The One and Three Chairs – Joseph Kosuth – 1965 (but still contemporary)

Posted in (non)sense, Society and Technology, Theory, Transmedia Research by tpdr on March 28, 2010

Never thought I would write a post about a conceptual work of art. Then again, only fools never change their mind, right? So what interests me when talking about Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs?

First of all what doesn’t interest me as much is what he was trying to say about understanding art, the linguistic nature of an artwork etc. What I like about this work is, what makes it contemporary and still valuable to me, is the multiplication of the chair. Being presented as an object, in a photograph and as a word, it made me think about how we are multiplied and distributed throughout dataspace today. The main question is also, what happens to the Self, when undergoing this phenomenon. To me a similar question is triggered here by the title, ‘One and Three Charis’, suggests that there should be 4, while you only see 3 (object, picture, word). So what is this fourth chair? It is the concept of the chair, the mental image of the chair, … .

Thinking about this, and when applying it to the multiplied and distributed Self, I would say it is not the Self that is distributed, but it is just our image that is distributed. All these distributed images together all lead to imagining (part of) the Self. So how much is the Self then affected by the multiplicationand distribution we are confronted with? Are we creating a problem where there is non, misleaded by ‘reason’? Do we just have to focus on that mental image and use that as our reference, our vantage point? … As usual more questions than answers arise (hopefully some (possible) answers, will be posted on this blog in the future).

Another aspect that interests me is, when thinking about having the feeling we are evolving more towards the tactile (as a reaction to too much focus on the visual)(inspired for example by the thinking of Derrick De Kerckhove, a man I do respect), this work by Kosuth also interests me on this level. There is a difference on the level of tangibility here, that’s clear. But instead of going on believing we do need a more tangible world, I started doubting this again. For example one could ask the question if a return to the tangible is really necessary? Or maybe it is necessary, if only to conclude that we were wrong? Hard to answer at this moment, sure. All also depends on how you define ‘tangibility’. So instead of getting lost in this complicated subject, I will go on posting about this (as it is in some sense my main subject anyway) and try to elaborate this theme step by step. So I will end this one with saying sorry to all those of you adjusted to our ‘instant society’.



Posted in Society and Technology, Uncategorized by tpdr on December 16, 2009

Just wanted to post this TED-talk about the AlloSPhere. This 360°-data visualisation does a visual and sonic mapping of complex data. However when watching the presentation I was wondering whether there would be a more interesting way to use sound as a mapping code, as I found the sounds in the AlloSphere more valuable as ‘special effects’ adding to the dramatic aspect of the visualization, but not really an added value in the sense that the sounds don’t really contribute a lot to the mapping and they could as well be left out, except for the fact that they probably make the experience more immersive. So while I continue to think about the combination of sound and mapping, I will be looking for examples that are more valuable on this level. Since I have always concentrated on working mostly with visuals and typography, sound art is not my specialty so I think I will bump into some interesting projects combining sound and mapping soon.

Nevertheless I think the AlloSphere is still a valuable project especially when it comes to making really complex scientific data accessible. Enjoy! See the demo.

Lenses Augment Reality

Posted in Gaming, MediaArt, Society and Technology by tpdr on March 29, 2009

This post is related to an article of March 2008 on the WIRED-blog.

If you would ask the Pentagon and DARPA (the technological department of the US military that also ‘invented’ the Internet), soldiers will, in three to five years from now, see all information needed in front of them at any given time. How they want to do this? Simple, you create a new kind of lenses that work as a projection screen, but remain transparant, thus adding a digital layer to reality. Of course it sounds really easy like this but how do you create this kind of ‘screen’ and how do you feed it with power and data? DARPA is thinking about lasers, light-emitting diodes, …, ‘metamaterials’ . Like they said before they will be spending about 3 million $ on technical research, no doubt this will pay off. Maybe they even could be exchanging know-how with the University of Washington, since they are working on a similar ‘gadget’.

