“...The point here is not merely to use non/humans as tools to think with, but in thinking with them to face our ethical obligations to them, for they are not merely tools for our use but real living beings (and I include in this category “inanimate”as well as “animate” beings). A related point is to avoid the pitfall of positioning everything in relation to the human and to embrace a commitment to being attentive to the activity of each critter in its ongoing intra-active engagement with and as part of the world it participates in materializing.”
I’ve been thinking about whether to go the step or giving the sonified objects a human voice or just signifying in a more abstract thinglike way. Still not sure which way to go but it’s reassuring that she finds it a useful tool and not over the top. She sees it as an “intervention for shaking loose the ...toxic scales of anthropocentrism.”
The creative decision for me in this project is the degree of agency and aliveness that an object exhibits.
just like Barad I don’t believe anthropomorphizing with that specific intention but if doing so a little bit can delete the perceived hard line between human and nonhuman is helpful then it could be worth making the step. She suggests opening up a conversation with nature thigh not about nature to other humans. How to open up possibilities of agency to plants? I plan to put sensors on plants to see or I can at least conjure a semblance of agency that could very well be there in the first place. It’s a small exercise but it will get people to think how else we can open up to door to inter species listening
Of course she is suggesting open up the conversation with nonhumans on an other level - of really giving them a chance, of “doing the work of it takes to truly enable a response...removing (some of) the weight of human impossibilities.”
As an aside, I find the social amoeba and communist comparison interesting
There is certainly ways in which these blobs exhibit strength of collaboration and challenge the highly individualistic self perceptions- that are both really valuable but also get us into anthropocene troubles - we have in western countries especially.
decentralizing the human one step at a time. Chair in contrapposto
This is from Isa:
Elaine Gan - expert interview.
Elaine Gan is an artist-scholar who combines theory, research, and creative practice, and engages with the fields of digital humanities, visual arts, science & technology studies, and environmental anthropology.
How will you reward ppl for trying to figure out the system
How will you show change over time and convey this to ppl who just got there
If this is political then how long do you thing this impact will last on ppl who interact with the system?
We talked about using more salient ways to indicate (mainly visually since sonic is not very clear maybe?) that the human interacted w the system in a cooperative and fruitful way. “Making connections and specialities visible”
Words becoming more intelligible over time
Change of water levels (tubes?). She seemed to really like water as a medium.
Examples of systems thinking and turning institutions on their head Hans Haacke
She suggested ways to show systems thinking and showed me an example of the Rhine river purification artwork from the 70s. A tank w purified water that sustained goldfish in a gallery.
I kinda want to make an AR game that encourages us to literally save prices. Like, pull squirrels out of quicksand etc. sort of comical but the opposite of the violent ways in give we currently treat other species.
A really relevant example was SuWappu by this company called Bers in England. It’s an early AR game with animals that visually tell stories of the environment they live in.
She also suggested that if I do want to tell a story then it would be food to storyboard this experience. This would show a series of actions and help reveal the different kinds of relationships that I want to show within the system.
Said ATM isn’t a theory. This is why Latour rejected it ultimately. It’s just a set of methods. Suggested reading John Law. She also gave me a paper to read by a quantum physicist that she had just talked about In her class. The value of this paper is - and I have not gotten to read it yet as I only received it yesterday - is that it shows how relationships can come before the solidification of concrete entities. The idea that everything is connected and that unions are temporary etc. from what I understand. And this makes sense considering she was so interested in water as a medium. I’m sure if my project was made of mycelium it would also be more accurate in a way. I think there may be a disconnect with my discreet objects and the notion of everything being conducted. It is sound that binds everything in my work but that may be too subtle. She thinks ppl in New York are always surrounded by noise and that sonic changes are too minute.
How motion and sound can give them a voice and a character, sort of in that video game Everything that I mention in the Bogost blog.
It’s inspired by Mark Leckey’s work a bit because he 3d printed and cast a bunch of inanimate objects some of which were anthropomorphized quite a bit. I gotta read up on his artist statement but I think he's saying very similar things to the ATM and other posthumsnists.
I found this really helpful in understanding Bogost after reading his Alien Phenomenology, Or What It’s Like to be a Thing.
