Sensory Spaces

> Sensory Spaces: Academic–SME Fellowship Collaboration

StoryFutures AHRC Creative Cluster

Sensory Spaces is a fellowship collaboration for the StoryFutures AHRC Creative Cluster, part of UCA’s (University for the Creative Arts) participation in the larger consortium. 

> Videos

In progress.

> Gallery

> Timeline

May 2020- October 2020

> Collaborators

  • Ivan Isakov – Innovator / Fellow
  • Dr Birgitta Hosea – Academic Collaborator
  • Dr. Camille Baker – Academic Collaborator

> Abstract

Sensory Spaces fellowship collaboration for the StoryFutures AHRC Creative Cluster, is part of UCA’s participation in the larger consortium. I am participating as an academic fellow on the Future of Storytelling scheme, alongside UCA colleague Dr Birgitta Hosea, in collaboration with CTO and co-founder of Valkyrie Industries, Dr Ivan Isakov.

The project involves research on haptic and sensory experience and the further development of a toolkit for sculpting in virtual reality using haptic gloves by the team.  

> Partners

  • Royal Holloway University
  • UCA / University For The Creative Arts
  • Valkyrie Industries

> Budget / Funding

  • £5,000 via the StoryFutures project, lead by Royal Holloway University.

> Outcomes / Impact

A haptic VR sculpting tool that enables non-experts accessible entry into 3D modelling and 3D animation creation.

> Further Information

Defragmentation

> Defragmentation

Curating Contemporary Music

The New and Contemporary Music research project called Defragmentation was concerned with transforming the new music genre, and by extension new music composition, performance and festivals.  Defragmentation had four topic areas and four advisory teams focussed on: curation, technology, decolonisation, gender and diversity in the New Music context. 

> Videos

> Gallery

> Timeline

January 2017 – March 2019

> Collaborators

  • Dr. Joanna Armitage – Maker
  • Dr. Freida Abtan – Maker
  • Diann Bauer – Writer
  • Dr. Camille Baker – Technology Adviser
  • Klara Kofen – Participant
  • Mark Dyer – Participant

> Abstract

The project set up like a thinktank, was an attempt to begin a new discussion about the fragmented New Music scene, disconnected from a social discourse and supposedly marginalised, in four central thematic areas is the focus of the present project.Starting from the principle of curation, adopted from the visual arts and increasingly used in musical matters, three large, at first seemingly music-unrelated thematic areas examined in terms of their applicability and their contact with the music of our time: gender/diversity, technology, and decolonisation. 

Here the term “defragmentation” from the field of information technology can serve as an apt metaphor. In IT, defragmentation is defined as: “a process that reduces the amount of fragmentation […] by physically organizing the contents of the mass storage device used to store files into the smallest number of contiguous regions (fragments)” (Wikipedia article “Defragmentation”), and thus its application to the field of contemporary music expresses the aim of working out, in detail, a central narrative thread amid the highly divergent discourses and practices. In this sense, the goal is for a deeper understanding of curating practices and a far-reaching merging of these focal points – gender/diversity, technology and decolonisation – to help develop a more coherent picture of current questions faced by New Music.

The idea for Defragmentation developed from a basic sense of unease. The feeling that contemporary music suffers from serious flaws, and that existing festivals not only fail to correct these flaws, but also large neglect to incorporate social debates and challenges into their programming concerns, stimulated numerous conversations involving the directors of four festivals: the Donaueschingen Festival (Björn Gottstein, since 2015), the Darmstadt International Summer Course (Thomas Schäfer, since 2010), MaerzMusik – Festival for Contemporary Issues, Berlin (Berno Odo Polzer, since 2015), and the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival (Lars Petter Hagen, since 2012). In these conversations, it became clear that a reorientation is required in New Music, and that the necessary foundations for such a reorientation need to be laid. These foundations can now be determined within the framework of a specific discourse which will involve curators, artists and scholars. 

