I found some pretty interesting images this week from the Crosswire – in search of the synesthetic effect Exhibition that took place at Amsterdam 5 Dyas Off Festival in 2008.

The exhibition, by Optofonica, derived from societal impulses to employ technology in artistic creation, which has proliferated in the direction of crossed and interactive media. Crosswire stems from a neurological notion of crossed connections wiring different areas in the brain.[i] Its primary aims were to present various abstract installations in which different media intermingle in both inner and outer spaces. These artworks use audio analysis and custom software processes to extract meaningful data from the sound signal, creating a mapping between audio and other media.

Maurizio Martinucci, Curator of Crosswire said of the exhibition:

These installations are indeed designed to achieve a distinct impact on the visitor’s physical and psychological system. They offer different points of access to sound and space experience. The sculptural and architectural elements characterizing these works give a clear indication about the artists’ desire to expand the audio-visual experience towards a more tangible and pluri-sensory form rather than fixing it in a more traditional cinematic medium.[ii]

More than 35 international artists contributed to the exhibition and these are some examples of their work below that was featured.

3-26 July 2008. Installations by Aernoudt Jacobs (BE), Sagi Groner (IL/NL), Kaffe Matthews (UK), Telcosystems (NL) and TeZ + Janis Ponisch (IT/DE).

Series of prints based on the music of Alexander Rishaug. Produced using a sound-responsive software developed for realtime audiovisual performace.

Series of prints based on the music of Alexander Rishaug. Produced using a sound-responsive software developed for realtime audiovisual performace.

Leander Herzog: Sound structure. Laser cut plastic structures based on sound analysis.

[i] Martinucci, M. 2008 Crosswire – in search of the synthetic effect, <http://www.montevideo.nl/en/nieuws/detailhome.php?id=173&archief=>

[ii] Martinucci, M. 2008 Crosswire – in search of the synthetic effect, <http://www.montevideo.nl/en/nieuws/detailhome.php?id=173&archief=>


Social media and privacy…do these go hand in hand? My previous blog entries have discussed how media and technology has been tightly embedded within our cultural and social lives. I think now it will be interesting to note how these media and technologies have dramatically changed our lives into quite often unstable forms.  The Internet and the mobile phone was designed to make our lives easier, but recently privacy breaches and data leaks have meant convenience have come at a cost of privacy within our culture. The question now is; what level of control, if any, over your data do you really have?

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of the social media network Facebook says the the age of privacy is over. When speaking to Mike Arrington from Tech Crunch TV (see video embedded below) Zuckerberg says, ” People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time. We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.”[i]

It appears Facebook’s goal is to push our culture away from privacy as this is becoming the norm.  On this social media your name, gender, current city, photos, friends, etc, is publicly available information. All your information is available to anyone on the World Wide Web.  Furthermore, Facebook allows you to “Check-In” to places for people to track your location

What level of control you have over the data on your smartphone is another key question. As the article, Taking control of your data into your own hands states, “Whenever you sign up to a website or install an app, you are potentially giving the company behind the service access to your personal data – even if you don’t realise it.”[ii]

The level of privacy users of the Internet and smartphones have remains questionable. It can be seen that personal data no longer remains personal and privacy is compromised. The structure of data flow in media therefore remains complex and is open to further research and discussion.

[i] Tech Crunch TV, 2010, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Tech Crunch Interview, 2.34- 5.40 mins <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoWKGBloMsU>

[ii] Aron, J 2011, Taking control of your data into your own hands, New Scientist, <http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028126.700-taking-control-of-your-data-into-your-own-hands.html>

The best hope we have for surviving the next century on this planet? Games.[i]

Having previously touched upon the concept of reality in an earlier post, I will again focus on the new realities that exist in our world drawing upon very interesting research conducted by Jane McGonigal, Ph.D. – a world-renown American game designer and author. Her idea that alternate reality games (ARGs) have the capacity to change the world initially struck me as bizarre. How can spending even MORE time in front of a computer engaging in virtual realities possibly benefit society and improve our life in own reality? After watching her TED talk video “Gaming can make a better world” I am somewhat convinced by McGonigal’s argument that ARGs have the ability improve real lives and solve real problems.

Technical innovations have expanded in recent years, often providing multiple platforms that encourage a high level of interactivity and audience participation. Many of the ARGs that McGonigal has created “challenge players to tackle real-world problems at a planetary-scale…make players happier in their everyday lives….have specific positive health impacts in mind”[ii]. Therefore, McGonigal believes “game designers are on a humanitarian mission”[iii].  ARGs can be looked at transversally, that is, they transform through connecting individuals with an alternate reality.

During her TED talk, McGonigal explains why 21 billion hours of online gaming each week, can collectively solve the world’s problems. While this seemed to me at first outrageous, McGonigal makes a strong point that through the gaming world, people are “motivated to do something that matters, inspired to collaborate and cooperate and…. many of us become the best version of ourselves.”[iv]

What is exactly the best version of ourselves and how can ARGs actually achieve this? Well, as McGonigal reiterates, ARGs help players to achieve a number of positive outcomes including, stronger social connections, resilience in the face of challenges and obstacles and more ambitious and surprising accomplishments[v]..

