Interactivity and Art I

Cell Tango: An Evolving Interactive Archive of Cellphone Photography by Angus Graeme Forbes and George Legrady/ The Hidden Histories of Objects; Provenance, Storytelling and Tagging Technologies by Simone O'Callaghan and Chris Speed/ Video Tactility by Camille Carol Baker/ AVOL – Towards an Integrated Audiovisual Expression by Nuno N. Correia
Wednesday, 14 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:05
Chair Person: 
Mel Woods
Angus Forbes
George Legrady
Simone O'Callaghan
Chris Speed
Camille Baker
Nuno N. Correia

Cell Tango: An Evolving Interactive Archive of Cellphone Photography

by Angus Graeme Forbes and George Legrady

Cell Tango is an interactive multimedia artwork consisting of a series of visualizations based on a dynamically evolving collection of cellphone photographs contributed instantly by the general public. These images, and the accompanying tags which categorize and describe them, are projected large-scale in the gallery, continuously shifting as new contributions are added. The layout and animation for each of the four visualizations— Cell_Bin, Cell_Clusters, Cell_Burst, and Cell_Finale— is defined by the textual associations between the photos, and additionally shows connections with a set of similar photographs that are retrieved from the popular Flickr photograph-sharing database. A series of sonifications, based on various image-processing techniques, are synchronized with the position and movement of the photographs to enhance the narrative logic of the artwork. Cell Tango engages in a dialogue between the public and the private through the creation of an intermediate shared space. The artwork exists at the intersection of the collective, the prescriptive, and the personal, as defined respectively by the sampling of the database, the aesthetic of the artist, and the individual contribution of the viewer. This paper describes the aesthetic and technical components of the art project, with a particular focus on the software architecture and the use of interactivity and multimedia elements. Note that the artwork itself has also been submitted as an artwork by the authors. This submission is intended to compliment the installation of the project. The paper discusses the various and ongoing process involved in creating the artwork.

The Hidden Histories of Objects; Provenance, Storytelling and Tagging Technologies

by Simone O'Callaghan and Chris Speed

This paper explores notions of provenance, using storytelling to follow the lives of objects from their first inception to the narratives they collect along the way. As part of TOTeM[1] a £1.39M research project based around the “Internet of Things”[2], this research opens up new ways of preserving people’s stories through linking objects to the Internet via “tagging” technologies such as QR codes.

The process of appending immaterial data such as textual, video and audio stories, offers a significant additional dimension to the material attributes of an object. Hand produced creative artefacts already transcend a material value because of their individual characteristics and their reference to social and cultural frameworks. As the emerging technology of the Internet of Things supports the tagging of more and more objects, things will begin to accrue an immaterial data shadow that will begin to out weigh its material instantiation (Bruce Sterling, Shaping Things, 2005).

By examining creative artefacts, the authors explore how artists, designers and craftspeople express how such objects came into being. Using the public facing site,, built for the TOTeM project, one can “tag” objects using QR codes, with stories in any digital media form. In this context, QR codes act as “digital makers’ marks” with the potential to hold far richer data than traditional ones.

Whilst the data shadow of commercial things may be logistical: price, temperature, best for before dates etc., information provided by artists and designers has the potential to provide significantly more evocative stories that may change entirely the perception of an object.  Through analysis of such stories, collected on, the authors reveal how digital makers’ marks have the potential to carry myths and fictions as well as truths. In doing so, this paper articulates the implications of relocating memories and stories around creative artefacts to a digital platform in a way that has previously not been possible.

[1] Tales of Things and Electronic Memories - Edinburgh College of Art, Brunel University, University of Dundee, University College London (UCL), University of Salford

[2] This is tagging technologies to track physical objects in the real world. Eg: Oyster Cards in the London Underground .

Video Tactility

by Camille Carol Baker

This paper will discuss new research involving repurposing the mobile phone from a textual and voice device to a more multi-modal, synaesthetic, and tactile performance and expression device. This new work seeks new ways for individuals to express themselves in intimate, visual and non-verbal ways – akin to sending remote ‘touch’ messages, immediately ‘known’ or intuitively understood at a pre-conscious level – to create a direct tactile route to interpersonal communication. The project develops novel ways to repurpose mobile phones, wearable technologies, video and textiles, for different or fresh approaches to expression, in as close to physical means as possible.  This would use both with the mobile connection and wearable, tactile interaction. Ideally, there would be an exchange, a way to reply to mobile message sender. This creates not only a one-way connection from phone to body but a non-verbal, embodied, multi-sensory dialogue. Thus, this research explores how to relay the "felt experience" or touch sensation back through wearable biofeedback devices in the garment, to send back a reply directly from the garment, as well as through the recipient's mobile phone. 

This project will draw upon the visual material in the mobile users’ environment and any imagery they think relevant or essential. It will investigate sensory experience, conceptual and interaction and facilitation of the physiological experiences of emotion in the body and brain. This ‘tactile video’ exploration, however, will develop a new or specific video vocabulary or symbolic lexicon to express with, to construct video ‘sentences’ or ‘utterances’ then translated into a distance touch or embrace. The intention is to create a more structured semiotic method for people with physical, verbal or linguistic limitations to use for more personal purposes and have a more embodied, tactile and visual means of messaging.

AVOL – Towards an Integrated Audiovisual Expression

by Nuno N. Correia

AVOL (AudioVisual OnLine) is an interactive audiovisual project for the Web, installation and performance by Video Jack (Nuno N. Correia and André Carrilho). AVOL was one of the four winners of a competition by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture to develop artworks for their net art portal. Further to the launch of this portal, AVOL has been presented as installation and as performance.

In AVOL, users manipulate seven “objects” composed of different elements: a sound loop; an animated visualization of that sound; and graphical user interface elements that facilitate the integrated manipulation of sound and image. Each of the objects has four main variations, allowing for multiple audiovisual combinations. The objects may interact with each other, creating additional diversity.

The main research question that the project addresses is: how to develop a project that allows for an integrated musical and visual expression, in a way that is playful to use and engaging to experience. The methodology used for the evaluation of the project is practice-based research.

In this paper, the project and its motivations are presented, as well as prior work from the same authors in the field of interactive audiovisual art. A short discussion of the state of the art follows. The development of the project and the different modes of presentation (Web, installation and performance) are discussed, as well as feedback gathered. Conclusions are then reached, and possible future developments are outlined.