During the past days, Pixel and Sander have been working a lot to be ready for their first presentation of the project that will happen this Sunday in front of the Biblioteca Mário de Andrade in São Paulo.
[originally posted on the labmovel blog]
Pixel and Sander walked around São Paulo to find possible routes for the Labmovel. Check it out the map:
[originally posted on the labmovel blog]
On the 3rd of April, both artists contemplated for the residency gathered with Gisela Domschke and Lucas Bambozzi, organizers from São Paulo, to define their further activities with the labmovel.
Photos by Lucas Rossi Gervilla.
Pixel and Sander
In this statement Pixel says how it was difficult during his last days in Amsterdam to define the final idea. “Any great ideas?”, asked Sander to Pixel. From this on they struggled in shaping the final idea to be developed and programmed in São Paulo. When he arrived in São Paulo and Sander was still in Amsterdam they decided to explore narratives. He finishes his statement by saying “Our next step is programming”.
The recent massive spread of a Google concept-video announcing their augmented reality (AR) glasses, is a sign that people across the world are curious to experience the next step in augmented reality. Expectations are high – but there’s criticism too. Do we really want to immerse ourselves 24/7 in a commercially annotated semi-virtual world? No. And we don’t need to. First of all, we have the choice to switch off. Second, we will have a choice in content, hopefully. Let’s hope that beside an overload of commercial content, our virtual surroundings will be packed with an equal amount of inspiring, meaningful or artistic creations. Within this current context, it is a great opportunity to be involved in the ArteMov/NIMk residency working on exactly that: exploring opportunities of AR content creation, taking into account the unique characteristics of this expanding parallel universe.
Whatever the way AR is accessed, be it by the mass audience of smartphone owners or a minority of AR goggle spectators, the fundaments of our parallel hybrid world are already in effect. Content nowadays is geo-located. Data and stories are belonging to and existing at specific spots on earth. Immaterial layers of meaning integrate with and extend the physical environment. GPS-coordinates are the truths defining a reality which is multi-layered, as much as it is multi-purpose. Commercial virtual content will co-exist alongside grassroot coups of the virtual universe. Besides professional storywriters taking it to the virtual stage, so are the people formerly known as audience. Not any restraint, boundary or limitation will be applicable in this endless amount of alternate realities. Structuring and filtering of the virtual content surrounding us, will be equally relevant as the content these mechanisms relate to.
We took this as a point of departure, and combined it with our wish to facilitate the creation of stories tailored to be experienced in the mixed data-reality of today. Walking tours through virtual content closely related to the physical environment was a recurring thought, letting people’s choice of direction be of influence on the course of a narrative. During a week of brainstorming and talking to various experts in the field of experimental storytelling, we talked about ways to present fictional stories, documenting spots in the city ‘on the spot’, historic routes, data journalism, real-time live storytelling and Powerpoint walks. It made us realise that a one-size-fits-all format would be difficult to define. Nor did choosing seem a good option.
While drafting a concept for narrative navigation throughout the city we realised that a similar approach could be applied on the level of choosing which storytelling formats to support: -not- choosing. By transforming the streets as a mapping of choices, we could allow people to walk to the content type of their choice. Left for fiction, walk right for real-life stories. Left again for user-contributed stories, two times right to get into the area of the city to discover a cluster of suspense stories. While walking towards a story of choice, the directive structure could gradually morph into choices defining the course of the story itself. Content and meta level will be integrated into one uniform format.
Calling for stories and exploring the narrative qualities of this rigid but at the same time open structure, is what we’ll be doing next week during a series of tests and LabMov workshops. We envision to generate a dynamic mapping of perspectives on the city, to be experienced in the city. It will be a tree-like structure that will grow, because adhering to the open narratives format, anyone is allowed to extend or fork the structure. Not agreeing with the current state of the virtual narrative city? Change it as you like. With augmented reality, your environment is in read/write mode.
São Paulo, 8th of April, 2012
Julia Bac (Amsterdam) and Gisela Domschke (São Paulo) via e-mail.
