Magic shoes: How to hear yourself instantly happy – life – 20 November 2014 – New Scientist

I read this article as I thought of the comments made when people watched the video Michaelmas which I have been using as a back projection in other work and responded to the soundtrack of my walking.

It refers to the sound we make when walking and how it affects our mood.

I know that when I am walking more evenly and without dragging my leg I feel much better, but is this partly because of this direct perception of ‘self’ and a biofeedback type mechanism?

How does this effect my actions when ~I am making work?

Do I feel differently in the movements I am making because I am making work not just moving normally and does this the effect the likely must do,,,

Does this mean I need to be more conscious of this effect when I take ‘actions’ in my work or less ‘self- conscious’?

Magic shoes: How to hear yourself instantly happy – life – 20 November 2014 – New Scientist.


Reanimation : Joan Jonas and personal frustration

Yet more outstanding work.

Somehow I want to encompass all that Joan Jonas does and more.

Without the stage theatricality though and with some sense of collaboration and relational aesthetic, and possibly more raw and physical.






The past few weeks have been frustrating and demoralising.

The combination of

  • Wanting to use both older ‘retro’ technology along with new digital which don’t want to work together
  • All equipment both old and new costing so much money
  • All equipment needing very time-consuming research to see if it will perform the right functions when I eventually get it
  • The fiddling with the tech which inevitably doesn’t work to start with
  • The lack of space and constant moving of ‘stuff’ around in my increasingly cramped studio space
  • The lack of technicians to advise
  • The lack of equipment to just play with in the AV store
  •  The lack of ‘creative base’ of colleagues working in similar fields where there is an energy to revitalise me when the going gets tough
  •  Physical difficulties with untimely fatigue and painful symptoms on  the days I have available to work.
  • Difficulties with my sight which have made reading, assimilating what I read, and concentration almost impossible.

Today has been better.

I had some training yesterday on Dragon software and it has helped to get me off to a slow start but with gathering pace during the day.

I’ve been able to publish these drafts which have been pending for the last few weeks.

I have been busy with the things above for quite a while: so have been working but not producing work.

It always feels like such a waste of time.

Nothing useful to document.

Nothing useful to see.

I am a little clearer now on how I want to experiment further in some direction rather than spinning round and round like a broken compass!

Ars Electronica 2013 : Notes

Ars Electronica 2013

Gerfried Stocker

The Evolution of Memory


6MB was the size of the programs written at IBM for the moonlanding (“the most complex software ever written”) and thus the equivalent of two snapshots taken by a modern smartphone.

The quantity of data that humankind has stored to memory so far (i.e. not just created but saved to some medium that makes it accessible, and yes including the clay tablets that are still around) is estimated at 2.7 zettabytes…less than 1% of this in no-digital form.2.7 zettabytes has 21 zeros on the end: connecting the sheets of standard paper needed to print it out would produce a band that could be wrapped around the world 500 times.

By 2016 there will be so many videos put online every month that it would take 6 million years to view them and the amount of data put on line in that year alon will exceed the total amount stored to date.

Nature’s perfect memory is DNA.


“ Recording” our term for registering information comes from re and cor to remind us that people believed that we preserved memories in our hearts. 

Where exactly is recollection located now??

The brain doesn’t play the role of a repository or even of consciousness itself: rather it’s the interface between the individual ad his/her environment, and memory and consciousness are constantly being created anew from the processes of this connection.”

John-Dylan Haynes Mindreading in Modern Neuroscience


Fig 2

By using and recognising mathematical pattern recognition alogrithms researchers can infer from a persons brain activity what they are thinking as brain activity which occurs with a particular thought can be defined as the thought’s ‘fingerprint’ in the brain.

Obstacles to ‘mindreading ‘include:

  • Limited precision of equipment
  • Brain activity patterns vary from person to person
  • Difficulty acertaining what a person is thinking about at a particular point in time. Complexity of thoughts unless directed.
  • Human Creativity is the biggest obstacle.
  • So many different thoughts
  • Problem solved to some extent by using similarities between thoughts

In one study we were able to predict a person’s decisions several seconds before they themselves even knew which option they were going to choose from ( Soon, Brass, Heinze an Haynes Nature Neuroscience 2008)

This might appear like “magic” but it reflects the fact that decisions can build up slowly and unconsciously in the brain.


Rodriqgo Quian Quiroga

Funes and other cases of Extraordinary Memory

p 25

“ Funes the Memorious “ tells the vicissitudes of Ireneo Funes , a peasant form Fray Bentos, who after falling off a horse and hitting his head hard recovers consciousness with the incredible skill- or perhaps curse- of remembering absolutely everything.

