06. Appraisal of a an Art .app with ANT

Theory Background


The walkthrough method is grounded in the principles of Actor-Network Theory (ANT), as a specific aspect of STS (science and technology studies). ANT foregrounds a relational ontology according to which sociocultural and technical processes are mutually shaping.

The core of this method involves the step-by-step observation and documentation of an app’s screens, features and flows of activity – slowing down the mundane actions and interactions that form part of normal app use in order to make them salient and therefore available for critical analysis. The researcher registers and logs into the app, mimics everyday use where possible and dis- continues or logs out while attending to technical aspects, such as the placement or num- ber of icons, as well as symbolic elements, like pictures and text.

Chosen Review

The app being reviewed here is from the art website ArtRabbit.

Statements from the Provider

Turning Art on its head
ArtRabbit is a global digital platform and mobile app for the promotion, discovery and appreciation of contemporary art.

It’s a unique guide to the contemporary art scene, connecting thousands of art spaces, exhibitions and events to artists, art professionals, collectors, students and art-interested people alike.


.app Screens






Bond worked with the team at ArtRabbit to establish a new logo and brand language – creating a bold and simple logotype with the distinctive graphic rabbit head ‘R’ – turning Art on its head!


A brand-driven creative agency



Basic Usage
The Website is an online social networking facility and database of art exhibitions, conferences, performances, screening and other events and galleries from across the world. You can access the Website either as a visitor  or by registering with the Website and becoming a member and/or a venue owner  (hereafter collectively referred to as “Users”). As a Member and/or Venue Owner, you can create your own profile for the purpose of using the Services and the Website, which is made available to other Users .

What you can do as a basic user

  1. See the ArtRabbit to Find up-to-date information on contemporary art exhibitions and events, large and small, current and upcoming.
  2. Explore ArtRabbit’s interactive map of events, near you and around the world
    Search listings for exhibitions, venues, artists and event types
  3.  Get recommendations from leading artists, curators and art world insiders
  4. Follow your favourite artists, project spaces and galleries to have their upcoming shows sent directly to your email inbox
  5. Plan ahead – compile lists of exhibitions you’d like to attend and track what you’ve already seen
  6. Get directions to exhibitions close to where you are
  7. Share events with your friends and network, via email and other social channels
  8. Get a handy overview of what shows are all about
  9. Travel with the art crowd – ArtRabbit keeps tabs with the busiest cities at any time, so you’ll know what’s happening around the world

For the artist

Make the most of your artist page
Your artist page is a free spot of advertising for you and your practice. Add a description about yourself, your medium and achievements, as well as links to your portfolio and social media accounts. The popularity of events and people on ArtRabbit is driven by clicks, so make sure you keep your artist page and event listings up-to-date.

Get listed!
Not listed yet? Then join ArtRabbit and get listed now. Artist pages are created when events are added to ArtRabbit, so next time you feature in an exhibition or contemporary art event, pop it on the site. Make sure you add yourself as an artist when prompted, then claim your artist page and show the contemporary art world what you do!

Follow your favourite project spaces and galleries, curators and artists, save events you’re interested in, and ArtRabbit does the rest. We’ll let you know what’s coming up from places and people you follow, and tell you about other events we think you’ll like. You never need to miss another exhibition, preview, performance or launch event.



Information that you provide by filling in forms on our site www.artrabbit.com (Website). This includes information provided at the time of registering to use our Website (which may be directly through the Website, or through third party service providers, and in the case of the latter, we will obtain the personal data you have provided to the third party service provider), purchasing an item, posting material or requesting further information or services. We may also ask you for information when you report a problem with our Website.
If you contact us, we may keep a record of that correspondence. We may also ask you to complete surveys that we use for research purposes, although you do not have to respond to them.

Details of your visit to the Website, including products viewed or searched for, page response times, lengths of visit, transactions you carry out through our Website and of the fulfilment of orders

We may disclose your personal information to any member of our group, which means our subsidiaries, our ultimate holding company and its subsidiaries, as defined in section 1159 of the UK Companies Act 2006 (where applicable).


The user Contract

You shall not submit to appear on the Website through your use of the Services, any information, comments, images, third party URL links or other material whatsoever in any format (“User Submissions”), whether on your Profile or elsewhere on the Website, that may reasonably be deemed to be offensive, illegal, inappropriate or that in any way:

  1. promote racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual;
  2. harass or advocate harassment of another person;
  3. display pornographic or sexually explicit material;
  4. promote any conduct that is abusive, threatening, obscene, defamatory or libellous;
  5. promote any illegal activities;
  6. provide instructional information about illegal activities, including violating someone else’s privacy or providing or creating computer viruses
  7. promote or contain information that you know or believe to be inaccurate, false or misleading;
  8. engage in or promote commercial activities and/or sales, including but not limited to contests, sweepstakes, barter, advertising and pyramid schemes, without our prior written consent;
  9. or infringe any rights of any third party.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, we reserve the right to:
accept or reject your application to register for any reason; and
refuse you access to the Services and/or Website (partly or wholly) if you breach any of the provisions hereunder.
Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary herein, your Contract with us shall remain in force:




Advertise on ArtRabbit
In addition to our free event listing service, ArtRabbit offers access to its audience via integrated banner advertising on the site, in the weekly newsletter and across our social media channels. Spaces can be bought separately or as a package.

ArtRabbit’s engaged audience is made up of curators, artists, arts professionals and enthusiasts. Our rich, diverse database represents over 6000 art organisations and venues in over 60 countries who have hosted more than 60k contemporary art events, and listed over 13k artists and 1k curators to date.

ArtRabbit is used by leading art museums, galleries, art organisations, art fairs, biennials, foundations and project spaces. Our growing user-base in Europe, North America and Asia consists of 40% art professionals and 60% art lovers: an international, socially- and creatively-engaged audience, with many working in the cultural and creative industries.


It encourages the interaction and advertising  to all users for art events and forums and exhibitions. The basic reward for this is a self-promotion page for yourself.


Promote themselves as a modern social media website


ArtRabbit has a strong presence on all social media websites: Web platform, Smart phone iPhone and android, TWITTER, Facebook,Instagram



ANT Review

The revenues for the site relies mostly on advertising for events and exhibitions from professional galleries and art organizations. The promotion of individual artist to the site helps sell the advertising so that the target audience are mostly  either art lovers or art professionals. The main target of advertising for art organizations.

The gender bias aims to be neutral. In my opinion the design seems 60-40 % feminine-masculine design. I would guess they have decided upon a gender neutral tone for the site.

The design and fonts are modern, clean and hip.  The typography has been purposely constructed to feel gender neutral. It has a strong yet simple and clean layout. The feeling of space and whiteness is a modern design aesthetic

The Branding. Is so graphic design led clean and simple and easily to identify and remember the brand. I would say brand awareness is high. You will remember the logo and design aesthetic.

Going through the usage is of the .app is very easy u only have access to : openings , exhibition and events. All of the events in your area are shown on a mobile map.
You can explore the pin-points by clicking on each of them and going into detail on whats on offer. You will receive a brief summary of whats on offer and a link to the website for more information. U have 2 icons for to save favorites (a star) and to book mark ( an eye).

The use of icons. If you add a star to to something the site will remember this and send u details of all related starred events. It will remind u of the event as the event nears. An Eye events mean u have seen this event and it invites u to add a review of the event for the site. Social media icon U can instantly share events on social media. Map icon shows u where the event is on a google style map and gives u a route to the vent from where u are.

Overall opinion.  I would say this is a artists site primarily. You have the opportunity to advertise you own exhibitions and promote them. People can follow you. U can link instagram and websites into the app so u get further promotion. Linked closely to this are the professional galleries that want close associations with artists and also curators.



Posted in art

07 Morphogenesis blog

The Sea; forever changing and morphing. A good place to start for a project on morphogenesis. From the impact and outcome of waves moving across a sand bed to produce a morphogenetic outcome to the various biological surfaces that morph and grow under the ocean from Corel-like structures to shell-like sructures. Biological cell division produce the shape outcome but emergent behaviour also arises. The genetic iterative processes are abound within the sea ( The fish colouring and pigmentation is a process of chemical diffusion algorithms.)

Morphogenesis (from the Greek morphê shape and genesis creation, literally, “beginning of the shape”) is the biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape. It is one of three fundamental aspects of developmental biology along with the control of cell growth and cellular differentiation, unified in evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo).

In terms of art practice the artist either mimics a biological process of some kind and applies it to a structure as in architecture. Frei Otto was using biomorphism in his work and his concepts embraced Morphogenesis. His studies led him to further research of the structure and building properties of bamboo and soap bubbles. Otto observed that given a set of fixed points, soap film will spread naturally between them to offer the smallest achievable surface area. Any child blowing bubbles can, more or less, see how this works. In 1974 the German-born civil engineer Horst Berger, working in the US, came up with the maths that allowed this process to be translated into building structure.


Biomorphic algorithms of interest to follow up on : 

circle packing algorithm:




Pasted Graphic.tiff


Frei Otto’s

 Otto, Frei, His Book “Occupying and Connecting. Thoughts on Territories and Spheres of

Influence with Particular Reference to Human Settlement”

Frei Ottto background , born in 1925, is a German architect and engineer, well known for his lightweight tensile and membrane structures. He founded in 1961 the research team Biologie und Bauen, and in 1964 the Institut für Flächentrageweke at the TescnischeHochschule in Stuttgart, 

In Occupying and Connecting. Thoughts on Territories and Spheres of Influence withParticular Reference to Human Settlement Frei Otto does not particularly look for ideas for constructive structures, but, as the very explicit title of his book says it, he explores very fundamental topics about space, how it is occupied and how places are connected.

 But more accurately he observes that two «forces» are at stake in any process of occupation: he qualifies some occupations as «distancing» (which could have been called «repulsive»), others as «attractive», and remarks that many occupation mechanisms are both attractive and distancing. Those types of «occupations» (i. e. distributions) are illustrated with sketches. Attraction and repulsion are present in two physical forces: magnetism and static electricity. Those are the forces that Otto uses in his experiments. Otto’s photos of distancing using magnets.

Pasted Graphic 1.tiff

Pasted Graphic 2.tiff

Pasted Graphic 3.tiff

Frei Otto relates to the distributions of points to «territories», whose formation is described in these words: «one demarcates the territory by the perpendicular bisectors of the nearest point.


In architecture, morphogenesis is understood as a group of methods that employ digital media not as representational tools for visualization but as generative tools for the derivation of form and its transformation often in an aspiration to express contextual processes in built form .


Above. Kristina Shea, Neil Leach, Spela Videcnik and Jeroen van Mechelen, eifFormStructure, Academie van Bouwkunst, Amsterdam, 2002
The design of this temporary structure was generated using the eifForm program, a stochastic, non-monotonic form of simulated annealing. This was the first 1:1 prototype of a design produced using eifForm and, almost certainly, the first architectural structure built where both the form and related structure were generated by a computer via design parameters and conditions rather than by explicitly described geometry. 



Above IwamotoScott Architecture, Voussoir Cloud installation,
SCI-Arc, Los Angeles, August 2008
Voussoir Cloud explores the structural paradigm of pure compression coupled with an ultra-light material system. The overall design draws from the work of engineer/architects such as Frei Otto and Gaudí who used hanging chain models to find efficient form. The hanging chain model was here coupled with vaulted surface form-finding to create a light, porous surface made of compressive elements. 


Above Beijing National Stadium, officially the National Stadium[3] ( 国家体育场; pinyin: Guójiā Tǐyùchǎng; literally: “State Stadium”), also known as the Bird’s Nest Formation: 


https://architecture.mit.edu/faculty/mark-goulthorpe Mark Goulthorpe of dECOi Architects describes his work as a form of ‘post-Gaudían praxis’, while Mark Burry, as architectural consultant for the completion of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família church in Barcelona, has been exploring digital techniques for understanding the logic of Gaudí’s own highly sophisticated understanding of natural forces.

http://www.nox-art-architecture.com Meanwhile, Lars Spuybroek of NOX has performed a number of analogue experimentations inspired by the work of Frei Otto as a point of departure for some innovative design work, which also depends on more recent software developments within the digital realm.3  

This work points towards a new ‘performative turn’ in architecture, a renewed interest in the principles of structural performance, and in collaborating more empathetically with certain progressive structural engineers. However, this concern for performance may extend beyond structural engineering to embrace other constructional discourses,such as environmental, economic, landscaping or indeed programmatic concerns. In short, what it amounts to is a ‘folding’ of architecture into the other disciplines that define the building industry.4

Digital Computation

Not surprisingly in an age dominated by the computer, this interest in material computation has been matched by an interest in digital computation. Increasingly the performative turn that we have witnessed within architectural design culture is being explored through new digital techniques. These extend from the manipulation and use of form-generating programs from L-Systems to cellular automata, genetic algorithms and multi-agent systems that have been used by progressive designers to breed a new generation of forms, to the use of the computer to understand, test out and evaluate already designed structures.


This interest in digital production has also prompted a broad shift in theoretical concerns. If the 1980s and 1990s were characterised by an interest in literary theory and continental philosophy – from the Structuralist logic that informed the early Postmodernist quest forsemiological concerns in writers from Charles Jencks to Robert Venturi, to the post-Structuralist enquiries into meaning in the work of Jacques Derrida that informed the work of Peter Eisenman and others – the first decade of the 21st century can be characterised by an increasing interest in scientific discourses. 

As such, one can detect a waning of interest in literary theories and literary-based philosophies, and an increase in interest in scientific thinking and in philosophies informed by scientific thinking and an understanding of material processes. So it is that just as the work of Jacques Derrida is fading in popularity, that of Gilles Deleuze is becoming increasingly popular. Indeed it has been through the work of secondary commentators on Deleuze, such as Manuel DeLanda, that the relevance of Deleuze’s material philosophies has been championed within architectural circles.(See Manuel DeLanda, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Zone Books (New York))

DeLanda has coined a new term for this emerging theoretical paradigm: ‘New Materialism’. This should be distinguished from Marx’s ‘Dialectical Materialism’ in that the model is extended beyond mere economic considerations to embrace the whole of culture, and yet the principle behind Marx’s thinking – what we see on the surface is the product of deeper underlying forces – remains the same. Here we might understand cultural production not in symbolic terms, but in terms of material expressions.

It is not a question of what a cultural object might ‘symbolise’ – the dominant concern in the Postmodernist quest for interpretation and meaning – but rather what it ‘expresses’. The concern, then, is to understand culture in terms of material processes – in terms of the actual ‘architecture’ of culture itself.

