Monday, 31 January 2011

unit 1 assessment

Develop your project proposal to plan a challenging and self-directed programme of study.

My initial proposal arose from a mundane personal story that I wanted to explore further in the live field. At the beginning of the course, I was still emphasizing the political and social in the narrative that I had written. By the time we finalized our proposals, I had spent time looking at inspiring practices and theories that discuss narrative and storytelling. In addition, I was trying to understand some basic concepts related to new media and new technologies such as notions of the nomadic nature of digital arts, of disembodiment, the tension between the strictly linear and hierarchical structure of instructions, data sets, database… in Christiane Paul’s writings. Much of the practitioners’ work that I researched can be accessed under the label inspiring practices on my blog.

One turning point in the development of my proposal happened after watching an interview by Mark Amerika who has been working on expanding the concept of writing to include multimedia formats in which he explains how the new media apparatus is now allowing us to switch more fluidly. The concept of fluidity began to have a place in my research from this point forth.

Another major notion was added when I examined the theory of deep remixability by Lev Manovich which made me better understand why I am exploring narrative in the field. The manner in which he highlights the database and remixability made me confident with the idea of the loop as a main element in the project. Certainly I prioritized the loop after watching Soft Cinema which made me understand that what I should be working on is how a narrative can portray a personal story in the digital era and be fair to this context.

Dissecting the project into smaller bits, I realized that should be replaced with live cinema, since I felt uncomfortable with the idea of performing live in a nightclub. I wanted a different context for the project, a public space that could engage the idea of Beirut in the core of the project (this point will be investigated later through the 3D mapping competition that I applied to, which I will be discussing in the 3rd question).

At the stage when the MPR happened, I dropped the notion of political and social (activism) in relation to the narrative, only to replace it with the topic of narrative and technology. This MPR, my peers’ and advisors’ feedback helped me coin concepts I had to research further, such as notions of memory that I started exploring here and here, responsiveness, input, output, objects, performance setting, live cinema (to replace, and sound. All this accumulated in the ongoing research and the blog posts I am examining.

With the decision to exclude the nightclub from my project, the theorist I thought might be relevant to my project, Laura U. Marks, was also subsequently dropped from the scope of my research. My interest in her notion of haptic visuality was subsequently excluded as well, especially after having read her book 'The Skin of the Film' which made me see that she was unable to justify her theory well in her book.

Demonstrate a critical engagement with practice-based research and contribute actively to debate and discussion.

The research paper was hectic at the beginning. I spent eight weeks during the summer volunteering at D-Fuse where I got much more involved in image making and the technical aspect of the digital arts field. Simultaneously, I was doing my readings for the paper; but honestly, I got carried away with stitching panoramic pictures, watching tutorials, getting acquainted with new techniques, going to exhibitions and watching digital arts related events, mainly The Light Surgeons and KX Culture and Walid Raad's exhibit.

After this healthy diversion, I was able to look back at my research paper and see that I had dispersed thoughts; for instance, the mere task of bringing together an abstract that made sense took a lot of effort. The research paper that came out of the new abstract was by far the most important task I achieved eventually. I spent much time reading, brainstorming and redefining my priorities with regard to the project. I finally made up my mind to nominate what fit in the project and what should be left out. The subject of ‘narrative’ was narrowed down to autobiographical compositing (based on Mark Freeman’s notes on recollection and rewriting the self), the idea of objects was confined to transitional digital objects (based on D.W. Winnicott’s transitional objects theory), and notes on the ideas of fluidity (based on Lev Manovich’s definition of the new media object being variable, mutable and liquid) and the wholeness (based on Foucault’s wholistic fictionalization of the past) supported the earlier decision of breaking down the narrative in the, now live cinema playground.

The paper became a good practice that inspired my project. Throughout the process I was taking notes of what could visually interpret my theme; for instance, the readings on the subject of data and museums gave me the idea of filming my grandmother's library of photographs, which will be one of the main loops I will be working on.

Articulate a clear understanding of the methodology and context of your creative practice in both written and verbal forms.

