The panel discussion will focus on the involvement of the technology of WorldMaking in participatory art practice.
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30

The Volatility and Stability of Worldmaking as Techné
[ISEA 2011, Istanbul]

The panel discussion focused on the involvement of the technology of Worldmaking in participatory art practice.

Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30

Assist. Prof. Dr. Mark-David Hosale - Dr. Sana Murrani - Prof. Dr. Alberto de Campo

Roy Ascott - Jerome Decock - Marcos Novak

The term techné is an ancient philosophical concept that was debated by philosophers such as Xenophon and Plato, as well as more contemporary philosophers such as Martin Heidegger and Félix Guattari. In simplified terms techné concerns the art and craft of making. In particular the discussion of techné is not only concerned with what is made, but how and why it is made. The thinking of art practices (music, art, and architecture) as a kind of worldmaking refers to a techné that is seeking to explore art-concepts as expressive alternative realities through the development of self-reflexive and internally consistent art-worlds.

The Volatility and Stability of Worldmaking as Techné panel discussion will focus on the involvement of the technology of worldmaking in participatory art practice. Such practice can be found in all areas of art, however, the ones under scrutiny for this particular panel are: interactive, generative, prosthetic art, architecture and music practices that depend on the participation of observers for their vitality and development. The panel will challenge the level of involvement and integration of the observer within the generative praxis in a technoscientific agenda.


Paper Abstracts

Technoetic Architecture

by Prof. Roy Ascott

Technoetic architecture is an architecture that has a life of its own; that thinks for itself, speaks for itself, feeds itself, takes care of itself, repairs itself, plans its future, copes with adversity and anticipates our changing needs. Technoetic architecture is architecture that returns our gaze. It’s not what buildings look like to us but what we look like to them. It’s not what we feel about places but how those places feel about us. Technoetic architecture recognises that Second Life is the rehearsal room for future scenarios in which we will endlessly re-invent our many selves. Technoetic architecture recognises that what we build today in the immateriality of cyberspace will tomorrow materialise in nano space.

MetaDeSign “Designing a (possibly or seemingly infinite) range of possibilities”

by Jerome Decock

Although selling or exhibiting ideas as a work of art – a practice initially described as Concept Art - has become common practice, the resulting artefact is often constrained in space and time, materialized by traces, acting only as clues that can be only truly and subjectively captured by memories. Subcategory of the afore mentioned practice, Process art belongs, as its scheduling is suggesting, to the performance category, as a Rube Goldberg machinery cannot possibly acquire eternity and not even pretend or fake it.

Enter the realm of System Art, designing and linking processes while building a lexicon, effectively and practically ending up in not only creating the music but the orchestra and the instruments which go along with it. System Art can be categorized by analyzing the system’s inputs and outputs, from the self contained algorithmic machine that belongs to generative systems to the hyperlinked globalized and realtime-expanding connective systems. It does allow for increasing complexity through the multiplication of parameters, historically linking itself to the concept of “Oeuvre totale”, at least through the conjunction of media, where data can flow unobstructed thanks to digitalization.

Methodological by nature, System Art does borrow industrial methods and analytical approach, both in conception and production, only forgiving about deontology or efficiency as it does not want to be true as science or primarily profitable. It does spread the deeply human need to understand, control and trespass technology or as the cyberneticist from the 60’s would put it, “aim for an unrestricted cooperation in between machines and minds”. Still in its infancy, its status progressed from “utopia” to “prospective prototypes” and to “artistically and technically approved” in the last few decades.

This presentation will cover some “historic references” and “theory one-liners” and mainly a few examples extracted from the recently released monograph of LAb[au], organized by system type and praxis, complemented by some artist’s works exhibited at Mediaruimte, LAb[au]’s curated artspace in Brussels, Belgium, covering an ever broader scope of actual practice and considerations in Digital Art.

