MIXING REALITIES DIGITAL PERFORMANCE - festival
Type of project: public space project, seminar and workshops
Where: Blekinge Institute of Technology and Blekinge museum, Karlskrona, Sweden
When: 24–26 May 2013
Artists:
Jesper Norda (SE), Light clock (25 901 514 031 485 metres in 24 hours)
Mateusz Pęk (PL), Dichotomy of a Square
Elektro Moon Vision (Elwira Wojtunik, Popesz Csaba Láng, Magdalena Pińczyńska) (PL), Barbarum Fretum
Technical Support and Festival Organization:
Jolanta Kołosińska, Digital Culture Student, BTH (SE/PL) Emma Larsson, Digital Culture Student, BTH (SE) Christopher Fossto, Technical Support, CrossCorp Productions (SE) Stefan Wilken, Technical Support, Humming Hamster (DNK)
Speakers:
Martin Arvebro, Videographer (SE)
Jay D. Bolter, Professor, Digital Media, Georgia Tech (USA)
Kristin Borgehed, Musican, Folk Practice Academy (SE)
Elektro Moon Vision: Elwira Wojtunik & Popesz Csaba Láng Visual/Interactive Media Artists (PL)
Maria Engberg, Senior Lecturer, Digital Culture, BTH (SE)
Melissa Foulger, Artistic Director, Georgia Tech (USA)
Ida Gustavsson, Photographer (SE),Trish Harris, Curator/Journal Editor (USA)
Lissa Holloway-Attaway, Senior Lecturer, Digital Culture, BTH (SE/CAN)
Talan Memmott, Lecturer, Digital Culture, BTH (SE/USA)
Jesper Norda, Media Artist (SE), Mateusz Pęk, Media Artist (PL)
Rebecca Rouse, Assistant Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (USA)
Matthew Rouser, AR and Urban Space Researcher, Malmö (SE/USA)
Astrid Selling, Musician, Folk Practice Academy (SE)
Eric Snodgrass, Ph.D Candidate, Malmö University, (SE)
Daniel Spikol (Senior Lecturer, Computer Science, Malmö University) along with Interaction Design Students: Antonis Gkhoukos, Emil Ekström, Nils Ehrenberg, Ali Arifati, Robert Sanescu (Malmö University)
Sonny Rae Tempest, Media Artist (USA)
Linnea Åkerberg, Digital Culture Student, BTH (SE)
Organizers: Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden

The Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival (May 24-26, 2013)

by Lissa Holloway-Attaway

The Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival (or #mixitupfest) was a three-day-long event that included a number of opportunities for attendees to explore, discover, and interact with mixed media experiences focused on art and culture. Through digital art exhibitions, performances, public lectures, seminars, workshops, collaborative readings and online media channels, visitors could see how contemporary media combine physical and digital environments and encourage revolutionary methods for creation, expression, and participation. International scholars and students working in digital culture, media artists (sound, dance, music, interactive computing, video, photography, augmented reality, digital performance), curators, computer scientists, and others working in and across social media came together, virtually and physically, and were all invited to “mix it up” in Karlskrona. For the festival, the source of “mixing” was a convergence of genres, media forms, methods for exhibition and types of creative digital expression. Again, with a focus on performance, the goal was to capture much of the dynamism attributed to contemporary media. Resisting singular and static means of expression, and engaging instead interactive, alternative and immersive practices for exploring creativity and media, we combined traditional seminar and workshops with live performances and media exhibitions. Some of the works and artists we explored in the Performing Exhibitions Seminar were revisited in the Mixing Realities Festival in further stages of development, but newly commissioned pieces specific to the festival document the full range of “realities” we worked to engage. With a focus on creating a network of possibilities, influences, experiments, as well as documenting current interdisciplinary research, we tried to capture the essence of a digitally-based art-culture that in many ways epitomizes a primary goal for Art Line as a whole: the exploration of physical, digital, and public spaces. The following brief descriptions of the major works and events in the festival provide a concrete picture of the diversity and creativity we believe is a necessary foundation for sustaining a technical/human platform based on knowledge exchange and transfer.

MIXING REALITIES FESTIVAL PARTICIPANTS:
Jesper Norda, Featured Installations
Light clock (25 901 514 031 485 metres in 24 hours), A video starts with a single white frame – a flash of light – followed by a counter measuring how far the light will travel during the following 24 hours. The counter is updated every second, like a clock. A meditation on time, speed, light, expanse – eternity.

