Testing possible presentations for the echolocation

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on April 19, 2010

What I think I want to do is use the echo location recordings and exploit them as a possible way to suggest a certain presence in a space. I was thinking of combining the abstract sounds with more recognizable sounds such as doors, squeaking wood, etc. Since I was going to suggest a presence and I had been thinking about Kosuth’s chairs I thought why not…so I took a chair, recorded some sounds while giving it slight, gentle and a few harder pushes. I attached two very little cheap speakers(therefore also quiet poor sound but it was just a test so at this point I don’t care …) to the bottom of the seat and sent the recorded chair sounds through them.

speakers attached to bottom of a chair seat

speakers attached to bottom of a chair seat

Small, rather low sounds of the chair wobbling a bit, still worked o.k. At some point while watching it and listening to the sounds I sometimes even started to really doubt whether the chair really wobbled or not. The bigger sounds like the legs scratching the floor, didn’t work so well. Probably because the sounds sounded comming from the seat instead of the legs, which would be more logical. However getting tired of this disappointing result, I sat down on the chair with the sounds still going. Suddenly it all worked better. Why? Well because the sounds sounded like they came from under the chair, which made sense from my new perspective. Second thing was that the vibrations of the speakers started to feel similar to vibrations I would feel when wobbling a bit or when slightly moving the chair in a certain direction.So as I realised the gap between the data from one sense and the data from another sense (in this case, hearing and touch) was smaller then the gap between the info comming through ears and eyes.

So feeling more lucky, I decided to switch to my echo location sounds which actually represent my movement through a few rooms/spaces. I will have to continue tomorrow, but it felt quiet O.k. for now. It kind of felt like there was something beneath my chair, sometimes hitting the seat from beneath in a quiet hard way, at other times it seemed/felt, more distant. I am quiet certain that if I would expand my setup with speakers in the room and use them to give direction to the ‘creature’/’object’ suggested by the sound, it would work quiet well.

To be continued …

Presence and/or Telepresence (A summary of what I am working on)

Posted in (non)sense, Transmedia Research by tpdr on March 5, 2010

The last few years I have been interested in what Roy Ascott would call our Variable Reality. This reality is composed of physic space (apparitional presence), ecospace (physical presence), nanospace (vibrational presence) and cyberspace (telepresence).[i] As a consequence, our sense of place becomes very complex. Our so-called unified self doesn’t feel so unified as we tought but instead seems distributed or at least transpored from one (part of) reality to another in a very fast way imposing a disorientated feeling upon us.

One of the main questions therefore became: What happens to the self under the influence of this new reality, or as Ascott calls it this variable reality?

I think what I have been doing with my mapping project when graduating from Graphic Design, was trying to create a tool to be able to keep track of myself. However I don’t feel like I understand what is actually happening or where this feeling of being taken somewhere else originates from. During a discussion last year with Frans Evers, I talked with him about the difference between when being in a (video)chat with somebody or calling somebody on a phone. Our conclusion was that when chatting online, you seem to be going over there, as when talking on the phone, you have more the impression that the other person comes to you. Therefore I think it would be usefull, for my future work to try and understand how different media as image and sound affect our feeling of presence and/or telepresence. In the future it might even be appropriate to understand the same sort of effects when talking about smell and touch.

A final question is maybe, how can the boundaries between presence and telepresence be blured (when talking about difference in space/location but also in time, past versus present)? Or how can Variable Reality become just reality again?

[i] Roy Ascott The Ambiguity of Self: living in a variable reality, in New Realities: Being Syncretic, Ascott/Bast/Fiel/Jahrmann/Schnell (eds.), SpringerWien, New York, 2009. P. 22-25.

Blueprint – Hans Demeulenaere & Esther Venrooy

Posted in Sound Art, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 24, 2009

This project took place in Ostend (Belgium) starting from 28 March till 5 May 2009.

According to Hans Demeulenaere and Esther Venrooy, all architecture
is alive. Taking this as their starting point, the artists built a site-specific
installation in a grand, vacant belle-époque-era mansion in Ostend,
Belgium. The architectural and acoustic qualities of the house were
analysed with the purpose of being reconstructed and transposed to
spaces across the building. Through their collaboration Demeulenaere
and Venrooy attempt to reconcile architecture and sound in a suggestive
and poetic manner, whereby memory of and movement through the
space will dictate the subjective, physical and mental experience of
this unique house.

