It is coming together!
I made the technical plan, also the final concept. Actually didn’t change much, lot of iterations on the form and it did influence my content but the content was the biggest challenge. It had to come at the same time, trying to draw the absurdity here.
For the last part I’m trying to concentrate on the finish touches. Pretty important to also think, not only esthethic but what do it means? I recall I had a talk with Nicolas the other day about the physicality of the Web, actually the interfaces does matter. Screens are glossy, shiny, smartphones are often presented as objects of desire and appeal. I’m trying to challenge that ambiguity with my objects, didn’t want it to look to recycling my garage. I hesitated between the coherence, but it’s kind of half-half and I’m smoothering everything with the finish. Different kind of black. Looking also for the cable color coding to add pep’s to my composition. It’s purely about scenography but it’s pretty important and I also want to deliver a message with that. With this I’m kind of past the kistchy look I was a little insecure of.
This week is another dilemma – the same actually, you don’t get rid of a problem by running away from its. 🙃 In the same day, I had a tutorial with Nicolas and Tobias, both with very divergent opinions about my project. Here is the mindmap, I’ll detail a bit afterwards ↓
I explained to Nicolas my concept to make exaggerated objects derived from the mechanical mouse – which is actually what I’ve started to get on last week with my sketch (5). However, the embodiment of the gestures within a known object aka the mouse offers my project a whole new playground’s framework. He is encouraging me to take even further that concept into the scenography as well, and to carefully think about each module and the whole cohesion – be its in the approach I’m taking, and the apparence I’m setting down.
As you might follow, I’m pretty stuck on the visual content part. I feel like I’m developing a concept that is already putting a strong layer about the concept of web surfing, and any visual content might only end up as a bit too much. Which is why I proposed to make a sound content part version only using MAX/MSP, in order to exaggerate its sounds.
I’m already thinking of featuring samples from my friend Sima Kim’s EP IT’S A DREAM, TAKE CONTROL, for which I actually did a series of motion artworks on Instagram, here is an extract ↓ The sounds are pretty ambiguous, I like the fact that it’s hard to discern what they are exactly, but the sound aesthetic somehow still screams the physicality of the Internet.
Although Nicolas was keen on the idea to get my project exploring further down a mechanical approach rather than a representation of the web, he still felt like it should have a visual feedback from the objects. Plus, the sound part is thought to work for several people, and I did aim for a participatory project, but it doesn’t only work for one…
Anyways, I’m giving it a few days of reflexion. Meanwhile, I need to get on with the making – it’s pretty urgent. After my day tutorial, I re-sketched up with keeping in mind the combination of the objects’ design and the sensors I might then use, following the recommendations of Nicolas ↓
Here is its 3D version ↓
I’m not good at conceptualizing IRL and I felt that I spent too much time worrying about its already, so I went to the 3D workshop the next day and asked for advice. The challenge is definitely how to incorporate the circuit without its being that obvious, ‘hey, I’m an Arduino board!’. The pedal is the most straightforward module – I just need to get some springs. The wheel is all about how I connect its to the sensor – a rotary encoder would do the job better than a gyroscope then, it seems already like a nightmare to hide that thing. Not convinced by the ball board at all. The board ball would need to have a double-bottom + a trick for the balanced shape… Seems like a rather complicated object that is shaped by its contraints rather than its function! I’m rather worried on the fact that it lacks any meaning, since the two others modules are familiar derived objects and thus are easy to comprehend.
And the Arduino prototype, to check if everything is working ↓
While I sketched up my last idea, I had two words in mind – Materialize and Decentralize. Indeed, I’m materializing gestures into physical objects. And yes, I’m purposely decentralizing them as a critique against the over-functional screen, where you can basically do everything – even coffee! (Technically it’s not the screen but the phone case there, but you got the gist) ↓
I wanted my gestural objects to be rather straightforward, so I’m going back to the basics. Every gestures I’m materializing are basically taken apart from the mechanical computer mouse. Hence – How To (Web-)Surf w/ a Broken Mouse? ↓
So I have the wheel, the pedal and the ball board. I did some quick research about the history of each, as I’m trying to further down their concepts. I also found a pretty trippy explanatory video about how the mechanical mouse actually works ↓
And a chronology of the mouse (in French, sorry but images are enough) → https://dailygeekshow.com/evolution-souris-ordinateur-informatique-epoque-temps/
As for the content and following up what I wrote last time about the sense of discovery, I thought about what platform I actually liked to spend time on. Youtube is a great choice, yet to confirm though – what would the objects bring in term of navigation? I’m thinking of the meaning that I want to give to the gestures / objects: the wheel will scroll back in time, and the board will move around by geolocalisation.
