« The Technology Experience | Main | Mobile Culture-Scratching »

July 31, 2004

Sensing Ubiquitous Computing

Chris Salter's current work presented at the Subtle Technologies Symposium, University of Toronto, Canada, reminds me that we become savvy to knowing that at the ATM, on the roadways and sidewalks, in shops, in elevators, we are being recorded, monitored. We have grown accustomed to speaking publicly in everyday distributed conversations that are publicly private. Yet we ride the subways not seeing each other, cultivating not looking.

Are we so comfortable with the pervasive camera that we would automatically turn away if we didn't wish to have a particular action captured? Can we maintain that awareness in a invisibly sensing environment? How does coming to live comfortably with this change us? Are we aware, or is it just our environment that's aware?

The Edges of Experience-Suspension/Threshold: Sentient Space and Inhabitant-Environment Interaction in the Realm of Ubiquitous Computing by Chris Salter:

"Much recent theorizing concerning bodily extension through technology has largely seen the physical body as a site for machinic intervention. Through prosthetic devices, mechanical, electrical or (more recently), computational implants, theorists have speculated on the blurring of traditional notions of identity as the physical body is mutated, intensified or transformed by technological instruments. Yet, increasingly through ubiquitous/pervasive/ ambient computing paradigms and wireless sensing, artifacts, objects and physical space itself are also being charged with properties traditionally associated with living bodies: tactility, "hapticity" and "skin," sentience, "awareness," and memory. The trajectory towards context-aware computing environments and ambient/responsive media spaces is resulting in two markedly important shifts: a move away from the accepted model of human-computer interaction towards one of environment-inhabitant interaction and an overall rethinking of the cyborg paradigm.

While ubiquitous/ambient/pervasive computing is viewed as the future, the socio-technical repercussions of technologies are rarely focused on. What constitutes a body when space itself becomes "aware" and sentient? What happens to our notions of identity and embodiment when we interact with digital systems; with what Bruno Latour calls "non-human" systems? Who is the subject and who is the object of such interactions or do such traditional notions of fixed identity no longer suffice in computationally-augmented physical environments?

This presentation will concentrate on these issues by focusing on a large scale performance/installation/research project (working title Suspension/Threshold) currently in development. Focusing on the theme of thresholds or bardo (in between) states, the viewers/audience physically move through three different media spaces over the course of a single evening: (1), time-based audio/visual composition, (2) performance for single actor inside a ubiquitous/ambient computing environment driven by a complex wireless sensor network and, (3) responsive environment that lies barely on the threshold of human perception and is interacted with through the aggregate breathing patterns of the collective audience/participants.

Suspension/Threshold both challenges standard notions of body, subject, object, performer and audience as well as poses serious issues for the technical and experiential design of such pervasive or ambient computational spaces within the context of the stage; a stage inhabited by performers and audience members alike."
Also with Sponge.

Posted by michelle at July 31, 2004 03:09 PM