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My Battle with Obesity

I have thought about sharing my struggle with obesity for some time. Its not the sort of thing that makes anyone feel completely comfortable – talking about personal health. But I want others to be inspired and I want you all to know that it is possible for anyone to dramatically improve their health, one …

Material Sculpture in Contemporary Art

Introduction “Elkins reminds us [from the perspective of an artist turned art historian] that there is a genuine human joy in making stuff. But little is written on this.” (p146) (1) We sculptors love making things and immerse ourselves in the material world, shaping it into joyful expressions of material performance. We must make tangible …

‘Art-Bot’ Project Contextualization

‘Art-Bot’ is a ‘Boundary Object’ [1] balanced between several domains of knowledge and has practical applications and shares epistemic concerns with: Tele-surgery, Manufacturing, Automation, Object Design, Pedagogical Tool, Architecture, Industrial Design, Virtual Martial Presence, Video Game Design, Artificial Materials Intelligence – and many more.  At the heart of ‘Art-Bot’ however is a historically predeceasing material …

SHIRI robotic buttocks

Pneumatic feedback as with the SHIRI robotic buttocks is another example of unique telepresence device, although highly strange.  It consists of “a pair of mechanical buttocks that quiver when you spank them” [1].  This seemingly strange perceivably perverted robot is actually and ingenuity because it conveys physiological responses to tactile interaction.  What this means is …

The HAPTEX Project

The HAPTEX Project [1] is an example of a telepresence device developed by the MIRALab at the University of Geneva, for creative uses.  They are planning a “complete virtual reality system for visuo-haptic interaction with virtual textiles”[2], fundamentally to serve the textile and fashion industry.  Aside from the fact that the project is likely far …

Telepresence & Teleaction

Telepresence & Teleaction [5] is another effect of remote controlled haptic and tactile machine controllers.  An example is the ‘Greifen Force Feed Back Glove’ that successfully achieves feedback but there is an inherent flaw in the design in that the robotic hand is designed to be controlled based on the range of motion of a …

Implications of Film

Understanding the cultural and psycho-sociological implications of film is a common undertaking for image makers and theorists alike. Additionally, a critical consumer of the mass media should understand the mechanics of the filmic engine as well as the underlying motives of film. A central read in this journey is The Cinematic Apparatus (de Lauretis and …

The Essence of Interactive Expression

Interactivity Interactive artworks are like video games played in an art gallery. Video games are concerned with building “interactive fictions” [1] and interactive artworks “have an open ended framework that allows or even encourages the audience to ‘complete’ their creation” [2]. The essential technological components that make up interactive technology are universal. Interactive art facilitates …

Body Charge: experimenting with electric force fields and the human body

Introduction Our human body has the amazing ability to conduct and control electricity through complex and dynamically changing bio-electrically charged neurological networks. Amazingly, we are somehow able to ‘will’ our neurology into performing the actions of the body while simultaneously receiving and transcoding information through our sensory apparatus. We understand the nature of electricity to …

Contextualizing Interdisciplinarity

In our Time The so called ‘information age’, born from the emergence of the computer and the worldwide internet, has propelled us into the so called ‘knowledge era’.  The internet is a dynamically shifting network of expanding information.  It has the capacity to connect emergent intellectual threads into new hybrid knowledge groupings.  Symbiotic academic relationships …

Machine-made Vs. Hand-made

Making things with our hands is different from making things using tools.  There are benefits to making things with our hands and machining things with tools, but the advantages must be compared to the disadvantages in either case in order to consider what ingredients are most conducive to the making process and in order to …

Tactile Machine Controllers

There are two main types of master-to-slave tactile controller robotic manipulators.  First, we have ‘direct manipulators’ like the “ATI Force-Torque Sensors used in Robotic Finishing and Polishing” [1] where a machine is controlled by literally touching it and moving it around.  Second, we have the ‘remote manipulator’, as seen in the many haptic and tactile …

Culturally Driven Perceptions of Robotic & Cybernetic Machines …

Culturally Driven Perceptions of Robotic & Cybernetic Machines involves having utopian ideals of sexually available white and clean robots on the one hand [1], and the dystopian perception of powerful self-aware “Terminator”[2] robots that have decided to wipe out humanity “in a war against machines” [2] on the other hand. Both of these diametrically opposed …

Errors in Machine Production

Architect and designer Marko Coetzee once told me; “Often the impetus to introduce new solutions comes out of a mistake made somewhere, which leads me to a new way of looking at things. My frustration with any and all design aids that are run through a computerized system is that this intuitive process of floundering …

Creative Machine Automation

Creative Machine Automation: The automatic mechanization (automation) of creative performance is at least as old as the automatic player piano [1].  Machines are able to reenact predefined and encoded instructions.  However, machines cannot make decisions about dynamic adjustments or modifications in a given action dependent on the surrounding conditions.  For example, the player piano [1] …

Dematerialization via Mechanization

There is a need to make a shift back towards material interaction and away from the so called ‘virtual’.  “Virtual work in organizations continues to be promoted despite the absence of a strong conceptual understanding of virtual work and its consequences.” [1]  “Electronically mediated representation of material work” [1] can abstract the real physical objects …