Problem I have is that as I’m looking into the API, it’s actually harder than expected to produce the results that I want (the use of time and geolocalisation are pretty tricky). I can’t seem to use the criterias of search without typing any key words, but I don’t want to alter the results with my own idea of Youtube. In that instance, I found this Random Youtube website that does that job. 🙃
The pedals also definitely don’t bring anything much, except PAUSE and NEXT. I really oughta re-think about that, my project is starting to look like the next WiiMote. 😅 I also thought about an exhibition system where the screen wouldn’t be too obvious so not as distracting – the idea of its lying on the ground remains. A projection would be too big and also distract the attention, while I want that attention full on the objects, and the sense of discovery to come while you peek at the box-iPad.
Even though I’m still unsure about the feasibility of the content, my research is also evolving through my practice – hence it’s about time I get to physical-prototyping. I borrowed a potentiometer for the wheel, and two buttons for the pedals. Gareth advised me to use a gyroscope sensor for the ball board – it won’t actually detect the ball but the board’s movements, basically giving out the illusion it’s the ball being detected.
Last week’s suggestion was that I will exclusively focus on the mechanical part, but I have a hard time visualizing my project without its content. However, I really can’t seem to bring out anything truly satisfying – my frustration is talking here. Tomorrow I have tutorials, let’s see how it’s gonna turn out.
This week is a dilemma.
While digging the Custom Search API and its possibilities, I thought about what web surfing meant to me – an aimless re-creative re-creation. But how relevant is it to re-create that same experience with visuals? I’m afraid the audience won’t find anything surprising in its, especially if they aren’t digging that type of imagery. That’s why I started to think about an end-goal rather than an aimless output, and I came up with this Wikipedia prototype ↓
As you might know or not, if you always click on the first link of any Wikipedia article, you’ll end up reaching the Philosophy article. There is even an article about its. While I was editing this video, I instantly knew that it wasn’t working for my project, but I still think there is something about an end-goal that I should take account of.
My another worry is that it might be too literal to take the WWW as my content. Maybe I should think of another type of visual universe? I presented my dilemma to Eva and Nicolas during this Monday’s tutorial, plus the gestures / objects I’m thinking of for now. As always, here is the mindmap + the sketch ↓
As I was hesitating between these two options, they told me that I should look up more to a third option where I wouldn’t focus on any digital content – at least not with that type of aesthetics, or it can always be used as the source. As my objects are taking their importance, I should concentrate on the machinery I’m aiming to create. The pianocktail from L’Écume des Jours is a good example ↓
I guess my worries were founded. Although I do feel lost, it’s better than to keep going in a direction that I actually don’t enjoy. The day after, I had a tutorial with Nicolas. Here is the mindmap ↓
We talked about what I actually wanted people to learn from the Internet. As I talked about the aimless re-creation at the beginning of this post, I think I’m going towards the discovery side of its. The exploration is only aimless in its process but always ends up with the discovery. How do I re-create the feeling of discovery through my content?
Nicolas showed me few examples of projects that materialized the Internet. For instance, the Telluric Telecospe by alumni Simone Ciocoiu is an interesting approach of the sense of discovery using Youtube. We also talked about the possible use of Twitter’s API, but I’m considering others options for now. I don’t think Twitter suits my message. This is far to be my favorite platform – imo it’s over-cluttered to make sense of anything happening in there.
We also talked about how the Internet is somewhat physical – we aren’t swiping in the air but still on a screen, right!, and derived about the lack of visibility through that global network. The question of Internet’s transparency is controversial in the age of mass surveillance. Reminds me of the book/essay/fanzine Black Transparency by Metahaven, which I can only recommend.
Last point – I might go back to the pataphysics, which I actually mentioned in my first mindmap. Time to re-read my Thesis research a bit!
It’s gonna be a packed post, you are warned.
Firstly – I didn’t mention it in last week’s post, but I had an informal crit with part of the cohort.
