User:Max Dovey/Reading Writing Research Methodologies/methodsmax2

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We produce a lot of information don’t we?

I am interested in methods of generating narrative that are improvised and somewhat sketchy, unbalanced, volatile, random. That the audience can also see into, they can see that there is a level of improvisation going on…………

My recent works have been exploring speech recognition programs as a tool for (miss)interpretation in cinema and live performance. In 'Smart Objects' the speech recognition software 'listens' to household objects and translates the sound of their humming, buzzing and whirling sounds into text that appears on screen as subtitles. The on screen microphone detects the sounds made from the objects and presents the interpretations made by the speech recognition software. The words are made by the computer registering phonetic patterns in the acoustics of everyday objects; the (miss)interpretations present the absurdity of social computing and 'smart technology'.

Data & Performance
Computers execute commands using scripts, written in alphanumeric code these texts direct the computer to perform tasks in different ways. The script(s) defines a set of parameters for the computer to perform and respond to the user. There is little improvisation in computational scripts. As I type the cursor blinks waiting for me to press a symbol from the keyboard that will become form the next word you will read. What happens when I bend over and press my forehead onto the keyboard for 2 seconds tyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyybv the computer code is written to respond to my actions in defined ways. As the scripts become more complex the computer can respond and interpret my behavior in all sorts of performative ways.


What we are experiencing for the first time is the ability for language to alter all media’ (Goldsmith, 34)

Computer code, its largely illegible set of alphanumeric figures has a structural form that keeps a rhythm. Kenneth Goldsmith compares poetic verses with the form of computational code to highlight the artistic quality of digital language. He then goes on to form the basis of his argument in ‘Uncreative Writing’ that artists should appropriate the abundance of language that stores and transmits all this data. It is an important text for my work because it presents the performative potential for the way language is distributed in the information age. Every byte of data that flows through the circuits of society can be unpacked to reveal an instruction, a direction to be performed. This textual landscape that is the infrastructure of the digital age flows passed us mostly undetected, my work is an attempt to distinguish between what is signal and what is noise.

Diary (2013) is a compression of time into a single image, an excess of data and information that cannot be interpreted; it cannot be processed or read. It’s a years worth of day to day meetings, notes, planning, shopping lists all layered onto one image to make an unreadable annual disaster that is visually overwhelming, an overwhelming amount of data that cannot be processed. Information is continually streamed into our lives, through mobile devices and our constant strive to connectivity disrupts the linearity of time into a destabilized present where past and future all exist in the same moment. The desire for real-time technology to bring us up-to-date information will never be satisfied as by the time it reaches us it has already expired and plateaus into an infinite present. Working with the live feeds and real time data and curating this material into content to be adapted, interpreted and performed is a method of understanding it.

One method of performing data has been to re-appropriate user generated content and perform these packets of information and exchange them with the audience. For example in ‘The Bank of Broken Dreams’ (2014) or ‘The Emotional Stock Market’ (2012) a mass of data is accumulated, reappropriated and distributed within the audience. Each tweet or comment becomes re-identified and forms the material for a new-shared experience. Taking from the abundance of social media data and transcending it into a new-shared experience between visitors to the exhibition.

Another approach that I have been developing in my first year of on the Media Design & communication program at Piet Zwart Institute is performing with the computer as a co-performer. Using speech recognition so that the computer listens to and responds to my voice. In these performances I am improvising with the scripts of the software, anthropomorphising the computer into a generative narrative.

And I’m dancing round it persuading it to be my co-performer. To be generative.

In Foley Narrative (2013) the speech to text software interprets the sound of objects to emit words onto a projection. A blender in a can of kidney beans is interpreted as the words ‘who is him’. The script of the computational software is responding to my actions and producing text that forms a generative narrative for live performance.

To improvise, to act impulsively, to be in a responsive state. I choose to respond to data in this way to embody it to allow for a reflection, a re-enactment.

‘Data in the 21st Century is largely ephemeral, because it is so easily produced: a machine creates it, uses it for a few seconds and overwrites it as new data arrives’ (Goldsmith, 38)

Representation in Real Time

The instant feedback in media culture does not allow for distance between event and representation. I can consume and share media events in this instant feedback culture the immediate is now mediated. Mediated information invades my state as I continually parse data and interpret everything I can. Re-enactment is often used to form a total identification with its subjects; I apply re-enactment of data that has become invalid due to its excess and frequency of transmission. I am not attempting a total identification but creating a distance between myself and the subject for each byte of data to be re-appropriated and understood. The scale and speed of the infrastructure of the networks is exposed and the subjects are re-appropriated and examined through exchanges with audience where this data is re-enacted. "Performance will be in the twentieth and twenty first century what discipline was to the eighteenth and nineteenth, that is, an onto-historical formation of power and knowledge" (McKenzie, 18)

In this text I present methods that I have developed for performing with data and computers. The excess of language in digital computing and its automated processing and methods of parsing are elements that I explore in my work. The mass of data can be used as material to perform with or the live processing of computers can set up a relation that allows you to perform the technology. In my graduate year these practices will be explored in the context of liveness and how real time technologies can produce live art.


Goldsmith, Kenneth. 2011. “Uncreative Writing”. Columbia University Press
Edited by Anke Bangma, Steve Rushton, Florian Wüst. 2005 “Experience, Memory, Re-enactment” Piet Zwart Institute publication
Mckenzie, Jon. 2001. “Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance” Routledge
Rushkoff, Douglas. 2014. “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now”. Penguin.