Since I finalized the research paper, I realized that my main involvement with this project would revolve around autobiographical compositing through transitional digital objects; the latter would be carriers of common experiences, memories and information. The use of animated charts to display historical events that are essential in the autobiographical narrative became valid after I explored, again, Manovich’s theory of presenting cultural data.

I am a practicing graphic designer and my usual tools rely on the Adobe family for all that is not animated and that is not video related. My main challenge to create my loops was to start exploring filming techniques as well as start animating and editing bits and pieces of footage, either using After Effects or Final Cut Pro, to experiment with the potential obstacles I may face later. Two main sources helped me better grasp the techniques I will be getting into: the tutorials of a fairly good website creative cow and the Apple store introduction sessions for Final Cut Pro.

I also had the chance to participate in a 3D mapping event competition. Mainly, I applied to partake in this competition to learn from the event related workshop the technical process behind mapping a building façade. This helped me imagine how the final show could be set and how the final piece could be projected in an appropriate context.

Earlier, during Unit 1, I tried to create visuals to support my understanding of what I was exposing myself to. And, even though these visuals will not be part of the final project, I find them helpful exercises that forced me to dwell more on my methodology. Some of these visuals can be found on the below links:
hamletmachine visual
the 5 obstructions visual
what is remixology visual
MPR visual
leftovers visual
drafting personal narratives visual
intermittence visual

Contributing actively to debates and discussions can be evidenced in the weekly debate chats and the MPR. I usually intervene when my peers are discussing common digital arts related issues like database, the screen, memory and museums… When I can contribute with a good resource I do not hesitate to share it. I also consistently follow my peers’ blogs and correspond with my classmates by email if there is anything that comes my way that I find beneficial to their topic. Although I am sure I am more engaged with some classmates’ topics than others. Some of the links supporting the above can be found on my peers’ blogs:
Dissemination in digital arts
Irwin's frames
Matt's MPR
Matt's project
David's MPR

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

sony handycam

My camera (an old sony handycam) failed on me few weeks ago, I tried to resurrect it since I have endless footage shot using it, and I also like the grainy-ish effect of the image it creates. I have managed to make it work again, only I am sure it won't last forever, hopefully until my project ends, otherwise, I will have to mix old footage with different quality ones, which becomes a sort of a statement that I need to consider and think about.

Maybe mixing footage from different cameras could be a genuine way of dealing with the rapidly - ever changing image qualities nowadays.

D-Fuse Latitude_Redux

The details and the fragments.

"Latitude_Redux is a condensed extract from D-Fuse’s live sonic cinema performance Latitude. The screen is divided into two parts, which represent the multiple screens used during live shows. Latitude is inspired by the notion of drifting through the land and soundscapes of China and uses fragments of conversations, lights, and architectural forms to trace the multitudes of paths, identities and influences which make up the rapidly changing urban environments of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing."

Latitude_Redux from D-Fuse on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

curating the blog task - reshuffling the labels

As part of the task of curating the blog, I decided that my main issue with my blog is the fact that my labels are too messy, maybe not reflecting details of the content. I started the task of renaming the labels, I had doubles like narrative and narrative styles that have been merged now, autobiography and autobiographical compositing (a term that reflects more what I am trying all through this project and that has only become clearer with the research paper), silly redundancy like practitioners and inspiring practices has been now fixed, and I am trying to figure out the rest. I think one of the most painful jobs for me is labeling and categorizing, I see myself much more fluent uploading posts.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Duchamp Land and Turing Land

In the below paragraph, taken from the following link, Lev Manovich refers "to art world -- galleries, major museums, prestigious art journals -- as Duchamp-land, in analogy with Disneyland. I will also refer to the world of computer arts, as exemplified by ISEA, Ars Electronica, SIGGRAPH art shows, etc. as Turing-land."

According to Manovich, Duchamp Land (the contemporary art world) requires art objects that are “oriented towards the 'content'”, “complicated” and that share an “ironic, self-referential, and often literally destructive attitude towards its material”; on the other hand, Turing Land (the New Media Art world) is oriented “towards new, state-of-the-art computer technology,” and produces artworks that are “simple and usually lacking irony” and that “take technology which they use always seriously.”


