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Calling all creatives: The Cube 2018 Artist in Residence program

Are you a professional working in visual art, interactive design, science communication, digital storytelling, software engineering, data visualisation or games design?

Do you want to push the boundaries of your practice and develop an innovative project on one of the world’s largest interactive display spaces?

If answered ‘yes’ to the above – it is time to start your application for The Cube’s 2018 Artist in Residence program!

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The Cube, 2013

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Echo reverberates across The Cube

“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” Mohsin Hamid

Here we are, the final Echo reverberates across The Cube in hybrid glitch form.

The photo booth is installed, the virtual mirror throbs in anticipation and the Echo character maps across the space. She navigates us, “Come closer”  she says, you are now part of something bigger”.

The last month has seen many creative and technical developments, including the integration of the narratives. They began as fiction and ended as readymades. Real intimate stories from real people. Through the mirror our storytellers confide in you, the user, revealing moments of their lives where they have suffered or overcome hardship. As their narrative unfolds the features of your face slowly morph into their face. They operate you with their expressions and leave you placed firmly in their shoes. This intimate experience forces us to relate and connect with those outside of our normal social sphere. Narrative has long been a tool for empathy, awareness and social change, Echo intends to push this further still by immersing the viewer visually as well as through the imagination.

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Tuning back in from the reverberating world of ECHO …

A month under my belt and still two to go. The project is growing limbs by the second and each day seems more exciting than the last. Tech wise our facial tracking application is well on the way to having the main functionality working smoothly.  Here’s a taster video of the first stage recorded live from the application with a few treatments added.

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The next stage is user interface design and narrative content. It’s time to bring fiction, drama and sound to the work so you might see me cruising around Kelvin Grove campus collecting and researching personal stories. Don’t be shy, come and say Hello and get involved in my project.

Over the next three weeks I’ll use this research to write some intimate stories with the help of the creative writing and drama students.  These narratives will be integrated into the final user experience where you literally see through someone else’s eyes, kickstarting the empathy engine..

Still so much to do but with the support of The Cube and the Creative Industries team, anything is possible!

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Welcome Georgie

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Ello!

I’m a multimedia artist completing a residency at The Cube for the next three months.
I studied Vis Arts at QUT way back in the 90’s and since then I have been travelling across Europe and Australia making audio visual work for both stage and screen. 17 years later I’m back and with my geek on…

Here’s a link to my Showreel if you’re interested: https://vimeo.com/159136216

My creative practice has, for many years, used technology to explore notions of physical and emotional empathy. Here and now I’ll be developing a project called Echo. Over the next few months I’ll be designing elements and software for an interactive installation that is a morphing virtual mirror. The viewer will be able to customise an interchangeable avatar and fragment and mix their own face with the features of other people and animals, creating a range of morphing hybrid personalities. We’re also developing a real time facial tracking application that copies your expressions as you wear anothers face or multiple faces.

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I want to explore how we respond to our face being fragmented and manipulated by others and if it is possible to build community by developing a truly ‘shared’ identity? Does a combined identity extend the parts of us or dilute us? What can we learn about narcism and empathy through this experience? And what can we learn about micro expressions?

Two weeks in and already progress is being made within Unity, the game engine we are using to build the software. I’m also loving getting lost in transmission chaos land of animated glitch fragments! Here’s a video link to some animation tests I’ve been playing with: https://vimeo.com/203231463

In April the installation will run and the animated portraits will be installed into The Cube with an event that showcases the application as a live tool for Public performance.
Will tune in again soon, hope to face mosh with you…

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Q&A with Lauren McCarthy: Provoking ‘fellow feelings’ in her own way

Ars Electronica Q&A with Lauren McCarthy about her Transmit³-Residency: The Changing Room.

Designer, artist and programmer Lauren McCarthy explores the structures and systems of social interaction, identity as well as self-presentation and the potential of technology of how it can influence the dynamics between those traits. During her Transmit³-Residency she wanted to find out about the influence of Big Data on the togetherness in front of The Cube.

Photo by Lauren McCarthy

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Residency presentation: The Cube as a smart social environment

Hi, Lauren here. I’m wrapping up my two month TRANSMIT3 Residency at The Cube and next Thursday 11 August will be the official opening of the new piece I’ve been working on with the team.

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The event will feature an interactive performance installation in which we dine together in a near future where we change feelings like channels on a TV, swipe left for nostalgia, swipe right for glee, and follow each other as The Cube tracks us all.

Stay tuned for my last blog post which details how this event plays out.

 

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Turning The Cube into an emotion machine

It’s been a busy few weeks at The Cube. I started with a few workshops with kids thinking about ‘homes of the future’. Participants imagined the toys they’d play with, clothes they’d wear, rules they’d follow, and robots that would serve as caretakers. They learned to code using p5.js, a platform for building interactive artworks online, and built their own rooms of the future which we combined into a one big apartment building.

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The students' output of the rooms created with code in p5.js

The students’ output of the rooms created with code in p5.js

While reflecting on things learned in the workshops, I also worked with The Cube team to rig up The Cube space with extra sensors and create a system that links all the zones of the space with the data being collected as people move through it. We started with some basic tests to see how it felt to control the movement of objects on the screen with our bodies.

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After some experimentation, I landed on the idea of turning The Cube into a sort of emotion machine. People will be asked to determine how they would like to feel, and The Cube will get to work molding the feelings of everyone around it into the desired emotion.

We began with some tests of the interface to select emotions. I want it to have the feeling of an ice cream store with hundreds of flavors. Each one you pick brings on an entirely different sensation.