[i] McGonigal, Jane (2011). You Found Me blog, WordPress. < http://janemcgonigal.com/play-me/>

[ii] McGonigal, Jane (2011). You Found Me blog, WordPress. < http://janemcgonigal.com/meet-me/>

[iii] McGonigal, Jane (2011). You Found Me blog, WordPress. < http://janemcgonigal.com/meet-me/>

[iv] McGonigal, Jane (2011). Gaming can make a better world, TED video (4.23-4.50).

< http://janemcgonigal.com/videos/>

[v] McGonigal, Jane (2011). You Found Me blog, WordPress. < http://janemcgonigal.com/play-me/>

 The rise of Web 2.0 (a newer version of the World Wide Web which allows users to interact and collaborate with each other)[i]  has challenged established communicational practices for reporting news events. It is interesting to look at the role social media has had in providing news stories to the rest of the world, particularly Twitter as a key social media communicative tool.

Today, new events are not limited to being reported by newspapers alone as social media has enabled new ecologies of practice. Twitter for example, provides a transversal between newspapers and the online community, as it transforms the way in which audiences consume news. Take a look at the recent earthquake and tsunami aftermath disaster that occurred in Japan recently. The Social media platform of Twitter provided breaking news, images and video coverage of the disaster via organised tweets and feeds.

I think the below short Youtube video “2011 Japan Earthquake as seen through Twitter”,[ii] provides a great example of the immense power Twitter has had in not only providing news to the rest of the world, but shows the magnitude of which information can be shared and consumed.

As seen in the video, in just one minute over 2300 tweets were filtered containing the key word “earthquake” following the disaster in Japan which offered the Twitter world breaking news and well-wishers offering support. This example of the 24-hour news cycle shows how valuable social media platforms are as a communicative tool and reinforces Nikki Usher’s idea from her blog How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”:

“The combination of social media, Internet streaming, and mainstream coverage represents a shift from simple documentation to interactivity — and a new turn in how historic events can unfold.”[iii]

[i] O’Reilly, Tim (2005), What is Web 2.0? http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

[ii] 2011 Japan Earthquake as seen through Twitter (2011), <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrPnDhX8mgc>

[iii] Usher, Nikki (2011), ‘How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”’, The Nieman Lab <http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/how-egypts-uprising-is-helping-redefine-the-idea-of-a-media-event/>

Framing music

Is the battle between record labels and digital music over? If so, who has won the war in the rights to music ownership and sales and is music piracy really such an issue anymore for the music industry?

The current state of the music business and thus the answer to the questions posed above has been somewhat framed by the digital media. Essentially, we can simply Google the word ‘music’ and a number of media platforms on the Internet  – blogs, news articles, websites, etc., not only provide gateways into accessing music, but also commentary on the state of the music industry today.

The title of a review in The New York Times by Dwight Garner, “When Labels Fought the Digital, and the Digital Won”, says it all. Garner comments on the main findings from Steve Knopper’s book “Appetite for Self-Destruction”, that is, “record companies could have adapted to the Internet’s brutish and quizzical new realities and thrived”[i].

The arrival of the digital age thus destined the arrival of digital music. The music industry has moved away from its original framework as a tangible item in the form of a record or CD.  New realities faced by the music industry are music file-sharing sites. Frostwire and BitTorrent are file-sharing programs that allow large amounts of music data to be easily downloaded at the click of a button. These peer-to-peer file sharing programs are examples of transversality, that is, the moving and connecting between frames[ii], in a technical form and change the way music is distributed.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald article “Music piracy war: are the big labels wasting their time?”, record labels have failed to embrace the digital age and instead continue to fight the war on piracy. Record music sales have declined in value by 31 per cent globally[iii], whilst digital music sales have boomed. Stating that there is no evidence that the decrease in sales is solely attributed to file-sharing sites and programs, the article suggests record industry “should instead focus on harnessing such technologies”[iv]. Whilst the article goes against the negative connotations associated with piracy and file-sharing, the blog, “A musician’s perspective on music piracy” assures us that piracy is still an issue for the music industry, when the blogger states, “music ‘piracy’ has given young and aspiring artists yet another headache by turning the music industry on its head and denying many of them who lack the business nous a future in music”[v].



