Luke Sturgeon

  1. Invisible cities

    October 19, 2014

    InvisibleCities

    An Italian novel written by Italo Calvino whereby an explorer recites his experiences to an eager emperor. The book is written in conversation format between the two main characters and the reader is frequently taken in to the imaginary worlds and cities that are described.

    The city, however, does not tell it’s past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.

    …it’s [building] very form and the position it occupies in the cities order suffice to indicate its function: the palace, the prison, the mint, the Pythagorean school, the brothel.

    It is not so much by the things that each day are manufactured, sold, bought that you can measure Leonia’s opulence, but rather by the things that each day are thrown out to make room for the new.

    the more Leonia’s talent for making new materials excels, the more the rubbish improves in quality, resists time, the elements, fermentations, combustions.


  2. Discussing Digital Natives

    Digital Natives is a term I recently encountered whilst reading You Are Here. It refers to a book by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital: Understanding the first generation of Digital Natives. This post is the follow up from my comments during a Q&A session at this years Kinetica Art Fair.

    There is much research and many projects – particularly from Interaction Designers or Digital Artists – which focus on the affects of technology on modern culture. As an example, the new behaviours many people have adopted now that they have a small mobile device in their pocket that enables them to stay connected to the friends and family, wherever they are.

    While I do find these projects interesting I am concerned with our general ‘fear’ of and for these people. That somehow they are ‘affected’ by a compulsive disorder, they are no longer in control of their own actions.digital-natives-01

    Obviously there are times when such behaviours may be causing harm or distress to themselves or to the people around them, and it may be necessary to intervene. But on a global scale this seems unfeasible and in my opinion unnecessary. For me it’s about our perception of what is the agreed ‘norm’ for using technology in an everyday context. More importantly ‘who’ are the people making that decision. We live in an interesting period with three main types of people, the digitally illiterate, digitally literate and the digital natives. But it seems the ‘digital literates’ are the norm, is it also surprising that they are also the people making decisions and passing judgements on this?

    I’m not saying that all technology is good, I certainly don’t have that opinion. My point is, who are we to judge?

    I will use TV dinners as an example. As I was growing up we had a television set and perhaps when I was 6 or 7 we started sitting in front of the TV whilst eating our dinner. Occasionally at first but eventually this was part of our everyday routine. The Technology of television had changed our behaviour. And not only us but many families in the UK, new broadcasting content, revised TV programmes and fast meals all built up too, simultaneously enforcing and capitalising on this change. Ask an elderly person or even people from other countries and cultures and they might expression confusion and sympathy, their own family meal times were conducted quite differently to ours. But I still received a good education, our family dynamics are great, I’ve travelled and met the most amazing people. And it’s these differences between us that are often the most fascinating points of good conversation – the differences and similarities in opinions and beliefs based on different cultural experiences.

    So which approach to eating dinner is correct? I want to put to one side  diet, nutrition and health concerns for now, my argument it’s about a difference of opinion and culture, not how much exercise you get in a day.

    Many of us look strange and act unusually through the eyes of a stranger. Does this necessarily mean we’re not normal? Do we need to be institutionalised or treated with sympathy? This is a growing concern of mine, as I see more and more drastic measures of integrating the illiterate or intervening with the natives.


  3. Geolocation

    October 12, 2014

    geolocation

    A mobile application that observes human behaviour towards personal data privacy, through real-time GPS tracking.

    GPS data is continuously recorded and published by the app. During “stealth” mode GPS data is marked as important – but is still published for analysis.

    How often do people choose to avoid their personal data being tracked? Can patterns be found through data analysis and visualization? How does behavior change if the person is un/aware of geolocation tracking?

    maps


  4. BodyMovementSensor kit

     

    P1050112_RET

    This is an open-source teaching toolkit that allows the capture, recording and real-time playback of physical and biometric signals. The project includes a GitHub repository: http://bit.ly/1ffeL7S and a Vimeo channel: http://bit.ly/1bGiicZ. The toolkit includes:

    1. Arduino and Processing sketches along with comments and explanations for all electrical and programming tools and concepts involved.
    2. A list of electrical components and Fritzing sketches for the electrical circuit for each of the toolkit parts are featured in the toolkit.
    3. I published video demonstrations, examples and tutorials that explain the theory behind the sensor, how to create a low-cost DIY equivalent and an explanation of the electrical and programming tools necessary.

