Our work has centred around research into alternative formats of pre-existing medium. Working primarily with open-source techniques we have explored games as publications, score writing, interfaces, and libraries. My research focus has been in exploring interface, stemming primarily out of Vilém Flusser’s analysis of systems being structurally or functionally complex.
The two works discussed below begin to unravel this concept of systems, while stimulating new lines of enquiry into how spontaneity, improvisation, play and games can influence audience experiece, and inspire creative method.
Tetra Gamma Circulaire 3 was a collaborative work between De Player and the Experimental Publishing unit at the Piet Zwart Institute. The core theme of the publication was the investigation on the idea of "score". What is a score's function, historically, and how it could be interpreted today. My contribution, Euclid, is an instrument that aims to inspire musical improvisational exploration. It is designed to have no obvious technological interface, that rather than be transparent, is resistant, opening up a performative dialogue between man and machine. The music produced by this instrument are based upon Euclidian rhythms, a mathematical system that generate traditional musical patterns. Rather than a noise instrument, this musicality encourages continuous compositional exploration into the insturment.
Euclid is controlled via a series of touch conductive points. These points work very differently depending on the environmental, and individual conductivity of the player. Just as the player must learn how the instrument behaves, the instrument itself has has been designed to adapt to the player as the performance progresses. The performer must learn the ever changing situationally affected intricacies of the instrument, as well as their own affects, which allows for very different performances of the instrument each time.
New research has commenced concerning the freedom of knowledge, and its access as a basic human right. This topic makes apparent the complexity of systems have abstracted this right (and many others) away from individuals. Law and capitalism has convoluted the pathway to knowledge and designated it a luxury for the few. This restriction has led to a rise in “extra-legal” libraries and knowledge distribution that, at great legal risk, give access to many sometimes restricted resources to all.
In this project I will explore open-source non-centralised systems of knowledge sharing, and curation that liberate these objects not only in their access and audiences, but from their original contexts and formats. With my colleagues Giulia and Franc, we will be working with a pre-existing archive situated at the Poortgebouw, which in itself is an anthology of free-thought, collaboration and resistance. Our challenge is to digitise the collection, and create an interface that allows this archive to have contemporary, practical relevance to the community and serve as an inspirational tool to preserve the building into the future.
Overcoming technical or systematic constraints when creating interfaces is a challenge no matter the medium or context. In both projects the exercise in creating functionally complex interfaces that expand a user/creator's access to a subject is often impeded by one of the two aforementioned problems. Using opensource methodologies and ideologies, the possibility of circumnavigating these issues seems attainable if not without its challenges.
It has become evident that interaction needs to be considered not only in the sense of mechanical interface, but also as systematic, ideological interface. Systematic, like the artificial distance created through complex legal and economic systems from knowledge, or mechanical interface that creates dis-empowerment through convenience created by transparent, "user friendly" services as provided by Google. As creators, we not only need to question these manifestations in our society, we also need to consider the interface between our audiences, our works, as well as the interface we have with our tools.
We need to challenge these interfaces. The prescription of method, ingest and publication that these systems enforce are not to be taken lightly. We must not forget Flusser’s warning, that “functionally simple systems are stultifying [and] idiotic”, and that with the current structurally complex systems that we are creating today it is up to us to make them functionally complex.
Through the development of Euclid, the concept went from being an instrument with transparent interface, allowing full focus on the music created, to an instrument full of friction and character that requires from its interactor a level of investment that is often devoid from contemporary interfaces. In its creation, and its performance it brought to my attention the fact that the question of interface is much more complex than I had previously considered.
It was not simply a challenge of building a technically, and conceptually functional object within limited constraints, but the introduction into how interfaces influence intent, are affected themselves by context and can be a feedback as well as an input.
To continue with this current research while including my interests of improvisation, play, and exploration will be an interesting challenge. I hope to investigate this fusion during our next project in building an interface that allows for chance discovery and creation within the knowledge base of the Poortgebouw's archive. This help to the re-contextualise, and re-format this predefined data set.
The continuation of my research, born out of our work this past year, will be to dive deeper into the act of improvisation, and to expand this into looking at games, and play and how it can be applied as a creative methodology to assist in production, learning and teaching.
Further to this, I wish to investigate more thoroughly environmental philosophy. Philosophical texts on the Environment have piqued my interest, but I feel that often they are far separated from the practicalities of life, and are not always pragmatic motivators for change.