What is a Media Lab? Situated Practices in Media Studies

What is a Media Lab? Situated Practices in Media Studies is a resource created by Darren WrestlerJussi Parka, and Lori Emerson for those interested in discussing both the theoretical and the practical/infrastructural aspects of media lab. From the words of its creators:

Media labs are liminal but increasingly powerful spaces in many contemporary settings. They appear in universities and colleges, wedged uneasily between traditional departments and faculties. They’re also in basements, warehouses, strip malls and squats. They are stable to varying degrees; many have long-term addresses and an itinerant roster of occupants. Some pop up in one location for a few days, then relocate to another. Sometimes they’re even in mobile trucks in the streets, bringing tools and expertise to children in schools and the general public. As clusters of tools and talent streamlined to produce economic value, labs sometime align with the most ruthless of venture capitalists; in other cases, they are free and open for all to use, disdainful of all commercial motivations.

Despite their sudden visibility due to the burgeoning of the digital humanities, media labs have a surprisingly long history. As part of the historical avant-gardes, media arts labs were the sites where the new materials and aesthetics of technical modernity were developed. They often share a common ideology, tied not just to the neoliberal drive to privatize, innovate and disrupt, but to long-standing modernist ideas about creative destruction, quantification and the value of scientificity.

What is a Media Lab?

While offering a critical genealogy of the notion of the media and humanities lab, the project investigates some of the affordances it can offer for the scholarship and research in the 21st century. If you also believe in media lab’s potential to open up new possibilities for thought and action in the present join the discussion at http://whatisamedialab.com/.

Virtual Reality and Immersive Storytelling Artist Residency

In partnership with Raw Finery, a hybrid fashion and technology lab situated in Toronto’s downtown core, Subtle Technologies announces its inaugural artist-in-residency program: VISAR, or the Virtual Reality and Immersive Storytelling Artist Residency. Positioned as a project animator, this 6-month residency will allow an individual media artist to explore the critical potential of virtual reality technologies through the creation of a public art piece that fuses video games, fashion design and wearable technology.

VR Virtual Reality

As virtual reality looks to become the new standard in video game entertainment the experience of immersion promises to also become associated with daily life. Artists have an important role at this point in time to adapt and reframe such visioning technologies for socially and politically-engaged uses—creating alternative realities that disrupt the status quo and offer non-commercial experiences. Scholarship on the value of “ludic technologies”, or technologies for play, has also shed light on the powerful potential of gaming for casual learning and collaboration. With this in mind, the VISAR program asks makers with media backgrounds to consider new modes of narrative and storytelling that prioritize the virtual body, the fluidity of digital space and fashion-as-interface.

Interested applicants are invited to submit a project proposal using the submission guidelines listed below. The successful resident will be provided with access to studio space, financial support for necessary hardware and software, on-site technical resources and creative consultation for the duration of their project, including the exhibition of their finished work.

Application for VISAR closes midnight, October 13th, 2016. More information and submission guidelines available at http://subtletechnologies.com/visar/

Autodesk Pier 9 Artist in Residence

Autodesk Pier 9 Artists in Residence (AIR) program gives artists, makers, and fabricators a chance to work with us in our digital fabrication workshops at Autodesk. These artists explore, create, and document cutting-edge projects, and share them with the DIY community.

The primary program goals are to support the artist and maker communities by producing inspirational content, and connect innovative and creative individuals with our unique tools and resources. Artists in residence create their work locally at Pier 9 and share their process on Instructables.com.

Applications for 2017 are being accepted now. Get additional details and apply at http://www.autodesk.com/artist-in-residence/apply

The ACADIA 2016 Conference Explores Posthuman Frontiers

Acadia 2016 Banner

The ACADIA 2016 Conference, held October 27-29, 2016 at the University of Michigan Taubman College, will foster design work and research from the worlds of practice and academia that lie at the intersection between procedural design, designed environments and autonomous machines. More specifically, this conference will seek to explore recent work within the current trend in computational design to develop and apply quasi-cognitive machines; the integration of software, information, fabrication and sensing to generate mechanisms for interfacing with the physical realm.

Specific topics around big data, sensate systems, and embedded responsiveness will combine interdisciplinary endeavors involving fields such as material science, biology, art, computer graphics, civil engineering, and human-computer interaction.

Acadia 2016 Gallery Exhibition

The ACADIA 2016 exhibition POSTHUMAN FRONTIERS: DATA, DESIGNERS AND COGNITIVE MACHINES will be held at the 3000sf Liberty Research Annex Gallery in downtown Ann Arbor, and will highlight experimental projects and design work in which methods, processes, and techniques have been developed or discovered that illuminate the conference theme.

More information available at http://2016.acadia.org/

The Retune Festival in Berlin Offers a Playground of the Futures

This Fall, from October 6 through 8, the Retune Festival will transform Berlin school building from the past into a playground of the futures. The space will be turned into experimental design studios, workshops, lecture halls, and offline chatrooms.

Exhibitions, talks, and workshops are clustered around four main themes:

Retune 2014 Photo: Thomas Schlorke
Impression from the Retune Festival 2014 Photo: Thomas Schlorke

The Retune Festival explores the way creative entrepreneurs of all kinds get from idea to prototype to serial production. What is needed to bring ideas not just on the streets, but on all the streets in every city?

Sounds interesting? Check out the line-up of participating artists & speakers.

AI Compares Photojournalism with the Art from the Tate Collection

Recognition, winner of IK Prize 2016 for digital innovation, is an artificial intelligence program that compares up-to-the-minute photojournalism with British art from the Tate collection. Over three months from 2 September to 27 November, Recognition will create an ever-expanding virtual gallery: a time capsule of the world represented in diverse types of images, past and present.

Tate Recognition

A display at Tate Britain accompanies the online project offering visitors the chance to interrupt the machine’s selection process. The results of this experiment – to see if an artificial intelligence can learn from the many personal responses humans have when looking at images – will be presented on this site at the end of the project.

The software that powers Recognition incorporates a range of artificial intelligence technologies that simulate how humans see and understand visual images, including: object recognition, facial recognition, composition analysis, and context analysis.

The Recognition gallery is an astounding piece to explore in its entirety. Head at http://recognition.tate.org.uk/gallery

Medialab-Prado Publishes Visualizar’16 Call for Collaborators

Medialab-Prado publishes a call to collaborate in the international visualization projects workshop Visualizar’16 Ciudades abiertas, Open Cities that will be carried out from September 26 to October 5, 2016. Collaborators will participate in the production of the selected projects (and participate in the call for projects as well).

Registration is free and the deadline is one week before the begining of the workshop, September 19. Medialab-Prado offers free lodging to collaborators in youth hostels during the workshop (limited seating, shall on request and by order of registration, until September 26.

Medialab-Prado Visualizar'16

The collaborator is basic in the planning and development of the workshops at Medialab-Prado, thus these are conceived as spaces for collaborative work, knowledge exchange and theoretical and practical training. It is an environment in which there is a horizontal relationship among mentors, developers and collaborators.

According to its field of interest, each collaborator can be part of the development team in more than one of the selected proposals bringing his/her knowledge and ideas to the workgroup and, at the same tieme, learning from the groups and the mentors. However, we suggest that employees focus on a proposal to ensure greater commitment with it during all phases of the workshop.

As it is specified in the rules, the names of the collaborators will appear in the project’s credits. Also, Medialab-Prado will give a document certifying the participation in the workshop to all the participants that request it.

If you are interested, fill the form that you will find at http://medialab-prado.es/article/visualizar16-call-for-collaborators

This Interactive Audio Documentary Lets You Explore Children’s Dreams

RadioEight lives at the intersection of audio documentary and interactive to offer an alternate measure of our condition on the planet: the subconscious dreams of the world’s children. Inspired by the concept of an 8th continent to which all children belong, RadioEight is an interactive soundscape dedicated to the hidden world of dreams.

By exploring the world of subconscious childhood dreams, RadioEight unlocks deep human connections that eliminate the barriers of geography, culture, language, politics, and economic status.

RadioEight Screenshot

The project is centered on the dreams of children 7–13 as a developmental time when children begin to turn their focus away from their family, to the world beyond. The visions of earth’s youngest global citizens provide raw, moving answers toward creating a more emotionally connected humanity.

RadioEight was conceived and created by Katrina Crawford & Mark Bashore of Yonder, and made in collaboration with Belle & Wissell, Co. Original music by Jesse Solomon Clark.

Explore http://radioeight.net/#

Create Interactive Recordings of Any Web Site You Browse with Webrecorder

Webrecorder provides an integrated platform for creating high-fidelity web archives while browsing, sharing, and disseminating archived content. Users may try the service anonymously or login and create a permanent online archive. The project, created by Rhizome, will support multiple backends and will integrate with existing preservation systems.

The use of multi-media, digital, and internet media has rapidly increased since the 1960s, which has called into question the conventional strategies by which society preserves, cares for, and redisplays various artifacts created with or on ephemera media formats. Webrecorder can at least ensure that digital information and user experience remains accessible to the public.