J: How did you get involved with this project?
G: Annette Wolfsberger and Annet Dekker invited me to collaborate on a project for Central de Cultura 2012 . We wanted to develop a mobile media lab. In the Netherlands, we established a partnership with NIMk and its program for Planet M, its brand new mobile infrastructure and laboratory for media art and digital culture. Here in Brazil we established a partnership with arte.mov – mobile media arts festival – and we got funding from Fundação Telefônica.
J: What is your responsibility /tasks in this project?
G: I am the facilitator of the project here in Brazil. Together with Lucas Bambozzi from arte.mov, I’m coordinating all the strands of the program – from conceptual to practical decisions.
J: How many people are working in Brazil? How are you dividing your responsibilities?
G: We are a very small team. Lucas and I share the artistic coordination of the project. We have an executive producer, Andrea Armentano, a communication assistant, Carola Gonzalez, and Lucas Gervilla, who is in charge of the making-of. From now onwards we’ll also have the collaboration of a few media artists and technologists, who will offer workshops in our mobile lab. As I mentioned before, we applied for the support of Fundação Telefônica’s Art and Technology program to be able to build the mobile lab, and this allowed the project to have a bigger scope as well. Our mobile platform will not only host artistic residencies, but will also offer practical workshops and media events. This time we are focusing on São Paulo’s outskirts, but we are also aiming to put Lamovel on the road in the future – ideas that still need to be funded though.
J: Do you talk frequently with the Brazilian artist that is now in Amsterdam?
G: Our communication is reduced to the necessary matters. I appreciate how intense is the process of a residency abroad, where our references are confronted with local ones, so we want to leave him some space to enjoy/digest this. The main thing is the exchange of experiences and knowledge sharing Pixel is having there, and I’ve been following this through the video logs he has been posting.
J: What are your expectations for the second phase of the residency? when the Dutch artist will go to Brazil.
G: Pixel and Sander have spent those last three weeks discussing conceptually how to use AR technology in order to allow new forms of exchange with people in a public space. The local context clearly strongly determines this discussion. Not only culturally speaking, but also in terms of the available technology. So it is inevitable that this second phase will entail a deep reconfiguration in the creative process.
J: How are you planning his stay?
G: Sander will stay here for 20 days only, which is a quite a short period, so we need to give a strong focus to the production of the project. The first thing is to define in which area the artists will be willing to work. We have already proposed Luz or Freguesia do O. We have also suggested the possibility of working within a more defined context, such as a public library or public hospital, but the final decision is up to the artists themselves. We have purchased a Kombi Sabari, which we are adapting to work as a mobile media lab platform. It accommodates 4 people, and will have media production and diffusion equipments in it.
J: Is there something you would like to add?
G: I believe the collaborative aspect offers a quite unique dynamics to the programme, and this practice distinguishes it from the usual artistic residencies. Also, the displacement experience creates a new relation to time and the way we perceive space. Our main aim is to explore new ways of mediating the relationship of the artist and the public in the creative process itself. This is the relevance of our program.
The last week of this first phase was a busy one! Pixel and Sander had meetings with Jan Rothuizen to help with the possibility of adding story telling to the project. They also had a meeting with René Paré at the MADlab in Eindhoven to present their ideas, brainstorm and discuss about the use of Open Data in the project.
Pixel is going back to Brazil today and Sander will meet him there next week. Let’s get the Phase 2 starting!
Julia Bac and Sander Veenhof (Amsterdam)
J: You have been working with Pixel for 3 weeks already. How are you working together?
S: I think we are bringing our own backgrounds into the project. In this specific case is very helpful, we sort of swapped each other’s fascinations.
We usually meet up here (at the Nimk) and we had some Skype moments, we also installed a sketch board upstairs. It’s a very technical drawing, cause in one of the first discussions we discovered that it goes much faster if you just talk about the technical stuff. You can start at the other end, but sometimes is good to know what is the actual thing that you are creating. You have to know what it should be like. And we started this process as well.
