Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Creativity and Cognition 2011

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Just back from Creativity and Cognition 2011, which was truly ace. I gave the paper I wrote with my co-supervisor, Prof. Ernest Edmonds, which people seemed to like. Saw some thought-provoking presentations and met a number of inspiring and wonderful people. Everything one could wish for in a conference, really.

Guy Claxton gave a truly thoughtful keynote. Creative-Mindedness: When Technology Helps and When It Hinders. He pointed out that formal education as it’s currently instituted systematically destroys the creative habits of mind. In response to a question on how precisely it does this, he referred to his chart of those habits. For example, one creative habit is inquisitiveness, which is damaged by the focus in structured curricula on requiring students to study questions they have not asked. Another is creative stamina & resilience (exemplified by Einstein, who said that it was not so much that he was especially clever, but more that he stayed with problems for longer). This is damaged by the scheduling of classes that require every problem to be solved in an hour.

The papers continued through the next few days – but there were also a  lot of excellent posters. Apparently as there was only a single track for papers, the organisers could not accept some submissions that were actually very good, so those people were encouraged to resubmit as posters. Which meant that the quality of work in the posters was pretty impressive.

Of course, it’s Creativity and Cognition so there was also room for art – my favourite works were Matt Ruby’s Sympathy for Pacman and Jack Stenner & Patrick LeMieux’s Open House: Interaction as Critical Reflection. To top it off, the conference was held at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, and we were permitted an after-hours tour. As well as some tragically unmoving Calder mobiles (which really don’t belong in temperature controlled rooms), there on a wall was perhaps my favourite artwork of all time: Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. Shaved. Yes, you have to know the story for this one to work properly.

So finally: a few people asked for my slides, so after the break I’ll embed a Quicktime movie of them. Thank you everyone at C&C 2011, and especially the erstwhile organisers for providing such a great atmosphere for collaboration and creativity.


Cool toys at the Games Studio

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

I’m in the UTS Games Studio, the denizens of which are demonstrating the cool toys we have there. First is Leena who has embedded various i-cubex sensors in a teddy bear (well, a dog, but she admonishes us to ignore that), a tennis racket any glove. All of these are generating audio at the moment. Greg and Daniel have been playing with our MERL Touchtable. This is a multi-user multitouch display table; its special capability is that it can distinguish between four users. Other touch tables can support lots of users and touches, but can’t tell who is who. They’ve made a simple but very engaging game called Ball Fight that used this capability nicely. The CCS mob is getting quite excited by the artistic possibilities ^_^

Slide decks – Second Life in Context / Responsive Environments for INteractive Arts

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

A couple of slide decks for talks I gave recently: last Wednesday a guest lecture for the Interactive Arts class on Responsive Environments as an art form.
Then the previous Wednesday, a presentation to UTS staff on Second Life, in the context of other available metaverses and with some focus on its uses in education.
My slides tend to be all pictures – there’s enough text with me talking over them without writing it all out again so you can read what I’m saying. It does mean though that they don’t stand alone when I stick ‘em on the web. You’ll just have to look at the pretty examples :)

Mondrian’s Atelier and the 場 (ba) Principle

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Mondrian's AtelierIn this precis of Mondrian’s work, amongst the paintings is an image of this most personal creation; his atelier. A useful word to think about; an artist or designer’s studio or workshop, from the middle french astelier (woodpile). Images of this place are preserved: it has been reconstructed as well. With the reconstruction perhaps a little neater than the original – no loose parts there. This brings to mind my own virtual reconstruction of Utzon’s studio – with a similar result. The reconstruction is interesting, but sterile. It historicises its subject; you can’t inhabit it. And without an inhabitant it cannot be a 場 (ba).

Consider: if I had all the resources in the world, and could create a perfect reconstruction of Mondrian’s atelier in which to work, I would not want to. Nor Utzon’s, Hundertwasser’s, Tufte’s. They all produce wonderful work, and their studios are surely part of the process of its production; but these things are intensely personal. Once again: it’s not the result, it’s the principles that matter.

Magic Hopscotch

Monday, July 7th, 2008

We’re live! Just in time for the start of the school holidays, Magic Hopscotch is up and running and open to the public at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. The timing is important because this is a prototype of an interactive artwork designed for children. Doreen Ee, my collaborating technologist, put in a magnificent effort to reconfigure the code for the floor pads that control the piece, after we were compelled to rewire them last week. Shan Weiley, my partner and constant collaborator, has started participant observations and we are already getting some wonderful insights. More later, because i’m writing on my phone and more than a few words is painful :) The launch is on thursday the 10th of July from 2-4 pm, email me if you’d like an invitation. Heartfelt thanks also to Deborah Turnbull our erstwhile beta space curator and Matthew Connell at the phm.

Update: now tracking this project at Sky Blue.

Permeating the Magic Circle

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The inimitable Doug Easterly addressed CCS today on Permeating the Magic Circle – exploring “the physical and conceptual boundaries that demarcate work and real-life from play and game activity”. He’s well known for his artistic practice with SWAMP addressing these very issues. Doug’s research looks into play, drawing on Huizinga’s Homo Ludens and Caillois‘ critiques of it, and of course Czikszentmihalyi on Flow. On that last Doug has formed a beautifully clear exposition of the standard critique of games: that they draw users into a state of Flow not for the high-minded goals of learning or self-actualisation, but instead for the baser purpose of merely keeping them in the game for its own sake, or for the sake of “coin drop” (in the parlance of the video game arcade industry). By drawing out a distinction between flow and device mesmerism, Doug shows that it’s not games, their holding power, or flow itself that is evil – but rather the purposes to which they are put.

The depth of his research is compelling him to dive down into evolutionary psychology, just to find a place to stand… bringing in references from Leda Cosmides [wp], Jared Diamond [wp] and Stephen Pinker [wp]. A PhD is certainly a great excuse to do some absorbing reading.

After the talk we got into an engrossing discussion of  hermetically sealed virtual realities (silly) vs. mixed reality (marvellous), mind/body dualism (outmoded) vs. holism (somewhat more sensible) and absolute transhumanism (fun but overblown) vs. whatever is actually going on (much more complicated, and even more fun). Doug saw an early sketch of the mixed-reality piece I’m currently installing down at the Powerhouse Museum, so I’m hoping to get the computer vision part of it working properly before he heads back to NZ at the end of the week. More about that in another blog post :)