Mateusz Pęk, Dichotomy of a Square
Pęk’s installation is based on the “black and white squares” of Kazimir Malevich. Pęk shows how ideas hidden in these paintings correspond to our (Polish /Swedish) contemporary reality. They illustrate how they still change in the context of our current global economy, creating new ways to experience reality.

Elektro Moon Vision (Elwira Wojtunik, Popesz Csaba Láng, Magdalena Pińczyńska), Barbarum Fretum
Barbarum Fretum is an interactive audiovisual installation that reacts to human presence by the illusion of filling up the constructed installation space with waving sea water and taking its user to the depths of the sea. Barbarum Fretum also brings the user to different city places - via peepholes, similar to telescopes, that reveal in real time the landscapes of four city places in countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.

Trish Harris, Lissa Holloway-Attaway, The Re-Making Moby-Dick Project
The Re-Making Moby-Dick Project is an international multimodal storytelling performance created over several months during 2013. Poets, writers, artists, schoolchildren, scholars, dancers, curators, sailors, and more participated in a video remixing and retelling of Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick. The results were screened on YouTube and eventually re-curated in print.

Martin Arvebro, Lissa Holloway-Attaway, 24+ Hour Moby Marathon Reading
This 24+ hour non-stop reading of Herman Melville’s classic 1851 novel Moby-Dick was read in full (600+ pages) on location at the Blekinge museum, in select locations around Karlskrona, and online with participants from around the world. This re-mediation of traditional reading practices was live-streamed on the internet and connected to many social media outlets and activities.

OTHER PERFORMANCE “EXHIBITIONS” INCLUDED:
Talan Memmott, Eric Snodgrass, Sonny Rae Tempest, Huckleberry Finnegans Wake
A combinatoric performance work bringing together Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

Melissa Foulger, Rebecca Rouse: Actors: Rosa Auf Der Strasse, Konrad Holmqvist, Johanna Martinsson, Julia Sundqvist, Louisa Sundqvist, Joel Wennberg, After the Quake
A performance using live actors and responsive technology, excerpted from a play by Frank Galati and adapted from short stories by Haruki Murakami.

Kristin Borgehed, Lissa Holloway-Attaway, Astrid Selling, sAND (waves)
A mixed media storytelling performance that explores the physical landscape and sea cultures around Nida, Lithuania and the Blekinge Region in Sweden.

Martin Arvebro, Astrid Selling, Linnea Åkerberg, White
A live/YouTube-based dance performance exploring the quality of whiteness as inspired by Herman Melville’s reflections on the “whiteness of the whale” in his novel Moby-Dick and reinterpreted by Visual Artist Matt Kish.

Lissa Holloway-Attaway, Ph. D., Senior Lecturer in Digital Culture, Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, Karlskrona Sweden

Jesper Norda, Light clock (25 901 514 031 485 metres in 24 hours)



Augmented Reality Seminar and Workshop # MIXITUPFEST


The 24 hour MobyReading Marathon #MIXITUPFEST


WHITE - The Dance - Full performance #MixItUpFest


WHITE - The Dance - Interview version #MixItUpFest


Augmented Reality and the polyaesthetics of digital media

by Maria Engberg and prof. Jay David Bolter

Context: In May 2013, Maria Engberg and Jay David Bolter participated in the Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival (#mixitupfest) in Karlskrona, Sweden, where they presented keynote and video lectures on Augmented Reality in a seminar focused on this topic. The following text outlines the research they presented and many of their projects in which they have explored ways of using Augmented Reality as a tool for engaging innovative cultural, expressive and artistic practices in mixed media contexts.

Augmented Reality (AR) on smart phones and tablets now offers a platform for innovative forms of education, entertainment, social expression, and art. In our presentation during the Art Line AR seminar, we focused on one particular visual application: the AR panorama. As a form of exhibition, the panorama dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, and it is now remediated for mobile devices. We invoked the AR panorama to illustrate a new aesthetic, a new mode of addressing the world in and through digital media, which one of us (Engberg) calls “polyaesthetics”. We are becoming increasingly polyaesthetic as we combine the senses of sight, hearing, touch, and proprioception to engage with hybrid and multiple media forms today. Polyaesthetics describes the changed relationship between ourselves and our environments as defined through our multimodal interfaces, multiple simultaneous applications, and the combining and overlaying of virtual data onto the physical world. Panoramas are polyaesthetic in two ways: 1) they combine the senses of sight and touch (and sound too). We see and feel our way around the visual world of the panorama; and 2) they locate us “here and there”. We see one world when we look beyond the phone and another when we look at the screen and move it around. We presented our work during the Art Line AR seminar, and discussed it as an example of the impact of mobile media on the changing media landscape.

