer.

A kind of cold weather antipode of summer's "Love Parade," the Transmediale 2014 media arts festival was a beacon of light in the long dusk of a Berlin winter. As a twist on the usual curated exhibition, this year's festival opted for an ad-hoc "Art Hack Day" (AHD) approach, where submitting artists were expected to create new and original artworks in the span of two days (and nights). Opening the exhibition with a more down-to-earth feel, AHD ultimately resembled a DIY, garage-style party instead of a highbrow exhibition space.


Art In Your Pocket 3: Sensor Driven iPad and iPhone Art Apps


 PXL, Rainer Kohlberger, 2012

As the iPhone just celebrated its fifth year on the market, artists have already made a substantial dent in the commercially lucrative world of Apple’s AppStore. Despite this success, artists are still pushing forward to build apps that further integrate with the device’s sensors and location-based capabilities. Rather than working solely within the context of software art as I have covered in two previous articles on the subject for Rhizome, there is a focus now on artists who are interacting with the physical world by using the device’s internal sensors, location capabilities, constant Internet connectivity, and built-in cameras.


 

“Konfetti”, Stephan Maximillian Huber, 2012

 

Using the camera as a sensor, “Konfetti” by German based designer Stephan Maximillian Huber visualizes the image of its subject into countless dots. In effect, the camera image is translated into virtual confetti that follows any movement and creates an ever changing images based on which camera is selected. The dot’s movement is correlated to the detected flow captured by the camera and by repelling other dots, which also move as you touch and drag them. Huber explains over email how the app works as a reflection based art tool. “The app started as an iPad-only app, and on an iPad the app acts like a mirror, showing an abstract reflection of yourself. You'll get a clear image of yourself only when you concentrate on the process of the app, and don't move too fast. It's like contemplating about yourself and the image of yourself. And as your thoughts and emotions aren't static the image the app generates is dynamic and adapts to minimal movements and new ...

 


Art in Your Pocket 2


In the summer of 2009, I wrote an article here at Rhizome about the burgeoning activities of media artists creating new works or updating versions of their older interactive screen-based projects for Apple's iPhone and iTouch mobile devices. As the article made its way throughout the blogosphere, comments surfaced ranging from criticism of the "closed world of Apple's App Store and iPhone devices" to a championing of the availability of inexpensive multi-touch technology now available to artists who had been waiting for a platform that could adequately display and allow for the type of interaction their projects demanded. A year after the article came out, the draw of these devices and their potentially expansive audience has become even more irresistible to artists enough so that several more "apps" have surfaced. The following article catalogs several new iPhone works which have emerged over the past year, works that are pioneering the next generation of portable media art.


Top 5 - 10


129038558633520150.jpg
Image from There I Fixed It

Jonah Brucker-Cohen is a researcher, artist, professor and writer. His writing has appeared in numerous international publications including WIRED Magazine, Make Magazine, Neural, Rhizome, Art Asia Pacific, Gizmodo and more, and his work has been shown at events such as DEAF (03,04), Art Futura (04), SIGGRAPH (00,05), UBICOMP (02,03,04), CHI (04,06) Transmediale (02,04,08), NIME (07), ISEA (02,04,06,09), Institute of Contemporary Art in London (04), Whitney Museum of American Art's ArtPort (03), Ars Electronica (02,04,08), Chelsea Art Museum, ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art (04-5),Museum of Modern Art (MOMA - NYC)(2008), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) (2008). He received his Ph.D. in the Disruptive Design Team of the Networking and Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG), Trinity College Dublin. He is an adjunct assistant professor of communications at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and in the Media, Culture, Communication dept of NYU Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development.



2009 was an important year for the Internet as a whole. The advent of web 2.0 and "crowdsourcing" initiatives has enabled a much richer array of content from users who might never have ventured onto the Internet in previous years. My top 10 sites for this year cover a wide range of topics from art made for mobile devices with iPhoneArt.org to evidence of both information saturation with Information Aesthetics and physical and pseudo intellectual abundance with This is Why You're Fat and There I Fixed It, to strange observances of mistakes in the public realm with Fail Blog. In addition to these crowdsourced content sites, I also see some ongoing potential with artist-created sites such as Brett Domino's lowtech approach to music making ...

