Digital Alchemy: Online Workshop SeriesWinter 2021 (previous)

 

Digital Alchemy: Online Workshop Series – In collaboration with the Artsformation Science Fiction Sessions

‘Digital Alchemy: Online Workshop Series’ was a series of online workshops created in relation to the current exhibition at Catch “Digital Alchemy: Future Technology Products Inspired by Diverse Voices in Science Fiction” created by Mirabelle Jones. Right now the exhibition is closed due to lockdown and instead we’ve created an online workshop format to be able to work with the themes of the exhibit.

This workshop series is a part of the Artsformation Science Fiction Sessions. Artsformation is a research project that aims to understand, analyse, and promote the ways in which the Arts can reinforce the social, cultural, economic, and political benefits of digital transformation. Artsformation will use this workshop as part of its data collection. 

 

1. The Future Gallery Text

What would it be like to step inside the art gallery of the future? What kinds of art objects, materials, technologies, themes and aesthetics can we expect to find there? What would the exhibition wall text, catalogue and other written materials in the exhibition be like? How does the way the exhibition is presented to us reflect the values of this future society? 

In this design fiction / speculative writing workshop, we took a deep dive into the language of art. We began by having a look at present day practices, investigating the language artists and curators use when discussing, describing, and evaluating works of art. We put our knowledge into creative action by speculating about future exhibitions. In the end, we each created our own exhibition text for an art exhibition of the future. 

The workshop was open to artists, designers, curators, and creative thinkers alike, especially those who want to improve their ability to discuss artwork and exhibitions through text. The workshop was also an opportunity for artists, designers, curators, and other arts enthusiasts to meet and collaborate with each other during a time of social distancing.

 

Date/Time:

2. February 2021 from 17-19 (online event)

Led by Mirabelle Jones

 

Workshop Schedule:

0:00 Meet and greet, introductions

0:10 Overview of the workshop

0:15 Warm up writing exercise – bio & speculative bio

0:30 Present day curatorial practices 

1:00 Writing exercise: writing & re-writing 

1:30 Writing exercise: wall text of the future – each participant writes an idea for a future exhibition around a theme, material, form, or issue. Students can pick from these themes to create a wall text of the future. 

1:45 Sharing output & wrap up

 

2. Hackathon: Diverse Voices In Science Fiction

– In collaboration with the Artsformation Science Fiction Sessions

There has been a long and rich history between science fiction and the development of new technologies. From virtual reality to teleconferencing, science fiction has left its ongoing influence on our present day device-driven world. But technologies are not neutral: they are imbued with the values and interests of their creators. 

What are the implications, then, if many of the works of science fiction which we see attributed to modern technologies were penned by white cisgender heteronormative male authors? What are the implications if the same dominant voices are overwhelmingly centered in the design and development of new technology products? Who gets a voice in creating the future and who is excluded? 

Digital Alchemy: Workshop Series invited you to this online hackathon where we created a forum for reflection on how we can be a part of expanding the narrative of science fiction and technology and who creates it. Among other things we collectively redefined the Wikipedia page describing science fiction and science fiction technologies, to highlight the voices of a more diverse body of science fiction authors, technologists, scientists, artists and inventors. 

 

This workshop was a part of the Artsformation Science Fiction Sessions. Artsformation is a research project that aims to understand, analyse, and promote the ways in which the Arts can reinforce the social, cultural, economic, and political benefits of digital transformation. Artsformation will use this workshop as part of its data collection. 

 

 

3.  When Things Speak: Giving Voice to Objects

– In collaboration with the Artsformation Science Fiction Sessions

Ryo Hanmura’s short story Cardboard Box (note: in the PDF it follows the story The Flood) is told from the perspective of a cardboard box. In the box’s own words, it shares its painful journey from factory, to use, and finally to being discarded. Along the way, we find ourselves empathizing with the box’s character, leading us to question our role as consumers. We might question how we “treat” the objects, products and technologies we encounter everyday. This may lead to other questions about objects or technologies that have (or have been given) character, personality, or even autonomy through voice or other anthropomorphic characteristics. What happens when we treat objects like people, or people like objects? As designers, artists, creators, when is it appropriate to give our creations human characteristics and what are the benefits and risks of doing so? 

 

In this hands-on creative code and speculative design workshop, we investigated what our world might be like if the objects around us (including products, clothing, etc.) could speak. Participants learned how to create their own interactive art objects, inventions, and wearables that can speak words, produce melodies, and make other sounds. We also investigated some of the above questions about creating technologies with “personality.” Students used the Adafruit Circuit Playground: a microcontroller prototyping board that comes with many sensors and built-in sound capabilities to explore these questions in conjunction with re-imagining the objects around them, sketching new speculative objects, or incorporating technology into their previously constructed works. 

This workshop was a part of the Artsformation Science Fiction Sessions. Artsformation is a research project that aims to understand, analyse, and promote the ways in which the Arts can reinforce the social, cultural, economic, and political benefits of digital transformation. Artsformation will use this workshop as part of its data collection. 

Workshop Schedule:

15-15:30: Inspiration/introduction: overview of speech in tech

16-17: Making Objects Speak w/ Circuit Playground

17:00 Break

17:15 -17:45: Working on projects

17:45 – 18:00 Share projects

The Future Composer 

– In collaboration with the Artsformation Science Fiction Sessions

In the science fiction story Outsider by An Owomoyela, we meet historic researcher “Mota” and the artificial intelligence “Io”, who live in a transhumanist society. Mota is met by an Earth ship with a single woman “Eva” who they struggle to understand, as Eva expresses her cyborg-phobic opinions, rejecting the genetic alterations of Mota’s people. Among others, the story raises questions of what constitutes a human, and where the threshold is set between human and non-human when a society evolves as a result of technological advancements. 

In this hands-on creative sound programming and speculative workshop, we looked at the use of algorithms in musical composition and how it has influenced digital music. Together we will speculate about the future of music composition; Can generative methods enhance our creativity or which implications might autonomous computer music have for future creativity? How do the digital tools we use affect the way we create music and which kind of music we make? We discussed the relationship between humans and algorithms in artistic creation and what forms of hybrid co-creation the future might bring. What will future music sound like? How will it be created and who will be the creators of it?  

Participants were introduced to the basic structure of creating sound in Max/MSP – a visual programming language for music and multimedia, which has been widely used by composers, performers, software designers, researchers, and artists to create interactive installations, generative music compositions and audiovisual performances. Along with a quick start tutorial of the digital platform, participants explored examples of algorithmic music composition and create their own interactions. These examples will highlight an alternative way of thinking in terms of sound creation, that is flexible, unpredictable and interchangeable. Through this hands-on workshop we will explore creativity in a co-creation process between artistic decision making and unpredictable feedback from generative methods. Can the autonomy of algorithms as a “co-composer” inspire new and unexpected perspectives in creating digital sound?  

The workshop requires a computer with the software platform max/MSP installed. The software can be downloaded here and includes a free trial of 30 days. 

https://cycling74.com/downloads

No previous experience with digital sound programming or Max/MSP is required.

This workshop is a part of the Artsformation Science Fiction Sessions. Artsformation is a research project that aims to understand, analyse, and promote the ways in which the Arts can reinforce the social, cultural, economic, and political benefits of digital transformation. Artsformation will use this workshop as part of its data collection. 

 

Workshop led by Julie Østengaard

Julie Østengaard, she/her, is a sound artist, electronic composer and performer with a master’s degree in electronic music and sound art from the Danish National Conservatory of Music. She has taught music technology at the Danish National Conservatory of music and music composition at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory.

Julie creates sound experiences that in most cases are performed live and explores the development of new concert formats using both elements from the visual arts and the performing arts. Here, she explores how electronic music performance can gain body and gesture through sculptural physicalization of sound and her use of space helps to encourage the audience to step into the sound experience from a different point of view than in traditional concert situations. Julie examines through sound, thoughts about the computer’s autonomy as a compositional strategy. Her aesthetics form the framework for an algorithmic set of possibilities that are unfolded generatively, such as control of musical elements or other artistic elements. Her relationship to technology can just as well help to define how a work is designed as it can be a tool for expressing the work’s narrative, but in common is a consistent use of framing dogmas, which are shaped via either choice of technology, material, method or theme.

Julie works both solo and collaboratively with projects where the performing arts, visual arts and sound art blend together in experimental constellations and has in recent years appeared on bla. Click Festival, Spor Festival and exhibited at Den Frie(KE18) and created sound installations for the Danish science center Experimentarium. 

https://www.julieoestengaard.com/

 

About the Exhibition

Digital Alchemy: Future Technology Products:

There has been a long and rich history between science fiction and the development of new technologies. From virtual reality to teleconferencing, science fiction has left its ongoing influence on our present day device-driven world. But technologies are not neutral: they are imbued with the values and interests of their creators.

What are the implications, then, if many of the works of science fiction which we see attributed to modern technologies were penned by white cisgender heteronormative male authors? What are the implications if the same dominant voices are overwhelmingly centered in the design and development of new technology products? Who gets a voice in creating the future and who is excluded?

Future Technology Products explores works of science fiction written by a diverse body of authors including women, LGBQTQAI* folx, and people of color to realize diverse futures through the creation of fictional technologies.

Situated at the intersection of product design, speculative fiction, maker culture and intersectional data feminism, the artist selects devices and technologies mentioned within these works and realizes them as interactive product prototypes. The objects will be displayed, in both a physical and virtual exhibition, alongside documentation regarding the process of creating the object based on the fictional text. In this way, the project serves as an homage to the works of diverse voices in science fiction while also exploring the relationship between sci-fi and future technologies that are imbued with and directive of our culture.

 

About Mirabelle Jones

Mirabelle Jones is a queer, non-binary creative technologist, interdisciplinary artist, and researcher based in Copenhagen investigating critical, creative practices in technology. Their work explores the immersive storytelling potential of sensors, spatialized sound, LEDs, animatronics, XR, wearables, artificial intelligence and computer vision.

A proponent of STEAM education and interdisciplinary development, they are a frequent speaker on the subject of accessible, ethical, intersectional, and feminist design practices. Their works have most recently been featured at the Museum Meermanno and the Center for Performance Research and appear in several collections including the One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and the Center on Contemporary Art’s historic Hear Our Voice collection.

Their performances and visual works have been heralded by the Huffington Post, ArtNet, Ms. Magazine, Ingeniøren, Bustle, ATTN, Refinery29, Inquisitr, Mic., Sleek Magazine, Feminist Magazine, Deutsche Welle, Google News, Yahoo News, PBS, Roundtable Journal, Tip, Berliner Zeitung and elsewhere. They are a Research Assistant at The University of Copenhagen in the Department of Computer Science (DIKU) within the Human-Centered Computing section. They possess an M.F.A. in Book Art & Creative Writing and are an active book artist, interactive storyteller and analog novelist investigating the contemporary role of the book in our digitally-saturated world.

www.mirabelleJones.com

 

The project is a part of Feral Labs Network and supported by Creative Europe.