Help support the fourth and latest version of Biomodd! Biomodd is an art installation that brings plants, computers, electronics and people together – all working harmoniously with one another. We’ve built a few different major versions in the past.
Athens, Ohio, USA (2007)
Los Banos, Philippines (2009)
Delft, Belgium (2010)
Typically, the installations have:
… refurbished computers that are cooled by algae…
… the algae are then cooled by a tank filled with tropical fish….
… the fish water is used to nourish plants growing alongside the computers…
…and plants flourish because of the heat of the computers…
Use robotic caretakers for the window gardens. Biomodd was initiatiated by senior TED Fellow artist and biologist Angelo Vermeulen, who is working with NASA to test out robotic caretakers for gardens that could potentially be grown during space missions.
Creative activity often requires consumable material resources. For example, the invention of email has reduced our use of paper, but the computers we use are made with materials that are in short supply, were likely obtained under politically and environmentally problematic circumstances, and/or are not recyclable. Can we minimize the ecological imprint of our inventiveness and pursue creative activity without consuming more than our fair share of the world’s resources?
We had a great discussion. Here are some notes from that afternoon:
Andy Goldsworthy is an artist who works with elements of the natural environment to create beautiful, temporary works of art that disappears into the natural environment
This rendition of Biomodd in new York will take advantage of a three-tiered international community. It does so by capitalizing on the experience of past members from around the world while forming a team of New York based collaborators, as well as reaching out to the local community in Queens near NYSCI. The museum is proving to be an inspiring place for Biomodd to live. The exhibition space is a 60s example of nuclear fallout shelter architecture. With this in mind, the team has decided to let this influence the project by focusing on growing food in this closed environment as a model for creating a self-sustaining system.
Currently the development of Biomodd [NYC4] is in its first stage at Immigrant Movement International (IMI) in Queens: Springmavera is an experiment in pop-up horticulture, a community building project that grows itself around Biomodd [NYC4] and urban gardening initiatives. Together with IMI, Biomodd and community members share gardening, food and building knowledge. In September, and in parade fashion, Springmavera will move to NYSCI where it will morph itself further into Biomodd [NYC4].
We are turning Gallery Gachet into a laboratory for: experimentation, workshops and prototyping of science and technology-based artworks. Sign up for workshops and prototyping sessions or simply drop in to view the work as it unfolds!
What:Proof-of-Process is a prototype for a community-based research laboratory. It is composed of hybrid exhibitions, workshops and symposia where participants, along with artist-researchers, can interact and collaborate on the development of science and technology-based artworks and research projects at any stage of development – all within a publicly accessible laboratory set-up in the gallery. We seek to create an atmosphere of collaboration, knowledge sharing and creative dialogue. So please come by to participate, offer suggestions, or simply view the work in its various stages.
Drop by to see or collaborate on: a set of intelligent drums that communicate via electrical stimulation, an interactive display of bioluminescent algae, an electrochemical analog computer, and a luminous 3D display connected to a virtual grove of bamboos.
Proof-of-Process fuses research, a DIY production workshop, educational seminars and a gallery exhibition into a singular event. We strongly encourage local artists, musicians, hackers and other interested parties to participate in the workshops and prototyping sessions. Workshops will be led by one or more of the Proof-of-Process artists-researchers and will include demonstrations, discussions and brainstorming.
When: June 5-10, daily 12-6pm. The final exhibition event will be held on Sat. June 9, from 8-10 pm
Where: Gallery Gachet, 88 E. Cordova, Vancouver, BC
Proof-of-Process is a production of DPrime Research, a nonprofit research institution specializing in cultural production informed by the intersection of technology, research and the arts. http://dprime.org
Generous support for Proof-of-Process has been provided by the Simon Fraser University Graduate Student Society, the School of Interactive Arts & Technology Graduate Student Association and Gallery Gachet.
It is worth closely reading these three. Overall, I am convinced that dissent and debate are useful for generating more ideas than a kind of pure, uncritical open-endedness. However, one important idea from the rebuttal article is that “the intention of brainstorming is not to eliminate critique, but simply to postpone it.” This is significant. Brainstorming is not the only (or even necessarily the most effective) tool in the arsenal. And these tools can be wielded in quick succession, or even concurrently, so that they can work in the most optimal way.
Something else bothered me about the study. The experiments were conducted in the US and France. In the US study, 265 volunteers participated, all of whom were the same sex (women). Eighty-five percent of the 207 participants in the French study were women. The groups were segregated into same sex groups, presumably to factor out any effects of gendered criticism. It’s a fairly contrived set of circumstances. In most of the groups I deal with, there is usually a diverse mix of genders, and I find that I notice that gender, gender relations, and gender performances play a significant role in the way that people dish out and receive negative feedback. One can only wonder whether the same sex setup might have had an effect in the outcome. Ideally they should have had at least one group composed of mixed sexes. I find it surprising that there was no attempt in the discussion of the results to at least explain their decision to segregate via sex and to hypothesize how this might have affected the outcomes..
The rebuttal article also makes a great point that the “debate group” was actually given both the instructions to brainstorm and to criticize ideas. I think the overall lesson from this is that to generate ideas effectively, all rules should be made explicit. This idea is in fact borne by one of the findings of the study: a group that was given no instructions other than to come up with ideas (no mention of whether criticism was encouraged or discouraged).
