Session 9

Teresa Uentent:

Will Luers: The Value of Flux in Digital Fiction

Why might a fictional world contain, in its telling, the directionless flow and flux of experience outside of cause and effect chains? Recombinant and indeterminate practices in electronic literature have been traced to the formal play of Oulipo, in which algorithms or rules are used as constraints on the production of fictional texts. Computation opens up many possibilities for such formal constraints, but it also introduces algorithmic flux (scripted variability) as something experientially embedded within the fictional world itself. The question for authors and readers of such recombinant fictions is why the play of forces between chaos and order is thematically and formally important?  This talk will sketch out some of the principles and methods for building the recombinant fictions in Tales of Automation. Tales of Automation is a collection of nine short stories that explore the effects of digital automation on embodied experience. Each tale is a never-ending cycle of asynchronous loops that presents a moment of distracted attention. A single character attempts and always fails to track, narrate or just make sense of experience in its enhanced complexity, materiality and abstraction. Notifications, algorithmic behavior modification, social messaging, life-logging, and quantified feedback intrude on consciousness at the cusp of self-awareness. Narratives compete. Vision is glitched, composited, filtered and collaged. The multiplicity and variability of nested loops means that the short fictions are without beginnings or ends, or rather they begin in medias res and end when the nature of the characters’ situation becomes evident.


Susan Hopp: Landscapes: space, distance and dislocation

Hopp’s work investigates the idea of Place as experienced through our relationship to specific landscapes or locations. The work capitalizes on our cultural need to organize it, cultivate it, and master it as well as how the idea of Place forms our identity. Culturally, we are vastly influenced by social media and the fact that we can communicate to anyone from anywhere around the world at any time. This has inevitably changed our connection to Place. It is through Place that we develop our identity and relationship to the world. Hopp collects images from Social Media and specific Google searches that are altered with phone apps (glitch) to create digital collages (altered and cut digitally, then altered and cut physically, and reassembled). This represents the fragility of our landscapes in relationship to our identity. In this talk, Hopp will explain my process of collecting, glitching, collaging, and fragmenting images to create abstracted landscapes. The talk will explore how our relationship to the photograph has changed and how our connection to Place is inevitably being altered by sheer growth and impact on the environment.

Ryan Lewis: Everted Sanctuaries VI: merging virtual and physical animation realms

Everted Sanctuaries VI, a recent stop-motion animation by artist and graphic designer Ryan Lewis, communicates about the complex needs of introverts through material, type, motion and sound. A transformed book becomes a metaphor for the often uncomfortable process of becoming temporarily extroverted. Ubiquitous exteriors part to reveal internal intricacies—beautiful, but unintended consequences of the contortions necessary to fit in.

Lewis will discuss the process and conceptual underpinnings of Everted Sanctuaries VIEverted Sanctuaries VI explores the boundaries between speaking out and blending in using hybrid animation methods with a book acting as a metaphor. The work combines manual stop-motion animations of physical objects with digital frame-by-frame animations created with Adobe InDesign. InDesign’s typically print-oriented typesetting tools are repurposed to create digital frame-by-frame stop-motion animations that expand the boundaries of Adobe InDesign’s intended uses. In the piece, words are methodically processed, slowly contemplated, and carefully considered within the abstract confines of the page before being explosively released from their margins into the physical world. The merging of manual, digital, and print tools creates a seamless transition between interior and exterior spaces and blurs the boundaries between the virtual and physical realms.

Eversion refers to an organism’s ability to turn itself inside out. For example, a sea cucumber can eject its internal organs to distract predators, sacrificing vital functions for ultimate survival. Similarly, introverts temporarily evert their personalities to function in extroverted contexts. This performance is simultaneously action and reaction, assertion and retreat. Self-expression can be exhilarating, empowering, and freeing but also has the potential to be isolating, exhausting, and damaging. Cultural, educational, and professional environments do not often provide introverts the sanctuary necessary to revitalize themselves. Everted Sanctuaries VI establishes the importance of sanctuary for introverts and asks viewers to consider the depth and vulnerability concealed beneath silent surfaces.

Heejoo Kim: Suum

“Suum” is a virtual reality art game about mindfulness navigated by breathing. It is a virtual environment in which people can experience the basic human ability to be fully present via inhalation and exhalation. While the audience is wearing a virtual reality headset, they can view and interact with the 3-dimensional space, environmental elements, simulation, motion graphics, objects, and adaptive music. In order to take a step beyond the conventions of virtual reality, there will also be a respiration belt set up to measure participants’ breathing. The virtual setting and sound will be designed to create a lucid and relaxed environment that feels comfortable and can adapt the technology in order to focus on the user’s presence and surroundings. As a result, based on the length and strength of their breathing, users can experience the interaction between their respiration, the virtual atmosphere, and their own being. This project concept originated from the emerging mindfulness experience between the physical sensation of breathing and a virtual simulation using a respiration belt and virtual reality gear. “Suum” is a Korean word indicating the action of respiration. Traditional meditation concentrates on the breath, as we can tangibly sense our presence through the corporeal consciousness of breathing. Through repetition, people find themselves returning to focus on their presence, blocking out other thoughts and unnecessary emotions. As people practice mindfulness, they experience feeling calmer and more patient. The purpose of this project is to create an interactive virtual environment and sound, so the audience can focus on their being, rather than increasing harmful ruminating. Players focus on their own breathing patterns or they can select guides that coach the player in specific exercises through visual and audio stimuli. In this piece, mindfulness is explored through the interaction between breathing and virtual particles, fabrics, and an environment from an alternative perspective. As the experimentation with virtually transformative fabrics and objects in order to create sensitive interactions occur, it will also produce functional reactions for ambivalence about aggravation and sentiments. Observing the impact that their breathing has on the virtual world brings this autonomic process into the forefront of the audience’s consciousness, raising self-awareness and leading a user toward a state of mindfulness. Conceptually, this project practices mindfulness. Mindfulness is a mental state of being which entails being fully present, but not overly reactive by what is happening in one’s environment. The approach to mindfulness is connecting with unreality and our presence in reality. There is growing research discovering that when people exercise their brains to be more mindful, they can reconstruct the physical structure of their brain. Connecting mindfulness practice and virtual interaction has been used to bring more surreal and immersive experiences.