PBS’s How is everything interconnected was also helpful in explaining it in very simple terms. I like that it also went into radical empathy! Radical empathy for all things - feel for things even when we are inundated with things. If we are connected then radical empathy is useful to correct the way we have treated other groups of ppl, other species, nature, things.
Yes, the whole idea behind building these anthropomorphized objects that make sounds and act like a living system is to create an opportunity to look at objects - new objects - closely (the way we don’t look at familiar objects anymore because we have become desensitized by their quantity), to learn what they are, to use them to one’s satisfaction while reflecting on how one relates to other things and species. In a way, I’m creating in physical space what Bogost creates in virtual spaces. Or at least that’s the goal.
If stopping to pay attention and be delighted can help, then let’s keep making these exercises and make radical empathy a practice that our culture can benefit from, especially in the current rise of fascism and the continual decline of biodiversity.
Here is the full Atlantic Article about the game Everything, which the PBS program mentioned above goes into.
Characteristics of the Everything video game that overlap with my project:
Enjoyment in structured constraint
Observe, learn what they are make use of them in gratifying ways
Think with things and as them
Awkward body and corner studies for a mini sculpture series // Ways in which one cannot sit on a chair, in which the chair doesn’t care #actornetworktheory #objectagency #objectorientedontology #chairrespect
I'm close to finishing all of the shapes And soon will test them all out once they dry and I add the relevant weights to them.
i made a paper clay break through yesterday. This is my recipe and it’s better than before :
Heat up water then add starch (2 tablespoons for 1 cup water)and mix until it starts to gel-up. Add to about half a gallon of paper (that was boiled and pre-squeezed out through a piece of gauze or sock). The consistency is SO much easier to work with. No glue needed! F*%k PVC!
** video pending **
i was able to get an accelerometer to modulate spounds in Max MSP thanks to Dom’s help (and Aaron’s help last year, it’s all staring to make sense now) and I hope I can get that to work in p5. We were also able to get the Max MSP to send different audio outs to separate Bluetooth speakers, which is great news because this means that i can have one program (max) control all of the “instruments” and have them interact sonically with one another fairly easily (without needn’t yo set up a network of raspberry pis).
Some interactions when I am finished will be these or, after I test them, perhaps new ones will come about.
Description of project
A set ofsound-emittant objects that comprise an ecosystem that has rules that you have to cooperate with and understand in order to get themost out of using them to create more sounds. The experience is meant to be playful and meditative.
Does a combination of tactile experiences that trigger sounds, mediated by slightly unpredictable and sometimes surprising interactions create a soothing and engaging experience?
Plan for discovery:
finish reading stuff, inclusion poetics of space, haraway, etc.
paper prototypes to test
print created zbrush prototypes and print them in LaGuardia studios and test them on people to see what interactions people may find intuitive with those objects.
USER TEST SHAPES!
design sounds for these things. Something between animal plant and synth.
USER TEST SOUNDS AND NEW SHAPES
read more on posthuman theory and actor network theory and cyborg manifesto, sound therapy, tatile therapy, ian bogost’s alien phenomenology.
I plan to meet with Elaine Gan next Tuesday before the Temp Ex meeting.
thinking also about adding a vest to test out that is filled with vubracoustics to see how people feel in it esp if it is also playing a sound. perhaps with a teensy or with max.
Who will engage with your project: how, where, and why?
People in spaces for waiting, therapy, relaxation, either public or domestic spaces.
What do you want your project to DO?
I’d like the project to be an environment for people to have interactions with the objects and one another, where things can happen that aren’t completely predictable. The experience should be playful and meditative. I’m curious to see what will happen. Tactile experiences mixed with simple sounds, should produce some soothing effect. The system’s limitations and discoverability I hope will create a partially unpredictable environment.
Plan your remaining 4 weeks and schedule it
Finish shapes + design simple sounds (range of minimal to nature) by Thanksgiving
User text the week after - two separate tests. one of must objects and one of objects and sounds together (or at least the sound on it’s own if i can’t get the sensor to do anything. might use infrared or light sensor for now to make it simpler as i feed it into max)
Nov 27 - I plan to meet with Elaine Gan next Tuesday before the Temp Ex meeting.
try the body suit with subwoofer to test. can a user also wear the sculpture and be on of the sculptures in a way? one of the actors?
more testing and continue to fabricate and perfect sounds and read research about posthuman theory, ANT, tactile and sound therapy, non human centered design, relational aesthetics.