I remember reading somewhere that in psychology, researchers particularly often aim to arrive at conclusions that contradict common sense or very well-established findings. The more surprising the claim, the more cachet it potentially has. It is worth keeping this in the back of our minds when reading research reports in psychology.
Biomodd progenitor Angelo Vermeulen never ceases to surprise me with his ability to make things happen. He’s arranging to have me and Biomodd collaborator and UPOU colleague King Librero spend some time at a very cool research center in Belgium, in a “mini-residency” there. (I’ll say which center the moment it’s all confirmed!) Depending on King’s own interests, here are some of the projects that I’ve had on the backburner that I would be interested in working on:
An experiential exploration of expressivity, accelerometry, and acceleration (my research area in grad school)
Interfacing or expanding the Apology Grove
Choose Your Own Country
Expressivity and accelerometry (my research area in grad school)
As mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous, so are accelerometers, the sensors that are used to sense motion which is then interpreted by the mobile phone software. Motion recognition through accelerometry has been done for decades, but the use of accelerometers for detecting expressive, poetic motion has been under-explored.
How can the property of acceleration, as measured by linear accelerometers and gyroscopes, be used to recognize, interpret, or generate expressive human movement? This is the central question of my thesis.
For a residency, I would spend part of the time reviewing the existing literature on motion recogntion and movement expressivity, and part of the time in a studio in a phenomenological exploration of how I, as a trained dancer, use the notion/property of acceleration to generate different and specific qualities of movement (as typified, for example, under Laban Movement Analysis). Triangulating from phenomenological data, empirical data (e.g., linear accelerometers typically sense acceleration along orthogonal axis, and gyroscopes capture rotational acceleration), and the literature review, I would produce (as a result of this residency) testable hypotheses on how accelerometers and gyroscopes can best be used to support the sensing and recognition of different forms of expressivity in human movement.
Wiremap/Lumarca is a low-cost, volumetric display made of string or wire created by Albert Hwang and Matt Parker:
I made a version of this tool and used it to display a landscape of bamboo under a star-filled night sky during a live performance.
I would like some time and resources to expand the use of Wiremap/Lumarca in any of the following ways.
As an immersive space that can be used in dance performance to annotate human movement
This would involve taking the original Wiremap display, perforating the acrylic boards so that the strings can slide up and down, and experimenting with different kinds of materials for the string. We might also design some visualizations that are appropriate to these modifications. The visualizations would be used to emphasize the expressive capacities of the human body and reveal something about the internal experiences of the dancer. For a more detailed discussion, please see this poster PDF.
As a musical visual instrument
I would treat the strings as individual sound-generating tools that would respond to force and pressure. I may use infrared cameras to detect the motion of the strings, or else some kind of physical sensing (flex sensors, magnets) attached to the base of the strings.
In either case, I would highly recommend inviting the original designer of Wiremap/Lumarca, Albert Hwang, to take part in the residency with us.
Interfacing or expanding the Apology Grove
On ApologyGrove.org, you can make an apology, view and witness public apologies, and respond to apologies made to you using the Apology Grove. A virtual bamboo is planted for every apology made, and a virtual cedar tree for every forgiveness registered. Use the menu on the left to make an apology or view and witness public apologies. You can also respond to an apology made to you using this site.
I would like to spend some time (preferably working with other artists) to expand on the ideas around the apology grove. Perhaps we can create better, more aesthetic visualizations for the virtual trees. Or link it to a robotic arm that plants actual cedar and bamboo. Or interface the Apology Grove to other kinds of systems. Or have a discussion: why the heck would this matter at all?
Slow Food, Slow Growth, Slow Technologies
The slow food movement is (somewhat paradoxically) gaining momentum. We are realizing speed and convenience exact a hefty price when it comes to food, agriculture, and biological diversity.
Nothing of such an impulse to slowness exists in technology. In the fields of computing science and engineering, “Moore’s Law” (which predicts that processor power will double every six months) of the doubling of processor is regarded as something inevitable. But it has been suggested that it has become self-fulfilling prophecy that drives semi-conductor manufacturers.
Can designers of new technology learn from the slow food movement? What about “slow” technology? Is there a point of slowing down the pace of technological development? Or, perhaps it can be argued, as others have, that greater emphasis is needed in designing technologies that support reflection, meditation, and other forms of slow thinking.
Choose Your Own Country
In 2011 (an election year for Canada), an online tool called Vote Compass went viral among Canadian Internet users. The tool measured their opinions on issues ranging from the environment to military spending to immigration:
Thirty questions had six possible Likert-scale type responses, resulting in over 2×1023 different options. If we reduced the number of responses to half, that’s still 2×1014 different possible combinations. It occurred to me that in effect, each of these combinations represents a group of people who could all live together in agreement over fundamental issues.
I propose working with other artists/designers on making either an interactive installation or a social media-based web tool that would ask similar/identical questions and link people who respond similarly to each other.
I do not necessarily think that we should only live with people we agree with. In fact, I expect that the usefulness of this tool would cause debate. And that would be a good thing.
The chapter that I co-wrote with Angelo Vermeulen on Biomodd [LBA2] has just come out in the fourth CROSSTALKS publication, published by the Belgian press ASP (Academic & Scientific Publishers). The book is a collection of case studies on initiatives from across the globe that attempt to address climate change. Our section touched very briefly on e-waste, making art from recycled materials, using computer games to engage people in thinking about sustainability, working with communities in a collaborative way, and how we encourage more “versions” of Biomodd in order to keep the dialogue moving forward.