We talked about our respective projects, and advised each other for the concept and its execution. We also started to talk about the space’s plan – I have learnt that we actually have the Well Gallery, which is great! It also helps for my project to know which space I can use. I was suggested the space below the stairs at the Well Gallery, which is a pretty interesting area that I can maybe exploit.
Nothing is firmly planned for now, but it’s good to know where we are going – not only individually, but as a group putting our FMP-s together.
After that, I updated my sketch and here it is what it looks like now ↓
Following-up was the show meeting with Ben Branagan and Tobias. The meeting served as estimating each project’s technical needs.
Mine should be pretty straightforward in its execution. I explained that I’m gonna have analog controllers linked to a ground-projection – purposely to create an anti-familiar environment. The difficulty might lie in the ground-projection, thus I should put a distance to avoid its to be obstruct. I was also thinking of 3D print the objects, but advice is that I should think of the haptic – hence, use wood.
Although the execution is somewhat estimated, the form and the content are yet to be defined. This is exactly the focus of next day, as I had a tutorial with Tobias. Advice is that I should definitely focus on the content first, the rest will follow later. Well, form follows function so… Touché. We talked about how I could use visuals to re-create the web-surf experience, and he showed me references such as I Am Google by Dina Kilberman.
As usual, I mindmapped the main points + some others I didn’t detail here ↓
I added a point that made my friend Osama. I actually regularly call my friends to talk about my FMP – pretty much after each tutorial to reflect out loud, and the point he made was pretty valid so I highlighted that here. Even though I should focus on the content then followed up by the form, I better have a concise idea of the gestures – at least.
Last point – from my tutorial with Tobias, I imagined a Google gradient Images experience using RGB as variables for the controllers ↓
I got this idea from Pete’s suggestion last week, and from a visual experiment I did some time ago ↓
I talked with Gareth about the feasibility to use Google Images API with RGB variables. The API isn’t updated anymore so I better use the Custom Search API. He told me that it might be tricky, except if I cheat with CSS. That’s what I thought, the options seems to be limited to pre-chosen colors.
By cheating, I kinda lose the meaning in aimlessly surfing around. I’m thinking about time and geolocalisation as it seems possible with most APIs, and it is also much more meaningful and relevant on the WWW, rather than trying to satisfy my aesthetics. In the end, what meaning holds web surfing for me?
I met with my mentor Pete Wallace, we had loads of catch-up to do about our respective projects.
Prior to that meeting, I didn’t voice out my concept at all. Thus, I was pretty insure about its clarity. Turns out that Pete got exactly what I was trying to explain (aka what I previously wrote → “Bring corporality to the experience of web surfing“), and it definitely helped clearing up my thoughts. I got so many ideas while I was kind of stuck by myself. Because of his background with projection and moving image, he also advised me a lot on the technical part. After that, I sketched out few ideas for the execution – as you can see below-low.
We also talked about my Ars’ project, and my interest in the relationship between sounds and physical gestures. Pete e-mailed some of his colleagues whose line of works could intertwine with mine. I exchanged a bit with Benji Fox – he advised me on binary sound, and sent me a few references of contemporary modular synths with interesting control gestures. I particularly liked Landscape ↓
In the same vein, I also went to the Music Hackspace Artist Talk at Sommerset House this Monday, with Kacper Ziemianin presenting its LightSeq ↓
In the age where everything is pretty much doable within your sole laptop, the experience of playing // watching the performance still matters.
Although my FMP might not follow that musical path – I’m better off concentrating on the visual part, I still can definitely link my interest in the gestural experience into web surfing.
Anyways – this is always useful, particularly in the case I’m planning to improve my Ars’ project. I’m somewhat trying to accomplish a cohesive line of works, and I can’t really disregard my own interest about sounds. I know it shouldn’t be forced though, so I’m backing up a little bit to reflect and solve that visual content part first.
I have to admit I’m stuck on that part. 🙃 The only thing I know is that I want to re-create a web universe, it’s plenty vague enough. I didn’t talk about it much with Pete, though he gave me a few ideas for the variables I could use, such as a RGB detection.