Just got off the phone with Devi Sambouka of Masma Dream World Therapy a sound healer and experimental artist. She was excited to be part of this as sound and technology is her expertise and passion. She explained to me how sound bowls work (the different frequencies) and how the low frequency pillows work. These low frequencies travel through the body and give you a sonic massage. She also offered to have me come in to do this! I might just do that. Each pillow has two transducers (basically subwoofers). Seems pretty relaxing and I’d love to try these pillows and maybe use this approach in a project with sound suits that I’ve been thinking about making.
I’m thrilled I met with Margaret Smith today at the Bobst library. She directed me to a grad deal of helpful resources ranging from Actor Network Theory to Sound Therapy and even a computer game that deals with unpredictability in a fictitious “other world”.
PsycNet (database of psychology literature): https://persistent.library.nyu.edu/arch/NYU03176
Search for "music therapy" and "autism" (anxiety, or whatever)
ACM Digital Library (database of fun technology stuff): https://persistent.library.nyu.edu/arch/NYU00676
Search for "sonic playground" or "therapeutic objects manipulate sound"
Some of the articles we found:
Playing with Toys: Towards Autonomous Robot Manipulation for Therapeutic Play (article): https://smartech.gatech.edu/handle/1853/38283
Why that instrument? A bibliographic study of the reasons instruments are chosen by music therapy clients (article): https://getit.library.nyu.edu/go/9464800
Digital instruments and their uses in music therapy (article): https://getit.library.nyu.edu/go/9464801
Reassembling the social (book by Bruno Latour): https://getit.library.nyu.edu/go/9464802
Those who want to find calm (or be exhilarated too in a way) while creating with objects that are not passive instruments but that allow for surprise and require attention and adaptability. These may be individuals or groups of people.
This center - MASMA DREAM WORLD SOUND THERAPY - in NY looks like a goof place to start.
Louise Fou and Martha Skou - sound sculpture artists
Ernesto Neto - tangible plush art
Some other potential experts:
Sound Healing - I’m a little hesitant to contact this organization because it might be too new age for my understanding of the world but maybe this is just what i need to open my mind to. I do enjoy the aesthetic of the website. It’s unclear if they are ironic about it or not. Either way, it is great.
Donna Haraway - As soon as I finish Cyborg Manifesto I will contact her. How can these objects help to serve people in the way that might benefit relationships across species, etc.? Perhaps my dog can meet her dog over Skype and we can have a four-entity-group-meeting.
Michel Callon and Bruno Latour (ANT guys) - I might as well contact them too.
I started crafting the enclosures of different sizes in order to prototype how they will feel when one holds or pushes them. This is something I will user test. To add wheighy and stabity i am using plaster and cement. I may use those materials to make full enclosures for small iterations as well.
Using giphycam to make gifs of the process. Shredding bills and discarded paper at ITP.
More about the speske-looking object. This is an accelerometer to synth modulator im a P5js editor (using Tone.js) in a browser on an android phone. It can be placed inside an enclosure to create an sonified kinetic sculpture.
I've been interested in using sound as a material for about two years now and at Itp I am able to learn how to do this. The movement of the object is effected by the shake and the sound is also "sculpted" - modulated - by the physical shape of the object as well as by the movement of the object. In this way the three qualities - shape, movent, and sound are interconnected. I also try to craft sounds that might complement the aesthetic of the object.
I started creating sound sculptures last semester. I'm doing this because I'd like to take the interaction of of the screen and explore tangible interactive experience. Sound is, in my opinion, one of the richest materials to use as feedback because it's it absract yet accessible to most people. We are naturally inclined to listen to music, for example. We perceive the nuances in the vast variety of sound available to us, which can create a myriad of moods. There is emotion in sound that is often hard to convey using sculpture. Sculpture on the other hand is something that can one can be next to - it's visual and tangible. There is a permanence to it that I find valuable in staying focused on an experince. One can be in the presence of an object and it can be meditative to hold it and focus on it. Sounds can complement this meditative experience. Sounds are fleeting but instruments remain. The sound, in a way, is captured by the object, like a genie in a lamp.
