State of the Real, NotesGlasgow School of Art, Nov 2003.

‘The Real’ just got realer Clive Fencott and Jo Clay SpIDERStudio, School of Computing, Uni of Teesside

Theories of virtual content -    perceptual opportunities

Predictive content modelling -    look at way people behave in virtual environments and try to predict what they do

Experimental investigations -    eye-tracker technology – to see what they notice and how they respond

semiotics of games and VR -    need to look beyond computing to ustd content of virtual environments

First Thoughts

Hyperreality and (self) consciousness

Plato’s cave walls

The craft of thought – Mary Carruthers -    medieval thought practices

Baudrillard’s news (not new)

VR and ‘the real’

How real can t simulation get? Hyperreality becomes -    confusion of sensory frameworks -    NOT a myth without referent and t real

VR, also called Virutal Environments (Ves) is a new interface paradigm to create …. Immersion -    technology of replacement of sensations of t real -    embodying interface (t technology I where, which replaces sensations)

Presence -    ‘t willing suspension of disbelief’ colleridge -    perception illusion of non-mediation

totally present while (very) partially immersed

Total immersion

Haptic technology -    data gloves, etc

Gorillas in the Bits -    can move around and look at gorillas, but can also die, by looking too much at alpha male o    partially immersed (but not very)

Osmose -    head set and stereo headphones, but also a vest, which moves you when you move

Mechanic of immersion

Meditative VR -    electronic -    electro-mechanical -    electro-chemical-mechanical (can create smells by squirting things up nose)

remove and replacing sensory cue that lead to sensation

proprioception gets in the way

so, meditative VR doesn’t work (n terms of total immersion)

Total Immersion

Invasive VR -    bypass nervous system o    eliminating sensation o    virtual stimulation o    major film genre •    extistenz, matrix, dark city -    ExistenZ Technology o    implants •    retinal, inner ear •    neural interface chips (currently being used to replace parts of brain) •    neurotropic electrodes •    electrodes with chemicals to permit acceptance of electrodes to accept artifice o    tetraplegics have used •    biomechanics

In the film being plugged in is like ‘having your ears pierced’

Sense of self gets in the way

Realists in the film need not worry

VR as simulation -    total immersion -    myth without referent

VR for real -    as a medium of simulation -    games -    virtual training environments -    virtual artworks

VR is a simulation itself

Doubly unconscious

What we have forgotten or repressed (Freud) What we have learned and experiencd unconsciously (knowing how) Do we exp -    t real -    and the hyperreal -    simulatenously?

Playing with simuilations

Virtual therapy Phobias of fear of: -    flying, heights, open spaces -    SpIDERS Higher levels of immersion Greater effectiveness of therapy


A possibility -    Real just got realer -    Because t sims can get realer, but the sims are flawed -    Real will always be t reference

Conclusion -    exp other reals often -    return to ‘the real’ -    paradigmatic test for ‘reals -    play a lot of mindless games (tetris) o    go with t flow o    exp t real o    through your second unconscious

Siobhan Stelarc’s Head

Prosthetic head – 40 years of work with diff technologies ‘Online version’ -    is there such a difference!?

Hayles: how we became posthuman -    manipulation of symbols -    info lost its body o    more complex info becomes, more t sep of mind and body becomes apparent o    cartesian dualism

Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger all considered this

Kant and Hegel – achieve infinite

Husserl/Heidegger – realm of finite


Husserl/heid – normality

Hayles critique of technological devel – be ustd by mind alone -    body not necessary

modernity or post?

Modernity: horkheimer: master nature, and attack nature of ourselves

Ability to create

Sado-masachism of suspension -    ME: this is not S&M at all

Posthuman project would answer that Stelarc’s head is an example of human identity

ME: but the cybernetic tradition does not have consensus on this. The nature of AI is still disputed

As a piece of art, the head is democratic -    creates diff rel to art o    interact it and inform it

Michael Smyth (Background in interaction design) Deigning for Embodied Interaction – experiencing artefacts with and through t body

Where is technology heading: Skins and environment

Where does this leave t body?

Need our body to make sense of t world

In VR we are disembodied -    this is a speculative assertion. It also misrepresents virtuality

ME: just because t body is value, it doesn’t mean it has special value, such that we need not seek to transcend it

Role of 1:1 models – necessity to create something proportional to our bodies

Closest link is installation artists


Marce Ages – GET PHOTOGRAPHS OF THEM -    multi-.. structure -    go in to exp sense of sight, sound, touch

ME: stelarc’s head is not stelarc’s art. Real Photography Damian

Defn of photography

Oliver Wendell-Homes – mirror with a memory Cinema and digital photography – threaten ‘established’ ontology of photography

Photograph as transparent record and as object

Defn of photography rely on -    equivalence of forms -    embodiment of this in an image

dangers of forfitting rootedness

should leave photograph behind

plus: immanence – philosophical notion from Deleuze and Guattari -    after D&G photography as

Transparency and objecthood

Thierry de Duve

Andre Bazin – alluciantion that is also a fact

A mixture of fictions – Walton

A record of reality refracted through a sensibility –

‘it shares t being of the model

Sruton, R.  – photography as a ‘gesturing finger’

Lunenfeld, p – dubitative

Modernist foto relied on uniqueness in time and space

Interent – art without walls

Roberts, jon – extended contextual space

Roland barthes – camera lucida

Bioteknica Sean and Jennifer

Richard Lewontin – science as ideology (it is not objective)


What rights will an artificial organism have?