Wearing these lenses would be like walking around in the ‘real-world’ as if you were playing a first person shooting game. Of course I don’t need to say this technology will be found usefull in non-military situations as well. Why not use this kind of lenses to replace these gps-devices we carry around? Or even use them to get all kinds of information when walking around, lets say the supermarket? Think of looking at products and seeing the prices, ingredients, etc. right in front of your eyes without having to take the product of the shelf. Will this be a positive evolution? Maybe if you didn’t, you should now read another post related to augmented reality titled ‘Augmented Unreality’.

I will of course keep an eye on the development of this technology and if any of you knows more, please leave a comment. I am sure I will be more interested in the way this could be used to play games in the ‘real world’, than how it will be used as a navigation-system. As with maps I prefer the power of subjective/personal cartography to the so called ‘objective’ maps.

Interact To Survive – Arjen Mulder

Posted in MediaArt, Society and Technology, Theory by tpdr on March 2, 2009

This post is based on an interview with Arjen Mulder by Arie Altena, ‘Interageren om te overleven’, Rekto:Verso, published by Rektoverso vzw, nr.33 Jan-Feb 2009, p.5-7.

First of all I think it is interesting to know that Arjen Mulder is actually a biologist. This means that his texts about interactive art, is influenced by biological phenomena. I guess this is the reason why I have the feeling, when reading his articles, essays, they always feel more ‘media ecological’ than other texts (to read more about Media Ecology, check other article on my blog).


First of all Mulder states that all art is mediated, but that it will/must always try to make something happen ‘outside’ of the medium, especially today, in times that we are surrounded/blinded by media. Art has always been ‘interacting’, and these days it seems like it is surviving because of interactivity.

Interaction is a fact, but ‘Interact or Die!’/’Interact to Survive’ gives it some kind of biological aspect. It is of course true that we, as humans, have always been interacting with our environment in order to survive, what is really new are the images that first appaered on the walls of caves and later became paintings, drawings, photographs, etc. These pictures were stable and established a one-way-communication with the audience. They made it possible to contemplate, something which is difficult when it comes to moving images like film. For Mulder it is hard to analyse a movie while watching, and he finds it easier when he just starts thinking based on the first image, which is some sort of archetypical image from the viewer’s point of view. Afterwards you can add other snapshots of important actions in the story of the film to make connections and complete the analysis. You can, in this situation only contemplate if something happens. Mulder further remarks that the new media don’t seem to force themselves on us as much as older media. They also allow more interaction, an exchange of ‘thoughts’. The consequence for the new type of contemplation, is that you don’t hav to look back anymore but are invited to look forward to see where it is going or how to make you think about how to get there. Instead of telling us that life is hopeless, the new media tell us we can achieve something if we put our mind to it, like reaching the next level in a game or how we can work towards an economic system without waste and/or pollution. We will have to learn about what will go wrong or what will work for the future if we do this or that.


An important question related to this is whether art can be an ‘early warning system’ like Marshall McLuhan stated years ago, even if there will be no more autonomous art, like Mulder said in his book ‘Over Mediathorie'(About Mediatheory, 2004). According to Arjen there is no problem since what McLuhan was talking about is that art can make us think about what media do to us, how they change/affect our thinking, feeling, etc. Mulder says media art today will still show what the new media are doing to us. Artists have always been interested in new technologies, trying to find out what they can do, how they can be used and what effects they have on society. What interactive art tells us now is that we are part of a network, not being separate individuals but connected to other spaces, objects, etc. than our own. This does not mean that we are nomads again or become schizofrenic, but we will have to try and think ‘cradle to cradle’. This means we have to learn how to think back from the future to the now. Only then one can see what is realy possible, it is the same methodology used for durable product development.