As usual, I mindmapped – and simplified everything out ↓
Here are the sketches ↓
After the Formal Thesis Assessment last week and a lil’ break (which mostly consisted in viewing and moving flats…), it’s time to get back on tracks – time for the long awaited FI-NAL GRA-DUA-TE PRO-JECT 👌
While writing, I couldn’t wait to get to this part. I actually have been ideating a rather firm concept of its since I finished my Ars Electronica’s project, which happened during the same time-span – remember, the scroll meditative box?
Since I used to ideate with the screen, I’d like to keep conceptualizing an Internet-inspired type of design – with tangible objects. It was actually my main objective during this MA, to get out of my screen-comfort-zone and to do something actually physical(-computing). For some reasons, I’ve always been intimated by designing actual objects, but I’m starting to do better now… Why not keep going at it then?
My pitch is rather simple → “Bring corporality to the experience of web surfing“.
What I meant by the word corporality is actually taken of the French word corporalité. The actual translation would be physicality, but I like the semantics of corporalité. Why is that? Well, corps translates to body, hence corporalité litteraly takes physicality in line to our body, to our human senses.
Which is what I’m aiming for, bringing web surfing closer to us. I started mindmapping as you can see below ↓
Just handed-in my Final Major Project and Thesis proposal, here is it ↓↓↓
SURF IS OVER, LET’S CYBERFLÂNE.
This isn’t a random wordplay but an actual statement. Take cyber and put flâneur; you got the verb, the term and the noun I want to dedicate my thesis study on. What do I mean by cyberflâner, cyberflânerie and its cyberflâneur – and how do I relate it to surfing? Wait, web surfing I meant.
Indeed, the area of my research is specifically the Word Wide Web and the act of surfing – and its relationship with the flâneur. This is the French way to name a man of leisure which was picked up by the scholar Walter Benjamin in the 20th century, and thus became the symbol of the modern explorer. As I aim to do it here, as the symbol of the digital explorer.
Fig 1. Windows 95 Commercial by Microsoft (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTOEiQSsCRk).
The World Wide Web has undoubtedly changed since its invention in 1991 by Tim Berners-Lee. This is definitely to be broaden with the Internet, although the difference has to be mark. If the Internet – firstly ARPANET, has mainly been brought by the U.S Department of Defense to facilitate both communication and surveillance through a global networking infrastructure, the World Wide Web beamed with hope towards infinite explorations.
What exactly is the act of surfing? Here is the definition dated of 2004 found on Urban Dictionary:
Usually involves an individual browsing through the Internet, whilst not looking for anything in particular.
I particularly like the last bit: whilst not looking for anything in particular. This is how I relate it to the act of flâner. You put your time in that aimless stroll, mindfully observing the city and its surroundings; the self-awareness of this act is very important, and I believe the act of surfing encouraged that same self-awareness. We click from hyperlink to another hyperlink, surfing through the web pages as they are waves. Now, this isn’t much the case.
New (inter)actions has since taken place out of the known gestures: the click and the scroll. The first is quantifying actions – such as like and follow, while the later has transformed the way the World Wide Web is thought, as it has brought up the feed.
Indeed, the hyperlink has been overtaken by the feed, infinitely bringing us contents – personalized yet automatized contents through algorithms. Recommendations systems keep getting more and more accurate by gathering datas through our feeds. Therefore, the act of surfing has now an undermining importance. This has precisely been “damaged” by those algorithms: how relevant is the act of surf if this is influenced by my localization, my previous searches and my datas? That’s why I’m referring to the cyberflâneur instead.
With it, the act of reading has also subsequently changed: short(er), fast(er), and linear. The risk underlying the infinite feed is a trap of time and attention. I believe there isn’t much satisfaction through the feed: you can’t never get enough, precisely because you’ll always get more. This linearity impacts on the act of reading, and I believe personal development is at risk here – the development of oneself. That’s why the concept of individuation is important – as I understand it from the works of Bernard Stiegler  against the hegemony exerted by big corporations on the Internet.
Nevertheless, I still don’t believe that the Internet as a medium – is specifically making us any stupid: it’s about the way the (inter)actions are designed and how we use its. The development of cognitive skills happens through the act of reading – and writing, though I’m choosing to exclusively focus on that first act here. I want to demonstrate that the cyberflâneur is very much alive: he/she is aimless, absolutely not mindless – and yet certainly non-aware of his/her own status.
Rather than to provide an actual solution – that would definitely put my work into the realms of the screen, I aim to create a debate around the act of the cyberflânerie. That’s why I want to transcribe the act of cyberflâner into the physical world, through the production of an interactive installation.
