Technology and art is an emergent area for creative expression. Looking at collections such as those found in Art and Electronic Media, Shanken (Phaidon, 2009) as a starting point of reference as well as The New Media Reader, Wardrip-Fruin (MIT Press 2003) we can see that artists always seem to have the courage to express new ideas through subverting existing discourses. To date, my role has been to creatively realise some of those ideas through technology.
Some of the art projects I have collaborated on includes an application made for the artist Simon Morris, which was a wall mounted touch screen kiosk, first shown in Rennes, France in Un Art De Lectures / An Art of Readers curated by Yann Serandour.
This program re-wrote the entire book, The Interpretation of Dreams, but in completely random order. It was different every time it was re-written and you had the choice to print the page you were writing, or to print the entire newly written book at the end of the program cycle. It took the program roughly 3 days to write the book completely. The kiosk could be seen initially on pause, and it would enable the viewer to pause / play the work. It was important to add some form of interaction for the user. In a way they would feel they had the ability to create their own individual pages of Freuds words.
I wrote the program in Lingo at the time, using DirectorMX as it seemed a good choice for the interactivity and the platform from what was available to me. It formed a bulk of my MSc study to look onto interactivity and what ideas were around at the time as well as ways to display this information in a gallery setting. From that work, it wrote one complete copy that we documented, and it was made into an edition of the book, Re-Writing Freud.
This led into the thinking of creating another version of this exciting work so with my knowledge of the iOS platform I thought long and hard about what would make an app work on this platform.
It took a lot of research and drafting out of several interactions of the app because it is such a new dynamic platform. It seemed I kept focusing on re-creating the initial interface, which was designed for a powerful computer. I knew this was not the same device or experience and it needed to be adapted to reflect the best use of the technology it would be experienced on. From there I realized that the key to an iPad is the human interaction and that the surface is so beautiful and clean that it really would be my job to maintain the essence of those features.
The app would focus on the book. That was the core essential element, and from there the user would be able to write the book randomly every time in terms of them interacting with the device. The interface is minimal, only a solid colour, based on the rotation of the device.
In fact, you won’t see anything other than the colour unless you interact.
The words only become visible when you tap the screen, then randomly the words are chosen from the entire book and presented in a random place on the screen. The words then fade out after a set elapsed time.
My first Universal app, Rewriting Freud, which means it is compatible on all the iOS devices, from the iPad to the iPod Touch. It was a really exciting project. Experimental artwork Rewriting Freud on iTunes takes the entire book, The Interpretation of Dreams, by Sigmund Freud and lets you randomly choose the words displayed. Visit Rewriting Freud
It’s also interesting in terms of people who are so used of not touching things in an art gallery setting, and breaking that ideal by something that is not visible unless you touch it. This will be the first version of the program, but we are exploring having a hidden additional view where you would be able to see all the words chosen in that session, presented all in sentences. The image shown is a capture of the app after it has been touched several times (on the iPhone 4), and the colours will be different depending on the way you hold your device.
It is currently in a show called Psyche & Muse at Beinecke Library, Yale University, USA. (Jan 28 -June 13 2011) which is an exhibition about Psychoanalysis and art. (http://brblroom26.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/re-writing-freud/ for information)
Other bits and pieces ~
Shortly after the app store opened, I started an online review show entitled Apps & Hats. Here is an episode with Hattie Medd, the co host for most of the series.
After reviewing other peoples apps for eighteen months and developing a regular audience I could see ways in which apps could be so much better. I also started to collect a lot of app ideas myself, based on gaps in the market and my own app needs.
This activity led to me being a guest speaker and appearing on panels (JCI Leeds Annual Lecture 2011 for example), including a great opportunity to be the keynote speaker at a Girl Geek Dinner in Leeds. Information about the event http://www.ntileeds.co.uk/news/geek-chic-leeds-girl-geek-dinner-5/ I realise I look a bit shocked in that image ~
Since making the decision to learn how to make apps, I started with the basics and revisited earlier C programming I had done, then moved on to Objective-C, all self taught. I have since published six apps on the app store and most recently, I developed a new app, Rewriting Freud. It was my first Universal (can be used on all the iOS devices) app. This is the third version of the concept of artist Simon Morris, of Rewriting Freud.
Research I hope to undertake will explore exactly how mobile technologies can be used within a museum environment, how they can engage and develop the users understanding of non-linear games foregrounded in Laurence Sterne’s ideals as in the novel, Tristram Shandy. Some previous projects that I have work on all focus essentially on “the artist”, and I enjoy being the creative technologist who can make them happen.
Film work has included editing a film which was directed by the artist Simon Morris, on New York based poet Kenneth Goldsmith: Sucking on Words. The film was premiered at The British Library, which the poet attended. It was later screened the Oslo International Poetry Festival in 2007.
Another exciting film piece I worked on as the video editor was Pavel Büchler: making nothing happen, a film about the practice of the Czech-born artist. The video was recorded in several locations including Manchester, Berlin and Edinburgh. One exciting development was that Pavel was awarded the Northern Arts Prize 2010.
iOS App Work: Allowance
This app is one that I have spent a lot of time with, both learning and updating.
To read all about my app things, you can go to my site dedicated to development with iOS at 200ml.