READ ON »



Discussions (40) Opportunities (1) Events (2) Jobs (0)
DISCUSSION

Interview with Brody Condon


I'm resending the interview since I sent stylized text out by
mistake in my orginial post.. sorry for people who got this twice.
jbc

--------------

Interview with Brody Condon
By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah@coin-operated.com)

Introduction
If life were a game, LA based artist, Brody Condon, would probably be
its designer. From recreating the political mess of the FBI's assault
on David Koresh's Branch Davidian Complex with his C-Level
collaboration, "Waco: Resurrection", to emphasizing the violence
quotient of mainstream video games with "Adam Killer", Condon's work
is both a reflection on the history of gaming and a cautionary
realization of its future. His presence in next year's Whitney
Biennial, "Velvet Strike", (created with fellow artists Anne-Marie
Schliener and Joane Leandre), is a slap in the face to the hard-core
gaming community. The online multi-player shooter subverts the death
and destruction of "Counter-Strike", by allowing players to plaster
graphics of peace symbols and anti-war slogans on the 3D walls. This
year, one of Condon's students designed a game called "9-11
Survivor", a third person's victim's perspective of the tragic event
that was eventually pulled offline for obvious reasons. If the future
of gaming combines virtual and physical space with themes based on
actual events, Condon might be leading the revolution. His work is a
poignant, although sometimes upsetting vision of the merging of
interactive entertainment, international media, and personal life
experiences. What follows is an interview I conducted with Condon
about his motives as an artist, academic, game designer, and pop
culture enthusiast.

Your Name: Brody Condon
Age: 29
Occupation/Affiliation: variable
Education: MFA University of California at San Diego
URL: http://www.tmpspace.com/

JBC: What do you love about games? What do you hate about them?

BC: I don't play games as much as I used to. I tend to be more
interested in the elements that surround games and game culture. To
some extent, most of the screen based games I consumed in the past,
and continue to consume now, are forgettable. I suppose I am bitter
about all the lost years of screen time. I could have been
accomplishing something at least pseudo-productive. On a more
positive note, I still love the pure aesthetic joy of watching the
progression from one graphics generation to another. Forming a
intuitive relationship with those images, and now having the ability
to crack them open, rearrange, and play with those aesthetics and
structures at this point through emulators, PC game modding, and
console hacking, etc. is a blessing.

JBC: Are you satisfied with the state of games today? What would you
change or leave the same?

BC: As happy as I am with movement of games and game culture into the
mainstream, I somehow yearn for the days when being "the kid who
could beat ANY game," was not exactly a badge of honor. It took a
certain sense of fortitude to persist in your gaming hobby. It was
dangerous to walk around your neighborhood on a weekend with a couple
cartridges and an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons First Edition
Player's Handbook under your arm. Little did the guy who came at me
on the sidewalk know that D&D books could be used as weapons.
Especially if stacked properly in a thin duffel bag and swung by the
handles, they can become a sort of make-shift bludgeoning weapon.
Years later I found out that guy had a father that committed suicide,
then he broke his leg and dropped out of school at some point.
Eventually after a party he wandered out to the highway and threw
himself into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer. I'm not kidding.

JBC: Your work seems to be about emphasizing cliches found in games,
especially the death scene in "Adam Killer". What is important about
this topic and what has this approach taught you?

BC: I am interested in these cliched game play structures as a
material. Whether it is a kid making images of his domestic
environment juxtaposed with the trademark FPS hand and gun at the
bottom of the image, or the concept of the "re-spawn", which contains
interesting links to reincarnation and resurrection. Again, these
cliches are also great cultural indicators. They represent and at the
same time repetitively inform the emotions and psychology of the
player. What does the empty shell of the character mesh, which has an
interior constructed of "gibs", or small gut-like portions, that
explode and replace the body mesh inform us about our current
relationship with death and the interior of the body? Given the long
history of representation of the body, I find this contemporary shift
in those representations and the material they are created with a
great site to dig for content. At the same time, it's a desperate
attempt to work out the box that the consumption of those images have
placed me in.

JBC: You also seem to focus on aggregating the connection between
real life events and how these could or might be played out in gaming
environments. Do you see game spaces as a logical extension of
physical spaces or an antithesis? How do real events affect gaming
and vice versa?