‘Copy-paste’ and ‘mash-ups’ are common actions today, ex. on Youtube, Lev Manovich talks about ‘deep remixability’ but doesn’t feel like there is much innovation happening. Mulder thinks Manovich is making the mistake of just looking at the images, which even though there are a lot of clips online aren’t always as old-fashioned/’classic’ as one might think. The interfaces added to this the ‘activation of the screen’ which is already an innovation on its own. According to Mulder Manovich is one of those people who don’t think of ‘interaction’ as an important change, a ‘revolutionary phenomenon’. He remarks that interaction has had an impact as important as the influence of film has had on the future of photography, with this one important difference, it is not about the images anymore, but about the interaction itself. Mulder would even call it the ‘imageless art’, but it poses even more important questions such as: What makes us move, react and decide and where does this takes us? What are the consequences, how will the world respond and what can we learn from this? Conclusion of Mulder is that art is exploring new terrains


According to Mulder YouTube is about editing the overload of clips and picking out the most interesting/popular ones. This leads to a new/own kind of evaluation of teh content, in other words ‘from primetime to primeposition’. Now to answer the question of YouTube being the end of massmedia, we have to say it will/has change/changed the older media (re-mediation). First of all we have to remark that Mulder has some problems with the term ‘massmedia’. TV(in the pre-digital TV era) for ex. is not really a massmedium to him as we watch it on our own, or with a limited amount of people and we can’t talk back to it, or interact with it in any way. Therefor to him a politician giving some kind of lecture or a music group doing a pop concert are more ‘massmedia’ to Mulder than TV or other so called massmedia.


Art should be unstable, ephemeral, no more heavy pieces that will cause problems in the future in relation to conservation and stockage. For Mulder the beauty of the new media arts is that it lets you experience something new until the exhibition is over and the installation is taken apart, removed, … , it becomes ‘ephemeral’, making it more ‘touching’ than solid forms of art. Even though some people think it is all about big machinery, it is more about what happens to the visitor, how the process of affection/emotion is triggered, not purely technical but also not totally human, it is a mix, it is ‘in between’. Mulder adds that he really likes interactive art the is still ‘a little bit of a mess’, almost like some kind of silly game. To illustrate he rcalls this action during Ars Electronica which asked people living in the neighbourhood to create something in their backyard at a certain time on a certain day. At that time the area would be photographed from a helicopter and he really liked the mix of words, typography, drawings made by the locals in their yards. The good thing also accroding to Arjen is that it could have failed and that this would have been experienced as an enormous desillusion.


As a final remark I would like to add that Mulder is suprised that ‘Media Theory’ is still holding on. Some time ago Arjen stated that he expects media theory to be replaced by software theory, since all media are affected by the computer, and thus by software, as a metamedium. It might not be true today yet, but I certainly hasn’t given up hope.

Augmented Unreality

Posted in Society and Technology by tpdr on February 6, 2009

This post is based on the interesting article ‘Disputing Augmented Unreality’ by Keir Neuringer in TAG MAG 06 ‘Augmented Reality, Superimposing the Virtual, published by <>TAG

Imagine this, I am walking a mountain trial and all of a sudden the weather changes so I have to get as quickly as possible to a shelter, but there is no such place for hours. I panic but then again I have this Augmented Reality device with me. These glasses function as a projection screen on the inside adding a layer of digital/virtual information to the reality I see watching through the glasses. The device calculates my route to safety, using GPS data cross-referenced with weather info from Internet and thus taking also into account the conditions of the environment, access to water and my own physical condition as it also monitors my heart rate with a sensor, etc. All this superimposed information makes me calm down and I am on my way to safety. Still I would rather leave the device at home. this story was told by the writer of the article, Keir Neuringer and I agreed, which I will explain later.

1) Neuringer states that Augmented Reality doesn’t actually change reality as we can not qualify or quantify reality. Disputing reality we would end up in insanity or art. Augmented reality, like mobile phones, the Internet and anything that can be abstracted from specific perceptions of time, space and connectivity, threatens the notion of the local. The largets entity that we can grasp as local is this planet and all its tangible, physical aspects that others experience. If we watch somebody drink water, we can not taste it but our memory can trigger a memory of the taste of water, which is empathy. An AR device might allow us to ctually taste water even though it is not there, which is insane.

2) Keir Neuringer remarks that with ubiquitous computing, data of things we make can be networked. He is actually convinced that birds, earthworms,etc.and people awake to their unaugmented senses are also networked and syncing too. He knows this because if he spents a certain time away from devices, walking in the mountains, the more he feels alive to the world around him, he doesn’t need devices to connect his perceptions amongst them or to facilitate the connectivity to his surroundings.