Sculptural Mechanization

‘Art-Bot’ follows several iterations of the definition of mechanization.  ‘Art-Bot’ makes automatic [1], a host of sculptural movements.  It replaces human labor [1] and provides mechanical power [1].  Sigfried Giedion produced a survey of the industrial transformation of western society in the 1920’s with his book “Mechanization Takes Command: A Contribution to Anonymous History” [2] …

Creative Uses for Machines

There is an artificially imposed juxtaposition that is commonly placed between creative practice and machines.  It is widely held that machines are not good for creative applications.  “A traditional question is whether or not computers shall ever think like humans.”[1]  Eventually, “this question is redirected to a discussion of whether computers shall ever be truly …

Form & Function & Materials

As a sculptor I can project my intentions towards my materials rather than learning about and appreciating the natural values of the material.  I am always trying to negotiate a harmony between form and function but I must never forget material.  When I do neglect material I typically produce an unnatural form somehow dis-functioning.  The …

Form and Matter

“Form and Matter, (Heb. צוּרָה, ẓurah, and חֹמֶר, ḥomer), according to Aristotle, the two constituents of every physical substance, form being that which makes the substance what it is, and matter being the substratum underlying the form. In substantial change the form is that which is changed, while the matter remains constant throughout the change.”[1] …

Material Agency

Dr. Lambros Malafouris, a Research Fellow in Cognitive Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, published “At the Potter’s Wheel: An Argument for Material Agency” in 2007 [1].  In it he asks “who is the author of the act?” [1]  He proposes; “if human agency is then material agency is, there is no way that human …

Gestural Property

Gestural Property is a new concept that is formed by the development of ‘Art-Bot’.  Gestural property is analogous to intellectual property, within the domain of knowledge management, and represents a form of ‘intellectual capital’[1] that becomes codified when a gestural movement is performed by a sculptor.  If the movements are recorded and could theoretically be …

Extended Tacit Cognition

Extended Tacit Cognition results from extending an artist’s body using ‘Art-Bot’.  It is an expansion of the idea of ‘extended cognition, which refers to the way in which people use technological and cognitive artifacts to improve their ability to control a situation’ [1].  ‘Art-Bot’ facilitates the expansion of the body and thereby the expansion of …

Computer Simulated Tactility

Computer assisted design (CAD) is generally combined with a reduction of physical interactions.  This is due to the requirement for computational tools to have universally generalized input methods and thus, a large variety of computational tools can be used from a single machine.  Computers also need to be easy to learn and use.  Many more …

Codifying Material Tactility

How can sculpture be taught if tacit knowledge is not codified anywhere other than the living body of sculptors who are passing on the legacy one to another?  Do we teach students how to sculpt or do we simply facilitate their own material performance?  If a master sculptor is responsible for passing on knowledge to …

Tactile Knowledge …

Tactile Knowledge “as opposed to far more explicit knowledge, is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it – and of course when you transfer anything to a computer you write it down – because you encode it”[1].  These ideas are illustrated …

Sculptors must simultaneously imagine and enact …

Sculptors must simultaneously imagine and enact the imaginary in a performance of interactive events that eventually becomes a negotiated object (by iterative design).  The object is somewhere between creative intent and material reality.  Thus, manifesting or materializing the imaginary should not be simply seen as a function of enacting ones creative will on materials.  We …

How do I sculpt something?

How do I sculpt something?  I take a lump of clay and form it in my hands.  My hands send material sensations to my brain and my mind responds with instructions to perform an interaction with the materials in a cyclical loop that could be called the process of ‘making’ something.  When I feel the …

Materializing the Imaginary

The challenge of a material sculptor is to materialize the imaginary.  We must make tangible the images and sensations in our mind.   However, the objects we imagine are often disconnected from the material reality.  In order to materialize our imagination we must learn about and conform to the physical properties of the materials we use …

Making by dominating …

Making by dominating our tools is another misperceived sort of making colonization. We perceive to control our tools and use them, as master to slave, to enact our will.  We do not control the hand tools we use any more than they control our hands because we exert the same forces on one another.  All …

Making

I do not believe that we make anything.  Rather, I think we contribute to the unfolding of a thing.  If we presume that we are an autonomous agents capable of making things, then, we can be prevented from enacting optimal objects because we may ignore the naturally occurring material properties that inform our so called …

Haptics Perspectives from several intersecting domains of knowledge

Introduction In 1964 Marshall McLuhan observed, “first we shape our tools, thereafter they shape us” (1). The medium does not only define the message, as McLuhan postulated, but shapes the academic methodologies used to define experimental results, and this requires introspectional examination. Domain specific knowledge is useful but; it is at the intersection of the …

Creative Statement

I work much like Tesla in that, “when I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements and operate the device in my mind” (Tesla). I believe that humanity can attain a functional symbiotic relationship with machines through immersive, embodied and interactive technologies. Although …

