Jordan Backhus

The Fungus Among Us: Progress & Proposal

Final Project Proposal

Out of human sight, there exists an immeasurable, age-old community of intelligent life that helps support and replenish human existence and Earth’s natural resources. In an attempt to give a “voice” to this overlooked (and underrated) kingdom, Joao and I would like to record the growth of these microorganisms in our own ecological environment. The acoustics will corroborate the presence of this inconspicuous domain, which is otherwise left unheard. Through plexiglass, the user can watch our organisms grow over time; through a speaker, the user can hear the growth of our organisms in realtime.

Joao and I will interview / consult with expert David Dunn, who specializes in the recording of ecological environments on a microscopic level. Specifically, Mr. Dunn creates composite aural portraits of the acoustic world inside trees. By listening to sounds of growth over time, he can more distinctly identify behavioral changes in ecological environments. His soundtrack, “The Sound of Light in Trees,” is such a recording inside a hollowed pinyon pine.

His response is pending.

For reference: http://www.acousticecology.org/dunn/solit.html

Basic Bill of Materials (thus far):

1. Plexiglass Container w/ substrate / mycological growth

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2. Speaker / amplifier connected via guitar wire

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3. Contact Microphone(s) and/or Piezo Disc(s)

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The Fungus Among Us

As is my intention for each and every class, I hope that the discourse and content, however unrelated to my artistic or scholastic proclivities, will educate, inform, and/or broaden the horizons of my creative and/or academic endeavors.

In a field so tangential to my previous interests, I expect and hope to confront ways of knowing I’ve previously left aside. Learning mycology means learning ecology: a forager must known which mushroom to expect based on region, climate, season, recent rainfall pattern, the tree overhead, or the soil of the forest floor. Much like the Physician and the Forager, I must learn to diagnose (to distinguish); each identification is, in fact, a diagnostic puzzle. In using those same ancient processes of cognition in identifying the desirable from the deadly, perhaps I will become the Forager, confronting my uniquely human instincts in learning to survive.

I invite the unknown; it’ll surely change the way I see in so many things.

I see that Joao beat me to the punch and posted Sam Taylor Wood’s “A Still Life.” In the same vein, here is the other of the collection. It is entitled “A Little Death.”

 

 

Intro to Physical Computing: Final

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A STUDY ON LIGHT AND SPACE AND THE INTRICACIES THEREIN.

“Void” is an interactive art installation that manipulates light and physical space through the use of three-dimensional screens, computer-generated images, and sensors. The installation serves to provide an ethereal and experiential interaction arena, in which the installation directly responds visually to the proximities and movements of its user(s).

PERSONAL STATEMENT

We too often forget the profundity of simplicity. The installation was made in an effort to offer an interactive, uncomplicated user experience through visual simplicity.

BACKGROUND

The project was highly informed through each artists’ various professional backgrounds and experiences. Through previous work with three-dimensional screens, the artists’ decided that the tulles were the most successful option for their vision. Olafur Elliason and Bill Viola were two artists that inspired the interaction and the visual presentation.

AUDIENCE

The audience is (most likely) the artistically-inclined, but is not limited to such.

USER SCENARIO

The installation is an experience through exploration; the user is invited to explore as they see fit. The installation hopes to engage the user from each and every angle. Although the user cannot penetrate the installation, he/she can walk around its 180 degree diameter.

IMPLEMENTATION

The installation is suggested as a multi-user experience on a large scale. It is made with the use of Processing, multiple ultrasonic range sensors, and 32 suspended tulles. The arrangement of the tulles give the visuals the appearance of three-dimensionality in physical space. The effect, overall, is provocative. However, the artists have developed a small-scale version for a one user experience. Either/or can be implemented for the Winter Show.

 Previously:

Questions for the User:

  1. Do the visuals correspond to the artists’ themes?
  2. Do the visuals compliment the physical interaction?
  3. Is the physical interaction satisfying? Does it correspond with the visual stimuli?
  4. Is the interactive experience more valuable amongst others or alone?
  5. Would the user describe the experience as transformative? Does it facilitate imagination?
  6. Which movements does the installation facilitate? Any particular angles of interest?
  7. Is the installation inviting? Is it engaging? Which emotions — in particular — does it garner?
  8. At which scale can you imagine this installation? Be specific.
  9. Is this project instrumental, expressional, and/or educational?
  10. Does this project “work”?
  11.  Are there any questions / comments for improvement or alternative thought?

 

Progress Report:

 

  • Creation of portable and practical prototype w/ small-scale tulle arrangement and Samsung Pico Projector
  • Manipulation and improvement of midterm Processing sketch to increase the effectiveness and clarity of our vision
  • Sensor-testing to improve the quality of interaction and the installation’s visual response system (this includes multi-user testing)
  • Purchase of extra materials to increase the scale of the original installation
  • Reservation of studio space (Room 50) for final presentation on December 11th

Physical Computing: Questions for the User / Progress Report

Questions for the User:

1) Do the visuals correspond to the artists’ themes?

2) Do the visuals compliment the physical interaction?

3) Is the physical interaction satisfying? Does it correspond with the visual stimuli?

4) Is the interactive experience more valuable amongst others or alone? 

5) Would the user describe the experience as transformative? Does it facilitate imagination?

6) Which movements does the installation facilitate? Any particular angles of interest? 

7) Is the installation inviting? Is it engaging? Which emotions — in particular — does it garner? 

8) At which scale can you imagine this installation? Be specific.