P 26

Jorge Luis Borges ( 1899-1986) has received universal acclaim for the depth with which he approached matters of phiosphical and scientific import in his writings. In Borges hands, the topic of infinity comes alive either as a point that contains the universe (“the Aleph”), impregnable labyrinths ( “ The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths”), a library that is eternally repeated (“The Library of Babel”), stories that subdivide into innumerable possibilities (“ the Garden of Forking Paths”) and others.

Funes welcomes Borges p 29 by reciting in perfect Latin:

“ Nothing that has been heard can be repeated with the same words”)

References to James Joyce Ulysses, a reconstruction of a single day in Dublin.

Pliny investigates memory.


The first properly documented case of an extraordinary memory is that of Solomon Shereshevskii, studied by Russian Psychologist Alexander Luria in his book Mind of a Mnemonist: A Little Book about a vast memory, subject 5.

Shereshevskii possesses very strong synaesthesia which gave his memories richer content and made them easier to recollect.

Borges calls Funes “ a precursor to supermen, a suburban, incomplete Zarathustra”


Neitzsche – The importance of forgetting

“ Imaging the most extreme example, a human being who does not possess the power to forget, who is damned to see becoming everywhere, such a human being, would no longer believe in himself, would see everything flow apart in turbulent particles, and would lose himself in this stream of becoming…..

All action requires forgetting, just as the existence of all organic things requires not only light, but darkness as well.”

(Neitzsch, 1995)


In this essay Neitzsche refers to forgetting in a historical context, suggesting that man should not tie himself to the prejudice of History ( a fundermental requirement for the creation of his famous creation “superman”)


Helga Rohra

Dementia Exists Everywhere

P33 /34

Contributor has DWLB.( Dementia with Lewy Bodies)

A native speaker of German, wrote her text in the catalog in English because, in her own words,” I’m still as fluent as I was back when I worked as an interpreter”.

Due to her professional training as an interpreter, she has a more solid command of (written?) English than she does of her mother tongue.

Nick Goldman, Charlotte Jarvis

The DNA Chronicles


Discuss the amount of stored information and the long-term archiving of information especially as the technology required to read it only lasts a few years.



Hardwear for reading vanish.

DNA is a proven medium

Discussion of DNA

Needs cold dry dark conditions

Translating digital information

This research team showed that it is ideal for storage of digital information.

Used standard DNA synthesis and DNA sequencing to represent large quantities of human designed information.

Used standard DNA synthesis and sequencing to store and recover 5 computer files(750KB) shakespeares sonnets (text) Luther King speech (mp4) a photograph ( jpeg) Watson and Cricks seminal paper on DNA(pdf) and the code/decode file for fun ( don’t Ask!)


Charlotte Jarvis and Nick Goldman

Music of the Spheres

Eduardo Kac Genesis 1999

Joe Davis Bacterial Radio 2012

Bacterial which are constructed with silica gel embedded circuits

Jarvis 2012  Blighted by Kenning

The project bio-engineered a bacteria with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights encoded into its DNA sequence. The DNA was extracted and apples grown near The Hague, which houses the International Court of Justice, ‘contaminated’ with the synthetic DNA. These forbidden fruit were then sent to genomics laboratories around the world, which were asked to sequence the declaration and also to eat the fruit.

This discussion of biological memory reminded me of my work in Plant Breeding at the beginning of my professional life and the beginning of tissue culture and genetic manipulation.

Frank Hartmann

Paul Otlet and the Logic of the database


Paul Otlet (1868-1944)

Books and libraries unsuitable for storage of knowledge at turn of 20th century

So re-structured Documentation of information and storage the end of the book .. logic of databank- indexing a universal book that integrated all information.

Originally systematic ordering at end of 17th C- Leibniz and the Dewy decimal end of 19th C

Otlet’s Traite de documentation publishes in 1934 speculatively elaborated on how written culture could be definitively superseded by the amalgamation of all storage and transmission media on an integrayed media on an integrated systematic level that was said to be the only way to manage the documented knowledge of human kind.

… called it ”hypermedium”…..precursor WWW?

Media changed from

Print to mass production through electricirty

Keller 1843 wood pulp to reduce cost of paper to half

1886 Mergenthaler’s linotype machine

Telegragh and transportation late 1800’s

1930’s HG Wells …World Brain – cells are libraries and universities interlinked. Permanent World Enclcyodepia

Otlet also saw a universally accessible data space instead of writing space and paper and work desk replaced by an innovative device

Teilhard de Chardin’s Noosphere  following geosphere and biosphere

See also research at Princeton into Global Consciousness Project

Ideas are that computing devices not meant to express thoughts; rather for elucidating and systematizing thinking beyond metaphysical speculation.