J: What you mean is that the technique limits what you can do?
S: No, not really. But is good to know where there are choices to make. Sometimes choices arise from the technique. Some things we had in mind and we already think ahead what would be the consequences, how you can develop a user experience. In the end you have to create this technical thing and it doesn’t appear out of nowhere.
J: Is this how you usually work?
S: Yeah, there is this initial idea. You sort of envision it. Start sketching the scope, what do you want to do, and then you continue thinking on how to optimize it, how to change it a little. You develop a concept that includes a technical part and you have to jump back and forth between technique and concept.
J: In which “stage” do you see the project at this point?
S: I think it is defined. We have the basis now, except the implementation. Now comes the interesting part, which is proving that what we are creating could have impact and could be relevant and interesting enough. That’s what we have to prove right now.
J: What do you mean with the “basis”?
S: It’s the scope. We have the scope right now, which is what we want to achieve with all the requirements and the starting point. We have now something that we both feel confident that could be the right way, that in the end we’ll get to something interesting.
J: Why you decided to have two different projects?
S: I think that also has to do with the two countries and our personal different backgrounds, we kind of swapped our fascinations. I came in with a lot of experience with GPS based projects and I was inspired by Pixel’s work using marker-based AR. For Pixel, it was the other way around.
And makes sense because the QR codes projects would be really helpful in Brazil. The two countries are very different, so it makes sense to make something that its appropriate instead of making one project that can be quite a struggle to be relevant here and there, because the situation is quite different.
J: What was the most significant change that the project had since you started?
S: The most significant change was to decide to work in two things. Because the two locations are very different, makes sense to put all the ideas into two separate projects.
In the beginning we thought that maybe we could develop only one, but I think that doing two is better.
I think that the major brake through is going to come this week. You could ask the same question on Friday, because I hope we are going to have major change.
Meeting Jan Rothuizen on Wednesday will be helpful. We will have to tell him what we are doing and see if, someone that hears our idea for the first time, would understand what we are aiming.
J: You also have been discussing your project with the Nimk staff and Annet Dekker (the organizer). What was the most significant feedback you had so far?
S: I think they were all stressing the same point. We are in search of something that is not there, that doesn’t exist. But, we both strongly believe in it and we talk about it, as it already exists. With their questions they really force us to make what we are doing more precise, and ask ourselves: what is the special added value? Now we have to get the right showcases that also help us to understand what we are actually talking about.
My personal idea is that by this process we are learning a new tool. Then, getting use to the new possibilities of the things we are creating, I would also be able to take a step where we can create something that we cannot foresee yet. That’s what I hope. Because if it’s very predictable, you can ask: should you make it?
J: How could you achieve this situation? Would it come by experimenting?
S: You first do the obvious things and then in the end you get to something that is a perfect conceptual piece, I hope. But, it’s hard to get there in one go. Sometimes, you have this idea, that is brilliant from the beginning on, but sometimes you just shape the conditions by exploring further and then suddenly it’s like a puzzle, that all parts connect.
In this statement Pixel gives a summary of his week in The Netherlands: His visit to the exhibition at the Mediamatic. The meetings at WORM and V2 in Rotterdam. At the V2 he got the chance to see the hacker space, where he said was a “brother” of the Casa da Cultural Digital, in São Paulo, where the MemeLab is located. After these meetings in Rotterdam he felt the need to discuss with Sander, once more, about their concept.
On the 19/03, there was another meeting at the Nimk. The artists showed to Annet Dekker the last discussions and developments they had. Time flies and this is the last week of Pixel’s stay…
The meeting was once more to make the concept more clear. This week Pixel and Sander will meet a writer, to see the possibility of cooperation in the project. Because of this appointment, Annet suggested that they should make a draft of their idea, concerning the following aspects:
- framework of the work, showing specific locations and target group;
- what kind of narrative they would like to use?
- what is the relevance of their project?