Before that, a completed literature review is my first step into the writing part: my main routes are Walter Benjamin and its “flâneur”, Guy Debord and its “dérive”, and Marshall McLuhan and its “global village”. I believe that a systematic review is needed to reach the figure of the cyberflâneur through the understanding of concepts thought at different eras. An expert research on the cognitive aspect of the Internet is also much needed, to add physical substance to my theoretical research.
My main framework is experimentation: I will definitely cyberflâne myself, and might ask individuals to do the same – with the possibility to use brain sensors to track any changes, added to the expert research I’ll have. The writing part would thus definitely overlap with the production part at the beginning. This won’t be the end-result of my project, as I only intend to use it as a way to gather datas. I’m also inspired by Kenneth Goldsmith and his concept of “Wasting Time on the Internet”  – to find creativity into the act of procrastination. I plan to make use of this reflective practice by producing observations from the outcomes of its.
My other framework is the prototyping and research through it: which interactions represent the best the act of cyberflâner? I can’t find out by putting my energy through the end-production; I first have to test out and choose the better fit. For that, I also plan to conduct a field research using surveys – both online and in my physical environment, to generate thoughts and opinions behind gestures used and envisioned. A contextual research would also help me to define the existing practices in the use of the Internet as a medium.
Lastly, here are my two criteria of success: I want to get the individual to critically reflect on his/her actions on the World Wide Web, and hopefully encourage the act of the cyberflânerie.
Bell, D. (2008). Cyberculture Theorists: Manuel Castells and Donna Haraway. London: Routledge.
Carr, N. (2011). The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
ceramicstoday.com. (1998). The ‘Cyberflaneur’ -Spaces and Places on the Internet II – Ceramics: 05/19/98. [online] Available at: http://www.ceramicstoday.com/articles/051998.htm [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].
 Goldsmiths, K. (2014). Why I Am Teaching a Course Called “Wasting Time on the Internet”. The New Yorker. [online] Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/wasting-time-on-the-internet [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].
Hendel, J. (2012). The Life of the Cyberflâneur. The Atlantic. [online] Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/the-life-of-the-cyberfl-neur/252687 [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].
Morozov, E. (2017). The Death of the Cyberflâneur. The New York Times. [online] Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/opinion/sunday/the-death-of-the-cyberflaneur.html [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].
 Spatial Machinations. (2013). Bernard Stiegler, “the Net blues”. [online] Available at: http://www.samkinsley.com/2013/11/21/bernard-stiegler-the-net-blues/ [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].
Van Honk, J. (2016). The Web and its Wanderers. Institute of Network Cultures. [online] Available at: http://networkcultures.org/longform/2016/02/19/the-web-and-its-wanderers/ [Accessed 16 Jun. 2017].
I want to study the globalization of the world at the age of the World Wide Web (1991), esp. the question of cultural homogenization through it. The Internet is a key factor to understand the globalization in recent years. If the globalization started by the fair trades between markets, its consequences expanded to communications tools and eventually medias, and thus affected popular culture. Although the Internet has significantly broken down communication barriers between cultures, it might also contributed to the cultural uniformity of our societies.
Marshall McLuhan (1962) predicted the Internet as an extension of consciousness and describes how the Global Village as created by the electronic media to unify communities. However, it is important to points out that McLuhan didn’t link it to any uniformity adjective — arguing with my own statement, is the Internet really contributing to cultural homogenization? By exploring the question of Internet as a media, I want to reach an understanding of how globalization might shape the vision of our world.
This might be related to the ambiguity of the anonymous profile in the Internet. Marc Augé (1992) qualified non-places as spaces where humans can remain anonymous — like hotel rooms, airports or shopping malls — and retrieve their freedom.
However, in Society of Spectacle by Guy Debord (1967), he argues that social life has been replaced with its representation in the post-modern society. I’m assuming that both points of views offers a different stance on identity.
But if I go through the the Situationist theory and its use of flânerie, the construction of the digital identity also goes through surfing. Kenneth Goldsmith (2016) delivered an inspiration of its in his latest book “Wasting Time on the Internet”, which describes how aimless surfing can turn into creativity. I’m also thinking about the cognitive and emotional constructions of this behavior behind these actions.