Michael K. Buckland

Recorded is not remembered

The case of Emanuel Goldberg


Goldberg’s Statistical Machine 1933

political and personal agenda


History is not what is documented but this is most often re…..? and re-iterated

The future of recall long-term

Projecting these technologies forward, we can envisage writing evolving into the recording of everything, printing becoming the representation of everything, and telecommunication achieving simultaneous interaction

Audible experiences are First hand sources

Accounts of audible experiences are Second hand sources.


Toki Ori Ori Nasu –   Falling Records

Brian House  – Quotidian Record  


Quotidian Record is a limited edition vinyl recording that features a continuous year of my location-tracking data. Each place I visited, from home to work, from a friend’s apartment to a foreign city, is mapped to a harmonic relationship. 1 day is 1 rotation … 365 days is ~11 minutes.


As the record turns, the markings on the platter indicate both the time as it rotates through every 24 hours and the names of the cities to which I travel. The sound suggests that our habitual patterns have inherent musical qualities, and that daily rhythms might form an emergent portrait of an individual.


As physical vinyl, Quotidian Record may be collected and fetishized, connecting the value of data today with the history of popular music culture. It provides an expressive, embodied, and even nostalgic alternative to the narratives of classification and control typical of state and corporate data infrastructure.


Four Sequence/ Open Paths platform 

Me QR Codes …recording/making not ‘creating’ ? more the exhibition at Ambika 3 some years ago.. and other digital stuff.

Not Falling Records which I thought would be but is not even on video It Is very moving. 

Oliver Bimber discusses Light Field Technology and its influences.


Most digital imaging systems and processing depict in 2 dimensions.

To represent accurately you have to consider the scene’s entire light transport process.


To know the colour and the brightness of the light that’s reflected from any three dimensional point in the scene in any direction whatsoever.

A camera able to capture all that light transports (also known as the 5D plenoptic function) would be a perfect imaging system.

At the moment it is not possible to capture or reproduce this because of the enormous amount of data produced.



Reinhard Nestbacher

Cell Camera

“Scientist Reinhard Nestelbacher (AT) has come up with a truly futuristic idea for producing pictures. For The Cell Camera, he modifies human cells and cultivates them as a one-cell-thick layer. Chemicals used in cancer therapy sensitize these cells to light. Beneath a black-and-white negative illuminated by a laboratory lamp, the cells form a picture that corresponds to the negative.’

Ars Electronica website……

Much of this work is done by scientists and is clever but thre science comes first and imagery rather than extended concept??

Maybe this is why I like it and am interested but it doesn’t move me.

However it is noted in the book that the images produced can never take thew same form and the images presented at Ars depicted imaged that were ‘burned into his memory and also his cells’

The Fukishima disaster, explosion of Challenger, an oil spill…

These feel a little contived..were they really personal memories or just ‘memoravle world events’???

The whole thing feels contrived but is fascinating and makes me think back to my involvement with biological techniques and the beginnings of plant tissue culture in the 1980’s.

Also quoted is the topic discussed in one of our discussions the ‘

Modern Technology operates on the edge’

Little glitches that cause breakdown and possible catastrophe.!!!

This is echoed in the work…was that an intentional link ?

I am interested in employing technology but the tech should not be the work…..


P 90

Theresa Shubert: bodymetries

Slime -mold growing on skin.

Makes obvious the use of skin as interface for communication and connection

I like the ideas behind this and emphasis on skin as interface but not necessatilybusing similar materials.

Is this because I lack courage? Or because again I think it is too separated from what I want to elicit as emotion and human connection/

I would need to see it in the ‘flesh!’


Heather Dewy-Hagborg Stranger Visions

Not sure I like this rather forensic work?

She discusses some of the ethical implcations but I am not sure I would want her to do this on my DNA and also the samples chosen all seem to be gum or cigarete ends form particularly similar locations so are not representative of a broad sector of society.

They are not people from expensive restaurants or theatres

See review in the Huffington Post

Ars Electronica 2013, Neuromancer and Physical Theatre

As my postings have become less regular and rather fragmented in their content, this reflects something of a struggle that I will try to describe in this post.

To start with I will describe some things that I have actually been doing, and thinking about, instead of writing this blog.

