Monday, October 08, 2007

Intimacy Exhibition

When: 11/10/2007 - 17/11/2007

Where: Ivan Dougherty Gallery,
Selwyn Street, Paddington. Opening Hours Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm. Closed Sundays and public holidays. Admission is free. All welcome.

Artist(s): Johanna Billing, Ruby Chishti,
Anna Davis, Bill Henson, Astra Howard, David Rosetzky, Bronwyn Thompson,
Jim Vivieaere, Eva Weber.

Curated by: Rilka Oakley

Additional Information: Opening Thursday 11 October 5.30-7.30pm Exhibition floor talk Thursday 25 October 1.30pm Storytelling in the gallery by Astra Howard Saturday 13 October and Saturday 3 November at 2pm

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

a/proxy[mate] love

a/proxy[mate] love
I thought Id post the latest version of my PhD abstract - if nothing else to remind myself what I wrote because it keeps changing...The titles a bit naf I know -but thats the hardest bit to try and sum everything up in a line or two - I'll probably change it ten more times. Its pretty heavy reading but all phd abstracts are to some degree - because you are trying to sum up a whole lot of stuff in less than 350 words - anyway here tis..


Incorporating Movement-based Interaction into Dialogic Encounters with Responsive Screen Personas.

Responsive screen personas: human-like digital entities designed to respond socially to a users input, are now a familiar element of the interactive media landscape. While research into ‘socially intelligent agents’ is well established, up until now there has not been a thorough investigation into artist’s responsive screen personas and how they incorporate embodied interaction. The aim of this research has been to provide a greater understanding of this complex art form and to create two new art works ‘In the house of shouters…’ and ‘a/proxy[mate] love’ that incorporate movement-based interaction and dialogic screen content. An initial finding of this study was that while there are many artworks containing screen personas that are designed to respond to a visitor’s bodily actions, these works tend not to include any spoken or ‘dialogic’ content, and, in those art works with personas that do speak, the interaction has tended to be linguistically driven. My hypothesis was that I might enhance the embodied dimension of a dialogic encounter with screen personas by incorporating a movement-based interaction based on social bodily spacing. Using Anthropologist Edward T Hall’s notion of ‘Proxemics’ as a starting point, I developed a new kind of augmented environment for embodied interaction that I call a ‘dialogic event-space’. These spaces connect screen personas dialogic performances to a visitor’s movements. In a ‘dialogic-event space’ visitors can create different dialogues as they move their bodies in relation to the screen personas. This study interweaves artistic practice and theory employing Donald. A. Schön’s ‘reflective researcher’ methodology. Schön’s experimental approach provides a strategy for practitioners to engage in a ‘reflective conversation’ with their own practice and arrive at an interpretive synthesis, in stark contrast to traditional methodologies that insist on objectivity and distance from the subject being studied. This research directly contributes to the implementation of innovative forms of interaction in new media arts and provides important insights into the evolving area of artist’s responsive screen personas through art practice, in-depth analysis of key artworks and a broader contextual investigation of embodied interaction in screen-based arts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Ideas and Process for In the House of Shouters

My new work 'In the House of Shouters' came from thinking about a few different ideas, not only how the spaces between people affect communication but more specifically the desire people have to make connections with other people but how so often people seem to constantly talk about themselves and not really listen to others. I though interactive aproxymate characters could be the perfect entities for representing this kind of dialogue between a talking but un-listening character.

I started thinking about the online dating phenomenon. I discovered that you often have to fill in a personality test before you can join many of these online dating services – supposedly to find out what kind of person you are so others can relate to you. I started collecting the tests.

Most of the tests consist of a series of questions followed by 2 – 3 choices of prescribed answers. I became really interested in how people might use these test answers to describe themselves and I thought id to make a work where the characters only used only words from these tests.

Writing the script I chose phrases that I assumed might signify that you were almost unable to communicate with others at all - and re-wrote a kind of neurotic self-centred dialogue for the three characters. I created the original script as a hypertext script – so it was written to work in both linear and non-linear modalities. Cut up technique

This work was partially created during a Residency at The Performance Space – where I spent three weeks writing, rehearsing and doing the video shoot. At the Performance space I held a series of workshops with my three performers Brian Fuata, Julie Vulcan, Karen Therese - where the open and re-orderable, re-linkable script I had written was further developed with their collaboration. A spoken and unspoken and language and was created by each performer for each character. Through this collaborative process a new script was constructed, also leaving space for improvisational elements to evolve in the video shooting process. The video shooting process involved working from a timeline (developed in the workshops) of words, phrases and gestures to record for each individual character and particular moments of connection / disconnection between the various characters.

