Category Archives: Theories of Representation- MPM26A (Fall 2011)

Mobile, hand held, wearables and locative content: Sixth Sense by Pattie Maes

During the 2009 TED conference, MIT professor Pattie Maes and her student Pranav Mistry presented a portable wearable device called “Sixth Sense”. “Sixth Sense” is basically comprised of a mini-projector, a smart phone, and a webcam connected to a lanyard around the users neck.

The actual cost of the components runs around $350 to produce. Maes states that the “device is totally mobile and in the future would not cost more than today’s cell phone”. During the presentation Maes continues to state that “We take in information from the world with our five senses, but by harnessing the power of the web, we could take in so much more.” The way the device works is rather similar to the Microsoft Surface interface in that hand gestures manipulate objects and indicate commands. Very similar to the interface showcased in the movie ”Minority Report”.

Must state that the demonstration is very impressive indeed. Unlike other mobile devices, Sixth Sense does not require an actual surface, but uses a “webcam to interpret gesture”. For example if the user wants to take a photo of an item or location, he/she can simply make a picture gesture in order to take a photo.

Also if a user wants to know the time they can simply drawing a circle on their wrist in order to view the time and date. During the 2009 TED conference presentation the device shown appeared rather clunky, requiring the user to wear colorful plastic caps on their fingers in order to interpret the relationships between what they are interacting with and the device. It is astonishing to see how far technology has come along and hope to be able to purchase a more refined version of this device in the near future!


Artist Machines and Interactive Devices Article : Sensor band and Atau Tanaka

Sensorband is a trio of instrumentalist who performed during 1993 to 2003. The trio consists of Atau Tanaka, Edwin van der Heide and Zbigniew Karkowski.  Sensorband is described as a “sensor instrument ensemble”. Each band member plays a virtual instrument which “captures gestures and corporeal movements” in order to create melodious sonic streams and pulses. Each musician uses interactive electronics in order to create music from “bioelectric signals, infrared and ultrasound”. One of the musician’s, Atau Tanaka utilizes a device called the BioMuse.

Atau Tanaka is a Japanese/American artist based in Paris, France. Tanaka, a composer and performer in the field of technology and music, “creates music for sensor instruments, wireless network infrastructures, and democratized digital forms”. Due to his knowledge of digital data he has adapted a device called the BioMuse. The BioMuse is a multi-purpose “neural interface/biocontroller”. This device allows the performer to create music with physical gestures and neural activity while using a hand-held controller.  A sensor on the devise captures these gestures and translates them into digital data.

It is interesting to witness each musicians creating harmonious sounds, in absence of traditional physical instruments. Believe it would be fair to state what a peculiar experience it would be to witness the creation of this virtual symphony of sound.

Live and Interactive Cinema: Late Fragment by the Canadian Film Center

Late Fragment is North America’s first dramatic interactive feature film. It was written and directed by Mateo Guez, Daryl Cloran and Anita Doron. A product of the Canadian Film Center, this 168 minute long interactive film lets the audience piece together and experience the cinematic narrative in a number of ways.

According to the backgrounder on the film’s Facebook group page, “Late Fragment also retains the focus on complex character-driven stories surrounding love, hate, death, revelation and justice.” The story revolves around three strangers whose lives are shredded by acts violence. An article on notes that there are “3 acts, 9 chapters, 3 endings, 139 scenes, 380 components, 10 loops and 10 rabbit holes”. The viewer as the option to click “enter” to continue on with one character’s storyline, or scene or click another film clip to view another storyline.

Late Fragment is the first project created and produced, through the CFC Media Lab’s, which is primarily designed for a DVD platform. Since this film is primarily designed for the DVD platform it may explain why upon watching the online Demo, navigating through the various storylines proved to be slightly challenging. CFC Media Lab has been experimenting with the creation, development, and production of the interactive films since 1997. For information on the film, please visit

Game Play : Myfanwy Ashmore’s Mario Battle No. 1.