[i] Garner, Dwight (2009), The New York Times, When Labels Fought the Digital, the Digital Won, <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/books/07garn.html?_r=2>

[ii] Murphie, Andrew (2006) ‘Editorial’, the Fibreculture Journal, 9 <http://nine.fibreculturejournal.org/>

[iii] Moses, Asher (2011), The Sydney Morning Herald, Music piracy war: are the big labels wasting their time? <http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/music-piracy-war-are-the-big-labels-wasting-their-time-20110328-1ccrl.html>

[iv] Moses, Asher (2011), The Sydney Morning Herald, Music piracy war: are the big labels wasting their time? <http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/music-piracy-war-are-the-big-labels-wasting-their-time-20110328-1ccrl.html>

[v] Bradley, Dwight (2010), Sciencetext, A musician’s perspective on music piracy, <http://www.sciencetext.com/social-networking-for-musicians.html>

Reality, the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear[i].

The concept of reality has changed significantly over the years, largely due to the introduction of new media technologies, for instance Facebook, iPhone, GPS, computer games, to name a few.  So then how have these media technologies challenged the definition of reality?

First, the terms  virtual reality and augmented reality come into play here.

“Virtual reality is a term that applies to computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds.[ii]

Computer-simulated games such as The Sims or World of Warcraft (the latter of which I have had no experience entering this particular virtual world but I find it quite astounding) are great example of a virtual reality that exist. The simulated environments virtual reality creates are in some cases remarkably similar to the real world, for example aeroplane simulations. However as blogger Chris Grayson states in his post Augmented Reality Overview,“When it comes to Virtual Reality, I’ve had a mantra that none of this will really take off until we’re in there versus looking at there.”[iii]

I am more interested however in the nature of augmented reality.

“Augmented reality is a term for a live direct or an indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics.”[iv]

Applications across augmented realities are endless and change the way we see the world and how we can define reality. It seems new media technologies that offer an augmented reality are popping up everywhere and across many different fields. Augmented reality is applicable to many forms of retail that I find to be interesting. The example Grayson provides in his blog is that of the brand Ray-Ban who have developed a “virtual mirror” that allows you to “try-on” virtual sunglasses that their brand offers on their website.

What social impacts do these definitions of reality pose?  Accepting other definitions of the term reality tends to present a series of new challenges to disciplinary institutions. As Grayson notes, “We’re moving in this direction at exponential speed, the pace of progress is only going to keep moving faster[v].” This means virtual and augmented reality is firmly fixed within our society and culture and will forever change and evolve.


[ii] Anon. (n.d.) ‘Virtual Reality’, Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality>

[iii] Grayson, Chris (2009) ‘Augmented Reality Overview’, GigantiCo <http://gigantico.squarespace.com/336554365346/2009/6/23/augmented-reality-overview.html>

[iv] Anon. (n.d.) ‘Augmented Reality’, Wikipedia < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality>

[v] Grayson, Chris (2009) ‘Augmented Reality Overview’, GigantiCo <http://gigantico.squarespace.com/336554365346/2009/6/23/augmented-reality-overview.html>

“Consciousness, experience, life isn’t something that goes on inside of us or happens in us or happens to us… experience, consciousness, is always necessarily embodied”[i]

This week I delve into the philosophy of the consciousness and the mind, ideas explored significantly by philosophers of the mind Alva Noe and David Chalmers. I have discovered, upon reading into the philosophy of the mind that the notion that “you are your brain” is widely misunderstood. Alva Noe advises in his blog post Does thinking happen in the brain?, that if we truly want to understand our stream of consciousness, “we need to go out of our heads and look at the way we are embodied and also bound to and embedded in the world around us.”[ii]

Australian philosopher David Chalmers offers another way of explaining the ways in which the mind can extend into the world in his paper The Extended Mind, parts of which are touched upon in the Youtube video “The Extended Mind Revisited”[iii]. Chalmers’ key thesis in his paper develops the notion that, “When parts of the environment are coupled to a cognitive system in the right way, they become parts of the mind”.[iv] GPS technologies are a great example of this idea Chalmers has constructed. In everyday life, I tend to rely on GPS technologies to direct me from point A to B. This technology has in a way taken over many of my own cognitive processes and if it were taken away from me I would feel lost and directionally challenged.  Chalmers asks what is happening here – a lot of the thought processes that were initially done in our minds is being “offloaded into the world” with this piece of technology[v].  This idea that technology has replaced certain thought processes of mine is supported by this quote from Bernard Steigler’s text Anamnesis and Hypomnesis:

“Now, these techno-logical forms of knowledge, objectified in the form of equipment and apparatuses, also and especially engender a loss of knowledge[vi]

What can this mean though however? Can technologies within an environment really replace our mind, our memory? Will our thought processes rely solely on external tools (mobile phones, computers, GPS, etc) as opposed to our own cognitive systems? These are questions that definitely stimulate further exploration.

[i] Noë, Alva and Solano, Marlon Barrios (2008) ‘dance as a way of knowing: interview with Alva Noë’, <http://www.dance-tech.net/video/1462368:Video:19594>

[ii] Noë, Alva (2010) ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, 13:7 Cosmos and Culture <http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/12/10/131945848/does-thinking-happen-in-the-brain>

[iii] Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc>

[iv] Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc>

[v] Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc>

[vi] Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’ <http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis>