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Augmentation Without Boundaries

The 14th IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality

MASH'D Panel Session

Data Body as Artifact Artist Panels

Panel 1. Bodies of Matter
[13:30 - 15:30 on 30 September 2015]

Moderator: Julian Stadon and Jorge Ramirez

Participants: Adam Zaretski, Stelarc, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Chris Henshke, Joëlle Bitton, Marios Athanasiou

Panel 2. Matters of Embodiment
[15:50 - 17:50 on 30 September 2015]

Moderator: Julian Stadon and Jorge Ramirez

Participants: Nick Briz, Brannon Dorsey, Julian Oliver, Cesar Escudero Andaluz

These two panels see the more discursive side to the Data Body as Artifact Exhibition at The Fukuoka City Museum for ISMAR2015. These panels seek to discuss the respective works in the exhibition through the voices of the artists themselves, along with several directed inquiries into the topics related to the exhibition. Such topics include embodiment, embodied data, data bodies, bodies of matter, object orientated ontologies, mixed reality art, sensory augmentation as medium, postbiological identity, biopolitics, trans-everything and so one.

The panels will consist of a combination of artistic overviews of individual works and curatorial responses to them, along with open dialogues and audience initiated discussions. In some case videos will be shown as catalysts for stimulating more in depth explorations of the conceptual components to such a body of innovative and challenging investigations.

The works were selected according to a number of parameters, two of which being Bodies of Matter and Matters of Embodiment (within data augmentations in mixed reality artworks). The artists have been distributed along these paradigms in order to develop an artist panel program that is both focused yet productively expansive.

The first panel, Bodies of Matter, focuses on the works in the exhibition that explore the archiving of post-biological identity, and the data bodies that in particular connect directly with bodies of matter, be they human, non-human biological, inherently codified, expansively micro/macro based, trans-disciplinary/ real/human/ augmented/ environmental/media/ topological/ everything. How do we negotiate such new novel spaces of society? How do we even define such spaces? This panel gathers experts from this method of inquiry together in order to answer such queries and speculations.

The second panel, Matters of Embodiment, explores the more subtle aspects to Data Body Archiving, Meta Data Creation and Meta Narratives, Surveillance, Signification of Arbitrary Signifiers, Cultural Remix, Obfuscation, Sous-veillance, Autonomy and Situational Cartography. This panel will adopt a post-digital approach to referencing bodies of matter in regards to the long history of self-representation, with particular focus on today’s contemporary scope of understanding in this field.

Both Panels sit in-between the opening of the exhibition and the main MASHD’D Program of ISMAR. This is an important conceptual positioning within the context of the program and these two panels seek to best utilise the content of the exhibition program and those who contributed to it’s construction in as a productive fashion as possible.

Panel 3. Context Engineering
[15:50 - 17:50 on 1 October 2015]

Moderator: Carl H Smith

Participants: Masahiko Inami, Adrian David Cheok (tbc), Mark Farid, Brigitta Zics, Daniel Pinchbeck, and Luke Robert Mason.

Abstract: Context Engineering aims to transform patterns that are leading to individual, societal and ecological disaster. We wait for someone to bring change without thinking that it is necessary to change ourselves. Most contexts are completely compromised unless we establish them in the first place. The power to rapidly shift our perspective is becoming a new form of currency: The ability within one field of view, to be both in the world and to see yourself in it, the power of looking through and occupying, your own field of vision (Gibson, E. J. 2006).

Virtual reality might be the most important public health issue we have ever faced due to its ability to mould our brain function in such rapid and profound ways. It could be the key to either unlocking our potential and discovering hyper abilities within all brains…or to devolving us (Roach, J. 2015). Hybrid technologies arguably present us with the largest design problem we have yet encountered.

Hybrid technology can directly shape how our brains interpret and experience reality. Greater immersion (involving all the senses) will lead to entirely new states of awareness. The game ‘Blood Sport’ increases the sense of immersion by removing actual blood from your body in the physical space whenever you get hit or killed in the virtual space. Context Engineering only actually occurs when that blood is then donated, to activate the societal benefit. This example provides a potential working definition for Context Engineering: when the content introduced has the power to completely augment the whole context then Context Engineering is achieved.

Virtuix Omni is a video game accessory that provides an immersive, full-body virtual reality experience. All physical actions are replicated in the game with audio, visual and even touch senses replicated virtually. “Pre virtual reality, our ideas lived exclusively in our heads, or were portrayed via some form of abstract rendering (writing or visual media). Post virtual reality, our ideas; visualisations and simulations will increasingly be delivered as direct sensory experiences that our brains will interpret as the raw data of life. We could even take that a step further and explore how virtual reality and video games might be used to mould the physical substrates of brain function to help individuals with more serious hard-wired brain problems (e.g., Autism, PTSD etc). For instance, virtual reality might help us to identify the exact point at which brain function fails within a given individual – and then create experiences that exercise that circuitry extensively, potentially helping the brain to re-wire itself. The power of these tools has not yet been fully understood or explored.” (Roach, J. 2015)

The practice of Context Engineering produces ‘experience coders’ who manufacture content as direct sensory experience (context). One of the core concerns of Context Engineering is whether we can gain a significantly greater capacity to develop and influence our brain function and crucially if that will then help us to better understand the reality that the brain creates. As a result there is an ethical responsibility to context engineer with as much knowledge of the affordances and dangers of these technologies and techniques as possible.