BC: Game spaces may be no more antithetical to, or extensions of,
actual spaces than the perspective translation of 3-dimensional
natural phenomena onto 2-dimensional surfaces in the 15th century.
The tools have just been updated. A Cartesian grid with simulated
perspective is the first thing I see when I open up my 3D modeling
program. The crossover between level and environment design in games,
and traditional architectural practice is obviously growing due the
success of game environments that mimic reality. Scenarios like The
Getaway, and True Crime Streets of LA are GTA3 knockoffs that take
place in simulations London and LA are great examples. This
simulation of a city's architecture and urban planning has the
ability to alter the perception of the city to those that live in and
outside the city, possibly as much as the actual physical site. What
also interests me are the subtle differences in the game version, the
easy rearrangement of structures and streets to fit game play
scenarios. On the other hand, I feel like architecture has taken
these environments too lightly. Especially fantasy environments are
discarded as only an aesthetic surface, and not as inspiration for
new structures and patterns of movement through them. Imagine
constructed spaces inspired by the idea of going downtown to your
bank, jumping from platform to platform, to reach your ATM located in
a floating Necropolis of the Undead Scourge from Warcraft III.

JBC: Is there anything a game can't emulate? What are the main
problems in games today? What are they missing and what are they
failing at?

BC: There are a horde of problems. I suppose targeting problematic
issues in gaming depends on what angle you are concerned with,
cultural implications, business strategies, game dev education, etc.
However, the core problem is not located within games, it is the lack
of any substantial media literacy dialogue within the public school
education system in the states. Not to mention the current
information bubble that surrounds us here like an invisible shield.

JBC: Are people who play games (such as hardcore gamers) interested
in your work? Who plays your games and how are they affected?

BC: [My] work has been labeled "Gayer than actual gay people." by the
online gaming community. In this case it was specifically about the
work "Velvet-Strike" that I contributed to. We (Anne-Marie Schliener
and Joane Leandre) also received near death threats and other fun
comments such as:

----- Original Message -----
>>Subject: Velvet-Strike... POINTLESS!
>>
>>Hi,
>>I wanted to say I don't support YOUR stupid little brigade to create
>>peace and love and shit like that, face it its just POINTLESS BULLSHIT!
>>If you think that you can actually stop hate, then you're just a fucking
>>moron, it's like trying to say that the DEA will actually stop drug
>>trafficking. Those two things will never be stopped. Human nature is to
>>hate the enemy. And another thing don't flood are fucking games with this
>>"LOVEY DOVEY BULLSHIT!" I almost hate you people more than my enemies. So
>>one last thing, If you and your queer little hippy friends don't like
>>America, then FUCKING LEAVE! GO FUCK UP CANADA OR SOMETHING!!!
>> - Sincerely, your worst enemy
--------------------------------

Otherwise, I think any direct and positive relationship with the
actual game development community has been fairly non-existent, and
mostly relegated to the traditional and media art circuit. However,
now that we have made the jump from modifying and hacking existing
games to using middleware game engines, there is more industry
crossover in a playable piece I recently worked on like Waco:
Resurrection ( www.waco.c-level.cc ). However, I should say I've ran
into developers and gamers that love the work. It is really such a
broad range of individuals that make up the industry and consumer
base. Either way, a vernacular dialogue has been started on the
ground. Debates are flowing in the game community blogs and forums,
at game industry conferences, and among the general public concerning
the relationship of games to culture, and the alternative
possibilities for game development outside of escapist fantasy
narratives and sports simulations.

JBC: Do you think there is a connection between reality TV and gaming?

BC: Hard to say, I have never watched a reality TV show from start to
finish. Living in LA, you can sort of throw a stick and find someone
who knows about these things, so I just went outside and asked my
landlord this question. Him and his wife were contestants on that
early reality show, The Amazing Race. He never played games, so we
were stuck on this one. However, he did say that the show broke up
his marriage, and that those shows are fixed.

JBC: What is your opinion on pervasive gaming? Do you think it's a
genre that could succeed and become mainstream like PC, Massively
multi-Player Online Games (MMOG), and console games? (When I say
"pervasive gaming", I am referring to projects like Blast Theory's
"Can You See Me Now?" and It's Alive's "BotFighters". Games that mix
digital and real spaces.)

BC: I'm not in the business of prophesizing successful tech, but I
checked out Blast Theory's website, and they seem to be having a good
time running around in those cool workout-suits with all that nifty
PDA gear on them. I'm all for it. As far as the cell phone
"pervasive" gaming is concerned, there is such a different
relationship with cell phone technology there (UK). I can't imagine
how that would go over with a consumer in the US. A car ran over my
cell phone and it gives me a headache whenever I use it. I recently
spent some time at a SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event
where hundreds of people gathered in the desert for a week of heavily
immersive medieval reenactment. True "pervasive" gaming, at these
events there are regular battles of hundreds of individuals in
homemade armor beating the hell out of each other with sticks in
regimented battles. There are bridge battles, castle sieges, etc. The
most interesting intersection with screen-based gaming is their
incorporation of "Capture the Flag", and "Resurrection" game play
structures.