I was going through the theme biography as a narrative form in the digital realm, I was surprised to find out about this project.
I am pasting the article as is below since it contains some external great links. Vannevar Bush, the inspiration behind this whole project was part of my part, I am glad things are making sense and I am able to find things connecting.


MylifeBits is a lifetime store of everything. It is the fulfillment of Vannevar Bush’s 1945 Memex vision including full-text search, text & audio annotations, and hyperlinks.

Total Recall is coming out this September. This book is the culimation of our thoughts regarding MyLifebits and the larger CARPE research agenda. Stay up to date at the Total Recall blog.

There are two parts to MyLifeBits: an experiment in lifetime storage, and a software research effort.

The experiment:Gordon Bell has captured a lifetime's worth of articles, books, cards, CDs, letters, memos, papers, photos, pictures, presentations, home movies, videotaped lectures, and voice recordings and stored them digitally. He is now paperless, and is beginning to capture phone calls, IM transcripts, television, and radio.

The software research:Jim Gemmell and Roger Luederhave developed the MyLifeBits software, which leverages SQL server to support: hyperlinks, annotations, reports, saved queries, pivoting, clustering, and fast search. MyLifeBits is designed to make annotation easy, including gang annotation on right click, voice annotation, and web browser integration. It includes tools to record web pages, IM transcripts, radio and television. The MyLifeBits screensaver supports annotation and rating. We are beginning to explore features such as document similarity ranking and faceted classification. We have collaborated with the WWMX team to get a mapped UI, and with the SenseCam team to digest and display SenseCam output.

Support for academic research: Our team led the 2005 Digital Memories (Memex) RFP, which supported 14 univerities and led to an impressive list of publications. We also established the ACM CARPEWorkshops: CARPE 2004 CARPE 2005 CARPE 2006

Watch our demo videos



  • Gordon Bell's SIGMOD Keynote (June 14, 2005): MyLifeBits, A Transaction Processing Database for Everything Personal. The talk included project history, demonstration screens, architecture, size and shape of the Bell database (200,000 items, 100 GBytes), and research challenges for the database community. PowerPoint (22 MB)
  • Jim Gemmell's MyLifeBits talk given at a number of universities: Feb 2005 version PowerPoint (10 MB)
  • Gordon Bell's talk, given at BayCHI, on 11 February 2003 at PARC, Palo Alto (4.8 MByte PPT) and U.S. Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey on 6 February 2003.
  • MyLifeBits: A lifetime personal store beginning at 1:22. Streaming webcast of Bell by Austrian Telecom at Austria's European (Technology) Forum Alpbach, Plenary Session speaker, "The World of Tomorrow", held Thursday 26 August 2004. See also thePowerPoint presentation (approx. 10 MB).

