Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Project 3 - Let's drive to Giverny for the weekend

This weekend I’m planning on setting out early and driving the near 400 miles to Giverny northern France, where in 1890 Monet set about creating his garden.
There is the subtle visual link between the work I’ve been producing in relation to the impressionist art movement of which Monet led the way, but there is an interesting juxtaposition in the mentality behind the feel and thinking behind his work, and the more scientific element to my methods.
One of the main reasons for choosing The garden at Giverny as my location is that Monet spent years trying to tame nature, to construct a perfect balance of colour, size and composition of the natural world.
Many say he achieved this.

Project 3 - Tumblr

I've been wanting to try out Tumblr for nearly a year now, and i wanted to see what it was all about /  whether it was a viable tool for a project idea i have for my students next year.

Anyway, here's a link to my Tumblr site that i've created for Project 3.


I will still be updating this site, but this new one allows me to post remotely far easier than Blogger does, and as i've got a very hectic summer ahead i'm going to be away from my desk a fair bit.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Project 3 - Working Title

A question of stability and balance

Alvin Lucier - I Am Sitting in a Room

Project 3 - Feedback Theory and Concept


A control system has input from an external signal source and output to an external load; this defines a natural sense (or direction) or path of propagation of signal; the feedforward sense or path describes the signal propagation from input to output; feedback describes signal propagation in the reverse sense. When a sample of the output of the system is fed back, in the reverse sense, by a distinct feedback path into the interior of the system, to contribute to the input of one of its internal feedforward components, especially an active device or a substance that is consumed in an irreversible reaction, it is called the "feedback". The propagation of the signal around the feedback loop takes a finite time because it is causal.
Howard Odum, reduced the bewildering complexities of nature, to cybernetic networks. The ecosystems were drawn out as electrical circuits, with feedback loops that showed how energy flowed around the system through animals and plants. Odum even built real electrical circuits to represent the environments and he used them to adjust the flow of energy in the system. All this was to aid the system in returning to an equilibrium, to a stable functioning. His brother Eugene in his book, Fundamentals of Ecology, betrayed the whole planet as a network of interlinked ecosystems. To make their theories work they distorted science, and based their theories on a metaphor that the ecosystem worked like a machine. They simplified their data to an extraordinary degree, they took the complexity and the variability of the natural world and they paired it down to the equations and circuits they had drawn. As they did this, it stopped being a metaphor and became what seemed to be a scientific description of reality. 
What they were really doing, was creating a machine like fantasy of stability, driven by the desire for prestige, biological reality disappeared. Organisms were expected to act mechanically in predictable ways, animals became robots.
The balance of the natural world, is based on the ideas of ancient western mythology and religion, combined with the knowledge of the machine age. Because we have proven that there can be controlled balance within the mechanical world, the same must be true of the natural world. There is an element of fear of the unknown within this mentality, and mans desire to not only understand, but to be able to control.


I plan to explore these ideas of feedback loops within the natural system, playing with devises both visual and audio, creating a display that highlights the beauty of this phenomena, but also by its very nature, depict the artificial realisation of it as a concept. 
Audience reaction to my creations so far have been a combination of aesthetic appreciation, mixed with uncomfortable unease. I think this is rather interesting, we can find pleasure in looking at these natural sights, but through the means in which they have been distorted, stabalised, we are left questioning their true existence as a natural form. 
I think the key factors to be developed are those concerning these responses, and the form in which these visuals are created and presented. If I am to be successful in making an observation / comment on the concepts of the feedback loop within a controlled ecosystem I must ensure that the methods I use to form these visuals are true to the cause. Only natural movement, data sourced from nature can be used to create the final work.
In regards to exhibition, perhaps a degree of interaction would allow greater exploration into the theories of control. What would the user do when given control? Is it possible to give control? Could their interaction simply add an extra level of feedback that is then fed back through the system creating further distortion of the truth?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Jay Forrester

System Theorist

The whole world, not just nature was composed of systems. He believed that by building his own manmade system (the early warning network) he could identify how all systems stabiles themselves. It was through a mechanism called "FEEDBACK". Every action we take has consequences that feed through the system, an then return to shape our future behavior  in ways we cannot see. But the computers could, they had the power to analyses the true consequences of human actions, what Forrester called "FEEDBACK LOOPS"

"They (individuals) are driven in most of their actions by feedback loops;

physical systems, electrical systems, social systems, political systems, biological systems, internal medical systems, they are all fundamentally networks of feedback loops."

Transcribed from Watched over by machines of love and grace ep2

Norbert Wiener

"The nervous system and the automatic machine are fundamentally alike in that they are devices, which make decisions on the basis of decisions they made in the past."


Feedback loop - the causal path that leads from the initial generation of the feedback signal to the subsequent modification of the event

During the early stages of project 2 I was working on a concept called 'Feedback Photography' which involved the use of projections of an image projected back onto the original subject and then re-photographed. This process would then repeat to form an continuity loop of imagery.

Early sketches from June 2010:

I had a go at trying to achieve this idea in the studio:

As mentioned when i posted these previously it was a bit of a rushed afterthought at the end on long shoot, but maybe there was something in this, something that is worth returning to? 

In systems containing an input and output, feeding back part of the output so as to increase the input is positive feedback (regeneration); feeding back part of the output in such a way as to partially oppose the input is negative feedback (degeneration).

As project 2 diverted along a different path this idea was neglected and forgotten about, with my fascination turning towards natural forces, and reinterpreting natural movement as data.

The results of these tests can be found here:


Project 2 was kind of left hanging, and i planned to leave it there as i started planning for project 3, but as  i was left hanging there with apathy for the concepts i had proposed, a new wave of enthusiasm arose whilst I was thinking of display methods for our upcoming exhibition. I posted the results last week HERE.

The idea is that these represent a whole video in 1 frame.

Here are a few more:

After showing the originals to one of my tutors last week it was suggested that even though these composite images were interesting it might be more effective if there were a way to retain some motion.

This wasn't the intention for creating these images, but i did think this was an interesting idea, so after a few mental tests and trials i came up with an idea of how to achieve this.

Here's the results:

There's a little reflection of Monet in some of these, particularly the reeds, makes me think of this:

And that is where i'm at.

Project 3 - Written FEEDBACK

At the start of project 3 having been required to write a 6000 word document about our intentions for our final production output for the MA i was put in the uncomfortable position of having to determine what i was intending on doing before officially being able to do it. This to me seemed an incredibly backwards process in relation to the way i have discovered i work. There is no way that i can tell you what i will be producing until it is at least in motion, or in the case of my previous projects, once they have been submitted.

i know that's not how the system wants me to work, but i don't believe working for the system is particularly healthy.

So in 6000 words i described 4 potential project outputs, and now that i have been through that process i have absolutely no interest or drive to follow through with any of those plans. in order to keep the passion an interest in a project there has to be that element of the unknown, as it's this that drives me onwards to try and find the meaning and purpose. if you ever want me to dry up and find myself with complete apathy for an idea, even my own, ask me to write about it extensively to meet a deadline.

i understand there has to be a deadline, there has to be a process, but this one just doesn't work for me.

i will jump through the hoops, but this time i caught the rim halfway through and was left crumpled in a heap on the other side.

and i lay there for a number of weeks

Wednesday, 8 June 2011