The Snark Dance

collaborative choreographies of collective memory

The Editing Ritual May 11, 2008

Filed under: processing — danceswithsnarks @ 12:19 pm

Here I will discuss my experimentation with the editing of the kinetic seance. This was done by setting myself constraints that were then overlapped as more rules were set. I set certain rules for image only, sound only, and the sound and image together. I worked in Avid which allowed for me to see clips as geometric shapes so that the time line actually looked like a cubist painting by the end of it.

My first rule was to set down certain scenes and split them between 20 second intervals at various points along the time line. I then looked for motifs in image which were spinning, roses, and tombstones. Spinning was set after every first second of each minute, Rose images started at every 41st second of each minute ad tombstones within 20 second intervals. For sound I had footsteps playing throughout at 20 second intervals intermitten with the recording of a dog running past. Also I used the music someone began to play about one minute into the film. the sound of paper crunching was played every minute. The 14=8 discussion was split into sentences and played at .08, 1:14, 2:08, 4:14, and 4:08.

I was very surprised at the footage people left me. Some were very art therapy and serious while others were very cheeky and funny. My friends oli and Adam were actually spying on us and pretending to be lost in the cemetery and the project. These 2 also started playing with the idea that 14=8 and how they might walk if that were the case. I decided to use all of the counting and numbers as a way to frame the entire film which is why I used this conversation as the last layer so it actually becomes one of the most clear. I had to manipulte sound levels where noise came from too much sound traffic. Otherwise I left things to the fate of the constraints I set. All in all the process was very educational and though it isnt the best film in the world I am sure once the project develops and we start feeling more confident in the game we will be able to create objects and sounds that will be used as markers from which we can collaboratively set constraints for the editing game.

By providing each participant with a camera I am interested to see how each person chooses to represent themselves through the technology of gazing, especially in such a setting. Editing as the finder not the one that was lost is a fairly interesting position to be in as I come in out of the shots as i abandon and reunite with the participant. I feel like I am essentially playing a game of hide and seek and maybe this would be a more effective way to play the game. Especially as the hunt implies that something is hidden away already. However, I would not want the emphasis on the discovery of the space to be lost to the game. So I suppose I still want to stick with the idea that as each person returns they must return with a constraint or define a symbol and so on. We should program the narrative but this does run some dangers of contriving the experience in uninteresting ways.

Anyways, below are the results of my first graveyard experiment. It was actually shot in professional DV but web streaming has screwed all of that up. Next time I will look into the best way to web stream without loosing so much resolution.

DISCUSSION/ FUTURE PROSPECTS

I really enjoyed editing this film but it was a pretty raw process and I hope to make the constraints make a little more sense in the future as the project starts taking shape. This is essentially a collaborative form of storytelling and I would like to maybe start creating a new language amongst ourselves so that we can actually code the process. I would also like to bring the text from the graveyard more into the picture. I would really like the formulation of the editing process to echo the production process and its content in order to seamlessly intertwine the documentation into the project. Any ideas?

 

kinetic seance

Filed under: processing,psychogeography,transportation,treasure hunting — danceswithsnarks @ 11:52 am

The kinetic Seance was a project I did after Futuresonic to expirement with all of the ideas that have been kicking around in my head. It is called the kinetic seance because it wishes to summon the spirits of the dead through movement. In french seance means to sit so there is a nice little juxtaposition at play there.

I decided to set the psychogeography in a graveyard with 10 participants. I brought with me one DV camera, tracing paper, paper, crayons, pencils, watercolors, and roses. I gave each participant a bag with tracing paper and crayons in order to copy any text they found interesting for mapping the cemetery. I thought this was a way to get participants to confront the tombstones. I also porvided them with paper to take notes and a rose (for its symbolic connotations) in order to mark sacred places within the cemetery or to facilitate anything they needed to let go. I had no exact rules for the game. However as each participant returned from getting lost they were told to make notes on the Minutes page. The experiment took place in nuhead cemetery, which is a very enchanting setting and good foot candy as well as eye candy.

Each participant went one at a time with the camera and was led to a random location after being blind folded and made dizzy. They were then told they were free to do what they wanted but had to think about how they wished to feedback to the group afterwards. The original idea was that as more people came back from the walk feedback would increase and cause to the mapping to be a collective reflective process from which I could reflect upon the editing process. But, most of the feedback was pretty silly and time flew by so that two participants were not able to go and two went together in order to get more people to go before we were kicked out. As time constraints grew smaller everyone complained that they were cut too short in their exploration. This to me suggests that the walk should be all day and use multiple cameras so that more than one person can go at a time. Someone also suggested that it would be good to send people out to excavate sound. I have consulted David about this and he has expressed interest in the project.