    Biometric Sensors

    Videos

    (more…)


  5. Things I want to do

    October 5, 2014

    There are many things, activities and goals that I keep setting myself. Some are things to learn about, some are simply making more work. I have a giant list of future projects and the seed of an idea that might become a project in the future. During my time at the RCA that are things I feel I can learn and experiment with greatly. I’m in the perfect learning environment, my classmates, fellow RCA students, faculty and visiting lecturers:

    To-do:

    • light installation (concert?)
    • music video installation
    • exhibit work in gallery context
    • sound-installation
    • teach introduction to programming workshop
    • custom PCB design
    • Moment Obscura installation
    • launch iOS EMF Sensor on App store
    • 3D printing and fabrication
    • drawing machine

    To-learn:

    • working with DMX lighting
    • material exploration, product and form design
    • CAD and 3D design tools (basics)
    • preparing and running participatory workshop
    • costing, funding and managing projects
    • applying for funding and arts-council grants

  6. Then I’ll Begin

    October 1, 2014

    begin

    This is the first brief for the Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art. My home for the next 2 years!

    You will be building unexpected scenarios, exploring future narratives and telling tall tales; you will work with writers, performers, comedians and improvisers to investigate the mechanisms by which factors such as plausibility, functionality and entertainment work together in the telling of stories.

    For this 8-hour workshop we examined future communities, plausibility in narrative, functionality in narrative, comedy, tragedy and drama. Techniques for using comedy and tragedy in narratives as well as storytelling and performance concepts and methods.

    Pretending to be a Spanish Architecture and Production Designer living in London for the day, I used my character to respond to the brief and narratives that we had to develop within small groups of 3–4 classmates. The end result was a 9 minute sound performance using stories and radio broadcasts that are the only remaining artefacts from a long lost human–civilisation sent to colonise a fictional planet ‘Exoplanet 1’, that was identified outside of our solar system. There were 5 recordings, each made by a different ‘character’ that documents the daily mundane and the colony’s eventual demise due to unforeseen biological problems that reduced the life-expectancy to around 40 years and meant a life of pain and suffering. Whilst fictional the details and final performance was the result of a sequential set of exercises that allowed us to explore our fictional world, going deeper each time.

    Faculty

    • Charlotte Jarvis
    • James Yateman
    • Ed Rapley
    • Eleanor Buchan
    • Tom Latter

  7. You Are Here: Art After the Internet

    September 30, 2014

    IMG_0592

    The context of the Digital: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

    By Gene McHugh

    Digital Natives live much of their lives online, without distinguishing between the online and the offline. Instead of thinking of their digital identity and their real-space identity as separate things, they just have an identity (with representations in two, or three or more different spaces). They are joined by a set of common practises, including the amount of time they spend using digital technologies, their tendency to multitask, their tendency to express themselves and relate to one another in ways mediated by digital technologies, and their pattern of using the technologies to access and use information and create new knowledge and art forms. 1

    Many cultures – as their economic and cultural affairs move online – have evolved various internet-specific ways to flirt and show affection so that people can now have ‘natural’ interactions without being in the same room.

    What is ethical and what is not. The lack of these broadly defined norms creates a disconnect,, two-tiered world in which some exist in a pre-internet reality, while others can only be their real selves online. This is not science fiction; it’s an awkwardly developing truth, one that, over the next generations, will necessitate social scientists and cultural producers to demarcate how intimacy happens over screens.

    Post-Internet: What It Is and What It Was

    By Michael Connor

    It no longer makes sense for artists to attempt to come to terms with ‘internet-culture’, because now ‘internet-culture’ is increasingly just ‘culture’. In other words, the term ‘post-internet’ suggests that the focus of a good deal of artistic and critical discourse has shifted from ‘internet-culture’ as a discrete entity to an awareness that all culture has been reconfigured by the internet, or by internet-enabled neoliberal capitalism.