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In the next few weeks, we’ll be developing the content and interactions much further and I’m planning a final performance that will happen over dinner at The Cube next month.

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Hello and welcome, Lauren McCarthy

Hi! I am an artist from New York, in residence for the next two months at The Cube. My practice involves looking at our social interactions, the rules and expectations that govern them, and the effects of technology. I have always been a pretty socially awkward person, and my projects are often attempts to hack my way to better relationships.

A few years ago, I went on a series of dates with people I met on an online dating site and crowdsourced my dating life by paying workers online to watch a video stream of the dates and tell me what to say and do. (Social Turkers, 2013, http://socialturkers.com)

https://vimeo.com/66339316

Thinking about algorithmic enhancement of relationships, together with Kyle McDonald, we made a Google Hangout app that would monitor your speech and facial expression and provide real-time prompts to “enhance” the conversation. (us+, 2014, http://lauren-mccarthy.com/us)

https://vimeo.com/81903116

Most recently, I created an Uber-like app and service where you could hire a stranger (I was actually the Follower) to follow you for one day . I’d tail the person based on their GPS data, keeping just out of sight but within their consciousness, leaving them at the end with just one photo from sometime during the day. (Follower, 2016, http://lauren-mccarthy.com/follower)

https://vimeo.com/149917476

For this residency, I am focusing on the idea of the Smart Home and Internet of Things, and all of the promises these offer. I am going to turn the Cube into a smart home for QUT students and community, gathering data through its many sensors, and interacting with the people in the space through ambient instructions on the walls. The point is to question and critique the idea of a surveillant space that guides you mindlessly, while also exploring more interesting possibilities.

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Often the idea of a smart space or AI is represented by thermostats that adjust themselves and either the complete lack of any human feeling, or a sci-fi fantasy female character.

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I’m planning to dig deeper into the process of socialisation. Who are the human authority figures that teach us how to behave and relate to others. Maybe it is your mum or dad, an older sibling, teacher, or friend, or role model. How do these people watch over us and influence us. Could this social intelligence be captured and embodied in an artificial intelligence?

These are some of the questions I aim to explore with this project. I’ll be starting research with a series of interviews and workshops open to the public. Stay tuned for more details if you’d like to participate!

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Introducing Friedrich Kirschner and the Society for Cultural Optimism

The Cube is excited to welcome its newest Ars Electronica Futurelab TRANSMIT³ resident, Friedrich Kirschner, who will be teaming up with the Society for Cultural Optimism to simulate an alternate reality through social interventions, performances and interactive content on The Cube.

The Society for Cultural Optimism develops situated social games that engage participants through overwhelming optimism. They strongly believe that someplace north-east of cynicism, popular culture can be fun and engaging.

For Friedrich’s TRANSMIT³ residency, they will investigate a time and place in which The Cube transforms the everyday as a conduit to the virtual, and they will invite the public to help in their research and implementation. As part of their research, the team set up a base camp at Robotronica late last month.

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Friedrich: During QUTs Robotronica festival, we had the opportunity to establish our first expeditionary base camp. Using our newly constructed Weltmaschine, a device that helps us simulate possible future realities, we encouraged visitors to share their thoughts on technological development and possible future scenarios. From the data gathered, and using the Weltmaschine in its first incarnation, we generated a poem of the future.

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QUT EMARE Residency: Christoph Wachter & Mathias Jud present Landung in Australien

Christoph Wachter & Mathias Jud present Landung in Australien, an exhibition that explores the complexities surrounding refugee and asylum seeker policies within the context of Australian national law.

We experience nowadays a shrinking world with simultaneous communication and borderless travel options. The continents get closer, cultures meet, and goods and people can constantly exchange. At the same time worlds drift apart between those who are privileged with civil rights and residence permits, and those who are excluded and suppressed.

The lives of those who came by boat – of those men, women and children in indefinite, mandatory detention – lies completely in the hands of the Australian authorities. What they eat, what they read, when and with whom they can speak – all this is consistently determined by the authorities of Australia, the same country they shall never reach.

Dramatic escapes and traumatic boat odysseys continue in pointless undetermined detention. Who ever has the choice of travel opportunities would never undertake a life-threatening non seaworthy boat. Horrifying experiences that can hardly be conveyed are extended in detention, in a limbo whose only purpose is to use these people’s existence in this place as a deterrence for others.

Here, it remains to reconstruct exactly what the current world characterises: the shortening of distances, the approximation, the options for connections. It is about finding a link and making a connection despite censorship and upheavals. In the forming of connections lies also the option to learn something about actual underlying power conditions. We might establish connections, that open insights and work as bridges over specific, contrary horizons of experience and beyond a divided world and power political segmentation.

These connections are complex not only because certain forms of communication are prohibited in detention: differences also stem from cultural and individual forms of expression, and may result in the forming of a political meaning. But in dire situations it touches even more crucial possibilities: to appear as human beings and to receive social attention. This attention is existential, because it decides whether survival is possible or whether humans are left sinking in forced neglect and disclosure. It involves the necessity to be able to transmit a sign of life and to appear on the surface, as persecuted, threatened and marginalised voices and not to be drowned as a deposit in a power political and geopolitical whirl.

To be recognised and perceived as life depends on not going down, whether on the open sea or in the whirl of power political debates.

Wachter and Jud entered Australia with an eVisitor (subclass 651) visa. Landung in Australien showcases the outcomes of a 9-week research project held with the QUT Creative Industries Precinct as part of Move On: European Media Artists in Residence Exchange (EMARE).