Editing and designing the interaction.

After the residency came the editing. This is the longest most time consuming process. And strange because you I was working in a linear way editing but imagining or simulating how it might turn out in a non-linear situation.
I wanted to create 3 separate video characters that were also interrelated. I wanted the video streams or video characters to make sense when played in a linear order but also be divided into segments that would make sense when the videos were recombined in many different orders. I wanted a viewer to be able to interact with the characters separately and also as a group.

As part of the editing process I designed an interactive dramaturgy that involved 1 viewer, the 3 video characters and an environment with 5 different interactive zones. These zones were based around notions of social distances in face-to-face communication – particularly looking at cultural anthropologist Edward T Hall’s notion of "proxemics," or how peoples use of space particularly bodily positions in group situations affects communication

Implementing the interaction design in collaboration with Volker Kuchelmeister

So there are various ways this could be done. My initial plan was to create a DVD installation – using chapter markers as the re-orderable points in the video streams. This approach which has been used in quite a few interactive installations requires multiple industrial DVD decks and a specially built and programmed micro-controller - in essence a miniature computer used to control the synchronization of the various DVD players and that can be hooked up to the interface (sensors etc) and alert them when to play particular chapter points. Some of the drawbacks of this approach are that it is expensive and requires the expertise of someone who can build this type of micro-controller. I was in the midst of working on such a DVD system when I discovered Volker Kuchelmeister and Brad Miller had begun research and development in to the creation of a flexible interactive framework that would allow artists to stage different screen based interactive ideas without using much hardware and without requiring much new software development for each project. I asked to participate in their initial R&D period at Artspace where we tested an earlier work of mine using their basic framework This worked well so when I had finished the initial stages of in the house of shouters I approached Volker again to. Since then Volker has become one of my PhD supervisors.

In the House of Shouters

Originally uploaded by anna makes video people.
Another image of the three characters

In the House of Shouters

If you enter the small dark space you will find yourself surrounded by three life-size human video projections. Two women and a man.

If you stand still, the three characters will silently repeat a pattern of awkward, faltering gestures around you. They seem to be caught in an extended moment just before articulation.

Occasionally their eyes may catch yours. If you move forward in-between the three characters, they will all begin chanting their own inner-monologue. You may feel as if they are speaking directly to you.

If you move towards an individual character, the others will become silent as the one you have approached starts to speak. Sometimes they talk to each other. They almost have a conversation; one person speaks and then another. But there is no connection; in this dialogue you are the only one listening. In this dialogue, like many others, your timing and intimate proximity determines what you will discover.

my first a/proxy[mate] encounter

Originally uploaded by anna makes video people.
Im not a starwars fanatic or anything but I like this image and it was really the beginning of my whole obsession with projected video people


In my PhD thesis I am investigating artists augmented environments where a viewer can encounter screen characters that appear to address them directly. I have been fascinated by the idea of coming face to face with a projected video character since seeing Princess Leia’s hologram message in Star Wars when I was a child.

I use video to create ‘proxies’. Approximate video people to act as ‘stand ins’ for myself and for others in fictional mediated communication situations. I call these interactive video characters a/proxy[mate]s.


‘approximate’ 1.nearly exact, equal or perfect. 2. inaccurate; rough, 3.near; close together. 4.very similar. 5. to come near to; approach closely to. bring near. come near in position, character etc.
‘proxy’ the agency of a person allowed to act for another, an agent, a substitute, and a stand in.
‘mate’ a counterpart, a friend, and a partner.

I began creating my own video characters because I wanted to tell someone something without speaking to them and wished I had a video stand-in for myself. This developed into my art practice as I began using video to create ‘proxies’ what I call a/proxy[mate]s – video ‘stand ins’ for myself and for others and placing these a/proxy[mate] characters side by side to what would happen.

Creating these aproxymate characters became a way to explore and represent what I imagined might be going on in the spaces in between people when they tried to communicate.

By spaces in between people I mean

- Physical gaps between bodies when communicating face-to-face and long distance notions of ‘proxemics’.
- Temporal intervals, timing, interruptions, human and technological rhythms.
- Emotional distance - understanding or misunderstanding

These issues all affect our communication with each other and they are all linked because they are all refer to a space that comes about between people as situated bodies in time and in space – or in other words you could say this is an embodied understanding of communication and a phenomenological perception of communication space.

The two augmented cinema works in this thesis attempt to link phenomenological understanding of the spaces between people communicating and an embodied interaction design between screen characters and viewers in augmented space.