    Further reading

    • Ann Hurch
    • Eugene kotlyarenko’s skydiver

    1. John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital: Understanding the first generation of Digital Natives, 2008.

  8. Facing the Intelligence Explosion

    September 26, 2014

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    I came across this short but thoroughly enjoyable book through lesswrong.com. Written by Luke Muehlhauser, executive director of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRA) who’s primary focus is the foundation of AI safety.

    In the first several chapters of the book Muehlhauser goes to great lengths to set the right expectations and definitions between himself and the reader. Introducing many fascinating topics and how the related to one another. For example:

    The availability heuristic also explains why people think flying is more dangerous than driving when the opposite is true: a plane crash is more vivid and is reported widely when it happens, so it’s more available to one’s memory, and the brain tricks itself into thinking the event’s availability indicated probability.

    In the book’s summary of the present state of humanity, we are summarised as “this kludge of cognitive modules and alogorithmic shortcuts”.

    I’m not an agent designed to have correct beliefs and pursue explicit goals; I’m a crazy robot built as a vehicle for propagating genes without spending too much energy on expensive thinking neurons.

    The good news is that we are robots who have realised we are robots, and by way of rational self-determination we can stage a robot’s rebellion against our default programming.

    During the later chapters of the book a decision point is proposed.

    For a fleeting moment in history we are able to comprehend (however dimly) our current situation and influence which side of the mountain we are likely to land in. What then shall we do?

    We’re learning how to make AIs safe much more slowly than we’re learning how to make AIs powerful, because we’re devoting more resources to the problems of AI capability that we are to the problems of AI safety.

    One way lies human extinction. […] Another resting place may be a stable global totalitarianism that halts scientific progress, although that seems unlikely.

    Our current limitations aren’t fixed by physics, but by the limits of our intelligence and the resources that can be used at our current level of intelligence. With self-improving machine superintelligence acting on our behalf, our biological limits can be transcended.

    Further reading


  9. Machines CANNOT think

    September 23, 2014

    This is a strong statement, but something I feel compelled to write. As I currently read through the fantastic book Facing the Intelligence Explosion by Luke Muehlhauser I came across a statement I disagree with, whilst I’m enthralled with everything else in the book.

    “Machines can now compose music, play chess and Jeopardy!, understand continuous speech, pick stocks, guide missiles, recognise faces, diagnose health problems, and so much more.”

    Yes machines are technically capable of meeting our requirements of what we accept as capabilities listed above. But the machines aren’t doing this because they want to, chose that profession or direction in life or because they’re artists capable of producing never before heard scores. They are not driven to or passionate about music, art or understanding people. They are achieving these goals because they were ‘designed’ to. The machine is the physical or digital representation of a series of connected algorithms and processes. They are nothing more than advanced calculators, capable of processing data at a tremendously faster rate than humans.

    When I see a machine or hear of mechanical accomplishments I also get excited, proud and overwhelmed at how mankind have broken down complex tasks in to calculations which they can repeat endlessly, using machines, code and engineering. Designers, engineers, technologist are capable of amazing things. They build machines! But the machines are nothing without the problem-solving, inventive and sometimes chaotic brains of humans.

    Machines CANNOT read books and tell me their favorite quotes or which they think I should read. But machines CAN analyse the text and words of thousands of books in a few seconds, and –  based on complex algorithms, designed by humans – they can suggest series of characters that they’ve identified as being the closest matches to my personal criteria.


  10. Beautiful results from Science Museum workshop

    September 22, 2014

    I am delighted to start sharing some of the work that was a result of last weeks photography workshop, led by myself and Shamik and hosted and supported by the Science Museum, London. There will be more developments with the project and the full set of results can be seen on the Flickr Group, but I wanted to highlight some of the exceptional results that participants where creating after an hour or so of demonstration and experimentation.


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