Within this new configuration the economist, the scientist and the engineer are among the reassessed heroes of our intellectual horizon, and figures such as Cecil Balmond have become the new ‘material philosophers’.

It has often been said that all scientific progress has involved getting rid of substances and replacing them by processes and relations. So too has this occurred in philosophy. What must not be forgotten is that the philosopher, too, is a result of a morphogenesis. The philosopher is the coagulation, a result, a product, of a series of operations populating both her own life and all of history.


Generality refers to events that are connected through cycles, equalities, and laws. Most phenomena that can be directly described by science are generalities. Seemingly isolated events will occur in the same way over and over again because they are governed by the same laws. Water will flow downhill and sunlight will create warmth because of principles that apply broadly. In the human realm, behavior that accords with norms and laws counts as generality for similar reasons. Science deals mostly with generalities because it seeks to predict reality using reduction and equivalence.

Repetition, for Deleuze, can only describe a unique series of things or events. ?

Art is often a source of repetition because no artistic use of an element is ever truly equivalent to other uses. 

Difference in Itself

Deleuze paints a picture of philosophical history in which difference has long been subordinated to four pillars of reason: identity, opposition, analogy, and resemblance. He argues that difference has been treated as a secondary characteristic which emerges when one compares pre-existing things; these things can then be said to have differences. This network of direct relations between identities roughly overlays a much more subtle and involuted network of real differences: gradients, intensities, overlaps, and so forth

Deleuze proposes (citing Leibniz) that difference is better understood through the use of dx, the differential. A derivative, dy/dx, determines the structure of a curve while nonetheless existing just outside the curve itself; that is, by describing a virtual tangent (46). Deleuze argues that difference should fundamentally be the object of affirmation and not negation. As per Nietzsche, negation becomes secondary and epiphenomenal in relation to this primary force

Genetic Art Examples

United Visual Artists, Blueprint is an installation designed to explore the relationship and parallels between natural and artificial systems.With cells literally transferring their genes to their adjoining others, colour flows like paint across the canvas.



Data-Masks http://sterlingcrispin.com/data-masks.html

Data-masks are face masks which were created by reverse engineering facial recognition and detection algorithms. These algorithms were used to guide an evolving system toward the production of human-like faces. These evolved faces were then 3D printed as masks, shadows of human beings as seen by the minds-eye of the machine-organism. This exposes the way the machine, and the surveillance state, view human identity and this makes aspects of these invisible power structures visible.

Data-Masks are animistic deities brought out of the algorithmic-spirit-world of the machine and into our material world, ready to tell us their secrets, or warn us of what’s to come.

Cellular Forms http://www.andylomas.com/cellularFormImages.html


“We are everywhere confronted with emergence in complex adaptive systems – ant colonies, networks of neurons, the immune system, the Internet, and the global economy, to name a few – where the behavior of the whole is much more complex than the behavior of the parts.” – John Henry Holland

The concept of emergence—that the properties and functions found at a hierarchical level are not present and are irrelevant at the lower levels–is often a basic principle behind self-organizing systems. An example of self-organization in biology leading to emergence in the natural world occurs in ant colonies. The queen does not give direct orders and does not tell the ants what to do. Instead, each ant reacts to stimuli in the form of chemical scent from larvae, other ants, intruders, food and buildup of waste, and leaves behind a chemical trail, which, in turn, provides a stimulus to other ants. Here each ant is an autonomous unit that reacts depending only on its local environment and the genetically encoded rules for its variety of ant. Despite the lack of centralized decision making, ant colonies exhibit complex behaviour and have even been able to demonstrate the ability to solve geometric problems. For example, colonies routinely find the maximum distance from all colony entrances to dispose of dead bodies.


lan Turing was neither a biologist nor a chemist, and yet the paper he published in 1952, ‘The chemical basis of morphogenesis’, on the spontaneous formation of patterns in systems undergoing reaction and diffusion of their ingredients has had a substantial impact on both fields Motivated by the question of how a spherical embryo becomes a decidedly non-spherical organism such as a human being, Turing devised a mathematical model that explained how random fluctuations can drive the emergence of pattern and structure from initial uniformity. 

That was the central question that Turing addressed. He presents a theoretical model in which chemicals that are diffus- ing and reacting may produce neither bland uniformity nor disorderly chaos but something in between: a pattern 

To suggest how chemistry alone might initiate the process that leads to a define biologiccal form.

Alan Turing’s 1952 paper, proposed by an author with no real professional background in the subject he was addressing, put forward an astonishingly rich idea. The formation of regular structures by the competition between an autocatalytic activat- ing process and an inhibiting influence, both of which may diffuse through space, now appears to have possible relevance not just for developmental biology but for pure and applied chemistry, geomorphology, plant biology, ecology, sociology and perhaps even astrophysics.

A morphogen is a substance whose non-uniform distribution governs the pattern of tissue development in the process of morphogenesis or pattern formation, one of the core processes of developmental biology, establishing positions of the various specialized cell types within a tissue. More specifically, a morphogen is a signaling molecule that acts directly on cells to produce specific cellular responses depending on its local concentration.

Typically, morphogens are produced by source cells and diffuse through surrounding tissues in an embryo during early development, such that concentration gradients are set up. These gradients drive the process of differentiation of unspecialised stem cells into different cell types, ultimately forming all the tissues and organs of the body. The control of morphogenesis is a central element in evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo).




Alan Turin. The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis http://www.dna.caltech.edu/courses/cs191/paperscs191/turing.pdf


greg turk. Generating Textures on Arbitrary Surfaces Using Reaction-Diffusion https://www.google.co.uk/urlsa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjHjZvk7b7ZAhXBa1AKHchhCcMQFggsMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cc.gatech.edu%2F~turk%2Fmy_papers%2Freaction_diffusion.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2zstfkKileyn37CrnysTQG

Andy Lomas. Cellular Forms: an Artistic Exploration of Morphogenesis

Grey stokes diffusion model


Logic of circle packing:

setup an array list of random x,y points of radius r (vector)

ArrayList<Particle> particles = new ArrayList<Particle>();

ArrayList <Circle> circle;
circle= new ArrayList<Circle>();

///  not for (int i=0; i < number; i++) {

// use a while loop

while ( circle.size < number) {


position = new PVector(x, y);

//loop thru current array of circle check and change position

for (int j=0; j < circle.size(); j++) {

if ( i !=j) {

overlapping =false;

Particle otherCircles = circle.get(j);;

float dist= position -circle[j].position;

if ( dist < circle[i].radius + circle[j].radius) {

overlapping =true;


} //check radius distance

if ( ! overlapping) {

// if cirlce not overlapping place into array

circle.add( new Circle(x,y,r));



} //i not equal to same circle


}//i circles new



draw part:
for (int i = 0; i < circle.size(); i++) {
// Create a temporary arraylist to hold values of each particle class
Particle myP = circle.get(i);







does it overlap with previous circle: distance >  r1 + r2 (not overlapping)

position = new PVector(myx, myy);

float d = PVector.dist(v1, v2);
float d = v1.dist(v2);




Posted in art

17. Sensing Climate Change and Expressing Environmental Citizenship in Program Earth

The use of environmental sensor technology which is low cost to enable Citizens to became engaged in their environments. Sensors along with practises become environmental (smart cities that join up gadets and sensors and smart phones). The Citizen becomes a sensor node in these scenarios. Using digital tech. to enact engagement. Urban sensing.


