A continuing subject in our late works is the necessity to catch a trace of the spectator in order to complete the artwork. This can be an image, but also a mental state or a psychical response. We use the word ‘scanning’ to describe this process. To ‘scan’ is explained in the dictionary as ‘to examine closely’, and ‘to look over quickly and systematically’. In the modern sense ‘scanning’ is used more as a technological term to describe the process of analyzing surfaces, data, bodies, or to digitize text and objects. In Rec. of a Cat. 3D scan technology is used to make a software generated 3D representation of the spectator. The spectator is maneuvered in a certain pose and when the pose fits a preconfigured pose, a scan is made. The digital scan is used as a mould for a 3d print.
Working on the installation, but also reflecting on earlier works and ideas, I got somehow fascinated by this word ‘scan’. Why do we use this word to explain a part of the interaction in our works, or a part of the actual work, and what do we exactly want to tell with it? To give an answer to this fascination I decided to use the word as a starting point for a research to the significance, or better ‘my ‘ significance of using ‘scan’.
During the research I realized that ‘scan’ is a to broad concept, and it is applicable in many ways. I decided not to immediately demarcate the word in more specific definitions but to keep it open as much as possible Reading Mark BN Hansen’s book “New Philosophy for New Media’ helped me to define more specific directions in my research. Scan in relation with the body, and scan as analogy for the digital image. Because of the open form of the research I like to present the results as a collage of all the information, artists, writings, images, video’s and more that I made and found. This is work in progress, whenever I find something I add it to the collection.
Probably the first scan method ever used in human evolution, is scanning the environment. In the prehistoric era, the era before written language, nomadic tribes migrated the globe living from collected fruits and vegetables and hunted prey. When a food famine was near or a change of season, the tribes went on wandering, with the possibility to encounter other tribes occupying the region rich of food. A fruitfully territory rich of prey, had to be protected. In order to stay alert early humans organized guarded shifts to scan the environment from predators outside. For hunting prey the best strategy was to be as silent as possible, stay invisible, and scan the environment for prey. When the prey was within a realistic range of the spear, the hunters started their attack. Scanning the pace and the distance of the prey, measuring the position coordinates and velocity of the object (prey) relative to sender (hunter). Transforming information about a medium (location of the animal, kind of animal) to another medium (the body, the brains and nerve system of the hunter). Scan as tool of vision, scan to survive.
The Greek believed that their gods took human form and had beautiful bodies. So the more impressive you could make your own body, the more like a god you would perceived to be. By trading with the Egyptians they imported new skills of sculpturing and started to create life sized sculptures of their gods. Only the rigid style of the Egypts wasn’t enough for the Greek. So they started to use their eyes to scan the body, in order to achieve the ideal of a realistic sculpture of a god.
How Filippo Di Ser Brunellesco applied linear perspective in a painting for the first time in Western history. A way to scan the environment, analyze the working of depth, and reconstruct it in painting or sculpure.
A chapter from James Burke's The Day The Universe Changed from 1985.
An entertaining reconstruction of the day Brunelleschi did his invention.
It is possible to generate a photographic image of a certain person or object, and navigate through the image’s 3D space. The fixed viewpoint of a ‘technical’ image is replaced by a completely flexible point of view that can be changed by the viewer. Today it is not difficult to generate this image with a couple of Xbox Kinects. The image is not a result of a chemical reaction of light with a light sensitive plate, but a construction of a data set, information gathered through the vision technology of the Kinect, that in 3D reconstructs the image. What you see is a data space. The 3D scanner I am developing is based on this technology. How do we need to understand the digital image today, and is het necessary to reconsider a totally new understanding?
Mark B N Hansen suggests in his book ‘New Philosophy for New Media’ to reinvest in the idea that the body is the centre of experience when perceiving an image. Hansen reconsiders Henri Bergson’s theory of perception and the emphasis on what Bergson calls the body as "center of indetermination within an a centered universe
All seems to take place as if, in this aggregate of images which I call the universe, nothing really new could happen except through the medium of certain particular images, the type of which is furnished me by my body. My body is, then, in the aggregate of the material world, an image which acts like other images, receiving and giving back movement, with, perhaps, this difference only, that my body appears to choose, within certain limits, the manner in which it shall restore what it receives."(1)
Bergson correlates perception and the central concepts of affection and memory, with the concrete life of the body. With the rise of the digital image, the (technical) image can no longer be understood as a physical surface with a fixed viewpoint on reality, rather to be defined by its complete flexibility (no frame) and its numerical basis.(2) The digital image is the result of a process by which information is made perceivable. The body operates on filtering information directly and through this process, creating images. By affection and memory it ‘enframes’ something that is originally formless.