Also I would like to have a camera myself as trying to find the participants was very disorienting and I often got lost even without being blindfolded. Another thing I was surprised by was how casual everyone was about being in a cemetery. But, then again, it was during the day and I guess I am more superstitious than most. Also I was disheartened by the fact that nobody really started constructing a map with the tools I gave them. When I asked why not, I was told that there wasn’t enough time.

All in all, I think the walk was pretty successful at gaining further interest from all involved. We all agreed that we wanted to continue the project as everyone enjoyed themselves. Furthermore, everyone felt that there needed to be a director and that I should be the whistle blower. Also we wanted to be more disciplined in formulating rules and thought that the project should be continued over the span of a few weekends where participants could come and go throughout the process and more committed participants could develop a rythmic understanding of the space.

Discussion/new projects:

My reason for setting up this project was in order to expirement with getting lost, confronting death, and creating a ritual, game, or narrative collectively. I brought roses as I thought we could play with their symbolism. In the future I would like to think about other symbols or archetypes with which to experiment with constraints and give me clues for editing and creating narrative intersections and intertextuality.

Also documenting sound seperately from the image could help us play with the text of the situation. I am also thinking about how collaborative film making which implements collective rule making might be used in documenting the hunt or actually making the documentation part of the hunt. I have some friends who created the event Shoot London where participants are given question with which they have to answer by creating images to photograph. I have something like this in mind but in using the moving image

All Photos taken of the event, courtesy of moi

 

sharing is caring May 10, 2008

Filed under: hotdogs,Networkin',processing,transportation,treasure hunting — danceswithsnarks @ 12:41 pm
Tags:

courtesy of Passionate at headrush.typepad.com

Image courtesy of Passionate

SHARING ECONOMY:

Social networking has changed the way people are talking about the economy and intellectual property. The FLOSS movement has really opened my eyes to issues that collaboratve development faces especially with regard to intellectual property. I find ownership patterns very interesting and my inner hippy is constantly questioning my own boundaries of possession. One interesting movement that is questioning the nasty seas of cultural property is creative commons. I wrote them about a month ago about starting a creative commons group at Goldsmiths, but I still haven’t heard from them. Oh well, there is still a non-university oriented, creative commons group in London that have some events coming up in July. Their work is really fascinating and just what the doctor ordered for getting people to become more active in the shaping of public policy and cultural movement.

Below is a pretty comprehensive talk from an authors@google event by the founder of creative commons, Lawrence Lessig:

In thinking about making development go public (which is what this blog is experimenting with) I must admit that I second thoughts. I definitely have little voices in me that think that I should be more skeptical about openly sharing my ideas. However, being the socially bounded creature that I am, I am not entirely convinced to what extent these ideas should belong to me. I also think that these questions are at the core of what could shake the way we think about economy and the thought economy. Anyways, I went ahead with the blog because I would like to think that sharing ideas can only lead to better ideas and I should hope that I will keep from running out of them as sharing ideas leads to new ones.

I think some people get nervous when it comes to open source culture and online networking because it somehow threatens intimacy and privacy. In a discussion with the founders of The School of Everything, a site that is a platform for knowledge exchange, or open source education, we thought about when the internet takes the networking thing a little too far. One man brought up a networking site he was invited to where participants were asked to evaluate changes in their friends. This is exactly the sort of creation that points out how online networking can misunderstand the ins and outs of the social it wishes to connect. Then again what new sorts of societies are being created by networking platforms? What are their limitations? A secondlife informant explained to me that Secondlife could be terribly isolating unless you were a creative. Hmmm I will look into this…will keep you posted!!

Discussion/ Future projects:

I think that Open source culture has really put possession and autonomy in the spotlight. Is there such a thing as being too social? Where does collaboration fail? Also what is so important about personal space? How can we experiment respectfully with the boundaries of personal space.

Also I have been doing projects experimenting with the open source poetic by making open source poetry. This way poetry can be seen as software. Also I have been collecting texts from places such as the British museum and reconfiguring them into poems. I want to make a workshop in a library where we can retrieve passages at random and remix them into new stories. I know there has been sftware created to extract random things from the net including software which makes poetry. However I think these programs are rarely succesful. One really good one however is flowerewolf which must be run on nodebox.

Also keeping up with the ritual theme, what about open source ritual making. Thinking about it Present Attempt is sort of like an open source theatre company. Open source film making?

Oh and I guess I should also note that this year I am creating the Black Rock City Fitness Center in the gift economy based Burning Man festival. The burning man festival is about creating a week long experience in sharing and gift giving. Its in the middle of the dessert so sustainability of this way of life is a bit of a joke. Anyways, we are going to be giving free workshops and gateau-aerobics sessions (free chocolate cake weight lifting) complete with a deep fryer. Please comment if you want to take a trip to Nevada this august!

I made love to google images to make this.

I hope I don’t need citations for the cupcake and the fried chicken sandwich??