I’ve been trying to read the book  Total Recall : The Evolution of Memory – Ars Electronica 2013 for several months /weeks. It’s a book about the annual Ars Electronic festival held in Austria. The blurb on the back of the book states that total recall is the theme of the 2013 Festival and that it is a quest for perfection in recollection. It features the work of neuroscientists and computer engineers, artists and philosophers about research insights interpretations and vision of future where everything is still able to memory. It aims to analyse what memory actually is and the relevant remembrance plays to individuals and society.

I was excited when I discovered this book because it aims to demonstrate all the areas that I claimed to be interested in in my research proposal. It’s a huge book with a correspondingly large website which covers an enormous number of wide-ranging works which address the topic of memory and technology.

I’ve really struggled with trying to make notes from the book, but I have, and some of them I will post on the blog separately for my own reference in the future. Many of the works are also accessible on the website and this does tend, through video documentation, to bring them alive a little bit.

Instead of making the topic more exciting to me reading the book has contributed to a feeling of confusion, indecision and disorientation that has grown in the last few weeks since we stopped having our regular Skype chat with the group.

Many of the works featured include using biotechnology to create works of art. This is taken me back to my original profession rooted in biology, now over 30 years ago.

When I worked in plant breeding, plant tissue culture and genetic engineering were in their infancy and the company I worked for had the rather dubious accolade of appearing on the TV programme “Tomorrow’s World ” for its groundbreaking and innovative work. Part of me feels that I should be excited by the way that the use of biotechnology is described in these works and the imaginative ways in which it is used to make “Artwork”. Many of the works I read about have struck me as being very clever, very innovative, and often quite exciting. I would like to see them for real, and hope that this might have made a difference to the way that they made me feel.  The concepts covered in many of the works are sensitive and touch upon the personal. Some of them involve interactivity and collaboration bringing human contact to the work.

But still they mostly leave me cold.

References to Walter Benjamin are used in one of the papers “Book burning, Surveillance and Interaction” by Wir sind heir, on page 125. He states that

“Benjamin describes direct physical experiences being replaced by information”

I think this is why I feel that, at least on reading the of documentation of, rather than having the direct experience of Total Recall, cold and distanced from the work produced.

I am not sure if I feel uninspired to return to my “biological and botanical roots” because of this or because I feel overwhelmed by and distanced from the technology that now exists to make this work possible.

It is ironic that having chosen originally to leave that professional world behind, I now encounter it again in a different form. This example of recurrence and reiteration is something that, funnily enough happens over and over again certainly in my life. Maybe it is this aspect of repetition, re-iteration and memory experience that could serve as a focus for my work.  

Alongside reading ” The Evolution Of Memory”, I have also been reading “Neuromancer” by William Gibson, the seminal cyberpunk novel written in 1984. This is a fascinating novel telling the story of a computer hacker in a dystopian future.


As Ed Cumming in the Guardian Monday 28th July. states

In Neuromancer, published 30 years ago this month, Gibson popularised the idea of cyberspace: a “consensual hallucination” created by millions of connected computers. This network can be “jacked” into, while in the real world characters flit from Tokyo to the Sprawl, an urban agglomeration running down the east coast of the US. Gritty urban clinics carry out horrendous sounding plastic surgery. A junkie-hacker, Case, is coaxed into hacking the system of a major corporation. What once seemed impossibly futuristic is now eerily familiar.”

Reading this amazing book has been quite a challenge as Gibson’s vision, and the vocabulary he uses, needed some  persistence until the world he has created gradually emerges.

There are several concepts which I’m enjoying and which are helping me to see cyberspace, whatever that has come to mean now, as a geographical location which I access still very tentatively. For me the “virtual” world of cyberspace and the real world are still separate entities. In Gibson’s world there is continuous constant merging and separations.

The role of the physical body and its purpose is not really evident except as an agent to employ the technology which exists. Neurology is the overriding physiological function which Gibson describes and even then the human body is simply used as a tool for a machine to use whereby the sensations of others and artificially created sensations are experienced  by characters in the book.

Eventually, in chapter 12 there is a reference to emotion, at which point the protagonist, Case feels at first rage, then an emotion which is ‘warm’. He tries to deny this

“Meat, some part of him said. It’s the meat is talking, ignore it.”

P 181.

This separation of neurological sensation described during the book, felt in response to location, visual stimuli provided by holograms and other virtual and unreal phenomena, and emotion is very interesting. The characters are physically human but have been altered through extensive and creative plastic surgery, organ transplants and other interferences with biological agents to their nervous systems.

They operate, function and think in ways which are intrinsically “human” and are contrasted in the book to artificial intelligences which function as CD-ROM or RAM. But the qualities of their interactions are always mediated by some form of technology which has become part of their bodies or minds. The boundaries are blurred and the interface is blurry.