Hans Demeulenaere (1974, Ostend) is a visual and installation artist.
His work has been featured in Be-Part (2006, Waregem) and BUDAFest
(2007, Kortrijk).

Esther Venrooy (1974, Rosmalen, The Netherlands) is a composer
and sound artist working in the field of electronic music.

(text source If you are interested you can also have a look at this pdf)

What I found interesting is that I also came to the same conclusion that all architecture is alive. Even though I came to this thought under the influence of reading about Toshiya Tsunoda, a quote from Georges Perec one can read in the pdf was equally inspiring especially since I like questions that can not be solved by chewing bubblegum. Perec’s quote ends with ‘The problem is not to invent space, and certainly not to re-invent it … the problem is to question space, or even more simply, to read space’. … I would already add ‘…let space trigger you’…but this would take me to far from the actual subject.

What I wanted to add is that Esther Venrooy has started a PhD with the subject Audio Topography and is especially interested in the sculptural/physical value of sound. Being interested in cartography, mapping, … she had me at ‘Topography’ but connecting it to ‘Audio’ or sound…that was really making things interesting as I decided not so long ago to pay more attention to sound when working on my own research in creating some sort of personal/subjective spatial map.

Another interesting riddle by Georges Perec, taken from the pdf mentioned before to end this post maybe? …‘If, in a given room, one changes the placement of the bed, could you then say that you have changed rooms or not?’

Building a Mediated Environment (video documentation)

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on August 24, 2009

I have put a small sample video online to illustrate the experiments I have been doing with the minimal setup of a projector, a see-thru-mirror-wall and 2 rgb-pixeltracks. The video images porjected on the mirror foil and the wall behind it are of my own creation, even though they are a temporary version. The sound is a mix of my own remix of solar sounds provided by the SOHO (SOlar Heliospheric Observatory) with added sounds and bleeps from COH for the final part.

To see the video click here to be directed to the vimeo site.

Building a Mediated Environment – Transmedia Research/1.1 (Transmedia Input Year 2009)

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on June 9, 2009

The mediated environment I was planning to build was supposed to become a mirror room, made of 4 see-thru-mirror walls. The single visitor inside would be confronted with a virtual landscape, projected on the outside of the mirror walls. However as the viewer moves around the space, he will trigger the lights on the inside of the mirror room, eventually making it so bright inside that the walls become mirrors again. At this point they would reflect each other and take the visitor to a sort of endless space. The displacing effect would be a reference to the displacing effect of media, connecting us to different spaces than our own. At the same time I would be researching the integration of media in architectural space, connecting myself to the field of Interactive Architecture.

As this project depended strongly on the effects and characteristics of the used materials, it took a little more time than my other works to get it going. At this point I have started testing different see-thru-mirror foils/filters and built one wall in order to try and combine it with a projector. The images below are all taken while experimenting with this first, basic setup (not yet using the landscape images). As this led to some unexpected results, showing the projected image slightly on the see-thru-mirror foil, showing the same image more clearly on the normal wall behind the mirror wall and creating a distorted, reflected image on the opposite wall, I decided to stick with these effects a little longer. I also added RGB-Led-tracks that originally reacted to the footsteps of visitors, however in the video documentation I will post soon it responds to music which I find less appealing.

As every new step exposes new possibilities I feel like I have to take my time to document each result and evaluate its possibilities in order to find new solutions, to change direction or to use some revealed effects for other projects.

As this is clearly a work in progress, I will post new documentation regularly, also commenting on the results, problems that need to be solved, new inspirations, etc.




Kurt Hentschläger vs Luc Coeckelberghs

Posted in MediaArt by tpdr on April 12, 2009

Contrary to what the title might suggest, I am not really going to compare the two works of both artists I have seen these last weeks. More important for my own research is how both of the influenced me.