In 2000 Ashmore’s hacked into the Super Mario Brothers game ROM and significantly modified the video game. In Myfanwy Ashmore’s Mario trilogy, “gamers are invited to play” a hacked version of the Super Mario Brothers battle no. 1. In the game Ashmore removes all of the architectural gaming elements within the first level of the game, leaving a blank landscape in which Mario perpetually walks along.
By hacking into the game Ashmore has “modified the video games by exploiting glitches in the code, adding or removing elements in the game and isolating specific visual components”.
On, Ashmore notes that she “removed all of the enemies, performance enhancing drugs, money, and architecture from the game so all that you can do is jump, walk, run around and dance in the landscape with the bushes and the grass and the mountains. Eventually you run out of time and die.”
By removing the elements of game play Ashmore effectively illustrates the purpose and importance of the game’s competitive particularities and user challenging components.

Visualizations, hallucinations and surreal screen spaces

“We Feel Fine” is a colorful collection of thoughts, statements and affirmations. This interactive website was conceived and created by “digital whiz kids” Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar. According to mission statement on, the website “harvests the human feelings from a large number of web-blogs.”
The website is a visualization of an automatic log that searches the blogosphere for statements regarding human emotion. The website was build with an interfaces, which searches a multitude of online statements and sorts them across a number of demographic categories. “Every few minutes, the system searches the world’s newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”.”

It is an intimate glimpse into the thoughts of millions of strangers who have bravely posted their thoughts to the world. It truly takes storytelling to a whole other level.
“We Feel Fine presents a comprehensive contemporary portrait of the world’s emotional landscape, exploring the ups and downs of everyday life in all its color, chaos, and candor.” Upon borrowing the website, once can’t help but sense like they are entering into an exclusive conversation of a vast number of strangers.

Botanicalls: Now your house plant can update its Twitter status!


Now your house plant can use Twitter! Botanicalls was propagated with the use of contemporary technology to open the lines of communication between humans and plants. The purpose of this technology was to promote successful inter-species dissemination. Botanicalls Classic allows plants to correlate with humans through “common human communication protocols”. Once your plant is placed in the Botanicalls network, it can call, text, or twitter when it requires water, light or nourishment.

The Botanicalls technology and network was conceived by Rob Faludi, Kate Hartman, and Kati London. The team has developed kits which participants could purchase and assemble in order to initiate contact and start the inter-species discourse. On the Botanicalls website, instructions are listed in order to assist with the assembly process. It is interesting to see how the communication platforms and devices which we utilize to correspond with each other can also be used to connect with plant life. It is stated that “People who are unsure of their ability to effectively care for growing things are given visual and aural clues using common human methods of communication.”

It would be interesting to see how this technology will cultivate and eventually be used to help humans better comprehend and communicate with animal life. Eventually further expanding inter-species understanding.

Hole In Space 1980: Installation by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz

In 1980, HOLE-IN-SPACE installation was presented to pedestrians at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, and passer-by’s at the “The Broadway” department store in Century City Los Angeles. The creators, Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz described their installation as a Public Communication Sculpture. This communication sculpture linked two life size displays through a satellite feed.








After watching “The mother of all video chats: LA-NY, 1980, a Hole in Space” on youtube it was interesting to see the spectators strong emotional reactions to the video installation. At first the crowd corresponds with what initially appeared to be projected images, clearly puzzled by what was presented to them. Conversations begin to erupted as each viewer realizes that they were talking with people, just like themselves, at that very moment but from a different location. It has been documented that upon the initial discovery of the installation, word spread as more people became aware of this amazing communication device that appeared to create simultaneously connection between two very distant locations. At one instants during the clip, there is a excited woman gleefully talking with the projected pedestrians, whom she had not seen for some time. Blowing kisses, overwrought with emotions, bowing down and bursting into tears. It is that moment that you become aware that the distance between these two groups of people had been dissolved.

Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz has created this installation to show that size and bandwidth matter can be used to question and promulgate the emotional effects of communication.

It is fascinating to comprehend, that in this day and age such methods of instant communicating over vast distances was regarded as impossible in the not so distance pass. In homes and office around the world, friends, families and coworkers are able to instantaneously experience these encounters at any moment.

Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz have worked on various pioneering communication projects. This particular installation was funded by The Broadway Department Store, grant from National Endowment for the Arts and numerous companies. In 1989 Galloway and Rabinowitz founded Communication Access For Everyone (C.A.F.E).