The book constantly plays with the real and the not real, the physical and metaphysical, the interfaces

Whilst reading the book my son told me of a friend of his who has had recent heart surgery implanting a part created from 3-D modelling as a replacement of the original section.

As my son constantly “jacks in” to cyberspace, and explores the geography of various matrices, oceans, continents and Archipelago that I can barely imagine, his universe let alone his world, is very different from mine.

The geography of the world in Neuromancer and cyberspace have extended my thoughts beyond the universal which is almost visible on a starry night! It really does alter concepts of dimension and space which, maybe are accessible through mind-altering drugs and I have experienced once, briefly in deep meditation, but otherwise are only tentatively accessible in dreams.

Interestingly I have had increasingly vivid and bizarre dreams since reading the book, the most disturbing was one where my brain had become infected with not one, but two tapeworms , which had taken up most of the space occupied by neurological tissue.The symptoms I experience were due to their presence and surgery required to remove them!

I was actually quite relieved and happy to have this explanation of some of the more bizarre sensations I experience almost daily as the surgery would relieve me of them!

I will have to read more about digital geography and the Aborigine and other cultures of time and memory following this reading. Reading  Neuromancer has developed my understanding of the impact of ‘cyberspace’ and digital technology in a way that the works in the book of Ars Elecrtronica did not.

Maybe this is because, and not despite, the fact that it is a work of fiction written three decades ago. It provides more of an insight into the way the digital and the human interface than most of the artworks describe.

To me there is a feeling in Ars Electronica of observation, analysis, detached exploration and in some ways categorisation similar to they demonstrated during the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries. Voyages over the sea to unknown continents, explorers bringing back of artefacts, the heads of slaughtered creatures, and the attitude of needing command over the unknown.

As a work of fiction Gibson’s Neuromancer is free from this control, with the ‘ hyperspace’  we have created existing in its own right and without separation from the physical world we experience. This providea different type of ‘absorbed’  and in the case of Neuromancer, corrupt and distorted exploration.

In stark and distinct contrast to both these works, last night I went to see The National Theatre Live Production of “John” at my local cinema. This production is by DV8, a physical theatre company, and even reproduced digitally streamed from the Southbank demonstrated such raw emotional and physical human sensation and experience that I left exhausted, muscles aching, as if I had been making the movements I witnessed.

Creative Computing with Science Oxford



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Over the past two weekends I’ve been helping with creative input on the Creative Computing Taster Days and Workshop run by Science Oxford at Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot and funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Video- links will be posted soon.

The sessions were for girls from 11 to 16 and were based around  the use of Arduino as a micro-controller as a way of making interactive creations.

The taster days introduced the girls and myself to writing ‘sketches’ to programme and Breadboards for the circuitry.

Besides myself there were several volunteers from various professional backgrounds. including corporate software and training, Rutherford Appleton public engagement department (Sophie), electrical engineering (Vance) and creative sound work ( Kevin),who helped with the programming aspects

Jennifer Van der Puil and Natalie from Science Oxford led the day.

It was a fantastic opportunity for me to they a little basic coding and really see the various was that Arduino could be used in my art practice.

Using various sensors and switches to control events from something so small that it can be almost invisible in an installation setting is  one of the means I may use to enable to change an environment.

It would be easy to get very involve din the coding now though and I don’t want to do that.

Simply to know some of the straingforward possibilities is great.

If young girls can manage it …there may be hope for me.

Their enthusiasm, imagination and focus was a wonder to behold!

All they needed form me were reminders on process (Thank you Kolb model!) which was based around

  • Imagine what you would like to build ( brain storm and spider diagram)
  • Draw a sketch drawing to imagine it in 3D and so that you can show other trainers what your aims are.
  • Start to make the model.
  • Reflect on the model and its functionality.
  • Start the programming.
  • Complete the circuitry.
  • Return to making the model to reflect on how your electronics will fit in the model and will it still work.
  • Reflect also on the changes you may have to make in your model.
  • Return to the programming/electronics with changes.
  • Make the final model with necessary changes.

It was really interesting to see  how this age of female student approached their work and the difference in materials and process from building to creating code.

They all made fantastic and entertaining  ( often Christmassy ) constructions with music, flashing lights, and whirling mustaches!

It was especially interesting to me as a contrast to the art leisure and gallery-based education process I am involved with and as a way of getting my own confidence with Arduino.

To some extent the process was difficult because of things like eyesight!!

I had some difficulty seeing to wire the Breadboards.

I will need to spend some time working  on this until I am confident