Chapter 4: Sensing Climate Change and Expressing Environmental Citizenship in Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (Electronic Mediations) by Jennifer Gabrys

We are now in the mountains and they are in us.
—John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra 

We are in the world and the world is in us.
—Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought 

 practices of climate change monitoring in the Arctic and ask: How do we tune into climate change through sensing and monitoring prac- tices? What are the particular entities that are in-formed and sensed? How do the di ering monitoring practices of arts and sciences provide distinct engagements with the experiences of measurement and data? And what role do more-than- humans have in expressing and registering the ongoing and often indirect e ects of climate change, such that categories and practices of “citizenship” and citizen sensing might even be reconstituted? 

Climate change becomes a recurring factor that in-forms how and why environmental monitoring takes place and the environmental data that might be generated. Sensing of temperature in air, water, and soil; inventories of organisms and pollutants; and samples of pH in lakes and streams are examples of monitoring practices that can accumulatively demonstrate how environments are changing in relation to a warming planet 


persistent organic pollutants (POPs) 

to increasing temperatures and shifts in land use, the Arctic is a region undergoing considerable changes 

While envi- ronmental monitoring at observatories may not initially have been established to study climate change, the decades-long stores of data that observatories now hold have often provided useful records for understanding how environments have changed over tim 

Planetary warming is taking place in much greater intensity in the Arctic regions due to the circulation of atmo- spheric and ocean currents toward the northern regions.7

Fifty Essential Variables 

In order to gather the data that are the basis for observed change, direct and ongoing measurements as well as historic and proxy measurements are gathered in relation to fty “essential cli- mate variables.” These variables include everything from air and sea surface tem- peratures to carbon dioxide levels, ocean acidity, soil moisture, and albedo levels (or the ability of surfaces to re ect solar radiation) 

Measurements gathered in relation to more contemporary events are col- lected through airborne instruments, satellites, ocean vessels, and buoys, as well as terrestrial monitoring stations such as carbon ux towers that can be found dotted around the globe. 

most discussions focus on the ris- ing concentrations of CO2, which correlate to increasing global average tempera- tures. 

The current concentration of CO2 currently hovers around 400 parts per million (ppm), a level that was last reached in the mid-Pliocene, two to four mil- lion years ago, when sea levels were up to twenty meters higher than present-day levels.11 

Climate change monitoring produces pronounced and startling encounters that unfold across environmental datasets. Rates of greenhouse gas rises in the atmosphere are referred to as “unprecedented”16 and connected to increases in air temperature in the troposphere, marine air temperature, sea surface tempera- ture, ocean heat content, temperature over land, water vapor, and sea levels, as well as decreases in glacier volume, snow cover, and sea ic 


environmental sensors have become a common device within ecological study. 

creative practitioners are also developing new practices in relation to computational sensors in order to gather and repurpose distinct sense data about environmental phenomena. 

including geophones and hydrophones, YSI water sensors, light sensors, and more 

it has historically had an absence of biota such as algae. But through the collecting and recording of sense data including temperature, water samples, sediment samples, oxygen measurements, and anal- ysis of diatoms as bioindicators, evidence of increasing levels of biota has emerged. The warming of Arctic lakes, in other words, is in part expressed through the increasing numbers of organisms populating these waters 

Whether it be for meteorological, hydrological, oceanographic or climatological studies or for any other activity relating to the natural environment, measure- ments are vital. Knowledge of what has happened in the past and of the present situation can only be arrived at if measurements are made. Such knowledge is also a prerequisite of any attempt to predict what might happen in the future and subsequently to check whether the predictions are correct.25 

Also included is the Arctic Perspective Initiative, an artists’ project that develops a DIY environmental sensor network for studying ora and fauna through computational techniques, and which focuses on installing sensors for community-oriented scienti c research 

Creative-practice projects that deploy environmental sensors often focus on ways of monitoring pollution. 

. We began our conversation by asking who or what is a citizen, and how di erent notions of “citizen” might in uence the type of sensing that might take place. We also asked how citizen sensing might shift when we trouble assumptions about who or what is a citizen in these projects. 

We discussed additional examples of citizen-sensing projects from Beatriz da Costa’s Pigeon Blog, to Safecast, a project for detecting radiation after the Fuku- shima nuclear fallout in 2011, to the dont ush.me project, which uses proximity sensors to inform New Yorkers when to avoid ushing the toilet when the sewer system may be at capacity and in danger of dispersing waste into the harbou 

Other projects, such as Vatnajökull (the sound of ), allow listeners to phone up a melting glacier in Iceland, while Pika Alarm puts mountain rodents to work as sentinel species for climate change.37 

While we had initially hoped to develop speculative practices around what other possible forms of citizen-sensing practices might look like if new forma- tions of citizens were introduced, many discussants were concerned about the use of the term “citizen” to describe more-than-humans. Don’t citizens have free will and rights? Aren’t animals simply the props for human experiments into sens- ing? Are these sensing practices perhaps even exploitative? How could a tagged reindeer possibly be counted as a citizen? In this way, one discussant asked, “Is this about trying to talk with dolphins? I know of an artist who tried to do that and he went a bit mad, actually.” 

ip. One project reference, the Million Trees NYC project in New York, was cited as an example of a practice where crowdsourcing was used to identify where trees might be planted in the city.38 Once planted, the trees could be monitored in order to ensure their longevity. Such a practice of urban tree stewardship implies a relationship with the trees, and environmental citizenship might be practiced through sensing— with or without computational devices—trees and their local environment. 

We are now in the mountains and they are in us.” Included in the epigraph to this chapter, Muir’s statement seems to be a recognition of the ways in which milieus and subjects commingle. 

Sensor networks are not just formed by bits of circuitry and code but also in-formed through exchanges of energy, materializations, and relations that concresce across organisms and that are brought into practices of measurement with climate-change monitoring. 

What a complicated and complicating approach to citizen sensing sug- gests is that we not simply consider what monitoring data makes evident but also experiment with the new subjects, experiences, relationships, and milieus that monitoring practices might set in motion. With such an approach, we might also develop ways to invent new collectives and politics relevant to the concerns of climate change. 





The Living Architecture Lab at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Directors David Benjamin and Soo-in Yang) and Natalie Jeremijenko, Environmental Health Clinic at New York University

Network of floating tubes at Pier 35 in the East River.

Network of floating tubes at Pier 35 in the East River.mphibious Architecture submerges ubiquitous computing into the water—that 90% of the Earth’s inhabitable volume that envelops New York City but remains under-explored and under-engaged. Two networks of floating interactive tubes, installed at sites in the East River and the Bronx River, house a range of sensors below water and an array of lights above water. The sensors monitor water quality, presence of fish, and human interest in the river ecosystem. The lights respond to the sensors and create feedback loops between humans, fish, and their shared environment. An SMS interface allows citizens to text-message the fish, to receive real-time information about the river, and to contribute to a display of collective interest in the environment.