"Πασαί Τέχναι βροτοίσιν εκ Προμηθέως": Prometheus and Epimetheus: Fields of Foresight and Hindsight in Worldmaking

by Prof. Marcos Novak

The concept of Techné has been intertwined with worldmaking from antiquity to the present. The nature of this relationship has not been constant, however. Running through from Orpheus, Hesiod, Aeschylus, Aristotle, and Zeno the Stoic, among others, these concepts were persistent elements of a complex but highly coherent worldview. Within this outlook, techné signified not only the techniques of making, but, more importantly, the significance of making. This was understood as something directed, as a vector, not as just a point. Moreover, this vector of making was itself embedded in a field of values that constituted the very meaning of "civilization." Contemporary approaches to techné, be they philosophical or practical, omit much of this directedness and embeddedness, too often resulting in technique void of meaning, the creation of works that are mutually canceling, and a contribution to the making of a world and worlds that are more broken than whole. This paper will discuss how the ancient insights are relevant -- and indeed imperative -- to our predicament with respect to contemporary worldmaking, both as art and as life.

Worldmaking, participation, and learning - experiments in collaborative creation

by Prof. Dr. Alberto de Campo

This paper will discuss a recent project realised with a mixed group of participants, and its evolving followup. Varia Zoosystematica Profundorum began as the idea of modeling (hypothetical) communication between creatures to be invented. Apart from acquiring practice in electronics, programming, and mechanical building, the guiding principle was having the team develop much of the concept jointly. Thus, many aspects of the project evolved from team discussions including just-in-time coding experiments occurring across several interrelated courses. Once the context (the Deep Sea) was decided on, the participants began to invent a variety of highly individual creatures, which share common brain functioning; communication between them is by telepathy, and expressed by sound, light and movement.

In essence, we loosely combined notions from works like Gordon Pask's Colloquy of Mobiles with a working methodology inspired by David Tudor's approach in evolving Rainforest. Given the positive responses from all participants, the approach is extended further in a followup project: Here, we start by looking at historic instances of cybernetic thinking and futurology, and will create a loose performative context for individual works involving systems such as playable chaotic synthesisers for audio and visuals - again, details will emerge from the flow of the project, and group improvisation (which we consider a cybernetic activity) will happen at different time scales, from planning to building to eventual performances.

Nonlinear Narrative As A Conceptual Framework for Media Art

by Assist. Prof. Dr. Mark-David Hosale

This article is a discussion of the core technical and aesthetic motivations behind my work as a media artist, which is built upon a nonlinear model of narrative form. The approach to addressing narrative issues in my work is derived from thinking of narrative not only as a story, but also as a model of knowledge. The question of nonlinear narrative is an epistemological exploration, and the stories we tell each other and ourselves are connected to the way we know, in terms of both content and structure. The structures of my works depart from this perspective. Therefore, I see my works as knowledge spaces that are a conceptual reflection of a modern understanding of knowledge and nature as a nonlinear narrative.

Nonlinear narratives are qualitatively transmodal (separation of data and representation), participatory (consumers and writers are one in the same), and indeterminate (the content and structure of information changes unpredictably). The qualities of nonlinear narratives are not only flexible; there is no steady state, they are in constant flux. The qualities of nonlinear narratives exist on strata, one is bound to the other, but they vary independently. It is the combination, transformation, and recombination of these varying qualities that results in the changing personae of nonlinear narratives.

The challenge of capturing the qualities of nonlinear narratives has led me to develop an abstract model useful in the conceptual analysis and practical development of nonlinear narrative in my work. This model is based on a composite of operations (data generators), structures (scaffolds for data flow), and characteristics (the interactive input and output representation of data), resulting in the emergence of the qualities of nonlinear narrative described above.

In this article I will describe the concepts and development of the nonlinear narrative model described above. The terms and ideas presented in support of the concepts put forth in this article are derived from a variety of sources, including the histories of art, music, and literature; concepts in philosophy (in particular Deleuzeian philosophy); and pattern language as found in the field of software engineering.