9) Is this project instrumental, expressional, and/or educational?

10) Does this project “work”?

11) Are there any questions / comments for improvement or alternative thought?

Progress Report:

– Creation of portable and practical prototype w/ small-scale tulle arrangement and Samsung Pico Projector 

– Manipulation and improvement of midterm Processing sketch to increase the effectiveness and clarity of our vision

– Sensor-testing to improve the quality of interaction and the installation’s visual response system (this includes multi-user testing)

– Purchase of extra materials to increase the scale of the original installation

– Reservation of studio space (Room 50) for final presentation on December 11th

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Progress (Light & Space / Security & Surveillance)

 SECURITY & SURVEILLANCE

1) I assembled my sixteen portable security cameras to a sixteen-channel security viewing monitor. Instead of sixteen separate screens, there will be sixteen separate TV’s.

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2) The vintage TV’s have started to arrive (five so far)! And in perfect working condition!! (The eBay pictures are below; how BEAUTIFUL is the quality?!?!)

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LIGHT & SPACE

1) Schematic Diagram

Option A:

– Create a semi-circle; welcome visual interaction and user participation on 3 levels

– 3 proximity sensors for one or more users

– 3 sets of 16+ tulles

OPTION A

Option B:

– Increase the size of the installation (32+ tulles)

– Keep the same Processing sketch, but add visuals to match viewers movements and/or proximity

– Use a Kinect and/or motion sensors to target users

OPTION B

2) Materials/Setup:

RANGE_SENSOR

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Reflections : theNEWMEDIAReader

[ Nomadic Power and Cultural Resistance ]

The article coins the present, post-modern social condition as liquescence (adj. 1) becoming liquid; melting 2) tending toward a liquid state). Society (especially in the United States) has restructured (and, in many ways, abandoned) the traditional bureaucratic, power-based framework that fills the pages of our nation’s history book. Like the Scythians, a horticultural-nomadic society, the modern individual is now a nomad, free to wander the electronic net, crossing boundaries without opposition from government or rule. The revolutionary — at one time the oppressed — is now the artist. The article presents many encouraging theses for thought. I think most immediately of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History Of The United States.” The book aims to redefine and restructure history through the eyes of common people and by far-too-often forgotten historical events. History, as we know it, is framed by the events of political and economical elites; and this has always, from the beginning of history itself, been the case. Take, for instance, Herodotus’ “The Histories” of antiquity; each story is centered around a hero, a villain, and/or a bellicose event. As explained in his article, history, as we know it, is moving away from the arenas of political agenda and power structures; if today’s society is a community of nomads whose history is defined electronically, how will the structure of our written and spoken history change? Will the chapters be headlined with technological innovations rather than with wars and its heroes? Or will the heroes of our time be those whose presence is strongest on the electronic net: YouTube stars and Instagram pseudo-celebrities?

[Surveillance & Capture]

Most recently, I have become fascinated by modern-day security surveillance and (tangentially) the dramatic effect easy access to capture has changed self-portraiture. Our portable phones now act as the artistic medium; through Instagram, FaceBook, and the like, one is able to display their easy-made representation of life or self-portrait (#selfie). The article works to define surveillance and capture and their particular difference and uses; it makes me think (all too clearly) about traditional portraiture and its evolution in time. Through studies in the realm of the various plastic arts, I have learned a valuable lesson about the ontology of painting and sculpture, and most specifically the photographic image. The process of art and its creation invites what I choose to call the “mummy complex.” Take the religion of ancient Egypt (as one can easily discover at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), which, aimed against death, saw survival as depending on the existence of the corporeal body beyond death. “Death is but a victory of time,” as Andre Bazin so eloquently put (in his book, “Que’est ce que c’est le cinema?”). To preserve the body through embalmment is to snatch it from time and hold it into life. This idea is also seen in the caves of Lascaux, in which prehistoric cavemen imprinted animals on the cave walls to immortalize a successful hunt or religious sacrament. It is seen, too, in Renaissance and Medieval Art; take Le Brun’s painting of Louis XIV. Alas, the plastic arts and their so-called psychology invite preservation through representation. Today, I fear this may not be true. in modernity, is representation synonymous with preservation? I am starting to think we are exhausting our means of representation when the mediums of representation are no longer exclusively artistic or specialized, but rather too easily available and practiced.

Physical Computing: Thoughts, Ideas, Notes & (Indubitably) Questions for the Final Presentation

(Some) Documentation:

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Thoughts, Ideas, Notes & (Indubitably) Questions:

– Which images provoke (the most) self-consciousness? Anxiety / irritability / discomfort?

– (Which images provoke the opposite?)

– Surveillance images : gallery space, bathrooms, entrance / exit, street view, POV, ECU

– The piece must hold strong. How to eliminate sensationalism – retain emphasis ?

– Pornography? Abuse? War?

– Is interactivity (i.e. physical computing / electrical engineering) necessary? Might this be overkill?

– Does the point come across without so many technical elements? Or do they enhance it?

– Proximity / motion

– Limitations … (?)

– Conversation or rhetoric?

– Might the piece be stronger with a single user? Or many?

– Too many cameras? Too many TV’s?

– Fluorescent lights, modern arena (think Terence Koh “Meth Face” / whitewashed walls and floors), wires and cables exposed

– Public gallery setting?

– Instagram / social media interaction? Are there too many unharmonious elements?

– Video portraiture… (?)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_sYn8DnlH4