1st interview with Sander Veenhof 06/02/2012


Interview 1

Julia Bac and Sander Veenhof (Amsterdam) via Skype

Could you explain briefly about your AR proposal for this residency project?

Originally I was thinking of creating a sort of system that the pubic could use if they could do a bit of programming, but then they would have to build everything and learn everything. There would be some components ready to be used in a very easy way, but now I think that maybe it should be even easier. We should find use cases that are applicable to the actual need of people. If you want to tell a story then we should do a system that you can do story telling. I think it’s kind of difficult to get people to start with programming.

You talked for the first time with Pixel, the Brazilian artist. What was your first impression and what are your expectations for working together?

Was good to get to know each other and the state of developments that we are involved with. There is a difference in the situation in Brazil and the Netherlands. In Brazil there is not many people with smart phones with Internet connection and in The Netherlands there is a lot of people with it. This is an important difference to understand who is our audience. If we are thinking to do one project we don’t want to make something too complex for Brazil, but we also need to think that in The Netherlands people have access with the smart phone.

Can you explain about the individual “state of developments” that you mentioned?

Pixel is using an open system and I am using another technology.

I am using applications like Layar and Junaio, which for me is also kind of an open technology. These are the two applications that you can use to make Augmented Reality easily.

Maybe we can think of not just developing a whole new system, but to see what Layer and Junaio can offer.

So, your first intention changed a bit a after talking to Pixel…

Well, when you start from scratch you can do it differently than when there is already a lot developed, and goes to a certain direction, so you can make use of that too.

What did change related to your proposal after your talk with Pixel?

Now I think it would be good to take one step back and think what is our purpose, what we want to make. Because Pixel was doing exhibitions, letting people view AR based on a marker that you put somewhere. But now we need to think what we are going to bring to people.

Personally, what I like is that this virtual space is everywhere, the whole world is now having a parallel universe, that it is so flexible and so open to anyone, that can have  endless amount of stories. So, it would be good to make a system that would be interesting for anyone who has a story to tell. Let people tell the stories at the location where they are happening. I think that the work of Pixel is more visual oriented and I was thinking to add texts to it. Have a textual annotation of the streets. We could go to the direction of documenting or story telling. If it’s story telling, as fiction you have the opportunity to include characters, the story could have multiple ends and your main character could make choices. If you are on the streets and you chose left for example, you lead the story to a certain direction. We can either ask people on the streets to tell their story or ask for a writer to create them.

One of the most important things to do first is that we have a basic idea of what we can offer and now is time to find the right use of it. Find good cases where people can use it. Maybe in Brazil we can get in touch with people that has a story to tell. Then would be a “back and forth” way of developing it, because they can say they want to do this or that and then we would have to change the system a little bit.

You are considering now to combine Pixel’s technique, using the markers with your idea. Does the use of a marker change a lot about your first idea of the work?

Well, I think that if you don’t use the markers you are really accessing the whole world, you can add the stories anywhere theoretically. But then the people on the streets don’t know of the presence of the AR. They need to know about it and then the sticker can be useful. It’s a different usage but maybe the two can be combined.

Do you think that you would restrict the public you are reaching in Brazil, based on the fact that most of the people there don’t have access to Internet connection in their phones?

What I like about this reality is that it will continue to be there afterwards, even if you can’t see it. If one person is seeing it at one time, is a fact that it’s there even after the things remain at the location, so maybe afterwards these people will have the phone and will access it. But, in the beginning maybe we would need some of these devices for those people that don’t have the phones yet.

What are your expectations at this moment ?

Its good to see the developments on the other part of the world. And its good to check if the things I am creating are valuable in other parts of the world too.

I will be starting with some dialog with him when he is here to really think about the implementations, not the technical part but more the use case part. Before that time we can already think of the technical things, prepare ourselves a little. We still need to decide a few things. I think there will be still a few calls on skype to see how things are going before he comes.

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