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Technologists

Upon reaching the end of the Leeds Creative Labs, the feeling which echoed around the room from all the groups was that, we were only just getting started.  It has felt like a short journey but one of great exploration, listening to all of the fascinating presentations from around the table revealed the different approaches to the academic / technologist collaboration.

A fundamental difference between the groups was the notion of product, for myself and Vlad, our collaboration was the core of what we researched and reflected on. The concept and design of the projected image which was the result of our conversations, we saw almost as a byproduct.

For myself this process of reflection, which we often spoke through on our meetings, has been a realisation.  What I saw as boundaries to a collaboration, having a limit set by practice and methodology, in actual fact exist within the collaborator and the perceived physical limitations of the subject.

The ‘byproducts’ of our collaboration are as follows:

We developed a narrative of images to be projected in sequence relating to our conversations on the nature of data in space.

The first being a single image of a target:

Screen Shot 2012-11-18 at 16.14.30

The combined images which we are considering for a gallery piece is below:

VLAD/LYNCH Image

The next steps is to seek further funding for the collaboration to investigate the moving image, commercial application and the placement of the work within a gallery context.

 

 

Ben Eaton, a digital artist, and Kevin Macnish, from the University of Leeds, are exploring the ethics of contemporary warfare using game platforms.

osama bin laden FPS

A quick one – a bit about my project with Kevin but also how his work intersects with my interests as a digital artist, and one who sometimes makes but often plays games.

I am fascinated about the fact that we are a country at war, a war far away seen on TVs but rarely felt in a tactile way.  But i am fascinated about where the leakages appear between our pre-existsing narratives of conflict and the impact of these leaks into our daily lives – where our government is still sending young men and women to fight 3500 miles away.

All of this is not because i want to express my political judgement on the conflict itself or the act of war-a long conversation for another time – but rather on the social nature of this conflict and how we as civilians participate and interact with its narratives, how it disappears into the background and suddenly rears its head again.

These things happen

News of the death of soldiers gradually filters away from the frontpage, and you rarely see the coffins being loaded off planes anymore.

The death of a friend of a friend who they went to school with or a friend’s friend’s sister’s boyfriend means pictures of young men in desert gear on operation with sad epitaphs underneath briefly puncture my timeline.

An American paralympic team with athletes wearing a quasi-military uniforms, perhaps an indication as to the provenance of so many of the young amputees yet end-up showing practically none of it on their  TV networks.

Some good television but no great films have been made about the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but perhaps some great games will be.

A developer trying to make a game about the battle for Fallujah was criticized for their choice of subject matter, they cited the soldiers they were interviewing and who were acting as consultants who said (i paraphrase) “We want to tell our story and this is our medium – how else would we tell it”

Modern Warfare 3 made $775million in 5 days.

First Person Shooters – where you play from a first person perspective often down the barrel of a gun are one of the main genre’s trailed like movies, and increasingly trying to trade on either an uncanny resemblance to what’s happening over there or vicariously – depending on how you see it.

Sometimes they try and have a point.  Often this is terrible.

There is an uncomfortable synergy between FPS games – or the ‘manshooter’ the excessively macho clichee and politically myopic games of contemporary warfare – and the military.  The Army posting recruitment adverts on the front page of computer game magazines or at trade fairs – or the British army creating an advert designed to mimic the PoV of some of the most famous gaming franchises.

A recent release that lets you buy real world weapons branded with the game’s logo – a new brand of camo , a new gun stock or a tomahawk.

trite over-sentimentalism and oversimplification that shows neither the armed forces or the games industry in a particularly good or intelligent light.

but these games are fun (some are fun, some are terrible), they sell big, they are engaging and they have a reach almost equivalent to that of mainstream media and cinema –

these games are texts- artifacts of a conflict and potentially a distanced way for us to participate in these conflicts – most don’t do it well, but also most deserve more in-depth thought than presented here –

but as an artist i am interested in how we can use games as platforms  that can create a way to read, understand and document conflict.  At the risk of oversymplifying perhaps video games will create the War on Terror’s – Appocalypse Now, or Full Metal Jacket.

