NODEM 2014: Nordic Digital Excellence in Museums Conference

In December 2014, I attended the NODEM 2014 conference in Warsaw, Poland to present a project I have been collaborating on with US and Swedish researchers at the Swedish Naval Museum (Marinmuseum) in Karlskrona. Focused on creating augmented reality panoramas for the Neptun Submarine exhibition, the project also engages us in a number of research questions about digitally-enhanced museum spaces and heritage sites. The poster (below) has more info about the project, including our basic goals and more information about my collaborators. (Or you can download a pdf version of the poster : Poster-NODEM)

Neptun Project Poster

Neptun Project Poster

The conference itself was centred on the topic of “Engaging Spaces: Interpretation, Design, and Digital Strategies” and so the participants presented a lot of very interesting work responding to the new ways that cultural heritage and museums can use digital technologies to re-imagine, redesign, and reflect on: methods for enhancing user-expereriences beyond traditional exhibition practices; developing new digital archiving and preservation practices; and exploring issues about authority and authenticity with collaborative and participatory practices that use non-experts as integral aspects of design and content production for digital heritage objects.

Be Democracy Exhibition Still

The “sphere of communication” comprised of twitter messages at the centre of the BeDemocracy exhibition, Nobel Peace Center, Norway.

I was particularly interested in a  presentation of an exhibition called “BeDemocracy” at the Nobel Peace Center in Norway that used social media both as a content-generator “outside” the exhibition space, as well as a method to influence the design of the exhibition itself and the participation of its visitors. Designed by Expology, the exhibition explored how social media can influence and engage debates about democracy through personalised digital self-expression (via twitter, and blogging for example). The exhibition encouraged an online debate and then included the messages and online content as part of the display encased within a global sphere at the exhibition center. Visitors could enter the sphere, read the messages and then, via use of Kinect, a gesture-recognition software, “like” messages using a thumbs-up hand motion that recorded their votes. I loved the iterative design principles that kept the exhibition dynamic and encouraged thoughtful, social, and physicalised participation about serious topics. I have written elsewhere, in Digital Humanities Quarterly, for example, about how social media (or ME-dia) can be used for exactly these kinds of embodied, personal cultural expressions.

Pipe Cleaner Message Gallery, BeDemocracy Exhibition, Nobel Peace centre, Norway

Pipe Cleaner Message Gallery, BeDemocracy Exhibition, Nobel Peace Center, Norway

The playful use of more “old-school” methods that allowed visitors to leave “pipe-cleaner messages” (where the materials were bent and formed to make shapes and words) was a reminder of the way that technologically produced interaction, can exist alongside other innovative more material-making and expression. It was an evocative and simple mode to show “process” and tactile responsiveness in other mediated ways. According to the presenter at NODEM, visitors would spend a long time in the gallery after the exhibition to “craft” their hand-made messages. I love the results!

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Designing Digital Heritage: A Seminar for Network Building

neptun submarine

A technician inside the torpedo tube of the Neptun Submarine (Marinmuseum, Karlskrona). I am currently working with collaborators to create an Augmented Reality experience for visitors inside the submarine to enhance their exhibition experience. But we have other ways to gain entry… (photo credit: Erling Klintefors, Marinmuseum)

I recently received funding (with my colleague Lupita Alvarez) from my university (The University of Skövde) to help establish an International network for educational programs and research about cultural heritage and game technologies. Increasingly digital technologies are incorporated within museums and cultural heritage sites to enhance visitor experiences beyond traditional exhibition design. Our goal is to explore ways that we can build resources and explore interdisciplinary pedagogical strategies and support avenues for research, from undergraduate education through senior research projects, to critically engage in the development of digitally-enhanced cultural heritage experiences.

Digital Heritage Seminar Poster

Seminar Poster

To this end, we begin in the fall 2014 with a seminar called “Designing Digital Heritage” hosted by my university and organised by Lupita and I. We have invited professionals in a variety of related fields who will come together to consider how we can strategically align existing curricula at our institutions, find venues for exploration, and develop methods and modes, tools and technologies, and user-experiences to enrich our connections to history and culture.  The aim of this seminar is to provide a first-stage platform for developing an network comprised of cultural heritage and museum specialists, curators, exhibition designers, technology application designers, digital media and game design researchers, and others in related culture media industries to explore opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. It’s an exciting line-up, with keynote speaker Prof. Jay David Bolter from Georgia Institute of Technology and others from academia and industry, and I look forward to presentations and discussions and brainstorming workshops. More information is available on the seminar website and more activities will be forthcoming. (Download seminar poster as a pdf: Digital Heritage Seminar Poster)

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Back to (new) School!