Worldmaking between Humanism and Machinism

by Dr. Sana Murrani

In a hyper-culture of change influenced by physical and cyber communities, worlds and networks, further speculations for the future of the field of architecture will necessarily be directly linked to this cultural and technological change. This change starts with the multiple identities of one’s representation as seen in Facebook, Twitter, ordinary e-mail accounts and highly interactive mobile phone and other digital devices as well as avatars on Second Life, CyberTown and Active Worlds. The body is no longer seen as a physical entity composed of matter and energy but rather a volatile extension of our consciousness and experiential worlds of hybrids of physical, digital and augmented realities and virtualities.

Implications of such worlds are already evident in the participatory art practice, interactive architecture, cyberspace, multiple realities and neoplasmatic designs; all have contributed a great deal to creating parallel selves and other architectures where technology was and will always be at the heart of their worldmaking. Two decades ago or so, with the start of the age of information technology, architecture started allowing for collaborations with other fields such as computer science and participatory art practice influenced by the cybernetic methodology. Such technological experimentations create constant dialogues between humanism (through participation and interactivity), machinism (through experimentations and transdisciplinarity) and technology, to heighten the human experience. The paper will explore notions of techné and worldmaking as praxis for design expressed through a participatory interactive spatial installation.


Bios of the Participants

Roy Ascott

Roy Ascott is an artist whose research is invested in cybernetics, technoetics, telematics, and syncretism. He is the founding president of the Planetary Collegium, an international platform for art, technology and consciousness research, based in Plymouth University with nodes in Milan and Zurich. He has held senior academic positions in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Vienna and Toronto, and is an Honorary Professor of Aalborg University Denmark,. His international exhibitions range from the Venice Biennale to Ars Electronica. A retrospective of his work was exhibited at Plymouth Art Centre in 2009, and at the Incheon International Festival of Digital Art Korea in 2010, and at Space Studios, London in 2011. His theoretical work is widely published, translated and referenced. He has advised media art institutions in Europe, Australia, South America, the USA, Japan, and Korea. He edits Technoetic Arts (Intellect) and is an Honorary Editor of Leonardo.

Jerome Decock

Jerome Decock is an media artist and electronic engineer who is one of the founding members of LAb[au]. 
Founded in 1997, LAb[au] is an artist group located in Brussels, Belgium. It has been founded with the aim to examine the influence of advanced technologies in the forms, methods and content of art. With a background in architecture their members and projects are concerned with the construct of ‘space’ and the way it can be planned, experienced and conceptualised in an information age.

Even if their projects can be classified as urbanism, design, art, music or dance they all are grounded on an architectural thinking. The attention lies in the relation between architecture, light, motion and sound and advanced technologies.

Following the cybernetics agenda, the projects of LAb[au] deal with processes and systems based on rules. The setting of these rules becomes the major artistic act, the creation process, defining the content and message of the artwork, it’s architecture as code.

This method, which LAb[au] qualifies as ‘MetaDesign’, is determined by the technological and artistic parameters. It focuses on the transcription of information and its processes to textual, graphic, visual, sonic, spatial...forms, artefacts.

The group name of LAb[au] inhabits a phonetic and a written meaning – the one of the French pronunciation ‘labo’ standing for an experimental approach and the one of ‘bau’ (german word for construction) for the pragmatic realisation of projects.

This alliance between theory and practice motivated the group to found the gallery ‘MediaRuimte’ in the city centre of Brussels in 2003. The gallery work stands for LAb[au]’s typical function of a collaborative agency as for a trans-disciplinary work.

LAb[au] showed its work at Kunst-Station Sankt Peter (Cologne, 2010), BOZAR (Brussels, 2009), Emocao Art.icial (Sao Paolo, 2008), Club|Transmediale (Berlin, 2007), TENT. / Witte de With (Rotterdam, 2006), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, several times), Sonar (Barcelona, 2004), New Museum (New York, 2003), Nabi Art Center (Seoul, 2003), ICA (London, 2002), Bauhaus (Dessau, several times), Louvre (Paris, 2000), Ars Electronica (Linz, several times), ...among many others.