> Partners

  • German Federal Cultural Foundation
  • International Music Institute Darmstadt (IMD)
  • Donaueschinger Musiktage
  • MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues
  • Ultima Festival & Academy Oslo

> Budget / Funding

  • £5,000 from Partners (for Technology Advisor Role)
  • £5,000 from Partners (for Workshop Organisation)

> Outcomes / Impact

In order to overlap with the Gender and Diversity group, and women in technology is an underrepresented group in the New Music genre,  I felt it important to bring in strong innovative women from music and technology to explore technology issues from a feminist perspective. 

I brought this approach to the Darmstadt Summer School 2018 context and the Defragmentation symposium in particular as part of it, to expose the summer students to arts and technology activities, as a unique challenge and experiment, to see what the outcome might be. 

Video artist Diann Bauer to lead the Booksprint / writer’s group and she was one of the women in the Laboria Cubonics Collective who spawned the Xenofeminism project.  Electronic composers Joanne Armitage and Freida Abtan lead the Music Technology hacking workshops.

Other outcomes include: Videos of the workshops and symposium talks, a self-published book, a book chapter authored as a result of the booksprints, and a unique instrument created by Dr. Abtan during the making programme.

Hacking the Body Research

> Hacking the Body & HTB2.0

Research

Hacking the Body and HTB 2.0 was a research and performance collaboration between Dr Kate Sicchio and myself, which evolved from 2011 until 2018 and started by examining rhetoric within the online computing community around concepts of code, hacking, networks, the quantified self, and data, as a new approach to examining inner and outer states and sensations of the human body, using sensing devices within performance.

> Videos

> UCA HTB 2.0 Residency R&D 2015

> Timeline

2011– 2018

> Collaborators

  • Dr Kate Sicchio – collaborator and co-investigator

> Abstract

Hacking the Body and HTB 2.0 was a reserach adn performance collaboration between Dr Kate Sicchio and myself, which evolved from 2011 until 2018 and started by examining rhetoric within the online computing community around concepts of code, hacking, networks, the quantified self, and data, as a new approach to examining inner and outer states and sensations of the human body, using sensing devices within performance.

Hacking the Body used concept of ‘hacking’ to repurpose and reimagine internal signals from the body in two ways:
(1) to explore how internal physiological data can be gathered and harnessed to understand the experiential states of the body, and then
(2) how we as artists will ‘hack’ to explore new methods for creating artworks, using sensing systems and audiovisual technology.
Through this exploration we became critical of concepts of ‘code versus body knowledge’ and expanding our work to develop new parameters of revealing this hidden body as part of the greater social, political and technological networks. As such, body data can be hacked, repurposed and re-visualised. With a theoretical focus on understanding the ethos and methods of the hacking community, while seeking project funding we educated ourselves in the hands-on practical making processes of DIY electronics, soft circuits, and smart materials.

During our research we observed how self-monitoring and quantified-self activities have led to new forms of narcissism and encourage corporate and government spying and exploitation. The focus for us, however, then became about interpreting inner states and processes in order to be seen or interpreted as one’s personal identity, which may (or may not influence) one’s movement and interaction with others.

Hacking the Body 2.0 was thus born to follow on from a need to explore and critique how wearable technology extends our senses but also how personal data identity and privacy issues can be revealed and understood through layers of ‘known-ness’. The project became concerned with identity and data ownership in performance. As such, HTB2.0 has used modern DIY wearable electronics and smart materials alongside hacked corporate fitness tech, to explore these issues within the wearable technology, smart textiles and smart fashion industries, while adding a new dimension to performance technology and its evolution.

