I’ve just been digging around some old hard drives and came across this screenshot from a project I did for Krieder O’Leary back in 2012. It was an experimental camera that moved back and forth along an aluminium track, writing small changes in the space over the top of its existing images. Unfortunately the prototype suffered an electrical malfunction when I installed it in the Tate Britain (entirely my fault) and so it never got a change to take slow pictures of people moving around space.
It’s funny how ideas ricochet around inside one’s own head, morphing over time and through practice – nine years later, I’m mid-way through a project that collates audio in a similar way, with an almost identical tendency to fail at the critical moment.
Through donning a special headset, a member of the public is transported into a parallel cinematic world, where the familiar urban landscape, people and landmarks still seem to be there, but are now part of an immersive black and white film plot. The player become a central figure in a dramatic story – but what is real and what is not? And who is pulling the strings?
I decided to participate in NaNoGenMo (National Novel Generation Month) this year with a project called Directory Directory – an online directory of fictional companies, all located within the Alphaville-Zulutown region. It’s organised like an old phone book, by service type, and each company has a name, slogan, address, and phone number.
Some day in the future I’ll update the directory to have more information, and use more advanced grammar, and maybe even be printable. But the project was a nice excuse to learn some new things (the Tracery library for python is fun to play with; it’s also the first time I’ve built a workflow to build a whole generative website).
A couple attempt to communicate from afar using an interface which translates their movements into words.
Structured across three micro-acts, Scriptych takes precision in choreography to an extreme, embedding sensors on dancers which measure their movements and control both the music and the words spoken aloud, in real time. The couples’ communication becomes increasingly fragmented as the piece develops, posing questions about the location of meaning in messages and movements, and the impossibility of communicating true intent.
3 x 3-minute choreographed sequences for 2 dancers. Custom computer interface with machine-learnt three-dimensional word database.
A limited number of signed prints of this performance are available for purchase. Please get in touch for details.
Ina, the French Audiovisual Institute, made a video about the collaboration between myself and Simon Valastro:
La Rumeur des Naufrages Opera Garnier, Paris 18 June 2016
Arctic Moving Image and Film Festival Harstad, Norway October 2017
Architecture Film Festival London Institute of Contemporary Arts / Oxo Bargehouse June 2017
Film | Making | Space Royal Academy, London February 2017
Thanks to the Opera National de Paris
Director Stéphane Lissner
Dance director Benjamin Millepied
Project realised under the Pavillon Neuflize OBC programme 2015-16 (research lab of the Palais de Tokyo), during its collaboration with the Opera National de Paris, the Institut national de l’audiovisuel and the Groupe de recherches musicales (INA – GRM).
A performance visually remixing and reinterpreting Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho (1960).
Working with footage from the Institute National Audiovisuel (France), the Prelinger Archives (USA) and my own material, I have built software to analyse the visual and audio content of each frame in Psycho. The frames are then compared to a database of archival footage, and replaced with ‘matching’ stills and video clips.
The rate of frame-replacement varies according to the volume of the film’s iconic soundtrack – so that the audial freneticism is reflected on the screen. The result is a mesmerising, chaotic experience, and a reworking of a highly memorable film.
This is part of an ongoing body of work examining the technology of cinema.
A real-time film composed of images that show up in a Google Image Search for the exact time at that moment (e.g. 11:41:14). The film plays in real-time, and takes a full day to watch.
Images do not necessarily bear a relationship to each other, besides a similar metadata tag. Thus, it is the audience who read meaning into the assemblage of images, creating stories and hypotheses about the images.
The images were gathered using the Google Image Search API, using masked IP addresses so that a search would appear to be from a random global location. As an unconnected string of images, the film forms a visceral snapshot of the US-indexed internet in late 2015.
In 1984, philosopher John Searle asserted that there can be no such thing as “hard” artificial intelligence through the now-famous Chinese Room argument. Searle asked whether a non-Chinese speaker, locked in a room with nothing but a book with instructions for translating one Chinese symbol into another – and given the task of translating Chinese symbols passed to him on slips of paper – could ever truly learn Chinese.
The answer, according to Searle, is “no”. There is no difference between the process that the person in the Chinese room is following (i.e. manipulating symbols according to a pre-fixed routine) and the information transfer in computer systems. Thus, Searle argues, if the man in the Chinese room could never learn the meaning of the symbols he is changing, no computer could truly learn the meaning of the symbols it is manipulating, and thus, there can be no “hard” artificial intelligence. More about the Chinese Room
This installation is a diagram of Searle’s argument; a human-computer, comprised of four dancers and an unseen controller, parse a coded message. Only the public, who are given code-sheets, can read the message over the course of a 45-minute dance. In computing terms a “Nybble” is half a byte of information – that is, four bits (or dancers).
This weekend (20-21 September 2013) the garden of V&A Museum will be transformed into a large computing device by Ollie Palmer – and a troupe of “human-computers”.
In 1948 Alan Turing designed the first chess computer programme.
The only problem was that he didn’t have a computer to play it on.
He wrote all of the instructions onto pieces of paper, and played a game of chess as if he were the computer himself. Each move took over half an hour. What’s more, his human-powered computer programme didn’t win the game.
Nybble takes Turing’s human computer and combines it with a sense of theatricality in an immersive architectural-scale installation. Four performers, each representing a different part of a computing CPU, will be parsing a message into the V&A’s John Madjeski Garden. The display is playful, silly and fun – and possibly the most analogue computer to have graced the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend.
John Madjeski Garden, V&A Museum 21-22 September 2013 12.00, 14.00 and 16.00 daily (performances last 45 minutes) Admission free
The Algorithmic Surveillance Systems CRM v1.14 is one of a suite of web-enabled cameras which enable consumer recognition, data capture, metadata analysis and profiling, all without the users’ knowledge.
The friendly, playful and anthropomorphic nature of the CCTV camera ensures that consumers engage with the product without realising that by being in the cameras’ range, they are giving away identifiable and saleable biometric data.
CRM v1.14 was on public display as part of Virtual Control: Security and the Urban Imagination at Practice Space gallery in the Royal Institute of British Architects from July 9 until September 27, 2015. The solo exhibition by Max Colson explores the spatial and political implications of privatisation of public space.
RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD map
Open 10.00 – 17.00 Monday-Sunday. Tuesdays open until 20.00.
Free entry. Exhibition website
Installed in Victoria Park for the duration of the Olympics, the Universal Tea Machine is a computer that relies on teamwork and calculation to produce the perfect cup of tea. The Heath-Robinson-esque machine enables the audience to make their ‘perfect’ cup of tea by solving binary calculation maths problems. If their calculation is too high, they might get too many teabags; not high enough, and they may not get a teabag at all.
I designed and fabricated the mechanisms and electronics that enable tea to get made: the ‘kitchen’ unit. Here’s a short video showing the mechanisms in action: