Pejman Mirza-Babaei (UOIT) Isabel Pedersen (UOIT), Ihor Junyk (Trent U), and Nathan Gale (UOIT)
Fearmonger is a critical media project exploring the intersection between humans, technologies that are becoming aware of emotions (“awareables”), and a cultural instigator, the uncanny. Fearmonger technology is meant to be ironic, playful, critical, and exploratory. It will use technology in novel configurations to discover new convergences between art, affective response (biofeedback), and an emotionally and historically derived concept, the uncanny.
Countering the current discourse of techno-optimism, which emphasizes technology as a passive instrument in the service of limitless progress, we design for a paradoxical experience. The uncanny plays with how friendly, cozy, and homelike experiences can become suddenly fearful, unfamiliar, threatening, strange or simply odd. Might the reconception of the technology as an alien presence offer a necessary check and balance? Student technologists have been invited to interpret wearable technology, including augmented reality and/or virtual reality, with biofeedback technology (e.g., responses for heart, skin or brain) in terms of “uncanny” fear. This interdisciplinary project unites researchers from Computer Science and Humanities fields. Broader issues include posthumanism, identity, privacy, and intellectual property. Inspirations include Sigmund Freud’s “The Uncanny”, Anthony Vidler’s The Architectural Uncanny, Guillermo del Toro’s cinematic gothic style, and painter Hieronymus Bosch (1453-1516).
Decimal Digital Museum
The Decimal Digital Museum is a project which involves the process of blurring the lines between the physical and the digital by allowing users to participate in a digitally tangible museum experience. This project highlights the use of wearable technology in order to view and interact with art work in a digital realm.
Decimal Lab is a META pioneer and one of the first labs in the world to work on the META platform. We are currently in the process of designing and creating a prototype for TombSeer, which could evolve museum experiences using gestural and visual augmented reality. This will involve user interactions that will visually augment environments as well as allow the individual to view artefacts from new perspectives.
Fabric is a digital humanities web-based archive that tracks the language that charts humanity’s progression from the analog to the digital; from human to the transhuman. Concept videos, news media, popular culture, and inventors’ writing all contribute to this progression and Fabric is using novel methods to chart this. Whether or not they are amateur inventors working in the garage or a team of government-funded researchers, the minds who will shape the technology of our future use popular culture references as a language of exchange. The popular culture references that were once only exchanged by comic book and science fiction fans are now part of a global discourse, and Fabric seeks to archive the allusions researchers refer to, the references themselves, and index the links between them.
Researchers, educators, archivists, sci-fi enthusiasts, and interested people wanting to review the collection are encouraged to email Decimal Lab at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a login.
iMind is a critical media project that explores an alternative dialogue between viewer, art piece, and artist. iMind uses the Muse headset to encourage participants to “select” which art piece to view based on his or her brainwaves and emotions. Meant to deliberately incite reflection on the use of brain-computer interfaces, iMind offers dialogic engagement with aesthetic digital artifacts.
Kids, Creative Storyworlds, and Wearables
The Decimal Lab is launching a new project which will investigate the future of wearable technology through the lens of a child’s perspective. The project will use Linkitz, a wearable device which is used by children in order to help them learn about coding. Kids, Creative Storyworlds, and Wearables will serve to examine how children think and feel about technology cast in a futuristic story. In order to do so, this project will implement a textual and visual analysis in partnership with ethnography in order to understand how children envision the future of wearable technology.
Bionic Contacts Project
Isabel Pedersen and Kirsten Ellison investigate the concept of bionic contacts as a means of everyday digital communication. This project examines the bionic contact lens as an imagined future which only exists in the form of prototypes; however, the mainstream media has idealized the concept of such a device as being a tangible reality which is not only possible, but imminent in the future. As a result, this project serves to explore the rhetorical and discursive means through which the imagined future of the technology has been celebrated in the current era of network culture.
Dr. Isabel Pedersen and Dr. Tanner Mirrlees investigate Elysium, a popular science fiction film, as a critique of the worst political-economic and technological conditions of capitalism in the 21st century. The film accomplishes this critique by showing these conditions being resisted and changed for the better.
The iShy project uses the MeU platform to explore the idea of shyness, silence, and instant messaging in an era of information overload. iShy inspirations range from the famous mime Marcel Mareau to the socially-awkward penguin Internet meme, a counter cultural response to social pressure. The art of silence takes many different shapes in the era of networked culture. The shy user “whispers” his frustrated shouts at the MeU and they appear instantly on his shirt. The MeU platform founder and director Robert Tu, has been featured on The Daily Planet, Disovery Channel, and the CBC. iShy is designed by Isabel Pedersen, Nathan Gale, Douglas Trueman and Samantha Reid.
LyfeLoggin’Thoughtz is a project which was created by Amelia Zhang in partnership with the Decimal Lab. The project involves the use of a narrative clip which is worn by Zhang in order to document her life. The narrative clip accomplishes this by taking a photo every 30 seconds which results in a sequence of photos that act as a life-log of the wearer’s activities. Zhang then uploads the content to a tumblr page, LYFELOGGIN’THOUGHTZ, in order to display the photos as an ongoing art piece.
More recently, the project has expanded to account for the popularization of the selfie. In order to do so, the narrative clip is mounted on a visor which results in a selfie being taken every 30 seconds. In addition to this, Zhang also wears a jumpsuit featuring a pattern of herself wearing the narrative clip while she is wearing the visor and narrative clip in reality. The jumpsuit not only serves to make a notable fashion statement and draw attention to the wearer, but it also generates humour.