> Partners

  • Arts Council England
  • UCA / University for the Creative Arts

> Budget / Funding

> Outcomes / Impact

There were many papers and presentations from this research over the 7 years – see the publications section on the writing on the project. Below are presentations and activities for the Hacking the Body research before the performances documented elsewhere:

May 16-22, 2016 ISEA: International Symposium for Electronic Arts 2016 Hong Kong, presenting an artist talk on performance development and wearable costume design Flutter /Stutter and Feel Me performances (with video and demo) and a paper presentation on Hacking the Body research and performance development. ISEA 2016 conference website http://isea2016.isea-international.org and conference catalogue http://wikisites.cityu.edu.hk/sites/scm/Shared%20Documents/OtherDoc/isea2016_catalogue/isea2016_catalogue.pdf

July 29th–31st, 2013 The Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA) 2013, London, UK. Presented a paper ‘Open-source, custom interfaces and devices with live coding in participatory performance’ and ‘Hacking the Body’ paper with Kate Sicchio.

July 17th, 2013 Maker’s Guild on Wearables, Centre for Creativity and Collaboration, London. Presented the ‘Hacking the Body’ project in collaboration with Kate Sicchio.
July 6, 2013, Elephant and Castle Mini-Maker Faire, London, UK, co-produced by between London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London and the Victoria and Albert Museum Digital Programs. Presenting and showing work from the collaborative performance media research project “Hacking the Body”, the collaborative project with Lincoln University collaborator dancer/choreographer Kate Sicchio.

June 17-21, 2013, ACM Creativity and Cognition, June 17-21, 2013, Sydney, Australia – conducted an all-day workshop with research collaborator Kate Sicchio, teaching the basics using soft circuits and wearable technology, as well as the basics of programming in open-source software Arduino for electronics development.

June 14-16, 2013, TekStar Art and Technology Festival, Byron Bay, Australia – conducted an all-day workshop with research collaborator Kate Sicchio, teaching the basics using soft circuits and wearable technology for performance creation;
June 8th-16th, 2013, (ISEA) International Symposium of Electronic Art 2013, Sydney Australia – conducted an all-day workshop with research collaborator Kate Sicchio, teaching the basics using soft circuits and wearable technology for a variety of applications.

May 10, 2013, Mediamorphosis Symposium, at the University of Brighton, presented by The REFRAME Digital Platform for Research in Media, Film and Music research group (http://reframe.sussex.ac.uk/) and the Creative Critical Practice Research Group at the University of Sussex – presented a paper on “Hacking the Body”, the collaborative project with Lincoln University collaborator dancer/choreographer Kate Sicchio, presentation here https://www.slideshare.net/secret/zzvY5BTXiPuwdz

April 10, 2013, Becoming Nomad: Hybrid Spaces, Liquid Architectures and Online Domains, University of York St John, York, UK – presented a paper on “Hacking the Body”, the collaborative project with Lincoln University collaborator dancer/choreographer Kate Sicchio, on behalf of both of us.

March 3rd, 2013, Exhibiting Performance Conference, University of Westminster – presented a paper on the collaborative project with Lincoln University collaborator dancer/choreographer Kate Sicchio, “Hacking the Body” (working with electronics, biofeedback sensors, mobile phones and Kinect) on behalf of both of us.

Nov 27, 2012 Digital Workshop at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London UK. Demonstration of project “Hacking the Body”.

September 7th-8th, 2012, LIVE INTERFACES in Performance, Art, Music ICSRiM School of Music, University of Leeds – presented a poster with Lincoln University collaborator dancer/choreographer Kate Sicchio, on the collaborative project “Hacking the Body” – presentation available on request.

May 19, 2012 Handmade Everything Maker Faire as part of the FutureEverything Festival, Victoria Baths, Manchester, UK. Demonstration of project “Hacking the Body” – images available.

MINDtouch PhD Project

> MINDtouch

Ephemeral Transference: ‘Liveness’ in Networked Performance with Mobile Devices’

If you could exchange your sleeping dream imagery, feelings and sensations, with your friends and loved ones, what would it be like? If you could not only share and exchange, but remix and collage them, what would it look like?

