The SLENZ Update – No 69, April 20, 2009

PERFORMANCE ART

Bridging the  Second Life,

Real Life  divide  …

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Dancing fingers from reality – Butler2 Evelyn (RL: Isabel Valverde) and
Toddles Lightworker (RL: Todd Cochrane) in Second Life.

What are we losing through living more and more encapsulated lives in crowded urban areas, following the consumption driven “modernist-technical” standard of living, becoming disconnected from sensing ourselves, one another and earth’s living-system cycles of which we are and will be always part and dependent on for survival and well-being?

That is the question that Portugals’  Butler2 Evelyn (RL: Isabel Valverde) and Aotearoa-New Zealand’s Toddles Lightworker (RL: Todd Cochrane)  will attempt to answer in SL with the transnational  “Weathering In / Com Tempo: An Intervention towards Participatory Multi-modal Self-organising Inter-corporeal Environments”, in Room E104. Whitireia Community Polytechnic, Wellington, New Zealand, and in Seccond Life, above the SLENZ Project island of Kowhai,  between 10:30 -11:30 am on Friday,  April 24,  New Zealand time.

The event is being staged as part of the  Whitireia learning and teaching conference with the theme of: Engaged Teachers, Engaged Learners: Partnerships for Success. The keynote speaker is Professor Russell Bishop, of Waikato University.

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“We lose and suffer in exchange for communication and knowledge gains by using awesome but at the same time restricted, exclusive, unbalanced, un-integrated technology,” Valverde and  Cochrane said in an abstract on what is basically an integrated, interactive, real world/virtual world performance.

“For example, large parts of our lives are spent sitting still with screen, keyboard and mouse,” they said. “”Due to this extreme stillness we do not have truly an embodied, inclusive attitude where the physicality is expanded, not compartmentalised into less-demanding intellectual activity.

Playful interaction

The pair – Valverde (pictured right), of the Institute for Humane Studies and Intelligent Sciences,  Almada, Portugal, and Cochrane (pictured lower right), of the School of Information Technology, Wellington Institute of Technology ,  Petone, New Zealand – will attempt to provide answers in an” immersive embodied environment” where five invited participants  “will playfully interact with one another physically and virtually as hybrid-embodied entities within intelligent, physical and virtual sites”.

The event, Valverde and Cochrane said,  would “capture motion, location and biometric information through non-invasive clothing and motion capture investigating new modes of human-human and human-environment dialog/sociability, by expanding inter-corporeal interactions through non-intrusive non-restrictive technology, adapted to the participants’ way of moving in space”.

“Performing arts’  knowledge directs the work, providing perspectives for example as in: Postuman Embodiment [1], Mobious Strip [2], rhizome body [3], reversibility as described by Merleau Ponty, and distantiation as coined by Bertolt Brecht,” they said. “Environmental, biometric and meteorological data is captured using well understood techniques, for example, motion capture that uses the AR Toolkit as in [4]. We also investigate pragmatic application of self-organising information systems theory [5] to feature recognition from multi-modal data streams and to the automatic determination of system control.

“Weathering In intervenes using cross-disciplinary practice in performing arts and computing engineering with the goal of more inclusive, integrated and connected human-environment (physical and virtualised) hybrid living systems,” they said.img_0503

Valverde  and Cochrane, previously  staged an Emergent Hybrid Performance Environment for Second Life avatars and video-mediated guests, from Kowhai and a physical site in Lisbon where they offered partipants opportunities for converging their physical and virtual possibilities for creative embodied communication.
“We believe Second Life provides the most inclusive, embodied mode of being with people around the world in a free, networked platform,” they said of that performance. “(This) Real Virtual Games Project is interested in questioning and developing more corporeally inclusive physical interfaces for this type of embodied global network mode of communication.”

Performer/choreographer

Isabel Valverde is a performer, interdisciplinary choreographer and researcher originally from Portugal, with a PhD in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside. Her work was  supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology/PRAXIS XXI (Portugal). Her dissertation is titled “Interfacing Dance and Technology: a theoretical framework for performance in the digital domain”, (publication forthcoming by FCG/FCT). Valverde is continuing her research as a post-doctoral fellow of the EU/FCT, affiliated with the Institute for Humane Studies and Intelligent Sciences, the Visualisation and Intelligent Multimodal Interfaces Group (VIMMI/INESC-ID/IST/UTLisboa), College of Social and Humanities Sciences/UNLisboa, and Lusófona University of Arts and Technologies. She holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from the Inter-Arts Center, San Francisco State University, with a Fulbright/IIE fellowship. Her dance studies include the Licenciatura in Dance from the FMH/UTLisboa, and diploma from the School for New Dance Development/Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, under the ERASMUS Fellowship Program.

Todd Cochrane, a developer with the SLENZ Project, teaches a range of topics in Wellington Institute of Technology’s  Bachelors, Diploma and Cybertechnology programmes including client-side and server-side scripting (ASP JavaScript), Ecommerce Website Design (DB), Human Computer Interaction, Operating Systems, Software Engineering, Software Quality Assurance, Prototyping, Programming Practice (Visual Basic). He is a polyglot programmer, writing software in a number of imperative/procedural languages (C/C++,Delphi, Visual Basic, JavaScript, Java, Flash ActionScript) as well as being able to produce code in functional (RUFL and Hope+C) and declarative languages (Prolog).  His current research is focused by the development and extension of a visual programming language. He ran Human Computer Interaction using Second Life as the development platform last Trimester and is delivering Computer Systems Architecture in Second Life and Real Life synchronously this trimester. He has become proficient at Second Life development, and Second Life to Real Life crossing. He recently presented Cross-worlds art work , also known as Club Temp, at the International Symposium on Electronic Art  in Singapore.

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A stranger on the shore …  part of Isabel Valverde’s beach in the sky
above Kowhai, with a visitor.
[References: 1.Hayles, N. K, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatic, The Univ. of Chicago Press: Chicago and London,(1999); 2. Grosz,E. A.,Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Indiana University Press (1994); 3. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (1987); 4. Sementille, A. C., Lourenço, L. E., Brega, J. R., and Rodello, I. A motion capture system using passive markers. In Proceedings of the 2004 ACM SIGGRAPH international Conference on Virtual Reality Continuum and Its Applications in industry (Singapore, June 16 - 18, 2004). VRCAI ´04. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 440-447 (2004); 5.Haken, H. Information and Self-Organization A Macroscopic Approach to Complex Systems 3rd Edition. Springer Series in Synergetics , Springer Berlin, Germany (2006). Note the abstract was accepted by HCii2009 as a poster]
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