Marcos Novak

Professor Marcos Novak directs the transLAB at UCSB. He is researcher, artist, theorist, and transarchitect. In 2008, "Transmitting Architecture", the title of his seminal 1995 essay, became the theme of the XXIII World Congress of the UIA (Union Internationale Des Architectes), the largest architectural organization in the world.

His projects, theoretical essays, and interviews have been translated into over twenty languages and have appeared in over 70 countries, and he lectures, teaches, and exhibits worldwide. Drawing upon architecture, music, and computation, and introducing numerous additional influences from art, science, and technology, his work intentionally defies categorization. He is universally recognized as the pioneer of architecture in cyberspace, of the critical consideration of virtual space as architectural and urban place, and of the use of generative computational composition in architecture and design.

He is a Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is affiliated with CNSI (the California NanoSystems Institute), MAT (Media Art and Technology), and Art. He named and was instrumental in the design of the UCSB AlloSphere (the three-story high sphere for the creation of immersive virtual environments, the largest such facility in the world) and created its inaugural project, the AlloBrain@AlloSphere, using fMRI scans of his own brain. He is currently working on a new Allotopes project for the AlloSphere.

In 2004, he was honored to become a Fellow of the World Technology Network.

Alberto de Campo

Prof. Alberto de Campo is a composer and performer, and teaches Generative Art/Computational Art.

After studying classical composition, jazz guitar and electronic/computer music in Austria and the U.S., he has worked as Research Director at CREATE, UC Santa Barbara, and taught computer music and sound art at Music University Graz and Media Arts Academy Cologne. He was the Edgard Varese guest professor for Electronic Music at Technical University Berlin in 2005, and was lead researcher in the SonEnvir project (2005-2007), an interdisciplinary research venture on sonifying scientific data from different domains. In 2007, he became Professor for Music Informatics at Music University Duesseldorf, and since 2009, he is Professor for Generative Art/Computational Art at the University for the Arts Berlin.

He explores a wide range of topics in collaborations with other artists and students: Code-based network music performance, biologically informed/inspired art such as the project Varia Zoosystematica, hybrid audiovisual performance instruments and interactive systems, and improvisation strategies in different contexts.

MarkDavid Hosale

Dr. MarkDavid Hosale is a media artist and composer. MarkDavid holds a Ph.D. in Media Arts and Technology from the University of California; MarkDavid currently holds a position as an Assistant Professor in Digital Media in the Fine Arts Faculty of York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. MarkDavid has had works exhibited and performed internationally works in media arts and music at conferences, universities, and festivals and has given lectures and taught internationally at institutions in Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, and the United States.

MarkDavid's interests are interdisciplinary, but the connecting tissue comes from approaching art and music using nonlinear representations of information, time, and space. Another important focus is exploration of the connection between the physical and the virtual world. Whether as part of an installation or performance work, the virtual spaces he creates are technologically transparent, sophisticated and virtuosic, as well as intuitive to experience and use.

Sana Murrani

Dr. Sana Murrani is an experimental architect, and currently holds the position of Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Plymouth, UK. She studied Architecture in Baghdad University School of Architecture, graduating in 2000, and obtained her masters degree from the same school in 2003. She is a member of the Planetary Collegium’s CAiiA-Hub in Plymouth, UK where she undertook her PhD under the supervision of Roy Ascott (President of Planetary Collegium). Murrani has a interest in architectural theory of transdisciplinary research particularly experimental and interactive work between the fields of technoscience and art/architecture. Her work investigates the impact of implementing second-order cybernetics and interactive technologies on the creation of temporary and generative situations in architecture through explorations of design processes derived from biological systems, different media of representation and perceptual experiences that challenge our consciousness.