> Videos

> Gallery Name

> Timeline

October 2006–August 2011

> Collaborators

  • Tara Baoth Mooney and Rachel Lasebikan – Garment Designers
  • Michael Markert – Arduino, electronics, DIY physiological sensor programming and mobile app developer
  • Manjit Bedi – Quartz Composer designer for sensor to video database mixing & visualisations
  • Evan Raskob – OSc, database, XML and network developer
  • Huw Williams (SMARTlab & BBC R&D) – Networking and Quartz Composer developer
  • Dr Marc Price – BBC R&D Engineer and PhD Sponsor

> Abstract

The practice-based PhD research investigated the four key qualities of ‘liveness’, ‘feltness’, ‘embodiment’ and ‘presence’ in mobile media performance, in order to shed light on the use qualities and sensations that emerge when mobile technologies are used in tandem with wearable devices in performance contexts.

The research explored mobile media as a non-verbal and visual communication tool that functions by repurposing the mobile phone device and its connection to a wireless network, not only for communication, but explicitly for the expression of ‘emotion’ in the form of a video mix, representing an interpersonal connection shared over distance.

The research aimed to identify and supplement existing scholarly discourse on the nature of these four key strands of kinaesthetic philosophy made ‘live’ in the online network, applying knowledge gained through the practice of enhancing participant experience of the use of simple ubiquitous mobile tools with bespoke biofeedback sensors and an online repository for the playback of users’ visual expressions. This enhanced toolkit enables participants to share personal relationships and social interactions in an immediate way, with collaborators at a distance.

The selected methodology of active research using kinaesthetic tools in live performance sought to identify and clarify new ways of simulating or emulating a non-verbal, visual exchange within a social participatory context, with particular attention paid to a sense of ‘feltness’ as an element of ‘presence’ or ‘liveness’, and with attention to the experience of a sense of ‘co-presence’ arising in real-time collaborative mobile performances at a distance.

To best explore these concepts, as well as the bodily sensations involved for participants, the research analysed original data gleaned from a larger R&D project (conducted in tandem with the PhD project, sponsored by the BBC) as its major case study. The project, called MINDtouch, created a series of unique practice-based new media performance events played out in real-time networked contexts. The MINDtouch events were framed as a means for participants to simulate dream exchange or telepathic thought transfer using mobile phones and biofeedback devices, linked to a bespoke video file protocol for archiving and sharing visual results. The corporeal, non-verbal forms of communication and visual interaction observed when participants use such devices within participatory performance events was examined by way of demonstrating the impact of specific live encounters and experiences of users in this emerging playing field between real-time and asynchronous, live and technologised forms expressing liveness/presence/distance.

The research benefited from access to the larger MINDtouch project and its original data, providing this research with a set of process-based evidence files both in video and transcript form (contained in the thesis appendices). By analysing this unique data set and applying the theoretical contexts of kinaesthetic philosophies where appropriate, the thesis demonstrates both the practical and the critical/contextual effectiveness of the media facilitation process for the participants, and shares their senses of ‘liveness’ and ‘presence’ (of themselves and of others) when using technology to externalise visual expressions of internalised experiences.

MINDtouch made an original contribution to scholarship in the fields of Performance and New Media, with additional contributions to the cognate fields of Philosophy and Technology, and locates its arguments at the locus of the fields of Performance Art, Mobile Performance/Locative Media, Philosophies of the Body and Communications. The research used methods, practices and tools from Phenomenology, Ethnography, Practice-As-Research, and Experience Design, bringing together the relevant aspects of these diverging areas of new media research and media art/performance practices. The research demonstrated that there was a need for new technological tools to express viscerally felt emotion and to communicate more directly. It was hoped that this study would be of use to future scholars in the arts and technology, and also that it might help to demonstrate a way of communicating rich emotion through felt and embodied interactions shared with others across vast distances (thus supporting political movements aimed at reducing global travel in the age of global warming).