AR forms explore interfaces, possibilities for interaction, and different kinds of design. The design space is different in that it resides both in the screen and in the world. The device itself becomes both the window to another “mixed” reality and a surface for interaction. There is plenty of evidence of AR in mobile devices for general use, socalled AR browsers such as Aurasma, Wikitude, Layar and Junaio. AR, particularly in these mobile devices, becomes a genre that has characteristic affordances and design styles. At present, the two most common forms of AR are geolocation and image tracking. Geolocation-based AR uses GPS, compass, wifi and other sensors in a user’s mobile phone to provide a “heads-up” display of various geolocated points-of-interest for the user. In this configuration, the screen of the phone uses the video camera to duplicate what the user/viewer can see by looking beyond the phone. At the same time, text and images are added to the view on the screen, so that the screen becomes a window onto a world in which digital information appears to occupy space in the physical world. It is a world that is in this sense hypermediated. Vision-based AR uses many of these same sensors to virtually display digital content in context with real-world objects - like magazines, postcards or product packaging - by tracking the visual features of these objects. This suggests different affordances and design approaches. It is screen-based in a different way from geo-location. The viewer is more focused on the screen, which presents a more intimate interaction and concentrated space, which can be used for aesthetic or performative purposes.

The performative aspect of engaging with AR, and in this case, AR panoramas, becomes a productive design space. In tourism-related applications, it puts the viewer/ user in a new performative relationship with images of the world. One example is TourWrist, an application that allows professional and amateur photographers to upload their 360° panoramas of places all over the world. Essentially a virtual tourist application, the name is descriptive, because with such a panoramic application the user does use her wrist (or arms) to explore the image space. Viewing requires physical engagement, as she looks into the screen while she rotates the phone around her. The panorama appears to surround her. Augmented panoramas form part of a larger genre of mobile experiences that combine visual representations, present and past, live and recorded.

Although we can not have access to complete panoramic projections from the past, we do often have photographs that can be inserted in appropriate places against the video background provided by the phone’s camera. As a number of applications illustrate, such as HistoryPin (www.historypin.com) and WhatWasThere (whatwasthere.com), the user can align the historical photograph with the video scene that she sees in her phone. On the app, the user may then operate a slider to make the historical image more or less opaque. This is a striking and again performative way to visualize historical change - a way to see the past in the present.

This genre is all about aura, the special feeling of veneration instilled by a historic place. In fact, it is interesting to consider how it injects aura into the everyday. Applications such as HistoryPin transform the place you occupy by recalling a past moment, which - though now gone - is inherent to this place.

Panoramas and panoramic exhibitions have a long history. In The Panorama History of a Mass Medium (1997), Stephan Oetterman tells the story of the remarkable popularity and meaning of panoramas as a virtual experience that had a significant historical impact during their heyday. There, is however, no straight line from panoramic immersion to Virtual Reality. The complex and ramified history of screen-based technologies, from panoramas and dioramas in the 19th century, cinema and television in the 20th, and now digital screens in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, has been studied by both media and film scholars: from Crary and Gunning to Friedberg, McLuhan, Rae Cooley and Laura Marks, just to name a few.

In our projects, we (the authors) work through the question of what the history of media, such as the panorama, offers for the design and shaping of new media experiences and applications. We seek to combine the notion of critical theory, which tends to look at media with a view to analysis and critique, with what one of us (Bolter) has called “productive theory”, which looks to media history and art to produce insights for creative production. For decades, if not centuries, the task of those in the humanities has been to explain certain artifacts of culture: first literature, and then art and music, and much more recently, film and other forms. The task of the humanities has not been to make such artifacts or to provide explanations that would help others make or improve them. Our projects, and many of the projects that were presented during the Art Line AR seminar, seek to change that.

Maria Engberg, Senior Lecturer in Digital Culture, Blekinge Institue of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden.

Jay David Bolter, Professor and Wesley Chair of New Media, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Lissa Holloway-Attaway and Maria Engberg are welcoming the guests

Jay David Bolter, professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia


Jay David Bolter