> 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