DISCUSSION

Interview with Brody Condon


Interview with Brody Condon
By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah@coin-operated.com)

Introduction
If life were a game, LA based artist, Brody
Condon, would probably be its designer. From
recreating the political mess of the FBI's
assault on David Koresh's Branch Davidian Complex
with his C-Level collaboration, "Waco:
Resurrection", to emphasizing the violence
quotient of mainstream video games with "Adam
Killer", Condon's work is both a reflection on
the history of gaming and a cautionary
realization of its future. His presence in next
year's Whitney Biennial, "Velvet Strike",
(created with fellow artists Anne-Marie Schliener
and Joane Leandre), is a slap in the face to the
hard-core gaming community. The online
multi-player shooter subverts the death and
destruction of "Counter-Strike", by allowing
players to plaster graphics of peace symbols and
anti-war slogans on the 3D walls. This year, one
of Condon's students designed a game called "9-11
Survivor", a third person's victim's perspective
of the tragic event that was eventually pulled
offline for obvious reasons. If the future of
gaming combines virtual and physical space with
themes based on actual events, Condon might be
leading the revolution. His work is a poignant,
although sometimes upsetting vision of the
merging of interactive entertainment,
international media, and personal life
experiences. What follows is an interview I
conducted with Condon about his motives as an
artist, academic, game designer, and pop culture
enthusiast.

Your Name: Brody Condon
Age: 29
Occupation/Affiliation: variable
Education: MFA University of California at San Diego
URL: http://www.tmpspace.com/

JBC: What do you love about games? What do you hate about them?

BC: I don't play games as much as I used to. I
tend to be more interested in the elements that
surround games and game culture. To some extent,
most of the screen based games I consumed in the
past, and continue to consume now, are
forgettable. I suppose I am bitter about all the
lost years of screen time. I could have been
accomplishing something at least
pseudo-productive. On a more positive note, I
still love the pure aesthetic joy of watching the
progression from one graphics generation to
another. Forming a intuitive relationship with
those images, and now having the ability to crack
them open, rearrange, and play with those
aesthetics and structures at this point through
emulators, PC game modding, and console hacking,
etc. is a blessing.

JBC: Are you satisfied with the state of games
today? What would you change or leave the same?

BC: As happy as I am with movement of games and
game culture into the mainstream, I somehow yearn
for the days when being "the kid who could beat
ANY game," was not exactly a badge of honor. It
took a certain sense of fortitude to persist in
your gaming hobby. It was dangerous to walk
around your neighborhood on a weekend with a
couple cartridges and an Advanced Dungeons and
Dragons First Edition Player's Handbook under
your arm. Little did the guy who came at me on
the sidewalk know that D&D books could be used as
weapons. Especially if stacked properly in a thin
duffel bag and swung by the handles, they can
become a sort of make-shift bludgeoning weapon.
Years later I found out that guy had a father
that committed suicide, then he broke his leg and
dropped out of school at some point. Eventually
after a party he wandered out to the highway and
threw himself into the path of an oncoming
tractor-trailer. I'm not kidding.

JBC: Your work seems to be about emphasizing
cliches found in games, especially the death
scene in "Adam Killer". What is important about
this topic and what has this approach taught you?

BC: I am interested in these cliched game play
structures as a material. Whether it is a kid
making images of his domestic environment
juxtaposed with the trademark FPS hand and gun at
the bottom of the image, or the concept of the
"re-spawn", which contains interesting links to
reincarnation and resurrection. Again, these
cliches are also great cultural indicators. They
represent and at the same time repetitively
inform the emotions and psychology of the player.
What does the empty shell of the character mesh,
which has an interior constructed of "gibs", or
small gut-like portions, that explode and replace
the body mesh inform us about our current
relationship with death and the interior of the
body? Given the long history of representation of
the body, I find this contemporary shift in those
representations and the material they are created
with a great site to dig for content. At the same
time, it's a desperate attempt to work out the
box that the consumption of those images have
placed me in.

JBC: You also seem to focus on aggregating the
connection between real life events and how these
could or might be played out in gaming
environments. Do you see game spaces as a logical
extension of physical spaces or an antithesis?
How do real events affect gaming and vice versa?

