Russell Richards - Senior Lecturer in Media Studies
Collectif Anglais ArtResearch
Digital art work and performance 2006
Group exhibition with Graham Coulter-Smith, Andy Mansfield, Greg Palmer, Russell Richards, Julian Konczak and Maurice Owen
My contributions to this exhibition were two screen based works, Cascader and a KikiT VisuoSonic performance. The KikiT VisuoSonic performance consisted of live improvisation between sonic artists and computer systems outputting visual and sonic responses to sonic input. KikiT is described as a VisuoSonic performance because the sonic artists become, in effect, digital artists working directly with the visuals using their instruments in a manner akin to the way in which a painter would use a brush. The sonic artists interact with and respond directly to the visual output. The interaction between the sonic artists and the visual output alters in real-time; no two performances are the same. The sonic artists currently involved in the project are Maurice Owen, principally a visual artist and also project leader, and Nicolas Batter who is a member of SBBrass. As a digital artist I devised the computational aspect of KikiT in Lingo in Macromedia Director, creating abstract animations of remarkable beauty. For the research, I developed a series of interactive motion graphic programs involving vector, bitmap, photographic and video images. There is a range of commercial applications in the development of visuosonic software that can be used for performance and entertainment by artists/consumers. There is also a research direction currently being pursued concerning the application of KikiT VisuoSonic concepts for children and youths with special educational needs.
‘Users, Interactivity and Generation’
New Media and Society Journal 8(4) 2006
This paper engages with the challenging concept of 'interactivity' and attempts to develop an analytical mode that is of direct pedagogic relevance to academics and students alike. Its argument is predicated upon response to articles in New Media and Society Journal by Sally McMillan and Spiro Kiousis. The article examines the analytical problems resulting from interactivity being defined as a property and as an activity. It asserts that interactivity is a contextualising facility that mediates between environments and content and users. The article analyses the modes of operation for the production of properties of interactivity and usage/production during interactivity. The concept of 'positioning' is offered as a means of moving the debate on from the application of communication models or the practical development of 'features'. The article proposes 'succession mapping' as a methodology that acknowledges the building up of the interactive offer and also the generative capabilities of packages. The concept of the active user engaged in 'user production' i.e. generation is introduced as of value to academics and practitioners. There are also wider social implications for the development of a usable definition of 'interactivity' beyond the screen. The article was cited in a book by Frank Blum 'Digital Interactive Installations' with reference to the notion of the positioning of the user. Feedback on the article has been favourable with a number of academics citations using the article to highlight assessment methods relating to user interactivity motivation.
‘The Covertor as a Live Performance’
for e-Performance and Plugins: A Mediatised Performance Conference, New South Wales University, Australia 2005
Digital Art Installation
Research into mediatised performance is developed through conferences, related BA and MA courses, and in dedicated academic journals. In the on-screen version of Covertor the user performs everyday tasks in a particular programme. Meanwhile a 'covert' application is tracking the mouse ('mouse-tracking') and 'coverts' these actions into a digital art form. These forms can be viewed/screen-grabbed/printed. Through discussions with HIDRAZONE.COM team members I decided to develop a version of Covertor as a performance piece. Instead of mouse-tracking 'coverting' into artworks it is the movement by performance/installation audience/visitors that provides the stimulus for the creation of the artworks they then view. Positive feedback is enabled. This is an example of an artistic form of 'user-generated content'. Both versions were presented at the conference. The Covertor concept was developed for HIDRAZONE.COM Digital Art website, a HEFCE Capability Funding Initiative that supports Art and Design research at Southampton Solent University. Research in this area has the potential to interface with architecture by providing the technical support that will enable the 'smart buildings' of the future to be realised. The application of the concept of 'user-generated content' to digital art can provide fruitful research opportunities in this area.
‘An Aesthetic or Anaesthetic: Developing a Digital Aesthetics of Production’
Journal of Media Practice 5(3) 2005
The concept of 'digital aesthetics' is of increasing pedagogic significance both in academic and practitioner circles. The issues relating dynamic and editable content are challenging both for students and academics alike. This paper critiques different modes of analysis in the field. It argues that there is a desperate need to devise and promote student/staff training in technological/cultural aesthetics that liberate rather simply anaesthetise. As interactive packages develop in the future there will be a need for criticism not only of the content they may contain but also their ability to enable production of content. Analytical tools will be needed in the creation of such generative packages. The motivation for this approach is to help to create methodologies that are challenging, generative and actionable, in order to confront the emerging opportunities for the development of a digital aesthetics of production. The paper has been cited for its stance on the promotion of digital aesthetics.