my first experiences of DRHA2010

For the next few days I will be at DRHA 2010 ( Digital Resources for the Humanities and Arts). I didn’t really know what to expect, DRHA has become a predominately digital arts based conference, with a smattering of humanities research in between. I have to admit I went with a bit of a closed mind, but some of the presentations and performances are making me change my mind.

Research in art and performance practices is rapidly expanding particularly research and practice in digital performance in the context of the arts, sciences, education, communication/information , therefore as a digital humanist I need to gain an understanding of what this discipline is all about. This conference has got me thinking about whether or not digital art and performance is a new research environment which is just as trans-disciplinary as DH except the end product is a little different and produces installations, performances and compositions, is this an academic discourse? And how do non digital artists understand it or at lease engage with it.

Yesterday saw the keynote by Thecla Schiphorst who bamboozled me no end, but it was interesting never the less. Thecla used the keynote to explore the concepts of performance, sensuality and technology. Introducing the ideas of embodied interaction and somatic phenomenology through collaborative technology. I like the idea of embodied interaction, sense-making, and experience and the aesthetics of interaction, but put into a experimental dance performance /installation it seems completely alien to me.

Thecla described a few of her projects including:
• Whisper
• Exhale
• Soft (n)

whisper: [wearable, handheld, intimate, sensory, personal, expressive, responsive system] wearable body architectures was the first in a series of three interactive wearable public art installations that explore interaction with your own body data.
The whisper installation was based on sensors embedded into a soft white jacket and a wireless network transmitted physiological data: predominately heart rate and breath. I liked the fact that as well as the installation there were A series of user-experience workshops with the goal of developing an interaction model for the public installation. These workshops looked at intimacy with your own body and with others, social navigation and playful exchange. Which provided some interesting responces

Here’s a link to a video about it

exhale: freaked me out at bit. This piece explores the empathic nature of networked breath. Networked breath is used to create output patterns through small vibrators sewn into the inside of the waistband of a silk skirt and speakers that are embedded in the lining of these sensually evocative skirts. Enabling a hidden and “inner” one-to-one communication between bodies in the installation, so that one body’s breathing can directly affect another body’s skirt. In essence using sensors and vibrators in a silk skirt you can feel other peoples breath inside your own skirt. I really don’t like the idea of that. If I wanted someone to breath up my skirt I would ask. This is why I said I entered with a closed mind. But I suppose installations like this are meant to provoke a response, as ask as to why that response occurred.

exhale video

soft(n) is quite cool, it attempts to explore intimacy and experience through physical interaction with 10-12 networked soft objects that exhibit emerging behaviour when touched or moved within a space.

soft (n) images can be found here

So that is my first experiences of DRHA2010 so far; weird yet thought provoking, sort of the way academia should be. maybe.

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