 

Present Attempt May 9, 2008

Filed under: Networkin',processing,theatre/performance — danceswithsnarks @ 6:18 pm

During my attendance at the Theatre Materials conference I met a company called Present Attempt that were developing a new play called life at the molecular level. They opened their rehearsal to the conference where we were able to sit in and have input on the development of the show. The show was developed through applying constraints to a series of improvisations over about a day and a half. One of the constraints or rules was that anything small that was noticed by a performer should be amplified and exagerated. The show that they ended up producing was fabulous and almost seemed like a digital manipulation. Using very few props such as a microwave and a kareoke machine they told a story while recreating the strange behaviour of when you are all alone. This created an intimate and uncomfortable relationship with the audience.

Also these fancy people have a rehearsal blog…Seems like we are on the same wavelength 🙂

Discussion/ Future Projects

I think that scripting projects via setting constraints is a great way to play with ritual and to comment on the mechanics of digital technologies and the technologies of social interaction and art. I wanted to mention this group as I think that questioning rituals and the making of space could be done through setting up games which required that we perform according to new rules. This is what made me start thinking of games that might be played besides a hunt in order to reinterpret the city and set the stage for live collaborative development.

I was also thinking about how mechanical algorithms could be used to guide movements. I know that Caroline has a formula from K-punk which causes participants to bump into each other from different starting points. Could be a nice editing project if each participant had a camera.

All photos courtesy of present attempt

 

Just thought I would throw this in… May 8, 2008

Filed under: enchantment and technology,hotdogs,processing,the gaze — danceswithsnarks @ 2:54 pm

 

Magic and allegory May 7, 2008

One of my favorite reads so far in the study o finteractive media was words made flesh by Florian Kramer. In this essay Kramer discusses, the cultural imagination, the history of software and the history of computation with examples from the occult sciences. The relationship between the occult and technology is a fascinating subject. Thinking about culture in terms of calculations is very fruitful for the mechanical allegories I have been thinking about. Also, are rituals not methods of calculation, at least of identity?

zodclock

These are all really huge questions but rather than ignore them I want to make a breif note here. I have currently been researching astrology and ancient treatments of the heavens. I am very interested in how I could use constellations and the zodiac in interactive art and psychogeography. Furthermore I find the occult distinction interesting as it seems to suggest that these sciences are irrational others. The surrealists’ mission to enchant the mundane is very much about questioning dangerous logics which make accusations of irrationality, thus mechanizing the human condition. I suppose the irony in the surrealist project, when thinking about magic and the othering gaze, is that surrealism also fell into the traps of its own critique.

I recently went to a discussion on the serious side of magic and the stars with Peter Forshaw and Nick Campion that was part of the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art at the Barbican. Forshaw and Campion are academics who specialize in astrology and other aspects of the occult. I found this discussion very useful as it spoke about the obssessive categorization of the ancients in order to understand the universe. Things on earth were reflected in the heavens and this takes me back to the notion of the allegory. The allegory can be seen to represent the paridigmatic pattern between large and small bodies. Can our own technologies also be seen to mimic these patterns? For example, can the architecture of the computer be an allegory for the architecture of the city?

DISCUSSION, FUTURE PROJECTS:

I kept the occult discussion brief because I personally do not know enough about it. I will keep up the research and keep it posted here at a later date.

For now I want to think about how the body can be used as an allegory. I want to do walks that transpose the macroscopic and microscopic through the paradigm of the bodies and address the following themes:

  • The cosmos: using astrology?
  • The Earth as a body/ the elements
  • The political body: National museum as setting, using traveling networks such as hospitality club
  • The human body: Hospital or hygienic walks like cleaning the city
  • Microbes/atoms

I have been thinking about settings like the British museum or a country field at night where i can expirement with constellations.

Treasure hunt: to go back to the hunting theme…The goldbug hunt got me very interested in the science of cryptography. One method of cryptography is transposition codes. I wonder if a transposition code could not be worked out through the body allegory in order to create an interesting space for expressing relationships between the macrocosm and the microcosm. The process of decrypting is why I enjoy the hunting poetic very much as it puts you in the position to suspect everything and create strange relationships. I want to develop a hunt that enables the surrealist technique through the relationship between objects and ideas in the creation of clues. Again a big challenge to the snark hunt is creating a context that enables automatic clue formation.

Also, one project I have started working on is creating zodiac poetry. this is a collaborative poetry project based on the exquisite corpse game of the surrealists. However I have been experimenting with ordering the poems in terms of the participant’s zodiac configurations. So for example I will order the participant’s astrological relationship to the alignment of the planets to inform the sequence in which each verse is placed.

 

Messy Reflections: snarks, dialectics, surrealism and mirrors

Here I would like to speak about the difficulty Caroline and I encountered in reflecting upon the snark hunt and how we wanted to take our psychogeography further.