There is a further element to this which is where Kevin and mine’s collaboration comes in.

As conflict crosses increasingly over into the realm of the digital the relationship between theses systems and our partcipation in the act of warfare becomes more blurred – our project sits here –

“Flying drones is like playing a computer game”.  It’s not but its an easy way to write off both computer games and a wider conversation about the fact that we way we fight – especially in unbalanced conflicts such as this one where the West’s technological and financial superiority  – means there are systems and platforms being rolled out on battlefields that are forever changing the way we fight, for their operators, their victims and for the rest of us.

We are making a game, modding a pre-existing platform a brilliant-ly complicated and fiddly military sim called Arma 2.  How can we use the platform to let us play out and explore these new ethical questions.

Ben

Vlad Strukov, a researcher from the University of Leeds, and Dave Lynch, a digital artist, are exploring the nature of data by using projections on clouds.

Whilst we circulate the collected combined 4 symbol image, I thought I would do a little more research on targets in relation to our earlier conversations about the idea of sending a signal, I thought to look at analogue devices in the past have achieved the opposite of capturing the sky with targets.

Étienne-Jules Marey, french scientist, inventor and pioneer of early cinema invented the photographic gun for the study of movement by capturing birds onto film.

I presume that this was the inspiration for the training camera guns of the first and second world wars, where 16mm film was replaced as ammunition.

Following this research online lead me to the philosopher Paul Virillo who wrote War and Cinema – are you ofay with his work?

Technology cannot exist without the potential for accidents. For example, the invention of the locomotive also contained the invention of derailment. Virilio sees the Accident as a rather negative growth of social positivism and scientific progress. The growth of technology, namely television, separates us directly from the events of real space and real time. We lose wisdom, lose sight of our immediate horizon and resort to the indirect horizon of our dissimulated environment.

REF: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Virilio – on 4/11/2012

On other readings and reviews of his books, I became interested in how he sees the dissimulated environment or mis-information as being one of the greatest threats to scientific growth.

With this in mind and other thoughts on the above, how do you feel to re-simplifying the 4 symbols as 1 back to separate symbols again ?

The combination of the 4 as a overlayed image becomes hard to read and could have the opposite impact in misreading or leading to misinformation.

Dave

The collaboration between Vlad Strukov, researcher from the University of Leeds, and Dave Lynch, Leeds-based artist, looks at the application and interpretation of images projected onto clouds.  The project concerns itself with the nature of data and the human ability to interpret, own and share data.

Particularly, the project looks at the emotive as well as political potential of data in its ability to mobilise, create and translate meaning.

3rd November 2012 – To date, we’ve had 3 very productive meetings and a host of email conversations, in our last meeting we discussed a variety of reasons why the collaboration has been so successful, yet so far neither of us had specifically begun to blog about the process… Why?

As an artist/ filmmaker, the recording of audio and image is a natural part of my process and artistic practice.  Whilst I recorded each of our conversations and documented key moments through photographs.  We discussed our thoughts about the blogging process and the use of this collected data.

The only use so far of the collected data has been to revisit a conversation for the benefit of Vlad’s writing, the time to translate the depth and coverage of our dialogue as either a reflective blog post or simply documentation was such a vast process, it would both take us away from critical thinking and  development time, yet we both see it as a fundamental part of the process.

After a discussion of different approaches, Vlad suggested making the blog a continuation of our conversation on an open, online environment, instead of email.  I see this as a great step forward for our collaboration and an interesting point of departure for reflection at the end of the process.

The subsequent posts are living conversations, where the comments will form part of the process as we share our findings with our peers.   We aim to for this to be part of our research in how academic/ artistic collaborations can function.

Dave