Univ LogoI am excited to announce my new affiliation as a Biträdande Professor in Media Arts, Aesthetics, and Narration at the University of Skövde. After nearly ten years working within digital culture at Blekinge Tekniska Högskola, it was certainly time for a change. I have found a new platform to extend my interests in emerging digital culture and media forms by focusing more precisely on computer game development and innovation, and the related artistic and expressive means by which they engage our material culture. To that end I have joined the School of Informatics and the Media, Technology and Culture Research Group (MTEC). I will be teaching within undergraduate and graduate courses focused on game narratives, image analysis, digital aesthetics, and media theory and production. My main focus in the immediate future will be on digital cultural heritage and the ways in which game technologies, tactile media, and strategies of playful engagement and storytelling can enhance user experience.

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The Art Line Catalogue: A Baltic Collaboration is now available!

baltic sea

The Baltic Sea (catalogue still)

The Art Line Catalogue: A Baltic Collaboration collects together a series of essays from artists, researchers, and culture workers to document the scope of the 3 ½ year-long EU project focussed on innovative art cooperation in the Southern Baltic region. And it is beautiful! It is available in print, in a pdf version, and also in a lovely digitally-rendered version that encapsulates the spirit of water and flow between the voices and materials of our Baltic adventure. Looking back over the projects, it is clear to see why Art Line was selected by The European Commission as a flagship project and why it is now a part of the Action Plan for the Baltic Sea Strategy. It’s hard to believe so much was accomplished by so many in such a relatively short time. And it’s astounding to see the level of talent among the artists, curators, researchers, and others who worked in the various projects. As one of our contributors, Chris Torch from Intercult writes, “If you are in the least interested in contemporary art in the context of public space, digital media, storytelling and/or new technology, this is for you! “ I also have contributed 2 essays to the volume, focused on developing a sustainable “digital art platform” and on the Telling the Baltic project, where I served as a project coordinator, contributer, and researcher. Visit the Art Line Catalogue Website to access the catalogue in its various iterations: either via map, gallery, and/or downloadable full pdf. Print copies may be available on request.

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Ahoy! Remaking Moby-Dick is now in print!

Book cover

The Book Cover: itself a remaking submission

After our screening of the video submissions for the Remaking Moby-Dick project, Trish Harris (project curator) and I continued to accept more literary submissions from which we made a selection and collected together in a print volume, with QR-code links to other video and audio remakings. We even included contributions from more playful non-human poetry generators. It’s a truly inspiring collection of reflections with Melville’s Moby-Dick as an inspirational muse, and the breadth and talent of the contributors is astounding; from authors with multiple books of poetry and fiction, to academics with a love of media and literature, to musicians, photographers and fine artists, they all came aboard and made our project an enormous success. You can view the remaking blog for a list of contributors and links to find the full text, available online via Lulu and Amazon. Remaking Moby-Dick was published jointly by Art Line and the Pea River Journal.

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Festive Festival Festivities

Dance Performance: "White"

Dance Performance: “White”

The Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival (or #mixitupfest) in Karlskrona on May 24-26 for Art Line was a wonderful and successful (and exhausting for me) three days of installations, performances, seminar discussions, and, of course, our 24 hour Marathon Reading of Moby-Dick, in person and online around the world. I could not have hoped for a more successful event, and it was wonderful to see how many turned out for the activities and participated in the festival. I am grateful to all for the creativity and energy and the innovative ways in which we able to consider the multi-layered dimensions of contemporary digital art and media. The activities are summarized in more depth on the Art Line website.

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The Symphony: a remaking

Here is another of my MoMoby Productions videos for the Remaking Moby-Dick Project  for “Chapter 132: The Symphony”  in Moby-Dick. It is sung by Astrid Selling  and Kristin Borgehed, from Folk Practice Academy in Ronneby, Sweden. I have been working with both of them for another research project based on Baltic stories, and they seemed like the perfect “chorus” to reimagine the music of the sea drawn from the women who wait for others to return, or who just celebrate their own togetherness.