This panel session on Contextual Engineering will investigate hybrid technologies and techniques that combine the affordances of the analogue with the digital to enable a new era of Hyper Function, Sensory Augmentation and Perceptual Adaptation. Context Engineering will give us new abilities, control over our senses and the ability to develop new forms of perception, providing us with a new type of self-control. HCI that relies predominantly on vision alone or the engagement of a limited range of senses can cause individual (and by implication - societal) dissonance creating a diminished rather than an augmented reality. To counteract this, making more of the context available for human centred augmentation is crucial.

Context engineering creates a new economy where we focus less on transforming content (as the primary activity), and more on how we can make our own perception the 'content'. This is made possible by new advances in various fields including biotech, neuro-electronics and mixed reality technologies meaning that the lenses through which we experience the world are becoming more adjustable than ever. Products are being developed to intentionally manipulate various components of our own physiology. For instance f.lux modifies the computer’s display colour wavelength to shift with the natural external light, reducing potential circadian rhythm problems that can develop from using devices at night. These subtle shifts can produce real changes in our bodies. Other examples and applications of context engineering include:

New auditory systems:
The ‘Listen Carefully’ project involves a technological intervention that considered the human condition as a central part of the design. Due to the repackaging of music in digital form one of the major results is the lack of focused listening. To counteract this the listener has to remain still to avoid the volume being automatically lowered by the headphones. The principle of conditioning is therefore employed to engineer the appropriate contextual behaviour from the listener. The experience of the content (music) is transformed by the context (our behaviour).

New visual systems:
The ‘FlyVIZ 360’ headset transforms the real time visual system of users by compressing the 360-degree view into a 180 degree visor creating an entirely new way of seeing. The brain only takes 15 minutes to adjust and then this new way of seeing is ‘accepted as normal’ without nausea. Eyesect is a wearable interactive constellation that creates a disembodied experiment using immersion. Two handheld cameras capture the surrounding context and stream the image data straight to the single eyes. Arms and fingers become eye-muscles and create impossible human-biological perspectives.

Combining senses:
‘Aromafork’ creates a cross-fertilization between taste and smell, re-engineering the two kinds of sense space. By releasing aromas as you eat the device augments the brain into perceiving aromas on top of the tastes which tricks us into experiencing enhanced flavours.

Adjustable senses:
‘Wristify’ developed by MIT is a thermoelectric bracelet that regulates the temperature of the person wearing it by subjecting their skin to alternating pulses of hot or cold, depending on what’s needed. This is an example of a perceptual technology, which works on how locally heating and cooling different parts of the body effects how hot or cold we are. This is an example of the virtual inscribing the physical where the inclusion of air conditioning within architectural design may no longer be required.

Questions to be addressed:
To what extent can content create context? How important is immersion for over coming and subverting the human condition? How adaptable is our perception? How neuroplastic is the brain? What are the biological risks? How can hybrid technological devices, of often-prosthetic alienation, help us to reconnect to ourselves and to the surrounding environment? How can we find an appropriate balance in this hybrid environment? How can we draw a structure, ethics and sustainability of interdisciplinary hybrid unification?

Panel 4. Experiencing AR in Public Environments
[10:45 - 12:15 on 2 October 2015]

Moderator: Ian Gwilt

Participants: Mark Billinghurst, Julian Oliver, BC Bierman (via skype), Shannon Novak, Lu Weiquan, Ian Gwilt

Abstract: Moving AR into a shared public domain we reveal a set of theoretical, philosophical and practical considerations that come into play when people are invited to interact with AR content on hand-held mobile devices. In this panel we will discuss the cultural experience of AR; how do we signal the presence of AR content in a public space? What are the responsibilities for AR artists and producers, public authorities and cultural institutions, in respect to how we make, access, and consume creative AR content? Are there ethical, ownership or operational issues and tensions between the desires of the AR author/producer, commissioners and public bodies, and the expectations of the general public?

The panel members will discuss AR in museums, street art, and outdoor social/ cultural contexts and will examine how the creative use of AR might enliven physical locations, add interest or intrigue, and play with notions of time, place and space.

Panel 5. 5th Anniversary MARart Aesthetics Panel: Bodies, Embodiment and Data Aesthetics
[13:30 - 15:30 on 2 October 2015]

Moderator: Julian Stadon, Brigitta Zics and Jorge Ramirez

Participants: Nick Briz, Heather Dewey Hagborg, Chris Henshke, Adam Zaretski, Joelle Bitton, Cesar Escudero Andaluz, Carl Smith

This panel sees the 5th installment of the Mixed and Reality Art Aesthetics Session. Since the first panel discussion @ISMAR 2010 in Seoul, this ongoing series of discussions have sought to explore the new aesthetic properties that mixed reality art, as a medium can and has produced. The panel sees the convergence of artists, theorists and academics under a framework of representation methods and their affects.

Previous panels explored codification, mixed reality art as a medium, remediation through such mediums, ontologies beyond paradigms, innovation and avant-garde, surface and reality, along with an infinite number of expansive nodes relating to such a discourse.

How, in this age of image expansion, meaning flattening, delivery acceleration and environmental destruction do we, as humans, negotiate handling aftermaths of such phenomena as post-digital culture, the Anthropocene and new wave identity construction, participation and proliferation? In culture this can come with hierarchal intervention, or it can be purely social, as is the inherent quality of articulation through artistic endeavour. Mixed reality Artists Offer a unique insight to matters relating to how we develop audiovisual response to our ever-evolving spatio-cultural spaces in which we colonise and inhabitant?
Through a series of impulse points and pragmatic moderator initiated comments on certain prevalent topics, panelists will offer unique insights into particular topics, from a range of subjective inquiries into this field.

This panel aims to build on previous years, with the purpose of continually expanding perceptions of mixed reality aesthetics in regards to certain frameworks.

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