MyLifeBits In The News

Du sollst nicht vergessen, Der Spiegel, 4/14/2008
Total Recall: Storing every life memory in a surrogate brain, ComputerWorld, 4/2/2008
Don't forget to back up your brain, Fox News, 11/14/2007
Remember This?, The New Yorker, May 28, 2007
Total recall becomes a reality, The Telegraph, 4/21/2007
Your Whole Life is Going to Bits, Sydney Morning Herald 4/14/2007
Researcher Records His Life On Computer, CBS Evening News 4/9/2007
Perfect Memory,WATTnow, March 2007
Lifeblogging: Is a virtual brain good for the real one?Ars technica, 2/7/2007
On the Record, All the Time, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/4/2007
Digital Diary, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/28/2007
The Persistence of Memory, NPR Radio "On the Media" show, 1/5/2007
How Microsoft’s Gordon Bell is Reengineering Human Memory (and Soon, Your Life and Business), Fast Company, Nov 2006.
Digital age may bring total recall in future, CNN 10/16/2006.
El hombre que guarda todos los recuerdos de su vida en bits, La Crónica de Hoy (Mexico), 7/16/2006.
That's My Life, Aria Magazine April 2006.
The ultimate digital diary The Dominion Post 5/31/2006
In 2021 You'll Enjoy Total Recall Popular Science 5/18/2006
The Memory Machine,, 3/2/2006
Life Bytes, NPR Radio "Living on Earth" show, 1/20/2006
The man with the perfect memory - just don't ask him to remember what's in it The Guardian, 12/28/2005
Bytes of my life, Hindustan Times, 11/17/2005
Total Recall, IEEE Spectrum, 11/1/2005 Podcast on IEEE Spectrum Radio (Choose arrow on October 2005 show and select "MyLifeBits -- the digitized life of Gordon Bell")
Turning Your Life Into Bits, Indexed, Los Angeles Times 7/11/2005
Wouldn't It Be Nice The Wall Street Journal 5/23/2005
Life Bits IEEE Spectrum Online May 2005
How To Be A Pack Rat, 4/29/2005 - see alsoblog entry by Thomas Hawk at eHomeUpgrade
Computer sage cuts paperwork, converts his life to digital format The Seattle Time 4/9/2005
Channel 9 video interviews 8/21/2004IntroGemmellLueder
Slices of Life Spiked-Online 8/19/2004
Next-generation search tools to refine results CNET 8/9/2004
Life in byte-sized pieces The Age, 7/18/2004
Removable Media For Our Minds TheFeature 3/25/2004
This is Your Life San Jose Mercury News 3/6/2004
Navigating Digital Home Networks New York Times 2/19/2004
Offloading Your Memories New York Times MagazineYear in Ideas issue 12/14/2003 "Bright notions, bold inventions, genius schemes and mad dreams that took off (or tried to) in 2003"
Logged on for life Toronto Star 9/8/2003
This is your life--in bits U.S. News & World Report 6/23/2003
My Life in a Terabyte 5/14/2003
How MS will know ALL about you ZD AnchorDesk 4/18/2003
Memories as Heirlooms Logged Into a Database The New York Times 3/20/2003
Microsoft Fair Forecasts Future AP 2/27/2003 (This story ran on many newspapers and news sites, including USA Today, The Globe and Mail, The San Jose Mercury News, and ABC News)
This Is Your Brain on Digits ABC News 2/5/2003
A life in bits and bytes c|net 1/6/2003 (run also by ZDNet)|
Your Life - On The Web Computer Research & Technology 12/20/2002
Saving Your Bits for Posterity Wired 12/6/2002
Microsoft works to create back-up brain Knowledge Management 11/25/2002
Microsoft Creating Virtual Brain NewsFactor Network 11/22/2002
Microsoft solves "giant shoebox problem" 11/22/2002
Would you put your life in Microsoft's hands? (run also by ZDNet News) 11/21/2002
Microsoft Plans Digital Memory Box, a Step Toward "Surrogate Brain" BetterHumans 11/21/2002
E-hoard with Microsoft's life database IT Week 11/21/2002
Microsoft plans online life archive BBC News 11/20/2002
Software aims to put your life on a disk New Scientist 11/20/2002

Related links

As We May Think, by Vannevar Bush, The Atlantic Monthly, 176(1), July 1945, 101-108.

Many more links can be found at the CARPE Research Community web site

Saturday, 8 January 2011

cabaret voltaire sleepwalking

in this video, mainly the shots how they're all filmed à la home video style for the indoor scenes, the editing, and the rhythm.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

digital rotoscoping

I was going through an interview with Bob Sabiston, the animator who created 'The Perfect Human' cartoon bit for the film 'The Perfect Human' by Lars Von Trier. In the interview with the onedotzero team Bob Sabiston says that a lot of his animation was time consuming, he had spent 2 years animating a two-minute film 'God's Little Monkey'... that was when he reconsidered the over worked animations, he says that 'the rotoscoping process came about as a reaction to those limitations. I wanted to do something intentionally lo-fi - quick and dirty. I like animated films that don't look over-laboured, they just do what's necessary to communicate their idea.'

I was trying to figure out one way of abstracting the characters that will appear in the project, a way of staying discreet while telling tales, this is how I started thinking about rotoscoping. It could be partial, to some of the characters only, a decision that is still pending.

One fine example of this technique could be found in Bob Sabiston's short 'Snack and Drink' (1999)

I downloaded an open source version of one of the rotoscope softwares that I should be exploring in the next couple of days.