BC: Game spaces may be no more antithetical to,
or extensions of, actual spaces than the
perspective translation of 3-dimensional natural
phenomena onto 2-dimensional surfaces in the 15th
century. The tools have just been updated. A
Cartesian grid with simulated perspective is the
first thing I see when I open up my 3D modeling
program. The crossover between level and
environment design in games, and traditional
architectural practice is obviously growing due
the success of game environments that mimic
reality. Scenarios like The Getaway, and True
Crime Streets of LA are GTA3 knockoffs that take
place in simulations London and LA are great
examples. This simulation of a city's
architecture and urban planning has the ability
to alter the perception of the city to those that
live in and outside the city, possibly as much as
the actual physical site. What also interests me
are the subtle differences in the game version,
the easy rearrangement of structures and streets
to fit game play scenarios. On the other hand, I
feel like architecture has taken these
environments too lightly. Especially fantasy
environments are discarded as only an aesthetic
surface, and not as inspiration for new
structures and patterns of movement through them.
Imagine constructed spaces inspired by the idea
of going downtown to your bank, jumping from
platform to platform, to reach your ATM located
in a floating Necropolis of the Undead Scourge
from Warcraft III.

JBC: Is there anything a game can't emulate?
What are the main problems in games today? What
are they missing and what are they failing at?

BC: There are a horde of problems. I suppose
targeting problematic issues in gaming depends on
what angle you are concerned with, cultural
implications, business strategies, game dev
education, etc. However, the core problem is not
located within games, it is the lack of any
substantial media literacy dialogue within the
public school education system in the states. Not
to mention the current information bubble that
surrounds us here like an invisible shield.

JBC: Are people who play games (such as hardcore
gamers) interested in your work? Who plays your
games and how are they affected?

BC: [My] work has been labeled "Gayer than actual
gay people." by the online gaming community. In
this case it was specifically about the work
"Velvet-Strike" that I contributed to. We
(Anne-Marie Schliener and Joane Leandre) also
received near death threats and other fun
comments such as:

----- Original Message -----
>>Subject: Velvet-Strike... POINTLESS!
>>
>>Hi,
>>I wanted to say I don't support YOUR stupid little brigade to create
>>peace and love and shit like that, face it its just POINTLESS BULLSHIT!
>>If you think that you can actually stop hate, then you're just a fucking
>>moron, it's like trying to say that the DEA will actually stop drug
>>trafficking. Those two things will never be stopped. Human nature is to
>>hate the enemy. And another thing don't flood are fucking games with this
>>"LOVEY DOVEY BULLSHIT!" I almost hate you people more than my enemies. So
>>one last thing, If you and your queer little hippy friends don't like
>>America, then FUCKING LEAVE! GO FUCK UP CANADA OR SOMETHING!!!
>> - Sincerely, your worst enemy
--------------------------------

Otherwise, I think any direct and positive
relationship with the actual game development
community has been fairly non-existent, and
mostly relegated to the traditional and media art
circuit. However, now that we have made the jump
from modifying and hacking existing games to
using middleware game engines, there is more
industry crossover in a playable piece I recently
worked on like Waco: Resurrection (
www.waco.c-level.cc ). However, I should say I've
ran into developers and gamers that love the
work. It is really such a broad range of
individuals that make up the industry and
consumer base. Either way, a vernacular dialogue
has been started on the ground. Debates are
flowing in the game community blogs and forums,
at game industry conferences, and among the
general public concerning the relationship of
games to culture, and the alternative
possibilities for game development outside of
escapist fantasy narratives and sports
simulations.

JBC: Do you think there is a connection between reality TV and gaming?

BC: Hard to say, I have never watched a reality
TV show from start to finish. Living in LA, you
can sort of throw a stick and find someone who
knows about these things, so I just went outside
and asked my landlord this question. Him and his
wife were contestants on that early reality show,
The Amazing Race. He never played games, so we
were stuck on this one. However, he did say that
the show broke up his marriage, and that those
shows are fixed.

JBC: What is your opinion on pervasive gaming? Do
you think it's a genre that could succeed and
become mainstream like PC, Massively multi-Player
Online Games (MMOG), and console games? (When I
say "pervasive gaming", I am referring to
projects like Blast Theory's "Can You See Me
Now?" and It's Alive's "BotFighters". Games that
mix digital and real spaces.)