First of all about a week ago I have seen ‘ZEE’ by Kurt Hentschläger at the STRP festival in Eindhoven. 20 minutes of sound and light in a space filled with smoke, just being guided by some ropes near the walls of the space. I was surprised the smoke and stroboscopic lights didn’t make me feel as uncomfortable as I had expected. The experience did have a great impact though. Both mentally and physically you could feel what the sound, light and smoke was doing to you. Physically, because of the smoke, it had a strong disorientating effect and as I was trying to get away from other participants, I found it hard to isolate myself, because every time (especially when the stroboscopic light was turned off again) I noticed I was standing next to somebody again without being aware of this immediatly. I never really bumped into somebody though. Also during the periods of stroboscopic light, it was strange to feel how my eyelids where ‘trembling’. Finally, feeling alone, even if it were just for a few seconds, I could really feel how my body was relaxing. On a mental level this also was the case and I don’t know if other people had this similar experience, it might have to do with my interest in mental landscapes and mapping/cartography, but seeing nothing but smoke, I started imagining the space, filling in the blanks and mentally exchanging the smoke for some kind of ‘imaginary space’.

This work of art was so powerful that I started doubting  my own research. I was wondering if I could make a strong impact like this with my reflective room that becomes transparant at certain moments and will be supported by colored light and ‘spacial sounds’. Luckily I decided to go see Countour Light in Mechelen yesterday night, where I experienced ‘Lighthouse’ by Luc Coeckelberghs. (IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO GO SEE IT, I THINK IT IS BEST NOT TO CONTINUE READING THIS POST AND READ IT AFTER YOU HAVE SEEN EVERYTHING YOURSELF!)

Even though I especially went to see the work of Erki De Vries and Tim Vets, I was surprised especially by Luc’s ‘Lighthouse’. This construction (container with LEDs, Perspex, synthetic canvas, computer; 390 x 280 x 800 cm) is built in the courtyard of ‘Hof van Busleyden’, a small garden recently renovated in a modern, rather minimalistic way. As a white light emitting geometrical building it fits right in. Once you get inside and close the door the real experience begins. All walls are covered with rgb-LEDs hidden behind blurred Perspex and change color in a continuous cycle. Of course I expected every color would have a different feel, but I couldn’t have imagined it to be this strong. I think I will go back to have a second go to be even more aware of what every color does to you, but it was clear that darker, bluish colors made me feel kind of heavy, like I was undergoing some kind of presure pushing me with my feet to the ground/floor, I thought the green collor, but also the yellow colors, seemed to take away this presure and even made me feel lighter and almost like I was going to float. Even though the construction was not floating, at some points I had the feeling as if it were detaching itself and starting to lift from the ground, very strange experience. Luc Coeckelberghs might be best known as a painter, but I must say I wouldn’t mind if he would continue making this kind of light art.

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.

Carlos Cruz-Diez

Posted in MediaArt by tpdr on February 28, 2009

About a week ago I found this colorful spread which had to promote a work by Carlos Cruz-Diez (°17/08/1923, Caracas, Venezuela). The ‘folder’ was published by Hans-Ulrich Obrist of the Serpentine Gallery in London, but the most interesting information I found on the homepage of Carlos Cruz-Diez. The work, which was promoted, is called Chromosaturations and is an artificial environment. As a visitor you enter three small rooms, next to eachother. One is a filled with green light, a second one with red light and the third is colored by blue lights. On pictures I thought it looked already interesting because you can really see the mixing of color on the ‘borders’ between two rooms. Then again I realised the effect in reality must be a lot stronger since color is perceived and generates ‘after-images’.

As Carlos Cruz-Diez has been researching color in art for a long time, and since he also wrote the most important information in a pdf on his site, people interested in color should really read this document.

What Is Reality?!

Posted in quotes and advices by tpdr on February 7, 2009

During my last talk with Mr Malcolm Le Grice, we talked about augmented reality and the fact that reality is always discussed. It is obvious that our definition of ‘reality’ has become problamatic. Since I think Malcolm Le Grice had an interesting defenition I had to post this:

‘Reality or the real is the arena of irreversable consequence(s).’ Malcolm Le Grice

To me this definition makes a lot of sense. The level of ‘irreversability’ could be a measure in situations like this: Somebody goes on Second Life every day, all of a sudden gets in contact with some other user/avatar and starts to fall in love. You could say Second Life is virtual, yet the feelings are real and I am sure if you digg deeper, you will find other irreversable consequences in relation to this example.

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.