Hansen discusses the work of cultural theorist John Johsnston who correlates the digital state of the image to massive growth and exchange of information around the globe today. Johnston questions the privileged function of the image today, and if it has meaning at all. He describes an assemblage of telecommunications that generates a distributed system of perception, memory and communication based on calculation (and transformation) of information. To view and absorb images we are more and more depended on a ‘machinic vision’. These images are no meaningful instances anymore of cinema (or television) or the brain. Many of these are still perceived but more in the logic of endless coding and recoding of information. "The image itself becomes just one form that information can take."(3)
According to Hansen the automation of vision by the ‘vision machine’ increases the flux of information from which perception can emerge. "For an aesthetic approach of the automation of sight we need to see the vision machine as catalyst for a ‘splitting’ or ‘doubling’ of perception into, on the one hand, a machinic form (machine registration of an image) and, on the other, a human form tied to embodiment and the singular form of affection correlated with it. Such a splitting of perception is simply the necessary consequence of the difference between computer and human embodiment."(4) "New media art explores the creative potential implicit within the reconceptualizing of (human) perception as an active (and fully embodied) rendering of data."(5)
An attempt to understand the digital image
(1) Mark BN Hansen, New Philosophy for New Media, MIT Press, 2004, page 3,4
(2) Ibid., page 8
(3) Ibid., page 98
(4) Ibid., page 100
(5) Ibid., page 106
(6) Robert Zwijnenberg, Essay, Van spiegel naar scherm, as part of the book Mediated Vision, Veenman Publishers 2007, page unknown.
(7) Axel Roch, ComputerGraphik un RadarTechnologie, Zur Geschichte der Beleuchtungsmodelle in computergenerierten Bildern, part of Geschichte der Medien by Manfred Fassler and Wulf Halbach, page 239, 240
Me TV invites the spectator to take the position of the Buddha statue from the original work TV Buddha by Nam Jun Paik, and experience its conflict. By scanning the brain-activity with a Brain Computer Interface, the spectator is able to influence the distorted image. By achieving a meditation state, the image gets restored.
Me TV, 2010, We created this work with a Mindset BCI, arduino, and some video electronics...
Son et Lumière: Bodily Fluids and Functions, Liverpool, London, 1966, Mark Boyle and Joan Hills
For the presentation of the latter part in Liverpool in 1966, Boyle recounts this performance: «In the sperm sequence a couple wired up to EDB (electro-cardiogram) and EEG (electroencephalogram) celebrated intercours [hidden behind a screen], while the oscilloscopes of the ECG and EEG were televised on closed circuit television and projected with an Eidofor TV projector on to a large screen behind the couple. Thus, their heartbeasts and brain waves were instantly revealed.»
My first digital corpse. I made a 3d scan of my body, pretending I was dead. The digital body is mutilated because of the bad calibration of the scanner....And my lack of knowledge. Adri, May, 2011
Eadweard Muybridge, Horse in Motion, 1878
Scan movement, capture motion. And also one of the first attempts to put a still image in motion.
Mona HATOUM, Corps étranger, 1994
Scanning unsecured, public wi-fi connections, in order to catch information from the user, recontextualize it and sent in back. Or expose it.
Men in Grey, 2010
Structured Light Scanning
The music video 'House of Cards' by Radio Head was my first encounter with Structured Light Scanning (SLS). This is the method used to scan the head of lead singer Thom Yorke. The data-like and imperfect, distorted scans intrigued me. The face is constructed out of points. The so called point cloud. The music video was developed by Aaron Koblin. A new media artist, well known of his data-visualisation works. During the development of 'Donker' (Darkness) in 2010, I decided to do some more research on the technology.
In short, the idea behind SLS is that a source projects a geometric grid on the object or space, a camera records the deformation of the grid caused by the volume of the object, and with computations depth information is extracted form the deformation. The Kinect works with this technology. The source in the Kinect is an Infra Red laser that projects the grid. An IR camera records the deformation.
Kyle McDonald, new media artist, and an active member of the openFrameworks community (C++, library wrappers, made by artists, for artists), wrote a DIY scanning manual on Instructables.com based on this technology. This elaborate method took long and minute preparations setting up, and wasn't really easy to use.
First experiment with structured light scanning, based on the Instructable by Kyle McDonald. I projected 3 different phases of black and white lines on Dennis and Merel. For each phase a photo was made, and the 3 photo's where analyzed by a Processing patch. March 2010.