3) As his conclusion he writes: There is a layer of experience and perception and action that is augmentable. He believes art can dispute reality when artists address it forthrightly and bring creativity to bear on the enigma of being, on problems and beauty embedded in our perceptions. And by sharing in reality, consciously and with clarity. Which is to say sanely.

Personally I agreed earlier with his conclusion of his little story about the mountain walk because I feel the same way just using a GPS navigation system. I rather use a map or get lost. Why? Because these devices feel so totalitarian, telling where to go and which way to take, but more importantly, these devices stop you from thinking. Outsourcing ‘thinking’ to me feels like a dangerous thing to do. I don’t want to make this sound too conservative, I just want to say we have to think about what these devices do to us and make sure they don’t make us weaker in the end. Somewhere in the article Neuringer also mentions that he also could have used a map, could hav learned about the fauna and flora in relation to this mountain, etc. but it is easier to just take a device and make it tell us all of this and turning ourselves into passive receivers. I would just want to be someone who is not a fool for gadgets but takes their consequences into account and decides afterwards if it is a necessity to have this or that device or not. And to put in a positive note, I still believe for every device that makes us stop thinking, there is always a way to use it to exercise our thinking.

Ambient Intelligence

Posted in Society and Technology by tpdr on February 6, 2009

This post is a summary of what I found interesting in the article ‘The Territory of Ambient Intelligence’ by Rob van Kranenburg in TAG MAG 06 ‘Augmented Reality, Superimposing the Virtual, published by <>TAG

In the Phaedrus Socrates spoke out against writing, pencils, and any other way of outsourcing our human memory to the environment, the question is should we exclude any kind of environment?

For most of us growing up with technology, makes it not technology but something that just is arround. As we are moving into the territory of ambient intelligence (AmI), we have between five and ten years to decide which connectivities we want, after that, also according to Marc Weiser in ‘The Computer of the 21st Century’, they disappear into the ‘fabric of everyday life’. Still there are still quiet a few catches.

Catch 1: The Internet is not yet ready to become the ‘Internet of Things’.

Catch 2: Philips sold their chip-making divisions so as not to get caught up in the debate of ‘privacy’. Companies do not want to be associated with things like RFID, they just want to add drama to the everyday life, bringing ambient narratives, gameplay, etc. in our homes. In these last cases people are not supposed to be thinking about what is running in the background to make them effective systems. But this can only happen if we can implement the technology in a stable environment, we need this so nothing goes wrong since people only start thinking of the system behind something if it goes wrong.

Catch 3: We want to be safe, not feel safe, because to feel safe may change quickly. AmI promises this safety, but will we still feel free? As an example of the totalitarian character of AmI just imagine this. Some people would like to use RFID to do provocative surveillance tracking every action of citizens. As somebody is noticed to have visited shop A to buy product A, then  stops at shop B to buy product B and ends up in shop C to buy product C, the police could catch him right there because these are the ingredients for a bomb. Just take this way of thinking and you might end up with a world in which you can get arrested for saying certain words, even thinking something, for reading this text, etc.

Catch 4: No more public. Even hacking an RFID tag is pretty useless as the database and thus the system will still continue to exist.

Catch 5: We have 2 options. One is that the ongoing disciplining process will sclae larger and to more damaging techno-logistic blocs (which we will have to fight). Option two is that the first cracks will show and in highly developed and techno-saturated countries opening the doors for cibil wars, gang wars, etc. not accepting the fact that a gouvernment which has outsourced its currency and law and privatised all it’s services, still collects 0% of our incomes. Anyway in both cases we need our own system of communication, transport, etc. and we that are the people involved with open source software, brico in nature, share as a way of living, people with some sense of shame left.

I must say I will not ask to agree or disagree, I think everybody should make up his/her own mind. This post is just a teaser to make people think. And I wanted to end this post with one advice: As artist, please don’t focus on the gadgets, but on the connectivity.