To give the experience dimention and give the objects agency my goal is the add code (perhaps through randomness and through the time function of Tone.js) that makes the "instruments'" behavior impossible to predict with certainty yet also intuitive. Certain variables will be easily discoverable while others will change over time so that people who engage with the system of instruments cannot fully impose their will on this system. In a way these dialogic interactions are simulating what many of us would like to see more of in the world - more cooperation with nature is just one example. Another example is literally creating better relationships between object and people (the opposite of Alexa :) ) I found out from Marina that people have been interested in this already- Actor Network Theory. I'm glad there is a language for what I'm trying to do and the are already many conversations about it. Turns out my mom knows about this too! I told her about giving agency to objects and she said "yes I've read about this. It's become popular recently!" So that's funny because she's retired and I had no idea she was so much more with it that I was. She finally understands now why I'm doing these things. Putting in in context of the movement helps people understand the idea behind this project so that's going to help with thesis as I plan to continue exploring various tangible and sonic interactions with an emphasis on subverting traditional human to object (which can also stand for human to nature, human to other species, human to other human even) relationships.
Another way to look at it is if I'm going to build a set of instruments that are meant to be meditative objects, I don't want them to be servile, predictable, and boring. I would like then to change over time and surprise me every time I use them. I'd like to create a sense of wonder that comes with using an instrument for the first time out discovering something new. I think it will be stimulating and encourage creative thinking ad perhaps even self refection after certain types of interactions. what does it mean to you and how do you feel when a series of instruments change how they play in response to a certain way that you activate them? Things like that. I hope I am able to convey all of this when I make more of these and perhaps I will be able to convey more as language is so limited.
Another way of saying this is that if you just record the same sound and keep pressing play it feels like you've captured the sound and it has to play the same way every time according to your whim. it's the end of the game. Feels a little fascist :) and not as much fun as cooperating with the instruments that allow you - if you listen and pay attention to how they choose to work - to create ever-changing, sonic experiments.
Human-centered design can be disastrous In how it allows us to impose our will over objects, other species, and nature in general. It also seeps into how we treat other people that we think are inferior and even sometimes ourselves. Often the human centrality plays out in design without regard for what that one-directional relationship does to our perception of ourselves and the culture we are creating.
Examples of such design are Alexa and Uber.
How can we design interactions that change how we see ourselves as a society, how we treat beings and things? How can we create a more balanced ecosystem?
Please take a look at a project i'm working on that can situate itself and takes inspiration from <3 posthuman theory and actot network theory<3
Thank you Giphycam for the art for these statements.
The case for giving robots identity
ANT and design
The Actor-Network Theory can also be applied to design, using a perspective that is not simply limited to an analysis of an object's structure. From the ANT viewpoint, design is seen as a series of features that account for a social, psychological, and economical world. ANT argues that objects are designed to shape human action and mold or influence decisions. In this way, the objects' design serves to mediate human relationships and can even impact our morality, ethics, and politics.“ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor–network_theory#ANT_and_design
“The recent advent of environmental philosophy and posthuman studies has widened our scope of inquiry to include ecosystems, animals, and artificial intelligence.” Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing, Ian Bogost.
Listening with the body
"They are things around which discussions happen, even with only one other person, and that help us to imagine other kinds of worlds and experiences. "
”What are these stories? They are whatever stories you want to tell. They are objects that provide another way of expressing what you’re thinking, perhaps before you’ve even figured out what you imagination and your ideas mean.”
i love this because it’s true that we often don’t know exactly what we want to say. We have ideas buy some can’t be verbalized. Even though I now know that my ideas for this project I been meaning to make for over a year now can be described by an existing theory - ANT. But even so, there are still things that I can’t explain about the concept that gestates in my mind. The only thing left is to make things and then maybe describe them as well as I can. Artist statements are important.