Posted in art

10. non-human turn & Speculative Realism

Richard Grusin Non-Human Turn

The nonhuman turn can be traced to a variety of different  developments from the last decades of the twentieth century: 

• Actor-network theory, particularly Bruno Latour’s careerllong project to articulate technical mediation, nonhuman agency, and the politics of things 
Affect theory, both in its philosophical and psychological manifestations and as it has been mobilized by queer theory
Animal studies, as developed in the work of Donna Haraway and others, projects for animal rights, and a more general critique of speciesism
e assemblage theory of Gilles Deleuze, Manuel De Landa, Latour, and others
New brain sciences like neuroscience, cognitive science, and arti cial intelligence
e new materialism in feminism, philosophy, and Marxism
New media theory, especially as it has paid close attention to technical networks, material interfaces, and computational analysis
• Varieties of speculative realism including object-oriented philosophy, neovitalism, and panpsychism
Systems theory, in its social, technical, and ecological manifestations 

Posthuman entails a historical development from human to something after the human, even as it invokes the imbrication of human and nonhuman in making up the posthuman turn. The nonhuman turn, on the other hand, insists (to paraphrase Latour) that “we have never been human” but that the human has always coevolved, coexisted, or collaborated with the nonhuman—and that the human is characterized precisely by this indistinction from the nonhuman. 

1) describe it,
2) compare it,
3) associate it with something else you know,
4) analyse it (meaning break it into parts),
5) apply it to a situation you are familiar with,
6) argue for or against it.

Latour: Society a complex assemblage of human and non-human actors.
Discussions talk about the weight of non-human activities (Facebook etc) and how they affect discourse and challenge scholars on opinion and also in the “time” to form a authoritative opinion. The non-human exchange of opinion has a speed that outweighs traditional conversations and can be both trite and weighty at the same time.

“speculative realism” philosophies is the question of whether reality exists outside the human mind.

Speculative realist philosophers like Quentin Meillassoux have argued that this is wrong, that reality does exist outside the human mind, but various speculative realists disagree for different reasons. For example, Meillassoux argues in After Finitude that correlationism is wrong and that the only fact that humans can be certain of is that reality can change radically without warning and for any reason. Graham Harman has offered a different kind of speculative realist philosophy called “object-oriented ontology.” Arguing in favor of Kant’s correlationism, he proposes that everything, humans included, can be considered as objects, and that an object has an inner essence as well as what he calls “sensual” traits with which objects can interact with each other. But these are just two examples.

Posted in art

08 Morphogenesis Proposal

Art Theory Project Proposal

What is the overarching area of research?
The use of Morphogenesis in design

What are the key questions or queries you will address?
The origin of creative morphogenesis 
Different maths used in creative morphogenesis 
Unsual ways of using morphogenesis: diffusion. socialogical,l-systems,architecture

Why are you motivated to undertake this project?
I have been using morphogenesis design for clients for over 10 years mostly in scultpure and branding across uk (L-systems, creative particle systems, flocking systems and fluids)

What theoretical frameworks will you use in your work to guide you?

Mostly from the references from different research papers. From the chemical diffusion paper by Alan Turin and the Gray-Scott diffusion paper. Lindenmeyer L-systems. In architecture Digital Morphogenesis by Neil Leach and Towards Morphogenesis in Architecture Stanislav Roudavski. Reviewing the work of Otto Frei. Looking at Philosophy via Delanda and Deleuze and the use of the Genetic Algorithms in Architecture. Reviewing the work of Andy Lomas.










What theoretical frameworks will you use in the analysis of your project?

Due to the complexity of the maths involved, the analysis will be founded upon readings on how other people have used and interpreted the work. From creatively using the math theories and general botanical observations to Delanda essays on Deleuze philospohical interpretations.

Gray-Scott diffusion PAPER http://karlsims.com/rd.html



How will you document your project? 

On my blog at http://blog.chiggs.com/art-theory-reviews/

Timeline for project milestones

1 week ground work (overall picture reading research)
2 weeks writing different parts of the essay.
1 week on creativity.

Budget (if any) 

Posted in art

04. Swarm art Computing Appraisal


From its commercial games/film humble beginnings with craig Reynolds paper Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A Distributed Behavioral Model (http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~dt/siggraph97-course/cwr87/) the ideas of using swarm algorithms in art are growing and varied in there output. From the artwork of 2001 Leonel Moura who produced Swarm Paintings with a ant algorithm to the beautiful installation Diffusion Choir,(https://vimeo.com/187037469) the movements of the sculpture are perpetually evolving, driven by the flocking simulation.

The idea of emergence deriving from flocking algorithms is inherent in the algorithms developed for Stochastic diffusion search (J.M Bishop) 1989 and 1992 Ant colony optimization (Marco Dorigo). In art it was first seen in the artwork of 2001 Leonel Moura who produced Swarm Paintings with an ant algorithm. http://www.leonelmoura.com/index.php/robot-art/swarm-paintings/

In his book, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Cities and Software, Steven Johnson presents Emergence as an alternative way of understanding complex systems. A hierarchical, top-down system attempts to use a centralized decision-making process based on abstract rules to guide behavior. The emergent position looks at complex systems differently: a small number of rules that are processed by individual units are the best method of explaining the aggregate behavior. While a statistical analysis of an emergent system will lead to abstract outcomes. This system has an inherent relationship with Swarm intelligence (SI) that the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems, natural or artificial.  A population of simple agents or boids interacting locally with one another and with their environment (The expression was introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing).

If we look at the swarm art sister of cellular automata with swarm art (http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7361206/) its a topic that Andy Lomas uses in his artworks which he calls Morphogenetic Creations. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7u2CVXzs2c). There are simularities with this work and Neri Oxman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVa_IZVzUoc. Both use a mixture of cellular automata with swarm art algorithms.

Swarm art in architecture. The paper of swarm modeling by Carranza, Pablo Miranda and Paul Coates (https://www.generativeart.com/on/cic/2000/CARRANZA_COATES.HTM.) , Paul chooses swarms as a study case is the fascination of the simplicity of its mechanics and its complexity as a phenomenon. It describes the swarms understanding them as examples of sensori-motor intelligence. Another architect Arne Quinze uses curves, lines, colours and movement in his pieces. his woodstick structures provide a feeling of movement and fluidity, that combine to create a large frame structure. (https://www.dezeen.com/2008/12/09/the-sequence-by-arne-quinze/)

When we look at swarm interactive art that utilizes a proximity sensor such as the kinect the observer becomes a conductor of the art form and becomes far more immersed in the work. More connected to the work and more responsive. Great examples of this work are Daniel Rozin, “Penguins Mirror,” 2015 (https://vimeo.com/129674054) and the swarm wall by Michael Theodore (https://vimeo.com/45073818).

The psychology of swarm interactive art is an inherent behaviour of human urbanization. We like living in close proximity. We enjoy the human swarms at football matches as well as the group human interactions of dance and team events. Swarming behavior is part of our psychology as Dr Ian Couzin has been researching.(http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/13/science/13traff.html).

The future of swarm art lies in more immersive experiences. Either in the real word or the virtual world. The idea of mobile interactive swarms in the real world will be the closest we can experience the true wonders of swarm art. The development process of 3d swarm art computing is very much tied to technology and how and what we can physically do. At the moment we don’t have any technology that can integrate into a entire swarm. We do have air drones and they have been used in previous installations the Faena Studio Drift 300 Drone Swarm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGmtId_ePmc but as yet they haven’t been used to this extent inside a installation venue. When air drones can be made to be insect size and can fly for greater times proper inside swarms will emerge.

00 : A Diary. Swarms and Computational Art

Week 01 30 oct- 03 Nov
Met up with the group and spent 2 afternoons researching information on slides for Swarms and Computational Art. We looked over our strategy for slides and decided upon our 3 slides categories: The history of swarms, The world of digital computational swarms and Physical swarms.