We found the absurd, circular-like logic of the snark dance as something useful. We loved absurdity in so far as it made thoughts move in messy directions so that ends could not meet. Even still there is something in this movement I find very meaningful. I think this makes a mess of dialectics and I am pretty sure this is what the surrealists had in mind in their use of strange juxtaposition as a creation of new spaces for thought to roam freely from the fascism of linear logics. The cycle of absurdity is very interesting especially when we look to how this can apply it to the space between polarities (which might be understood as the gaze) in relation to recursion or the application of the absurd to reflection and the infamous gaze.

A side project I had been working on was a documentary or ethnography of a pie and mash shop in East London. A major challenge to this project were the many mirrors within the setting that kept revealing the camera in our footage. This made me very aware of my own Western gaze towards East London. Seeing myself behind the camera and in front of the camera made a maze of my thoughts in determining where I could situate myself in a responsible representation of this project. I reconciled the situation by juxtaposing the mechanics of my cinematic project to the mechanics that were in the shop. The winding sound of the machines used to make pies echoed the sound of a film projector. Using the allegory of mechanical production was actually a very interesting technology with which to confront the gaze. I think that allegory is a useful device in which to make some sense or meaningful experience within the labyrinth created by complicated modes of reflection.

In thinking about the history of cinema in relation to the history of anthropology and this thing called colonialism I began to think about the surrealists. One thing Caroline and I loved about avant-garde cinema was its creative use of the mechanics of documentation in order to produce surreal content. One major critique of surrealism is the feminist critique as the surrealist movement has a very sexist undertone. For example the ubiquitous objectification and disfigurement of the female body in surrealist painting (think Dali). The surrealist manifesto was not signed by a single woman and female contribution to the surrealist project is severely marginalized. Leonora Carrington (a contemporary of Breton) has produced writing and paintings that blow many surrealists out of the water! But I bet even some of the biggest fans of surrealism have never even heard of her.

Magritte (1929): Je ne vois pas la (femme) cachee dans le foret meaning I do not see the woman hidden in the forest. A great example of the surrealist objectification of the female, it depicts prominent figures in the surrealist movement. This image was found in a fantastic article on the blog: Letters from a Librarian.

Now I would like to argue that the objectification of the woman in the surrealist project stems from the movement’s relationship to the history of cinema. The camera is the technology of objectification as its very mechanics are the gaze hatis higly gendered. The cinema allows for the audience to see as flaneur not flaneuse (the prostitute).

Now I do not want to go into this much further. But why the gaze whether it be gendered or colonialist is important to this blog is that it presents something for the interactive project to think about. The gaze should be complicated in interactive based projects and media. The potential for reflexivity in these projects could compromise the simplicity of the gaze and therefore the process of objectification. If the gaze is reflected upon itself it was in my recent experience then what is then objectified?? Does this not echo the complexities of the digital postcolonial age. Do internet networks do the work of multiple reflections opening up passages for the gaze to be distorted?

Using the mirror or echo allegory has really helped me in my filmmaking but I also hope for it to challenge my research for the creation of interactive activities. I think part of role playing is our individual rituals of gazing… Who are we allowed to gaze at and in which context?

Returning to the snark… how does an empty signifyer affect this discussion? What happens when a hunt is for an object that does not exist? This is something that caroline and I did not take into enough consideration before hand. I think in order for this to work we would have to really implement our theatrical skills. Maybe our acting abilities just arent up to par for such a task. However until then, I think something to take a away from this experience is this rethinking of the dialectics that I believe the surrealists were aware of in their praise of the absurd. Through the absurd I think we are able to fill inthe gaps of strange juxtaposition in order to form a new space for synthesis. I am not saying that the surrealists advocated the unraveling of absolute spirit. However, I think there is something to be said for this process.

Also the Surrealists were able to create a playful atmosphere for our thoughts to roam. This is something I really love about the genre. So what I ultimately would like to do is to take surrealist technique and exorcise the gaze. I think this has to come from reflexivity from all sides.. the technology of recursion could underline the labyrinth of our being inorder for us to escape modes of othering. Now if this soundslike a complicated mess, I think it is supposed to be, but maybe such a mess can be magical.

FUTURE PROJECTS?

I think that putting absurd cycles into movement would be great. Maybe tryingto walk in a perfect circle around the city. Or playing with the circle line. Implementing different typesof cycles in these walks…The moon cycle, the day cycle, a bicycle?

circulation as allegory: This again approaches my interest in documentation. Circulation of products, the body, etc. Reproductive cycles and the digital age.

Using mirrors in order to create interesting film projections or installation.. This is something I have been thinking about using besides editing for film experimentation.

recurssion in programming and networking…messy feedback loops to reflect the messy dialectics

the technique of absurd juxtaposition in networking