Colonialism, man-made organisms – what rights?

Bioteknica -    inter-displinary … -    futuristic cloning -    studying irrational and grotesque

terratoma -    natural instance of cloning

disparatary bw science and corporate language

not scientists, but have tried to understand it! -    that is a scientist

little accurate reference to use of genetic modification

little ustdg of ethical issues


Advanced Cell Technology Noah – ist cloned endangered animal Lily, Daffordil, Crocus, Forsythia

George and Charlie

Severino Antinori

Raelian Clonaid -    captured popular imagination by claiming to clone

digital model product line of GM organisms

terratoma -    cancerous growth (germ-line)

catholic church baptised terratomas until 60s, believed were virgin birth

parathegenesis -    devel of embryo from unfertilised egg -    cannot lead to a live (but asso with notion of pregnancy)

research will lead to therapeutic cloning technology -    holy grail of cloning

terratoma – deadly form of cancer - BioArtists -    eduardo kac -    symbiotic research group

ethical problems about what these are doing as artists

Alba, t fluorescent bunny Photo: Cryhstelle Fontaine

Kac: bioart has increased genetic diversity! -    to destroy these crates

Art as a form of life By W. Wayt Gibbs

Kac: showman

Joe Davis: genestheticist -    selfclaimed most prolific author in history

ethical concerns about the organism -    lack functional nervous system (do not know where pain begins and ends) -    lack cognition -    research on human subjects

artist tissue bank -    take tissue and cells from artists -    not more invasive than tattoo, etc

these tissue would be discarded anyway

Ann-Sophie Lehmann

Representations of skin through painting

Oil paint as lively pain Images so real, that appears as real flesh


Ron Mueck National Gallery resident artist last year, Netherlands

Performance and Space

Experiential place making and the new real Jasper Joseph-Lester, Goldsmiths College London

Retail-architecture -    holds values: permanence

Selfridges, Oxford St -    supplementary space (both present and absent) -    informed by logic of commodity

Bluewater, Kent -    Simulated space -    Transporting exp of being in busy city centre, into countryside

Commodification of space – places demands on architecture

Marxist analysis of commodity

Prada, NYC, 5th Avenue -    new level of automation -    clothes hidden from shopper -    changing rooms with videos in mirrors to offer new ways of viewing the clothes -    movement bw video and mirror

centre of architecture is the commodity process of automation market brings value to t commodity

Marx and commodity illusory body of t commodity wooden table transcends sensuousness

Selfridges, Birmingham -    automated interior -    exterior: spun aluminium discs o    responds to light of sun and appears to move with light o    curvaceous con o    templre reality of shopping experience

phantasmic surplus of retail architecture

territories and distinctions Performing the Real Lennaart van Oldenborgh

Realness of image is property of origin

Reality-TV First wave – mass dissemination of cam corders -    candid tv


Reality-Gameshow format

Pentagon collaborated with Hollywood -    reporting the war Jessica Lynch rescue

(Video) – can we still trust documentaries to tell us t truth -    Rita Vort?

Daddy’s Girl (channel 4) -    rel bw father and daughters -    fictional boyfriend -    pulled from schedule at last minute

Madonna lipstick commercial -    playing herself in the ‘in bed with madonna’ film through this video

ref to Lacan – jubilant assumption of respecting the image

snuff videos – mythical genre of real death -    did someone actually die here? -    Is this video the last moments of this life? -    Witnessing the passing of life. -    Life becomes death (reveals death to us)

Suicide box footage -    of real deaths -    statistical indifference of San Francisco coast guard, who stopped counting the number of suicides -    as a result of his indifference, the box would record presumed suicides -    result is haunting and ironic o    indiscriminately repetitive o    one after the other dropping off o    merely see black dots •    ME: why cant they be more detailed (zoom!?)

Violence and death, the unassimilable, become the … of the real

Darren Brown’s Russian roulette -    only way that can guarantee realness is if he blows his brains out

Slavoj Zizek real: nostalgic fantasy for t real -    defining charac of 20th c

Arts, Prepresentation and Responsiibility: towards a system aesthetic James Coupe

Conscious art work Non-anthropocentric syntax Self-author and emergent Challenge notions of authorship 1928: general systems theory – challenge to castesian, Newtonian cybernetic: feedback systems (self-contained and self-regulatory) open and closed systems (living as closed – cannot ustd syst by ustdg parts in isolation)


from object oriented to system oriented (systems consciousness)

posthuman art: human is no longer focus of the art

art that is alive, replace t human organism

ME: but replacing the human as artist right? Or human in art?

AI – effort to make a machine behave like a human

If a machine must be inttell, then logic must be based on itself rather than human -    machine with own logic, would not be attempting to replicate something else (simulation) and would thus be real

Smith’s entropy: system as ungraspable

Kant’s distinction bw phenomena and noumena

Digital Warfare (art work) -    system that connected people together of gallery guests, through text messaging -    social instersis

Net Object Leonard Latiff

Cyborg Art History: Techno-aesthetics and metafictions of digital culture Elizabeth Menon

(ppt on web)

REF: Virtual Art: from illusion to immersion – not very good for here students

Benjamin and McLuhan possible theorist, but many

Brenda Laurel – computer as theatre transgressions bw past and accepted media download original image and it murges with your own


Ann Hamilton -    multi media with live performers

Yugo Nakamura -    design/art? No navigation on website