Archive for November, 2010

Stanza making things that occupy space.

November 30th, 2010

Much if not most of his work over the last twenty five years has been concerned with the city and with real-time technologies of surveillance and information and has often involved using and even making electronic devices.  In 2009 he did a residency at Lanternhouse in Cumbria,  near to the Lake District,  in which he applied some of the same techniques as he has used in relation to city life to more rural contexts. Yet this bucolic interlude was an exception to the normal location of his artistic practice.

Yet I would like to claim that Stanza presents an exemplary form of art as craft, in the sense that he takes the materials of our current technologised culture and materially engages with their possibilities in order to reflect upon what it means to be living in that culture. What is particularly interesting about Stanza’s work is that he understands how to use in creative and novel ways a whole range of tools and technologies, which, along with his prodigious rate of production, means that his output is a kind of map of shifting technological realities and possibilities. He groups many of his artworks over the last twenty five years under the rubric The Emergent City Projects.

stanza_music-_performance

Image: Stanza Music Performance with touchscreens: 2004

Stanza artwork above 2004

In the mid-1980s he was making music videos about ‘cities, networks and urban situations’ using ‘VJ decks and experimental TV techniques’.  In 1989 he started a series of monochrome paintings of cityscapes, based on his own photographs, entitled Control… In 1997 he started Central City…….

In a situation where the virtual realm becomes more and more the place where we, in the so-called developed world at least, work and socialise, the material, lived environment of the city becomes a locus of greater authenticity, much as the rural landscape did during the period of industrialisation. Yet, much as representations of the countryside in the 19th century were often made with much more awareness of the social and ecological issues than we now imagine,

Stanza’s work does not romanticise the city. He portrays it as a complex, informational space, networked by different complex systems, some visible and some invisible. He also makes the work in the most direct sense; he is a maker, a craftsperson, who knows how to program, how to use live video feed, and how to build robots, and sensing devices.

Above all he knows how to use and to work with the technologies of real-time computing and visualisation that have become an increasingly important part of our technologised culture.

To a certain extent Stanza’s practice and that of others like him, embodies the idea of ‘immaterial labour’ and the ‘social worker’ as discussed by, among others, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt.

In the context of a capitalism increasingly dominated by information technology Hardt and Negri distinguish between two forms of the ‘immaterial labor of analytical and symbolic tasks’, on one hand ‘routine symbolic tasks’, and ‘creative and intelligent manipulation’ on the other (293). They claim that, inasmuch as such labour necessarily involves cooperation prior to its subsumption by capital, it seems to ‘provide the potential for a kind of spontaneous and elementary communism’ (294). Hardt and Negri have been widely criticised for the naivety of this statement. What might be claimed is that immaterial labour does offer a new model of craft production as opposed to the dehumanising mass production of industrial capitalism.It seems to me that the work of Stanza offers us a model of not just an artistic but also an ethical engagement with technology, at a time when such a thing is, I believe, increasingly needed. His work does not comment on, for example, surveillance technologies or sensing technologies, or other public manifestations, in a political or polemic manner. Rather it engages in what they might be for, how they might be used, in ways that explore their meaning and potential beyond the obvious kinds of use. As such he works against the cool aesthetic of much work made with such technologies.

By contrast with the reticent of such stuff, Stanza produces an abundance of vivid, complex, often baroque work that is unashamedly aesthetic in the sense of being concerned with the sensually beautiful. In this he is like Ruskin’s gothic builder, whose love of variety and for beauty for its own sake was, for Ruskin, evidence of his freedom, as compared to the ‘enslaved’ worker, endeavouring to produce regular perfection. The modern equivalent to such an enslaved worker might be an artist committed to a conceptual programme of work as much as it might be a computer programmer endeavouring to find the most economical and ‘elegant’ solution to a logical problem. That said Richard Sennett’s book on The Craftsman explicitly claims that programming can be a craft and offers the example of Linux programmers.

stanza artist

Image: Detail from live CCTV software system by Stanza 2005.

Stanza artwork above 2005

The difference between Stanza and the Gothic craftsman discussed by Ruskin is that the latter works spatially, making things that occupy space and endure, unchanged over time.

Stanza works in time, in the sense that he manipulates real-time and time-based  technologies such as CCTV cameras.  He does not so much ‘sculpt time’ as Andrei Tarkovski described the process of film making, as ‘craft time’. In the context of a culture in which time has increasingly become a commodity, this crafting of time takes on a more pressing and even political dimension.

Charlie Gere

Head of Department

Institute for Cultural Research

Stanza Media Facade. Responsive Architecture.

November 30th, 2010

This proposal has won the Nova Folkets Hus facade international juried competition and is now in development.

This AOF Nova facade utilizes, electronic art, new digital media, interactive technology, dynamic real time solutions, and networked space to create responsive architecture that reflects the emotional real time state of the city of Trondheim by UK artist Stanza.

stanza_jtrondeima4_mockup3s

Stanza Media Facade 2010. Data from across the city.