BC: I'm not in the business of prophesizing
successful tech, but I checked out Blast Theory's
website, and they seem to be having a good time
running around in those cool workout-suits with
all that nifty PDA gear on them. I'm all for it.
As far as the cell phone "pervasive" gaming is
concerned, there is such a different relationship
with cell phone technology there (UK). I can't
imagine how that would go over with a consumer in
the US. A car ran over my cell phone and it gives
me a headache whenever I use it. I recently
spent some time at a SCA (Society for Creative
Anachronism) event where hundreds of people
gathered in the desert for a week of heavily
immersive medieval reenactment. True "pervasive"
gaming, at these events there are regular battles
of hundreds of individuals in homemade armor
beating the hell out of each other with sticks in
regimented battles. There are bridge battles,
castle sieges, etc. The most interesting
intersection with screen-based gaming is their
incorporation of "Capture the Flag", and
"Resurrection" game play structures.

DISCUSSION

Interview with Angie Waller


Interview with Angie Waller
By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah@coin-operated.com)

Introduction
A few months ago, I wrote a Net Art News for Rhizome about LA based
artist Angie Waller's project: "Data Mining the Amazon". The project
(released as a book available from Waller's website) catalogs and
graphs relationships between books customers bought on Amazon.com and
music CDs purchased by users with similar tastes. Waller's approach
adds a political slant by profiling relationships between liberal and
conservative titles, popular books among the US military, and
profiles on world leaders such as George W. Bush and Margaret
Thatcher. Her aim is to repurpose a supposedly helpful customer
service into a window of collective reflection on popular culture and
values. The project also asks how media and commercial trends
disseminate into public opinion through both national and global
outlets like Amazon.com. My main interest in Waller's work comes from
the focus on subverting networks from one purpose to another by using
existing information to draw new types of correlations and reactions.
Below is an interview I conducted with Waller about the project and
her motivation as an artist, avid consumer, and data cartographer.

Name: Angie Waller
Age: 27
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation / Title(s): Artist
URL: http://www.couchprojects.com

JBC: How did you start the "Data Mining the Amazon" project? What was
the impetus?

AW: I started data mining Amazon.com as a loyal customer. I am a
sucker for e-shopping and I never checkout with only one item. As a
frequent shopper, I started to develop a very specialized home page
on the site. I became more and more interested in the movies and CDs
recommended to me based on my purchase history of art theory and
computer programming books. One day a friend and I were talking
about some band she had never heard of and I described them by saying
"if you like band x and band y you might like band z." She knew
instantly what I was referring to, and I realized that Amazon.com had
become a huge influence on my vocabulary.

JBC: Your work seems to pick out cultural memes and play around with
them. Is this intentional or do you see it fitting into a larger
exploration? If so, what?

AW: I think the next morning I woke up with the idea to hit the
political memes. Aesthetics and culture used to be of high importance
in the political sphere, but these days we are being led by
philistines. As an artist, I have a problem with that. Exploring
Amazon became an easy way to relieve some of the tension.

Popular culture such as movies and CDs are the strongest cultural
arena and I was excited to find associations between pop culture and
books that described a specific political ideology. Although we all
consume a lot of the same popular culture it is also a way to
describe our aesthetic tastes. It is a bit of a teenager mentality
when looking over your friend's CD collection. But there is still
some truth in what type of person listens to what types of things.

JBC: The political angle of the piece is really striking since most
people would probably overlook these connections. Why did you focus
on political icons vs. any other types of relationships?

AW: After the last election between Bush and Gore, it seemed like the
party lines were fading together. The Bush and Gore debate became
more about their personalities and presentation. During that
climate, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start
pin-pointing the differences between democrats and republicans based
on the types of music they listen to. I am sure the Amazon database
it not the most diverse sampling, but it couldn't be inferior to the
election polls we are already accustomed to.

JBC: What was surprising or unexpected about the results you found?

AW: At first I had a few surprises. I was surprised that books about
military battles and corporate takeovers pointed to the soothing CDs
of Enya and Sarah Brightman. But, on second thought, it was not so
unusual. I also enjoyed the eerie specificity with some of the
bigger figures like Hitler and Mao Tse Tung.

JBC: Did you find that people who saw your correlations were
surprised by the connections? If so why?

AW: A lot of people use the charts to see if they fit one profile or
the other which can be entertaining. A lot of people look for truth
in the information and are defensive when they see what music they
are "supposed" to like. Then the charts become about profiling and
how none of us really make a perfect fit even though companies place
a lot of importance on this information.