An interactive viewer developed to change the viewpoint of the camera during playing. Pleaze be 'really' patient! It takes a long time to load (5 min).
Mona Hatoum made this installation in collaboration with a surgeon. It is a literary inwardly self-portrait of the artist filmed created with medical procedures as endoscope, colonoscopy, and echography. From the outside the installation looks very clinical, but when entering the space the spectator is confronted with video's from the inside of the body of the artist accompanied with the sound of her heartbeat. The camera moves through all kinds of bodily holes and liquids. Somehow the spectator is entering the body of the artist. With this installation the boundaries between the inside and the outside dissolve.
According to Robert Zwijnenberg the confrontation with the inside of your body is one of the biggest taboos within human culture.
"We hardly have direct knowledge of what is the most intimate for us, the internal body. We feel our heart beating, we feel our blood sing, we feel our breathing, we even hear our stomach, but we don't have direct entrance to or exact knowledge of what’s happening in our internal body."(6)
New medical technologies like CT-scan, MRI-scan en PET-scan, gave the opportunity to visualize our internal body. With this development we can mediate our body in new ways.
When analyzing Hatoums installation and reading the publication or Robert Zwijnenberg, I realized that I only was looking at scan as a method to extend vision throughout the environment. But whit the body as starting point for all triggers, pulses, images, journeys, impressions, reflexes, emotions, liquids, senses, you can also decide to go INSIDE. Somehow an extension of vision, but in another direction.
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) played an important role in the development of Microwave RADAR technology during World War II. In 1942 a special research group (Group 42) under the supervision of Donald E Kerr, was initialized to do exstensive research to the mathematical and geometical properties of the reflected waves within RADAR and Microwave technoloy. Also the theoretical dawn of computer graphics. (7)
The Tower, Snow (Ruben and me), ongoing project.
The Tower is the name of a series of installation in which we research themes and subjects as, the individual vs the mass, not/net-works, participatory processes, the power of the multitude, and physical reality vs media reality. For our graduation we are working on two different installations. Ruben is working on 'The Tower, Church of separated silences' and I am working on 'The Tower, Reconstruction of a Catastrophe. In both installations scanning plays a prominent role. In Ruben his installation, it is the visual scanning of a mental state, in mine it is the body.
Prior to these installations (in development) we were working on the 'The Tower'. Hopefully it is not to confusing but during the development of this first (Tower) installation we decided to approach this project as a research and development trajectory. We simply could put everything in one installation, and we needed more time to research different aspects relating to the themes.
The 'scanning' procedure during the opening of ForumImages, September 2010
A screenshot of the crowd at ForumImages. During the Night of Art and Science on June 4th 2011, we did the set-up with a big screen in the hall of the Academy Building of the University.
'The Tower' as we tested it on the photo's above, was a set up were a photo was taken of the visitors (during the open of Art House Cinema and Media Lab, ForumImages in Groningen), and after that the visitor could choose from a cloud of words and statements, these words of which they thought it would their character, by moving them to their photo. After saving they became part of a growing crowd of people who all walked through the same 'scanning'proces. The scanning of the body and a 'simplified' scanning of their mind. The dynamic of the crowd, the position of each person, is calculated by the amount of resembling words in relation with other participants. The more they have in common with the other, the more they attract each other. If they have totally nothing in common they repel each other.
This installation is, also, still in development, in collaboration with Frans van Hoesel, Head of the Department of Intensive Computing, at the RUG in Groningen.
Pulse Index , an interactive installation composed of a thousand-strong, pulsating fingerprint mosaic by Mexican-Canadian multi-media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, is currently part of the EXTIMACY: Art, Intimacy and Technology exhibition at the Es Baluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Palma/Spain. Similar to the other interactive installations of Lozano-Hemmer, Pulse Index is built upon on our culture of participation. Here, as your fingerprints are being scanned and your heartbeat detected, you, the viewer become an active part in the artwork itself as your fingerprint immediately appears on the largest cell of the display, pulsating to your heart beat until the next visitor scans their fingure.
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Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, "Pulse Index", 2010. Photo by: Antimodular Research "Pulse Index" is an interactive installation that records participants’ fingerprints at the same time as it detects their heart rates. The piece displays data for the last 509 participants in a stepped display that creates a horizon line of skin. To participate, people introduce their finger into a custom-made sensor equipped with a 220x digital microscope and a heart rate sensor; their fingerprint immediately appears on the largest cell of the display, pulsating to their heart beat. As more people try the piece one’s own recording travels upwards until it disappears altogether —a kind of memento mori using fingerprints, the most commonly used biometric image for identification.