The slides we produced are here:

01_digital_swarm_example-0102_digital_swarm_example-0103 digital_swarm_example-01

We also had an opportunity to see a computational Swarm expert Tim Blakewell a lecturer at Goldsmiths. We talked about his work and his use of different algorithms. There was some great work on swarming and uses of different algorithms and how they can used across different areas of study. One example of physical swarms he mentioned was on ants and on there use of following there trails. He also mentioned to get in touch with his colleague Dr Mohammad Majid al-Rifaie. Which we have and he agreed to meet with us and further discuss his work.


Week 06 Nov- 10 Nov
We met up to discuss the slide content and our title of research.
We decided upon:
Notes on thoughts for possible slide order (obv dependent on question):
1 – Introduction to what we are looking at and why
2 – History – art/film – Boids
3 – History – science (Vicsek? Other?)
4 – Early swarm art (90s? More film related or music? Ask Mohammad)
5 – How does the algorithm work
6 – Physical art – hive (science and art)
7 – Leonel Moura – ant painting (science and art)
8 – SwarmPainter (coding art)
9 – al-Rifaie work (science and art)
10 – imaginative possibilities – include slime
11 – Where is swarm art going – conclusion and our work
12 – Where is swarm art going – conclusion and our work

Our title of research:
What is the future of swarm art computing?
An examination of the application of swarm algorithms in science and art

We also interviewed Tim Blackwell (researcher and teacher at Goldsmiths) specializing in swarms. As well as arranging to meet up with lior ben gai and Mohammad Majid Al-Rifaie.



Week 13 Nov- 17 Nov
We further revised our plan into dates of deliverables.


1.What is the future of swarm (+art) computing?
An examination of the application of swarm algorithms in science and art.


Slide plan and key dates:

1. Introduction to what we are looking at and why 
ACTION: Colin to do math, Laura will do philosophy 
Due: 24 November

2. History – Boids
ACTION: Petros will compile the images and films
Due: 21 November

3. History – science (Vicsek? Other?)
Due: 24 November

4. Early swarm art
Due: 20 November

5. How does the algorithm work
ACTION: Colin will do it and show it to Tim 16 November
Due: 29 November

6. Physical art – hive (science and art)
ACTION: Petros
Due: 21 November

7. – Leonel Moura – ant painting (science and art)
Due: 20 November

8. SwarmPainter (coding art)
ACTION: Laura will compile
Due: 20 November

9. Swarms in society
ACTION: Laura 
Due: 20 November

10. al-Rifaie work (science and art)
ACTION: Petros
Due: 23 November

11. Imaginative possibilities
ACTION: All of us, Petros to look at grabbing images, Colin to set up a new slack channel
Due: 27 November

12 a) and b) Where is swarm art going – conclusion and our work
ACTION: All of this…
Due: 16 November Colin to speak to Tim


We decided on our artifacts:

1. Trying to control swarms with kinect.
I started to play with the basic swarm mechanism following a mouse and then grabbed a kinect and started to look at the control of the swarms with a kinect. This procedure is on going.

Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 20.45.53 Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 20.45.43 Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 20.45.31 

2. Laura producing a artwork drawing influenced by swarm theory.

3. Petros looking at creating swarms using video cams of people.


Week 20 Nov- 26 Nov

Re-interveiwed Tim Blackwell (researcher and teacher at Goldsmiths) specializing in swarms. Working on 1 of our artifacts interviews with lior ben gai and Mohammad Majid Al-Rifaie. A video piece.

Working on our slides for the presentation.

Working on our swarm algorithm generative artifact. The swarm algorithm has been combined with kinect to make a interactive swarm.











Posted in art

18. The Relevance of Algorithms by Tarleton Gillespie File

Understanding algorithms and their impact on public discourse, then, requires thinking not simply about how they work, where they are deployed, or what animates them financially. This is not simply a call to unveil their inner workings and spotlight their implicit criteria. It is a socio- logical inquiry that does not interest the providers of these algorithms, who are not always in the best position to even ask. It requires examining why algorithms are being looked to as a credible knowledge logic, how they fall apart and are repaired when they come in contact with the ebb and flow of public discourse, and where political assumptions might not only be etched into their design, but also constitutive of their widespread use and legitimacy.

I see the emergence of the algorithm as a trusted information tool as the latest response to a fundamental tension of public discourse. The means by which we produce, circulate, and consume information in a complex society must necessarily be handled through the division of labor: some produce and select information, and the rest of us, at least in that moment, can only take it for what it’s worth. Every public medium previous to this has faced this challenge, from town criers to newspapers to broadcasting. In each, when we turn over the provision of knowledge to others, we are left vulnerable to their choices, methods, and subjectivities. Sometimes this is a positive, providing expertise, editorial acumen, refined taste. But we are also wary of the intervention, of human failings and vested interests, and find ourselves with only secondary mechanisms of social trust by which to vouch for what is true and relevant (Shapin 1995). Their procedures are largely unavailable to us. Their procedures are unavoidably selective, emphasizing some information and discarding others, and the choices may be consequential. There is the distinct possibility of error, bias, manipula- tion, laziness, commercial or political influence, or systemic failures. The selection process can always be an opportunity to curate for reasons other than relevance: for propriety, for commercial or institutional self-interest, or for political gain. Together this represents a fundamental vulnerability,

9042_009.indd 191

8/2/13 10:52 AM


192 Tarleton Gillespie

one that we can never fully resolve; we can merely build assurances as best we can.

From this perspective, we might see algorithms not just as codes with consequences, but as the latest, socially constructed and institutionally managed mechanism for assuring public acumen: a new knowledge logic. We might consider the algorithmic as posed against, and perhaps supplant- ing, the editorial as a competing logic. The editorial logic depends on the subjective choices of experts, who are themselves made and authorized through institutional processes of training and certification, or validated by the public through the mechanisms of the market. The algorithmic logic, by contrast, depends on the proceduralized choices of a machine, designed by human operators to automate some proxy of human judg- ment or unearth patterns across collected social traces. Both struggle with, and claim to resolve, the fundamental problem of human knowledge: how to identify relevant information crucial to the public, through unavoid- ably human means, in such a way as to be free from human error, bias, or manipulation. Both the algorithmic and editorial approaches to knowledge are deeply important and deeply problematic; much of the scholarship on communication, media, technology, and publics grapples with one or both techniques and their pitfalls.

A sociological inquiry into algorithms should aspire to reveal the com- plex workings of this knowledge machine, both the process by which it chooses information for users and the social process by which it is made into a legitimate system. But there may be something, in the end, impenetrable about algorithms. They are designed to work without human intervention, they are deliberately obfuscated, and they work with information on a scale that is hard to comprehend (at least without other algorithmic tools). And perhaps more than that, we want relief from the duty of being skeptical about information we cannot ever assure for certain. These mechanisms by which we settle (if not resolve) this problem, then, are solutions we cannot merely rely on, but must believe in. But this kind of faith (Vaidhyanathan 2011) renders it difficult to soberly recognize their flaws and fragilities.

So in many ways, algorithms remain outside our grasp, and they are designed to be. This is not to say that we should not aspire to illuminate their workings and impact. We should. But we may also need to prepare ourselves for more and more encounters with the unexpected and ineffable associations they will sometimes draw for us, the fundamental uncertainty about who we are speaking to or hearing, and the palpable but opaque undercurrents that move quietly beneath knowledge when it is managed by algorithms.

