(Webcam Beach Augury)
Work in Progress
Will Pappenheimer and FRE
(The Florida Research Ensemble: Gregory L. Ulmer, Barbara Jo Revelle, John Craig Freeman, Will Pappenheimer, and William Tilson)
Software Operations Description:
The artwork functions as a sequence of automatic computational steps driven by the input of a user, collectively named PlayaSoft©. (1) A net visitor is asked for input on a simple series of questions relating to their memory and biography. When the information is entered, the user is instructed to think of a question for consultation, to watch the progress of the beach cam on the right-hand screen, and then to press the return or enter keys at the moment of their choosing which initiates the automated process of the "reading." (2) The return/enter key freezes the momentary image selection of the webcam. (3) This still image is then submitted to the image recognition analysis and appears in a dim version in the central screen with bright image recognition points superimposed. (4) The entry/return action also initiates two textual searches of the Internet. (5) Keywords, dates and numbers from users question responses are filtered out and used as a keyword searches for the WWW. (6) Local and international news articles of the moment, are also retrieved in the search stage of the software. (7) Sentences from information retrieved from these searches are loaded into an unformatted text image defined as the same size as the Web cam image and displayed in the left-hand screen. (8) When the text and imagery have completed their designated processes, the user is prompted to press return/entry again for the final processing step. (9) The image recognition dots on the central screen, forming the visual impression of a star configuration, are super-imposed on the text image in the far left screen. (10) Wherever the dots are located in this super-imposition designates the words that become the end product word configuration or "reading." (11) This word configuration or "reading" will then be displayed as a moving and stretching lengthwise sentence or network of words. It will be downloadable by internet visitor as her/his particular consultation.
(An installation version of the artwork will also be considered.)
final text resullt screen
1) The project is currently in the concept, visualization and planning stage but is quite well formulated.
2) Software for the image recognition stage is set to be developed in collaboration with a Fall 2004 class in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering, University of Florida lead by Dr. Benjamin Lok.
3) Search engines to find and compile internet texts related to the user input will need be commissioned as a collaboration with web programmer Josh Weihnacht (http://www.inputpattern.com.) The estimated budget might be $2000-$4000. The University of Florida is providing $1500 of internal funding.
4) Final text sentence diagrams will be commissioned through customVisual Thesaurus™ software from Thinkmap®, Inc. and this might cost $1500 to $2500
Total Budget range: $2000-$5000
All aspects of the software can be pursued simultaneously and the estimated completion of the project would be 6 months from the full funding.
The installation version will consist of a configuration of one data entry computer on a podium, a printer, and three contiguous RGB video projections on a nearby wall. The right hand projection will display the continuous live monitoring of a Edison Hotel beach webcam. The central projection will display a ghost version of the webcam with bright image recognition points superimposed. The third left-handed projection will display the results of textual searches when the system is activated and a final diagrammatic sentence or series of words that represents the users "reading" and will be printed for the user.
©Copyright images, text and ideas on this page
Playamancy seeks to translate the problematic extension of issues in surveillance and media infiltration in webcam culture into an alternative understanding of “image recognition.” Playamancy explores the cognitive and interlocutionary potential of imaging. Image as inference opens the conceptual idea that "shape" (pattern recognition) can be "topos" or topic, as a possible category or place for gathering heterogeneous bits of information into an order. Thus, in this case, image analysis, motion detection, etc. are used to find a configuration within the image (a constellation) that reorganizes or re-maps a particular user’s position in their own personal trajectory as well as indicating their location on the grid of history as constituted by that moment on the internet. William Burroughs suggested, in his advocacy of a montage method of poesy, that a cut up news article, particularly of a public issue, rearranged, could predict the future of that problem. In a historical moment where traditional modes of investigation as deduction are confounded, translation as conduction may be the most potent modality for confronting moments of decision.
The proposed work represents a part of FRE's ongoing interest in exploring
electrate consultation systems which hybridize contemporary Western Arts
and Letters operations
with the wisdom systems of Non-Western traditions. "Consulting" thus
refers not only to applied expert knowledge but also divination practices. Divination
offers a relay for composing cognitive maps connecting individual existential
problems with collective information resources. The switch or pivot between theory
and wisdom is the experience and notion of "situation." In Western
terms, circumstances transform into a situation through human intention, choice,
purpose. In divination, attunement between the individual and the collective
is achieved by a personal question to the oracle. In either case, the effect
of "situation" is the experience of responsibility.
Playamancy is inspired by Roland Bathes' critical work, S/Z in which he invokes augury in the exploration of writerly textuality. He proposes a "starred text" in which each lexia or fragment is a "space in which we can observe meanings." Playamancy pairs this hypertextual approach with the potential of the image in Barthes' description of the "punctum" (Camera Lucida) where photographs "...are in effect punctuated, sometimes even speckled with these sensitive points...," a "...sting, speck, cut, little hole- and also a cast of the dice." These sensitive points chart an alternate potential of the image, one that is intimately tied to viewer memory and profoundly tangential to normative pathways of signification. Similarly, William Burroughs suggested, in his advocacy of a montage method of poesy, that a cut up news article, particularly of a public issue, rearranged, can predict the future of the problem.
Florida Research Ensemble (FRE) is an interdisciplinary collaborative group of artists, theorists, urban planners and educators working collectively and individually on the invention of new digital forms and the development of what Greg Ulmer, the group theorist, refers to as electrate thinking in artistic production. Electracy is to information technology what literacy is to alphabetic writing. Over the past eight years the FRE has used Internet collaboration to produce numerous exhibitions, books, articles, CD-ROMs, DVD-Data, videos, lectures, panel discussions and websites. The projects and CVs of its members can be accessed at: http://www.floridaresearchensemble.net