The images come from a tapestry I documented and remixed at the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður, Iceland for another project when I visited there during a research residency in February 2013. The tapestry depicts Icelandic “herring girls” hard at work in brutal manual labor (artistically rendered and contrasted in much softer handicraft form, which I loved) combined with depictions of them in “stillness,” backs turned to us, waiting for the ships to come in. Do they wait for fish, men, or just more money to keep them financially independent? They keep their secrets.

 

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Queequeg Love (remade)

As many who know me are aware, Queequeg is one of my favourite characters in Melville’s Moby-Dick. The tattooed Polynesian cannibal harpoons my heart with his insights on “Pagans” and “Christians” alike, and he pulls me through the text, hooked and snagged, each and every time I find him. As a difficult character to process against the backdop of post-colonial insights, he challenges me to unravel Melville’s ironic twists but ultimately he compels me to see him as a core site for embodied remaking of his own time and histories. It’s just too easy to write him off as noble-savage caricature. For me, it’s only fitting then that he is the subject of one of my Moby re-makings for our Remaking Moby-Dick Project, and so I thought I’d share a short video remake of mine for Chapter 12: Biographical, along with my text that inspired it. It’s here in Chapter 12 where we first learn of Queequeg’s past (and future) as a (not-yet) Cannibal King, and it, of course, includes the infamous quote about his island homeland Kokovoko: “It’s not down in any map; true places never are.” (Karlskrona, or Kokovoko, you decide.) Below is my ode (in text and video) to Queequeg: “Thus, then, in our heart’s honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg–a cosy, loving pair.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4vPCtqBgP0 Cannibal Kisses (by MoMoby) The best thing about cannibals is their breath when you kiss them, and their tongues, of course. Too soft, somehow, flicking, flesh to flesh. And trusting them to hold back toothy desire, to dam up blood and cauldron boil behind the earthy air that puffs inside your mouth and shivers downward rippling waters from Polynesia. Warm coconut milk, dripping, white, white as whales.

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#mixitupfest news

artline_digfest_posterAs a researcher in Digital Culture with a particular interest in mixed reality (MR) performance, that is the integration of physical and mediated spaces that engage/support/create active and dynamic sites and interfaces between them, I am very pleased to be organizing a festival in May 2013 to explore the theme in more depth. The Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival (or#MIXITUPFEST) is a result of my involvement in the Digital Art Platform Initiative in Art Line which intends to research innovation in art and media, with a particular focus (for me) on emergent media forms and types with performative dimensions. Interactive installations, hybrid live and mediated performances, augmented reality (AR) tools and experiences, as well as  social and  locative media are just some of the ways in which one can study the increasingly (e)merged contexts within contemporary media culture. As media types and forms entangle within emerging media outlets, “lived” human experiences, and other phenomena, understanding the boundaries and aesthetics and expressive properties of these  assemblages and formulations is critical. Our festival will explore some of these questions in practical and theoretical ways though a one-day seminar and workshop on AR/MR, interactive installations, hybrid live and media performances, a collaborative reading of Melville’s Moby Dick (The Moby Reading Marathon) held live and online with participants from around the world, and demonstrations and discussions of locative, social, and media interventions in public spaces. A public screening of the Remaking Moby-Dick Project video will also be included at the Blekinge Museum for the festival. More about the festival is available on the Art Line website, as well as on the ReMaking Moby and Moby Marathon Reading blogs. I’m honoured and excited to be coordinating this exciting line-up of artists and researchers, and also happy to showcase some of my own recent projects. #MIXITUPFEST ftw!

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Ice(land), Ice(land), Baby!