”Language is a tricky thing, often lacking the precision you’d like, which is why conversation pieces designed to provoke the imagination, open a dis- cussion up to explore possibilities and provoke new considerations that words by themselves are not able to express. Heady stuff, but even in the simplest, vernacular contexts, such stories are starting points for creative ex- ploration“
Yes! So hard to explain but relatively easy to show.
“Design fiction creates opportuni- ties for reflection as well as active making.”
Yes seems it’s more like what we call art in general and less like actionable design. At the same time though Bleeker says “can work comfortably with the vernacular and pragmatic” and still a design practice not really art.
Love the slow messages device. This makes sense. I’ve seen and read about design fiction before so I understand the premise. My favorite Dunne and Raby project is the urban food foraging apparatuses etc. that anticipate and admonish against food shortage, tightened surveillance, and other possible futures. I love that the apparatuses are so whimsical. Comedy helps make them memorable . Tickles the brain and asks people to internalize it more. Our syntax professor would bust out a joke when he saw us drifting off into sleep. It worked to waken the mind and keep it sharp.
Still not sure how speculative design in different from design fiction maybe they are the same?
“The unusual, unexpected, multiple near futures that sustain not only the ecological earth but the emerging socially networked and connected earth are especially in need of a more active voice, if only to create an alternative to the programmed myth that there is only one future on the flat graph that goes up and to the right — or that there is only one future that only takes time to distribute evenly.“
Feels like there needs to be more experimentation like this in design small scale prototyping that is a little more experimental than the safe design choices we tend to see. It’s an art to balance budget time and a plethora of prototyping but it is essential, I agree with him. We see it in some firms and organizations more than others. frog does this a bit or at least tries to. Open Ideo encourages this as well. Maybe A/D/O does too? And I imagine the NEW inc that is an incubator by New Museum tries this. And of course the figuring cards that Marina and Sarah designed. Even just thinking adventurously without prototyping already opens up the mind to alternative ways of doing things. The goal of all these exercises is probably to quickly test out what seeds might be worth planting.
From an earlier description
They coo and call (something between animal and synth, but also not staying away from humorous and stomach gurgling) upon one another on their own once in a while but also can be instigated by a human presence/push.
They will probably fart once in a while, like very 4 hours. And other times they will break into song together and make admirable stuff (like any collective).
I was thinking Donna Harroway but I need to prepare more to ask her things because I wouldn't want to miss a chance to ask her all the right questions. I might need to research Actor Network and posthuman theories some more and find cyborg experts. Ultimately it sounds like i'm creating a colony of little cygborgs that humans can sort of impact but that illustrate the value of non human beings. I was thinking I could make them also look part plant part animal. That Idea I've had for a while and thought the technological side of it would be hidden from the viewers. I wanted the views to suspend their imagination and pretend these things were animal-plant-like entities but now i'm thinking that they can still be considered cyborgs even if they aren't overtly machinelike.
The good news is that I was told today by Beverly Chou the interactions between these things is totally possible with a server and raspberry pi's. She said she can help! I may not get to that in this class but at least i know that for thesis it's doable.
My next steps;
1. make clay prototypes
2. make zbrush prototypes and print them in LaGuardia studios and test them on people to see what interactions people may find intuitive with those objects.
3. design sounds for these things. Something betwen animal plant and synth, possible occasional stomach gurgling sounds or the like, these things are sort of living and will be sort of grotesque i think but hopefully still elicit feelings of familiarity.
4. read more on posthuman theory and actor network theory and cyborg manifesto
5. contact Donna Harroway for interview
Lious de Bourgeois cat mother ( Nature Study).
Mike Lechey's show 3-d printed in hot pink. The hot pink is my favorite version of it. The juxtaposition of flesh and an artificial robotic pink color is really relevant to my project's aesthetic.
Ernesto Neto Humanoids and other works (fleshy, biological, fun, oversized)
Patricia Piccinni (don't want to do anything realistic though).
I also like the tardigrade a lot - it's so funny and so such a weird mix b/w human and animal.
I found out about Marcel Duchamp's Wedge of Chastity from the "It Feels like...Flesh" reading by Ruba Katrib and i think that really works in how the material and form suggests a body but it's not representational.
-Donna Harroway's non-visual stories about cyborgs.
Inspirations are here in this mood board