I have taken a passive attitude towards companies profiling me.
Sometimes I buy things because they were recommended to me.
Sometimes I fantasize that the schizophrenic profile I created is
triggering a flashing red light at some corporate headquarters
causing a database shutdown and an internal investigation. I
probably suffer a little paranoia.

JBC: Why should people be interested in your findings?

AW: People should be interested in my book because we would all love
to know what George W. has in his CD collection. It creates the
opportunity for consumers to profile leaders in a similar way we are
profiled as voters.

JBC: I know this is an older piece, but what (if any) future
directions could this work take?

AW: Maybe companies like Amazon will have more fun with the free
associations that their database provides. I see an excellent dating
service on their horizon. On a grander scale, maybe our current
administration will make their tastes public knowledge. I would love
to know what they are reading, listening to, watching and if there
are any artists they like.

Personally, I am only visiting Amazon to shop these days. My art
work has a tendency to use tools against their original intentions in
search of greater things. I am sure another database project is on
the distant horizon. The book will be different things over time. It
is my first publication and I like that it will not be outmoded by
technological progress. I am certain it will always be interesting
to look at, it gives an unmediated look at the political climate of
2001-2002 with a popular music twist.

--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jonah Brucker-Cohen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
http://www.simpletext.info - performance in UK - Nov 27-29!
http://www.coin-operated.com/blog
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

DISCUSSION

SimpleTEXT: a mobile-phone enabled performance


Hopefully people in the UK can make it out to this!
Jonah

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
SimpleTEXT
*a mobile phone-enabled performance*

URL: http://www.simpletext.info

About:
SimpleTEXT is a collaborative audio/visual public performance that
relies on audience participation through input from their mobile
phones. The project focuses on connecting people in shared spaces by
attempting to merge distributed devices with creative and
collaborative experience. SimpleTEXT focuses on dynamic input from
participants as essential to the overall output. The result is a
public, shared performance where audience members interact by sending
SMS, voice, or through a web-based text input to a central server
from their input devices.

These messages are then dynamically mixed, cut, parsed, and spliced
to influence and change the visual and audio output. These
communications are also run through a speech synthesizer and a
picture synthesizer. The incoming images and text are dynamically
mixed according to specified rule sets such as pixel values, length
of text, specified keywords, and inherent meanings.

Live Events:
BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art
Gateshead, UK
November 27th, 2003, 7pm

Limehouse Town Hall
London, UK
November 29th, 2003, 7pm

City Arts Centre
@ DATA:EVENT:15
Dublin, Ireland
TBA
Time: 7 pm (GMT)
Price: Free

*All live events are Free*

Support/Sponsors:
SimpleTEXT is a collaboration between Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Tim
Redfern. It is commissioned, sponsored and funded by Low-Fi, a new
media arts organization and collective based in London, UK.

URLS:
Low-Fi http://www.low-fi.org.uk/
Jonah Brucker-Cohen - http://www.coin-operated.com/projects
Tim Redfern - http://www.forwind.net/pixelcorps

DISCUSSION

Report from E-culture Fair 2003


Report from E-Culture Fair
http://www.eculturefair.nl
October 23-24, 2003
Paradiso, DeBalie, Melkweg
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

By Jonah Brucker-Cohen (jonah@coin-operated.com)

Although adding the letter "e" to words like
"culture" might seem a bit too 90s, the 2nd
E-Culture Fair (first was in 2000) lived up to
its name as a comprehensive showcase of over 50
projects, experiences, and performances that
combined the virtual and physical. The fair,
which took place in Amsterdam, was spread over
several venues into three distinct categories
including "My-Mode" (wearable technology and
fashion), "Mobile Home" (networks at home and
dispersed in urban settings), and "Toys4Us"
(gaming and playful interfaces). This fair's
theme centered on "Research and Development" in
new media and took a hands-on approach to showing
work with an eclectic mixture of live demos and
events. Despite the potential brain overload, I
managed to tour most of the venues and even sit
in on several project presentations.