> Partners

  • BBC R&D PhD
  • SMARTlab Digital Media Institute

> Budget / Funding

  • £60,000 through BBC R&D PhD Sponsorship

> Outcomes / Impact

Several publications, notably:

Chapter 6 – Baker, C. C. (Aug 16, 2018) New Directions in Mobile Media and Performance – Monograph on mobile phones in performance as tool, content, guide and collaborator in immersive theatre, live art, dance, music and more. Oxford, New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis. https://www.routledge.com/New-Directions-in-Mobile-Media-and-Performance/Baker/p/book/9781472467188

Baker, C. C. (December 2010) “MINDtouch – Ephemeral Transference: Liveness’ in Networked Performance with Mobile Devices”, PhD Thesis, published in University of East London Library in print with DVD support materials and the British Library in digital form. Ethos repository, British Library: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?did=3&uin=uk.bl.ethos.550414 Ethos ID uk.bl.ethos.550414 

Baker, C. (April 2011) “methodologies for mobile media performance”, IN Acoustic Space # 9: Art As Research, Rasa Šmite (ed), (MPLab) Art Research Lab Liepaja University (Liepaja, Latvia) in collaboration with RIXC, The Centre for New Media Culture, RIXC, Riga, Latvia, Volume 9, pgs 131-144. Available online at: http://mplab.lv/index.php?lapa=mediateka&apakslapa=1

Baker, C. C. (March 2011) ‘“MINDtouch” – embodied ephemeral transference: Mobile media performance research’: IN International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, Volume 7 (1), Bristol, UK: Intellect Press, pgs 99–118. Now with Taylor & Francis. Available online at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1386/padm.7.1.97_1

Baker, C., Schleser, M and Molga, K. (July 2009) “Aesthetics of Mobile Media Art”, IN International Journal of Media Practice, Volume 10 (2), Bristol, UK: Intellect Press., pgs 101–122. Now with Taylor &Francis. Available online at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1386/jmpr.10.2-3.101_1

Baker, C (Dec 2008) “Liveness’ and ‘Presence’ in Bio-Networked Mobile Performance Practices: Emerging Perspectives”: IN The International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, Volume 4 (2), Bristol, UK: Intellect Press, pgs 117-136. Now with Taylor & Francis. Available online at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1386/padm.4.2_3.117_1

Baker, C. (Sept 2007) “Biosensors, Liveness and Networked Performance with Mobile Devices: Emerging Perspectives”, Conference Proceedings, International Digital Arts and Culture Conference: perthDAC 2007, Perth Australia.

Several exhibitions and presentations

Sept 14-22, 2011 ‘MINDtouch: Mobile Video Creativity’, workshop, Conference Proceedings, International Symposium of Electronic Arts (ISEA), Sabanci Universitesi, Istanbul, Turkey. http://isea2011.sabanciuniv.edu/

April 29, 2011 Low Lives 3 online performance event Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Online event info here http://lowlives.net/home/artists-low-lives-3/ and video here https://youtu.be/9Vw9Y4b4PcI and catalogue http://issuu.com/lowlives/docs/ll3_web/25?e=0

April 22-26, 2011 Digital Stages Performance Festival 2011, London, workshop on MINDtouch with mobile video collections activities.

Sept 5-8th, 2010 Digital Resources for the Humanities and the Arts 2010 Conference, Brunel University, London, Performance of and presentation paper on completion of my PhD research, MINDtouch: embodied ephemeral transference.

June 15-20, 2010 TEXTURES, SLSAe 6th Annual Conference, Riga, Latvia, Presentation paper on Art as Research, and on a panel on Material Interfaces (wearable technologies).

August 25-31, 2009 ISEA, International Symposium of Electronic Arts 2009, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK. Speaker and Panelist: on my PhD research and Wearable Technology.

November 16, 2008 MobileFest, MINDtouch BBC Project: Ephemeral Transference Performance, MIS (Museum of Image and Sound), Sao Paulo, Brazil.

> Further Information