So in January and February I am in away in Iceland on a two-month research residency working on a number of creative projects, finishing some (I hope) and starting some (for sure) and in development on more (no doubt). In January I am in residence at Gullkistan in Laugarvatn in Southern Iceland, on a sheep and horse farm next to a geothermal lake, and in February I am at Listhús in Ólafsfjörður, a herring village in the northeast of Iceland located at the mouth of the fjord Eyjafjörður. It’s an amazing opportunity to continue with work that draws inspiration from landscapes as a form of affective digital storytelling. Although the goal is to work on a number of projects, many Art Line related or inspired, I am also taking time to finish an article on augmented reality exploring the nature of “place,” “materialities,” and “reading differently” in the context of the “(Re-)Mapping Moby” project. It’s for a special issue of Convergence focussed on “Cultural Expression in Augmented & Mixed Reality” and co-edited by my colleagues Jay D. Bolter and Maria Engberg. I will be working from a distance with collaborators to finish a video installation version of the “(s)AND” project which will be shown as part of the Telling the Baltic exhibition in Rostock Germany (Feb-March 2013) and continuing on to Kaliningrad (April 2013).  Although we had hoped to work on an augmented reality version of the work for Rostock, we will save that for the “Mixing Realities Digital Performance Festival” to be held in Kalrksrona in May 2013, also as part of the Art Line project. (Another post will follow about the festival with more details.) The festival will include a variety of scholars and artists working across media in installations, exhibitions, performances, and seminars. I am also directing the festival, and so I have many hats to don, wonderous hats, fascinators even, if ever there were a more apt definition of the word. (Another post will follow about the festival with more details.)

One of the new projects I’m working on is a project called “iSLAND” which will be exhibited in the Marinmueum (Swedish Naval Museum) in Karlskrona in fall 2013. It’s another landscape-based work that works to forge connections between Iceland and Karlskrona through expressions of isolation, intimacy, and bridging watery-distance. I’ve included a full description below and a slideshow of just a few images (of the hundreds I’ve captured so) that have already begun to inspire me. This is a mystical magical place, where you are likely to encounter a rainbow, a geyser, a waterfall, a herd of horses in the yard, and a hot-pink sunset, all in the same day. iLike.

iSLAND: 

an experiment in intimate screens and touchable narratives

Project Leader: Lissa Holloway-Attaway

In this collaborative project, we are exploring alternative methods for digital storytelling via the use of the iPad. The goal is to make and tell a fictional story based on identities found in distant histories and landscapes surrounded and connected by water, ships, submarines, and submersibles. The story will be an artistic historical reflection on islands and sea cultures, in particular on Karlskrona and Iceland.

The iPad will be used both as a production tool and as an interface for displaying the story content. The touch screen capabilities of the iPad, as well as the “personal” nature of the hand-held screen is a key component in our research. The iPad touch screen provides “up-close and intimate connections” between the producer and the viewer/user and in our method of revealing the story, we will incorporate these elements. For our production methods, we will use the built-in iPad camera in a number of ways:  still photos, video, and augmented reality panoramas, for example. Also, we will use iPad applications for “filmmaking,” audio production, and artistic expression (particularly those developed to engage and explore touch and sensory input on iPad screens).

The project title “ iSLAND” suggests both the device used to produce and exhibit the project (an iPad) and references the content and the locations for the storytelling. This will be a personal (fictional) story of identity-making set in the converged landscapes of Iceland and Karlskrona, Sweden. In Swedish, “Iceland” is translated as “Island,” which in English means a land-mass surrounded by water. Both Iceland and Karlskrona are deeply connected to their physical nature of being islands. For Iceland, a remote island country on the border of the Northern Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, this suggests both isolation and uniqueness in its culture, people, and heritage. For Karlskrona, a small city comprised of more than 30 islands in the Baltic archipelago, this suggests a kind of scattering of identities over land and sea. The “i” then in our project title also hints at the personal identities an island can contain, as well as on human individuality and uniqueness. Drawing on old histories of sea culture and sea crossings (above the sea in ships, and under it in submarines), we will try to cross the waters and find cultural and historical connections.

The story will be revealed in a series of panoramic images (still images, video, augmented reality), audio expressions, (remixed texts, original poetry, music, and ambient landscape recordings), and text and video files. The content will use a mixture of languages (English, Swedish, Icelandic, German, Polish, and maybe more). The story will be accessed on an iPad where the user may select a series of clips, texts, and other media to  “touch” together the story. In the use of  augmented reality panoramas in particular, the user also will be required to hold, move, and physically interact with the screen in ways that highlight how contemporary digital media has moved beyond story-telling on the traditional page, computer monitor, or film screen.

This project is partially funded by Art Line, an EU project exploring digital art innovation in the Southern Baltic region. It will be developed in part during a two month research  artist residency by the project leader (Lissa Holloway-Attaway) in Iceland in January and February 2013. Following the residency, other collaborators in Sweden will work together to create the story and technology. The project will be exhibited in the Swedish National Naval Museum (Marinmuseum) in Karlskrona in Fall 2013.

Iceland Landscapes…

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