Walking into the newly renovated Paradiso
theatre, My-Mode resembled a hybrid fashion show
turned trade fair. The setup consisted of a wide
range of fashion tech hybrids that emphasized the
integration of technology on the body in
everything from fabric design to reactive
clothing. Taking a playful approach to adverse
weather conditions was Elise Co's "Puddle
Jumper", a raincoat with electro-luminescent
panels that lit up when water fell on the coat.
Also on display was International Fashion
Machines' "Electric Plaid", a panel of interwoven
conductive thread and silk-screened thermochromic
inks that slowly changed colors when electricity
was applied to the thread. This demoed solid
technological know-how, but less interesting
implementation other than some sewn light
switches and pretty wall mounts. On the more
practical side was "Inside/Outside", a series of
networked handbags that measure localized
pollution (smoke, audio, exhaust, etcS) and
connect to each other over an ad-hoc (or
spontaneous) network to exchange data and
aggregate a diary of exposure levels over time.
Focusing on biometric feedback was Sompit Moi
Fusakul's "Interactive Ornaments: Emotions in
Motions" which measured the wearer's heart rate
and transposed this result on kinetic and
illuminated jewelry. Also included was Jenny
Tillotson's "Smart Second Skin", a dress that
emits odors depending on biometric feedback from
the wearer. I got really close and out came a
Whiskey smell which means that either I remind
people of drinking or the day was getting too
long.

Despite the wide array of perspectives presented
in MyMode, there seems to be a continual emphasis
on cause and effect relationships with wearable
technology. Something happens in the environment,
space or activity the wearer is engaged and the
clothing or device acts as a display or
highlights these actions. The next step might be
to look at reciprocal relationships between the
object and the wearer where each plays a crucial
role in each other's development and output over
time. Is it possible to create objects and
clothing that are not only aware of their
inhabitants, but also of each other?

Spread over DeBalie and Melkweg venues, the
"Mobile Home" theme displayed projects that
featured fixed technologies for interacting in
both public and private space. Victor Vina and
Hector Serrano's "NetObjects", were a quirky
collection of networked household objects
including an umbrella that relays weather reports
and a koo-koo clock that displays headlines from
rightist and leftist newspapers. Another
experiment in connected familiar spaces, the
"Remote Home" featured networked furniture in
each building, where sitting on a couch would
trigger a linked couch to boot off the person
sitting in the other space. Despite the playful
interplay with the furniture, questions arose as
to the importance of transposing identity as well
as presence across distance? If you are unsure
that the ambient display is outputting the
movements of your significant other, does that
cause more anxiety than reassurance?

Escaping the confines of indoor space,
wireless-based projects seemed to pervade the
fair.
Delivering mobile wireless hotspots was Shu Lea
Chang's "RICHAIR", featuring three wired up
roller skate girls carrying mobile 802.11b
repeaters and mini-computers with embedded
webcams for relaying network connections and
images across town. There was also an emphasis on
the social impact of technology through Doors
East's "Mapping Mobile Phone Usage Among Auto
Rickshaw Drivers", a project examining the
changes mobile technology has had in Bangalore,
India for taxi drivers. The main implementation
would be to create a mobile phone booth by
integrating a pay system into cell phones
integrated into the rickshaws. Finally, Marc
Tuters' "Geograffiti" project envisions a future
of collaborative cartography based on localized
information exchange where public 'digital' space
is annotated with graffiti.

Moving onto the playful side of technology, the
"Toys4Us" exhibit looked at everything from
collaborative DJ scratching and virtual puppetry
to public installations of shared stories. Marcus
Kirsch's "Rashomon" pit video capture with Street
Fighter gaming where visitors' kicking and
punching moves were captured and imported as game
characters into a two-player fighting match. Also
integrating public input was Merel Mirage's
"Holy", a networked vending machine with an
embedded LCD screen that allowed visitors to
www.holy.nl to author animations and send them to
the display. Also STEIM showed up with some
impressive MIDI instruments and sound experiences
including a pair of headphones with tilt sensors
that sped up beats-per-minute on the audio
depending on how fast you shook your head.

After two full days of demos and talks, questions
arose as to the cyclical nature of information
and interface design. On one hand there is a
trend to build interfaces that encourage social
interaction, but there's also a tendency to
create experiences that discourage chance
occurrences by highlighting personal experience.
There should be a way to balance experiential
design so that it not only allows for
collaboration but also maintains an ambient
presence that blends seamlessly into everyday
activity. This was evident in some of the
projects at the fair, but most had trouble
escaping their categorization. Nevertheless,
events like the E-Culture Fair are great for
encouraging cross-pollination of research and
practice along with showcasing the current state
of the field. By emphasizing interactivity and
the participatory nature of projects, the event
had a distinct science fair-like atmosphere. This
approach succeeded in presenting not only the
latest gadgets and whimsical interfaces to come,
but also the experience of participating in this
landscape.

-Jonah Brucker-Cohen