Posted in art

16. Machine Seeing

2 Research posts on Machine Seeing

1.0 google image search:
eye color

The image search seems to only show images of white peoples eyes. People of ethnicity are only shown if there eyes are of an unexpected colour. (mostly white 80% 10% asian 5% black). In terms of  if Intersectional theory exists , I think i would say yes as even people shown with brown eyes are mostly white as well. Moreover,  a fascinating experiment in America was done by Jane Elliott, the American.

Elliott was convinced that the best way to tackle the problem of racism was with the very young, so she divided her all-white children into two groups based on eye colour. She told the blue-eyed children that they were superior to their brown-eyed classmates, and she told the brown-eyed, who had to wear identifying collars, that they were less intelligent and poorly behaved. The result, according to her, was that blue-eyed children began to behave arrogantly and, after a short while, the brown-eyed children began to accept their lower position.

The next day she reversed the experiment, and the results reversed, although this time the brown-eyed children, having already experienced discrimination, were more sensitive to the suffering of their blue-eyed peers. The idea was simple and effective. Something as genetically incidental as eye colour became an analogue for the genetic superficiality of skin colour, and it was shown that when one group was favoured over the other, both groups quickly assumed their designated roles as oppressed and oppressor.

A tv documentary was made about this  The Eye of the Storm,  showed that part of the problem is that the blue-eyed group is exclusively white, while the brown-eyed group is predominantly non-white, so that eye colour is no longer an analogue or metaphor for race but a direct referent. The division is not random but instead largely racial.


2.0 Arthur Jafa: Love Is The Message, The message Is Death at The Store Gallery, 180 The Strand

It’s the matter of black life in the United States. A century of police brutality and political gains, of triumph, tragedy, and resilience has been distilled into seven lyric and searing minutes of rapid-fire clips culled from a passel of sources. A partial list: silent movies, documentary footage of marches and concerts, sports coverage, music videos, news stories, Hollywood blockbusters, police-dash-cam downloads, citizen journalism, the artist’s home movies, and, of course, YouTube.Jafa has spoken of his desire to create a cinema that “replicates the power, beauty, and alienation of black music,”.  Its an incredibly powerful piece of work. Showing both the positive and negative use of internet imagery. From hearing president obama sing to police brutality in a black neighbourhoods. From the power of dance to demonstration . In terms of Intersectional theory it seems everywhere; from the lack of respect in which black people are treated historically in America to use of rubber bullets on black demonstrators. Most of the clips were edited from youtube. On the whole a more negative side seems apparent than a positive side of how black lives matter.

machine seeing.

Ways of Machine Seeing



Images used to be seen in 1 place at one time. Now images can be seen in many images at any time.  The original image relies on its uniqueness and its history and heritage. Now images are juxtaposed with other images mainly used for advertising. What is the real image? And what is a copy? Arguments abound; market value needs images to be genuine. This idea was made more by when cameras were invented to record the image. Its a reproduction of the original. The reproduction had destroyed the original meaning as people have multiplied there own meanings onto the copies they process. Paintings are silent and still. Reproduction changes meaning.

Digital search algorithms can give distorted results: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/10/three-black-teenagers-google-racist-tweet

We have to accept that computers and search engines do not think for themselves. They are a reflection of their creators, and in the case of search engines, a reflection of those who use them – us. Negative images of black teenagers aren’t at the top of the search results because Google is racist, but because society reflects our institutional and subconscious prejudices.If people want to see positive images of black young people they are going to have to start writing, searching, reading and sharing them. This is the only way to change the negative perception of black teenagers, and black people

There is a sense in which the world begins to be reproduced through computational models and algorithmic logic, changing what and how we see, think and even behave. Subjects are produced in relation to what algorithms understand about our intentions, gestures, behaviours, opinions, or desires, through aggregating massive amounts of data (data mining) and machine learning

A Future for Intersectional Black Feminist Technology Studies

by Safiya Umoja Noble 

intersectional theory studies the relation between the many different ways that people are kept in a lower social position, controlled, and left out of important parts of society because of their differences

We need more interdisciplinary research and theorizing about how a range of digital technologies are embedded with intersectional and uneven power relations, from the ways in which technologies are structured, through the range of engagements that happen on the web, to the materiality of digital communications infrastructures that include the role of the state and capital in the extraction, manufacture, and disposal of the digital. 

Carmody estimates that another three to five million were killed from 1983 to 2003 in wars over minerals and the control of coltan.[23] Coltan, short for columbite-tantalite, is a mineral, more potent than steel which is needed for computers and electronics to release electrical charges in small capacitors.[24] Contemporary global communications infrastructure, including the internet and the billions of devices, appliances, electronics, and “things” connected to it, could not exist without cheap access to coltan.

lectronics companies such as Google, Apple, Dell, Intel, Sony, Nokia, and Ericsson are heavily invested in the computer and electronics hardware manufacturing industries and need raw minerals such as coltan to produce components such as tantalum capacitors for microprocessor chips. But this labor is outsourced, and thus conveniently out of sight and out of mind, going to low-bidders who provide the cheapest labor under favorable neoliberal economic policies.

It is evident in the toxic waste sites on the west coast of Africa, in Ghana, where e-waste is shipped in from the West and dumped, poisoning land, water, people, and environments.

it is imperative that media and cultural studies scholars offer an account of how the 3.7 million gallons of water used per day by Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon, and the millions more used elsewhere, contribute to an ecology hospitable to infectious disease and its natural reservoirs… Knowing that an estimated 632,000 pounds of mercury were disposed of in United States’ landfills between 1997 and 2007, from just discarded personal computers alone, and that about 130 million cellphones are thrown away each year

Posted in art

15. Nishat Awan (2016) Digital Narratives and Witnessing

Nishat Awan (2016) Digital Narratives and Witnessing:


A Great paper. I learnt a lot about present digital witnessing techniques and was impressed by some of the techniques (forensic architetcure,Humanitarian OpenStreetMap ,MicroMappers). As digital technology becomes more pervasive and ubiquitous digital witnessing will become more important and reliable as a witness. I think for any traumatic event digital witnessing techniques should compliment the normal fields of investigation to arrive at a correct depiction of events and help in quickening relief sponsored efforts. Thank you Nishat a great paper.

Key Words: Digital narratives, distance, forensic approach, spatial analysis, witnessing.

This article explores the fraught issue of how we might have an ethical engagement with places that are at a distance from us.

Distance in this sense is not just about being located far away or being inaccessible, but it speaks of those places that through their material conditions repel us in some way, or from which we are repelled.Whereas in the past, such places would remain out-of-sight and out of our consciousness, increasingly they reveal themselves to us. Often this occurs through the use of digital technologies, from the impulse to map and create a digital globe of the whole world to the various social media platforms that transmit images and videos

More than ever before, we are compelled to act, to somehow feel responsible for and bear witness to what occurs at a distance from us.

Pakistani city of Gwadar As a deep sea port, it is highly prized for the access it provides to the Arabian Sea, and China. Searching for Gwadar on the Internet returns articles on oil pipelines, deep sea ports, and China and India’s competing interests in the region. Not only is it becoming increasingly visible to the outside world due to its geopolitical importance, but physical access to it is also being restricted by the Pakistani military.