A Critical Review of “Highway of the Atom” by Dr. Peter C. van Wyck

  The book “Highway of the Atom” (Peter van Wyck 2010) produces its own self-referential critique and so it is, deceivingly, easy to review.  The work is a series of personal narratives of “melancholic prose” that “constitutes a particular repower of events” mixed in with theoretical and historical discourse. Dr. van Wyck as “witness” begins …

“Touchable Holography”

“Touchable Holography” [1] is an example of the many virtual tactile environments that are not directly related to ‘Art-Bot’ in that they attempt to simulate tactile interaction and not literally facilitate touch.  Usually these projects focus on the production of some kind of sensorial illusion that makes a user believe they are ‘physically’, however virtually, …

Piezoelectric Sensation (haptics)

Piezoelectric Sensation (haptics) are designed for projects that use piezoelectric actuators to send various tactile stimulation patterns to finger pads [1].  “Experimental results showed that the frequency-displacement relationships were almost the same as the estimation obtained from the mechanical simulation model” [1].  What this means is that sensations can be artificially simulated tricking the tactile …

Vibrotactile Stimulation (haptics)

Vibrotactile Stimulation (haptics) is another important haptic response technology that ‘Art-Bot’ will be using to facilitate a “vibrotactile approach to tactile rendering” [1].  In addition to the resistive forces of the servo motor torque controlled force feedback system, that is primarily responsible for the ‘meta-feeling’ of a material; ‘Art-Bot’ will employ a vibrotactile response that …

The sense of being stared at

I have focused thus far on notions of seeing and interpreting the seen: being seen is the other experience of sight. What is the sensation of being seen? Lacan describes the event as “the sensation of another’s gaze upon oneself” (Ragland-Sullivan 1986), which occurs when I am being watched. “Zeugen” attempts to evoke the sensation …

How Haptic Technology Defines Touch Knowledge

Introduction “Access, agency, authority and authenticity are central issues for the new subject of telepistemology: the study of knowledge acquired at a distance” (p3) (1) Telemanipulation technology used to attempt telepistemology involves the tele-kinetic communication of physical interactions, typically from material to machine to human hand. The mediated experience of touching something from a distance …

Tactile Sculpture in Contemporary Art History

Introduction “Thinking and feeling are contained within the process of making” (p7) (1) Artists and specifically sculptors, have the enormous responsibility of manifesting tangible objects which represent our imaginary. As such, we are at the forefront of negotiating and interacting with the limits of the material world. Over time, sculptors have gone from simple tools, …

Self-reflexivity

I have explored the ideas of seeing, making meaning, and being seen. Together, these ideas form fundamental notions influencing my art practice. The point of intersection uniting these concepts is self-reflexivity. Understanding the essence of ‘reflection’ and the many forms it takes allows me to understand the conscious experience of self-reflexivity. “Zeugen” uses a two-way …

The Brain/Mind Paradigm

The complexity of the mind as a meaning making apparatus cannot be reduced to the functions of the brain alone. The brain is a mass of biological matter that computes information using bioelectrical signals that come from the sensory organs. In contrast, the mind is an interpretative, dynamic and expressive ‘space,’ which currently lacks a …

My Vision

Humanity can attain a seamless and symbiotic relationship with machines through immersive, embodied and interactive technologies. Complete integration with technology has the potential to facilitate the rapid acquisition of new knowledge, as well as new ways of sensing, interacting, expressing and learning. I am particularly interested in building tools that are intuitive and enhance human …

My Research

The core research areas I address in my projects are centered on a notion I call ‘perceptual prosthetics’.  Perceptual prosthetics are immersive media elements (tangible and/or environmental) that help us to overcome our perceptual limitations and expand our connection to the world at large.  The technological mediums are therefore meaningful extensions of the body that …

Physicality of Seeing

In the beginning of my creative investigation into the physicality of seeing, I encountered both historical and contemporary theories about the nature of sight. For any inquiry into vision, the most obvious starting point is the eye. Investigations into human vision have been conducted as far back as Greco-Roman times: “many classical writers (including Euclid …

How do we know what we do not know?

This question is a fundamental ontological and epistemological problem questioning the nature of creativity and our expression in the world.  One way to know what we do not know is to ask.  We can ask others, we can look into history and research the ever expanding record.  Eventually however, we will reach a point where …

Exploring the Mind Using Art

“Art is somewhat like the mind. It is a vehicle out of which from nothing comes so much.” (Burnett 2008-9) The functional similarities between the creative arts and the mind make art an ideal candidate for the study of the mind. Art exists at the point where artifact and meaning coexist. However, one must ask …

On Sculpture

Sculpture for me is not only about space and form. It is about time and space. Sculpture is about taking something, shaping it, and creating an artifact that can be engaged with in the third dimension. I had the pleasure of learning under a great inspiration, Graham Todd at McMaster University, where I learned about …

A beautiful era of art history

In my opinion, an important era of art history was the Renaissance. This period was more than just a “rebirth”. It was an explosion of the human experience where masters of philosophy devised a total picture conception, combining academic endeavors from all fields. The greatest artists were also the greatest scientists of the time, and …