Stanza artwork.

Environmental data is collected across the urban and environment infrastructure to make the artwork; using custom made sensors in the building and around the city. (30 custom environmental sensors units measure, light, noise, sound, humidity, and temperature). This data is turned into a online real time visualization of the space. The sensors interpret the micro-data of the interactive city. The output from the sensors display the real time environmental and emotional state of the city online in real time and the information will be used on the façade and online interface to control it.

My environmental sensors are scattered all over the building and city; this means I am literally painting with live data.

This work opens up a discourse about networks and surveillance technologies. The ownership and interrogation of public domain space is opened out where anyone can view all the data in these networks. This is used by me to make artworks but it is of equal interest to urban designers, city planners, and architects. The main point is to question the social political fabric of the landscape around us.

This work aim to reclaim the city which is remade as a real time virtualised space belonging to all.

http://www.stanza.co.uk/facade/concepts.html

Stanza Open Source. The primary creative software is DNA.

November 30th, 2010

Software seems to need hardware to run or to interpret the machine code.  Software interprets  the  zeros  and  ones of  the machine to represent  these numbers  in some form, into some  system  or as a language that one create an operating system with.

The machine, the zeros and ones, the operating system and the software itself are not  creative  entities; the creative entity that allows these  possibilities is  us. Software isn’t creative is us who are creative.

Our creative software runs on a different operating  system it  isn’t the zeros and ones of binary  but the ACTG  of  DNA. The human operating system and some part of the gene pool is what allows the possibility of creative software.

Stanza Artwork

Stanza Artwork.

Here is my  DNA which  plays  for 104  years  at  one letter  a  second.  This is a visualisation or rather  a  visual representation  of  my creative software. It is open source so if you want to clone me.

code made from code made from blood represented by code.

http://www.stanza.co.uk/dnaweb/index.html

The work represents my dna and each letter or base code appears on the screen for one second. The piece is cycling through all 3.3 billion letters of my dna code. At one second per letter, it will take more than one hundred and four years. The piece of work is time based and to make a note of the complete open source of my dna get a pencil and paper and start writing.

New metaphors relevant to the experience of the city.

November 30th, 2010

Various types of data can be re-imagined within the context of city space and the environment.

stanzauu-077-copy

Image: Stanza Video Still 1986. Artitextures.

The patterns we make, the forces we weave, are all being networked into retrievable data structures that can be re-imagined and sourced for information. These patterns all disclose new ways of seeing the world.

The city also has millions of CCTV. In essence the city is the biggest TV station in existence. Millions of hours worth of data are recorded every day by these cameras on city TV. One can take the sounds and images off live web streams and re-represent them thus creating new interpretations of the city in the process. The increase of technology infrastructure in the daily existence of a city means that technology will, more than ever be everywhere in our environment.

Mobile data mining will be part of the fabric of the landscape. We will be carrying this data in pods, phones and IDS cards. Everything is or will be tracked. CCTV, car sensors, tracking inside our phones and id card movement tracking in the guise of anti- terror activity.

stanza_cctvr

Image: Stanza Robotic CCTV sculpture 2007.

Stanza sculpture of robotic arms with CCTV copyright 2007

The City Experience.

November 30th, 2010

The City Experience.

stanza_st2

The city experience is a web of connected networks and multi layered threaded paths that condition us to the emotional state of the city space. In essence, the city fabric is a giant multi user multi data sphere. To take part you really have to put something back in, that’s like life. In this case, to take part you have to input data so others ‘may’ see the output of the data response.

The city has a history of stories relative to time and place, stories from the street. Love stories personal and extreme, crime stories, stories that are small or that can affect global parameters. All of these spheres can be represented by media and therefore by data within the digital realm and becomes a data source so powerful so interwoven that its scale can only be imagined as metaphor. The size and scope of such an archive, of such rich mediated data experience would support many projects. As such it can be interpreted as history via one sort of interface or as a game via another sort of interface. A possible objective is to ‘mediate’ data into an artwork. With this perspective there are many unimagined threads of data and connections that describe our world that can be explored within which we can create artistic interpretations.

CCTV systems are everywhere in the public domain. We are all actors, bit part actors, in a giant movie called life. Except we cannot watch, it is not on public display and the results are monitored, filtered and distributed without our permission. The city also has millions of CCTV. In essence the city is the biggest TV station in existence. Millions of hours worth of data are recorded every day by these cameras on city TV. One can take the sounds and images off live web streams and re-represent them thus creating new interpretations of the city in the process. Using data from CCTV, you can bring the outside inside. Selected feeds are collected from around the world in real time. These real time images are fed into my software systems where a series of specialized channels rework these images. The channels are always on, and always changing, a constant view of the world changing and evolving around the clock. This uses specially created software and technology to randomly engage the cameras.

The increase of technology infrastructure in the daily existence of a city means that technology will, more than ever be everywhere in our environment. Everything is or will be tracked.