It shifts the focus from looking at the spatial reach of different types of actors to the mechanisms that allow them to transcend notions of distance.

Here the role of digital maps, the ability to remote sense places, and the role of social media cannot be overemphasized.


What Is Crowdsourcing? It’s a way to collect data — knowingly or unknowingly — about streets, landmarks, speed limits, and more from a large number of individual users.

Digital mapping (also called digital cartography) is the process by which a collection of data is compiled and formatted into a virtual image. The primary function of this technology is to produce maps that give accurate representations of a particular area, detailing major road arteries and other points of interest. The technology also allows the calculation of distances from one place to another.Though digital mapping can be found in a variety of computer applications the main use of these maps is with the Global Positioning System, or GPS satellite network, used in standard automotive navigation systems.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap

One important arena in which digital technologies are produ- cing visual material of distant places in crisis is in the context of humanitarian action. Platforms such as Ushahidi and groups such as the Standby Task Force, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, and Crisis Mappers all use digital mapping techniques combined with crowdsourcing via Short Message Service (SMS) or Twitter to respond rapidly to disasters and to assist humanitarian agencies in directing their efforts toward those most at risk.

One key critique has been the distant nature of such endeavors that could be seen to use technology as a proxy through which to administer aid, while keeping Western humani- tarian agents safe and out of harm’s way (Duffield 2013).

One could trace a genealogy of image- making from that single broadcast to the situation as it is today, where techniques of digital storytelling and virtual reality are being used by aid agencies as a way of communicating with the affected populations as well as with potential donors

Clouds over Sidra, made in collaboration with the United Nations, which follows a young Syrian girl around the Za’atri refugee camp in Jordan. The award-winning virtual reality film premièred at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and was credited with increasing the amount of aid pledged to the cause by world leaders (Anderson 2015; Feltham 2015). The film is a good successor to Buerk’s BBC report because both rely on the notion of witnessing to mobilize passions. We are shown the emaciated child crying at the pain of hunger, or the harsh realities of life in a desert refugee camp, to provoke a response from us at an emotional level

ethiopia: In the BBC report, the familiar and trusted face of the presenter gave an authenticity not only to the images, but also to the accompanying analysis, however simplified and unreliable it might have been

In Clouds over Sidra, a completely different dynamic is at play. We are now in the era of the ubiquity of the image, of the hypercomplexity of politics, where black-and-white understandings of right and wrong are simply not possible.

whose witnessing could be trustworthy enough? The simple and rather cynical answer that Clouds over Sidra provides us with is yourself and yourself alone. Virtual reality transports us to the refugee camp, where we can see “firsthand” the traumatic conditions and hear the personal stories of refugees who seem to be addressing us alone.

Virtual reality, funda- mentally, is a technology that removes borders. … Anything can be local to you”

This work places the burden of proof on the refugee, in this case a twelve-year-old girl, who has to show us her destitution and her will in the face of it; she has to perform it.

No longer reliant on the mediation of newsroom editors and professional journalists in the field, today the images we consume of various crises are often sent by members of the public, people who happen to be there at the time. There is an authenticity and immediacy associated with such images,

he project Dronestagram by the artist James Bridle is a good example of how seeing through digital technology can produce a different practice of witnessing (Bridle 2015).As leaked reports and the testimonies of former soldiers has slowly revealed the reality of the U.S. drone warfare program, it has become increasingly apparent that beyond the illegality of such acts, what the U.S. government was claiming in terms of the number of casualties and the accuracy of the bombs was a far cry from the reality on the groundDronestagram is a photo sharing community dedicated to drone photography. The site that has been described as “Instagram for drones”, allows hobbyists to share their geo-referenced aerial photos and videos.[1] The site launched in July 2013 by Eric Dupin and is owned by his company Dronescape.[2][3] The project is based in Lyon, France. There is also an dronestagram iOS app.[4]


Using freely available satellite imagery from Google Earth, Bridle shows the visual reality of areas inaccessible and out of bounds to those in the West and also to most citizens of the countries in which the bombs fell.

He wrote that they are “places most of us will never see. We do not know these landscapes and we cannot visit them”

They are somehow rendered consumable by Bridle, allowing us to see the reality of the places that the United States and its allies might claim were remote outposts, hamlets consisting of a few buildings, but were also places where people lived out their daily lives. Of course, there were other sources of information, other narratives that we could have chosen to listen to had we the appetite

Tribal leaders and ordinary people from the affected areas were telling of the exact toll that the bombings were taking.



Bellingcat Eliot Higgins,Malaysian Airways Flight MH17.what happens to the witness when the claims that are being made do not come from the testimony of individuals but are made through combining multiple narratives?

The starting point for this Bellingcat investigation was the distribution of updated satellite imagery from Google (DigitalGlobe satellite imagery) with a panchromatic resolution of 0.5m from the territory of eastern Ukraine and its border regions with Russia (17 July to 31 August 2014 satellite images). Additionally, the Bellingcat investigation team analyzed videos shared on social media (YouTube and VKontakte) and geolocated the events captured in these videos to key sites involved in the artillery attacks on Ukraine.

analysis focused on the probable angle of a munition thrown across the wall by the Israeli army. Another project focused on what has come to be known as the Left-to-die Boat, a migrant vessel making its way from Libya toward Europe through one of the most heavily watched maritime zones. Here they used surveillance technologies to show the number of different actors who could have rescued the stricken vessel but who used the overlapping jurisdictions at sea to not do so, resulting in the deaths of more than sixty people.

The work of Eyal Weizman and his research agency, Forensic Architecture


The examples of Dronestagram, Bellingcat, and Forensic Architecture give a glimpse of what type of engagement with a place that is caught up in geopolitics is possible through digital means. The three emergent practices combine spatial analysis with investigative journalism to engage with places that are in conflict, where it is difficult to spend time in the field. Although there is much to be learned from this work, it also serves as a warning.

In giving precedence to the stories that images and objects tell, the narratives of political subjects are taken to not be as “true” as those gleaned through scientific techniques.

For an understanding of how the Pakistani military has come to use drones against its own citizens, some knowledge of the province’s colonial past is useful.

We then see water bubbling up from the ground followed by images of dead fish floating in pools of water. Suddenly matches are being struck near the openings in the ground—the flame goes out immediately!

MicroMappers (Leson, Lucas, and Meier 2016). This is a microtasking app that enables large numbers of people to contribute toward filtering the vast amounts of data generated around an humanitarian event.
What affected efforts to track damage and casualties the most was that people in the area simply did not tweet, or at least this was the conclusion that the article came to, as did the developers of the platform (A simpler explanation for why MicroMappers were not able to find many tweets could be that no one could speak Balochi or Urdu and they did not have translation capabilities.

Exact numbers are difficult to ascertain but it is claimed that thousands of activists, those accused of being insurgents and ordinary people, have disappeared across Balochistan.

They show that although there are many advantages to using digital techniques, not least the possibility of a form of engagement with places that are not easily accessed, such techniques come with their own limitations. There is a problematic filtering that occurs through the technological gaze, which is related to the way in which it has transformed the practice of witnessing.

This means that although on the one hand we see everything almost live and unedited, on the other the narratives that emerge are heavily mediated
this distinction (and impasse) between what we see and what we can say about what we’ve seen raises some important questions about just what a witness can say and the consequences of that utterance upon those within metaphorical earshot”


Posted in art