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User_Mode Conference, Tate Modern, London

The topics were:
Day 1
Emotion & Intuition: Poetics and Spectacle
Interactivity & Subjectivity: the quality of experience
Sensory Experience: perception and feeling
Day 2
Data Aesthetics: extending the palette
Immersion: the individual and the social subject
Social Ecologies: learning, playing, belonging
Abends: Concert: Levin, Akufen, Schaefer
Day 3
Proximity, Distance and Communication

Here is a complete list of the participants:

The range of the Symposium was very wide: some methodical projects, well explained and excellently presented -
subsequently followed by rather cryptic and unmethodical work that has perhaps been presented and explained less well.

I would like to describe two projects in more detail:

Both projects dealing with distance, home and emotion - yet with complete different approaches:

Began with a gamelike study, observing people and questioning them about the experience of separation from home or a loved one; and which role time and small gestures (e.g. A good night SMS) where playing in this.
The result where an array of new questions.
What do people that are seperated from one another want to know?
What kind of Play- and dimension of interaction is there?
Is there a need to develop a real language? A kind of language? Are "gestures" enough? What are gestures anyway?
How is the process initiated and how can it persist?
How may everyday moods be translated/represented - and (more important) how are
they interpreted by the receiving person?
Out of this process a personal object has been developed that presents different moods of the counterpart more or less subtly.
(tech.: mobile phone, bluetooth, div. actuators)

The project is a PROCESS that begins "small", transports certain qualities that are evolving according to the gained knowledge and from feedback of the users.
Thus FARAWAY grows, and step-by-step develops with the experiences, research results and NEEDS of the Users -
a kind of evolution.

REMOTEHOME seems to have originated from a spontaneous idea of the artists:
Pieces of furniture in two seperated apartments are connected to one another;
Actions in one apartment effect changes in its remote counterpart.

Sitting on the Sofa in Berlin lets its counterpart in London become unusable - and vice versa.
Wer zu spät kommt ...
Movements within one place are transformed into dints on the wall of the other.
There is no clear interrelation between the actions and their representations.
Sole theoretical-methodical foundation seems to be a MIT-Paper from the fifties "Miracles of the next fifty years."
It would have been more reasonable to start with a lightbulb that would be lit when there was light burning in the other apartment - and further develop this. What would make sense? What would be meaningful?

Maybe i am a bit unfair here. The piece is technically working and ok.
Needless to say i am a Bottom-Up fan, because this is how our perception, how we work.

"Things that are good have a certain kind of structure.
You can't get that structure except dynamically. Period.
In nature you've got continuous very-small-feedback-loop
adaptation going on, which is why things get to be harmonious.
That's why they have the qualities we value.
If it wasn't for the time dimension, it wouldn't happen.
Yet here we are playing the major role creating the world,
and we haven't figured this out. That is a very serious matter."

Christopher Alexander
[S. Brand, "How buildings learn", p.21, 1994]

These two examples give a good idea of the differences between bottom-up (Faraway) and top-down (remotehome) approaches.

Well documented, mediaaedequate, helpfuly interactive:

Faraway will connect two people with one another in a subtle and elegant way - remotehome makes two apartments "interactive", yet in the long turn unusable.

The music event on Saturday evening was the usual Max/Msp Jitter/Nato Sounddisaster, yet partly analogue - not necessary to further explain it here.

Golan Levin was a good example that building an instrument requires different talents then playing one. The sounds where dreadful. He should have been collaborating with a musician. Hopefully this problem will solve itself during the next two or three years, when the public has seen enough and wants to hear the sound of music again. Or, in other words: the "extraordinary is temporary".

List of participants with URLs:
Golan Levin
Masaki Fujihata
Maribeth J. Back
Jonah Brucker-Cohen: Carnivore Auto Client! und H20 Project and

Webcast here:



Joshua Davies: The Mystery of the Tattletale Parrot : Chris Wold Dyrud

"research without a goal is art"
"bauhaus algorhythm" (for graphics)
"homeopathic technology" (for augmented reality)
"the extraordinary is temporary"

On the stage more backslapping then creative criticism and speaking of ones mind.
When OPINION then during the brakes.
Only Golan Levin made the public statement: " ... or if you are Joshua Davies (praystation),
using everything Macromedia throws on the market." Which is his core subject, writing his own tools!

Question: If research without a goal is art, what is art without a goal then? Research?

last update: 8/11/02013 22:26

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