If you are interested in contributing to Webrecorder, or have any general questions, please contact them at support@webrecorder.io

AUDINT Explores the Extremes of Sound Art

AUDINT is a unique project in the field of experimental and sonic arts. Originally formatted in 1945 by three ex-members of the Ghost Army, AUDINT currently consists of Toby Heys, Steve Goodman (Kode9), Souzanna Zamfe and Patrick Doan. From the first AUDINT has been conducting research, rituals, and experiments into the opening of the 3rd ear, a dimension that materializes when sound, ultrasound, and infrasound are simultaneously deployed in a precise schema of sequencing, duration, and amplification.

AUDINT’s animated film Delusions of the Living Dead is a sub-chapter of their Martial Hauntology book, which documents Walter Slepian’s 1949 plan to purloin and photograph Jules Cotard’s notebook; a medical document that holds information pertaining to the process and methods required to seed walking corpse syndrome into a subject’s bed of cognition. Martial Hauntology was released in late 2014 as a limited edition of 256 copies. It links the underground groove of the Large Hadron Collider with the vaults of the Bank of Hell; connects the Dead Record Network with the Phantom Hailer; and traces the evolution of the Wandering Soul Tapes to the viral dynamics of the online spectreware named IREX2.

AUDINT has also developed the Colorcoder, an app programmed to sonically decrypt covert messages composed by Ellsworth Kellyin his 1951 painting Colors for a Large Wall. The information embedded within the artwork relates directlyto Kelly’s service within the Ghost Army during WW2 and more specifically to the sonic deception formulas and techniques they composed during this period.

AUDINT Colorcoder Sonic Decryption App

Explore the project in detail at http://audint.net.

Experiment in a New Kind of Music with WolframTones

When prominent scientist Stephen Wolfram published A New Kind of Science in 2002, it was immediately hailed as a major intellectual landmark. Today the paradigm shift that Wolfram’s work initiated is starting revolutions in a remarkable range of areas of science, technology – and the arts. WolframTones is an experiment in applying Wolfram’s discoveries to the creation of music.


At the core of A New Kind of Science is the idea of exploring a new abstract universe: a “computational universe” of simple programs. In A New Kind of Science, Wolfram shows how remarkably simple programs in his “computational universe” capture the essence of the complexity – and beauty – of many systems in nature.

WolframTones works by taking simple programs from Wolfram’s computational universe, and using music theory and Mathematica algorithms to render them as music. Each program in effect defines a virtual world, with its own special story – and WolframTones captures it as a musical composition.

The basic setup for Wolfram’s cellular automata is very simple. There is a row of cells, each black or white. Then there is a rule that says what color each cell will be, based on the colors of a certain neighborhood of cells on the row above. What pattern one gets depends greatly on the rule one uses – which can be specified by saying what color a cell will be for every possible arrangement of neighboring cells.

WolframTones Pattern

WolframTones supports multiple instruments, as well as percussion. Everything is always derived from a single underlying cellular automaton pattern. But different instruments can be set up to pick off different aspects of the pattern – say to correspond to a melodic line or a bass track. WolframTones also supports a number of algorithms for deriving percussion from cellular automaton patterns.

Generate your tones at http://tones.wolfram.com/

Shapereader Project Uses Forms and Patterns for Storytelling

Shapereader is an experimental approach in graphic storytelling, the first of its kind. Created by Ilan Manouach, it is a repertoire of forms and patterns that constitute an attempt to translate words and meanings into tactile formations. It was designed from scratch with the goal to transpose works of graphic literature to a blind and visually impaired readership, Shapereader advocates for new publishing grounds and challenges visual predominance of graphic storytelling. While it is mainly addressed to people with visual disabilities it can also be experienced by the acquainted regular user. Through circumvention of the visual sensorimotor stimuli, it activates the reader’s repressed tactile-sensory realm and helps foster a new diegetic experience.

Shapereader Ilan Manouach

The first narrative work to use the Shapereader repertoire is Arctic Circle, a 57-page original graphic novel relating the story of two climatologists digging in the North Pole searching for patterns of climatic change inscribed on ice columns.

Six hand-held, laser-engraved communication boards allow the reader to get acquainted with the Shapereader repertoire. They carry the index for 210 different shapes, providing the tactile equivalents for the specific features of the story. They are divided into groups according to their semantic content and function: characterspropssettingsactionsaffections as well as graphic and textual devices forming the well-known toolbox of graphic storytelling craft.

Updates on the project are available from http://www.shapereader.org

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